User:Improv/lib draft dec2004

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Scope of this page[edit]

ATTENTION: This page is NOT for debate on the topic, this is to prepare a set of statements that summarize the discussion and consider proposals. No anonymous or young-account contributions to this page are welcome, and no comments that are not on the meta-topic will be kept on this page. We are not here to vote on a poll, or to argue the case, we are here to agree on a presentation of the case. --Improv 15:02, 6 Dec 2004 (UTC)



Terms for use in this document[edit]

US-LP refers to the United States Libertarian Party, the social/political/etc movement that it represents/is tied to, and other movements in other countries that have a similar perspective, for purposes of this discussion.


Should Libertarianism as demonstrated by but not unique to the Libertarian Party of the United States be considered/referred to, as opposed to Libertarian Socialism, the "modern", "mainstream", "mainstream in the United States and some other areas", or in any other way the preferred meaning of the term Libertarian. Should mention of the term Libertarian in the encyclopedia always disambiguate which term is used, or should the US-LP term be the "plain meaning". Should Libertarianism be a disambiguation page between Libertarian Capitalism and Libertarian Socialism, or should it contain the content of the US-LP meaning, should that meaning become preferred.


Please leave comments here.

  • I already have major problems with the way this is going about, I can see that you are linking to all the people who advocate your view on this issue, having them comment and then are going to link this to the rfc, and have it seemed like I'm vastly outnumbered. People like Nat Krause that support my side but just aren't that fond of edit warring need to come here to Chuck F 19:24, 4 Dec 2004 (UTC)
    • I placed notes in the talk pages of all the articles. It is established process to provide links from the article talk pages. I have only mentioned to one specific person, who was thinking of reopening a RfA on you, that if this proposal, which I did link to, goes through I hope we won't have conflict anymore. I don't think this constitutes grabbing all the people who share my views on the issue -- it's one person, and was intended to suggest an alternate route to arbitration for other issues that are somewhat related to this. If you do want to bring other established wikipedians into the discussion by leaving notes on their talk pages or whatever, please do -- the more participation in this, the more people we can expect to abide by the consensus or poll decision we get out of it. If you do feel strongly that I have acted improperly in this draft, please let me know. --Improv 19:42, 4 Dec 2004 (UTC)
  • Chuck, you modified the above text, adding after Libertarian Capitalism the following parenthetical bit: (a page only recently created, and a term with less then 900 hits on google, 58 of which come from wikipedia, many more which come from listing libertarian and capitaliasm in a series of terms). This kind of discussion is an argument, not a question as to what should be done. Let's discuss that before it's added in -- I don't think it's appropriate to mix argument with proposal. --Improv 16:55, 4 Dec 2004 (UTC)
That's because the term doesn't exist besides very very sparse usage - your phrasing above makes it seem like it doesChuck F 18:07, 4 Dec 2004 (UTC)
I don't think my phrasing comments on the usage frequency anywhere. Do you think it does? What parts? --Improv 19:42, 4 Dec 2004 (UTC)
  • Chuck F, please don't edit the links to spell Libertarian Capitalism with a "1". It's just vandalism -- it doesn't help the discussion and just makes people angry. --Improv 19:49, 4 Dec 2004 (UTC)
  • Have you considered using the term "right-libertarianism" instead of "libertarian capitalism", and possibly even "left-libertarianism" in contrast to that (not necessarily replacing libertarian socialism, since by my understanding left-libertarianism also encompasses a number of other subtly different philosophies). The terms are attested to on the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy among other places, although I'm not clear whether right-libertarianism encompasses only the anarchist factions of US-LPers, or if it also accurately describes minarchists. taion 22:16, 7 Dec 2004 (UTC)

The libertarian-authoritarian dimension[edit]

There is no discussion about the basic dimension of political thought that libertatian creates with authoritarian. By clarifying this semantic differential one can better understand the use of the word since authoritarian is well understood everywhere. This dimension (contrasted with other usual dimensions of political thought) should be added to the text:

libertatian - authoritarian left - right conservative - progressive (not liberal) etc...

All libertarians are against some authority of some kind. Being such, the word is used to qualify many other political movements.

To assume that only Libertarians are libertarians is to artificially reduce the usage of the word and in turn reduce the scope of the possible political debate throught rhetorics. Rauh 16:55, 13 Dec 2004 (UTC)

  • Rauh, I appreciate your trying to contribute, but for now, we're just trying to build consensus among existing Wikipedians. As the note at the top of the page says, anonymous and young-account contributions are currently not appropriate. It's too easy for people to set up sock puppets for this discussion, and while I'm not saying you are one, we've seen a lot of use of probable sock puppets in this dispute so far. My apologies that this is necessary. --Improv 17:05, 13 Dec 2004 (UTC)

A view from someone who is neither a libertarian nor a socialist --[edit]

The possession, meaning, and use of certain terms are often controversial amongst people with strong political views, especially with those who place claims on liberty and its synonyms or derivitives. There is nothing inherently "unencyclopedic" in illustrating this fact, which I have attempted to objectively state in the Libertarian theory article. I think the phrase libertarian capitalism is indeed uncommon, and, as FOo and others have said in these fora, it is largely perjoritive and an invention of the opponents of what most people in the English-speaking world (and I think several other languages) believe libertarianism means. But it exists and, perhaps more importantly, it serves to illustrate this point: socialists and kindred spirits who would claim the term libertarian want to distinguish themselves from libertarians who are not. I think this is something that ought to be made clear in the article(s). The other point I have tried to make, one that is not adequately made in the Libertarianism article, is that the theory is not simply or even largely an economic theory in the minds of many of its adherents, which the nomenclature "libertarian capitalism" incorrectly suggests. In any case, bottom line, I see nothing wrong with any article referring to these or other terms, even uncommon one or ones used with dubious intentions, as long as the article clearly identifies the common usage and understandings, and, of course, the theory itself is described accurately and neutrally. I believe the Libertarian theory article comes closer to doing this in its near-original form, pre-Chuck and pre-Reithy.icut4u

chuck's note: I beliver this user has told me in the past he is a follower of Trokstvy(sp) , so his sympanthies are away from the market and towards the libertarian socalism view of things. While I'm saying this let me just say my main objection to libertarian Capita1iasm(besides the fact the page was created by Reithy, who by now has obviously been shown as being a troll), is the fact that wikipedia should not itself be influencing terms and definitions. Chuck F 19:32, 4 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Who is Trokstvy? I subscribe to no overarching political ideology, and least of all, socialism or Marxism. Impartial rationality allows for private property and capitalist acts of exchange, but does not confer absolute rights in relation to them. Each question ought to be answered in conformance with logic and science. That sums up my view. icut4u
Chuck, this is unacceptable and damn close to red-baiting. You are clearly a free-market libertarian, but nobody's arguing that you shouldn't be allowed to participate on that basis alone. All of us have our own personal political beliefs, but editing Wikipedia requires that we set them aside and present information in an NPOV fashion. RadicalSubversiv E 20:02, 4 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Radical - I agree with you, but when someone preluedes to thier comments by saying they are not something therefore they are an outside voice, then it becomes valid to say that they are. 20:05, 4 Dec 2004 (UTC)
That conclusion does not follow. I don't know what an outside voice means, and I did not say that. I said I am not a socialist or libertarian. It seems relevant to point out that I don't have a stake in the political argument that seems to dominate much of the discussion, often at the expense of analysis and objectivity. I also do not think name calling is productive. icut4u
I agree with a lot of the things that icut4u has said, but I have some additional points:
The other point I have tried to make, one that is not adequately made in the Libertarianism article, is that the theory is not simply or even largely an economic theory in the minds of many of its adherents, which the nomenclature "libertarian capitalism" incorrectly suggests. icut4u
Libertarian socialism is not simply an economic theory either. "Libertarian" refers to the "political" aspect and "socialism" refers to the "economic" aspect. Hence, to put "libertarian capitalism" on the same semantic footing requires that one call it "libertarian capitalism". I understand that the word "capitalism" can be perjoritive, but in many people's minds so can the word "socialism". I think it is hard to determine which of the two philosophies should be given priority to the word libertarianism, so we shouldn't even attempt to do so. Libertarian capitalism might be simply known as liberatrianism to many people in English speaking geographic locations (the German libertarian article, for instance, says the word is misapplied to libertarian capitalists), but I think libertarian socialism has the historical precedence. To decide between historical precedence and modern usage in some locations will inherently have POV. If "capitalism" is unacceptable we should try to determine a better method of disambiguation, but libertarian capitalists do not have a copyright on the word libertarian (in fact the anarchism article mentions anarcho-capitalism, although every anarchist I know of, besides ones who are anarcho-capitalists, rejects the anarcho-capitalist claim to the term). millerc 19:50, 10 Dec 2004 (UTC)
I think the strongest argument for not using "libertarian capitalism" is that the phrase is not in common usage, and it's not our business to invent terms. I've previously proposed Libertarianism (capitalist), so as to match our usual disambiguation rules, but found little support. The fact that some people dislike capitalism is irrelevant; support for a capitalist economic system is the major distinguishing feature here. Someone has suggested left-libertarianism and right-libertarianism, both of whom are in more common circulation. Left-libertarian would be readily accepted by most of its adherents, I suspect, but I don't think the same is true of right-libertarians, given the Libertarian Party's obsession with presenting itself as neither-left-nor-right. (In my book, they're a specific flavor of extreme conservative, but I should probably hold my tongue on that one.) RadicalSubversiv E 20:27, 10 Dec 2004 (UTC)
I was the one who made the left/right-libertarian suggestion. While it is true that "right-libertarian" is in slightly more common use than "libertarian capitalist", it's more attractive mostly because it's an established technical term. I'm also not entirely sure that Libertarians would be offended by this usage — the first hit on Google for "right libertarianism" is for, well, a right-libertarian site. My primary qualm with such an approach is that I'm not exactly sure whether all these words have the exact same meaning. Left-libertarianism would almost certainly encompass libertarian communism, for instance, and while I'm not clear on the specifics, I have it on good faith that libcom is different from libsoc, and in any event, potential "left libertarianism" and "right libertarianism" pages would not just be drop-in replacements for "libertarian socialism" and "Libertarianism", respectively. taion 22:59, 10 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Left/right-libertarian sounds good to me (then libertarian socialist would be a subset of left-libertarianism). A major naming problem that I see, is that many libertarian socialists have and do refer to themselves simply as libertarian. The Libertarian Labor Review comes to mind as a jurnal that's been around for quite some time, in which the word "libertarian" is used to refer specifically to left-libertarianism. One problem that may arise from the above naming convention is that it is used by the, with which many right-libertarians seem to have a problem. If we use the libertarian article as a disamig, I would suggest that we cite for the distinction between left and right-libertarians. Also, I suggest separating out the question of disamig vs. how to disambig whenever this comes to a poll. millerc 18:45, 11 Dec 2004 (UTC)
are breathens over at Encylopedia Briticniia have contemporary libertarianism and Classical libertarnism, as Contempory libertarniasm is pretty obvious the domiant usage of the term today, I think these two dis-ambig words would work.
First off, just because Britannica does it one way doesn't mean Wikipedia ought to. Secondly, you're wrong. Best I can tell (I don't have full subscribers' access), Britannica has one article on "Libertarianism" which contains a section entitled "Contemporary Libertarianism." I can find nothing named "classical libertarian(ism)", nor any references to libertarian socialism, suggesting that in this area Britannica has a clear hole, and is not a good basis for adopting a standard practice. RadicalSubversiv E 20:14, 12 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Britannica's article on libertarianism is entirely an article on right libertarianism. The section on "historical origins" basically deals with the development of classical liberalism. Left libertarianism is mostly just given treatment in the article on anarchism. I believe that any article we do have on libertarianism should handle the topic in essentially the same manner as liberalism, as millerc suggested previously. Mentioning the earlier use of libertarianism only shows that we're a better encyclopedia than EB, after all.
Another thought — does the use of libertarianism in the USLP sense actually trace directly back to the original use of the term, or was the term coined independently? Most articles I've seen talking about libertarianism as a whole tend to lump left and right libertarianism together, which is clearly inaccurate from a historical point of view, given the development from entirely separate traditions, but are they linked entymologically? taion 02:47, 13 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Proposed revision[edit]

First off, a point on style and clarity, just so there won't be any room for confusion once this is over with: In all cases except "Libertarian Party," the word should not be capitalized. Second, the question as written comes off as highly confusing to me, and I know all about the conflict being described -- someone who doesn't may not have a clue what's under discussion. I would also suggest breaking the questions up so they can be voted on separately. I would suggest something like:


Taken alone, the term "libertarianism" may refer to two separate political philosophies/movements. Historically, the first usage is as in Libertarian socialism, roughly equivalent to (anti-capitalist) anarchism; The second is the philosophy of free markets, property rights, and limited government advocated by the Libertarian Party in the United States and ideologically similar groups. On Wikipedia, there exists significant dispute over the dominant usage of the term today, but there seems to be some agreement that, in the United States and a few other countries (Costa Rica), it is more likely to refer to the second philosophy. (Note that in the context of American politics, the un-modified, capitalized, "Libertarianism" refers unambigously to the political party.)

  • ChuckF wants to note that he doesn't feel that there is significant dispute over the dominant usage of the term today, on wikipedia or in other places. There was a previous comment here that stated that, but I misread it and deleted it because I didn't understand what it was saying. My apologies. --Improv 19:26, 9 Dec 2004 (UTC)
  • Does "dominant usage" really matter? This issue affects the anarchism page as well (with anarcho-capitalism vs. non-capitalist anarchism). I'm not sure of any wikipedia NPOV policy that states that page titles must be of the current or historical dominant usage. And how do you decide weather to go with historical usage (anarchists were calling themsleves libertarians two centuries ago) or current usage (to choose in itself seems POV)? I've always tried to uphold the maxim that you have to let people self identify, but this policy seems to be a mess when dealing with libertarianism. Is there some wiki policy that can be created to handle a similar situation on all pages on which this type of dispute arises? millerc 18:59, 11 Dec 2004 (UTC)
  • I would like to point that the "dominant" use of libertarianism in Brasil is more close to neo-liberalism than any of what is discussed here. It is considered here to be the "European" usage of the word. It is certainly not social libertarianism neither Libertarianism (as in the US Libertarian party). Rauh 17:03, 13 Dec 2004 (UTC)
    • See comment above on young accounts. Again, my apologies. --Improv 17:07, 13 Dec 2004 (UTC)
    • I like how the article on liberalism handles the situation. millerc 19:09, 11 Dec 2004 (UTC)


1. In using the term "libertarianism", should Wikipedia articles attempt to disambiguate between the two meanings, or should one version or the other be considered the "plain meaning"?

2.In so doing, should articles briefly explain the different usages, with emphasis on the geographic differences, or should they present the second (historically) meaning of libertarianism as the dominant usage throughout the world through the use of such words as "mainstream" and "modern" ([1], [2], [3], [4])?

3. Should references to Libertarian socialism be included in such disambiguation?

4. Should Libertarianism continue to be located there, or should it be moved (perhaps to Libertarian capitalism or Libertarianism (capitalist)), and Libertarianism made into a disambiguation page?

Chuck, I'm not removing your comments, but I suspect this process will work best if we settle on what's being asked before we throw the gates open for comments from everyone. RadicalSubversiv E 19:43, 4 Dec 2004 (UTC)

  • I removed the comments. We're here to talk about the questions, not the answers. --Improv 19:46, 4 Dec 2004 (UTC)
wtf is this? you remove my comments and then go and put in your own answers? 03:54, 5 Dec 2004 (UTC)
I removed the additional responses. Chuck, please note that the people who complained about your responses are not the same people as the ones who proceeded to respond themselves. - Nat Krause 06:55, 5 Dec 2004 (UTC)

If Chuck can't even abide having basic historical material included to clarify the context of the discussion, I don't know why we're bothering. Lots of good editors have wasted countless hours dealing with his bullshit, and for some reason now we're tiptoeing around him, even as he makes clear he's not the least bit open to compromise. He's violating policy willy-nilly, and ought to be under a 24-hour ban for violating the three-revert rule as we speak. RadicalSubversiv E 20:14, 4 Dec 2004 (UTC)

You are quite correct, Radical Subversive. He and Reithy both have caused many to waste a great deal of time and energy. Compromise will not be possible, for that would mean an end to the attention they/he apparently crave.icut4u
I still believe this might be resolved, if not amicably, then at least finally. I hope that you two will continue at least through the end of this effort. --Improv 20:35, 4 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Why? What is the basis for your belief? Here's my proposal: Chuck is banned for 24 hours for twice violating the three-revert rule. In the mean time, others settle on a fair way to phrase this RfC. Chuck abides by the result or is taken to ArbCom again. End of story. RadicalSubversiv E 20:38, 4 Dec 2004 (UTC)
This is clearly unacceptable. I want Chuck F to be part of the process. There are a lot of reasons for this.
  1. Chuck F feels railroaded by the whole process. Considering that he was dealing with Reithy before, this is no surprise. He has done some problematic things since, true, but let's

see if we can overlook that for at least this effort

Chuck feels railroaded by any process which does not result in his desired outcome. Reithy has nothing to do with it -- Wikipedia:Requests for comment/Chuck F clearly demonstrates he was engaging in POV revert warring before Reithy ever arrived. RadicalSubversiv E 19:24, 5 Dec 2004 (UTC)
  1. Chuck F may have legitimate input into the process
Not so far he hasn't. He's just changed text to a) remove basic context with which he finds inconvenient and b) insert his own arguments. RadicalSubversiv E 19:24, 5 Dec 2004 (UTC)
  1. He may also feel more comfortable in the decision made if he's had significant input into the process. Wouldn't anyone?
In sum, if he is banned for violating the three-revert rule, we will wait for him to get back and for us to feel we have a good amount of input from everyone, including him, before we move onward. We're not going to try to wrap it up without him. I do notice that many of the pages are protected right now, and that's a good step to keeping things calm until this is resolved. --Improv 17:16, 5 Dec 2004 (UTC)
The pages are protected only because Chuck spent all night evading his block with open HTTP proxies. RadicalSubversiv E 19:24, 5 Dec 2004 (UTC)

By the way, kudos to Improv for trying to bring some order to this process. - Nat Krause 06:51, 5 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Nat, it is inappropriate to remove the considered comments of others on a page such as this without any discussion. Moreover, it seems evident that, since no one suggested new ones or proposed a different schema for resolving these issues, the questions deserve to be answered. And finally, you are quite correct about Improv's efforts to bring about order, peace, and fairness to the process; alas, I fear it is doomed to fail.icut4u
Nat's action was completely appropriate. Improv made very clear the intent here is to come up with an RfC people can agree on before it's opened up for comments. However, given that Chuck apparently regards Nat as some kind of ally, I think Nat could do us all a huge service by advising Chuck to obey the three revert rule and stop evading blocks. RadicalSubversiv E 07:28, 5 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Notwithstanding what Improv's intentions might have been, I disagree with the move. It was inappropriate to remove someone's considered comments on a discussion page such as this. But it does not really matter, for the issues at hand will not be resolved here anytime soon. Time for me to move on to non-ideological pastures. Farewell for now. icut4u
I haven't been following the situation, so I don't know what Chuck or anyone else has been doing. But I definitely advise everyone to follow the three revert rule and I definitely definitely advise everyone not to evade blocks. By the way, sorry if that appeared abrupt, Icut4you; it is discussed briefly above. - Nat Krause 07:44, 5 Dec 2004 (UTC)

You know, until reading the "libertarian socialism" article it had never occurred to me that "libertarian" meant anything other than the same thing to both left and right. Both sides want an end to formal regulation and structure: small government, in other words. To different ends, yes, but the concept is roughly the same. I had always thought the American "libertarians" had appropriated the word so as to give their ideology respectability. I could possibly describe myself as "libertarian" but never as a "Libertarian". If this ever comes to a vote, we should of course define "libertarian" neutrally. This is not Americopedia, despite Americans' predominance here. It is wholly wrong that an article on a strain of political thought that predates the US should set out to describe the American understanding of it.Dr Zen 05:08, 13 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Private property is central to a right-libertarian conception of liberty, while antithetical to a left-libertarian view of the same. You can almost say it's coincidence that both philosophies support minimal government, given this massive contradiction.
And with regard to using American terms, well... I've no personal preference for American usage, mind, but I do believe that Americans make up the preponderance of English speakers.
Comments left by Taion --Improv 17:01, 13 Dec 2004 (UTC)
I second Dr Zen and support that the libertarian page should be as neutral as possible with an etymology/philosophical discussion of the term and then moving to the different specific usages of the word in different political schools/thoughts. Rauh 17:13, 13 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Please see above for why I struck this out. --Improv 17:19, 13 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Are we ready?[edit]

Does everyone here agree with the proposed phrasing (the second one) and the questions, and are we ready to move forward? I'm willing to sign off as being content with the proposal and the questions. Everyone else who agrees, please add your note below.

  • Looks good, glad we got so much input on this. Improv 06:32, 15 Dec 2004 (UTC)
  • I think the liberalism approach is much the best. I'm not convinced these are the right questions but they are probably as good as any amount of discussion would produce. Thanks to Improv for his effort.Dr Zen 06:40, 15 Dec 2004 (UTC)
    • I agree that the liberalism approach is best (basically a disambig with historical background), but I don't see exactly what questions to ask. There were proposals similar to this for the anarchism page (here and here), but it never panned out. I fear that any efforts to solve the problem with libertarianism might share the same fate, unless we figure out just how to do it correctly. millerc 16:09, 17 Dec 2004 (UTC)
  • I could see the questions restated in a slightly more neutral manner, but it doesn't really matter that much. Looks pretty good. taion 09:24, 15 Dec 2004 (UTC)
  • Umm, no I deftienly don't agree with the 2nd verison of the article, it's entirley unnetural phrasing and contains little ticks in there that supports the libertarian socalism view on things
Previous comment left by Chuck F. —taion 07:10, 16 Dec 2004 (UTC)
  • I don't think the phrasing is "entirley unnetural" (sic), and I doubt that any bias is intentional, but I wouldn't mind seeing this rephrased in a more neutral manner either. The comment that left-libertarianism originated earlier doesn't belong in a formation of the dispute, but otherwise the introduction looks fine to me. I think question 2 can be eliminated entirely if the latter part of question 1 is reworded as "... or should one version or the other be favoured", as it seems a bit redundant. Question 3 could be better phrased as "Should articles explicitly dealing with a specific libertarian philosophy be required to disambiguate between the two libertarian philosophies?", and I don't think the parenthetical remark in question 4 helps matters. taion 07:10, 16 Dec 2004 (UTC)
  • ChuckF, would you mind providing, below, the draft with your proposed revisions? Perhaps by doing this, we can better understand where and how we differ. Thanks! --Improv 17:12, 16 Dec 2004 (UTC)

ChuckF's Draft of the summary[edit]

Fifelfoo's description of the RFC's Terms of Reference[edit]

The current Terms of Reference are: "Should [US-LP associated politics] considered...the preferred meaning of the term Libertarian?"

This is an adequate, if convoluted, Term of Reference.

"Should mention of the term Libertarian in the encyclopedia always disambiguate which term is used, or should the US-LP term be the "plain meaning"."

This is an adequate Term of Reference.

"Should Libertarianism be a disambiguation page between Libertarian Capitalism and Libertarian Socialism, or should it contain the content of the US-LP meaning, should that meaning become preferred."

This is an adequate Term of Reference.
Generally, and critically, I believe the Terms of Reference to be biased towards the US-LP politics position as predominant. The RFC should describe itself in a case-situation instead.
In relation to the RFC itself: International English is ambiguous on the usage of the word. While the word was commonly associated with anarchist politics, or civil libertarians, a major new usage has emerged (primarily and predominantly) in US English. US English, as a major contributor to International English, has created an ambiguity of usage as a major political sub-culture in US English has developed a new usage.
Another major problem is the social isolation of the various usage communities. Few civil libertarians are anarchists or US-LP politics adherents. Few anarchists are civil libertarians (seeing "civil liberty" as a statist and bourgeois concept), and fewer yet are US-LP politics adherents. In Australian English the majority usage group for "Libertarian" are class-war anarchists, however, there is a much smaller US-LP style usage group for "Libertarian".
In relation to the RFC, my comment is: sort it out by disambiguation.Fifelfoo 03:31, 20 Jan 2005 (UTC)