Frequently Asked Questions

What is libertarian socialism?

Libertarian socialism is a current of socialist thought that promotes the fullest realisation of socialism: the extension of democracy to every aspect of people's lives. We are anti-authoritarians, sceptical of top-down hierarchical power structures as they empower a select few over the many.

Capitalism is an example of these structures, where the means of production are owned by a few at the expense of the many. So too is the state, which is why our ultimate aim is a society free of both capitalism and the state.

Libertarian socialism advocates for decentralized structures, direct democracy, an end to illegitimate social hierarchy, and the empowerment of communities from the grassroots.

Why are libertarian socialists organising in the Labour Party?

Despite our recognition that there is no parliamentary or statist route to emancipatory socialism, some libertarian socialists choose to participate in the parliamentary system in order to mitigate the damage caused by capitalism and the state. It is a recognition of the fact that extra-parliamentary socialist organising is made substantially easier when you aren't worried about the roof over your head or about your healthcare being taken away; i.e. under a progressive Labour government.

However it is important to not allow parliamentary and electoral work to take up the majority of our time and energy, but rather devote our efforts towards organising fellow workers in and supporting trade unions, organising tenants in tenants' unions, engaging in anti-fascism, and being involved with community and mutual aid projects. This is the vision of leftist organising we wish to promote amongst the Labour Party's 500,000 strong membership, because we believe in their capacity to truly make a difference in our communities.

How do libertarian socialists view capitalism?

Libertarians socialists view capitalism similarly to other socialists; recognising the dehumanizing existence under wage-labour, the commodification of social goods such as education and healthcare, and the exploitation of land and property under private ownership.

Where libertarian socialism differs is its solutions. Libertarian socialism sees the solution to ending capitalism not in the taking of state power, but in decentralizing powerful institutions which reproduce the concentration of capital (including the state), direct-democracy and worker ownership of the means of production and common goods. A core tenet of libertarian socialism is worker empowerment and democratisation.

What is state power?

Libertarian socialism recognises the concentration of power, whether that be economic, political or legalistic, as sources of social oppression. Because of this, Libertarian socialists attempt to extend their analysis of oppression beyond just the violent and dehumanizing structures of global capitalism, to also include the coercive domination of state institutions. These include examples such as legal institutions which restrict the ability of populations to "legally" resist the state, and the role of policing and prisons to violently enforce those laws. After all the state is, by definition, a political entity that wields the monopoly on the use of violence.

State power, therefore, exists as a range of structures, institutions and techniques which attempt to achieve the subjugation and control of populations to maintain and reproduce it's own authority.

How do libertarian socialists view civil liberties?

Libertarian socialists are strong advocates of civil liberties and the ability for individuals and communities to have power over their own lives, economically, politically and socially. Libertarian socialists recognize the importance of individual and community freedom at the social level, as well as the political and economic, which are necessarily intertwined with each other.

This means emancipation of BAME communities from racist structures, LGBT+ people from homophobic and transphobic structures, women from patriarchy, disabled people from ableist structures, as well as the freedom of citizens from the exertion of state power through apparatuses such as policing, surveillance and mass-imprisonment.

What is abolitionism?

Abolitionism, from a libertarian socialist perspective, refers to the philosophy and movement advocating for the replacing or dismantling of oppressive institutions which violate people's ability to have control over their own lives such as the state, the prison industrial complex, policing, and borders. Libertarian socialists tend to support abolitionism, recognising the aforementioned structures both help to maintain the reproduction of capitalism, either by providing direct profit to private ownership or dispossessing and incarcerating populations, as well as regulating and controlling human life for the purposes of maintaining state power.

What's your views on internationalism?

Libertarian socialists recognise that all workers exist in exploitative relationships to global capitalism. Therefore, all workers require rights to common ownership, legitimacy and deserve a place within worker movements. Libertarian socialists recognise borders are imperial and colonial constructs, which aid in maintaining divisions between workers and upholding global capitalism. International solidarity is a core tenant of libertarian socialist philosophy and praxis.

What is intersectionality?

Intersectionality is an analysis, developing out of black feminist theory, recognising the multitude of ways in which individuals and communities are affected by a multiplicity of oppressive structures and coercive power relations. These include not just class, but also racism, patriarchy, heteronormativity, ableism, colonialism etc.

An intersectional approach requires the recognition of these oppressive structures and relations in order to understand people's and communities' social, political and economic positions in order to work towards solutions to emancipating them.