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Libertarian or Anarchist?

Libertarians are often accused of being anarchists or asked what the difference is between a libertarian and an anarchist. The popular image of anarchy is unrestrained violence and looting. Libertarians take a stronger stand against violence and looting than any other political group including republicans and democrats. The early history of the United States with its severely limited government was strongly libertarian and completely different from this image of anarchy.

The misunderstanding on this issue comes from the ideal state of peace and productivity with no government interference imagined by many libertarians who forget that we are the only ones who can imagine it. In a libertarian society the evolution of voluntary institutions providing the few remaining government services might lead to the gradual elimination of government but this scenario is completely beyond the imagination of the general public and it harms our cause to confront them with such a startling vision.

Here is a menu of answers to the question:

What's the difference between libertarians and anarchists?

The traditional answer
Libertarians want severely limited government and anarchists want none.

The humanist answer
Libertarians are nonviolent; some anarchists are violent.

The funny answer
Libertarians are to anarchists as nudists are to naked people.They're just middle class & organized so they appear less crazy.

The Party answer (from Andre Marrou)
An anarchist is an extreme libertarian, like a socialist is an extreme democrat, and a fascist is an extreme republican.

The graphic answer
It's like the difference between a lover and a rapist.They're both in the same place but one uses violence to get there.

The straight answer
Libertarians believe in free markets, private property, and capitalism. Anarchists who believe in these things usually call themselves libertarians.