Property is Theft: So is the Right’s Use of ‘Libertarian’

An extensive article about Rothbard and anarchism:

Rothbard: “We must therefore conclude that we are not anarchists”
by afaq

An Anarchist FAQ spends some time explaining, probably in far too much detail given their small size and corresponding importance, why “anarcho”-capitalism is not a form of anarchism. Ironically, its founder Murray Rothbard once agreed!”

The author made an interesting comment where he offered a juicy quote from Rothbard:

“One gratifying aspect of our rise to some prominence is that, for the first time in my memory, we, ‘our side,’ had captured a crucial word from the enemy . . . ‘Libertarians’ . . . had long been simply a polite word for left-wing [sic!] anarchists, that is for anti-private property anarchists, either of the communist or syndicalist variety. But now we had taken it over…” (The Betrayal of the American Right, Ludwig von Mises Institute, Auburn, 2007, p. 83)

I’ve always wondered about that. I’ve come across Chomsky explaining the origins of libertarianism in the European workers movement that included anarchists, Marxists, communists, etc. American libertarians, for the most part, are almost entirely ignorant of the origins of their ideology. It turns out that this was an intentional strategy to undermine leftist ideologies by co-opting them and creating bastardized versions of them that betray their original inspiration and principles.

Here is another article from the same website that discusses the issue:

Mutual Aid, Parecon and the right stealing “libertarian”
by Anarcho

3 thoughts on “Property is Theft: So is the Right’s Use of ‘Libertarian’

  1. This is interesting. I’ve always suspected there was something incongruous about some I’ve known with decidedly right wing views who call themselves libertarian when they are anything but! Thanks for posting this.

    • I don’t usually identify as a libertarian. I do have some left-libertarian tendencies, but I feel no need to defend libertarianism as an ideology. I really don’t care if a right-winger wants to call themselves a libertarian. I’m just rather annoyed when right-wingers act shocked that left-libertarians are libertarians too, even maybe more principled than those on the right as it has been argued.

      I’ve seen right-libertarians accuse left-wingers of trying to steal the libertarian label. Likewise, I’ve seen those on the right accuse those on the left of stealing the liberal label as if the so-called ‘classical’ liberals of today represent the real roots of liberalism. That is plain clueless or else disingenuous.

      The problem I see with the American right is that they don’t clearly have their own tradition. America has never had an established traditional form of conservatism. There are just many varieties of liberalism, including the distorted varieties advocated by reactionary conservatives. It is hard to even know what a worthy form of conservatism would mean these days.

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