Monday, November 19, 2007

Strong Libertarianism

Most people are familiar with strong atheism (there's no such thing as god) and weak atheism (I don't believe in any god). The analogous positions are deep anarchism (there is no state) and an anarchistic or radical minarchism (I don't believe that any state is legitimate). As there are already good labels for these positions, it's not my intent to duplicate them with this new word. So when I say "strong libertarian" I don't mean "the state does not exist".

I see two kinds of libertarians on the radical end where I reside. The first kind of libertarian is the more common on the Free Talk Live forums I post at, and Ian Bernard (anarchist cohost of Free Talk Live) is a good example. They follow libertarianism to the letter in politics, then pretty much let it go. They'd defend Microsoft from any claims of "monopoly" or "predatory business practices" without much independent consideration. They'll advocate ostracism as a good way to punish people. They'll ban people who use the term "wage slavery" because they find it offensive. In short, "weak" libertarianism is strictly political libertarianism, not a social libertarianism.

The second is the kind I am. Libertarianism is more than just politics to us "strong libertarians". The principles of libertarianism have applications outside the sphere of "how much government should we have?" It's about more than just leaving other people alone. It's about empowering people with freedom. It's about empowering yourself with freedom. And not just freedom from government either. Freedom from superstition, freedom from ostracism, freedom from tradition, freedom from being guilted into things, freedom from the "tyranny of genes", freedom from bad ideas in general, freedom from whatever holds you back. Freedom from gender, racial, regional, and age-related stereotyping, among other types. Freedom from restricted information. Freedom from deliberate incompatibility. Freedom from DROs that tell you "You can't buy and sell from this person, they're bad!" Freedom from the urge to control others. Freedom from things that interfere with your power to achieve values and virtues.

"Strong libertarianism" pursues empowerment through freedom in every sense possible. Not just the ones that are politically or socially acceptable. Not even just the ones that you think you want to accept. Every sense that you can recognize it, it's about empowerment through freedom in that way.

Strong libertarianism is about making yourself, and making yourself better. It's about empowering thought and action. It's about brutal honesty and openness. It's about eating with your elbows on the table because it is convenient to do so. It's about seeing yourself as the inherently free and powerful being you are.

It's not about whether you're an anarchist or a moderate (not directly, but I imagine it correlates positively with radical libertarianism). Hans-Hermann Hoppe would qualify as an anarchist (barely) but he's nowhere near being a strong libertarian. Many of Hoppe's ideas are exactly the opposite of strong libertarianism, his ideas about immigration being a prime example. Hoppe is a "weak libertarian".

I think the libertarian movement needs more awareness of this distinction.


Anonymous Anonymous said...


Great post.

-Hologram/Sapphire Eyes

8:55 AM  
Blogger Aaron Kinney said...

Nicely done, Zhwazi. Kinda similar to why I call my blog the "Radical Libertarian."


1:44 PM  
Anonymous BeGreener said...

Are you in NH?

any thoughts of starting a left-libertarian or "strong" libertarian faction within the FSP?

9:19 AM  
Blogger Kevin said...

I tend to focus on the political, because it's so pervasive. Overall, however, I TOTALLY agree with this post, and identify myself the same way. To me, anarchy/libertarianism isn't just in the political sphere, it's EVERYTHING.

11:31 PM  
Anonymous jomama said...

Git daown!

6:19 AM  

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