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Social Theory and Practice

Volume 37, Issue 2, April 2011

Nicholas Vrousalis
Pages 211-226
DOI: 10.5840/soctheorpract201137213

Libertarian Socialism
A Better Reconciliation between Equality and Self-Ownership

Socialists believe that equality, community, and economic democracy can only be achieved by a system of joint ownership in the means of production. These property rights do not, as such, pass judgment as to what rights individuals have to their own person. Libertarians believe that individual liberty and autonomy are only coextensive with a set of stringent rights to the person and its powers. These property rights do not, as such, pass judgment as to what rights individuals have to the external world. Bringing libertarianism and socialism together is therefore, in principle, possible. This paper takes this further step, by sketching a constituiton that reconciles individual autonomy with radical equality of condition. To those libertarians drawn to socialist values (such as the pioneers of nineteenth-century anarchism), the paper offers a reconciliation that is arguably more true to these values than left-libertarianism. To those socialists drawn to libertarian values, it offers an alternative to left-libertarianism that avoids the pitfalls of statism.

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