Polish libertarianism or Polish classic-liberalism?

Libertarianism is an idea that nowadays is equated to the Western world’s philosophy. Well, to be more precise it is equated to the Anglo-Saxon and German philosophy, rather than European or American. Of course mainstream libertarians acknowledged some thinkers from other countries, such as Spain (De Soto), France (Lepage) or Australia (Molnar and ‘Sydney Push’ activists), among others, however it is still marginalized and considered insignificant for the development of this thought. Well, I can’t deny it was Western philosophy that created the flesh and bones of this style of thinking (since most of the libertarian thinkers were either Austrian, German, American or English), however I can’t stop perceiving libertarianism as only exemplification of the wider social phenomena known as the ‘human desire to be free’. Hence my assumption is as follows: libertarianism is just a greater idea of freedom that contemporary liberty-oriented philosophers belong to. 

Now, we have a problem with a proper definition of wider libertarianism. For me the wider libertarianism stands for a philosophy that aims at maximizing the liberty of people, who differs in offered solutions: from an-cap, through minarchism up to some agorist and voluntaryism theories. Libertarian therefore, means a person that follows the idea of liberty and embodies some core, principle ideas shared by all libertarians: respect for freedom, individuals, property and, to some extent, non-aggression principle (the reason why I believe not all libertarians would follow NAP rules lies in the self-expression of this idea – some believe that NAP stands for ‘don’t hurt anybody, let them live’; some that it is precept or axiom rather than one of the core principles). Of course this definition extends the concept of libertarianism and includes all classical-liberal ideas that went far away from standard liberal definitions.

Why, in my opinion, is it important to understand libertarianism that way? Because it helps us recognize different ideas, that grew around the world in the last 100 years, and find similarities to the liberty-oriented philosophies. It gives us wider perspective on how some problems were approached by different people in different times, cultures, who grew with different ideologies around them. This, finally, can make libertarian ideas more understandable by an average human being not only in the US or Great Britain, but also in countries like Poland, Sri Lanka and Tongo.

This lengthy introduction was designed to introduce you to my recent academic paper ‘Libertarianism in Poland 1976-1991 in its international context’. The title is controversial, as much as the content itself. I have tried to assess whether some of the Polish thinkers in the communist-dissident movement could have been associated with libertarian ideas and, if so, to what extent. The most important thing is that I am myself quite skeptical whether any of those people could have been identified as libertarian (perhaps besides Dzielski and, quite possibly later in life, Kisielewski), however I feel all of them had quite an impact on the Polish society and its perception of freedom. If we want to develop the very ideas of libertarianism we should start with explaining the very roots of this thinking in different societies.

Please feel free to read and criticize. I am open to discuss all the ideas and statements from the paper.


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