09 November 2012

How Leftists Co-opted Libertarianism

Some leftists suggest that libertarianism was originally a left-wing ideal. This statement is a combination of half-truths and outright revisionism, designed to reframe the dialectic into a conversation that always leads back to collectivism. This tactic has previously been successful in redefining liberalism as a collectivist philosophy in the modern left-right paradigm, in spite of the fact that originally liberalism was based on individual sovereignty. Now it seems that leftists have their eyes on libertarianism, Noam Chomsky chief among them.

Chomsky is typical of a leftist, wherein his views are mired in so much revisionism that it’s hard to decide whether he can distinguish between true and false any longer, or whether he’s foolish enough to actually believe his views from the outset. A detailed website highlights this well, and a gem of an example of Chomsky propaganda is suggesting communist murder in the 20th century is no worse than anything caused by so-called capitalist countries. This is subjective nonsense that leftists spout a lot, since no regimes in history have slaughtered more efficiently or brutally than communists, over 100 million being the death count often provided. It’s important to note that so many people disappeared in communist countries that all one can really do is approximate on death tolls. Vanishing without a trace was common in the likes of the Soviet Union.

So what of the roots of the term libertarianism? Leftists would have us believe that it started as a collectivist ideal, and Chomsky says that the USA has a radically different notion of the term compared to the rest of the world. When I first heard leftists make these claims I questioned my own definition. Upon further examination I realised this is as false as any other leftist lies people have been fed. It’s false for the precise reason that liberalism was never originally defined as a collectivist philosophy. To understand why the distinction between collectivism and individualism is the best place to start.

An individualist believes people have unalienable rights, and that all rights are derived from the perspective of the individual above all, or even in totality. A collectivist believes the opposite, but a bit of flexibility is required to realise that some people sit in the middle. Therefore one would assume that the earliest classical liberals, which is where the modern concept of “liberty” first began, would tell us a lot about the roots of libertarianism. This is indeed the case.

In political philosophy one of the first topics students learn about is the social contract, with three philosophers being the basis. Hobbes is the first, and was not a classical liberal. He laid down his authoritarian view of the social contract in the 16th century, where the citizen was obligated to surrender freedom to live in the jurisdiction of the state. The argument was justified by postulating that people would be worse off without the state, and therefore should be grateful for their lot in life, even if this means sacrificing elements of their freedom.

Then came John Locke in the 17th century. He is considered by many to be the father of classical liberalism and libertarianism, which is very telling when we learn about his views. He was the world’s first individualist, believing that people have natural rights that are unalienable. His views became the foundation for enlightenment ideals, and none had a greater influence on the US declaration of independence than he.

Finally we have Jean-Jacque Rousseau. Rousseau also believed in unalienable rights, but he didn’t believe they began with the individual, rather the collective. Therefore the individual was subservient to the will of the collective. Hence a good title for Rousseau would be the father of modern collectivism.

Gradually liberalism was associated not with the philosophy of individual sovereignty, John Locke the earliest thinker to set this out, but a Rousseauian authoritarian view of what “liberty” was supposed to represent. By the time we reach the 19th century individualism is being systematically brushed aside by a new ideology – socialism. Philosophers like John Stuart Mill were associated with “liberalism”, but in truth the corrupting influence of utilitarianism was a strong aspect of his philosophy, not to mention his gradual approval of socialism.

Thanks to the corrupting influence of collectivism, particularly socialism and utilitarianism, the definition of liberalism began to mean something other than individualism. Thus the term libertarianism would eventually become the alternative for individualists. Now it seems that leftists have their eyes on this label too, calling themselves left-libertarians, which can mean anything from anarcho-syndicalist to anarcho-communist, or any number of collectivist stances.

The terms ‘leftist’ and even ‘rightist’ can further empower the leftist to mislead, though they have their uses as distinctions if you can understand what they really represent. These terms began during the French revolution, where extremists sat on the left of the national assembly, and the moderates on the right. Those on the left wanted an end to the monarchy, while those on the right wanted a limited monarchy to remain. As we know the ‘leftists’ won, and subsequently the guillotine beheaded thousands. A leftist has thereafter been linked to extremists that want to eradicate the status quo at virtually any cost, and is historically the catalyst of the bloody revolutions that overwhelmingly dominated the 20th century.

Those on the right are considered moderates, or ‘conservatives’, and preservers of the status quo. This description of the left and right fits well today in a political landscape where the left perpetually strives for endless, and often irrational change, whereas the conservative right wishes to maintain social and economic order. I don’t personally feel I fit into either of these distinctions. Above all I am an individualist who upholds categorical morals of unalienable natural rights and the non-aggression principle. I however oppose changes that provide power to the collective, further eroding individual liberty.

As we can see neither libertarian nor liberal were ever originally defined as collectivist. The father of liberal and libertarian thought was the most influential individualist of all, John Locke. His views date all the way back to the 17th century, long before socialist or utilitarian philosophy took hold. Leftists are simply reverting to their typical tactics of revising the truth with lies, and withholding facts to make people think otherwise.

The only way to stop this tactic from being effective is to force leftists to show how John Locke is the father of liberalism and libertarianism. Individualists can then show that instead of making the dubious argument that living under a collective is preferable to living without it, and thus people must sacrifice some freedom, individualists can show the opposite; to make civilisation work we must make it an improvement on living in a state of nature, not a culture where the individual is forced to sacrifice individual liberty for the sake of modernity.


  1. I laugh so hard when I see known feminist friends of mine post about being a libertarian and in the next breath claim freedoms should be suppressed for the greater good. In particular if you are a white male because of crimes you never committed. I also giggle when female friends will say it is worth the risk of having men arrested by the simple accusation of a frightened woman. The risk to them is more than tolerable because they are not men!

    Forsaken Eagle

  2. I consider myself a left wing libertarian, but I will let you straighten me if needed. I support gay marriage and legalization of marijuana, but I also want to see a universal, single-payer health care system in the United States.

    1. Left-wing libertarian is an oxymoron. You can't be a libertarian and advocate institutionalized theft.

  3. here let me help you out:

    libertarian communism and chomsky is irrelevant to what you're trying to get at with this article. it's obvious that you did little to no research on what left-libertarianism is

    1. You just posted me a link to a load of rehashed leftist junk appearing to offer various philosophies, but all relating to identity politics and collective ownership. It is totally irrelevant to the points made in this post, which addresses the roots of individualist libertarianism, and dates back much further than any left-wing version. Left-libertarianism is a relatively new concept in comparison.

      Now unless you can learn how to debate honestly and logically, as well as stay on point with the relevant post or video in question, subsequent comments will not be permitted.

  4. Thank you so much for doing what you do, E. I wish I knew your actual name so that I could refer to you in a more personal manner. My apologies, but I don't have a lot to contribute other than to inform you that I'm greatly supportive of yourself and your output. We need thousands more people like you if we are ever to put an end to the utter abhorrence that is collectivism. Please continue with your admirable work, and if you ever have a book published, know that I will be the first person to place their order.

    1. Thank you for your kind and supportive words. I do like to write, and would like to self-publish some ebooks, one fiction and one non-fiction in the guise of my online material. I have no plans to do this in the near future, but it certainly helps to hear that there are people out there that would like to see this come to pass.

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  6. We are not Borg, Resistance is vital.