Anarchists are both confused and angry about the Libertatis Æquilibritas symbol, generally identified as a “dollar sign” or “golden dollar sign.” It is a very clear-cut and symmetric logo, an informative, congregating and interesting symbol for true anarchism. It is not a symbol of capitalism in the general leftist sense even though it to many people bears a strong resemblance with the U.S. State currency symbol; it is a symbol for anarchism. It is usually golden simply because it looks nice on most, not to the least black, backgrounds.
Originally the symbol is made through the union of three symbols which are closely related to anarchist ideals. The symbols may be more or less offensive to some anarchists who may recognize them as bearers of other values, but we have a good reason to use them all, both individually and together, in the Libertatis Æquilibritas symbol. (The name is Latin for the balance, stability or equilibrium of liberty.)
The Circle-A. This wide-spread and generally used symbol of anarchism is well-known and discussed in detail elsewhere. Most people know this symbol and what it stands for--it is used by numerous different anarchisms as a symbol of non-oppression, statelessness or simply freedom. This symbol, because of its general use and the anarchist values closely attached to it both within the anarchist camp(s) and among the general public, has the strongest position in our joint symbol: it encompasses the others and makes the outer ring of the symbol contrasting it against the exterior. It is, in a way, the outer wall of the symbol, aimed to protect the core values of anarchism.
The Yin&Yang. This East Asian symbol originally symbolizes the balance as the inherent good, where the ingredients in one’s life together contribute to the greater whole in full balance. These ingredients are closely connected and follow each other like day and night. They are, so to speak, the two sides of the same coin, and thus there is an incentive to seek a balance between the two. It has a slightly more narrow meaning in the Libertatis Æquilibritas, where it simply states the natural balance or equilibrium in freedom.
This balance is the balance of justice where free people have equal rights and sovereignty; it is the balance of freedom since all men and women have the same right to freedom and liberty; it is the balance of respect since everyone has the right to choose one’s own life and lifestyle, and get the proper respect for those choices whatever they may be; and it is the balance of power since no one has the right to oppress, exploit or rule another. These balances of freedom and liberty are represented by the ever-chasing forces in the Yin&Yang symbol, which is by the unknowing observer identified as an “S.”
The Two Bars of the Dollar Sign. This may be considered wrong in many ways, either because it is originally a symbol of a State currency (which of course has nothing to do with anarchy), or it may by some be considered the most offensive symbol of exploitative capitalism. We do not, however, use it in any of these senses. Instead, we have chosen to use it as a symbol of freedom of exchange, be it of ideas, goods, services or whatever. It is the right of every free man or woman to choose with whom to cooperate or join forces. This has nothing to do with the exploitative relationships of capitalism as leftist (i.e. socialist or communist) anarchists identify. But it has everything to do with capitalism in the sense right-wing libertarian anarchists use the word. The definition of the term is thus very confusing, and we choose to use it in a sense not customary in the socialist or communist anarchist camp.
In this very narrow meaning of the concept, we believe capitalism, as we have defined it, is a fundamental part of anarchism. This idea is offensive to a lot of anarchists, but only when the term “capitalism” is used in the sense of oppression, exploitation, and rule (and we have already stated that such “relationships” are not part of anarchism).
The bars of the dollar sign here represent capitalism in the voluntaryist sense, i.e. the right to personal property and to take part in voluntary exchange. By property we mean every individual’s own body and the fruits of his or her labor. We proudly state that everybody has the sovereign right to themselves, and that this right can only be fully realized in anarchy. This right to oneself is represented by both a dollar sign, symbolizing the mentioned right to property and exchange, and the two vertical bars, symbolizing the equality between all men and women in this “property” right to self and life.
We are well aware of the ambiguity of the term “capitalism” in this sense, but we have found no better term representing property, exchange, and contract. It represents the motive power in the voluntary society: the free market, and the pursuit of happiness. We therefore use the term “capitalism” meaning the incentives and actions in the free market (not coercive, state-based wealth accumulation). The dollar sign as a symbol is often used for this dimension of “capitalism”; it is well-known and usually describes wealth and progress. It is our firm belief there can be no society wealthier and more progressive than an anarchist society.
The question you probably ask yourself at this moment is “Why?” What the %¤#&! is the point of another, new symbol for anarchism? This symbol, just like the overall purpose of Anarchism.net, combines the strengths of anarchist schools of thought, and builds from these an anarchism not easily refutable. Thus, anarchist philosophy, values and practice come together to this greater whole without inherent contradictions, and anarchists of different shades or colors should be able to support this idea: that a united anarchism taking advantage of the arguments in every anarchist school of thought could make a real difference in the world, and in our lifetime.
The purpose of the Libertatis Æquilibritas is thus simply to bridge the gap between different kinds of anarchism, just as the contents of Anarchism.net provides a library of the advantages and shortcomings of anarchisms. And by joining forces the State will not stand a chance, and neither will the ideas of rule, oppression, exploitation and coercion.
The symbol “Libertatis Æquilibritas” was originally created by Per Bylund. He presents the symbol in an article originally published 9/27/2001 on the radical libertarian site Anti-State.com. The article is also published on his web site here.
Get neat stuff with the Libertatis Æquilibritas here.
Download high-resolution images of the Libertatis Æquilibritas by clicking on the images below.