It seems to fit definition of religion

a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith

Which would make it like idol worship, the idol being the market. One could dispute that since they claim to base their reasoning on facts and science. Though for every benefit attributed to the market, one can find others that are downsides, the point is these are all byproducts since there is nothing in the market that is specifically set to improve lives for people in general. Plus economics is often considered pseudoscience. It's like with the crypto scam, when people claim that money's value is just belief, whereas governments have resources, if they say a certain amount of money gets you a sack of potatoes, they can prove it. So it all sounds like faith in the market, as if we give it what it wants, it will provide for us, like sacrificing to a golden bull representing Baal.

  • 1
    That sounds like an answer.
    – user67699
    Sep 7 at 13:55
  • This question seems to be an attempt to promote criticism of a view, rather than a sincere attempt to get an answer. Accusing things of being religions are typically done in bad faith. It also doesn't seem to be all that closely related to philosophy. Whether something is a "religion" is little more than a question of semantics (although, on that note, you seem to have skipped past the first two definitions of "religion" that relate roughly to belief or worship of some deity, which reflect the formal uses of the term, whereas the definition you quoted is highly colloquial and extremely broad).
    – NotThatGuy
    Sep 7 at 14:17
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    How are people supposed to ask if something is a religion in good faith? Should we ignore religions exist?
    – user67699
    Sep 7 at 14:19
  • @NotThatGuy: What about Daoism? Which is more like aligning with a totalising principle. Demarcating what religion is, is a perfectly valid topic for philosophy & sociology.
    – CriglCragl
    Sep 7 at 15:38
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    "Here is what I think, am I right?" is an invitation to argument, not a question. "Here is why people who hold a common view are bad and dumb, am I right?" is an invitation to a stupid acrimonious internet brawl.
    – g s
    Sep 7 at 17:58

3 Answers 3


We may say that Libertarianism is political philosophy; maybe an ideology.

See Hannah Arendt’s definition of ideology:

"– isms which to the satisfaction of their adherents can explain everything and every occurrence by deducing it from a single premise." [1962, The Origins of Totalitarianism]


You're applying the loosest definition given on that page. That isn't wrong per se, but that entry generally suggests a more metaphorical usage. A religion (strictly stated) implies both institutionalization and ritualization: a core (seminal) text, a system of ordination for teachers, a variety of symbols and symbolic actions, a set of practices designed to bring one in line with religious ideals, etc… Libertarianism lacks most of those, and while one could stretch the point metaphorically, one could do that with most any organized activity in life.

It might be more realistic to say that Libertarianism is a faith in sense 2b: "firm belief in something for which there is no proof". 'Faith' is a looser term that lacks the explicit structural/institutional aspects of a religion. Some Libertarians would argue with that, but not (I suspect) all of them.

P.s.: It's time to put the concept of 'pseudoscience' to bed. It was a weak philosophical position to begin with, and has been roundly critiqued as inconsistent and unfalsifiable in its own right. It only seems to be used these days as a troll-word meant to prejudicially defame some aspect of human activity. So we might as well let it sleep with the rest of Popper's defunct philosophy of science.

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    But [pseudoscience](v) can still be useful: it must not be used to name whatever is not science: chess playing, religion, dianetics, etc but only those disciplines mimicking sciences or claiming to be scientific but that are not so: astrology during the Renaissance, maybe psychoanalysis, etc. Sep 7 at 14:56
  • @MauroALLEGRANZA: There is science, there is non-science, and in-between there's just bad science. The problem with the concept of pseudoscience is that it implies malfeasance: not merely that someone is doing bad science, but that they are doing bad science with the malicious intent of trying to deceive people. it was always a prejudicial concept, and it has long-since lost the philosophical veneer that Popper gave to it. Sep 7 at 15:49
  • And what do you call ideologies that posit to already know the truth and that change their arguments to predict that truth rather than use their assumption to make testable predictions? Would you call these closed systems of knowledge religion?
    – haxor789
    Sep 27 at 14:39
  • @haxor789: generally I'd call those 'dogmas'. Sep 27 at 15:39

The definition that you have provided seems to be an unnecessarily broad definition. In that sense, it seems that even your own disapproval of Libertarianism is itself a religion. It seems from a quick search that most definitions include further restraints, often including some strongly held belief in something super natural, which Libertarinism does not have.

Also, you seem to be conflating Libertariansim with free market Capitalism. While this may be an outcome of Libertarian political ideology, it is not the cornerstone of it. The Libertarian ideology doesn't necessarily aim for people to have improved lives, but is a stance on what the government itself has or should have a right or responsibility to do. This may in turn be believed because of an appeal to a some more core belief system which may or may not appeal to the supernatural, etc.

Since you mostly reference free market Capitalism, consider that it is not some mystical thing or some blind emotional appeal. It is a prescription for a healthier economic system from the reference of Austrian Economics. That system invented the theory of marginality and solidified value theory in a concrete and predictable way. In that understanding of economics, value is related to the utility of a good or service (as opposed to the amount of labor used to obtain it or some historical value, and so forth), and so the only way to accurately or practical way to calculate it is to remove artificial constraints on the market. Thus, if you want to most accurately spread resources based upon utility, you should remove government constraint.

Free market Capitalism does not suggest that it will change what people value, and it doesn't directly attempt to claim that it will make lives better. It doesn't claim that it will solve all of our problems, and there is no appeal to magic or other unseen forces. It is simply one suggested policy about how to best address the problem of scarcity based upon a still popular economic model. So, I would say that it not only is not a religion based upon most sufficiently narrow definitions of religion, but it seems to also not be so based upon what seems to be your intuitive understanding of religion.

  • First of all there is a sharp contrast between Libertarianism and american libertarianism and the second is closely linked to free market capitalism, while the first focuses on liberty and is a more polite name for anarchism (the socialist version). With regards to the believe in the supernatural, I'd quote the "right to property" which is usually held as superpositive. So beyond man made law and beyond discussion and that dogmatic nature kinda makes it supernatural despite the lack of fanciful magic that we usually associate with that.
    – haxor789
    Sep 27 at 14:22
  • Also "price", "value" and "utility" are not the same thing and they are not absolutes but subjective and temporal and any market interaction can change any of these properties for any other participant. So the ability to calculate anything is usually limited to very narrow edge cases.
    – haxor789
    Sep 27 at 14:31
  • @haxor789 Yes, there are many, such as the founding fathers, which believe in that our rights are such because of a Creator, but there are also many (seemingly even a majority) of at least American Libertarianism, which have non-Theistic beliefs and do not directly acknowledge the correlation. Our beliefs do inform our political ideologies and every part of our lives, but that doesn't make political ideologies religions.
    – DKing
    Sep 27 at 15:17
  • @haxor789 If I understand the theory correctly, only utility is subjective. They all do change over time, and the assertion is that the calculations require for value is too complex for it to be truly knowable outside of the market, and that resources best meet the optimal general utility when price is allowed to most closely match the actual value. The prediction is that, the freer the market, the closer the price and value become. This may not always desirable, and I think that is where the OP believes it is failing (thus believed on faith), but also where Chicago school comes in.
    – DKing
    Sep 27 at 15:25
  • Sure "natural law" is often explicitly theistic, but from what I've heard even non-Theist american libertarians still draw their justification from sketchy logical arguments like self-ownership rather than collective consensus, so as a result "private property" is more often than not dogmatic rather than a mutually accepted utility. It even takes precedence over the struggle of liberty as ultimately most american libertarians are willing to accept a strong state in the Hobbessian sense of an unmatched authority, that if nothing else protects this dogma.
    – haxor789
    Sep 28 at 9:56

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