FAQ In-Depth: Anarchism in the Libertarian Party

Q: Are Libertarians anarchists?

AFirst, it must be made clear that the Libertarian Party understands the term “anarchist” in a different way than most. The word anarchy literally means “the absence of a ruler”, or, more simply, “the absence of government”. Popular usage, however, has made the term “anarchy” nearly synonymous with the word “chaos”, and “anarchist” with the word “criminal”, largely with the black masked group known as Antifa. These associations are devoid of logical meaning, so the Libertarian Party ignores them, recognizing the terms “anarchy” and “anarchist” in the purely academic sense, to describe a philosophy which simply calls for the abolition of the state.

That all having been said, the Libertarian Party is not an anarchist party. We are a big tent organization, welcoming anyone who believes that the individual ought to be as independent and as sovereign as possible. Although most libertarians are not anarchists, such a philosophy does not necessarily exclude anarchism. The state infringes routinely on the individual’s right to self-determination, so being an anarchist — that is, entirely opposing the existence of the state — is perfectly within the reasonable bounds of libertarianism. Anarchism is essentially a variant of libertarianism which is philosophically equivalent to, but significantly more radical in implementation than, the official Libertarian Party platform. Like any political party, including the Republicans and Democrats, the Libertarian Party hosts many ideological blocs. These ideologies may include, but are not limited to, classical liberalism, minarchism, anarcho-capitalism, and even certain propertarian realizations of libertarian socialism.

However, unlike the schisms which often seem to threaten to tear the Republican and Democratic Parties to pieces, libertarians tend to view their own party’s internal disagreements as primarily pragmatic, not philosophical, in nature. For instance, conversation between minarchists and anarchists in the Libertarian Party is generally not about whether government is good or bad on principle, but merely whether government is necessary from an economic point of view. The minarchists do not want any less freedom simply because they do not want to abolish the entire government. Since the Libertarian Party’s core principles are built on a philosophy and not a policy agenda, all of these ideologies, even if they propose implementing different policies, are compatible. We are all working together toward the shared goal of maximizing human freedom.