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Libertarianism (from Latin: libertas, meaning "freedom") is a collection of political philosophies and movements that uphold liberty as a core principle. Libertarians seek to maximize political freedom and autonomy, emphasizing freedom of choice, voluntary association, and individual judgment. Libertarians share a skepticism of authority and state power, but they diverge on the scope of their opposition to existing political and economic systems. Various schools of libertarian thought offer a range of views regarding the legitimate functions of state and private power, often calling for the restriction or dissolution of coercive social institutions.

Libertarianism can be a term for a form of left-wing politics. Such left-libertarian ideologies seek to abolish capitalism and private ownership of the means of production, or else to restrict their purview or effects, in favor of common or cooperative ownership and management, viewing private property as a barrier to freedom and liberty. Left libertarian ideologies include—but are not limited to—anarcho-communism, anarcho-syndicalism, mutualism and egoism, alongside many other anti-paternalist, New Left schools of thought centered around economic egalitarianism. Modern right-libertarian ideologies, such as minarchism and anarcho-capitalism, co-opted the term in the mid-20th century to instead advocate laissez-faire capitalism and strong private property rights such as in land, infrastructure and natural resources.

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Social anarchism, sometimes referred to as socialist anarchism, is a non-state form of socialism and is considered to be the branch of anarchism that sees individual freedom as being dependent upon mutual aid.

Social anarchist thought emphasizes community and social equality as complementary to autonomy and personal freedom. They also advocate the conversion of present-day private property into social property or the commons while retaining respect for personal property. The term is used to describe those who—contra individualist anarchism—place an emphasis on the communitarian and cooperative aspects of anarchist theory while also opposing authoritarian forms of communitarianism associated with groupthink and collective conformity, instead favouring a reconciliation between individuality and sociality.

Emerged in the late 19th century as a distinction from individualist anarchism, social anarchism is considered an umbrella term that includes—but not limited to—the post-capitalist economic models of anarcho-communism, collectivist anarchism and sometimes mutualism as well as the trade union approach of anarcho-syndicalism, the social struggle strategies of platformism and specifism and the environmental philosophy of social ecology.

The term "libertarianism" was coined and used as synonymous for anarchism and socialism, hence the terms "social anarchism" and "socialist anarchism" are often used interchangeably with libertarian socialism, left-libertarianism or left anarchism.

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But what the Left That Was demanded was not the symbolic image of the "broken rifle" - so very much in vogue these days in pacifist boutiques - but the training and arming of the people for revolutionary ends, solely in the form of democratic militias. A resolution coauthored by Luxemburg and Lenin (a rare event) and adopted by the Second International in 1906 declared that it "sees in the democratic organization of the army, in the popular militia instead of the standing army, an essential guarantee for the prevention of aggressive wars, and for facilitating the removal of differences between nations.

This was not simply an antiwar resolution, although opposition to the war that was fast approaching was the principal focus of the statement. The arming of the people was a basic tenet of the Left That Was, and pious demands for gun control among today's leftists would have been totally alien to the thinking of the Left That Was. As recently as 1930s, the concept of "the people in arms" remained a basic tenet of independent socialist, no to speak of anarchist, movements throughout the world, including those of the United States, as I myself so well remember. The notion of schooling the masses in reliance on the police and army for public safety, much less turning the other cheek in the face of violence, would have been regarded as heinous.

— Murray Bookchin (1921–2006)
Social Anarchism or Lifestyle Anarchism (1995)

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The black rays symbolize the rejection of illegitimate authority and hierarchy while the red rays symbolize socialism (workers' control of production) and democratic governance within workplaces and communities
Credit: Philip Kanellopoulos

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Murray Bookchin.jpg
Murray Bookchin was an American anarchist and libertarian socialist author, orator, historian and political theorist. A pioneer in the ecology movement, Bookchin initiated the critical theory of social ecology within anarchist, libertarian socialist and ecological thought. He was the author of two dozen books covering topics in politics, philosophy, history, urban affairs and ecology. Among the most important were Our Synthetic Environment (1962), Post-Scarcity Anarchism (1971) and The Ecology of Freedom (1982).

In the late 1990s, Bookchin became disenchanted with the increasingly apolitical lifestylism of the contemporary anarchist movement, stopped referring to himself as an anarchist and founded his own libertarian socialist ideology called Communalism.

Bookchin was an anti-capitalist and vocal advocate of the decentralisation of society along ecological and democratic lines. His writings on libertarian municipalism, a theory of face-to-face, assembly democracy, had an influence on the green movement and anti-capitalist direct action groups such as Reclaim the Streets as well as the democratic confederalism of Rojava.


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