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Short piece on the definition of libertarianism. Some of the arguments here maybe contentious. Please use discretion wherever applicable.


Libertarianism is a term used by a spectrum of political philosophies which seek to promote individual liberty and seek to minimize or even abolish the state. There is no single theory that can be reliably identified as the libertarian theory, and no single principle or set of principles on which all libertarians would agree.Since the late 19th century the term often has been used as a synonym for anarchism.  Some versions of libertarianism are synonymous with classical liberalism. The word libertarian is an antonym of authoritarian.

The term libertarian in a metaphysical or philosophical sense first was used by late Enlightenment free-thinkers to refer to those who believed in free will, as opposed to determinism. Libertarianism in this sense is still encountered in metaphysics in discussions of free will. The first recorded use was in 1789 by William Belsham in a discussion of free will and in opposition to "necessitarian" (or determinist) views.  Metaphysical and philosophical contrasts between philosophies of necessity and libertarianism continued in the early 19th century.

The first anarchist journal to use "libertarian" was La Libertaire, Journal du Mouvement Social published in New York between 1858 and 1861 by French communist-anarchist Joseph Déjacque. It was later popularized in France in the 1890s in order to counter and evade the anti-anarchist laws known as the lois scélérates.[citation needed] According to the anarchist historian Max Nettlau, the first use of the term libertarian communism was in November 1880, when a French anarchist congress employed it to more clearly identify its doctrines. The French anarchist journalist Sébastien Faure, later founder and editor of the four-volume Anarchist Encyclopedia, started the weekly paper Le Libertaire (The Libertarian) in 1895.

In the meantime, in the United States, libertarianism as a synonym for anarchism had begun to take hold. The anarchist communist geographer and social theorist Peter Kropotkin wrote in his seminal 1911 Encyclopaedia Britannica article Anarchism that:

It would be impossible to represent here, in a short sketch, the penetration, on the one hand, of anarchist ideas into modern literature, and the influence, on the other hand, which the libertarian ideas of the best contemporary writers have exercised upon the development of anarchism.

Today many anarcho-communist, libertarian socialist, and other left-libertarian movements worldwide continue to describe themselves as "libertarians." These philosophies are opposed to most or all forms of private property and their proponents tend to call pro-property libertarians "propertarians."