Is libertarianism DOA?

Populism does not mix with libertarianism. Progressivism doesn’t mix with libertarianism either.

Sure, lots of folks claim to be ‘fiscally conservative and socially liberal’ but is that really the case?

Populists aren’t fiscally conservative, at least not in the classical liberal sense. As a populist if XYZ Corp should be free to move retroenacabulator production to Guadalatacobell or if the government should prevent it and they will choose the latter every time. Ask them if the government should stop Americans from being able to access foreign goods in the global market and, as often as not, they will support the government self-emplacing trade embargos. Don’t even mention cutting Social Security to a populist. They aren’t fiscal conservatives.

What about progressives? Surely they are social liberals, right? Nope. At least not if the word ‘liberal’ has any relationship to the word ‘liberty’. Progressives demand that the power of the state be used in as heavy handed a means as necessary to enforce the progressive agenda. They most certainly aren’t liberal enough to allow a Christian baker the liberty to choose for whom he will and won’t bake a cake. You can test the liberal sensitivities of a progressive by asking them if local governments should be allowed to make their own public toilet policies. The response you will get will have nothing to do with liberty.

Basically, libertarians offer something for everyone to hate. Progressives are openly hostile to the fiscal conservatism of libertarians but are secretly hostile to its socially liberal policies. Populists, on the other hand, are openly hostile to the socially libertine policies of libertarianism but secretly hate its fiscal conservatism.

I used to think that if libertarians could just get the word out to these ‘fiscally conservative and socially liberal’ folks they would see its appeal. I now believe that I was deluded. There are no libertarians among the populists and progressives that now make up the American political environ.

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7 Responses to Is libertarianism DOA?

  1. Jim22 says:

    “Basically, libertarians offer something for everyone to hate.”

    That’s a pretty astute observation. The trouble is there is a lot of truth in it. I don’t think Libertarianism is dead. It has, though, become the belief system of social and economic drop-outs. When you see a Ron Paul support sign it’s normally on a home-made plywood house next to a chained pit bull and another sign that reads, “Shot On Sight”.

    Libertarians want to be left alone and will go to great lengths to ensure their privacy.

    Most people don’t agree with the tenets of self-reliance, self control, and austerity that are at the heart of Libertarian thinking. Most people want free stuff, parties, and free wifi.

    Another group, maybe about the size of the Libertarians, want more. They want to tyrannize their neighbors and dominate them. That is where the sickness is.

  2. Squib Load says:

    The difficulty of libertarianism is its limited core values. Libertarianism is only concerned with the use of coercion and aggression. This means it’s not a real movement like the conservative or progressive movements.

    When people identify as populist/progressive/conservative they are referring to their political and economic philosophies and also their positions on social and cultural issues. Libertarianism doesn’t have anything to say about cultural and social issues. Libertarians don’t want to ban ANY private or voluntary activities. Think about that…

    Many self-professed libertarians do not realize they are not genuinely libertarian. Fiscally conservative” and “socially liberal” is not what libertarianism is about.

    • R.D. Walker says:

      You seem to think there is a narrow definition of libertarianism and anything that falls outside that definition is something else. That is false.

      Libertarianism is a collection of wide ranging political and economic principles that have liberty at their core.

      Libertarianism as a broad category includes neo-classical liberalism, anarcho-capitalism, minarchism, fiscal libertarianism, civil libertarianism, left-libertarianism, geolibertarianism, libertarian socialism, neolibertarianism and others. There is a lot of space in between these different flavors and they cover a lot of ground. I am strongly in favor of some of their principles and strongly opposed to others.

      In other words, it isn’t possible for you to define what is and isn’t “genuinely libertarian” and you shouldn’t try.

      The only thing libertarianism isn’t is anti-liberty.

      • Squib Load says:

        I have a narrow definition. If you think libertarianism and conservativism can be combined, you are really a conservative. If you don’t think so you are a genuine libertarian. If you think libertarianism and anything can mix, you are a really the other thing. Most people are the other things. There are very few intellectually honest libertarians.

        The only principal is non-aggression. Everything else falls from that. You swallow it all or you swallow nothing.

        • R.D. Walker says:

          I don’t know what conservatism is anymore. If it includes broad government restrictions on trade and commerce, it isn’t what I thought it was… and I never was a conservative.

          • Jim22 says:

            I agree. The definitions of conservative have been changed by big-government Republicans like both Bushes and nearly every Republican in Congress.

            Squib has some points regarding libertarians. I consider myself to be a small-L libertarian. I want to be left alone and I want to leave others alone as well. I am uneasy, though, with legalizing all drugs and ignoring what goes on outside of the country.

            I guess that means I am ‘the other thing’ but I don’t know what that is.

            • Rich says:

              The perception of what conservatism is has changed. Agreed. But its definition has not. Conservatism conserves the founding and the principles from which it derived.

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