L'Académie nouvelle

Forum d'archivage politique et scientifique

    Sharon Presley, The Origin of the Word “Libertarian”

    Johnathan R. Razorback
    Johnathan R. Razorback

    Messages : 5783
    Date d'inscription : 12/08/2013
    Localisation : France

    Sharon Presley, The Origin of the Word “Libertarian” Empty Sharon Presley, The Origin of the Word “Libertarian”

    Message par Johnathan R. Razorback le Sam 29 Sep - 14:21


    Jeffrey Tucker recently wrote about the origin of the word “libertarian.” Unfortunately his commentary was off the mark by a mile. He writes “To be sure, if we go back a century, you will find a 1913 book Liberty and the Great Libertarians by Charles Sprading ... It includes biographies of many classical liberals but also some radicals in general who didn’t seem to have much affection for modern commercial society. It’s a good book but, so far as I can tell, the use of the term in this book is an outlier.”1
    No, the term was not an outlier at all. It was used extensively by anarchists in the 19th century as an alternative description because the term “anarchist” was not well-received, to say the least.
    According to the online Anarchist Library:
    “The first anarchist journal to use the term “libertarian” was La Libertaire, Journal du Mouvement Social. Somewhat ironically, given recent developments in America, it was published in New York between 1858 and 1861 by French communist-anarchist Joseph Déjacque. The next recorded use of the term was in Europe, when “libertarian communism” was used at a French regional anarchist Congress at Le Havre (16–22 November, 1880). January the following year saw a French manifesto issued on “Libertarian or Anarchist Communism.” Finally, 1895 saw leading anarchists Sébastien Faure and Louise Michel publish La Libertaire in France.
    It should be noted that Nettlau’s history was first written in 1932 and revised in 1934. George Woodcock, in his history of anarchism, reported the same facts as regards Déjacque and Faure [Anarchism: A History of libertarian ideas and movements, p. 233] Significantly, Woodcock’s account was written in 1962 and makes no mention of right-wing use of the term “libertarian.” More recently, Robert Graham states that Déjacque’s act made “him the first person to use the word ‘libertarian’ as synonymous with ‘anarchist’” while Faure and Michel were “popularising the use of the word ‘libertarian’ as a synonym for ‘anarchist.’” [Robert Graham (Ed.), Anarchism: A Documentary History of Libertarian Ideas, p. 60 and p. 231]”
    “In terms of America, we find Benjamin Tucker (a leading individualist anarchist) discussing “libertarian solutions” to land use in February, 1897.”2

    However, according to Wikipedia, “The first recorded use of the term “libertarian” was in 1789, when William Belsham wrote about libertarianism in the context of metaphysics.”
    “Libertarian” came to mean an advocate or defender of liberty, especially in the political and social spheres, as early as 1796, when the London Packet printed on 12 February: "Lately marched out of the Prison at Bristol, 450 of the French Libertarians".[12]The word was again used in a political sense in 1802 in a short piece critiquing a poem by "the author of Gebir" and has since been used with this meaning.”3

    The Merriam Webster dictionary gives the same date.4

    According to Wikipedia:
    In the 19th century, key libertarian thinkers, individualist anarchists and minarchists, were based in the United States, most notably Lysander Spooner and Benjamin Tucker. These political thinkers argued that government should be kept to a minimum and that it is only legitimate to the extent that people voluntarily support it as in Spooner's No Treason: The Constitution of No Authority. American writers Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson advocated for individualism and even anarchism throughout that century, leaving a significant imprint on libertarianism worldwide.5
    For a thorough history of libertarian ideas, see David Boaz’ commentary, “A History of Libertarianism.”6

    It should be noted that modern social anarchists are not at all happy that what they consider “their” word has been usurped by modern American individualist libertarians. My attitude -- social anarchists don’t get to define the word. It existed before them. If individualist anarchist Benjamin Tucker could use the term, so can modern individualist anarchists and, yes, modern libertarians. Words are defined partly by their usage so it’s too late, fellas. The libertarian “genie” is out of the bottle.

    1. Jeffrey Tucker, “Where Does the Term Libertarian Come from Anyway?, https://fee.org/articles/where-does-the-term-libertarian-come-from-anyway/, accessed March 16, 2018.
    2. The Anarchist FAQ Editorial Collective,
    “150 years of Libertarian,” https://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/the-anarchist-faq-editorial-collective-150-years-of-libertarian,Accessed March 16, 2018.
    3. Wikipedia, “Libertarianism in the United States, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Libertarianism_in_the_United_States, accessed March 16, 2018.
    4. Merriam Webster Dictionary, “Libertarian,”
    https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/libertarian, accessed March 16, 2018.
    5. Wikipedia, “Libertarianism in the United States, op cit.
    6. David Boaz, “A History of Libertarianism,” https://www.libertarianism.org/publications/essays/history-libertarianism, accessed March 18, 2018.

    « La racine de toute doctrine erronée se trouve dans une erreur philosophique. [...] Le rôle des penseurs vrais, mais aussi une tâche de tout homme libre, est de comprendre les possibles conséquences de chaque principe ou idée, de chaque décision avant qu'elle se change en action, afin d'exclure aussi bien ses conséquences nuisibles que la possibilité de tromperie. » -Jacob Sher, Avertissement contre le socialisme, Introduction à « Tableaux de l'avenir social-démocrate » d'Eugen Richter, avril 1998.

    "La vraie volupté est remportée comme une victoire sur la tristesse [...] Il n’y a pas de grands voluptueux sans une certaine mélancolie, pas de mélancoliques qui ne soient des voluptueux trahis." -Albert Thibaudet, La vie de Maurice Barrès, in Trente ans de vie française, volume 2, Éditions de la Nouvelle Revue Française, 1919, 312 pages, p.40.

      La date/heure actuelle est Sam 24 Aoû - 5:29