Writing in the Chapman Law Review, here’s Barnett’s thesis:
Libertarianism is sometimes portrayed as radical and even extreme. In this Afterword to a symposium on “Libertarianism and the Law” in the Chapman Law Review, I explain why, though it may be radical, libertarianism is far from extreme in comparison with its principal alternatives: the social justice of the Left or legal moralism of the Right. Social justice posits that everyone should get a certain amount of stuff; legal moralism posits that everyone should act in a certain way. But because there is no consensus about how much stuff each person should have or how exactly everyone should act, both of these comprehensive approaches are recipes for societal conflict. And the legal institutions that are necessary to implement each vision must be highly intrusive and coercive. In contrast, libertarianism is far more modest: it stipulates only that individuals may do what they please with what is theirs, requiring a legal system merely to define the proper jurisdiction of each person over their rightfully acquired property….
Robert Draper, writing in the New York Times, asks that question.
He offers a answer, too, although the GOP likely wont take the required remedy:
Later that evening at a hotel bar, Anderson [a GOP pollster] pored over her notes. She seemed morbidly entranced, like a homicide detective gazing into a pool of freshly spilled blood. In the previous few days, the pollster interviewed Latino voters in San Diego and young entrepreneurs in Orlando.
The findings were virtually unanimous. No one could understand the G.O.P.’s hot-blooded opposition to gay marriage or its perceived affinity for invading foreign countries. Every group believed that the first place to cut spending was the defense budget. During the whiteboard drill, every focus group described Democrats as “open-minded” and Republicans as “rigid.”
Over at Bleeding Heart Libertarians, Fernando Teson contends (convincingly, I think) that libertarianism is concerned with a defense of self and others, but of persons as such and not the state.
If so, the possible support for defenses of foreign persons increases:
The distinction between defensive and offensive wars is misleading because it treats the state as a “person” who can be Attacker or Victim. But states are not persons. When we (correctly) disaggregate the state, what we have is a group of human beings unjustly attacking another group of human beings. A defense of the victim here is not an offensive war: it is a defensive war, a war in defense of unjustly-attacked persons. As such, it should not be banned by the libertarian principle that condemns the offensive use of violence.
Given his [current RNC chair Priebus] performance and given the popular opinion that it is the social conservatism of the GOP that is having the greatest impact on its perception as a national party, it would only make sense that a libertarian Republican would be in a good position to challenge for national leadership. But just as we saw with libertarians Ron Paul and Gary Johnson, when given the choice between a libertarian Republican or an establishment or socially conservative Republican, the Republican electorate will always choose the latter.
It’s not only markets in capital and goods that should be free. It’s markets in labor, too. What’s immigration, at bottom? It’s a voluntary and peaceful transaction between employer and employee. Government interference in these many transactions is presumptuous, oppressive of individuals, and stifling of economic growth.
One hears, more often since Gov. Romney’s defeat, that the GOP regrets its recent, strident anti-immigration views. (Funny, too, that Reagan and Kemp, among others, would have rejected policies even half so restrictive as the ones that Romney and Santorum advocated in 2012.)
Whatever the motivation, it’s to America’s benefit if Republicans abandon their anti-market opposition to immigration.
For it all, libertarians can say that we were right a generation ago, right last year, and that we’re right now: free immigration is both morally and productively better than restrictive alternatives. If all the world were to declare otherwise tomorrow, we’d not be disproved.
Consider two brief videos on libertarianism. The first suggests that social justice and libertarianism are incompatible. The second holds that, if one considers social justice properly, there’s no contradiction at all.
Short, clear, informative, and both from Matt Zwolinski, as part of the larger Learn Liberty series.