Libertarians and Socialists aren't Too Far Apart

It began with a conversation with a self-described socialist that wasn't completed due to the nature and place it occurred. I also don't know if the individual was a Socialist Party member, so I'm going to talk in small "l" libertarian and small "s" socialist terms, which means in a broad general sense.

Libertarians believe the individual is in ultimate control of their life while socialist believe the collective is responsible and in control of the individual.

So most people's first instinct is to say that is a whole lot of difference. How can they share any similarity at all? These people are at opposite ends of the spectrum.

Libertarians and socialist generally both believe in freedom, equality, privacy, production, development, and economic sustainability.

I would submit the basic difference between the two lines of thought is in how they define community and membership into those communities. A community being anything from your fishing club, your church, the city, county, state, federal, or other government body and what those roles are in one's life.

The basic difference between a libertarian and socialist viewpoint is whether membership into a community is voluntary or mandatory. One voluntarily joins the fishing club or church, but it is mandatory simply by location, currently, that you are a member of the inclusive government organizations.

A libertarian believes government bodies which have conscripted membership be limited in power to protecting the individual's rights for voluntary community membership possibly even to the local government level and their right to individually, if they choose, assign those rights to a community for mutual benefit, whereas a socialist believes the majority will choose for the individual what best benefits them.

This is the ideological difference, not necessarily the pragmatic difference, but the core difference is who defines community and membership, whether it is voluntary or conscripted.

I believe every libertarian would support socialists who wish to voluntarily create their own communities and impose rules upon themselves for their mutual benefit, but in the same instance, as opposed to socialists, would claim the right not to be part of that community.

In the end the only difference between a libertarian and a socialist is individual determination versus mob empowered authoritarian rule. The latter being not too far from our two (or is it one, hard to tell) party system we have today. Which would you choose?