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17 terms every libertarian should know by heart

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Here are 17 terms every libertarian should know by heart. Knowing these definitions will help you communicate your cause more effectively.


Have you ever debated someone and it ended up in a circular loop? 

Sometimes, people simply have irreconcilable differences. But it’s often the case that two people are simply speaking a different language when it comes to definitions.

To make an effective argument, the foundations must be sound; you must have clarity in what you are talking about, or B may not necessarily flow from A.

In order to persuade someone to your cause, you must know what your cause is, first and foremost. Here are 17 terms to memorize so you can communicate effectively with others.

1. Collectivism is the principle or practice of prioritizing groups and the community over individuals. It can be political, economic, or social, and it can refer either to an end or a means.

2. Capitalism is an economic system or a political system in which the country’s trade and industries are owned by private individuals or businesses who own capital goods with the primary goal of making a profit.

3. Liberty is the state of being free and having the ability to act as you please without internal or external arbitrary restraints.

4. A free market is an economic system in which actions between parties are unhindered, aside from protections against fraud and property rights violations. This system operates on the laws of demand and supply and not government dictat. In a free market, the market is open and prices of goods and services are determined by the buyers and sellers.

5. Objectivism is the philosophy of Ayn Rand. It states that reality is objective, and facts exist independently of our mind. This leads to the affirmation that people interact with the world through reason, and thus we have the right to pursue our rational self-interest.

6. Individualism is the principle or practice of focusing on the interests of the individual and giving them precedence over perceived collective interests.

7. Libertarianism is a philosophy that holds liberty as its core political value, advocating the likes of freedom of expression, free markets, freedom of association, and a free society.

8. Economics is a social science study concerned with how goods and services are produced, distributed and consumed.

9. Taxation is the act of imposing mandatory levies on individuals and companies by a national or state government.

10. Classical liberalism is a political philosophy and ideology belonging to liberalism in which primary emphasis is placed on securing the freedom of the individual by limiting the power of the government.

11. Civil rights are legal rights that uphold social and political rights, equal treatment under the law, and individuals’ freedom from state repression or discrimination.

12. Cronyism is the act of using the power of government to gain economic advantage at the expense of others instead of competing fairly in the market.

13. Socialism is a political and economic philosophy with a number of variations. What each of these holds in common is the idea that the production, distribution, and exchange of goods and services is to be determined and directed by the government or collective instead of responding to the market.

14. Property rights are a guarantee of the ability of individuals to own, trade, and do anything they want with their property.

15. Individual rights are the rights enjoyed by individuals to act freely and express oneself without interference from government or from other individuals.

16. Free will is the notion that people can meaningfully make decisions for themselves rather than these decisions being determined by others.

17. A free society is a society with social and economic freedom. It is a society that embraces innovation, upholds individual rights, and is conducive to prosperity.

To learn more about the principles of a free society from a pro-liberty perspective, be sure to check out our free Liberty 101 course by clicking on the button below.

This piece solely expresses the opinion of the author and not necessarily the organization as a whole. Students For Liberty is committed to facilitating a broad dialogue for liberty, representing a variety of opinions. If you’re a student interested in presenting your perspective on this blog, send your piece to [email protected], and mention SFL Blog in the email subject line for your chance to be published and be seen!


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