Outline of libertarianism – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to libertarianism:

Libertarianism political philosophy that upholds liberty as its principal objective. Libertarians seek to maximize autonomy and freedom of choice, emphasizing political freedom, voluntary association and the primacy of individual judgment.

Libertarianism has many overlapping schools of thought, all focused on smaller government and greater individual responsibility. As interpretations of the guiding Non-Aggression Principle vary, some libertarian schools of thought promote the total abolition of government, while others promote a smaller government which does not initiate force. Some seek private ownership of all property and natural resources, others promote communal ownership of all natural resources and varying degrees of private property.

These are concepts which, although not necessarily exclusive to libertarianism, are significant in historical and modern libertarian circles.

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Outline of libertarianism – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Libertarianism – Salon.com

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Libertarianism – Salon.com

Libertarianism – Uncyclopedia – Wikia

A man who does not think for himself does not think at all.


Libertarians, more commonly known as Lolbertarians, are ashamed of the fact that the vast majority of the world’s politicians today are fat, ugly fugly vampires nurturing themselves by sucking the free spirit out of the back bones of ordinary citizens through methods of merging government power with corporate power, growing the police state at an alarming rate, and bailing out multibillionaire bankers and Wall Street investors who would otherwise fail in a free market society.

Libertarians therefore do not want to continue pretending that our politicians are democratically elected leaders. As such, many American libertarians are currently trying to flee the growing fascistic elements of their corporate-controlled government and reckless military-industrial-complex-turned-police-state by making a mass exodus to locations as far away from the political power centers as possible (sometimes even leaving America for obscure and remote parts of the world such as rural Iceland) where only the raccoons will hear their loud cries for liberty, because by now they realize that hiding from Big Brother is the only real option left.

The essence of libertarianism is that governments should stop controlling people’s lives and should instead let individuals take care of themselves as if they were actually grown-up adults and not babies sucking off the teat of the nanny state, constantly whining about their inability to cope in the modern world. More-or-less intelligent people with free will should be capable of making their own decisions about what products to buy and what sorts of lifestyles are worth endorsing through the free support (or withdrawal) of their dollars. This is in direct opposition to the current practice of the IRS taking Americans’ dollars through force to pay for bailouts of wealthy people, or to pay for endless overseas wars which Americans neither support nor know anything about since they are too busy playing Farmville or watching football on 72″ LCD screens anyway.

Libertarians believe that if you are dumb enough to shop at Wal-mart and fat enough to eat at McDonald’s, then that is obviously your problem and not theirs. Those kinds of people can go die of a heart attack in their stained lazy-boy chairs with barbecue grease dribbling down their triple chin as their illiterate mongoloid children run around barefoot without the benefit of tax-payer funded health care or public schools, because obviously these sorts of people should not be encouraged to have any more children. Some people call this view elitist, but Libertarians just call it the bitter truth of reality.

Libertarians despise the government because the trolls that run it abuse their power while for some strange reason believe that the people running corporations are all descendents of Ghandi. Well, actually no, they couldn’t give a shit about Ghandi either, as he was obviously just another fame whore bent on “saving the world” and thus winning all the awards and accolades that go along with being The Great Philosopher of World Peace, and thus was no morally different than a CEO who happens to derive his/her personal reward in the form of money that is freely offered by consumers who obviously find merit in the product or service being offered. Be it world peace or Pepsi, consumers shape the world they want through the goods or services they demand. At some point it appears that people started to desire Pepsi more than World Peace, though this is obviously not the fault of Pepsi.

Classical Liberalism and Libertarianism are often confused by Brits who want to take cheap shots at the foundations of American political philosophy, and who are in denial about history and the happy fact that Americans won their little Revolutionary War and are, duh, winning! Or at least were winning up until the last few decades before the state grew too big and the masses became dumbed-down because state education does not encourage people to think for themselves and be strong willed, free thinking individuals who remember where their country came from in the first place. As such, Brits often partake in a bit of sadistic glee in watching our national downfall unfold.

Classical Liberalism started as people attempting to free themselves from authority, which at that time meant the British Monarchy. As soon as a new old authority came along in the form of corporations the Federal Reserve (see Rothschilds), Classical Liberals realized that Americans were now going to be wage slaves no matter what economic policies the federal government enacted. People against Authority later changed their name to Libertarians once the idea of big government authoritarianism somehow became synonymous with being “progressive”. Why this happened, the classical liberals will probably never know. Later, capitalists Republicans realized that Libertarianism protects the rights of individuals to property ownership and the free market system, though they paid little attention to the civil liberties aspect of libertarianism which is actually far more fundamental to the philosophy than economics. Anti-Authoritarians have since tried to use the word Anarchist to escape the capitalists Republicans finally, but the capitalists Republicans still trying to be one step ahead tried to use Anarcho-Capitialism, though the Libertarians called them out on that move too, and dubbed the term “neo-cons”. In 2024 Capitalists will call themselves Socialists. hopefully be extinct once and for all. Along with communists.

A libertarian in mating season

The typical “modern libertarian” is an anti-government, beer-drinking, crack-smoking, gun-toting, bomb-making, orgy-participating, porn-loving, South Park-watching, straight, male, American “don’t fuck with me” motherfucker who lives with his mom and hates the state. Cheap sex, deadly flavors of the evil weed known as pot, and the latest and greatest style of handguns being available in every convenience store wouldn’t concern a libertarian in the least. Libertarians are also known for opposing those evil commies, prudish Christians, and Arab types who seek to tyrannize the world with economic and personal repression based on dumb religious values and compassion paid for with other people’s money. This includes, in the U.S.: the Democrats, Republicans, Ron Paul, Rand Paul and the Quakers, and in Canada: the Liberals, NDP, Greens, and Mounted Rangers

Libertarianism is believed to have started in early 1884 when founding fathers John Locke and Thomas Jefferson decided to spice up their liberal values in order to impress Ayn Rand with whom they both were in love. When Miss Rand chose to propose to L Ron Hubbard instead, the two gentlemen founded the libertarian principle Anything Goes, lost their marbles and tried to assassinate Mr. Hubbard, an attempt that failed when John Locke sneezed, being allergic to gun powder.

Libertarians oppose the Iraq War, the War on Drugs, the War on Poverty, the War on War, and most other wars. Because, to quote Lysander Spooner, “War is the health of the state,” and Libertarians are about having the state be atrophied and diseased whenever possible. Therefore, ironically, they support the War on the State – which, they assure us, will be launched “any day now.”

Likewise, Libertarians oppose the war on kiddie porn. For one thing, kiddie porn studios are capitalistic, consistently turning handsome profits, which is what America is supposed to be about, Constitutionally at least; and they consistently employ nubile Americans over swarthy, chubby foreigners, so it is an America-first stance. Further, the war on kiddie porn is the stuff of victimless crimes, which Libertarians oppose at every turn. The kid already having been exploited, one more copy of a video is not going to do anyone any additional harm.

Indeed, the Libertarian Party website for a long time had a section devoted to choice kiddie porn. This was removed abruptly when the party’s interest in “unlimited consumer choice” gave way to the obvious benefit of posturing about “filthy paedo scum who should be strung up with the commies,” Republicans leading the way for Libertarians, as happens more than a little.

Indeed, Libertarians, who often wear shoes made by 5-year-old Siberian enslaved orphans, have scant grounds to complain about films being made around 14-year-old Danes whom their own government doesn’t see fit to protect. Not that we would want it to.

1992 Libertarian Candidate for President

Contrary to popular belief, Libertarians don’t support anything and are avid complainers. Mostly consisting of PO’ed Republicans, the party is often criticized by socialists/democrats/commies for support for the well-known evil capitalism and not putting in enough community service hours. Libertarians claim that capitalism is vilified wrongly, but no one listens. They scream and shout for full freedom to do as you will so long as it doesn’t infringe on the ability for others to do as they please (it is important to note, getting ahead of smartass commies, that fucking up the economy and the environment and starving your workers does not count as infringement of anything!). This has prompted some badass positions such as the slogan “Your rights end where mine begin” and bringing back the “Don’t tread on me” flag. In short, if you don’t like capitalism and freedom, then move to China and be happy in squalor. In case you don’t know, China is famous for strictly regulating and controlling private businesses, especially the production of toys and milk, and for maintaining ridiculously high wages for the workforce, especially for those spoiled 8-year-olds.

Other less popular views:

To honor the sacred Libertarian cause, industrial-metal pioneer Oscar Wilde and his partner in crime, the famous novelist Trent Reznor, wrote these immortal lyrics of protest, which have been set to a famously stirring melody.

When the Libertarians come to town Everything will turn upside down No one will wear a frown When the Libertarians come to town

The government will shrink to naught Your coffee will always be hot And it will be the cheapest you’ve ever bought When the Libertarians come to town

You won’t have to pay income taxes No need to worry about downsizers’ axes The best companies will send you faxes When the Libertarians come to town

The invisible Hand of Nature will keep Every business exec and veep On the straight and narrow, and we all will reap Peace and plenty when the Libertarians come to town

The free market will improve every school Child geniuses will become the rule Our learning will make every nation drool When the Libertarians come to town

When the Libertarians to Washington come The streets will clear of vandal and bum Pimps and pushers will get to run Safe and legal businesses for everyone When the Libertarians come to town

Send in the Libertarians… Send in the Libertarians… Won’t someone, please, send in the Libertarians… Sob.

A libertarian protesting to support big business.

A Libertarian can be one of two people. The type of Republican you never see, named Fat-Cats, or the type of Democrats you don’t want to see, named Politically Active Hippies. All forty-nine party members are difficult to find. There are very specific instructions in order to catch one.

“Gods of war I call You. My sword is by my side. I seek a life of honor, free from all false pride. I will crack the whip with a bold mighty hail. Cover me with death if I should ever fail.

Glory, Majesty, Unity! Hail! Hail! Hail!”

It is a well-known fact that since most Libertarians are engineers and IT guys, they rule the internet. However, in real life, their unkempt appearance and breath that smells of stale coffee and halitosis means that they usually are not taken seriously.

However, it is mainly their anarchistic anti-regulatory fault that you get so much spam.

There is a train of thought that tends to regard Libertarians as a bunch of self-centred. tax-avoiding Scrooges , but this is far from the case. In 2008, for example, the Libertarian funded “Give A Shit For The Starving Africans” foundation managed to raise 333,000,000 cubic tonnes of pot brownies which was duly shipped to the poorer areas. Reactions to this display of generosity were very positive, especially among Libertarians.

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Libertarianism – Uncyclopedia – Wikia

John Locke: Money and Private Property | Libertarianism.org

November 20, 2015 columns

Smith explains the significance, for Locke, of the increased productivity caused by labor, and the relationship between money and property.

In previous essays I discussed John Lockes claim that labor is the moral foundation of property rights. It must be understood that his labor theory of property differs from a labor theory of value in an economic sense. Although Locke posited labor as the moral foundation of property, he did not believe that the quantity of labor needed to produce a commodity ultimately determines its market price; on the contrary, the price of labor is determined by the relative scarcity of laborits supply relative to demand in a given market. As Karen Vaughn noted in John Locke: Economist and Social Scientist (Athlone Press, 1980): Obviously since Locke describes the value of labor as being determined by the market price, rather than showing price as being somehow determined by the quantity of labor which goes into a product, he was far from describing a labor theory of value in either a classical or a Marxian sense. (Vaughns book is a superb account of Lockes theory of economics. It corrects a number of common misconceptions about Locke, such as the erroneous claim that he was an orthodox mercantilist. Vaughn also argued that Lockes theory of capital is more closely related to the later Austrian school than to either the classical or neoclassical economists.)

When Locke argued that labor puts the difference of value on every thing, that it increases the intrinsic value of natural resources, he meant that labor vastly increases their usefulness to the Life of Man. Here Locke implicitly invoked a standard distinction in early economic thought, which goes back at least to Aristotle, between value in use and value in exchange. (See my discussion of that dichotomy, which generated the classical water-diamond paradox, here.) According to this misleading distinction, it is value in exchange, not value in use, that ultimately regulates market prices.

Land that has been cultivated by human labor will yield far more produce that is useful to human beings than will uncultivated land. (Locke gave a lowball estimate of ten times more productivity with cultivated land, but he speculated that the increase will actually be a hundred or even a thousand times greater.) This observation was an important part of Lockes explanation of why his proviso, according to which the private appropriation of land is justifiable only when there is enough, and as good left in common with others, is not in fact a serious problem for his labor theory of private property, most notably in land. For one thing, the amount of land that any individual can cultivate is quite limited.

The measure of Property, Nature has well set, by the Extent of Mens Labour, and the Conveniency of Life: No Mans Labour could subdue, or appropriate all: nor could his Enjoyment consume more than a small part; so that is was impossible for any Man, this way, to intrench upon the right of another, or to acquire to himself a Property, to the Prejudice of his Neighbour, who would still have room, for as good, and as large a Possession ( after the other had taken out his) as before it was appropriated. This measure did confine every Mans Possession, to a very moderate Proportion.

Locke believed that the worlds population in his day could easily double and still leave plenty of unowned (common) land for others to use or to appropriate as private property. But to focus entirely on the availability of unowned land is to overlook the enormous increase of productivity brought about by labor. The private cultivator of land, far from decreasing the amount of goods available to others, in fact increases those goods many times over. Land itself is of very little value, without labour. And he who applies his labor to land does not lessen but increase[s] the common stock of mankind. Locke maintained that land, like every other economic good, is valued only because of its usefulness, or utility, to man. Land is useful insofar as it enables us to sustain ourselves and to achieve our well-being. Thus the private owner and cultivator of land, by vastly increasing the amount of useful commodities that uncultivated land would otherwise yield, greatly improves the condition of mankind generally. Private property in land and other natural resources benefits everyone.

Next in line is Lockes discussion of money (precious metals) and how it counteracted his spoilage limitation (which I discussed in my last essay). The spoilage limitation does not limit the amount of property one may justly acquire; it merely prohibits claims of ownership to perishable goods that will spoil while in ones possession: the exceeding of the bounds of his just Property not lying in the largeness of his Possession, but in the perishing of any thing uselessly in it. One may therefore expand ones stock of private property by exchanging perishable goods that one cannot use for useful goods, for barter is a type of use. Or one may exchange perishable goods for durable goods that will not spoil, such as precious metals. Here is how Locke explained the matter.

Now of those good things which Nature hath provided in common, every one had a Rightto as much as he could use, and had a Property in all that he could affect with his Labour: all that his Industry could extend to, to alter from the State of Nature had put it in, was his. He that gathered a Hundred Bushels of Acorns or Apples, had thereby a Property in them; they were his Goods as soon as he gathered. He was only to look that he used them before they spoiled; else he took more than his share, and robbd others. And indeed it was a foolish thing, as well as dishonest, to hoard up more than he could make use of. And if he also bartered away Plums that would have rotted in a Week, for Nuts that would last good for his eating a whole Year, he did no injury; he wasted not the common Stock; destroyed no part of the portion of Goods that belonged to others, so long as nothing perished uselessly in his hands. Again, if he would give his Nuts for a piece of Metal, pleased with its colour; or exchange his Sheep for Shells, or Wool for a sparkling Pebble or a Diamond, and keep those by him all his Life, he invaded not the Right of others, he might heap up as much of these durable things as he pleased.

According to Locke, as precious metals were widely accepted as money, it became possible to accumulate potentially unlimited amounts of property without violating the spoilage limitation. This development was especially important to the ownership of land. Before the advent of money people were little inclined to expand their landed property, for there were only so many natural resources they could use for the benefit of themselves and their families. But things changed dramatically when excess land and its products could be sold for moneya durable form of wealth that does not violate the spoilage limitation. Money brought with it extensive commerce, and this commerce in turn, by increasing both the diversity and demand for commodities, greatly enhanced the wealth of nations.

In my last essay I suggested that Locke posited his two qualifications to property rights primarily for the purpose of demonstrating their inapplicability to his own labor theory of property. I shall now recapitulate his reasoning.

First, the proviso that property claims should leave enough for others to use is not a serious problem, because the amount of property that any individual can use and may claim by mixing his labor with it is very limited. Moreover, the private cultivator of land actually increases the amount of goods that others may use for their benefit.

Second, the spoilage limitation applies only to perishable goods. It does not apply to durable goods, such as precious metals, and it does not limit the amount of property one may own. Therefore, when the emergence of money made it possible to sell excess landi.e., land not needed to satisfy ones own wants, land on which crops might otherwise rotit also legitimated the ownership of land (and other resources) beyond that needed for personal use. Thus arose the accumulation of capital and Lockes opposition to a legal limits on interest ratesimportant elements in Lockes economic thinking that I cannot discuss here but which are explained in Karen Vaughns book, cited above.

One final note: It is clear that Locke believed that an economic system based on property rights did exist, and therefore could exist, in a state of nature, long before the emergence of governments, whose only justification was to render those rights more secure. And this entails a high degree of social order in Lockes anarchistic state of nature that was impossible in the state of nature described by Thomas Hobbesa perpetual war of every man against every man in which property rights and other civilizing institutions could not emerge. Lockes relatively optimistic view of the state of nature would later generate its own brand of anarchism. Given that society without government was not regarded as synonymous with social chaos in the Lockean tradition, and that government was deemed necessary only to remedy certain inconveniences in the state of nature in regard to the security of property rights already established, it became plausible to speculate on how those inconveniences might be dealt with satisfactorily in a competitive market system without a monopolistic government. What was unthinkable for Hobbes and other absolutists became thinkable in the treatment of John Locke.

George H. Smith was formerly Senior Research Fellow for the Institute for Humane Studies, a lecturer on American History for Cato Summer Seminars, and Executive Editor of Knowledge Products. Smith’s fourth book, The System of Liberty, was recently published by Cambridge University Press.

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John Locke: Money and Private Property | Libertarianism.org

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Libertarianism: A Primer: David Boaz: 9780684847689: Amazon …

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Libertarianism – Mises Wiki, the global repository of …

This article uses content from the Wikipedia article on Libertarianism (edition) under the terms of the CC-by-SA 3.0 license.

Libertarianism is a political philosophy[1] that views respect for individual choice and individual liberty[2] as the foundation of the ideal society, and therefore seeks to minimize or abolish the coercive actions of the State as that is the entity that is generally identified as the most powerful coercive force in society.[3][4] Broadly speaking, libertarianism focuses on the rights of the individual to act in complete accordance with his or her own subjective values,[5] and argues that the coercive actions of the State are often (or even always) an impediment to the efficient realization of one’s desires and values.[6][7] Libertarians also maintain that what is immoral for the individual must necessarily be immoral for all state agents, and that the state should not be above the natural law.[8][9] The extent to which government is necessary is evaluated by libertarian moral philosophers from a variety of perspectives.[10][11]

The term libertarian was originally used by late Enlightenment free-thinkers to refer to those who believed in free will, as opposed to determinism.[12] Libertarianism in this sense is still encountered in metaphysics in discussions of free will. The first recorded use of the term was in 1789, by William Belsham, son of a dissenting clergyman.[13]Murrary Rothbard identified mysterious Chinese philospher Lao-Tzu who lived in the sixth century BC as one of the first libertarian-minded philosphers and another philosopher Chuang-tzu as the first thinker to describe the benefits of “spontaneous order”.[14]

The term libertarian was first popularized in France in the 1890s in order to counter and evade the anti-anarchist laws known as the lois sclrates.[citationneeded] According to anarchist historian Max Nettlau, the first use of the term libertarian communism was in November 1880, when a French anarchist congress employed it to more clearly identify its doctrines.[15] The French anarchist journalist Sbastien Faure, later founder and editor of the four-volume Anarchist Encyclopedia, started the weekly paper Le Libertaire (The Libertarian) in 1895.[16]

In the meantime, in the United States, libertarianism as a synonym for anarchism had begun to take hold. The anarchist communist geographer and social theorist Peter Kropotkin wrote in his seminal 1911 Encyclopaedia Britannica article Anarchism that:

Today, worldwide, anarchist communist, libertarian socialist, and other left-libertarian movements continue to describe themselves as libertarian, although their continued appropriation of the phrase is open to controversy, with right libertarians maintaining that left-libertarianism is internally inconsistent and should not be associated with modern libertarianism in any way. These “leftist” styles of libertarianism are opposed to most or all forms of private property.

Age of Enlightenment ideas of individual liberty, constitutionally limited government, peace, and reliance on the institutions of civil society and the free market for social order and economic prosperity were the basis of what became known as liberalism in the 19th century.[18] While it kept that meaning in most of the world, modern liberalism in the United States began to mean a more statist viewpoint. Over time, those who held to the earlier liberal views began to call themselves market liberals, classical liberals or libertarians.[19] While conservatism in Europe continued to mean conserving hierarchical class structures through state control of society and the economy, some conservatives in the United States began to refer to conserving traditions of liberty. This was especially true of the Old Right, who opposed The New Deal and U.S. military interventions in World War I and World War II.[20][21]

Later, the Austrian School of economics also had a powerful impact on both economic teaching and classical liberal and libertarian principles.[22][23] It influenced economists and political philosophers and theorists including Henry Hazlitt, Hans-Hermann Hoppe, Israel Kirzner, Murray Rothbard, Walter Block and Richard M. Ebeling. The Austrian School was in turn influenced by Frederic Bastiat.[24][25]

Starting in the 1930s and continuing until today, a group of central European economists lead by Austrians Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich Hayek identified the collectivist underpinnings to the various new socialist and fascist doctrines of government power as being different brands of totalitarianism.

In the 1940s, Leonard Read began calling himself libertarian.[12] In 1955, Dean Russell wrote an article in the Foundation for Economic Education magazine pondering what to call those, such as himself, who subscribed to the classical liberal philosophy. He suggested: “Let those of us who love liberty trademark and reserve for our own use the good and honorable word “libertarian.””[26]

Ayn Rand’s international best sellers The Fountainhead (1943) and Atlas Shrugged (1957) and her books about her philosophy of objectivism influenced modern libertarianism.[27] For a number of years after the publication of her books, people promoting a libertarian philosophy continued to call it individualism.[28] Two other women also published influential pro-freedom books in 1943, Rose Wilder Lanes The Discovery of Freedom and Isabel Patersons The God of the Machine.[29]

According to libertarian publisher Robert W. Poole, Arizona United States Senator Barry Goldwater’s message of individual liberty, economic freedom, and anti-communism also had a major impact on the libertarian movement, both with the publication of his book The Conscience of a Conservative and with his run for president in 1964.[30] Goldwater’s speech writer, Karl Hess, became a leading libertarian writer and activist.[31]

The Cold War mentality of military interventionism, which had supplanted Old Right non-interventionism, was promoted by conservatives like William F. Buckley and accepted by many libertarians, with Murray Rothbard being a notable dissenter.[32] However, the Vietnam War split the uneasy alliance between growing numbers of self-identified libertarians, anarcho-libertarians, and more traditional conservatives who believed in limiting liberty to uphold moral virtues. Some libertarians joined the draft dodger, peace movements and Students for a Democratic Society. They began founding their own publications, like Murray Rothbard’s The Libertarian Forum and organizations like the Radical Libertarian Alliance. The split was aggravated at the 1969 Young Americans for Freedom convention, when more than 300 libertarians organized to take control of the organization from conservatives. The burning of a draft card in protest to a conservative proposal against draft resistance sparked physical confrontations among convention attendees, a walkout by a large number of libertarians, the creation of new purely libertarian organizations like the Society for Individual Liberty, and efforts to recruit potential libertarians from conservative organizations.[33] The split was finalized in 1971 when conservative leader William F. Buckley, in a 1971 New York Times article, attempted to weed libertarians out of the freedom movement. He wrote: “The ideological licentiousness that rages through America today makes anarchy attractive to the simple-minded. Even to the ingeniously simple-minded.”[29]

In 1971, David Nolan and a few friends formed the Libertarian Party.[34] Attracting former Democrats, Republicans and independents, it has run a presidential candidate every election year since 1972, including Ed Clark (1980), Ron Paul (1988), Harry Browne (1996 and 2000) and Bob Barr (2008). By 2006, polls showed that 15 percent of American voters identified themselves as libertarian.[35] Over the years, dozens of libertarian political parties have been formed worldwide. Educational organizations like the Center for Libertarian Studies and the Cato Institute were formed in the 1970s, and others have been created since then.[36]

Philosophical libertarianism gained a significant measure of recognition in academia with the publication of Harvard University professor Robert Nozick’s Anarchy, State, and Utopia in 1974. The book won a National Book Award in 1975.[37] According to libertarian essayist Roy Childs, “Nozick’s Anarchy, State, and Utopia single-handedly established the legitimacy of libertarianism as a political theory in the world of academia.”[38]

According to the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy:

The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy states “libertarianism holds that agents initially fully own themselves and have moral powers to acquire property rights in external things under certain conditions.” It notes that libertarianism is not a right-wing doctrine because of its opposition to laws restricting adult consensual sexual relationships and drug use, and its opposition to imposing religious views or practices and compulsory military service. However, it notes that there is a version known as left-libertarianism which also endorses full self-ownership, but “differs on unappropriated natural resources (land, air, water, etc.).” “Right-libertarianism” holds that such resources may be appropriated by individuals. “Left-libertarianism” holds that they belong to everyone and must be distributed in some egalitarian manner.[39]

Like many libertarians, Leonard Read rejected the concepts of “left” and “right” libertarianism, calling them “authoritarian.”[40] Libertarian author and politician Harry Browne wrote: “We should never define Libertarian positions in terms coined by liberals or conservatives nor as some variant of their positions. We are not fiscally conservative and socially liberal. We are Libertarians, who believe in individual liberty and personal responsibility on all issues at all times. You can depend on us to treat government as the problem, not the solution.”[41]

Isaiah Berlin’s 1958 essay “Two Concepts of Liberty” described a difference between negative liberty which limits the power of the state to interfere and positive liberty in which a paternalistic state helps individuals achieve self-realization and self-determination. He believed these were rival and incompatible interpretations of liberty and held that demands for positive liberty lead to authoritarianism. This view has been adopted by many libertarians including Robert Nozick and Murray Rothbard.[42]

Libertarians contrast two ethical views: consequentialist libertarianism, which is the support for liberty because it leads to favorable consequences, such as prosperity or efficiency and deontological libertarianism (also known as “rights-theorist libertarianism,” “natural rights libertarianism,” or “libertarian moralism”) which consider moral tenets to be the basis of libertarian philosophy.[43] Others combine a hybrid of consequentialist and deontologist thinking.[44]

Another view, contractarian libertarianism, holds that any legitimate authority of government derives not from the consent of the governed, but from contract or mutual agreement. Robert Nozick holds a variation on this view, as does Jan Narveson as outlined in his 1988 work The Libertarian Idea and his 2002 work Respecting Persons in Theory and Practice. Other advocates of contractarian libertarianism include the Nobel Laureate and founder of the public choice school of economics James M. Buchanan, Canadian philosopher David Gauthier and Hungarian-French philosopher Anthony de Jasay.[45][46][47]

The main differences among libertarians relate to the ideal amount of freedom and the means to that freedom.

Libertarian conservatism, also known as conservative libertarianism (and sometimes called right-libertarianism), describes certain political ideologies which attempt to meld libertarian and conservative ideas, often called “fusionism.”[48][49] Anthony Gregory writes that right, or conservative, “libertarianism can refer to any number of varying and at times mutually exclusive political orientations” such as being “interested mainly in ‘economic freedoms'”; following the “conservative lifestyle of right-libertarians”; seeking “others to embrace their own conservative lifestyle”; considering big business “as a great victim of the state”; favoring a “strong national defense”; and having “an Old Right opposition to empire.”[50]

Conservatives hold that shared values, morals, standards, and traditions are necessary for social order while libertarians consider individual liberty as the highest value.[51] Laurence M. Vance writes: “Some libertarians consider libertarianism to be a lifestyle rather than a political philosophy… They apparently dont know the difference between libertarianism and libertinism.”[52] However, Edward Feser emphasizes that libertarianism does not require individuals to reject traditional conservative values.[48]

Some libertarian conservatives in the United States (known as libertarian constitutionalists) believe that the way to limit government is to enforce the United States Constitution.[53]

Libertarianism’s status is in dispute among those who style themselves Objectivists (Objectivism is the name philosopher-novelist Ayn Rand gave her philosophy). Though elements of Rand’s philosophy have been adopted by libertarianism, Objectivists (including Rand herself) have condemned libertarianism as a threat to freedom and capitalism. In particular, it has been claimed that libertarians use Objectivist ideas “with the teeth pulled out of them”.[54][55]

Conversely, some libertarians see Objectivists as dogmatic, unrealistic, and uncompromising (Objectivists do not see the last as a negative attribute). According to Reason editor Nick Gillespie in the magazine’s March 2005 issue focusing on Objectivism’s influence, Rand is “one of the most important figures in the libertarian movement… Rand remains one of the best-selling and most widely influential figures in American thought and culture” in general and in libertarianism in particular. Still, he confesses that he is embarrassed by his magazine’s association with her ideas. In the same issue, Cathy Young says that “Libertarianism, the movement most closely connected to Rand’s ideas, is less an offspring than a rebel stepchild.” Though they reject what they see as Randian dogmas, libertarians like Young still believe that “Rand’s message of reason and liberty… could be a rallying point” for libertarianism.

Objectivists reject the rigorous interpretation of the non-aggression principle which leads anarchist libertarians to reject the State. For Objectivists, a government limited to protection of its citizens’ rights is absolutely necessary and moral or at least a “necessary evil”. Objectivists are opposed to all anarchist currents and are suspicious of libertarians’ lineage with individualist anarchism.[56]

Libertarian progressivism supports the civil libertarian aspect of freedom as well as supporting the kind of economic freedom that emphasizes removing corporate subsidies and other favoritism to special interests, and applying a responsible transition toward freedom – for example, some support a transition approach that includes certain trade restrictions on imports from countries that have very little freedom, and free trade with those countries would be phased in if they move toward more freedom. Libertarian progressives are sometimes libertarian Democrats.[57][58]

Minarchism is the belief that a state should exist but that its functions should be minimal because its sole purpose is protecting the rights of the people, including protecting people and their property from the criminal acts of others, as well as providing for national defense.[59]

Anarchism is a political philosophy encompassing many theories and traditions, all opposed to government. Although anarchism is usually considered to be a left-wing ideology, it always has included individualists and, more recently, anarcho-capitalists who support pro-property and market-oriented economic structures. Anarchists may support anything from extreme individualism to complete collectivism.

Geolibertarianism is a political movement that strives to reconcile libertarianism and Georgism (or geoism).[60] Geolibertarians are advocates of geoism, which is the position that all land is a common asset to which all individuals have an equal right to access, and therefore if individuals claim the land as their property they must pay rent to the community for doing so. Rent need not be paid for the mere use of land, but only for the right to exclude others from that land, and for the protection of one’s title by government. They simultaneously agree with the libertarian position that each individual has an exclusive right to the fruits of his or her labor as their private property, as opposed to this product being owned collectively by society or the community, and that “one’s labor, wages, and the products of labor” should not be taxed. In agreement with traditional libertarians they advocate “full civil liberties, with no crimes unless there are victims who have been invaded.”[60] Geolibertarians generally advocate distributing the land rent to the community via a land value tax, as proposed by Henry George and others before him. For this reason, they are often called “single taxers”. Fred E. Foldvary coined the word “geo-libertarianism” in an article so titled in Land and Liberty, May/June 1981, pp. 53-55. In the case of geoanarchism, the voluntary form of geolibertarianism as described by Foldvary, rent would be collected by private associations with the opportunity to secede from a geocommunity (and not receive the geocommunity’s services) if desired.

Left-libertarianism is usually regarded as doctrine that has an egalitarian view concerning natural resources, believing that it is not legitimate for someone to claim private ownership of resources to the detriment of others.[39][61][62] Most left libertarians support some form of income redistribution on the grounds of a claim by each individual to be entitled to an equal share of natural resources.[62] Left libertarianism is defended by contemporary theorists such as Peter Vallentyne, Hillel Steiner, Michael Otsuka, and Noam Chomsky.[63] The term is sometimes used as a synonym for libertarian socialism or simply socialism.[64]

Some members of the U.S. libertarian movement, including the late Samuel Edward Konkin III[65] and Roderick T. Long,[66] employ a differing definition of left libertarianism. These individuals depart from other forms of libertarianism by advocating strong alliances with the Left on issues such as the anti-war movement,[67] and by supporting labor unions.[68][69] Some wish to revive voluntary cooperative ideas such as mutualism.[70]

In France, Libert chrie (“Cherished Liberty”) is a pro-liberty think tank and activist association formed in 2003. Libert chrie gained significant publicity when it managed to draw 30,000 Parisians into the streets to demonstrate against government employees who were striking.[71][72]

In Germany, a “Libertre Plattform in der FDP” (“Liberty Caucus within the Free Democratic Party”) was founded in 2005.

The Russian Libertarian Movement (Rossiyskoye Libertarianskoye Dvizhenie, RLD; 2003-2006) was a short-lived political party in the Russian Federation, formed by members of the Institute of Natiology (Moscow), a libertarian think-tank. After electoral failure and government failure, it disbanded.

The Libertarian Alliance was an early libertarian educational group. It was followed by British think tanks such as the Adam Smith Institute. A British Libertarian Party was founded on January 1, 2008.

Well known libertarian organizations include the Center for Libertarian Studies, the Cato Institute, the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE), the International Society for Individual Liberty (ISIL) and the Ludwig von Mises Institute. The Libertarian Party of the United States is the world’s first such party.

The activist Free State Project, formed in 2001, works to bring 20,000 libertarians to the state of New Hampshire to influence state policy. They had signed up 1,033 people by 2008. Similar, but less successful, projects include the Free West Alliance and Free State Wyoming. (There is also a European Free State Project.)

The Tea Party Movement is arguably a recent revival of mainstream libertarianism in the United States. Ron Paul and his son Rand Paul’s increasing visibility and popularity with the electorate could also be signs of a revival of libertarianism in mainstream political consciousness in the United States.

Costa Rica’s Movimiento Libertario (“Libertarian Movement”) is libertarian party which holds roughly 10% of the seats in Costa Rica’s national assembly (legislature). The Limn REAL Project seeks for autonomy in a province in Costa Rica.[73]

Libertarianism at Wikipedia

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Libertarianisme – Wikipedia, den frie encyklopdi

Libertarianisme er en betegnelse for et bredt spektrum af politiske filosofier, som prioriterer individuel frihed hjt og forsger at minimere eller endog fjerne statsmagten. Filosofien fremfres oftest som en teori om retfrdighed, om end der ikke er noget forenet princip eller st af principper, som alle libertarianere kan forenes omkring. Libertarianismen har imidlertid strke rdder i isr liberalistisk og anarkistisk filosofi. Sledes er mange libertarianere enten tilhngere af en minarkistisk statsform eller et markedsanarki.

Libertarianismen er traditionelt blevet forsvaret enten p grundlag af konsekventialistiske principper eller som en rent naturretlig doktrin. Stttere af den frstnvnte tilgang betegner ofte sig selv som klassisk liberale, medens tilhngere af sidstnvnte slet og ret holder sig til “libertarianere”.[Kilde mangler]

Termen “libertarianer” er meget udbredt i USA, hvor begrebet liberal er mere flertydigt end i visse andre dele af den vestlige verden. I Danmark er det sledes ikke unormalt for personer, som tilslutter sig denne gren af liberalismen, blot at kalde sig selv for liberale. En forgelse af tilgngeligheden af isr amerikansk litteratur om emnet synes dog at vidne om, at termen vinder strre indpas i dansk sprogbrug.[Kilde mangler]

Den frste registrerede brug af termen i en politisk sammenhng, var i 1857 i forbindelse med en oversttelse af det franske ord libertaire til libertarian p engelsk, af den franske anarko-kommunist Joseph Djacque[1]. Termen blev i 1890ernes Frankrig populr som et middel til at undg konsekvenserne af den anti-anarkistiske lovgivning (les lois sclrates).

P omtrent samme tid i USA, begyndte termen ligeledes at sl rod blandt anarkistiske kommunister, og politologen Peter Kropotkin skrev i sin artikel om anarkisme i Encyclopaedia Britannica 1911-udgave:

Det ville vre umuligt p denne plads til fulde at prsentere p den ene side de anarkistiske ideer i den moderne litteratur, og p den anden side den indflydelse, som de libertre ideer har haft, p nutidige forfatteres udvikling af anarkismen[2].

I dag beskriver anarkistiske kommunister, libertre socialister og venstre-libertarianere fortsat sig selv som libertarianere, der ganske vist er imod den private ejendomsret, men som samtidig vender sig imod statslig magtanvendelse for at afskaffe den.

Under Den Store Depression i frste halvdel af 1900-tallet havde en rkke konomer og filosoffer, heriblandt John Maynard Keynes og John Dewey, begyndt at overtage og omdefinere liberalismen. Igennem den skaldte socialliberalisme (ogs kaldet nyliberalisme, hvilket dog ikke m forveksles med det nutidige ord neoliberalisme) fremsatte de argumenter for, hvordan en konomisk krise kunne undgs eller formindskes, hvis blot statsmagten begyndte at intervenere i det konomiske liv. Denne konomiske opfattelse, kaldet keynesianisme, vandt indpas verden over og USA’s prsident Franklin D. Roosevelt planlagde sin New Deal p grundlag af dens principper.

Da omfanget af konomer og filosoffer, som kaldte sig selv liberale, men samtidig stttede en strk statslig indblanding i det konomiske liv steg kraftigt i disse r, blev ordet “liberalisme” i stadig hjere grad sammenkdet med etatisme, eller endog socialisme; hvilket stadig er tilfldet i nutidens USA og Storbritannien.

De personer, som stadig fastholdt tiltroen til oplysningstidens idealer om personlig frihed og privat ejendomsret stod sledes i et dilemma, da verden omkring dem havde defineret deres filosofiske grundlag p ny. Nogle begyndte derfor at kalde sig “klassisk liberale”, andre “konservative”.

Striden om hvad man skulle kalde sit filosofiske grundlag frte til en strre leksikal debat under og efter Den Store Depression blandt isr amerikanske og strigske liberalister.

I denne debat var den strigske konom og jurist Ludwig von Mises aktiv i sine bestrbelser p, at udrydde hvad han opfattede som intellektuel og praktisk forvirring. Iflge von Mises var det ikke blot et ord der var p spil, men en betydningsfuld forskel imellem den forholdsvist uforstyrrede markedskonomi og en statsstyret planlgningskonomi.

I sin bog Liberalismus fra 1927 gjorde von Mises op med de skaldte moderne liberale som mente, at politik alene handlede om et ml, f.eks. konomisk lighed. Heroverfor fremsatte von Mises den pstand, at politik slet ikke handlede om et ml i sig selv, men om de midler, hvormed et ml skal opns. Socialister og liberalister kunne sledes meget vel have samme ml, f.eks. menneskelig lykke, men midlet til at opn dette var vidt forskelligt.

For at understrege denne forskel, begyndte Leonard Read, der i 1937 havde grundlagt den liberale uddannelsesinstitution Foundation for Economic Education, i 1940erne, at omtale sin filosofiske opfattelse som “libertariansk” fordi han mente, folk ville misfortolke “klassisk”, i klassisk liberal, p en sdan mde, at de ville tro, der var tale om et antikt og utidssvarende filosofisk system[3]. I 1955 skrev Dean Russell en artikel, hvori han funderede over, hvad han skulle kalde sdan en som sig selv, der var tilhnger af den klassisk liberale filosofi. Han foreslog:

Lad os, som elsker frihed, tage patent p det gode navn “libertarianer”.[4]

Visse fremtrdende personligheder indenfor den libertarianske verden fortsatte dog med at betegne sig selv som klassisk liberale. Blandt disse var netop Ludwig von Mises og Friedrich Hayek, der begge i deres intellektuelle arbejde havde identificeret socialismen og fascismens kollektivistiske grundlag, som vrende i familie med totalitarismen.

Ayn Rands internationale bestsellere The Fountainhead (1943) og Atlas Shrugged (1957), samt hendes bger om den objektivistiske filosofi, affdte en fornyet interesse i de libertarianske ideer om frihed og kapitalisme[5] .

I 1958 udgav den britiske akademiker Isaiah Berlin sin essay Two Concepts of Liberty hvori han opstillede to forskellige definitioner af frihed: Positiv og negativ frihed. Hvor klassiske liberale arbejde for at sikre frihed i en negativ forstand, det vil sige frihed fra tvang, forsgte den skaldt moderne liberalisme og socialismen at opn frihed i sin positive betydning, ved at sikre mennesker en frihed til at opn en mulighed.

J. S. Mill’s Liberty, Spencer’s Individual versus the State, Marc Guyau’s Morality without Obligation or Sanction, and Fouille’s La Morale, I’art et la religion, the works of Multatuli (E. Douwes Dekker), Richard Wagner’s Art and Revolution, the works of Nietzsche, Emerson, W. Lloyd Garrison, Thoreau, Alexander Herzen, Edward Carpenter and so on; and in the domain of fiction, the dramas of Ibsen, the poetry of Walt Whitman, Tolstoy’s War and Peace, Zola’s Paris and Le Travail, the latest works of Merezhkovsky, and an infinity of works of less known authors, are full of ideas which show how closely anarchism is interwoven with the work that is going on in modern thought in the same direction of enfranchisement of man from the bonds of the state as well as from those of capitalism.

Many of us call ourselves “liberals,” And it is true that the word “liberal” once described persons who respected the individual and feared the use of mass compulsions. But the leftists have now corrupted that once-proud term to identify themselves and their program of more government ownership of property and more controls over persons. As a result, those of us who believe in freedom must explain that when we call ourselves liberals, we mean liberals in the uncorrupted classical sense. At best, this is awkward, subject to misunderstanding. Here is a suggestion: Let those of us who love liberty trademark and reserve for our own use the good and honorable word “libertarian.”


Libertarianisme – Wikipedia, den frie encyklopdi

Libertarianism – The Advocates for Self-Government

What is Libertarianism?

Libertarians see the individual as the basic, most essential element of society. The word roughly means believer in liberty. Libertarians believe that each individual owns his or her own life and property and has the right to make his own choices about how to live his life as long as he respects the rights of others to do the same.

Liberty is one of the central lessons of world history. Virtually all the progress the human race has enjoyed during the past few centuries is due to the increasing acceptance of free markets, civil liberties and self-ownership.

Libertarianism is thus the combination of liberty (the freedom to live your life in any peaceful way you choose), responsibility (the prohibition against the use of force against others, except in defense) and tolerance (honoring and respecting the peaceful choices of others).

Click here to view some definitions of libertarianism.

Libertarians are not left or right or a combination of the two. Libertarians believe that on every issue you have the right to decide for yourself whats best for you and to act on that belief, so long as you simply respect the right of other people to do the same.

How does this compare with the left and right? Todays liberals tend to value personal liberty, but want significant government control of the economy. Todays conservatives tend to favor economic freedom, but want to use the government to uphold traditional values. Libertarians, in contrast, support both personal and economic liberty.

Libertarianism is the only political movement that consistently advocates a high degree of both personal and economic liberty.

Thomas Jefferson

Modern libertarianism has multiple roots, but perhaps the most important one is the minimal-government republicanism of Americas founding revolutionaries like Thomas Jefferson and the Anti-Federalists. The core ideals of libertarianism that all men are created equal and are endowed with the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness can be seen in the Declaration of Independence and in the limited government established in the Constitution.

Adam Smith and John Stuart Mill are among the most famous of the 18th and 19th centuries classical liberals that developed theories on the invisible hand of free markets. More recently, libertarian philosophy has been explored and defined through Ayn Rands ethical egoism and the Austrian School of free-market economics.

Libertarians want to unleash the positive creative powers of the individual and to create a peaceful, prosperous world. Libertarians understand that static, monolithic bureaucracies generally serve to enrich the current elite structures, damages individuals with unintended consequences and fails to live up to their grand promises more often than not.

History has shown that tyrannical governments ultimately result in suffering and poverty. Libertarians want to empower individuals to take control over their own lives not simply because it is the moral thing to do, but additionally because it results in the most dynamic, prosperous, peaceful societies possible.

Libertarians use a caring, people-centered approach to politics. Politicians too frequently forget that their laws and regulations affect real human beings. Libertarians never lose sight of the fact that each individual is unique and has great potential. Libertarians want a system which encourages us all to discover the best within ourselves, and to make the most of it.

In dealing with political issues, libertarians ask, Is anyone violating anothers rights? If the answer is yes if someone is committing murder, rape, robbery, theft, fraud, arson, trespass, etc. then it is proper to call on the government. If no one is being harmed, the government should not get involved.

Libertarians want to replace as much government as they practically can with private, voluntary alternatives. Some libertarians are minarchists who favor stripping government of most of its accumulated power to meddle, leaving only structures like the police, courts and military to defend our rights and borders. Others are anarcho-capitalists who believe limited government is a contradiction and the free market can provide better law, order and security than any government monopoly.

Libertarians want to break the chains of poverty

As the level of government spending in this country has risen, so has poverty. Government bureaucracies have no incentive to lift people from dependency and every incentive to increase their budgets and power. Libertarians want to break the chains of poverty and help the disabled. By allowing people to keep what they earn, wealth goes directly into the private sector, businesses create more jobs and charitable giving increases.

The current system allows the rich to collude with the government to take your property through eminent domain and taxation. A strong government always becomes an instrument of privilege. The rich can exploit their resources to influence the government to squash competition and receive special favors. Regulations, permits, licensing, zoning and labor laws make it nearly impossible to pull yourself up by the bootstraps.

Stronger property rights and a weaker government would weaken the elite and benefit minorities, small businesses and the poor.

National defense is one of the few legitimate roles of the government, but that defense should be limited to protecting Americans in America. A military force focused on defending America, rather than policing the globe, would reduce the manpower and resource needs that currently stretch and endanger our defense. A non-interventionist military would, over time, acquire fewer enemies and further reduce the need for a massive defense industry and budget.

Absolutely not. You dont have to believe that everyone will be good for freedom to work. Americas Founding Fathers understood that most people were guided by greed, ambition, and the pursuit of their own happiness. That is why they built structures with limited powers, checks and balances, and other limiting factors on the darker sides of human nature. If people are generally not good, the last thing you should want is a powerful government staffed by those evil folks.

Most people, most of the time, deal with each other on the libertarian premise of respect for the rights of others. The absolute majority of people do not steal, or cheat or murder others. A strong respect for property rights and civil liberties gives authority to limited government structures to punish those few who violate the law and provide restitution for those harmed.

The best way to act on liberty is to think about freedom and act on your thoughts. Read libertarian books and publications, and share them with your friends.

Start a libertarian student group. Identify and recruit new libertarians with Operation Politically Homeless. Give a speech or write a letter to the editor. Use the words libertarian and libertarianism in your daily life so more people are exposed to it.

Join a libertarian organization or campaign. Support them with your donations and time. Give to private charities. Run for office. Oppose government expansion at every opportunity. Start your own business, create wealth and support voluntary cooperation.

Join tens of thousands of readers by subscribing to our free biweekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. Each issue has information on libertarian ideas, the liberty movement, current events, useful resources, and the very best ways to help others understand and accept libertarianism.

Visit our Liberty Movement page and explore the various organizations that fight for libertarianism on a daily basis.

Take the Worlds Smallest Political Quiz. See where you fit on the new political map and how your beliefs compare to other political philosophies.

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Libertarianism – The Advocates for Self-Government


(NOTE: You must read only those linked materials that are preceded by the capitalized word READ.) Overview of The Problem of Freedom

On the definition of freedom and suggested links: READ: http://www.philosophypages.com/dy/f9.htm#free

For those of you who believe that you are free and have a free will and can make free decisions, here are some interesting definitions and presentations of the basic issues

FREE WILL -Definition http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/freewill/

Definition: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/06259a.htm

Human beings are free to choose amongst alternatives available and must be respected as such. This freedom is to be acknowledged and promoted. The believers in free will attempt to argue for their case against those that believe that all human actions are determined by previous events and the laws of the physical universe.

Below are several arguments in support of the Libertarian position.

The libertarians would ask that we consider the DATA of experience:

1. Experience of deliberation

a. I deliberate only about MY behavior

b. I deliberate only about future things

c. I cannot deliberate about what I shall do, if I already know what I am going to do.

d. I cannot deliberate unless I believe that it is “up to me.”

2. Experience that it is “up to me” what to do.

They hold that there is no necessity governing human behavior. There is no causal or logical necessity. (Logical Necessity, e.g. principle of non-contradiction) (Causal necessity – physical law, e.g. gravity)

Suggested Reading: John Hospers, The Meaning of Freedom


Richard Taylor is a modern American philosopher who has taught at the University of Rochester and at Hartwick College. Taylor proposes the following method for finding out whether or not determinism is true: We try to see whether it is consistent with certain data, that is, by seeing whether or not it squares with certain things that everyone knows, or believes himself to know, or with things everyone is at least more sure about than the answer to the question at issue. (Metaphysics, 4th ed., Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1992, p. 38)

The following is from http://www.citruscollege.com/ace/Call/PHIL106-1/notes/Taylor.asp 2001.

Taylors data

(1) I sometimes deliberate, with the view to making a decision; a decision, namely, to do this thing or that.

(2) Whether or not I deliberate about what to do, it is sometimes up to me what I do.

By deliberation Taylor means the experience of weighing something in ones mind, of trying out various options in ones mind. There are certain presuppositions of deliberation, namely,

(1) I can deliberate only about my own behavior and never about the behavior of another.

(2) I can deliberate only about future things, never about things past or present.

(3) I cant deliberate about what Im going to do if I already know what Im going to do.

(4) I cant deliberate about what to do, even though I may not know what Im going to do, unless I believe that it is up to me what Im going to do. (pp. 39-40)

These data are not consistent with the thesis of determinism. If determinism is true, then it is an illusion that I ever genuinely deliberate about anything or that anything is ever really up to me. If these data are true, then determinism is false. Taylor argues that it doesnt make any difference whether we are talking about a forthright, hard determinism, like that of Holbach, or a compatibilist, soft determinism, like that of Hume. According to soft determinism, an action is free just so long as it is caused by an internal state of the agent himself or herself. Against this, he proposes the counterexample of an ingenious physiologist who can induce in a subject any volition he pleases, so that, simply by pushing a button, he can cause the subject to have an internal state which the subject will experience as the desire to do a certain thing. If the subject then does that thing, unimpeded by any external obstacle, that action meets the criterion of being a free action, in accordance with the thesis of soft determinism. That is, the action is due to an internal state of the agent and is not opposed by any external factor. However, we see at once that this action is not free, because it was due to the subjects being in a certain internal state over which he or she had no control. Then Taylor points out that the supposition of the work of the ingenious physiologist isn’t necessary to reach the same conclusion. As long as there is any cause of the internal state that was not under the control of the person whose internal state it is, the resulting action is not free.

There is a real choice that is not to be evaded, then, between accepting determinism and rejecting the data with which we began, on the one hand, or holding fast to our data and rejecting the thesis which is inconsistent with them. Taylor points out, however, that simply rejecting determinism and embracing the thesis of simple indeterminism, which says that some events are uncaused, brings us no closer to a theory explaining free actions that is consistent with our data. He asks the reader to imagine a case in which his or her right arm is free, according to this conception. That is, it just moves one way or another, without any cause whatever. Plainly, if the agent is not the cause for the arm movements, then those movements are not free, voluntary actions of the agent.

Accordingly, Taylor develops a theory of agency with the following elements:

(1) An action that is free must be caused by the agent who performs it, and it must be such that no other set of antecedent conditions was sufficient for the occurrence of just that action.

(2) An agent is a self or person, and not merely a collection of things or events, but a self-moving being. (pp. 51-52)

Taylor recognizes that this involves a metaphysical commitment to a special kind of causation, and he suggests that perhaps causation is not the best language to use to describe it. He proposes that we might want to say instead that an agent originates, initiates, or simply, performs an action. All other cases of causation we conceive of as a relation between events. One event or set of events is a sufficient, or necessary, or sufficient and necessary condition for the occurrence of another. However, an agent is not an event, and we certainly wouldnt say the mere existence of the agent is ever a sufficient condition for the occurrence of one of his or her free actions. Rather, it is only the free action of the agent that is the cause or the origination of the action. Since Taylor can offer no further explanation of how it that this occurs, he admits that it is possible that the data that this theory was developed to explain might be an illusion after all, and his essay ends on an inconclusive note.


Richard Taylor: A Contemporary Defense of Free Will

The idea of freedom operative in this view is one in which there is no obstacle or impediment that prevents behavior, no constraints, for it is constraints that force behavior. Freedom of the human agent is free activity that is unimpeded and unconstrained. So, there is the Theory of Agency in which there exist self-determining beings: free and rational. There exists the self or person, a substance and self-moving being. The libertarians believe that this theory is consistent with the data of human consciousness. But that DATA may be illusion!!


Summary of Taylor’s view by Omonia Vinieris (QCC, 2002)

In his work, A Contemporary Defense of Free Will, Taylor refutes the theories held by compatibilism (soft determinism) and simple indeterminism to illustrate their implausibility. He further goes on to affirm his theory of agency to articulate his libertarian standpoint.

Taylor clarifies the concept of deliberation as it is fundamentally the act of considering or assessing something in ones mind. According to Taylor, deliberation encompasses the following premises: One can deliberate solely about ones own conduct and by no means about that of another due to the simple fact that each person makes up ones own mind and never the mind of a different person. There is only deliberation of future actions and never of precedent ones because one can not deliberate about or consider an action that has already transpired. Deliberation is a conditional state that is unconfirmed because it entails the action before it takes place and therefore if one knows or confirms a future action, deliberation is invalid. Altogether, deliberation itself does not exist or ensue if one does not even believe that it is ever ones own consideration that accounts for ones decision to do anything because that is essentially the principle that deliberation embraces.

In his critique of soft determinism, Taylor explains primarily what line of reasoning it maintains and then pinpoints its incongruity to negate its veracity. Compatibilism is a position whose advocates renounce hard determinist thought. Hard determinist position asserts that we are not morally responsible for our own actions because we are not liable for anything we do. Yet, soft determinists say that freedom and determinism are compatible. Determinism is plausibly coherent with freedom as an agent is a carrier of volition and acts appropriately to his or her desires and wishes. On occasion it may be that ones actions are the product of ones deliberation or conditional forethought. Still, if compatibilism holds true it must simultaneously maintain the determinist idea that ones choices are preordained by prenatal events. If this is so, then how can it be possibly up to anyone to do anything?

Simple indeterminism is the denial of determinism. These indeterminists affirm that free agents are morally responsible for their actions which are tamed and controlled. If actions originate from noncausal events as indeterminists claim, then they are chaotic and untamed. Thus, Taylor considers it a contradiction to suggest that ones actions originate from uncaused events because neither is one really a free agent nor morally responsible for his or her actions. These actions are uncontrollable and irresponsible.

Taylors theory of agency proclaims that all events are caused, but unlike determinist theory, some changes or actions have beginnings. A free action is triggered by the agent itself. An agent, in this case, is described as a human, a self-moving body, capable of being the first cause of motion in a causal sequence. It is important that no series of foregoing conditions is adequate for the actual happening of the action, otherwise it would not be free. He further specifies that we should not speak of causation in terms of his free agency. The agent, rather, initiates an action through its performance. An agent, he asserts, is not a set of events that executes causation and therefore it is the free action of the agent that is the cause of the action that occurred.

In the case of an action that is free, it must be such that it is caused by the agent who performs it, but such that no antecedent conditions were sufficient for his performing just that action.


The Freewill Problem:

Searles Solution to the Freewill Problem:


There are no greater defenders or representatives of the position that humans have free will than the existentialists.They may not offer strict philosophical proof but they do present some strong language in defense of freedom. The next section presents the existentialist view.

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Libertarian theory legal definition of Libertarian theory

A political philosophy that advocates free will, individual rights, and voluntary cooperation.

The core doctrine of libertarianism begins with the recognition that people have certain natural rights and that deprivation of these rights is immoral. Among these natural rights are the right to personal autonomy and property rights, and the right to the utilization of previously unused resources. These two basic assumptions form the foundation of all libertarian ideals.

Libertarianism can be traced back to ancient China, where philosopher Lao-tzu advocated the recognition of individual liberties. The modern libertarian theory emerged in the sixteenth century through the writings of Etienne de La Boetie (15301563), an eminent French theorist. In the seventeenth century, John Locke and a group of British reformers known as the Levellers fashioned the classical basis for libertarianism with well-received philosophies on human nature and economics. Since the days of Locke, libertarianism has attracted pacifists, utopianists, utilitarianists, anarchists, and fascists. This wide array of support demonstrates the accessibility and elasticity of the libertarian promotion of natural rights.

Essential to the notion of natural rights is respect for the natural rights of others. Without a dignified population, voluntary cooperation is impossible. According to the libertarian, the means to achieving a dignified population and voluntary cooperation is inextricably tied to the promotion of natural rights.

Libertarianism holds that people lose their dignity as government gains control of their body and their life. The Abdication of natural rights to government prevents people from living in their own way and working and producing at their own pace. The result is a decrease in self-reliance and independence, which results in a decrease in personal dignity, which in turn depresses society and necessitates more government interference.

Thus, the libertarian views government as both the cause and the effect of societal ills. Government is the cause of crime and prejudice because it robs people of their independence and frustrates initiative and creativity. Then, having created the sources of crime and prejudice by depriving individuals of their natural rights, government attempts to exorcise the evils with more controls over natural rights.

Libertarians believe that government should be limited to the defense of its citizens. Actions such as murder, rape, Robbery, theft, Embezzlement, Fraud, Arson, Kidnapping, Battery, Trespass, and Pollution violate the rights of others, so government control of these actions is legitimate. Libertarians acknowledge human imperfection and the resulting need for some government deterrence and punishment of violence, Nuisance, and harassment. However, government control of human activity should be limited to these functions.

Boaz, David. 1997. Libertarianism: A Primer. New York: Free Press.

Otsuka, Michael. 2003. Libertarianism Without Inequality. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

Anarchism; Independent Parties; Natural Law; Utilitarianism.

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Libertarian theory legal definition of Libertarian theory

Libertarianism legal definition of Libertarianism

A political philosophy that advocates free will, individual rights, and voluntary cooperation.

The core doctrine of libertarianism begins with the recognition that people have certain natural rights and that deprivation of these rights is immoral. Among these natural rights are the right to personal autonomy and property rights, and the right to the utilization of previously unused resources. These two basic assumptions form the foundation of all libertarian ideals.

Libertarianism can be traced back to ancient China, where philosopher Lao-tzu advocated the recognition of individual liberties. The modern libertarian theory emerged in the sixteenth century through the writings of Etienne de La Boetie (15301563), an eminent French theorist. In the seventeenth century, John Locke and a group of British reformers known as the Levellers fashioned the classical basis for libertarianism with well-received philosophies on human nature and economics. Since the days of Locke, libertarianism has attracted pacifists, utopianists, utilitarianists, anarchists, and fascists. This wide array of support demonstrates the accessibility and elasticity of the libertarian promotion of natural rights.

Essential to the notion of natural rights is respect for the natural rights of others. Without a dignified population, voluntary cooperation is impossible. According to the libertarian, the means to achieving a dignified population and voluntary cooperation is inextricably tied to the promotion of natural rights.

Libertarianism holds that people lose their dignity as government gains control of their body and their life. The Abdication of natural rights to government prevents people from living in their own way and working and producing at their own pace. The result is a decrease in self-reliance and independence, which results in a decrease in personal dignity, which in turn depresses society and necessitates more government interference.

Thus, the libertarian views government as both the cause and the effect of societal ills. Government is the cause of crime and prejudice because it robs people of their independence and frustrates initiative and creativity. Then, having created the sources of crime and prejudice by depriving individuals of their natural rights, government attempts to exorcise the evils with more controls over natural rights.

Libertarians believe that government should be limited to the defense of its citizens. Actions such as murder, rape, Robbery, theft, Embezzlement, Fraud, Arson, Kidnapping, Battery, Trespass, and Pollution violate the rights of others, so government control of these actions is legitimate. Libertarians acknowledge human imperfection and the resulting need for some government deterrence and punishment of violence, Nuisance, and harassment. However, government control of human activity should be limited to these functions.

Boaz, David. 1997. Libertarianism: A Primer. New York: Free Press.

Otsuka, Michael. 2003. Libertarianism Without Inequality. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

Anarchism; Independent Parties; Natural Law; Utilitarianism.

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Libertarianism legal definition of Libertarianism

libertarianism (moral philosophy) – About.com Agnosticism/Atheism

libertarianism (moral philosophy)

In philosophy, libertarianism is a position which stands opposite of determinism. According to libertarianism, humans have free will and their actions are not determined by prior physical states. According to libertarians, human freedom is not possible if the universe is wholly deterministic – some amount of indeterminism in human choices and actions must exist, otherwise human freedom is an illusion.

A range of beliefs exists under the label “libertarianism.” The most extreme viewpoint holds that human actions aren’t determined by anything at all, not even by a person’s character, beliefs, or values. Even some libertarians reject this position, arguing that without some strong connection to a person’s character and values, it would be difficult to conclude that a person is responsible for their actions.

If indeterministic chance were the complete and sole explanation for all our actions, then we would be free but we would not be responsible – which, ironically, is exactly what libertarians typically fight against. According to them, if our decisions have been determined, then we cannot be held responsible for them – our actions are just the product of physical forces beyond our control.

This means that some amount of determinism must exist so that we can take responsibility and be responsible – especially when it comes to ethical and moral issues.

In moral philosophy, the concept of libertarianism refers to the idea that human free will is a necessary precondition of moral responsibility and, in fact, humans do have this free will. According to the standard libertarian position, human acts cannot be wholly determined by prior states or natural laws.

It is granted that such states and laws may have an influence upon human decisions, but nevertheless those decisions are, in principle, not predictable by reference to those states and laws. Thus, determinism (or at least “hard” determinism) is not true and humans have moral responsibility for their actions.

Traditionally, most forms of libertarianism have been promoted by theists who advocate mind/body dualism. Renee Descartes is a famous advocate of this position.

First, the existence of a non-physical mind means that the locus of decision-making is removed from the realm of physical causality and determinism. Second, they argue that the free will which the mind or spirit possessed is a gift from God. At the same time, though, these theists have also often believed that their god has sufficient knowledge of the future to know what everyone’s “free will” decisions will be – so, somehow, human decisions are entirely free yet unalterable.

Non-religious and non-theistic advocates of libertarianism have offered different explanations for how free will and free choice can exist in the context of a physical, causal universe. One common explanation is that not all events are completely determined, or at least completely pre-determined. They are still caused, but causation and determinism are not the same thing. A particular event might, for example, only be statistically likely.

Such a situation is often referred to as “soft causality” and if the brain is a system which can be described in such a way, then brain states are not pre-determined. If the mind is simply the overall state of the brain when it is alive, then the mind is also not pre-determined and, therefore, some degree of free will exists because our choices, decisions, and actions are not pre-determined. There is no need for any god or soul to provide any explanations here.

A third position that is sometimes adopted is to claim that causality simply doesn’t apply to human decisions. According to advocates of this position, our decisions may be influenced by “reasons” and “values” and “desires,” but none of these things are causes of our actions or decisions. A reason or desire can only influence, not cause, which means that our actions are not determined.

Granted, our reasons and desires might themselves be caused and perhaps even determined, depending on what one thinks of the relationship between the physical brain and the mind, but the final decisions which we make have been removed from that problem. Once again, there is no need for any god or soul to explain anything here – it’s a completely naturalistic explanation which does not necessarily exclude belief in any gods or disprove any gods, but gods just aren’t relevant.

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What are Ethics and Morality? Ethics is the formal study of moral standards and conduct. For this reason, the study of ethics is also often called “moral philosophy.” What is good? What is evil? How should I behave – and why? How should I balance my needs against the needs of others?

What is Philosophy? What is philosophy? Is there any point in studying philosophy, or is it a useless subject? What are the different branches of philosophy – what’s the difference between aestheitcs and ethics? What’s the difference between metaphysics and epistemology?

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libertarianism (moral philosophy) – About.com Agnosticism/Atheism

Quotes About Libertarianism (63 quotes)

Praxeology is a theoretical and systematic, not a historical, science. Its scope is human action as such, irrespective of all environmental, accidental, and individual circumstances of the concrete acts. Its cognition is purely formal and general without reference to the material content and the particular features of the actual case. It aims at knowledge valid for all instances in which the conditions exactly correspond to those implied in its assumptions and inferences. Its statements and propositions are not derived from experience. They are, like those of logic and mathematics, a priori. They are not subject to verification or falsification on the ground of experience and facts. Ludwig von Mises, Human Action: A Treatise on Economics

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Quotes About Libertarianism (63 quotes)

Urban Dictionary: libertarianism

The political philosophy that…

1. …says no one has the right to initate force against another. Period. Even if it’s for their own good.

2. …says government in a free society exists only to (A)protect its citizens from having force initated on them, and to (B)punish those who have initiated force on others.

3. …IS NOT ANARCHISM, a belief that everything government provides, society can provide more effectively.

4. …was derived from classical liberalism, the very philosophy that the United States was founded apon and roughly operated under up until the end of the 1800s.

5. …is the most logical, humane, and ethical political system ever thought of.

For insight on the *practical* benefits of such a system, interested bodies should read “Healing Our World” by Dr. Mary J. Ruwart, just to get started. (Freely available on the Net.)

“(Left-)Liberals want the government to be your Mommy. Conservatives want government to be your Daddy. Libertarians want it to treat you like an adult.”

A political philosophy based on the Non-Aggression Principle, which holds that people should be allowed to live as they choose and make their own choices without interference from government or others, so long as those choices do not involve the initiation of force or fraud against others.

Libertarianism is the opposite of authoritarianism or statism, which is the idea that governments should largely control people, allocate their resources, and make decisions for them, allegedly for their own good or the good of society (in practice usually for the good of those running the government).

The main problem with this delusional notion of co-existence is that it runs afoul of an annoying immutable natural law – roughly translated as “nature abhors a vacuum” – that’s understood and exploited by every drug pusher, credit card issuer, Las Vegas casino, and Madison Avenue marketer and even the bailout-happy U.S. Federal Reserve and which was summed up by Edmund Burke:

“Men are qualified for civil liberty in exact proportion to their disposition to put moral chains upon their own appetites; in proportion as they are disposed to listen to the counsels of the wise and good in preference to the flattery of knaves.

“Society cannot exist, unless a controlling power upon will and appetite be placed somewhere; and the less of it there is within, the more there must be without.

“It is ordained in the eternal constitution of things, that men of intemperate minds cannot be free. Their passions forge their fetters.”

-or as John Adams said:

(The U.S.) constitution was made for a moral and religious people; it is wholly inadequate for any other.

“We favor the repeal of all laws creating ‘crimes’ without victims, such as the use of drugs for medicinal or recreational purposes.”

“The only legitimate use of force is in defense of individual rights life, liberty, and justly acquired property against aggression”

Noun. The belief that pursuing one’s own self-interest, while shirking larger social responsibilities, is still somehow humanitarian.

Libertarianism is how the advantaged describe their neglect of the les-advantage: they’re “protecting everyone’s freedom” by respecting the impoverished’s right to be poor.

Also known as Libertarian Capitalism, not to be confused with Libertarian Socialism, which can lay a true claim to the term.

How would you like to pay for air?

To put it bluntly, a political theory for people who don’t have the balls to admit they are anarchists.

Random libertarian: No, I’m no anarchist. I just don’t believe government should interfere with my live at all. That’s all… honest…

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Urban Dictionary: libertarianism

What’s wrong with libertarianism – Zompist.com

“That perfect liberty they sigh for– the liberty of making slaves of other people– Jefferson never thought of; their own father never thought of; they never thought of themselves, a year ago.” — Abraham Lincoln

Apparently someone’s curse worked: we live in interesting times, and among other consequences, for no good reason we have a surplus of libertarians. With this article I hope to help keep the demand low, or at least to explain to libertarian correspondents why they don’t impress me with comments like “You sure love letting people steal your money!”

This article has been rewritten, for two reasons. First, the original article had sidebars to address common objections. From several people’s reactions, it seems that they never read these. They’re now incorporated into the text.

Second, and more importantly, many people who call themselves libertarians didn’t recognize themselves in the description. There are libertarians and libertarians, and sometimes different camps despise each other– or don’t seem to be aware of each other.

If you–

…then this page isn’t really addressed to you. You’re probably more of what I’d call a small-government conservative; and if you voted against Bush, we can probably get along just fine.

On the other hand, you might want to stick around to see what your more fundamentalist colleagues are saying.

Libertarianism strikes me as if someone (let’s call her “Ayn Rand”) sat down to create the Un-Communism. Thus:

Does this sound exaggerated? Let’s listen to Murray Rothbard:

Or here’s Lew Rockwell on Rothbard (emphasis mine):

Thomas DiLorenzo on worker activism: “[L]abor unions [pursue] policies which impede the very institutions of capitalism that are the cause of their own prosperity.” Or Ludwig von Mises: “What is today euphemistically called the right to strike is in fact the right of striking workers, by recourse to violence, to prevent people who want to work from working.” (Employer violence is apparently acceptable.) The Libertarian Party platform explains that workers have no right to protest drug tests, and supports the return of child labor.

On Nietzsche, as one of my correspondents puts it, some libertarians love Nietzsche; others have read him. (Though I would respond that some people idolize executives; others have worked for them.) Nonetheless, I think the Nietzschean atmosphere of burning rejection of conventional morality, exaltation of the will to power, and scorn for womanish Christian compassion for the masses, is part of the roots of libertarianism. It’s unmistakable in Ayn Rand.

The more important point, however, is that the capitalist is the ber-villain for communists, and a glorious hero for libertarians; that property is “theft” for the communists, and a “natural right” for libertarians. These dovetail a little too closely for coincidence. It’s natural enough, when a basic element of society is attacked as an evil, for its defenders to counter-attack by elevating it into a principle.

As we should have learned from the history of communism and fascism, however, contradiction is no guarantee of truth; it can lead one into an opposite error instead. And many who rejected communism nonetheless remained zealots. People who leave one ideological extreme usually end up at the other, either quickly (David Horowitz) or slowly (Mario Vargas Llosa). If you’re the sort of person who likes absolutes, you want them even if all your other convictions change.

The methodology isn’t much different either: oppose the obvious evils of the world with a fairy tale. The communist of 1910 couldn’t point to a single real-world instance of his utopia; neither can the present-day libertarian. Yet they’re unshakeable in their conviction that it can and must happen.

Academic libertarians love abstract, fact-free arguments– often, justifications for why property is an absolute right. As a random example, from one James Craig Green:

Examples of natural property in land and water resources have already been given, but deserve more detail. An illustration of how this would be accomplished is a farm with irrigation ditches to grow crops in dry western states. To appropriate unowned natural resources, a settler used his labor to clear the land and dug ditches to carry water from a river for irrigation. Crops were planted, buildings were constructed, and the property thus created was protected by the owner from aggression or the later claims of others. This process was a legitimate creation of property.

The first paragraph is pure fantasy, and is simply untrue as a portrait of “primitive tribes”, which are generally extremely collectivist by American standards. The second sounds good precisely because it leaves out all the actual facts of American history: the settlers’ land was not “unowned” but stolen from the Indians by state conquest (and much of it stolen from the Mexicans as well); the lands were granted to the settlers by government; the communities were linked to the national economy by railroads founded by government grant; the crops were adapted to local conditions by land grant colleges.

Thanks to my essay on taxes, I routinely get mail featuring impassioned harangues which never once mention a real-world fact– or which simply make up the statistics they want.

This sort of balls-out aggressivity probably wins points at parties, where no one is going to take down an almanac and check their figures; but to me it’s a cardinal sin. If someone has an answer for everything, advocates changes which have never been tried, and presents dishonest evidence, he’s a crackpot. If a man has no doubts, it’s because his hypothesis is unfalsifiable.

Distaste for facts isn’t merely a habit of a few Internet cranks; it’s actually libertarian doctrine, the foundation of the ‘Austrian school’. Here’s Ludwig von Mises in Epistemological Problems of Economics:

The ‘other sources’ turn out to be armchair ruminations on how things must be. It’s true enough that economics is not physics; but that’s not warrant to turn our backs on the methods of science and return to scholastic speculation. Economics should always move in the direction of science, experiment, and falsifiability. If it were really true that it cannot, then no one, including the libertarians, would be entitled to strong belief in any economic program.

Some people aren’t much bothered by libertarianism’s lack of real-world success. After all, they argue, if no one tried anything new, nothing would ever change.

In fact, I’m all for experimentation; that’s how we learn. Create a libertarian state. But run it as a proper experiment. Start small-scale. Establish exactly how your claims will be tested: per capita income? median income? life expectancy? property value? surveys on happiness? Set up a control: e.g. begin with two communities as close as we can get them in size, initial wealth, resources, and culture, one following liberalism, one following libertarianism. Abide by the results– no changing the goalposts if the liberals happen to “win”.

I’m even willing to look at partial tests. If an ideology is really better than others at producing general prosperity, then following it partially should produce partially better results. Jonathan Kwitny suggested comparing a partly socialist system (e.g. Tanzania) to a partly capitalist one (e.g. Kenya). (Kenya looked a lot better.) If the tests are partial, of course, we’ll want more of them; but human experience is pretty broad.

It’s the libertarians, not me, who stand in the way of such accountability. If I point out examples of nations partially following libertarian views– we’ll get to this below– I’m told that they don’t count: only Pure Real Libertarianism Of My Own Camp can be tested.

Again, all-or-nothing thinking generally goes with intellectual fraud. If a system is untestable, it’s because its proponents fear testing. By contrast, I’m confident enough in liberal and scientific values that I’m happy to see even partial adoption. Even a little freedom is better than dictatorship. Even a little science is better than ideology.

An untested political system unfortunately has great rhetorical appeal. Since we can’t see it in action, we can’t point out its obvious faults, while the ideologue can be caustic about everything that has actually been tried, and which has inevitably fallen short of perfection. Perhaps that’s why Dave Barry and Trey Parker are libertarians. But I’d rather vote for a politician who’s shown that his programs work in the real world than for a humorist, however amusing.

At this point some libertarian readers are pumping their hands in the air like a piston, anxious to explain that their ideal isn’t Rothbard or von Mises or Hayek, but the Founding Fathers.

Nice try. Everybody wants the Founders on their side; but it was a different country back then– 95% agricultural, low density, highly homogenous, primitive in technology– and modern libertarianism simply doesn’t apply. (The OED’s citations of the word for the time are all theological.)

All American political movements have their roots in the 1700s– indeed, in the winning side, since Loyalist opinion essentially disappeared. We are all– liberals, conservatives, libertarians– against the Georgian monarchy and for the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. You can certainly find places where one Founder or another rants against government; you can find other places where one Founder or another rants against rebellion, anarchy, and the opponents of federalism. Sometimes the same Founder can be quoted on both sides. They were a mixed bunch, and lived long enough lives to encounter different situations.

The Constitution is above all a definition of a strengthened government, and the Federalist Papers are an extended argument for it. The Founders negotiated a balance between a government that was arbitrary and coercive (their experience as British colonial subjects) and one that was powerless and divided (the failed Articles of Confederation).

The Founders didn’t anticipate the New Deal– there was no need for them to– but they were as quick to resort to the resources of the state as any modern liberal. Ben Franklin, for instance, played the Pennsylvania legislature like a violin– using it to fund a hospital he wanted to establish, for instance. Obviously he had no qualms about using state power to do good social works.

It’s also worth pointing out that the Founders’ words were nobler than their deeds. Most were quite comfortable with slave-owning, for instance. No one worried about women’s consent to be governed. Washington’s own administration made it a crime to criticize the government. And as Robert Allen Rutland reminds us,

The process of giving life to our constitutional rights has largely been the work of liberals. On the greatest fight of all, to treat blacks as human beings, libertarians supported the other side.

Crackpots are usually harmless; how about the Libertarian Party?

In itself, I’m afraid, it’s nothing but a footnote. It gets no more than 1% of the vote– a showing that’s been surpassed historically by the Anti-Masonic Party, the Greenbacks, the Prohibition Party, the Socialists, the Greens, and whatever John Anderson was. If that was all it was, I wouldn’t bother to devote pages and rants to it. I’m all for the expression of pure eccentricity in politics; I like the Brits’ Monster Raving Looney Party even better.

Why are libertarian ideas important? Because of their influence on the Republican Party. They form the ideological basis for the Reagan/Gingrich/Bush revolution. The Republicans have taken the libertarian “Government is Bad” horse and ridden far with it:

Maybe this use of their ideas is appalling to ‘Real Libertarians’… well, it’s an appalling world sometimes. Is it fair to communism that everyone thinks its Leninist manifestation is the only possible one? Do you think I’m happy to have national representatives like Dukakis, Gore, and Kerry?

At least some libertarians have understood the connection. Rothbard again, writing in 1994:

Can you smell the compromise here? Hold your nose and vote for the Repubs, boys. But then don’t pretend to be uninvolved when the Republicans start making a mockery of limited government.

There’s a deeper lesson here, and it’s part of why I don’t buy libertarian portraits of the future utopia. Movements out of power are always anti-authoritarian; it’s no guarantee that they’ll stay that way. Communists before 1917 promised the withering away of the state. Fascists out of power sounded something like socialists. The Republicans were big on term limits when they could be used to unseat Democrats; they say nothing about them today. If you don’t think it can happen to you, you’re not being honest about human nature and human history.

The Libertarian Party has a cute little test that purports to divide American politics into four quadrants. There’s the economic dimension (where libertarians ally with conservatives) and the social dimension (where libertarians ally with liberals).

I think the diagram is seriously misleading, because visually it gives equal importance to both dimensions. And when the rubber hits the road, libertarians almost always go with the economic dimension.

The libertarian philosopher always starts with property rights. Libertarianism arose in opposition to the New Deal, not to Prohibition. The libertarian voter is chiefly exercised over taxes, regulation, and social programs; the libertarian wing of the Republican party has, for forty years, gone along with the war on drugs, corporate welfare, establishment of dictatorships abroad, and an alliance with theocrats. Christian libertarians like Ron Paul want God in the public schools and are happy to have the government forbid abortion and gay marriage. I never saw the libertarians objecting to Bush Sr. mocking the protection of civil rights, or to Ken Starr’s government inquiry into politicians’ sex lives. On the Cato Institute’s list of recent books, I count 1 of 19 dealing with an issue on which libertarians and liberals tend to agree, and that was on foreign policy (specifically, the Iraq war).

If this is changing, as Bush’s never-ending “War on Terror” expands the powers of government, demonizes dissent, and enmeshes the country in military crusades and nation-building, as the Republicans push to remove the checks and balances that remain in our government system– if libertarians come to realize that Republicans and not Democrats are the greater threat to liberty– I’d be delighted.

But for that, you know, you have to vote against Bush. A belief in social liberties means little if you vote for a party that clearly intends to restrict them.

For the purposes of my critique, however, the social side of libertarianism is irrelevant. A libertarian and I might actually agree to legalize drugs, let people marry whoever they like, and repeal the Patriot Act. But this has nothing to do with whether robber baron capitalism is a good thing.

The libertarianism that has any effect in the world, then, has nothing to do with social liberty, and everything to do with removing all restrictions on business. So what’s wrong with that?

Let’s look at some cases that came within spitting distance of the libertarian ideal. Some libertarians won’t like these, because they are not Spotless Instances of the Free Utopia; but as I’ve said, nothing is proved by science fiction. If complete economic freedom and absence of government is a cure-all, partial economic freedom and limited government should be a cure-some.

At the turn of the 20th century, business could do what it wanted– and it did. The result was robber barons, monopolistic gouging, management thugs attacking union organizers, filth in our food, a punishing business cycle, slavery and racial oppression, starvation among the elderly, gunboat diplomacy in support of business interests.

The New Deal itself was a response to crisis (though by no means an unprecedented one; it wasn’t much worse than the Gilded Age depressions). A quarter of the population was out of work. Five thousand banks failed, destroying the savings of 9 million families. Steel plants were operating at 12% capacity. Banks foreclosed on a quarter of Mississippi’s land. Wall Street was discredited by insider trading and collusion with banks at the expense of investors. Farmers were breaking out into open revolt; miners and jobless city workers were rioting.

Don’t think, by the way, that if governments don’t provide gunboats, no one else will. Corporations will build their own military if necessary: the East Indies Company did; Leopold did in the Congo; management did when fighting with labor.

Or take Russia in the decade after the fall of Communism, as advised by free-market absolutists like Jeffrey Sachs. Russian GDP declined 50% in five years. The elite grabbed the assets they could and shuffled them out of Russia so fast that IMF loans couldn’t compensate. In 1994 alone, 600 businessmen, journalists, and politicians were murdered by gangsters. Russia lacked a working road system, a banking system, anti-monopoly regulation, effective law enforcement, or any sort of safety net for the elderly and the jobless. Inflation reached 2250% in 1992. Central government authority effectively disappeared in many regions.

By the way, Russia is the answer to those testosterone-poisoned folks who think that guns will prevent oppression. The mafia will always outgun you.

Today’s Russia is moving back toward authoritarianism under Putin. Again, this should dismay libertarians: apparently, given a little freedom, many people will demand less. You’d better be careful about setting up that utopia; ten years further on it may be taken over by authoritarians.

Or consider the darling of many an ’80s conservative: Pinochet’s Chile, installed by Nixon, praised by Jeanne Kirkpatrick, George Bush, and Paul Johnson. In twenty years, foreign debt quadrupled, natural resources were wasted, universal health care was abandoned (leading to epidemics of typhoid fever and hepatitis), unions were outlawed, military spending rose (for what? who the hell is going to attack Chile?), social security was “privatized” (with predictable results: ever-increasing government bailouts) and the poverty rate doubled, from 20% to 41%. Chile’s growth rate from 1974 to 1982 was 1.5%; the Latin American average was 4.3%.

Pinochet was a dicator, of course, which makes some libertarians feel that they have nothing to learn here. Somehow Chile’s experience (say) privatizing social security can tell us nothing about privatizing social security here, because Pinochet was a dictator. Presumably if you set up a business in Chile, the laws of supply and demand and perhaps those of gravity wouldn’t apply, because Pinochet was a dictator.

When it’s convenient, libertarians even trumpet their association with Chile’s “free market” policies; self-gov.org (originators of that cute quiz) includes a page celebrating Milton Friedman, self-proclaimed libertarian, who helped form and advise the group of University of Chicago professors and graduates who implemented Pinochet’s policies. The Cato Institute even named a prize for “Advancing Liberty” after this benefactor of the Chilean dictatorship.

The newest testing ground for laissez-faire is present-day America, from Ronald Reagan on.

Remove the New Deal, and the pre-New Deal evils clamor to return. Reagan removed the right to strike; companies now fire strikers, outsource high-wage jobs and replace them with dead-end near-minimum-wage service jobs. Middle-class wages are stagnating– or plummeting, if you consider that working hours are rising. Companies are rushing to reestablish child labor in the Third World.

Under liberalism, productivity increases benefited all classes– poverty rates declined from over 30% to under 10% in the thirty years after World War II, while the economy more than quadrupled in size.

In the current libertarian climate, productivity gains only go to the already well-off. Here’s the percentage of US national income received by certain percentiles of the population, as reported by the IRS:

This should put some perspective on libertarian whining about high taxes and how we’re destroying incentives for the oppressed businessman. The wealthiest 1% of the population doubled their share of the pie in just 15 years. In 1973, CEOs earned 45 times the pay of an average employee (about twice the multipler in Japan); today it’s 500 times.

Thirty years ago, managers accepted that they operated as much for their workers, consumers, and neighbors as for themselves. Some economists (notably Michael Jensen and William Meckling) decided that the only stakeholders that mattered were the stock owners– and that management would be more accountable if they were given massive amounts of stock. Not surprisingly, CEOs managed to get the stock without the accountability– they’re obscenely well paid whether the company does well or it tanks– and the obsession with stock price led to mass layoffs, short-term thinking, and the financial dishonesty at WorldCom, Enron, Adelphia, HealthSouth, and elsewhere.

The nature of our economic system has changed in the last quarter-century, and people haven’t understood it yet. People over 30 or so grew up in an environment where the rich got more, but everyone prospered. When productivity went up, the rich got richer– we’re not goddamn communists, after all– but everybody’s income increased.

If you were part of the World War II generation, the reality was that you had access to subsidized education and housing, you lived better every year, and you were almost unimaginably better off than your parents.

We were a middle-class nation, perhaps the first nation in history where the majority of the people were comfortable. This infuriated the communists (this wasn’t supposed to happen). The primeval libertarians who cranky about it as well, but the rich had little reason to complain– they were better off than ever before, too.

Conservatives– nurtured by libertarian ideas– have managed to change all that. When productivity rises, the rich now keep the gains; the middle class barely stays where it is; the poor get poorer. We have a ways to go before we become a Third World country, but the model is clear. The goal is an impoverished majority, and a super-rich minority with no effective limitations on its power or earnings. We’ll exchange the prosperity of 1950s America for that of 1980s Brazil.

Despite the intelligence of many of its supporters, libertarianism is an instance of the simplest (and therefore silliest) type of politics: the single-villain ideology. Everything is blamed on the government. (One libertarian, for instance, reading my list of the evils of laissez-faire above, ignored everything but “gunboats”. It’s like Gary Larson’s cartoon of “What dogs understand”, with the dog’s name replaced with “government”.)

The advantage of single-villain ideologies is obvious: in any given situation you never have to think hard to find out the culprit. The disadvantages, however, are worse: you can’t see your primary target clearly– hatred is a pair of dark glasses– and you can’t see the problems with anything else.

It’s a habit of mind that renders libertarianism unfalsifiable, and thus irrelevant to the world. Everything gets blamed on one institution; and because we have no real-world example where that agency is absent, the claims can’t be tested.

Not being a libertarian doesn’t mean loving the state; it means accepting complexity. The real world is a monstrously complicated place; there’s not just one thing wrong with it, nor just one thing that can be changed to fix it. Things like prosperity and freedom don’t have one cause; they’re a balancing act.

Here’s an alternative theory for you: original sin. People will mess things up, whether by stupidity or by active malice. There is no magical class of people (e.g. “government”) who can be removed to produce utopia. Any institution is liable to failure, or active criminality. Put anyone in power– whether it’s communists or engineers or businessmen– and they will abuse it.

Does this mean things are hopeless? Of course not; it just means that we have to let all institutions balance each other. Government, opposition parties, business, the media, unions, churches, universities, non-government organizations, all watch over each other. Power is distributed as widely as possible to prevent any one institution from monopolizing and abusing it. It’s not always a pretty solution, and it can be frustratingly slow and inefficient, but it works better than any alternative I know of.

Markets are very good at some things, like deciding what to produce and distributing it. But unrestricted markets don’t produce general prosperity, and lawless business can and will abuse its power. Examples can be multiplied ad nauseam: read some history– or the newspaper.

Libertarian responses to such lists are beyond amazing.

Slavery is another example: though some hoped that the market would eventually make it unprofitable, it sure was taking its time, and neither the slave nor the abolitionist had any non-governmental leverage over the slaveowners.

(Libertarians usually claim to oppose slavery… but that’s awfully easy to say on this side of Civil War and the civil rights movement. The slaveowners thought they were defending their sacred rights to property and self-government.)

And those are the better responses. Often enough the only response is explain how nothing bad can happen in the libertarian utopia. But libertarian dogma can’t be buttressed by libertarian doctrine– that’s begging the question.

Or it’s simply denied that these things are problems. One correspondent suggested that the poor shouldn’t “complain” about not getting loans– “I wouldn’t make a loan if I didn’t think I’d get paid back.” This is not only hard-hearted but ignorant. Who says the poor are bad credit risks? It often takes prodding from community organizations, but banks can serve low-income areas well– both making money and fostering home ownership. Institutions like the Grameen Bank have found that micro-loans work very well, and are profitable, in the poorest countries on Earth, such as Bangladesh.

A proven solution to most of these ills is liberalism. For fifty years liberals governed this country, generating unprecedented prosperity, and making this the first solidly middle-class nation.

If you want prosperity for the many– and why should the many support any other goal?– you need a balance between government and business. For this you need several things:

Perhaps the most communicable libertarian meme– and one of the most mischievous– is the attempt to paint taxation as theft.

First, it’s dishonest. Most libertarians theoretically accept government for defense and law enforcement. (There are some absolutists who don’t even believe in national defense; I guess they want to have a libertarian utopia for awhile, then hand it over to foreign invaders.)

Now, national defense and law enforcement cost money: about 22% of the 2002 budget– 33% of the non-social-security budget. You can’t swallow that and maintain that all taxes are bad. At least the cost of those functions is not “your money”; it’s a legitimate charge for necessary services.

Americans enjoy the fruits of public scientific research, a well-educated job force, highways and airports, clean food, honest labelling, Social Security, unemployment insurance, trustworthy banks, national parks. Libertarianism has encouraged the peculiarly American delusion that these things come for free. It makes a philosophy out of biting the hand that feeds you.

Second, it leads directly to George Bush’s financial irresponsibility. Would a libertarian urge his family or his software company or his gun club to spend twice what it takes in? When libertarians maintain that irresponsibility among the poor is such a bad thing, why is it OK in the government?

It’s no excuse to claim that libertarians didn’t want the government to increase spending, as Bush has done. As you judge others, so shall you be judged. Libertarians want to judge liberalism not by its goals (e.g. helping poor children) but by its alleged effects (e.g. teen pregnancy). The easiest things in the world for a politician to do are to lower taxes and raise spending. By attacking the very concept of taxation, libertarians help politicians– and the public– to indulge their worst impulses.

Finally, it hides dependence on the government. The economic powerhouse of the US is still the Midwest, the Northeast, and California– largely liberal Democratic areas. As Dean Lacy has pointed out, over the last decade, the blue states of 2004 paid $1.4 trillion more in federal taxes than they received, while red states received $800 billion more than they paid.

Red state morality isn’t just to be irresponsible with the money they pay as taxes; it’s to be irresponsible with other people’s money. It’s protesting the concept of getting an allowance by stealing the other kids’ money.

Ultimately, my objection to libertarianism is moral. Arguing across moral gulfs is usually ineffective; but we should at least be clear about what our moral differences are.

First, the worship of the already successful and the disdain for the powerless is essentially the morality of a thug. Money and property should not be privileged above everything else– love, humanity, justice.

(And let’s not forget that lurid fascination with firepower– seen in ESR, Ron Paul, Heinlein and Van Vogt, Advocates for Self-Government’s president Sharon Harris, the Cato Institute, Lew Rockwell’s site, and the Mises Institute.)

I wish I could convince libertarians that the extremely wealthy don’t need them as their unpaid advocates. Power and wealth don’t need a cheering section; they are– by definition– not an oppressed class which needs our help. Power and wealth can take care of themselves. It’s the poor and the defenseless who need aid and advocates.

The libertarians reminds me of G.K. Chesterton’s description of people who are so eager to attack a hated ideology that they will destroy their own furniture to make sticks to beat it with. James Craig Green again:

Here’s a very different moral point of view: Jimmy Carter describing why he builds houses with Habitat for Humanity:

Is this “confused hysteria”? No, it’s common human decency. It’s sad when people have to twist themselves into knots to malign the human desire (and the Biblical command) to help one’s neighbor.

Second, it’s the philosophy of a snotty teen, someone who’s read too much Heinlein, absorbed the sordid notion that an intellectual elite should rule the subhuman masses, and convinced himself that reading a few bad novels qualifies him as a member of the elite.

Third, and perhaps most common, it’s the worldview of a provincial narcissist. As I’ve observed in my overview of the 20th century, liberalism won its battles so thoroughly that people have forgotten why those battles were fought.


What’s wrong with libertarianism – Zompist.com

10 Different Types of Libertarianism

By Tom Head


Anarcho-capitalists believe that governments monopolize services that would be better left to corporations, and should be abolished entirely in favor of a system in which corporations provide services we associate with the government. The popular sci-fi novel Jennifer Government describes a system that is very close to anarcho-capitalist.

Civil Libertarianism:

Civil libertarians believe that the government should not pass laws that restrict, oppress, or selectively fail to protect people in their day-to-day lives.

Their position can best be summed up by Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes’ statement that “a man’s right to swing his fist ends where my nose begins.” In the United States, the American Civil Liberties Union represents the interests of civil libertarians. Civil libertarians may or may not also be fiscal libertarians.

Classical Liberalism:

Classical liberals agree with the words of the Declaration of Independence: That all people have basic human rights, and that the sole legitimate function of government is to protect those rights. Most of the Founding Fathers, and most of the European philosophers who influenced them, were classical liberals.

Fiscal Libertarianism:

Fiscal libertarians (also referred to as laissez-faire capitalists) believe in free trade, low (or nonexistent) taxes, and minimal (or nonexistent) corporate regulation. Most traditional Republicans are moderate fiscal libertarians.


Geolibertarians (also called “one-taxers”) are fiscal libertarians who believe that land can never be owned, but may be rented. They generally propose the abolition of all income and sales taxes in favor of a single land rental tax, with the revenue used to support collective interests (such as military defense) as determined through a democratic process.

Libertarian Socialism:

Libertarian socialists agree with anarcho-capitalists that government is a monopoly and should be abolished, but they believe that nations should be ruled instead by work-share cooperatives or labor unions instead of corporations. The philosopher Noam Chomsky is the best known American libertarian socialist.


Like anarcho-capitalists and libertarian socialists, minarchists believe that most functions currently served by the government should be served by smaller, non-government groups–but they believe that a government is still needed to serve a few collective needs, such as military defense.


Neolibertarians are fiscal libertarians who support a strong military, and believe that the U.S. government should use that military to overthrow dangerous and oppressive regimes. It is their emphasis on military intervention that distinguishes them from paleolibertarians (see below), and gives them reason to make common cause with neoconservatives.


The Objectivist movement was founded by the Russian-American novelist Ayn Rand (1905-1982), author of Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead, who incorporated fiscal libertarianism into a broader philosophy emphasizing rugged individualism and what she called “the virtue of selfishness.”


Paleolibertarians differ from neolibertarians (see above) in that they are isolationists who do not believe that the United States should become entangled in international affairs. They also tend to be suspicious of international coalitions such as the United Nations, liberal immigration policies, and other potential threats to cultural stability.

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10 Different Types of Libertarianism

Introducing Libertarianism: A Reading List …

November 3, 2011 essays

The eight books on this list offer a thorough but accessible introduction to libertarianism.

Libertarianismits theory, its practiceis an awfully big topic. This reading list gives you a place to start. A combination of newcomers and established classics, these books offer accessible introductions to variety of libertarian thought, from philosophy to history to economics.

Libertarianism: A Primer by David Boaz

Boazs book provides exactly what its title promises.Libertarianism: A Primer is a quick and easy read, but its also a remarkably thorough introduction to libertarianism. It covers the historical roots of libertarianism and the basics of libertarian political philosophy and economic thinking. Boaz then applies these ideas to major policy areas, showing how free association and free markets, not government coercion and bureaucracy, can solve our most pressing social issues.

The Law by Frdric Bastiat

Everything this 19th century Frenchman wrote is worth readingand The Law is a great place to start. Bastiats knack is tackling head-on, with great wit and clarity, the fundamental errors and hidden interests behind much economic and political thinking. With The Law, published in 1850, his target is legal plunder or state-authorized confiscation of property. The law exists to protect our basic rights, Bastiat argues. When it instead becomes a means of coerced redistribution, the law has been used to destroy its own objective: It has been applied to annihilating the justice that it was supposed to maintain; to limiting and destroying rights which its real purpose was to respect. The law has placed the collective force at the disposal of the unscrupulous who wish, without risk, to exploit the person, liberty, and property of others.

The Machinery of Freedom: Guide to a Radical Capitalism by David Friedman

Libertarianism represents a spectrum of political philosophies, all sharing a general presumption of liberty. These philosophies vary in how much of a role they grant the state. Classical liberals, for instance, allow government to tax for the provision of many services, including education and social safety nets. Minarchists see governments only legitimate role as providing rights protection in the form of police, courts, and national defense. At the extreme are the anarcho-capitalists, who would abolish the state altogether and replace it with purely private and voluntary provision of services, including for the law itself. David Friedmans The Machinery of Freedom offers an introduction to anarcho-capitalism, arguing from a consequentialist perspective that the state is both unnecessary for achieving a desirable society and that it in fact makes the world worse through its actions. The questions Friedman raises and the analysis he offers will benefit any student of liberty.

Free to Choose: A Personal Statement by Milton Friedman and Rose Friedman

Published as the companion volume to the 10-hour documentary of the same name, Free to Choose was one of the bestselling books of 1980. Here Nobel laureate Milton Friedman and his wife, Rose, give a spirited and readable critique of the interventionist state, focusing on concrete examples and explanations. Free to Choose is an excellent introduction to the productive power unleashed by freedomand also a primer on the economic analysis of public policy. The Friedmans examine the workings of markets, look at how well-meaning policies like the minimum wage hurt the poor, and explain the causes of the Great Depression. Covering much the same ground as the documentary series, though in more depth, Free to Choose is a perfect introduction not only to the thought of Milton Friedman, one of the 20th centurys foremost champions of liberty, but also to the under-appreciated and often misunderstood benefits of laissez faire.

Eat the Rich: A Treatise on Economics by P. J. ORourke

Proving that economics need not be a dry, textbook affair, P. J. ORourkes Eat the Rich sets out to answer the critical question, Why do some places prosper and thrive while others just suck? ORourke, one of Americas premier humorists, travels the world, visiting Wall Street, Albania, Sweden, Cuba, Russia, Tanzania, Hong Kong, and Shanghai, and uses his experiences to untangle the relationship between markets, political institutions, and culture. While Eat the Rich is a breezy and hilarious read, it is far from facile. ORourkes explorations and the insights he draws from them make the book live up to its subtitle, A Treatise on Economics. If youve never taken Econ 101 and the thought of supply and demand curves makes you want to nod off, Eat the Richis a perfect book.

Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

A perennial bestseller since its publication in 1957, Ayn Rands mammoth novel Atlas Shrugged has probably turned more people on to libertarianism than any other book. Atlas Shrugged explores a dystopian future, where the government has enthusiastically embraced collectivism in the name of fairness and equality and leading innovators, industrialists, and artists have begun disappearing. The book served as Rands platform for promoting Objectivism, her comprehensive philosophy of rational selfishness. While Rands philosophy remains deeply divisive to this day, it is impossible to deny the enormous impact shes had on promoting the benefits of free markets and dynamic capitalism.

The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves by Matt Ridley

The newest book on this list, Matt Ridleys The Rational Optimistemploys the grand sweep of human history and pre-history to argue for the incredible significance of free tradeand against those who would seek to restrict it. In so doing, Ridley offers what amounts to a book-length answer to the question, Why are people rich? Most humans who have ever lived did so in unimaginable poverty. It was only recently that standards of living began their remarkableand acceleratingclimb. What happened? Free exchange. Just as sex made biological evolution cumulative, Ridley writes, so exchange made cultural evolution cumulative and intelligence collective, and that there is therefore an inexorable tide in the affairs of men and women discernible beneath the chaos of their actions.

Basic Economics: A Common Sense Guide to the Economy by Thomas Sowell

While the libertarian vision is much more than just free markets, economic thinking greatly informs the libertarian approach to public policy. When youre ready to move beyond the brief introduction provided by P. J. ORourkes Eat the Rich, Thomas Sowells Basic Economics is the ideal place to turn. Sowell presents the fundamentals of economic reasoning in clear, jargon-free prose. He addresses everything from incentives and the role of prices, to international trade, monetary policy, and the banking system. Sowell shows how so many government programs, enacted with the best of intentions, run afoul of simple economic truths and, as a result, often do far more harm than good.

Aaron Ross Powell is a research fellow and editor of Libertarianism.org, a project of the Cato Institute. Libertarianism.org presents introductory material as well as new scholarship related to libertarian philosophy, theory, and history. Powells writing has appeared in Liberty and The Cato Journal. He earned a JD from the University of Denver.

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Introducing Libertarianism: A Reading List …