What is left-libertarianism?

4 June 2009 by Mike Gogulski
Posted in philosophy | 8 Comments »

“Left” has been defined in many different ways, and here I’ll twist language a bit to demonstrate why it can be desirable:

Left stands for individual liberty in opposition to the privileges of state, capital, religion, etc.

Left stands for looking at the concerns of oppressed people first, rather than comparatively well-off ones.

Left stands for support of revolutionary change, rather than the status quo. (ie: rebels v. tories)

Left stands for an inclusive ecumenicalism in opposition to provincialist conservatism.

The fact that the term “left” has been conflated so often with statist programs (and those who advocate and implement them) for massive intervention in the economy and people’s lives renders it effectively useless as a descriptive label without volumes of qualification, though there is a continuum here along which people’s political actions and positions can be placed relative to each other, provided that a clear metric is employed.

Given the descriptions above, one can see that some on the left — those at the extreme pole of the axis — reject the state entirely as solution to social problems. At the same time, nobody on the right does.

A recent exploration relevant to this topic was given by Brad Spangler.

Using the guideline here, many but not all self-identified libertarians fall on the left of the spectrum. One might surmise that a “left”-libertarian, then, is any who falls farther left of the midpoint of the libertarian spectrum, to whatever degree.

  1. 8 Responses to “What is left-libertarianism?”

  2. By Aaron Kinney on 4 June 2009

    This is off topic, but I thought you should see it. Go here:

    Notice anything?

  3. By Mike Gogulski on 4 June 2009

    Aaron, click the image and look for the uploader’s name. Notice anything?

  4. By jdavidb on 4 June 2009

    I’m on the right and reject the state entirely as solution to social problems. But our definitions of “right” might vary.

  5. By Mike Gogulski on 4 June 2009

    Jdavidb: But by the description I’ve given above, that’s impossible, so, yes, you must be using a different definitional axis. What is it?

  6. By Aaron Kinney on 4 June 2009

    “Aaron, click the image and look for the uploader’s name. Notice anything?”

    Oh, snap! I should have looked for the uploader name. But the fact that you were the one who uploaded it only makes it more awesome 😀

  7. By Mike Gogulski on 4 June 2009

    🙂 Yeah. I uploaded it there in the spirit of “rebellion pr0n!” but now I see that it’s actually bringing me a handful of site visits here every day from people going “what the heck?”, clicking through to the image info page and finding the links where I “prove” — in accordance with Wikipedia policies — that the image is in the public domain.

    This in turn makes me think that I’m sometimes more uber than I often realize, which leads me into penitence to restore my humility score.

  8. By James Tuttle on 4 June 2009

    It’s a little Uber, IM”H”O.

  9. By Aurora on 8 November 2011

    I’m in 8th grade and have been thinking about what political party I should be in. I never really cared before now, but today I was reading about different political parties and have decided to be a left-libertarian. Thanks for this info, it helped me make my final decision!

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