A Discussion on “Libertarian Socialists”

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By: Garry Hamilton

The following email thread occurred yesterday:

Email #1:


“also, everyone with half a brain knows that the term ‘libertarian socialist’ is both valid and not contradictory.”

Just as I thought. You have half a brain. Thanks for the confirmation.

We’ll be taking up a collection to buy you a shift key and a set of instructions for its use.

Email #2:

M: They are not contradictory. One deals with economics, the other with freedoms.

Look at Dictatorships for an example – they exist in countries with every economic model. Same with Democracies. Libertarianism is about personal freedom. It is NOT about the right to shit on thy neighbor. It is NOT about Corporate Freedoms, because Corporations, despite the SCOTUS ruling, ARE NOT people.

Email #3 from Garry Hamilton:

Not contradictory?

Let us understand what socialism actually is. Socialism is a system where resources are centrally managed and centrally redistributed according to arbitrary rules of “fairness” as adjudicated by a central authority. There is nothing voluntary about socialism.

The idea that there can be a principled libertarian who subscribes to the notion of involuntary redistribution of his production seems absurd to me on its face.

Socialism may seem like an economic system, but it’s more properly a system of enforced moralities with direct economic aspects. In order to subscribe to socialism, one must first subscribe to the idea that there is such a thing as enforcible fairness and that such fairness can be arbitrarily dictated.

The central authority decides who shall be taxed and to what degree, and who shall benefit from the distribution of those tax revenues. If a voting system (elections) is in place, the central authority may well be swayed in its distribution decisions by a desire to remain in power and thus tend to fund the “needs” of various strategic voting blocs. This template is, of course, corrupt. Likewise, the sitting central authority may favor a wealthy benefactor (say, a large corporation or some random billionaire) in order to secure campaign funding and related support. This template is also corrupt. If there is no voting/election system in place, then a defacto dictatorship — benevolent or not — exists and I’m pretty sure I don’t have to argue that this won’t fly with principled libertarians.

The idea then that there can be a “libertarian socialist” is — at least to me — a nonsense assertion. Libertarian principles lie along a vector toward minimal government, while socialist principles lie along a vector of maximum government. That’s pretty much an unsustainable dichotomy.

The “people-ness or not” of corporations is irrelevant to the oxymoron.

Freedom of choice is relevant. Socialism, through the mechanism of enforced morality, erodes freedom of choice and, eventually, eliminates it. The “common good” becomes the universal overriding principle and all else — especially individual aspirations — is subordinated to that cause. That this has economic consequences is only the most externally visible effect. The “economy” of socialism isn’t the mechanizing principle, central control and dictated fairness is.

One thought on “A Discussion on “Libertarian Socialists”

  1. Excellent article! Articulated brilliantly; even those with half a brain 🙂 should be able to understand it. 🙂

    Great job!

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