What Is Libertarian – Institute for Humane Studies

The libertarian or classical liberal perspective is that peace, prosperity, and social harmony are fostered by as much liberty as possible and as little government as necessary.

With a long intellectual tradition spanning hundreds of years, libertarian ideas of individual rights, economic liberty, and limited government have contributed to history-changing movements like abolition, womens suffrage, and the civil rights movement.

Libertarian is not a single viewpoint, but includes a wide variety of perspectives. Libertarians can range from market anarchists to advocates of a limited welfare state, but they are all united by a belief in personal liberty, economic freedom, and a skepticism of government power.

According to American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition, 2000:

NOUN: 1. One who advocates maximizing individual rights and minimizing the role of the state.

The Challenge of Democracy (6th edition), by Kenneth Janda, Jeffrey Berry, and Jerry Goldman:

Liberals favor government action to promote equality, whereas conservatives favor government action to promote order. Libertarians favor freedom and oppose government action to promote either equality or order.

According to The Machinery of Freedom by David Friedman, Open Court Publishing Company, 1973:

The central idea of libertarianism is that people should be permitted to run their own lives as they wish.

According to Libertarianism: A Primer by David Boaz, Free Press, 1997:

Libertarianism is the view that each person has the right to live his life in any way he chooses so long as he respects the equal rights of others. Libertarians defend each persons right to life, liberty, and property-rights that people have naturally, before governments are created. In the libertarian view, all human relationships should be voluntary; the only actions that should be forbidden by law are those that involve the initiation of force against those who have not themselves used force-actions like murder, rape, robbery, kidnapping, and fraud.

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What Is Libertarian - Institute for Humane Studies

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