Noam Chomsky calls himself a ‘libertarian socialist.’ Impossible as it is for any thinking person not to respect Chomsky for his intellectual brilliance, to many people, this label is as contradictory as ‘libertarians’ who don’t trust the state to provide medical care, but do trust the state to execute people.
Let us be clear. Libertarianism is simply a belief in freedom. That is all.
It does not necessarily mean an absolutist approach to the free market. It just means that we believe that the market is a powerful force separate from the state – and that it often plays an enormous role in preserving individual freedoms. Free exchange of capital seems to be the best workable way of ensuring free exchange of everything else – be it love, sex, money, ideas, or even just good old-fashioned happiness. But it should always be that way around – the market exists to benefit us, and to improve our standards of living, because we choose it. We do not exist to serve the market.
You don’t have to be a socialist to feel that not everything a private company does is okay. If a corporation stands opposed to individual freedoms, a libertarian will judge both eggs by the same salt, and conclude that is equally abhorrent to cause harm and restrict liberty whether the state or a CEO is doing it.
With the exception of the freedom to actively harm (not cause offence, or hurt feelings, but actively harm), libertarians simply believe that freedom is the fundamental purpose of life, but more than that – and this is how the word has become an acceptable way of describing yourself as a sociopathic right-winger – we believe freedom is more important than equality.
Socialism, ultimately, believes the opposite. Socialism surely cannot happen unless liberties are removed. (Either that or human nature fundamentally changes.) You can argue that the removal of liberty would be temporary, or even justified, but it must happen, nonetheless, for socialism to work. So who gets to control whom? Surely faith in one’s convictions, or a belief that one has fundamentally good intentions, does not justify the removal of liberties? The preservation of liberty stands opposed to real equality of ownership. Thus socialist libertarians are surely either not really socialists, or not really libertarians.
To identify as a libertarian, you shouldn’t have to clarify that you’re a compassionate human being by prefixing your belief in freedom with an opposing philosophy. What a sad thing that a believe in freedom is overwhelmingly presumed to be a wish to use that freedom for bad than for good.
Disagree? Give me a piece of your mind by posting a comment!