The Instigator
Pro (for)
0 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
0 Points

Libertarian socialism is not an oxymoron

Do you like this debate?NoYes+0
Add this debate to Google Add this debate to Delicious Add this debate to FaceBook Add this debate to Digg  
Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 0 votes the winner is...
It's a Tie!
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/8/2017 Category: Politics
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 881 times Debate No: 98780
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (4)
Votes (0)




Pro is arguing that the above statement is true, thus con is arguing that libertarian socialism is an oxymoron.

Since this debate is a debate over semantics, no definitions of "libertarian" or "socialism" will be provided or agreed upon in my first round. Instead, we will be arguing why your own definition of the terms "libertarian" and "socialism" are more valid than your opponent's definition.

We will, however, agree upon a definition for "oxymoron". I present this definition of oxymoron:
" a figure of speech in which two opposite ideas are joined to create an effect."[1]
My opponent should not accept this debate unless they agree to this definition, or else offer a different definition in comments, in which I can possibly agree to if I choose and I will replace this definition with that one.

1) Con may begin their arguments in round 1 if they so choose to. However, if they choose to do this, they must waive round 4 in order to give both sides an equal amount of arguments, since I am not using round 1 for debate. If they don't begin their argument in round 1, obviously they don't need to waive round 4.
2) No new arguments should be presented in the last round of debate(probably round 4, but if con uses round 1 for debate, then it would be round 3 for them, but round 4 for me)
3) Ad hominem attacks, or personal attacks/insults will be a violation of conduct. Definition of ad hominem can be found in my second source [2]

If any of the above rules are violated by either side, voters should award the point for conduct to the debator who did not violate any rule. If the above rules are (not) violated equally by both sides, conduct should be a tie; if both sides violate them, but one side does so less than the other, the one who did so less should be awarded the point for conduct.



I accept. Good luck and thank you in advance for debating with me.
Debate Round No. 1


Brief History of the term Libertarian

The first known and recorded instance where the term libertarian was used to describe someone’s political views was in 1857 in a letter from Joseph Dejacque to Pierre-Joseph Proudhon. In it, Dejacque calls himself a “libertaire” which in French translates to Libertarian. [3]


Joseph dejacque, in modern terms, would have been an anarcho-communist[4], thus libertarian, at this time, was synonymous with left-wing terminology. Libertarian socialist would not have been considered an oxymoron at this time.

It was not until the the 1970s, over 100 years later, that libertarian began to even be used for right-wing politics, when the libertarian party was formed in the United States[5]

Brief history of the term socialism

I’ll keep this one short, but all the way from Upton Sinclair in the early 1900s, to today, socialism has constantly been recognized as an economic system in which the means of production is democratically or socially controlled[6][7][8][9][10][11][12][13]. It seems the definition has never been changed to apply to different ideologies other than that of those on the left, whereas libertarian has had a change in whether it is applied to those on the left or right.

Etymology of the term libertarian:

Libertarian comes from the root french word “liberte” meaning liberty, and derives from the original meaning in 1789 meaning "one who holds the doctrine of free will".

Socialism is about free will, consent, and other libertarian principles.

Since socialism is the democratic control of the means of production, it should be a no brainer that it is about consent and free will. For some reason, people view economics differently than government in this regard, and it doesn’t make any sense to do so. We all agree that more liberty exists in a democracy or a republic, than say, a monarchy, oligarchy, military dictatorship etc. However, it is not agreed upon that applying democratic rule to economics promotes more liberty, which the logic follows that it should.

For example, under capitalism, the people in positions of power and authority are business owners. No one consented to them being in power, so this alone limits liberty. It’s further limited when the business owners are the ones, who, under this system, are the ones who decide whether you get to provide for yourself. This gives them an advantage: for they can demand unreasonable conditions from workers in order to be paid, which the workers have to comply or else be fired or not hired to begin with. Thus, they lose their livelihood.

Socialism makes it that the means of production is democratically controlled, and applies a level of consent not present in capitalism. Consent is key to liberty, thus socialism promotes liberty in this regard.

Now, there are some instances of socialism where democratic control of the means of production does not take place, and instead, state-ownership of the means of production does.

It would, in fact, be an oxymoron to put that form of socialism after the term libertarian, but to prove that libertarian socialism is not an oxymoron, only one definition of socialism needs to be able to be put with libertarian, and when the means of production is democratically-controlled, it seems it fits well with the ideals of libertarianism. Socialism provides a new level of consent, gives you a say over what a business does where you previously didn’t really have direct control over it, etc.

Rebuttals against potential arguments against libertarian socialism:

1) a) Since socialism, in order to be implemented, has to violate the non-aggression principle, it is not libertarian and is the opposite of libertarianism.

The problem with this argument, is that the NAP allows aggression to be used in order to protect liberty and rights. It is generally a right, under libertarianism, to be allowed to consent to who is in a position of power or authority(otherwise they are illegitimate positions of power/authority), and right-wing economic systems do not give you direct consent over who is in positions of power or authority(the business owners, again, are in positions of power and authority). Thus, a right is violated under these economic systems, and using aggression to protect the right of consent, is thus justified.

b) But right-wing economic systems do allow you to consent to who is in authority, you choose who you work for.

The problem with this counter-rebuttal to the points I made in 1a, is that you don't consent to every business owner, you only consent to your own business owner. In addition, I would argue you don't even do that, but either way, you only choose which business owner you work for, not which business owners are out there. Other business owners are positions of authority and power over you, even if you don't work for them. They get to take up space and property which you could have bought, they get to advertize to you without your consent, they can make business decisions that poorly affect your company without consent, etc.

Now, I'll explain how you don't consent to even one's own business owner either: a person, under a right-wing economic system, generally has two options: be the employer or the employee. If you do anything else, you're not a part of the right-wing economic system, by definition. Now, not everyone can be an employer, for if everyone was, there would be no employees amd nothing would get done, thus some people are forced to be employees. Since you need to work in order to survive, people's level of consent is damaged because it's either they work for someone or die of starvation. Since it often takes tens and tens of applications to even get an interview in today's world, your level of consent is damaged since you're inclined to put up with a terrible employer since they may have been the only one who decided to interview you and give you a job. You may have no other choice but to be with a bad employer, and you didn't fully consent to be under that employer.

Additionally, the fact that a vast majority of bosses and employers out there have been tested to be disengaged or not engaged in their work, and most don't have much talent[14] , shows that it's hard for workers to consent to who have authority over them. Since majority are this way, workers don't really have any choice but to put up with their awful boss, as chances are really low that one will get a decent employer. As stated before, workers are having to put up with their awful employer because there's no guarantee they will get a job at a better place, as it takes many applications before one gets a job, and people will be inclined to settle for something less than what they normally would consent to.

I believe I've made sufficient arguments, and turn this over to my opponent





[6] Sinclair, Upton (1918-01-01). Upton Sinclair's: A Monthly Magazine: for Social Justice, by Peaceful Means If Possible.

[7] Nove, Alec. "Socialism". New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics, Second Edition (2008).

[8] Rosser, Mariana V. and J Barkley Jr. (July 23, 2003). Comparative Economics in a Transforming World Economy. MIT Press. p. 53.

[9] N. Scott Arnold. The Philosophy and Economics of Market Socialism : A Critical Study. Oxford University Press. 1998. p. 8

[10] Busky, Donald F. (20 July 2000). Democratic Socialism: A Global Survey. Praeger. p. 2.

[11]Bertrand Badie; Dirk Berg-Schlosser; Leonardo Morlino (2011).

[12] Zimbalist, Sherman and Brown, Andrew, Howard J. and Stuart (October 1988).

[13]Brus, Wlodzimierz (5 November 2015). The Economics and Politics of Socialism. Routledge. p. 87.[13] Michie, Jonathan (1 January 2001). Readers Guide to the Social Sciences. Routledge. p. 1516.



While socialism may have some values, primarily in the realm of social control, in common with libertarian principles, the differences in the two are sufficiently different to render them incompatible. The guiding philosophies of socialism and libertarianism are markedly dissimilar, and the specific policy goals that each pursues in order to advance its principles are even more so.

First of all, socialist and libertarian policy goals are quite different. I will primarily be using the Liberian and Socialist parties of the United States for my argument, as they exemplify basic socialist and libertarian principles fairly well, and provide specific examples of policy goals.

The Libertarian party platform places individual liberty as its central guiding principle, especially in economics. The freedom to own and manage one"s own property is seen as one of the most basic human rights, and should not be infringed upon in any way by the government. In order to protect this right, the Libertarian party platform opposes any government regulation of business or property, such as production mandates, price control (including wage and interest), eminent domain, and civil asset forfeiture. Libertarians are some of the strongest advocates of free market capitalism in American government today. Insurance companies, schools, and banks should be privately owned and not regulated by the federal government. Health care and retirement security should also be private, free of government interference. [2]

The Socialist party calls for many policy implementations that are in direct opposition to these goals. A mandatory minimum wage, a steeply graduated income and estate tax, and caps on income all violate the libertarian principle of laissez-faire economics and the borderline sanctity that libertarianism ascribes to private property. [1] Whereas the Libertarian party platform states that welfare should be left to private organizations such as churches and charity organizations [2], the Socialist party platform calls for an expansion of government-sponsored welfare assistance and unemployment compensation. Education is to be publicly funded, as is health care, and government care for seniors and retired people is to be expanded.[1]

With so many differences between the two parties, it is unlikely that their core principles and respective views of the role of government are compatible. With such dissimilar means, they cannot possibly working towards the same end.
Socialism and consent.

Second is the issue of consent. My opponent claims that both libertarianism and socialism are all about free will and consent, and they are half right. Libertarianism upholds the right to any and all voluntary relations among individuals or groups of individuals through the free market. [2]

My opponent claims that the free market system inherently impedes on individual liberty because no one consents to business owners being in power. This is a fallacy. Consumers and workers decide who is in power. The ability to spend capital, which is the driving force in the market economy, lies with consumers. Labor is a limited resource, and as such, workers have a surprising amount of power. If a company does not provide a service that people want, or at a price that people are willing to pay, they must change to please consumers or go out of business. If a business wants good workers, it must pay competitive wages. If workers feel they are being treated unfairly they can form a union, strike, or look for a better job.

Let me propose the following thought experiment to illustrate. Imagine a society with 100 people, where each person gets $50. One of these citizens writes a book that, for some reason, everybody wants. So much do they want this book, in fact, that they will each be willing to exchange $5 for a copy of their own. Now the author has received nearly $500, while the rest of the population has $45. Because her first book was profitable, she will likely write another, and the inequality will only increase. The author is in a position of power over the rest of the society, but she is in such a place because other people consented to give her something she wants ($5) in exchange for something they want (a copy of the book). No one"s freedom was violated. [4] But what if the majority of the society decides that this is not fair, and decide to take her money and redistribute it? Now whose freedom has been violated? Or suppose that they decide to take away her right to sell her book and say that she must now write for free. Likely, the author will simply not write any more. Now her freedom has been violated because she cannot receive fair compensation for her product. The rest of society is also hurt, because now no one gets to read this author"s work, even though they would have freely given up something of their own for the chance to do so.
Consensual, voluntary business relations are central to the libertarian rationale, but, as I will now demonstrate, they are not nearly so important to socialists.

Democratically controlling the means of production is actually contrary to libertarian principles, as it is incompatible with individual freedom. It is for this reason that the United States is not a democracy, but a constitutional republic. Our government is designed for the very purpose of protecting the public from the tumultuous effects of direct democracy. When every person is directly responsible for major government (in this case economic) decisions, the majority can easily disregard the rights of the minority. My opponent claims that democratic ownership of corporations introduces an element of consent that is not present in a capitalist economy. There may be an element of consent for the majority opinion, but the dissenting voters are disregarded. As James Madison says in the Federalist #10, "When a majority is included in a faction, the form of popular government, on the other hand, enables it to sacrifice to its ruling passion or interest both the public good and the rights of other citizens." [5]

Seizing the means of production, whether by force or by majority vote, would necessarily involve taking what one person or group of people owns, and dividing it among a large group. This violates the right to own property, a pillar of libertarian thought. Theft is theft, whether one person or many is doing the taking. [4]

This sort of oppression is exactly what libertarians fear, and is at the center of the limited-government philosophy that defines libertarianism, as expressed in the Libertarian statement of principles. Libertarians believe that no one has a right to dictate what another person does, either in personal matters or in business ventures, saying, "the only [economic system] compatible with the protection of individual rights, is the free market." [2]

My opponent claims that a capitalist economy is not free, because even if one chooses which business owner to work for, one has no control over which business owners are out there. This statement is absolutely correct, and actually bolsters my argument, while weakening theirs. While libertarians support the right to consent in individual business relations " i.e., I can voluntarily spend my money wherever I please " such relations do not need the consent of anyone except the parties involved. An individual does not need the consent of another person to own money and use it as he or she pleases, and a business owner does not need the consent of the majority of society to run their company as he or she sees fit. Libertarians believe that everyone has a right to freely and voluntary offer goods and services on the market. [3] Therefore, collective ownership, and the very idea that a majority of the populace can dictate the business ventures of another member of society, is fundamentally contradictory to libertarian principles.

In conclusion, I would like to reiterate the main points of my argument. First of all, libertarian and socialist policy goals are vastly different. Second, socialist policy goals violate the right to conduct consensual business relations, a core libertarian principle. Finally, collective, or democratic, ownership of the means of production is so contradictory to libertarianism as to render the two incompatible. I therefore affirm that socialism and libertarianism are sufficiently opposite ideas that "libertarian socialism" should be considered an oxymoron.

[1] "Platform." Socialist Party USA. 2015. Web.
[2] "Platform" Libertarian Party. Libertarian National Committee, Inc, 2016. Web.
[3] "The Economy." Libertarian Party. Libertarian National Committee, Inc, 2016
[4] D"Souza, Dinesh. Stealing America. HarperCollins Publishers, 2015. Pp 70, 139-140.
[5] Madison, James. The Federalist #10. Constitution Society, 1998. Web.
Debate Round No. 2


The first five paragraphs of my opponent's argument relies on that the libertarian and socialist parties of the United States represents and defines what libertarianism and socialism are. Therefore, refuting that one point would refute the first five paragraphs.

Now, to claim that the libertarian party is what defines libertarianism, or that the socialist party defines what is socialist, is like claiming the democratic party is what defines what is democratic. Do you see the problem there? While you can say the democratic party is democratic, you can't say everything they support is what is democratic, or that they define democracy. I mean, they generally support affirmative action, what exactly is democratic about that? They support an increase in minimum wage against people's will, what is democratic about that? Similarly, many things that the socialist party supports is not inherently socialist. An increased minmum wage is not socialist, I argue that it's authoritarian. The socialist party USA is an authoritarian leftist party, and not a libertarian leftist party, so since they are authoritarian, they will, of course, have things incompatible with a libertarian party. In fact, they will be the exact opposite of the Libertarian party, since the libertarian party is a libertarian right-wing party, whereas the socialist party USA is an authoritarian left-wing party.

From here, I will offer quotes from my opponent in italics and rebut them appropriately.

Consumers and workers decide who is in power. The ability to spend capital, which is the driving force in the market economy, lies with consumers.
I argue that in order to consent to something, you must know everything that is involved in the agreement. If you didn't know, for example, that agreeing to having someone in power meant they were going to take your rights away, you didn't actually consent to that even if you agreed to them being in power. Thus, since companies don't tell consumers how their products are made(usually) and keep many things secretive, consumers are not properly able to consent. Take this hypothetical that is basically reality because businesses do this: take company A, who, to try to increase profits, decides to create its products overseas. The reason it's less expensive to make things in other countries? Because those countries use slave labor, child labor, or pay their workers terribly. Feel free to google the amount of slaves in the world, yes, slavery is still used today, and child labor is too. If consumers were made aware of how the products are being made, then there would be consent, but in majority of cases, we don't know how the products were made, and I believe very few people would buy from a company that uses child or slave labor, or labor where people aren't paid enough to survive off of. However, under laissez-faire capitalism, there is no requirement for businesses to give information like this to their consumers. Since consumers need to buy items, such as food, or other items they need for comfort, they are not going to go out of their way to demand the company tell us how the products were made. No one has the time for that, because under capitalism, you have to spend a vast majority of your day sleeping or working in order to survive.

If a business wants good workers, it must pay competitive wages. If workers feel they are being treated unfairly they can form a union, strike, or look for a better job.
And employers will then just hire the unemployed instead. I know of no case where any country has had a 0% unemployment rate for an extended amount of time. Why pay your workers more when you can hire someone who's unemployed, willing to work for that amount you were paying your workers before, because a measly wage is better than no wage? So long as there is unemployment, what you say simply is not true, for it's not profitable in any way to the business owner.

RE: author hypothetical
This is not in violation of what socialism is in favor of. Redistributing wealth is only used in socialism if the wealth was generally acquired through an unjust means. Socialism is about transferring ownership of companies to the workers, which makes it democratic. Since, the author is a worker themselves, they would own their own business, assuming that the business only employs one person: the author. Under socialism, if the author wanted to take on an editor to work with them, the editor would also own the business jointly with the author. Under capitalism, the author would maintain sole-ownership of the company, in general, and would be the boss. Workers, after all, deserve the product of their labor, and one product of their labor is the business continuing to be in business and becoming larger. A business cannot grow without more workers, thus workers should own the business since it's a part of the product of their labor. When one person owns a business solely, it robs the workers' product of their labor: the business growth.

It is for this reason that the United States is not a democracy, but a constitutional republic.
Socialism can also be set up in a republican form of government. This form of socialism is known as syndicalism, it's where labor union bosses who are elected by the workers, own the means of production rather than the workers themselves. If you have a problem with direct democratic control of the means of production, well, then you can have a republican control of the means of production through syndicalism. If you agree that a republic is better at maintaining liberty and freedom, then the logic flows that a republic form of economics would do the same. Capitalism, either way, is not republican in nature, so it can be argued that it is not promotive of liberty.

Seizing the means of production, whether by force or by majority vote, would necessarily involve taking what one person or group of people owns, and dividing it among a large group. This violates the right to own property, a pillar of libertarian thought. Theft is theft, whether one person or many is doing the taking.
I think my points earlier on how workers are entitled to the product of their labor refutes this, as they are the reason the business grows, so they should own it.

This sort of oppression is exactly what libertarians fear, and is at the center of the limited-government philosophy that defines libertarianism, as expressed in the Libertarian statement of principles. Libertarians believe that no one has a right to dictate what another person does, either in personal matters or in business ventures, saying, "the only [economic system] compatible with the protection of individual rights, is the free market." [2]
Again, this is the libertarian party. Making them the authority on the matter of defining what is libertarian is like making the democratic party the authority on defining what is democratic, or the republican party the authority on defining what is republican. They can define what their party stands for, but they don't define the adjectives themselves.

My opponent claims that a capitalist economy is not free, because even if one chooses which business owner to work for, one has no control over which business owners are out there.
I concede this point, because, now that I thought about it, this would still happen under socialism, at least the type I argue for. I argue for decentralized socialism, so there would be one business out there owned by a group of workers, which you have no say over because you're not a part of that business. So, I am changing this to that this can still happen under socialism, if the socialist society is decentralized. Under centralized socialism, this would not happen. I'm not sure why I brought this point anyways, since I'm a libertarian socialist in favor of decentralized structures myself.


My opponent criticized my use of the Libertarian and Socialist parties as examples. I never claimed that they defined the terms libertarian and socialist, merely stating that the Libertarian and Socialist parties of the United States are in keeping with the values of the broader ideologies of libertarianism and socialism. I will provide further evidence that this is the case.

My opponent claims that the values of the Socialist party of the United States do not speak for the values of socialism as a philosophy. This would be true, assuming that said values were unique to that party. If, however, multiple, organized entities or groups of people that identify themselves with a particular philosophy share common views, the clout that these groups have in defining the philosophy that they claim to be guided by cannot be ignored. Such is the case with socialism. Many political parties around the world that associate themselves with socialism, either directly in name (like Spanish Socialist Workers Party) [1] or by citing socialism in the party platform (such as the Labor Party of Australia) [2] adhere to principles similar to those of the Socialist party of the United States. [3] Since many, if not most, organized groups that identify as "socialist" share a common definition, it gives us some indication as to the modern understanding of the word.

Combining evidence from party platforms of ostensibly socialist political parties [1] [2] [3] with the authoritarian, centralized tendencies of existing or past governments that are widely considered "socialist," [4] [5] [6] an archetype of socialism emerges. Just like the American party, it is opposed to the free market and laissez-faire economics, irreconcilable with libertarian thought.

Modern libertarian philosophy stems from classical liberalism, a political ideology that emphasizes small government, individual choice, and free-market economics. A market economy, in the eyes of a classical liberal, embodies freedom. [7] I cited the Libertarian party of the United States in the previous round because it is quite clear that the values of the party are in keeping with this philosophy. [8] But the US party is merely one example. The Libertarian parties of Spain [9], the UK [10], Argentina [11], and most every other "libertarian" party in the world adopts this philosophy.

I have offered definitions that are supported by facts. The majority of groups who describe themselves as "socialist" and "libertarian" have a common definition of the words that matches my own. While I have provided evidence that clearly points to a common understanding of the meaning of the terms, my opponent has no evidence other than their own assertions. Because they dismiss my definitions out of hand, without any convincing evidence to back up their own definitions, I believe that my definitions should be accepted, because they are better corroborated.

Not only are most existing groups that identify as "socialist" fundamentally authoritarian, which is contrary to libertarian principles, but I argue that no socialist society can be anything but.

In response to the analogy I used of an author who sells her books, I think I quite clearly illustrated the inherent fairness of the capitalist system in the matter of buying and selling. But is the system fair in regards to employment? I assert that it is. Employment of an individual is merely a trade: one person trades their labor for an agreed-upon wage.

Let us expand the thought experiment. Say that the author decides that she cannot keep up with the demand for her books on her own. So she seeks the services of a person who will help her take care of printing and distribution. She sets a price that she thinks is a fair trade; he may disagree and propose a higher price. They strike a bargain. Chances are, neither is completely happy. The worker may have liked to be paid more, and the author might have paid less if she could. That is not important. The important thing is that they struck a bargain; each consented to the trade. There is nothing unfair about it.

Now imagine that our author also wants someone to edit her books. Let us also assume that the editor she would like to hire ascribes to the same philosophy as my opponent. He believes that money alone is insufficient compensation for his services. The author may agree and give the editor a share of her business. This does happen in capitalist economies. [12] If she chooses to do so, great. They have reached an agreement with which each is sufficiently happy. She may want to hold on to the business she has built, and as an alternative may offer a higher wage or some other benefit. Or, she may say no to the request to concede ownership of part of the company, but be unwilling to offer higher wages. At this point, it is up to the editor. If he is willing to work for the price she has negotiated, he agrees and they have a deal. They both consent to the arrangement. If not, he walks away and seeks work elsewhere. He refuses to give his consent. Some other editor may come along, find the author"s terms reasonable, and sell her his services for the price she is willing to pay.

All of these arrangements are completely voluntary and consensual. Individual freedom is upheld, because no one is forced into any arrangement. However, in my opponent"s system, business owners must give ownership over to their workers. In a capitalist economy, such a decision is a voluntary arrangement between employer and employee. In a socialist system, the choice is removed. How is this to be achieved? It must be enforced by the government, which requires authoritarian control and a large bureaucracy. This flies in the face of small-government, libertarian philosophy. If not, the workers must take it by force, which debunks my opponent"s idea of "consensual" business relations. Consent is a two-way street. A business arrangement must be agreed upon by both employer and employee. In this case, the business owner is not allowed to bargain for an arrangement that suits her, or find an arrangement that lets her keep what is hers.

This is a classic example of the majority violating the rights of the minority: democratic oppression. As I said before, the fact that the workers feel entitled to more than they were compensated for does not change the fact that to forcibly appropriate a company"s resources is theft, according to the libertarian worldview. In a capitalist system, companies are free to use equity in the company as compensation for workers; the system is inherently free because they do not have to do so. With my opponent"s definition of socialism, this practice is applied across the board, which cannot be done without the use of force. As such, a socialist economy is necessarily authoritarian. I would argue that the type of government my opponent advocates, which has both universally democratic ownership of businesses and a laissez-faire economy, cannot exist.

This assertion is not mere speculation. Take once again the Socialist party of the United States. The party"s statement of values corresponds with my opponent"s definition of socialism, demanding "social ownership and democratic control of productive resources." However, the methods they use to achieve such an end rely heavily on the expansion of the welfare state, higher taxes, wealth redistribution, and a more centralized, regulated economy. [3] The same is true of other "socialist" parties and governments. [1] [2] [4] [5] [6] The point of this example is that even groups which adhere to the same principles as my opponent does cannot realize their goals except through heavy-handed government action. This is irreconcilable with libertarianism.

Finally, I would like to address an idea that frequently comes up in my opponent"s arguments. My opponent says that workers deserve the product of their labor, which includes business growth. They also say that a capitalist system is inherently unfair because people are pressured into taking jobs that do not pay enough because they need the money, or because someone else will often be willing to work for less. My opponent says, "You may have no other choice but to be with a bad employer, and you didn't fully consent to be under that employer." The thought process behind this statement is that if a person does not receive exactly what they want or for their labor, they did not fully consent, and thus seizing the resources of the business owner is justified. This idea is contrary to libertarian principles. Classical liberalism holds that the needs of one person do not justify taking what belongs to another, even if they feel that they deserve it. In other words, we have the right to be selfish. A business owner, just like a worker, has a fundamental right to attempt to conduct his business dealings in a way that is beneficial to him, even if the resulting (voluntary) arrangements could be seen as "unfair." [12]

The only system that is compatible with this philosophy is a capitalist economy. As I have demonstrated, socialism cannot function in such a market. For this reason, socialism and libertarianism cannot coexist.

[2] National Platform. Australian Labor Party. PDF pp 15-32, 202
[9] Programa Politico Marco. Partido Libertario de Espana, 2010.
Debate Round No. 3


In bold will be points made by my opponent, in bold and italics will be direct quotes

RE: Multiple socialist parties are authoritarian

However, these authoritarian socialist parties do not have a monopoly and what the ideology of socialism means. There are also many parties that are libertarian socialist, such as the Democratic Union party of Syria[15], the Freedom and Solidarity party of Turkey[16], The Republican Democrats of South Africa[17], the Solidarity party of the UK[18], and the Kurdistan Democratic solution party[19]. I can provide many more if you want, but this should suffice for my point. opponent has no evidence other than their own assertions.

I provided evidence already in round 2 of the original meanings of the words libertarian and socialist. So, this is a lie that I provided no evidence. In fact, libertarian, used in order to describe leftist parties and individuals, has been around since the mid-1800s, and is still used today. The idea of applying the term libertarian to the right-wing only happened within the past half of a century. Noam Chomsky is a famous person alive today who identifies as a libertarian socialist[20], wikipedia has an entire page devoted to libertarian socialism where you can read about other people who identify with libertarian socialism[21] and political compass, a pretty well-known political survey giver, even has a category known as “libertarian left”[22].

Not only are most existing groups that identify as "socialist" fundamentally authoritarian, which is contrary to libertarian principles, but I argue that no socialist society can be anything but.

But that would be ignoring history. Also, I think claiming that most existing groups who identify as socialist are authoritarian also needs evidence. I already provided 5 examples of parties who are libertarian socialist, and there are many more. Anyways, there were at least two socialist societies which were done with no government and were not authoritarian: Revolutionary Catalonia of the Spanish Civil war, and the Free Territory of Ukraine of the Russian civil war. Both can be looked up on wikipedia if you so wish to do so. Both were eventually taken over by authoritarian states. The one weakness that libertarian societies, such as those, have is that they use a volunteer army. The authoritarian states that took them over used conscription, so already, the libertarian states were at a disadvantage since they would have a much smaller military. So, while these societies were short-lived, they did maintain their anarchy/libertarian states for the entire duration they were around, which for both was a few years.

In addition, what you said here would be a cherry-picking fallacy, because you’re ignoring readily-available evidence. And a cherry-picking fallacy is “the act of pointing to individual cases or data that seem to confirm a particular position, while ignoring a significant portion of related cases or data that may contradict that position.”[23] My opponent pointed to examples of authoritarian socialist countries and parties while ignoring the examples out there which are not authoritarian, which I offered above.

Re: Author analogy, specifically the part on agreements where workers get part of the company occurring in capitalist economies

While this happens in capitalist economies, it automatically makes the economy a little less capitalistic and more socialist. This is exactly how socialism can be achieved without any force: if business owners agree to making ownership of the company split between the workers of said company.

Re: Choice removed in socialist economy

Just like the choice to be able to steal from someone should be removed from a libertarian society, so should the choice to be able to deprive your workers the right to the product of their labor. The business, in and of itself, is a product of the workers’ labor. They are entitled to a portion of the business, and thus violence is justified in order to gain control of what should have been theirs. Violence is justifiable in libertarian societies, as mentioned above, when rights are violated.

Re: Democratic oppression

You do realize that “oppression” would occur no matter what system we have, right? I would rather the oppression be approved by a majority of people, than by a minority. In our “esteemed” republic, we had slavery for almost a century, and there are countless other cases where a minority was allowed to oppress another minority, such as extremist Christians oppressing the LGBT community, and I could name more things that are happening in our republic, but that is probably not necessary. In a republic, a minority is permitted to oppress another minority. In a democracy, that would be prevented. Only a majority would be able to oppress a minority. While that’s not good, it’s better than the potential of minorities doing it to other minorities. I mean, if you’re going to argue the “tyranny of the majority” argument, then show me an example of a country that had no tyranny. You probably can’t. I consider that argument a moot point. In fact, a democracy probably would have ended slavery sooner in our nation since African-Americans and white northerners who wanted to end slavery back then, outnumbered the white southerners who wanted to keep slavery. So… what exactly is bad about a democratic rule that isn’t applicable to other means of ruling? For one, morals are determined by majority in a society. There’s no way to argue morals are objective, each society has a different set of morals. So, shouldn’t the ones in power be the people themselves in order to ensure that what is moral in that society is what actually happens?

...the fact that the workers feel entitled to more than they were compensated for does not change the fact that to forcibly appropriate a company"s resources is theft

Sure, and technically it is also theft to steal something that was originally stolen from you. But we’d all agree that this is justified theft, since you’re taking something that originally belonged to you. That’s how I view the workers taking over a company. Also, keep in mind that I’m not suggesting that the workers be the sole owner of the company, the business owner would still own the company too, they would just do so jointly with the workers there. It’s not exactly stealing anything, it’s just making the business owner share. And again, it’s justified forced sharing because the workers are entitled to the product of their own work, which you haven’t refuted that point, so I assume you think it’s a valid point.

Re: Socialist party USA argument… again

I believe I refuted this point before with showing how there are other socialist parties which are libertarian socialist and not authoritarian in any way. Just because the Socialist USA decides to use ideas that involve the government, doesn’t mean every socialist party agrees with that.

The thought process behind this statement is that if a person does not receive exactly what they want or for their labor, they did not fully consent,

No, I didn’t argue that, this is a strawman. I argued that you don’t fully consent when you have no other options. People have no other option other than these two in a capitalist society: work under someone, or make people work under you. The latter is not possible for everyone, because that means everyone would be a business owner. That’s not possible because most businesses need employees, and if everyone was a business owner, there would be no employees. So, some people are forced to be employees de facto. Anyways, please tell me how there is consent in a system where you have no choice but to work under someone in order to survive?

Also, you still never refuted the idea that workers are entitled to the product of their work, as I said, I think I can assume you agree to this.

Classical liberalism holds that the needs of one person do not justify taking what belongs to another,

Exactly, which is why business owners should not be taking the product of their workers’ labor by having sole ownership of the company. The product of a worker’s labor belongs to him. Growth of the business is a result of the worker’s labor, so they are entitled to own the business too.

I believe I’ve sufficiently refuted all of my opponent’s arguments.












First, I will address my opponent's claims regarding the existence of non-authoritarian socialist parties, after which I will address the capitalist system as a whole and its relation to libertarian philosophy. Finally, I will show that socialism violates basic libertarian principles.

I will start with the most obvious problem with my opponent's rebuttal: poor sources. Every article that they cite on the matter is a very short Wikipedia article , providing no information about the party platform, as I did in my examples. Because of this, there is very little evidence to support their claims, despite the large volume of sources used. The sources provide no specific examples of policy goals. [1][2][3][4][5][6]

All claim to be libertarian socialist, but because my opponent has not provided any specific examples of specific policy goals, one cannot determine whether they actually adhere to this philosophy in practice. As I demonstrated earlier with the example of the Socialist Party of the United States, a group can claim to support a certain ideology, but support policies that contradict that goal.[7] Because of this, the sources provided should be taken with a grain of salt. A name alone does not mean that a group automatically follows a particular ideology, as my opponent has argued throughout this debate. Because no specific evidence is provided as to whether the parties actually try to implement their ideologies in a non-authoritarian manner, my opponent has failed to satisfactorily disprove my claim that the majority of socialist parties are authoritarian in practice. My contention stands.

Having addressed my opponent's lack of information, I now move on to address another piece of evidence that they use. They say that the brief existence of anarcho-communist territories during the Spanish Civil War and the Ukrainian Revolution refutes my theory that socialist governments must be authoritarian. That is hardly a smoking gun. Even if non-authoritarian socialism was upheld for the entire duration of the states' existence, three years is the blink of an eye when it comes to government. Those nations were barely established before they ended. [8][9] Because of the brevity of these fleeting socialist societies, it is hard to determine whether the systems would have survived in the future. We only need to look to Soviet Russia [10], Cuba [11], or China under Mao [12] for evidence that countries founded on the principles of socialism tend to dissolve into authoritarian regimes.

Finally, I would like to reiterate the point of this argument. Even if the entirety of my argument up to this point were discounted, we must remember that the existence of societies or parties that follow the name "libertarian socialist" does not threaten my argument in any way. I am merely trying to prove that libertarianism and socialism are opposing philosophies, which I believe I have done.

My opponent's entire argument seems to hinge on the idea that capitalism as an economic system is inherently opposed to collective ownership, saying, "While [sharing companies with workers] occurs in capitalist societies, it automatically makes the economy a little less capitalist and more socialist." This statement reveals a fundamental misconception about capitalism. In a capitalist system, each person is free to own property and to do what they want with it. [15] Trade is unrestricted, and the buyer and seller together decide the value of the good being traded. As such, there is nothing about trading company equity to workers that contradicts capitalism. Think about the stock market, where equity in a company is sold for money. It is no different if a worker is compensated with stock in the company. In this case, equity is traded for labor instead of money. The difference between capitalism is that the trade is voluntary; the system is inherently free. Conversely, in socialism, collective ownership is, by definition, systemic.

Modern libertarianism upholds personal freedom and deregulation. In a system where systemic democratic ownership of the means of production is enforced by the government, both of these principles are violated. A system where this is completely voluntary, without government intervention (which I assert cannot happen on a large scale anyway), is therefore capitalist, and irreconcilable with socialism. The "socialism" my opponent argues for is not, indeed, true socialism, for socialism is almost universally recognized as fundamentally opposed to capitalism. This is supported by my opponent's cited parties and my own. [3][5][7][13][14]

I will now address my opponent's opposition to my claim that they have not provided any evidence to support their definitions of socialism and libertarianism. Despite the fact that outright calling my argument a lie is unprofessional and borderlines on ad hominem, I concede that I should have worded that statement differently. What I meant is that my opponent had no evidence that their definitions correspond to the modern meaning of the words. If the modern understanding of a word differs from the original understanding, the original meaning is not applicable to defining the word. This, my opponent did not provide, and I did. In fact, in my opponent's third argument, they said, "The idea of applying the term libertarian to the right-wing only happened within the past half of a century." So my opponent concedes that currently, a sizable portion of the population holds to my classical liberal definition of libertarianism.

I'll now respond to my opponent's ludicrous assumption that workers deserve the product of company growth. The workers have sold their labor for an agreed-upon wage. What happens to the company does not concern the worker. Although I feel that I have explained this sufficiently, it seems that my argument was not sufficient, so I will offer a similar analogy to my story of the author to illustrate. Suppose that I possess some rudimentary carpentry skills. A friend of mine is a carpenter and offers to pay me to help him work. I agree to help him make some furniture, and accept the offered payment. If he then manages to sell the furniture for such a price that he makes a greater profit off the arrangement than I do, can I demand that he make up the difference? Capitalism and libertarianism say no. By accepting the agreed-upon payment, I have waived my right to the product we made. On the flip side, if he turns a small profit, he cannot demand that I return part of what he paid me (like I said before, consensual business relations are a two way street). This give and take is central to capitalism, regardless of fairness. [15]

My opponent also "would rather the oppression be approved by a majority of people, than by a minority." My opponent has essentially admitted that socialism allows a majority of people to disregard the rights and well being of dissenters. This principle flagrantly opposes the classical liberal ideology of libertarianism. They say that this is preferable to federalism or a republic, where the minority is in control. However, classical liberalism believes that government is in place to prevent oppression of any kind. That's why we have a Bill of Rights. A quick read through of the US Constitution (which has a heavy classical liberal influence [16]) shows that this is the case. Going back to the Federalist #10, James Madison believed that democracy will not prevent "the mischiefs of faction," which is essentially the oppression by one group of another. Our entire (then classical liberal [16]) governmental system was designed to prevent just this sort of oppression. The abuses of which my opponent speaks, while inexcusable, are not due to problems with the system, but because we as a country have failed to abide by the classical liberal (libertarian) values we were founded upon. As my opponent admits, a purely collectivist society violates these principles. This is not to say that oppression will never exist, but classical liberals want to use government as a tool to minimize oppression of any kind. It is clear that mob rule does not do that.

They also claim that the power in a government should lie with the people themselves (which libertarians advocate, by the way [16]), because "morals are determined by majority in society." Well, not according to libertarianism. Classical liberals believe that people possess certain inalienable rights that are not determined by any government or majority. [17] The entire purpose of government is to protect us from infringement on these rights, be it by an individual or a large group.

I once more assert that socialism implies the forcible violation of what libertarianism considers inalienable rights. As such, libertarianism and socialism can never be reconciled. They are, by definition, opposed.

I thank my opponent for a good debate, and rest my case.

[14] National Platform. Australian Labor Party. PDF
Debate Round No. 4
4 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Posted by Capitalistslave 1 year ago
I apologize for having taken this long to respond. I had computer issues
Posted by Capitalistslave 1 year ago
That's weird, when I reviewed my argument in round 2, it showed that there was a space in between each section of my argument and each paragraph, but those are gone now. Hopefully this doesn't cause any problems for reading it.
Posted by Capitalistslave 1 year ago
Tom-The-Hypocrit: why not do the research though? And to be honest, I wasn't going to go too deep with research. I already have one source in mind and it was going to be a source from a wikipedia page.

So, you wouldn't have to go too deep either.
Posted by Tom-The-Hypocrit 1 year ago
i would accept if i could be bothered to do all the research that i can tell ur clearly prepared to do lol
No votes have been placed for this debate.