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Related Words, Beliefs, Background for Choice #39

Worldview Theme #50A: Libertarian                                   Worldview Theme #50B: Left Anarchist

for a summary read these 5 entries in order: Atlas Shrugged, objectivism and the virtue of selfishness, private property sanctity, non-aggression principle, liberty principle 

for a summary read these 5 entries in order: anarchism, left anarchism, collectivist anarchism, mutualism,
                                                      nation state-- argument for its existence

anarchy--a state of society having no governmental authority or law; see also anarchism 

anarchismAccording to the Oxford Languages Dictionary,  this is “belief in the abolition of all government and the organization of society on a voluntary, co-operative basis without recourse to force or compulsion." Wikipedia describes it as "a political philosophy and movement that rejects all involuntary, coercive forms of hierarchy.”

Atlas Shrugged--Ayn Rand's epic 1000 page plus 1950s novel that celebrates her philosophy, out of which grew the modern libertarian movement. The book’s title refers to the industrial giants who rebel against continuing to do all they had done to support modern society. Its climax involves “John Galt” speaking as follows, "This countrythe product of reasoncould not survive on the morality of sacrifice.  It was not built by men who sought self-immolation or by men who sought handouts...You let them infect you with the worship of needand this country became a giant in body with a mooching midget in place of its soul, while its living soul was driven underground to labor and feed you in silence...We will rebuild America's system on the moral premise which had been its foundation...the premise that man is an end in himself, not the means to the ends of others, that man's life, his freedom, his happiness are his by inalienable right."  Many felt that this speech was Ayn Rand--who grew up in and escaped tyranny in the Soviet Union--giving her rebuttal to the thinking behind the Marxist creed: "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need."     

bureaucracy—refers to the (typically non-elected) administrative staff of a government or large organization who make sure that laws/ rules are followed,  policies are carried out per higher level agreement, paperwork is completed, etc..  Bureaucracies are often organized in hierarchical fashion to promote efficiency. Critics charge they are part of a “machine” in which those who value individual freedom are trapped like “cogs.”  Anarchists and others prefer less centralized /less hierarchical structures. 

civil liberties–are individual rights typically guaranteed by democratic and sometimes by other governments in constitutions or similar legally binding documents.  Their existence can be traced to efforts to limit the potential for government abuse of power and interference in the lives of individuals.  Examples of particular civil liberties are freedoms of assembly, speech, and religion, and the rights to marry, a fair trial, privacy, and to bear arms.    

civil liberties—ACLU = American Civil Liberties Union—There are three things these people want you to know about them: “1) We protect American values. In many ways, the ACLU is the nation's most conservative organization. Our job is to conserve America's original civic values--the Constitution and the Bill of Rights--and defend the rights of every man, woman and child in this country; 2) We're not anti-anything. The only things we fight are attempts to take away or limit your civil liberties, like your right to practice any religion you want (or none at all);  or to decide in private whether or not to have a child; or to speak out--for or against--anything at all; or to be treated with equality and fairness, no matter who you are; 3) We're there for you. Rich or poor, straight or gay, black or white or brown, urban or rural, pious or atheist, American-born or foreign-born, able-bodied or living with a disability. Every person in this country should have the same basic rights. And since our founding in 1920, we've been working hard to make sure no one takes them away.”

coercionrelated to being forced to do something against your will

collective -- a typically democratic and egalitarian-minded  group of people, brought together by a common issue, interest, project or goal,  often after realizing that their political, social, or economic clout greatly increases after joining together.  Cooperatives represent a type of collective, one generally formed around some economic endeavor, with perceived economic benefit in mind.

collectivist anarchism -- a type of left anarchism in which the means of production would be collectively owned, controlled and managed by the producers themselves. Workers would be paid based the length of their productive labor (rather than the Marxist ideal of "to each according to his need").  

common good, the--can be defined in various ways depending on one's perspective. Some define it narrowly as that which is good for every member of the community; others broaden the community here to include all human beings. While libertarians argue it is a meaningless concept, utilitarians equate it with "the greatest good for the greatest  number of individuals."  

commune--refers to either a small, locally-based political division or a place of group living with self-governing community

communism—idealized society that forms after revolutionary class struggle in capitalist societies as envisioned by 19th century German philosopher Karl Marx in which all property is state-owned and wealth, work, material goods, etc are allocated based on something like a “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need" perspective. The earliest mass trial of attempting this began in 1917 in St. Petersburg Russia and ended with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.  Most would characterize its history by saying that noble idealist goals were defeated by human nature and cumbersome centralized bureaucratic hierarchy / authoritarianism / totalitarian coercion tarnished the whole thing. 

cooperatives principles -- These were formulated in the 1840s by a co-operative of weavers in Rochdale, Lancashire, England: 1) voluntary and open membership; 2) democratic member control; 3) members economic participation; 4) autonomy and independence; 5) provide education, training, and information 6) cooperate and work with other cooperatives; 7) concern for the community

corporate state -- a term used by those who believe that government and large corporations are run by the same people and are so intermeshed that corporate goals and policy and government goals and policy are essentially the same

corporate welfare--refers to government support--what critics might call "handouts"--provided to private corporations in the form of subsidies, tax breaks / credits, and laws / benefits / exemptions by which private sector businesses in some way use the public sector (taxpayer dollars, public land, etc.) to their advantage.

egalitarianism -- the belief that all human beings should have the same rights, opportunities and privileges.

egoism -- the belief that individual self interest is the basis for all human behavior and that this is how it ought to be.

eminent domain, expropriation, etc.--refers to the right of a government to purchase or take private land for public use.  The right is sometimes invoked in building highways, utility distribution lines, etc.

empower-to authorize, give permission or power to do something

entitlement, sense of—a state or condition in which one feels deserving and worthy of particular benefits, privileges, or rewards (including respect) without needing to provide additional demonstration of worthiness.  Favorably perceiving one’s status or valuing one’s background relative to others’ can produce a sense of entitlement that is exclusive

equal opportunity—in a narrow sense it refers to “leveling the playing field” so that all applicants for a particular job are treated similarly without prejudice or barriers that have nothing to do with ability to perform the job. In a bigger sense it can refer to all members of a society having an opportunity to prosper based solely on their ability, motivation, hard work, etc without prejudice or insurmountable hurdles put there by entrenched “powers that be”.

fascism–a centralized authoritarian system of government that exalts law and order, national pride, race, economic and social regimentation, and the survival of the fittest, while suppressing dissent, and trampling individual freedom. Promoting conformity by instilling fear, Playing on prejudice in using propaganda and scapegoating minorities are among tactics used by fascists

government inefficiency–an umbrella term that refers to government failings to efficiently carry out its mission / social programs.  Waste of taxpayer money is a typical manifestation; fraud / corruption are extreme ones. 

gun control–proponents advocate bans on certain weapons (including military style semi-automatic rifles, handguns), restrictions on gun purchases, and registration of all guns.  While typically not contesting legitimate gun use for hunting, they cite studies that connect firearm availability with increased domestic violence and homicides

gun ownership and violence—while analysis of data does not unequivocally link  higher rates of gun ownership with higher rates of homicides—nor suggest that mentally ill people with guns are any more dangerous than mentally healthy people are-- it does strongly support that higher rates of gun ownership is linked to higher rates of suicide

gun rights–in the USA, advocates argue that the 2nd Amendment guarantees "the right of the people to keep and bear arms." Many argue that self defense is a basic right, and that guns deter crime.  Some feel that even firearm registration requirements are an infringement of their rights (including privacy).  Many gun enthusiasts are hunters

individual freedom diagram, placing groups on--this is an oversimplified representation but has value as a starting point for understanding / discussion. Note the meaning of the term "liberal" has changed:  "classical liberals" of the  laissez faire / mid 18th century era in Europe are to definitely to be distinguished from those of the USA New Deal era and decades following and related pro social welfare thinkers in Western Europe. Perhaps the "liberals (left)" in the diagram most closely refer to these as they exist today; whereas the people called "libertarians" today are more like the "classical liberals."   Similarly the "conservatives (right)" in the diagram refers to folks today--who are not necessarily those wanting to preserve the status quo / rigid hierarchy. Those are to be contrasted with progressives (not shown).  The wide variety of socialists are not shown--they would typically fall within the "statism" group.

individualism -- a social philosophy and belief system that places individual interests and rights above those of society , and individual freedom and independence above any social contract obligations

laissez-faire -- refers to free market capitalism being left alone to operate without government interference

law: private vs. public--the former involves relationships between individuals (including corporations), the latter with issues involving the state and welfare of society (including penal law, and regulatory statutes, etc.)

left anarchism -- a brand of anarchism that opposes private ownership of the means of production.  Some think of this as a "libertarian socialism"--much different than the libertarian philosophy of Ayn Rand and others that preach the sanctity of private property.  In recent years the term "post-left anarchism" has been used to distant this brand of anarchism from authoritarian leftism (whose legitimacy died, they feel, with the collapse of the Soviet Union.) 


libertarian --one who supports individual freedom and government policies which promote it, limiting the power of government so that individual liberty is maximized, having complete control over and accepting personal responsibility for how one's body or personal property is used, and the non-aggression principle. 

liberty principle -- from moral theory, a principle that states that seeking liberty for oneself with someone else’s freedom in mind takes moral precedence over seeking such liberty that leads to the loss of liberty or freedom for someone else.

market economy -- a private, free-enterprise system based on independent consumer agents, a price system, and economic forces of supply and demand

Marxism -- a 19th century dispassionate analysis of the inherent flaws in a pure capitalist economic system which later served as the basis for 20th century socialist and communist states. The analysis considers an economic struggle between capitalist owners and workers, identifies the origin of the capitalist’s profit in the form of “surplus value” created by worker labor that is not paid for, models business cycles of boom and bust (falling profits, layoffs, crash), with small businesses absorbed by the growth of larger firms. According to Robert Heilbroner, “...the Marxist model of how capitalism worked was extraordinarily prophetic”. Marx felt that capitalism was inherently unstable and that it would be socially impossible for governments in such societies to right wrongs -- for that would require the powerful upper class to act in something other than its own economic self interest. He felt that eventually capitalism would be replaced by a classless society in which production would become centralized in the machinery of the state -- which itself might eventually “wither away”.  Modern economic history -- in particular western economies building social justice into their systems, moving away from pure capitalism and toward social welfare states -- suggests that Marx failed to appreciate the social adaptability of capitalism.

means testing—an approach  to determining eligibility for some benefit, often a payment from a welfare state. It can also help gauge level of assistance offered.  Means refers to income, wealth, resources, support available, and other factors that inform answering the question, “Does this person (or family) need the assistance being considered?”

mutualism -- an economic theory popular among some anarchists. Its chief belief is the idea that a market without government interference would not involve profit because firms would then compete for workers just as workers compete for firms. Without government protection of monopolies, its proponents claim, each worker would receive fair and full compensation -- since no deduction for profit to the employer would be removed. 

nation state, argument for its existence -- Both national governments and huge multinational corporations are necessary, Heilbroner and Thurow argue, because “they seem to be the only ways in which we can organize mankind to perform the arduous and sustained labor without which humanity itself would rapidly perish”.

nationalization—when private property is transferred to the ownership of a national government, making it public property.  Such transfer can occur without coercion and be accompanied by full compensation, or the government can simply seize the property.  Nationalization is the opposite of privatization—where public property is sold and becomes private property.

needs, Maslow's hierarchy of–American psychologist Abraham Maslow (1908-1970) ranked needs from most basic to highest as follows: 1) physiological: air, water, food, shelter, sleep, sex, 2) safety: security / not feeling threatened, 3) belongingness and love, 4) self esteem and esteem by others, and  5) growth needs: both cognitive and  esthetic leading to self actualization.  Maslow stressed lower needs had to be satisfied first (e.g. a starving person isn't concerned with aesthetics), and that higher needs are more uniquely human. The scheme can be represented using a pyramid.

needs vs. wants–the former are something that you have to have, the latter are something you would like to have.  If you haven't guessed, needs are more basic, things like air to breathe, food to eat, water to drink, shelter, and other things– including other people and non-material things they can provide, and other intangibles.  As an example of what might be in this last category are needs that involve feelings such as  "the need to feel valued."  How do you decide if something is really a need or merely a want?  One way is to ask yourself the question, "Can I survive without this?"    

non-aggression principle--the idea, as expressed by Ayn Rand, that coercive physical force or the threat of such use against person or property should never be used first, and that its only legitimate use is for defensive purposes by individuals or by governments to punish law-breakers.

objectivism and the virtue of selfishness -- as popularized in the 1950s and 60s by Ayn Rand, objectivism values rational selfishness and views altruism as contrary to human nature. It sees the central purpose of a rational person’s life as productive work, and trade (which it links with justice) as “the only rational ethical principle for all human relationships”. Not surprisingly, this philosophy embraces laissez faire capitalism. Socially, objectivist ethics places the highest value on an individual’s happiness, and denigrates his or her putting aside self interest and sacrificing for others -- singling out as mistaken the belief that one person’s happiness necessarily leads to others’ misery. Politically, its basic principle is “no man may initiate the use of physical force against others”. Rand’s philosophy is embraced by many libertarians and many who rail against “the social welfare state”, “the common good”, "progressive income tax structures", etc.

personal autonomy—has concrete meaning in the same sense as bodily integrity, and subjective meaning in a personal freedom sense. The latter is best captured in Paul Goodman’s seeing freedom as a form of autonomy in exercising “the ability to initiate a task and do it one’s own way, without orders from authorities who do not know the actual problem and the available means.” Left anarchists especially like this concept.

pornography and restricting creative expression -- pornography refers to anything that depicts erotic behavior in a way to cause sexual excitement. Many argue that pornography should be protected under laws guaranteeing free speech and creative expression. They rail against laws restricting it, characterizing what is being banned as either (at best) merely artistic expression or (at worse) merely a victimless crime. Others argue that display of pornography should be restricted -- in some cases banned entirely -- because it is harmful to society in the following ways: 1) it leads to increases in sex crimes, 2) it is degrading to women, and 3) it perverts the normal sexual development of children.

progressive taxation—a policy by which governments tax those with higher incomes at a greater percentage rate than those with lower incomes. Ideally, this policy taxes those who can afford to pay proportionally more, benefiting those who can least afford it. It is to be distinguished from a flat tax rate, when all pay the same rate regardless of income, and from regressive taxation, where those who can least afford it pay more or are hit harder by the tax.

private property, sanctity of -- the belief that individual possession of private property gives people rights that help guarantee their freedom, and that government challenging those private property rights is tantamount to government trampling on their freedom. Americans who put private property on such a pedestal typically oppose government restrictions on how they use their land, and government employees trespassing on their property -- perhaps citing the fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution to bolster their legal standing.

rationalism -- a philosophical orientation that links finding ultimate truth to employing reasoning

rebel -- According to Albert Camus, a rebel is someone who says no and yes simultaneously. He says “No, I’m not going to take it anymore -- this has gone on long enough!”. But in doing that, he says yes to working in solidarity with others to rectify whatever situation he finds intolerable. And, as Camus, puts it, “Rebellion cannot exist without the feeling that, somehow and someway, one is right”

reciprocity (or reciprocal altruism)–in human interaction, the idea that one good turn deserves another, or that one should return a favor.  Example: if you’ll pick lice out of my hair, I’ll pick them out of yours!"     

social contract--its most important meaning refers to an agreement between the people and their rulers in which the  duties and rights of each are defined and constrained.  While rulers would say it serves to maintain order, the people point to it as establishing the principle that rulers have legitimacy only if they have the consent of those they govern

socialismgenerally refers to 1) various  economic / political theories, ideologies, and political movements, and / or 2) an economic system characterized by state ownership of the means of production and distribution.

Social Darwinism -- the application of Darwinian principles (natural selection, survival of the fittest, etc) to social practices as a natural defense of entrepreneurial capitalism

statism–refers to belief in accepting the political authority of a central state government and its legitimacy with respect to governing, taxing,  regulating—even owning—various sectors of the economy.  Its opposite is anarchism.  Statists value individual freedom in personal matters far less than left wing types who are today called liberals; they value individual freedom in economic matters far less than right wing types who are today called conservatives. Statists generally prefer a society where a heavily centralized state (national) government has a great deal of control over individuals and communities in terms of personal and economic matters. States where the control is total are said to be totalitarian. 

victimless crimes -- certain behaviors that most societies frown on, and many have restricted or made illegal, but nonetheless seemingly involve only consenting adults and have no immediately obvious victims. Examples include gambling, prostitution, assisted suicide, recreational drug use, and public drunkenness. 

welfare assistance—government provided monetary or other assistance designed to provide an economic or social safety net for those disadvantaged members of society who are unable to support themselves.  Eligibility is determined by income below the poverty level and other “means tests.” Recipients are typically required to demonstrate that they are seeking employment or have enrolled in job training.    

vigilantism--a sort of mob justice that results when people take the law into their own hands. This can result if there is a perceived gap between crime and punishment. 

wise use movement -- a movement led by people who feel that the government has no right dictating what private landowners can and can not do with their land. The movement, linked to the “Sagebrush Rebellion” in the western U.S. -- which also involves public land management concerns, grew out of increasing frustration with laws containing environmental restrictions, protecting endangered species, limiting development, etc. “Wise use” refers to a philosophy about how land should be developed, a philosophy supposedly based on common sense.

wise use movement philosophy “articles of faith”—Here are what are perhaps the five key ones that the philosophy is based on:   1) Humans, like all organisms,  must use natural resources to survive; 2) The Earth and its life are tough and resilient, not fragile and delicate;   3) We only learn about the world through trial and error;  4)  Our limitless imaginations can break through natural limits to make earthly goods and carrying capacity virtually infinite;    5) Humanity's reworking of the Earth is revolutionary, problematic and ultimately benevolent. (excerpted from "Overcoming Ideology,"  by Ron Arnold)


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