Political Science

Libertarian Socialism

Libertarian Socialism

Libertarian socialism, also known as socialist libertarianism, is a socialist political philosophy that is left-wing, anti-authoritarian, anti-statist, and libertarian, and rejects the state’s control of the economy under state socialism. The primary goal is to establish a decentralized society in which power and decision-making are distributed among individuals and communities. It criticizes hierarchical structures such as capitalism and the state for perpetuating inequality and limiting individual freedom.

Libertarian socialists, who overlap with anarchism and libertarianism, criticize wage slavery relationships in the workplace, emphasizing workers’ self-management and decentralized political structures. Libertarian socialism, as a broad socialist tradition and movement, includes anarchist, Marxist, and anarchist- or Marxist-inspired thought, as well as other left-libertarian tendencies.

The concept of a state is opposed by libertarian socialism. It asserts that a society based on freedom and justice can only be realized through the abolition of authoritarian institutions that control specific means of production and subordinate the majority to an owning class or political and economic elite.

Key principles of libertarian socialism include:

  • Workers’ Self-Management: Libertarian socialists advocate for workers’ direct control and management of workplaces. This means that decisions about production, distribution, and other aspects are made democratically.
  • Common Ownership: Libertarian socialists advocate for the elimination of private ownership of the means of production in favor of common ownership. The idea is that resources and wealth should be shared collectively in order to ensure equality and avoid exploitation.
  • Voluntary Association: Libertarian socialists emphasize voluntary association and free cooperation among individuals and communities. They believe that people should be free to form associations and communities based on their own preferences and needs, rather than being compelled by external forces.
  • Opposition to Hierarchies: Libertarian socialists reject hierarchies of power and authority. They aim to dismantle oppressive structures, including the state, and promote non-coercive and non-dominating relationships within society.

Libertarian socialists advocate for decentralized structures based on federal or confederal associations, such as citizens’/popular assemblies, cooperatives, libertarian municipalism, trade unions, and workers’ councils. This is done within the context of a broader call for liberty and free association through the identification, critique, and practical deconstruction of illegitimate authority in all aspects of human life. Libertarian socialism differs from the authoritarian approach of Bolshevism and the reformism of Fabianism.