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Libertarianism is a political philosophy that holds that individuals should be allowed complete freedom of action as long as they do not infringe on the freedom of others. This is usually taken by libertarians to mean that no one may initiate coercion, which they define as the use of physical force, the threat of such, or the use of fraud against other individuals or their property; any action that is not affected by the influence of coercion is considered to be "voluntary." Libertarians believe that if individuals do not engage in coercion then they should not be regarded as violating the individual rights of anyone. As a result, they oppose prohibition of victimless crimes.
Libertarians believe that governments should be held to the same moral standards as the individuals of which they are composed. Therefore, they oppose the initiation of force by governments, even if it is supported by a democratic majority. However minarchist libertarians, as opposed to anarcho-capitalist libertarians, recommend taxation as a "necessary evil" as long as no more tax is levied than what is necessary for government to maximize the protection of liberty. To the extent that libertarians advocate any government at all, its functions tend to be limited to functions that they see as protecting civil liberties, private property, and a free market (private economic liberties). Hence, most libertarians favor taxation to fund a police force, a military and courts.
While libertarianism's influence has grown in the past few decades, most libertarians see their ultimate vision for society as far from realized.
The term "libertarianism" in the above sense has been in widespread use only since the 1950s. Originally, it referred to a variant of anarchist socialism. After the French Government banned anarchism, some French anarchists adopted libertaire as an alternative term. It was first used in print in 1857 by French anarchist Joseph Dejacque in a letter to Proudhon from New Orleans. Dejacque also published a periodical in New York called "Le Libertaire" (The Libertarian) from 1858 to 1861.
This usage spread to English, but for the most part, English-speaking anarchists choose to call themselves anarchists, individualist anarchists, or anarcho-syndicalists, (they may subscribe to certain forms of socialism called libertarian socialism). Often, when distinguishing between the different uses of the term, the word libertarian is qualified as in "left-libertarian" or "right-wing libertarian."
A typographical convention
When the L in Libertarian is capitalized, the word refers specifically to a member of a Libertarian Party, as opposed to someone who favors the philosophy of libertarianism. This distinction is important because some libertarians do not align themselves with a Libertarian Party, and may even be members of other parties.
Libertarianism in the political spectrum
Many libertarians do not identify themselves as either "right-wing" or "left-wing". In the U.S. some conservatives such as Andrew Sullivan regard themselves as both conservative and libertarian, but other libertarians argue that the two conflict and that libertarianism is really a form of liberalism. One example of this position is Friedrich Hayek's Why I am Not a Conservative
^ Friedman, Jeffrey, "Politics or Scholarship?", Critical Review, Vol. 6, No. 2-3, 1993. Pp 429-45.
Libertarian political parties around the world
- Site of the United States Libertarian Party
- Site of Movimiento Libertario (Costa Rica)
- Site of Libertarianz (New Zealand)
- Site of ACT New Zealand, a self-described classical liberal party in New Zealand that is also sometimes described as libertarian
- Site of the Australian Liberal Democratic Party
- Site of the Libertarian Society of Iceland
- Site of Rossiyskoye Libertarianskoye Dvizhenie  (Russian Libertarian Movement)
- Site of the Libertarian Party of Bangladesh
- Site of the Libertarian Party of Canada
Libertarian think tanks
- site of the Cato Institute
- site of the Competitive Enterprise Institute
- site of the Libertarian Alliance (British)
- site of the Advocates for Self-Government
- site of the International Society for Individual Liberty - see their Animated Introduction to the Philosophy of Liberty
- site of the American Liberty Foundation
- site of the Foundation for Economic Education
- site of the Institute for Humane Studies
- site of the Future of Freedom Foundation
- site of the Ludwig von Mises Institute (Austrian school economics)
- site of the Adam Smith Institute
- site of The Independent Institute
- site of the Mannkal Economic Education Foundation (Australia)
Other libertarian political projects
- site of the Free State Project
- European Free State Project
- The Libertarian International Organization
- site of the Libertarian International
- site of the Seastead
Libertarian publications and websites
- European Libertarians
- List of Notable Libertarian Theorists and Authors
- Open Directory libertarian links List of Notable Libertarian Theorists and Authors web page
- site of the Libertarian Learning Centre
- site of Libertarian.org
- site of Libertari.org (Italian)
- site of Laissez Faire Books
- site of The Tao of Liberty
- site of The Freeman
- site of Liberty (magazine)
- site of Liberator Online
- site for Thomas Szasz
- site of Lew Rockwell
- site of Freedom Daily
- site of Reason (magazine)
Critiques of libertarianism
- Critiques Of Libertarianism (includes sub-sections presenting anti-libertarian arguments from different political standpoints, as well as more general arguments)
- Comparison of Libertarians and Anarchists (Humor)
- What's wrong with libertarianism
- Libertarianism Makes You Stupid
- Why is libertarianism wrong?
- Google Directory collection of critical articles
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