Sunday, January 27, 2008

"Libertarian" vs. "Anarchist"

There is no doubt I am an anarchist, but am I a "libertarian"? I always thought so. From what I have always been told, a "libertarian" is one who opposes aggression and fraud, nothing more, nothing less. Now I have recently been told that a strict adherence to the Constitution is also a core value of libertarianism. The thing is no one ever mentioned that part to me until now. If that really is that important, shouldn't someone have mentioned it? Even looking at the Libertarian Party website I find no mention of it, and they are the ones who are trying to be a part of "the system". They do mention the "libertarian foundation" of America, but it is a bit of a stretch to interpret that specifically as a reference to the Constitution.

From a link on Check Your Premises I found a book on libertarianism from the early 1980s which contains this statement: "Libertarianism elaborates an entire philosophy from one simple premise: initiatory violence or its threat (coercion) is wrong (immoral, evil, bad, supremely impractical, etc) and is forbidden; nothing else is." Nothing about the Constitution in there either.

I know the internet is not the sum total of human knowledge, but it is a good Cliff's Note of reality. The fact is, in an internet search of a great many libertarian sites, I only ran across one that even mentioned the Constitution as something that libertarians believe in (and now I can't even find it again). If it were that important, someone is seriously dropping the ball.

I ask this rhetorically. I'm not looking for a debate over what makes a "real" libertarian, since that has been done to death. It really doesn't matter to me one way or the other. I know what I believe, and that doesn't change because of a label. I am happy being an anarchist if no one else wants me.