The term libertarian commonly refers to the ideas and adherents of libertarianism (aka classical liberalism).

Table of contents
1 Etymology of the word "libertarian"
2 "Libertarian" as "anarchist"
3 "Libertarian" as "classical liberal"
4 A typographical convention
5 External links

Etymology of the word "libertarian"

The term "libertarian" originally meant proponent of liberty, and can still be used in this meaning, in the proper context. It can be opposed to authoritarian (in politics), or to proponents of determinism (in philosophy), etc.

"Libertarian" as "anarchist"

The term "libertarian" was also used by anarchists as synonymous for naming their movement, so as to avoid confusion with derogatory uses of anarchy, as synonymous with anomie.

Just like the word anarchist, the word "libertarian", at least in Europe, has long been synonymous with the socialist kind of anarchists, which may be specified as libertarian socialists. On the other hand, in the United States, it was rather understood as synonymous with individualist anarchist.

"Libertarian" as "classical liberal"

However, in the US since the 1950s, the word libertarian has been massively used by classical liberalss, only a few of them being anarcho-capitalists. These classical liberals sought to avoid confusion with uses of the word liberal then widely associated with various social-democratic and even socialist parties and ideologies. Indeed, the libertarian socialist tradition was not strong in the US, so the word was not deeply tied to left-anarchism, whereas there was a tradition of individualist anarchists and other non-socialists and non-anarchists calling themselves libertarians in the US. The word has spread to the US and then other countries, through the founding of think tanks, parties and other groups.

A typographical convention

Some writers also follow the convention of using "libertarian" (spelled in lowercase) to mean a general advocate of libertarianism, while "Libertarian" (capitalized) refers specifically to a member of a libertarian political party, such as any of the following:

See also:

External links