Is there a standard set of libertarian literature? Well, of course there is a long history in the socialist tradition. I tend to roll together libertarian socialism and anarchism together, as historically tends to happen. Here is a brief list off the top of my head.

  • Daniel Guerin (ed), No Gods No Masters — the standard anthology of anarchist writings.
  • Peter Marshall, Demanding the Imposible: A History of anarchism — probably the best historical reference on the topic, though I find him a bit idiosyncratic in places.
  • Noam Chomsky, Power and Prospects, and, Government in the Future — talks/articles where he speculates on future organisation. Of course almost anything by this author is a good reference.
  • Robin Hahnel, Economic Justice and Democracy — more general as the title suggests, but there is a very good chapter on Libertarian Socialism and another chapter by Chomsky in reply.
  • Michael Albert, Parecon — presents an economic model, essentially an updated version of the Spanish libertarians, for a post-capitalist society.
  • Sam Dolgoff, The Anarchist Collectives: Workers’ self-management in the Spanish revolution — useful description of libertarian activities during the revolution including lots of primary sources.
  • Bertrand Russell, Proposed Roads to Freedom — maybe a little outdated now, and probably not exactly in the libertarian tradition, but a useful presentation of Russell’s version of socialism.

Then there are the classic anarchist and libertarian texts like: anything by Emma Goldman; Kropotkin, Mutual Aid; Proudhon, What is Property?; Bakunin, God and the State. Oscar Wilde also has a wonderful essay called The soul of man under socialism.

There are then authors less identified as libertarian and more as left-marxist or left communist, who are not so far away philosophically: Gramsci, Pannekoek, Luxembourg, and even Marx, particularly his earlier work. There is also the utopian socialist tradition, often placed in contrast to the marxist “scientific” idea of socialism and sometimes overlapping with libertarian ideas: Owen, Saint-Simon, Fourier, and so on. There is also something of a utopian/libertarian socialist fictional literature, of which I think Ursula Le Guin’s The Dispossessed is far and away the best. Others like Thomas More’s Utopia and Edward Bellamy’s Looking Backward lie in the same tradition and I find as wonderful books but are more
authoritarian and betray their age.

A lot of good stuff on the topic is accumulated on znet, which is run by Michael Albert, mentioned above, and others. They are trying to build something like a left-libertarian social network.

Libertarian socialist reading
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