What Is Left-Libertarianism? A Conversation with Gary Chartier

What do you think of when you hear the word “libertarian”?

Do you think of selfish big business apologists? Reactionary constitutionalists? Naive utopians? Pot-smoking hippies? Rational economic thinkers?

Political labels are confusing, which is why it’s so necessary to define them. It’s also necessary to understand what other baggage people bring into the viewpoints that become political labels.

When I think about “libertarianism,” I think of a commitment to individual liberty as a primary political value. When I think about “liberty”, I specifically mean freedom from violent coercion in any context.

That seems pretty straightforward, and it has its own pretty radical implications for how to think about political structures.

But what other views and what kind of society can a commitment to individual liberty entail or coexist with? Can a commitment to individual liberty live alongside concerns for social inequality? After liberty is secured, are libertarians on the left, the right, or somewhere else in how they think about culture?

These are the questions we explored on our most recent Praxis philosophy night. Legal scholar and author (The Conscience of an Anarchist, Markets Not CapitalismGary Chartier joined us to give us the background on one answer to these questions: left-libertarianism. He makes the case that libertarians have historically shared much in common with the left, from a concern for gender and racial equality to a skepticism of corporate power.

If you like exploring the more interesting and radical corners of political philosophy – and the unexpected fusions that exist there – you will love this conversation.

Here are some of the resources Gary mentioned during our call:

James Walpole

James Walpole is a writer, startup marketer, and perpetual apprentice. You're reading his blog right now, and he really appreciates it. Don't let it go to his head, though.

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