So What Does It Mean To Be (l)ibertarian, Anyway?

The Libertarian Party had its convention this weekend – and this post has NOTHING to do with that.

Oftentimes you’ll hear folks say “I’m a small-l libertarian” as a way to differentiate themselves from the Libertarian Party. Sometimes there’s a lot of cross over; and sometimes not so much.

So, what is libertarianism?

From David Boaz, the Executive Vice President of the libertarian think-tank The Cato Institute:

“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 person’s right to life, liberty, and property – rights that people possess naturally, before governments are created. In the libertarian view, all human relationships should voluntary; the only actions that should be forbidden by law are those that involve the initiation of force against those who have themselves used force – actions like murder, rape, robbery, kidnapping, and fraud.”

From philosopher and economist Murray Rothbard:

“There are libertarians who are indeed hedonists and devotees of alternative lifestyles, and that there are also libertarians who are firm adherents of “bourgeois” conventional or religious morality. There are libertarian libertines and there are libertarians who cleave firmly to the disciplines of natural or religious law. There are other libertarians who have no moral theory at all apart from the imperative of non-violation of rights. That is because libertarianism per se has no general or personal moral theory.

Libertarianism does not offer a way of life; it offers liberty, so that each person is free to adopt and act upon his own values and moral principles. Libertarians agree with Lord Acton that “liberty is the highest political end” – not necessarily the highest end on everyone’s personal scale of values.”

Wikipedia’s definition is a little more cut-and-dried:

“Libertarianism (Latin: liber, “free”) is a 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.[1][2]

Libertarians generally share a skepticism of authority; however, they diverge on the scope of their opposition to existing political and economic systems. Various schools of libertarian thought offer a range of views regarding the legitimate functions of state and private power, often calling to restrict or even to wholly dissolve coercive social institutions. Rather than embodying a singular, rigid systematic theory or ideology, libertarianism has been applied as an umbrella term to a wide range of sometimes discordant political ideas through modern history.”

It can also be summed up by these great meme:Libertarian-leade-2

H/T to RedState for inspiring this!


Thank you for reading and please share!

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