There are many different schools of libertarian thought. Anarchist schools argue for no government, whereas minarchist schools argue for minimal government. In addition, there are schools that draw the line on how much government is okay higher than the standard minarchist theory, including those that argue that the government set out in the US Constitution is the ideal, and other variations.
Libertarianism is the antonym of authoritarianism, where power is concentrated in a powerful government. Libertarianism can be tracked from the French cognate libertaire, coined by French anarchist Joseph Déjacque.
History of Libertarianism
In the eighteenth Century, "Liberal" (in the sense of classical liberal) ideas flourished through Europe challenging the rule of monarchs and focusing on pursuits like reason. Libertarianism was first used in late-era Enlightenment thinkers to refer to free will.
In the United States by the early twentieth century, modern liberalism began to take a more statist approach wanting more government in everyday life. Today, the Libertarian Party takes root in the U.S. and other nations wanting as minimal of a government as possible, or in the case of anarcho-capitalists, none at all.
Libertarians believe in free will, and the right for an individual to do however they please, as long as they do not infringe on the rights of others to do the same. Libertarians also believe in a completely free market. Many different schools of libertarianism include minarchism, where the government has minimal function to keep law and order, anarcho-capitalism, the form where all government functions are run by private organizations.