From bam Wed Dec 13 15:51:22 1995
Subject: Early use of the L word.
There has been some disussion here about the early use of the "L" word.
A 1955 pamphlet defined the modern usage of the term "libertarian".
The full text of this pamphlet appears below (with the kind permission
of Hans Senholz of FEE).
Of course, we know that the word "libertarian" was used in the last century
(with slightly different meaning) and even in the twenties to refer to some
anarchists (of the bomb-throwing type - not the tame, libertarian ones like
Perry), and yes there was some usage in Science Fiction literature.
However, I believe it was Hospers (perhaps as a sort of schism with others
in Rand's inner group, and probably some others) who promoted the use of
the term "libertarian" to describe a *political* movement (from which a
party later arose in 1971). The above is merely an informed speculation
on my part, but the following is factual to the best of my knowledge.
. . .
As far as I know, the term "libertarian" in its present usage was proposed
by Dean Russell in 1955. Perhaps there was earlier usage; does anyone know?
(Also, I'm well aware that the term "libertarian" had been used differently in
earlier times. So was the word "liberal".)
The text of the article, reprinted below, may provide some insight into the
use of the term "libertarian" in American philosophical and political
discourse during the decade or two preceding the actual founding of a
political party in 1971. Today, the LP is a diverse group and not all
members would necessarily agree with every sentence. However, it is fair
to say that the LP's use of the term today is not at all inconsistent with
the definition given in Dean Russell's article.
Following is the text of a little pamphlet printed by The Foundation for
Economic Education, Inc., which reprinted an article that first appeared in
the May 1955 issue of "Ideas on Liberty". The pamphlet was handed to me in
1962 or 1963 by a Philosophy Professor (at a nearby college) named John
Hospers, in his capacity as Faculty Advisor for a campus chapter of
"Students of Objectivism".
Later, in 1972, Dr. Hospers was Presidential candidate of the newly-formed
Libertarian Party. He received one Electoral College vote -- only 16 fewer
than George McGovern! In every election since then, the LP Presidential
candidate received more popular votes than anyone else who had not previously
been elected to office as a Democrat or Republican (and usually more than all
of the other third-party candidates put together). This is one basis for
claiming that the LP is "Americas Third Party".
Text of the Dean Russell article is attached below. I hope you enjoy it.
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Pamphlet on Libertatianism