Category: Libertarians

Margaret Thatcher as an Accidental Libertarian Heroine

Market freedom brings personal freedom:

If libertarianism means anything it means freedom from state coercion and the freedom to be who you wish to be. It may seem paradoxical that an era in which inequality increased and in which the bonds of “community” were said to fray should also be an era in which Britain became a kinder, more tolerant, more open society but I suspect that it is not and that economic advancement and personal freedoms are in fact two sides of the same coin that, by definition, can scarcely be separated.

Thatcher challenged orthodoxy and vested interests. But it is surely a mistake to presume that these economic battles would not have spill-over effects in other parts of society. The blessed victory of economic liberalism has helped marginalise social conservatism (itself a matter of orthodoxy and vested interests).

In these ways, then, Margaret Thatcher proved herself an accidental libertarian heroine. She might not have welcomed all these developments – indeed she would have opposed many of them – but they are part of her legacy too. And, I would say, they are parts that are as welcome as they were unintentional. Three cheers for that.

Via Margaret Thatcher: An Accidental Libertarian Heroine » Spectator Blogs.

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The conservatives’ wishful condescension

And yet they wonder why they keep losing elections:

“To say that you want to jettison social conservatives in order to get an emerging demographic of young people is like saying, ‘Well, we lost a close game, so let’s bench our quarterback, who was the most valuable player and gained the most yards,’ ” says Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptists’ Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission.

Besides, Land says, he believes young people won’t hold their libertarian views for long.

“I would say that these young voters’ frontal lobes aren’t fully developed yet,” he says. “That’s why they have parents and that’s why they have their elders.”

Via Will The Future GOP Be More Libertarian? : It’s All Politics : NPR.

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Randy Barnett on the ‘Libertarian Middle Way’

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….

Via Social Science Research Network.

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Q: Can the Republicans Be Saved From Obsolescence?

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.”

The GOP needs a more libertarian message.

It’s that simple, and consequently, that hard.

Via New York Times Magazine.

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Libertarians and Defensive War

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.

Well worth reading in full.

See, Bleeding Heart Libertarians.

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Will a Libertarian Ever Lead the GOP?

Probably not:

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.

Via Ron Paul Supporter Challenging Reince Priebus For RNC Chairmanship: Will a Libertarian Ever Lead the GOP?.

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Immigration as Voluntary Exchange

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.

We’d just have more work to do to show otherwise.

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Libertarianism and Social Justice

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.




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Jeffrey Goldberg of the Atlantic wonders of he might be…libertarian

After running through a list of his views on major political issues, he observes that

…it struck me that I might be a libertarian. I’m not sure what I’m supposed to do with this feeling. I don’t even know anyone at Reason magazine.

You know, Mr. Goldberg, libertarianism not only has much to offer, it’s also great fun. Most Americans with libertarian-sympathies have probably never heard of Reason magazine, by the way.

You’ll be just fine.

Via The Atlantic.

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Just a faction? ‘Tea Party at a Crossroads’

Salena Zito writes of the libertarian leanings of the Tea Party, but omits ways in which they’re not libertarian at all (anti-immigration, pro-voting restrictions).  What do you get when you’re half-libertarian?  You’re a GOP faction, but no more:

Evidence of the Tea Party‘s waning passion is no more apparent than in the case of Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown. The Republican rode in on the initial wave of Tea Party movement in a January 2010 special election to fill the late Ted Kennedy‘s seat, but he lost this year to Democrat and consumer darling Elizabeth Warren.

Only four of 16 Senate candidates backed by Tea Party organizations won in November.

Tea Party-backed House candidates fared better — among them, Republican Keith Rothfus of Sewickley, who upset Rep. Mark Critz, D-Johnstown, and Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., founder of the Tea Party Caucus, who narrowly won re-election. But her Florida counterpart, Rep. Allen West, conceded a messy race to Democrat Patrick Murphy.

“It‘s clear the Tea Party still has salience in American politics, or at least in the Republican Party,” said Sean Trende, senior elections analyst for RealClearPolitics. “It might be a faction — an unruly faction that‘s difficult to control — but it‘s still a faction at this point.”

Via Tea Party at a Crossroads | RealClearPolitics.

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So how many American libertarians are there, anyway?

There are lots of us: regardless of party label, about 15-18% of Americans have libertarian views. (The formal Libertarian Party may be small, but libertarians among the major parties and independents amount to about one of every six voters.)

Although other surveys put the percentage still higher, these proportions put libertarian-oriented preferences in the very thick of political and social life.

David Boaz explains how he and his colleague David Kirby calculated the number of liberty-oriented voters:

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