Libertarian Socialism

Discussion in 'Political Science' started by Fscheu, May 5, 2016.

  1. Fscheu

    Fscheu Banned

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    What exactly is libertarian socialism? It seems that there are very few libertarian socialist politicians, so it is difficult to find the policies that libertarian socialists might support. I understand that libertarian socialism is a very broad philosophy, but what exactly distinguishes it from state socialism? Is direct democracy the major difference? Must a socialist be either a libertarian socialist or a state socialist? I would appreciate if this discussion could remain about the philosophy itself rather than the arguments for or against socialism in general. Thanks.
     
  2. DarkDaimon

    DarkDaimon Well-Known Member

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    Isn't libertarian socialism something of an oxymoron? I guess it is how you define libertarian and socialism, but from the definitions I have seen, they seem to be on opposite sides of the fence.
     
  3. michiganFats

    michiganFats New Member

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    I too have had trouble understanding Libertarian Socialism but from what I've been told it's basically Democratic Socialism with an emphasis on local politics.
     
  4. Fscheu

    Fscheu Banned

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    I'm clearly no expert, but as I understand it libertarian socialists view socialism and worker ownership of the means of production rather than state ownership of the means of production. They would also argue that it's important to note that libertarians don't necessarily have to support laissez-faire economics. Especially outside of America, libertarianism is just a philosophy that stresses the importance of liberty and anti-authoritarianism. They would view the conditions normally brought about by a capitalist system as contradictory to these principles.
     
  5. Fscheu

    Fscheu Banned

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    *as worker ownership
     
  6. DarkDaimon

    DarkDaimon Well-Known Member

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    I learned something new, so today is a good day. I think though that the heads of some of the right-wing self-described libertarians on this forum may explode upon reading your post.
     
  7. jdog

    jdog Banned

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    There is no such thing a libertarian socialism. The phrase is an oxymoron as anyone who knows a damn about libertarianism knows. The term libertarian and socialism are at opposite ends of the political spectrum.
    Only a complete idiot would even suggest it was a real ideology. Socialism is the theory that the individual has no right to the ownership of their own person, where the libertarian understands that the individual is sovereign and is the owner of themselves.
     
  8. Fscheu

    Fscheu Banned

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    Libertarian meant libertarian socialist before it meant libertarian as it is commonly used in America today. Libertarianism and socialism are not on opposite ends of the spectrum as there are both right and left forms of libertarianism. Libertarian socialists would argue that you don't truly own yourself if you have to rent yourself to a business owner to make the money that is required for you to live.
     
  9. HonestJoe

    HonestJoe Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    Proof that political labels are a waste of time, useful only to agitators and trolls?

    We all have unique individual socio-political world-views. If you want to discuss yours you need to explain what it is. Don’t just throw out a generic label so I have to guess which of the varied definitions you’re actually intending or what the various individual conditions and exceptions you apply to it. And if you want to discuss my socio-political world-view, definitely don’t just pin a generic label to me and us it to assume or assert what I believe or use it to attack me before you’ve even heard my personal opinions.
     
  10. RiaRaeb

    RiaRaeb Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    Certainly, the idea that anyone on the left is PC or does not believe in individual freedom being a huge crock of (*)(*)(*)(*).
     
  11. Fscheu

    Fscheu Banned

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    I generally agree that labels are counterproductive, but I think it's alright in this situation. The label isn't being pinned to a specific person, I just want to have a discussion about basic aspects of libertarian socialism that most if not all of libertarian socialists agree on. Particularly the form of democracy that they support.
     
  12. PreteenCommunist

    PreteenCommunist Active Member

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    Libertarian socialism is basically a synonym for the various sorts of socialist anarchism, including anarcho-communism, anarcho-collectivism (à la Bakunin) and anarcho-syndicalism (unionist anarchism, like the CNT-FAI in Spain). It has had this meaning in European political discourse for a couple of centuries, and if I remember rightly, the first anarchist also to use the label "libertarian" was the French writer Déjacque, a prominent communist during the 19th century. To this day, libertaire in French refers to socialist anarchists, while libertarien refers to minimal statist or self-proclaimed anarchist capitalists. In English, socialist anarchists tend to use this term either to be associated less with rioting teenagers, which is the unfortunate connotation of "anarchist", or to juxtapose their position with libertarian capitalism. But you're right about the connotations of the word outside America. Libertarians are understood here in Europe, loosely, as people whose political views are defined by opposition to the state, and whether libertarian socialists or libertarian capitalists do a better job of opposing the state is still a hotly contested debate.

    As for your questions, you'd be hard-pressed to find a libertarian socialist politician, since as anarchists, libertarian socialists oppose the state and working within it. If you're interested in the theory, I'd highly recommend Peter Kropotkin's The Conquest of Bread, and it might be worth getting a bit of background on Proudhon, Bakunin and Stirner, as well as Marx et al.'s opposition to these theorists, so as to get a feel for the individualist vs. collectivist debate within anarchism and the state socialist vs. anarchist debates in the First International. Godwin, too, is pretty much required reading for anyone with an interest in anarchism on a philosophical level.

    It's important to bear in mind that state socialists have the same end goals as libertarian ones. All socialists ultimately advocate a stateless society with social ownership of the means of production, but opinions differ on how this can be achieved, and Marxists (state socialists) hold that anarchists' views of the state and of the way in which a future socialist society would be organised are unachievable and contradictory to socialism. The central point of contention between state and anarchist socialists is the role of the state in the revolution. For anarchists, the state is inherently an oppressive instrument and should be abolished as an institution immediately after a revolution takes place, while Marxists advocate seizing control of the state during the revolution and allowing it to wither away organically as changing socioeconomic conditions render it unnecessary.

    There is also the question of centralism vs. decentralism. Although Marxists and anarchists in theory have identical goals, anarchists think that a decentralised system would complement socialism best. So an libertarian socialist society would probably look something like a federation of decentralised and highly autonomous communes which are "governed" by all of their residents through some kind of consensus democracy system. The society advocated by Marxists, by contrast, is extremely centralised, but no less democratic, we'd argue.

    Lastly, we have the issue of the characterisation of the Soviet Union, which exists amongst all socialist tendencies. Libertarian socialists largely view the October Revolution as an anti-working class coup, or at least think that it went off the rails very early on (we're talking 1918). Marxists have varying views on when exactly the revolution went bad, but by and large we view it as a legitimate workers' revolution, and would support Russia/the USSR well into the '20s and in some cases '80s.

    On the whole, socialist tendencies do fall into the state camp or the libertarian one. There have been some attempts to synthesise the two - the autonomists in Italy, council communists and the Spanish POUM come immediately to mind - but these "synthesis" currents are mostly dead.
     
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  13. PolakPotrafi

    PolakPotrafi Banned

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    Anarchy would be like hyper survival of the fit, and have huge class systems, with a very Capitalist like approach.

    Is there anything more stupid than a Anarchist - Communist?
     
  14. Fscheu

    Fscheu Banned

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    Thanks for the reply. I've looked into anarcho-syndicalism a bit. Do you know how exactly anarcho-syndicalists think that they can change the way in which businesses are organized? Is it just by persuasion and pressure from people/unions? I'm also a bit confused about the decentralized political structures. How exactly do these work? Is there still a country in a libertarian socialist society? If it's not a state, what do you call the collection of political organizations that make decisions in the society?
     
  15. RiaRaeb

    RiaRaeb Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    Business would be organized along the lines of a workers collective, importantly a workers union would be organised for the localized business as a whole rather than dependent on individual trades. Personal responsibility for each worker to acquire the education to make the correct decisions would be promoted by debate and exchange of ideas.
     
  16. jdog

    jdog Banned

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    This is just an idiot troll argument aimed at confusing people to what libertarian principals really are. You are a pathetic troll who should be ashamed of yourself.
     
  17. RiaRaeb

    RiaRaeb Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    There is no confusion, the ultimate expression of freedom from the state would be anarchism. Is that not what all Libertarians want, freedom from the state and hierarchical structures?
     
  18. PreteenCommunist

    PreteenCommunist Active Member

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    Why do you say that?

    I know something more stupid: an unjustified claim.
     
  19. PreteenCommunist

    PreteenCommunist Active Member

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    Sort of. Anarcho-syndicalism uses syndicalist agitation tactics and couples them with revolutionary politics and the ultimate goal of radicalising all workers and achieving socialism. So as well as participating in direct action in the workplaces - strikes, occupations and so on - to put pressure on the ruling class and win reforms, anarcho-syndicalists would support organisation outside of the workplace and engagement with students and the unemployed, and would try to create workplace assemblies, committees and councils as well as trade unions which are organised according to anarchist principles. These organs could fight for socialism through the traditionally syndicalist methods of pressuring the ruling class while simultaneously acting as a centre of working-class community life, a school of anarchist theory and a snapshot of the sorts of anarchist principles (direct democracy, free association, decentralism) which would be implemented in an anarchist society.

    It might be a good idea to familiarise yourself with Rudolf Rocker; he wrote extensively on this subject, most notably in his Anarchism and Anarcho-Syndicalism. In any case, from what I understand, the anarchist political structure would consist of a network of communities which share a basic structure but have different details depending on what their residents want. The people within each community would meet frequently to discuss democratically chosen issues together, consider various options and pass laws according to what the largest majority possible agreed with (i.e. a sort of direct consensus democracy). Then, each individual community would send representatives to meet with representatives from other local communities to discuss issues that affect a wider group of people, and pass laws using the same process. There would also be meetings of representatives from these groups of communities, and this process would continue right up to international levels if necessary, with the representatives changing each time to stop anyone from getting power over anyone else. In this way, the system would be run from the bottom up, with the laws passed in national or international assemblies depending on what people in small communities want. Workplaces would be run in much the same way – they would be controlled democratically by their workers through union-esque organs and co-operate with each other.

    No; socialism is always global, by necessity. Though there would presumably be different administrative levels, since this is a decentralised system.

    Well in French they're called (les) syndicats, which would translate to "syndicates", I suppose. You could also call them autonomous collectives or communes or something like that.
     
  20. PreteenCommunist

    PreteenCommunist Active Member

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    Your lack of knowledge of history does not mean that libertarian socialism doesn't exist. Its history has been just as long as that of libertarian capitalism, and libertarian socialist activists have arguably done far more than their capitalist counterparts.
     
  21. RiaRaeb

    RiaRaeb Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    Some people might find this article interesting,

    I.8 Does revolutionary Spain show that libertarian socialism can work in practice?

    Yes. As Murray Bookchin puts it, "n Spain, millions of people took large segments of the economy into their own hands, collectivised them, administered them, even abolished money and lived by communistic principles of work and distribution -- all of this in the midst of a terrible civil war, yet without producing the chaos or even the serious dislocations that were and still are predicted by authoritarian 'radicals.' Indeed, in many collectivised areas, the efficiency with which an enterprise worked by far exceeded that of a comparable one in nationalised or private sectors. This 'green shoot' of revolutionary reality has more meaning for us than the most persuasive theoretical arguments to the contrary. On this score it is not the anarchists who are the 'unrealistic day-dreamers,' but their opponents who have turned their backs to the facts or have shamelessly concealed them." ["Introductory Essay," in The Anarchist Collectives, Sam Dolgoff (ed.), p. xxxix]
    - See more at: http://www.infoshop.org/AnarchistFAQSectionI8#sthash.WfL6pFc7.dpuf

    I can recommend The Anarchists of Casa Viejas for further reading.
     
  22. jdog

    jdog Banned

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    In a perfect world, anarchism would be ideal, but because about 20% of the population are either psychopaths or criminals, some form of government is needed until the human race evolves to the point where they are in fact human beings. That being said, we need one hell of a lot less government than we currently have.
     
  23. jdog

    jdog Banned

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    Socialism is the concept of tribal existence, it has its roots in animal packs. It has nothing whatsoever to do with libertarianism which is based on the sovereignty of the individual.
     
  24. danielpalos

    danielpalos Banned

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    I believe solving simple poverty and the capital effects of capitalism's, natural rate of unemployment would lessen the need for Government.
     
  25. PreteenCommunist

    PreteenCommunist Active Member

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    [citation needed]

    Well strangely enough, the bulk of the libertarian movement in an entire continent for over 100 years has been composed of libertarian socialists. The debate over whether libertarian socialism or libertarian capitalism is more conducive to individual sovereignty is still raging, but it's a little disingenuous to claim that the former has nothing to do with libertarianism simply because you disagree with it.
     

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