I have been reading a lot lately, and it seems this ideology is very popular among young progressives my age.
However, I sort of find the ideology sort of conflicting in nature?
If you want to create a society that is more progressive, you need greater government intervention in society and as a result society is less 'free' and therefore less libertarian in nature? I am not saying that is a bad thing...
It seems to me libertarian socialism can only exist if those libertarian principles do not apply to economic freedom?
What are your thoughts?
I've commonly been labeled both a socialist and an anarchist over the years to the point that I've just accepted and embraced both labels, and that makes me what I suppose might be considered an extreme libertarian socialist, so here's my persepctive on that:
To my way of thinking, there's no contradiction between these two concepts. You seem to be embracing a view of libertarianism as something that's opposed to government at a conceptual level and I think that's where your confusion comes from. The anarchist opposes AUTHORITY (as in to say unequal social relations), not GOVERNMENT. For me, it's not about whether government exists or is sufficiently "limited" or not, but rather about who controls it. The important thing about socialist organization for me is that it be democratically controlled at all levels. Here's a real-world example that I've experienced:
Do you remember about five and a half years back when there was a movement called Occupy (originally known specifically as Occupy Wall Street) here in the Western world? Well the internal structure thereof was a good, if small-scale, example of the kind of way that personally I think society as a whole should be ideally run. The movement was launched by an anarchist anti-advertising group and that was reflected in the way the encampments were organized. Every evening the people in each encampment would gather for an event called the General Assembly wherein we would discuss, debate, and decide on what our policies and actions would be going forward. We would divide up into small groups so that we could have practical discussions, and then each small group would select one person to state our agreed-upon views to the larger group. Using the principles of intersectionalism, women and people of color were given priority and would speak first because our voices were the most marginalized in the larger society. The encampment adopted a policy or plan only if more than 95% of its participants agreed on it, so it was very much democracy by consensus, not simple majority rule. Everyone was involved directly in the decision-making is the point I'm trying to make here. There were no politicians. And because we used consensus-based decision-making, even the small share of people who might not have agreed with the rest's decision pretty invariably respected it and went along with it nonetheless because they knew that they had had a meaningful say in the process.
In terms of our internal economics and cultural life, the general principle was that we shared the necessities. Permanent residents of the encampment were given free food, free shelter, free health care, access to our makeshift library, etc. Our resources were crude because we were relatively small groups (typically ranging from 3,000 at the low end to 20,000 or 30,000 at the peak per encampment) operating on a shoestring budget rooted in crowdfunding. We also had free cultural performances and events ranging from plays of sorts to poetry readings and musical performances to our own semi-official newspaper and comic books. You could call that a socialist, or even arguably communist, type of economic and cultural organization since it was very heavily based on sharing resources. That's what we freely decided on. It was just the most practical way to keep the project going and also reflected much of the founding people's ethos.
What we DIDN'T have were things like police forces. We didn't really need them. We had rules (as discussed above), but because the decision-making process involved everyone and was consensus-based, the process was broadly thought of as a kind of contract development. People agreed to our terms actively rather than passively and it made everyone more willing to go along with the rules we established even if some didn't actually agree with all of them. That's not to say we didn't have problems from time to time, but they were few and generally were resolved by simply expelling the more troublemaking elements. The boldest thing we had to do was establish a curfew and a rotating night watch after a rape occurred (by an outsider, not a proper resident at that), but that was the closest we came to having a police force and it's hardly the same thing.
The core problem with our structure was the same one that other, larger anarchist societies typically experience: inability to fend off outside attacks. Contrary to popular myth, anarchist societies very rarely collapse or devolve into chaos (in contrast to their Marxist counterparts) and ours didn't either. But they usually get created amidst a social crisis that diverts the central government's attention and energy elsewhere (like amidst a civil war, for example) and just simply crushed by invasion as soon as the crisis is over. The end of the Occupy encampments was similar. Mayors around the country eventually ordered our encampments dismantled and because we didn't have any armed forces of our own, we were pretty powerless to stop that from happening. The police had guns. We had human chains. Rather an uneven match. In larger-scale communities, anarchists typically create a (democratically-organized) army for the defense of the community, but because they're not conventional armed forces and operate on limited resources, that's never really enough. I don't know what the solution is to that dilemma to be honest. I mean I can think of solutions, but they would violate the principles of anarchism and tend to turn these projects into conventional state-building, thus kind of defeating their purpose. That's why, for me, anarchist socialism is just kind of a moral position that I take. I'm not predicting "the inevitability of communism" or something silly like that.
Anyway, I hope that helps give you a mental picture of how principles of political equality can indeed go hand-in-hand with those of economic equality. The two things naturally go together, in my view. Where the Marxist is willing to use any means to achieve the ends of economic equality, therein lies their problem, by contrast. Their means wind up becoming their ends because power is intoxicating and addicting. But that's why I think it's important that we not embrace the idea that the ends justify the means.