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in the United States
Right-libertarianism, or right-wing libertarianism, refers to libertarian political philosophies that advocate civil liberties, natural law, laissez-faire capitalism and a major reversal of the modern welfare state. Right-libertarians strongly support private property rights and defend market distribution of natural resources and private property. This position is contrasted with that of some versions of left-libertarianism, with which it is compared to, hence the name. This is because in the United States the word libertarian has deviated from its political origins to the extent that the common meaning of libertarianism in the United States is different from elsewhere, where it continues to be widely used to refer to anti-state socialists such as anarchists and more generally libertarian communists and libertarian socialists.
Right-libertarian political thought is characterized by the strict priority given to liberty, with the need to maximize the realm of individual freedom and minimize the scope of public authority. Right-libertarians typically see the state as the principal threat to liberty. This anti-statism differs from anarchist doctrines in that it is based upon an uncompromising individualism that places little or no emphasis upon human sociability or cooperation. Right-libertarian philosophy is also rooted in the ideas of individual rights and laissez-faire economics. The right-libertarianism theory of individual rights generally stresses that the individual is the owner of his person and that people have an absolute entitlement to the property that his labor produces. Economically, right-libertarians emphasize the self-regulating nature and mechanisms of the market, portraying government intervention and attempts to redistribute wealth as invariably unnecessary and counter-productive. Although all right-libertarians oppose government intervention, there is a division between those who adhere to the anarcho-capitalism position, who view the state as an unnecessary evil; and minarchists who recognize the necessary need for a minimal state, often referred to as a night-watchman state.
While influenced by classical liberal thought, with some viewing right-libertarianism as an outgrowth or as a variant of it, there are significant differences. Edwin van de Haar argues that "confusingly, in the United States the term libertarianism is sometimes also used for or by classical liberals. But this erroneously masks the differences between them". Classical liberalism refuses to give priority to liberty over order and therefore does not exhibit the hostility to the state which is the defining feature of libertarianism. Subsequently, right-libertarians believe classical liberals favor too much state involvement, arguing that they do not have enough respect for individual property rights and lack sufficient trust in the workings of the free market and its spontaneous order leading to support of a much larger state. Right-libertarians also disagree with classical liberals as being too supportive of central banks and monetarist policies.
- 1 Philosophy
- 2 History
- 3 Schools of thought
- 4 Symbolism
- 5 Notable people and publications associated with right-libertarianism
- 6 Criticism
- 7 See also
- 8 References
- 9 Bibliography
Right-libertarianism developed in the United States in the mid-20th century from the works of European writers like John Locke, Friedrich Hayek and Ludwig von Mises and is the most popular conception of libertarianism in the United States today. It is commonly referred to as a continuation or radicalization of classical liberalism. The most important of these early right-libertarian philosophers was Robert Nozick.
While often sharing the left-libertarians' advocacy for social freedom, right-libertarians also value the social institutions that enforce conditions of capitalism while rejecting institutions that function in opposition to these on the grounds that such interventions represent unnecessary coercion of individuals and abrogation of their economic freedom. Anarcho-capitalists seek complete elimination of the state in favor of private defense agencies while minarchists defend night-watchman states which maintain only those functions of government necessary to safeguard natural rights, understood in terms of self-ownership or autonomy.
The non-aggression principle (NAP) is often described as the foundation of present-day right-libertarian philosophies. It is a moral stance which forbids actions that are inconsistent with capitalist property rights. The principle defines aggression and initiation of force as violation of these rights. The NAP and property rights are closely linked since what constitutes aggression depends on what libertarians consider to be one's property.
Because the principle redefines aggression in right-libertarian terms, use of the NAP as a justification for right-libertarianism has been criticized as circular reasoning and as rhetorical obfuscation of the coercive nature of libertarian property law enforcement. The principle has been used rhetorically to oppose such policies as victimless crime laws, taxation and military drafts.
While there is debate on whether left-, right- and socialist libertarianism "represent distinct ideologies as opposed to variations on a theme", right-libertarianism is most in favor of private property and property rights. Right-libertarians maintain that unowned natural resources "may be appropriated by the first person who discovers them, mixes his labor with them, or merely claims them—without the consent of others, and with little or no payment to them". This contrasts with left-libertarianism in which "unappropriated natural resources belong to everyone in some egalitarian manner". Right-libertarians believe that natural resources are originally unowned and therefore private parties may appropriate them at will without the consent of, or owing to, others (e.g. a land value tax).
Right-libertarians are also referred to as propertarians as they hold that societies in which private property rights are enforced are the only ones that are both ethical and lead to the best possible outcomes. They generally support the free market and are not opposed to any concentrations of economic power, provided it occurs through non-coercive means.
There is a debate amongst right-libertarians as to whether or not the state is legitimate. While anarcho-capitalists advocate its abolition, minarchists support minimal states, often referred to as night-watchman states. Minarchists maintain that the state is necessary for the protection of individuals from aggression, theft, breach of contract and fraud. They believe the only legitimate governmental institutions are the military, police and courts, although some expand this list to include fire departments, prisons and the executive and legislative branches. They justify the state on the grounds that it is the logical consequence of adhering to the non-aggression principle and argue that anarchy is immoral because it implies that the non-aggression principle is optional and that the enforcement of laws under anarchism is open to competition. Another common justification is that private defense agencies and court firms would tend to represent the interests of those who pay them enough.
Right-libertarians such as anarcho-capitalists argue that the state violates the non-aggression principle by its nature because governments use force against those who have not stolen or vandalized private property, assaulted anyone, or committed fraud. Others argue that monopolies tend to be corrupt and inefficient and that private defense and court agencies would have to have a good reputation in order to stay in business. Linda and Morris Tannehill argue that no coercive monopoly of force can arise on a truly free market and that a government's citizenry can not desert them in favor of a competent protection and defense agency.
Right-libertarian philosopher Moshe Kroy argues that the disagreement between anarcho-capitalists who adhere to Murray Rothbard's view of human consciousness and the nature of values and minarchists who adhere to Ayn Rand's view of human consciousness and the nature of values over whether or not the state is moral is not due to a disagreement over the correct interpretation of a mutually held ethical stance. He argues that the disagreement between these two groups is instead the result of their disagreement over the nature of human consciousness and that each group is making the correct interpretation of their differing premises. According to Kroy, these two groups are not making any errors with respect to deducing the correct interpretation of any ethical stance because they do not hold the same ethical stance.
Taxation as theft
The idea of taxation as theft is a viewpoint found in a number of political philosophies. Under this view, government transgresses property rights by enforcing compulsory tax collection. Right-libertarians see taxation as a violation of the non-aggression principle.
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the United States
Right-libertarianism developed in the United States 1950s as many with Old Right or classical liberal beliefs in the United States began to describe themselves as libertarians. H. L. Mencken and Albert Jay Nock were the first prominent figures in the United States to privately call themselves libertarians. They believed Franklin D. Roosevelt had co-opted the word liberal for his New Deal policies which they opposed and used libertarian to signify their allegiance to individualism. In 1923, Mencken wrote: "My literary theory, like my politics, is based chiefly upon one idea, to wit, the idea of freedom. I am, in belief, a libertarian of the most extreme variety".
In 1955, the term libertarianism was first publicly used in the United States as a synonym for classical liberalism by writer Dean Russell, a colleague of Leonard Read, who justified the choice of the word as follows:
|“||Many of us call ourselves "liberals." And it is true that the word "liberal" once described persons who respected the individual and feared the use of mass compulsions. But the leftists have now corrupted that once-proud term to identify themselves and their program of more government ownership of property and more controls over persons. As a result, those of us who believe in freedom must explain that when we call ourselves liberals, we mean liberals in the uncorrupted classical sense. At best, this is awkward and subject to misunderstanding. |
Here is a suggestion: Let those of us who love liberty trade-mark and reserve for our own use the good and honorable word "libertarian."
Subsequently, a growing number of Americans with classical liberal beliefs in the United States began to describe themselves as libertarian. The person most responsible for popularizing the term libertarian was Austrian School economist Murray Rothbard, who started publishing libertarian works in the 1960s. In the 1950s, Russian-American novelist Ayn Rand developed a philosophical system called Objectivism, expressed in her novels The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged as well as other works, which influenced many libertarians. However, she rejected the label libertarian and harshly denounced the libertarian movement as the "hippies of the right". Philosopher John Hospers, a one-time member of Rand's inner circle, proposed a non-initiation of force principle to unite both groups—this statement later became a required pledge for candidates of the Libertarian Party and Hospers himself became its first presidential candidate in 1972. Rothbard was influenced by the work of the 19th-century American individualist anarchists, themselves influenced by classical liberalism. However, Rothbard thought they had a faulty understanding of economics because they accepted the labor theory of value as influenced by the classical economists while he was a student of neoclassical economics and supported the subjective theory of value. Rothbard sought to meld 19th-century American individualists' advocacy of free markets and private defense with the principles of Austrian economics, arguing:
There is, in the body of thought known as 'Austrian economics,' a scientific explanation of the workings of the free market (and of the consequences of government intervention in that market) which individualist anarchists could easily incorporate into their political and social Weltanschauung.
The Vietnam War split the uneasy alliance between growing numbers of self-identified libertarians and more traditionalist conservatives who believed in limiting liberty to uphold moral virtues. Libertarians opposed to the war joined the draft resistance and peace movements as well as organizations such as Students for a Democratic Society. They began founding their own publications such as Reason magazine and Murray Rothbard's The Libertarian Forum and organizations like the Radical Libertarian Alliance and Society for Individual Liberty. Senator Barry Goldwater of Arizona presented a challenge to established Republican politics in 1964 that had a major impact on the libertarian movement through his book The Conscience of a Conservative and his run for President in 1964. Goldwater's speech writer Karl Hess became a leading libertarian writer and activist.
The split was aggravated at the 1969 Young Americans for Freedom convention, when more than 300 libertarians organized to take control of the organization from conservatives. The burning of a draft card in protest to a conservative proposal against draft resistance sparked physical confrontations among convention attendees, a walkout by a large number of libertarians, the creation of organizations like the Society for Individual Liberty and efforts to recruit potential libertarians from conservative organizations. The split was finalized in 1971 when in a New York Times article conservative leader William F. Buckley Jr. attempted to divorce libertarianism from the freedom movement, writing: "The ideological licentiousness that rages through America today makes anarchy attractive to the simple-minded. Even to the ingeniously simple-minded". As a result, a small group of Americans led by David Nolan formed the Libertarian Party in 1971. The party has run a presidential candidate every election year since 1972. Educational organizations like the Center for Libertarian Studies and the Cato Institute were formed in the 1970s and others have been created since then.
In the 1970s, right-libertarianism gained significant recognition in academia with the publication of Harvard University professor Robert Nozick's Anarchy, State, and Utopia (1974), a response to John Rawls's A Theory of Justice (1971). The book proposed a minimal state on the grounds that it was an inevitable phenomenon which could arise without violating individual rights. Anarchy, State, and Utopia won a National Book Award in 1975. British historians Emily Robinson, Camilla Schofield, Florence Sutcliffe-Braithwaite and Natalie Thomlinson have argued that by the 1970s Britons were keen about defining and claiming their individual rights, identities and perspectives. They demanded greater personal autonomy and self-determination and less outside control. They angrily complained that the establishment was withholding it. They argue this shift in concerns helped cause Thatcherism and was incorporated into Thatcherism's appeal. Since the resurgence of neoliberalism in the 1970s, right-libertarianism has spread beyond North America and Europe via think tanks and political parties, having been more successful at spreading worldwide than other conservative ideas. For instance, it has been noted that "[m]ost parties of the Right [today] are run by economically liberal conservatives who, in varying degrees, have marginalized social, cultural, and national conservatives" and that libertarianism is increasingly viewed as right-libertarianism. However, libertarian intellectuals Noam Chomsky, Colin Ward and others argue that the term libertarianism is considered a synonym for libertarian socialism and social anarchism by the international community and that the United States is unique in widely associating it with free-market ideology. The use of the word libertarian to describe a left-wing position has been traced to the French cognate libertaire, coined in a letter French libertarian communist Joseph Déjacque wrote to Pierre-Joseph Proudhon in 1857. While in New York, Déjacque was able to serialise his book L'Humanisphère, Utopie anarchique (The Humanisphere: Anarchic Utopia) in his periodical Le Libertaire, Journal du Mouvement Social (Libertarian: Journal of Social Movement), published in 27 issues from 9 June 1858 to 4 February 1861. Although unlike the rest of the world modern libertarianism in the United States mainly refer to classical liberalism and is generally used as synonymous for right-libertarianism as well as being the mainstream view and most popular conception of libertarianism in the United States today, the term itself was first used by Déjacque even in the United States, where Le Libertaire was the first libertarian communist journal published in the United States and the first anarchist journal to use the term libertarian.
In the 21st century, right-libertarian groups have been successful in advocating tax cuts and regulatory reform. Texas Congressman Ron Paul's 2008 and 2012 campaigns for the Republican Party presidential nomination were largely right-libertarian. Along with Goldwater and others, Paul popularized right-libertarian economics and rhetoric in opposition to interventionism and worked to pass some reforms. Likewise, California Governor Ronald Reagan appealed to cultural conservative libertarians due its social conservatism and in a 1975 interview with Reason stated: "I believe the very heart and soul of conservatism is libertarianism". Paul was affiliated with the right-libertarian-leaning Republican Liberty Caucus and founded the Campaign for Liberty, a right-libertarian-leaning membership and lobbying organization. His son Rand Paul is a Senator who continues the tradition, albeit more moderately as he has described himself as a constitutional conservative and has both embraced and rejected right-libertarianism. Thomas Massie of Kentucky has also been described as libertarian or right-libertarian-leaning. Currently, the only federal officeholder openly professing some form of right-libertarianism is Congressman Justin Amash, who represents Michigan's 3rd congressional district.
Schools of thought
Anarcho-capitalism, also referred to as free-market anarchism, market anarchism and private-property anarchism, is a right-libertarian political philosophy which advocates the elimination of the state in favor of individual sovereignty in a free-market capitalism. In an anarcho-capitalist society, law enforcement, courts and all other security services would be provided by privately funded competitors rather than through taxation and money would be privately and competitively provided in an open market. As a result, personal and economic activities under anarcho-capitalism would be regulated by privately run law rather than through politics.
The most well-known version of anarcho-capitalism was formulated in the mid-20th century by Austrian School economist and paleolibertarian Murray Rothbard. Rothbard coined the term and is widely regarded as its founder. He combined the free market approach from the Austrian School with the human rights views and a rejection of the state he learned from 19th-century American individualist anarchists such as Lysander Spooner and Benjamin Tucker, although he rejected their anti-capitalism, along with the labor theory of value and the normative implications they derived from it. In Rothbardian anarcho-capitalism, there would first be the implementation of a mutually agreed-upon libertarian "legal code which would be generally accepted and which the courts would pledge themselves to follow". This legal code would recognize sovereignty of the individual and the principle of non-aggression.
Classical liberalism is a political ideology and a branch of liberalism which advocates civil liberties under the rule of law with an emphasis on economic freedom. Closely related to economic liberalism, it developed in the early 19th century, building on ideas from the previous century as a response to urbanization and to the Industrial Revolution in Europe and the United States.
Notable individuals whose ideas contributed to classical liberalism include John Locke, Thomas Robert Malthus, Jean-Baptiste Say and David Ricardo. It drew on the classical economic ideas espoused by Adam Smith in Book One of The Wealth of Nations and on a belief in natural law, utilitarianism and progress. The term classical liberalism was applied in retrospect to distinguish earlier 19th-century liberalism from the newer social liberalism.
Right-libertarianism has been influenced by this school of liberalism and has been viewed as an outgrowth or as a variant of it and it is commonly referred to as a continuation or radicalization of classical liberalism.
Conservative libertarianism, or libertarian conservatism, is a political philosophy and ideology that combines right-libertarian politics and conservative values. Conservative libertarianism advocates the greatest possible economic liberty and the least possible government regulation of social life, but harnesses this to a belief in a more traditional and conservative social philosophy emphasizing authority and duty.
Conservative libertarianism prioritizes liberty as its main emphasis, promoting free expression, freedom of choice and laissez-faire capitalism to achieve socially and culturally conservative ends as they reject liberal social engineering, or in the opposite way yet not excluding the above conservative libertarianism could be understood as promoting civil society through conservative institutions and authority such as family, fatherland, religion and education in the quest of libertarian ends for less state power.
In American politics, fusionism is the philosophical and political combination or fusion of traditionalist and social conservatism with political and economic right-libertarianism. The philosophy is most closely associated with Frank Meyer.
Minarchism is a right-libertarian political philosphy supportive of a night-watchman state, or minarchy, a model of a state whose only functions are to provide its citizens with the military, the police and courts, protecting them from aggression, theft, breach of contract and fraud and enforcing property laws. 19th-century Britain has been described by historian Charles Townshend as standard-bearer of this form of government among European countries.
Robert Nozick received a National Book Award in category Philosophy and Religion for his book Anarchy, State, and Utopia, where Nozick argues that only a minimal state limited to the narrow functions of protection against "force, fraud, theft, and administering courts of law" could be justified without violating people's rights.
Traditionally, liberalism's primary emphasis was placed on securing the freedom of the individual by limiting the power of the government and maximizing the power of free market forces. The philosophy emerged as a response to the Industrial Revolution and urbanization in the 19th century in Europe and the United States, advocated a limited government and held a belief in laissez-faire economic policy. Built on ideas that had already arisen by the end of the 18th century such as selected ideas of Locke, Smith, Malthus, Say and Ricardo, liberalism stressed the belief in natural law, utilitarianism and progress. These liberals were more suspicious than conservatives of all but the most minimal government and adopted Thomas Hobbes's theory of government, believing government had been created by individuals to protect themselves from one another.
Neoliberalism emerged in the era following World War II during which social liberalism and Keynesianism were the dominant ideologies in the Western world. It was led by economists such as Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman, who advocated the reduction of the state and a return to classical liberalism, hence the term neo-classical liberalism. However, it did accept some aspects of social liberalism such as some degree of welfare provision by the state, but on a greatly reduced scale. Hayek and Friedman used the term classical liberalism to refer to their ideas, but others use the term to refer to all liberalism before the 20th century, not to designate any particular set of political views and therefore see all modern developments as being by definition not classical. Right-libertarianism has been commonly referred to as a continuation or radicalization of classical liberalism and referred to as neo-classical liberalism.
The concept of neolibertarianism gained a small following in the mid-2000s among commentators who distinguished themselves from neoconservatives by their support for individual liberties and from libertarians by their support for foreign interventionism.
Paleolibertarianism is a variety of right-libertarianism developed by theorists Murray Rothbard and Lew Rockwell that combines conservative cultural values and social philosophy with a libertarian opposition to government intervention.
Paleolibertarianism is a controversial current due its connections to the Tea Party movement and the alt-right. However, these movements are united by an anti-Barack Obama stance, their support of the right to keep and bear arms and as a result an anti-gun control stance in regard to gun laws and politics instead of further ideological overlaps. In the essay "Right-Wing Populism: A Strategy for the Paleo Movement", Rothbard reflected on the ability of paleolibertarians to engage in an "outreach to rednecks" founded on social conservatism and radical libertarianism. He cited former Louisiana State Representative David Duke and former United States Senator Joseph McCarthy as models for the new movement.
Propertarianism, or proprietarianism, is a right-libertarian ethical philosophy that advocates the replacement of states with contractual relationships. Propertarian ideals are most commonly cited to advocate for a state or other governance body whose main or only job is to enforce contracts and private property.
Yellow is often used as a political color for right-libertarianism. The Gadsden flag, a symbol first used by American revolutionaries, is a symbol frequently used by American libertarians, especially the Tea Party movement.
Notable people and publications associated with right-libertarianism
- Walter Block – Austrian School economist in the Rothbardian tradition, author of Defending the Undefendable and Yes to Ron Paul and Liberty
- Richard Epstein – legal scholar, specializing in the field of law and economics
- David D. Friedman – anarcho-capitalist economist of the Chicago school, author of The Machinery of Freedom and son of Milton Friedman
- Milton Friedman – Nobel Prize-winning monetarist economist associated with the Chicago school and advocate of economic deregulation and privatization
- Friedrich Hayek – Nobel Prize-winning Austrian School economist and classical liberal, notable for his political work The Road to Serfdom
- Hans-Hermann Hoppe – political philosopher and paleolibertarian trained under the Frankfurt School, staunch critic of democracy and developer of argumentation ethics
- Michael Huemer – political philosopher, ethical intuitionist and author of The Problem of Political Authority
- Rose Wilder Lane – silent editor of her mother's Little House on the Prairie books and author of The Discovery of Freedom
- Ludwig von Mises – prominent figure in the Austrian School, classical liberal and founder of the a priori economic method of praxeology
- Jan Narveson – political philosopher and professor emeritus, member of the Order of Canada and opponent of the Lockean proviso
- Robert Nozick – multidisciplinary philosopher, minarchist, critic of utilitarianism and author of Anarchy, State, and Utopia
- Ayn Rand – philosophical novelist and founder of Objectivism, who accused libertarians of haphazardly plagiarizing her ideas
- Lew Rockwell – anarcho-capitalist writer, purveyor of LewRockwell.com and co-founder of paleolibertarianism
- Murray Rothbard – Austrian School economist, prolific author and polemicist, founder of anarcho-capitalism and co-founder of paleolibertarianism
- Thomas Sowell – American economist, social theorist, political philosopher and author
- Justin Amash – Representative from Michigan
- Eric Brakey – State Representative from Maine and 2018 Senate candidate
- Nick Freitas – State Delegate from Virginia and 2018 Senate candidate
- Barry Goldwater – former Senator from Arizona and 1964 presidential candidate
- Gary Johnson – former New Mexico Governor and 2012 and 2016 Libertarian Party presidential candidate
- Mike Lee – Senator from Utah
- Thomas Massie – Representative from Kentucky
- Rand Paul – Senator from Kentucky and 2016 presidential candidate
- Ron Paul – former Representative from Texas and 1988, 2008 and 2012 presidential candidate
- Austin Petersen – 2016 Libertarian Party presidential candidate and 2018 Republican Missouri Senate candidate
- Nick Gillespie – Reason contributing editor
- Scott Horton – editorial director of Antiwar.com
- Lisa Kennedy Montgomery – host of Kennedy
- Mary O'Grady – editor of The Wall Street Journal
- John Stossel – host of Stossel
- Katherine Timpf – Fox News contributor
- Matt Welch – editor-in-chief of Reason
- Thomas Woods – host of The Tom Woods Show
Criticism of right-libertarianism includes ethical, economic, environmental and pragmatic concerns, including the view that right-libertarianism has no explicit theory of liberty. For instance, it has been argued that laissez-faire capitalism does not necessarily produce the best or most efficient outcome, nor does its philosophy of individualism and policies of deregulation prevent the abuse of natural resources.
Right-libertarianism has been criticized by the political left for being pro-business and anti-labor, for desiring to repeal government subsidies to the disabled and the poor and being incapable of addressing environmental issues, therefore contributing to the failure to slow global climate change. Furthermore, Noam Chomsky has repeatedly accused right-libertarian ideologies as being akin to corporate fascism because of how they remove all public controls from the economy, leaving it solely in the hands of private corporations. Chomsky has also argued that the more radical forms of right-libertarianism such as anarcho-capitalism are entirely theoretical and could never function in reality due to business' reliance on state infrastructure and subsidies. Among others, Chomsky reject the distinction between positive and negative rights as right-libertarians believe that negative rights should be recognized as legitimate, but positive rights should be rejected.
Some left-libertarians have criticized right-libertarianism due its propertarianism, with Ursula K. Le Guin contrasting in The Dispossessed (1974) a propertarian society with one that does not recognize property rights in an attempt to show that property objectified human beings. Other non-propertarian left-libertarians such as Murray Bookchin have been called anti-propertarians. Bookchin objected to propertarians calling themselves libertarian. Bookchin described three concepts of possession, namely property itself, possession and usufruct, i.e. appropriation of resources by virtue of use. Anarchist critics such as Brian Morris reject right-libertarianism's sincerity in supporting a limited or minimal state, or no state at all, arguing that anarcho-capitalism does not in fact get rid of the state and that they "simply replaced the state with private security firms, and can hardly be described as anarchists as the term is normally understood". Anarchist Peter Sabatini noted:
Within [right] Libertarianism, Rothbard represents a minority perspective that actually argues for the total elimination of the state. However Rothbard's claim as an anarchist is quickly voided when it is shown that he only wants an end to the public state. In its place he allows countless private states, with each person supplying their own police force, army, and law, or else purchasing these services from capitalist vendors. [...] Rothbard sees nothing at all wrong with the amassing of wealth, therefore those with more capital will inevitably have greater coercive force at their disposal, just as they do now.
Likewise, Bob Black argues that right-libertarians are conservatives and that anarcho-capitalists want to "abolish the state to his own satisfaction by calling it something else". He states that they do not denounce what the state does, they just "object to who's doing it".
From the political right, the American traditionalist conservative philosopher Russell Kirk criticized libertarianism, quoting T. S. Eliot's expression "chirping sectaries" to describe them. Kirk had questioned fusionism between libertarians and traditionalist conservatives that marked much of the post-war conservatism in the United States. Kirk stated that "although conservatives and libertarians share opposition to collectivism, the totalist state and bureaucracy, they have otherwise nothing in common" and called the libertarian movement "an ideological clique forever splitting into sects still smaller and odder, but rarely conjugating". Believing that a line of division exists between believers in "some sort of transcendent moral order" and "utilitarians admitting no transcendent sanctions for conduct", he included the libertarians in the latter category. He also berated libertarians for holding up capitalism as an absolute good, arguing that economic self-interest was inadequate to hold an economic system together and that it was even less adequate to preserve order. Kirk believed that by glorifying the individual, the free market and the dog-eat-dog struggle for material success libertarianism weakened community, promoted materialism and undermined appreciation of tradition, love, learning and aesthetics, all of which in his view were essential components of true community.
Author Carl Bogus states that there were fundamental differences between libertarians and traditionalist conservatives in the United States as libertarians wanted the market to be unregulated as possible while traditionalist conservatives believed that big business, if unconstrained, could impoverish national life and threaten freedom. Libertarians also considered that a strong state would threaten freedom while traditionalist conservatives regarded a strong state, one which is properly constructed to ensure that not too much power accumulated in any one branch, was necessary to ensure freedom.
Michael Lind has observed that of the 195 countries in the world today, none have fully actualized a society as advocated by right-libertarians, arguing: "If libertarianism was a good idea, wouldn't at least one country have tried it? Wouldn't there be at least one country, out of nearly two hundred, with minimal government, free trade, open borders, decriminalized drugs, no welfare state and no public education system?" Furthermore, Lind has criticized right-libertarianism as being incompatible with democracy and apologetic towards autocracy. In response, right-libertarian Warren Redlich argues that the United States "was extremely libertarian from the founding until 1860, and still very libertarian until roughly 1930".
Nancy MacLean has criticized right-libertarianism in the United States, arguing that it is a radical right ideology that has stood against democracy. According to MacLean, right-libertarian-leaning Charles and David Koch have used anonymous, dark money campaign contributions, a network of libertarian institutes and lobbying for the appointment of libertarian, pro-business judges to United States federal and state courts to oppose taxes, public education, employee protection laws, environmental protection laws and the New Deal Social Security program.
Contention over placement on the political spectrum
Corey Robin describes right-libertarianism as fundamentally a conservative ideology united with more traditionalist conservative thought and goals by a desire to retain hierarchies and traditional social relations. However, many who have been labeled right-libertarians reject associations with conservatism and often reject its positioning on the traditional left–right line scale, favoring its center-north placement on the two-dimensional Nolan Chart, supporting both personal and economic liberty. Nonetheless, others also describe it as a reactionary ideology for its support of laissez-faire capitalism and a major reversal of the modern welfare state.
In the 1960s, Rothbard started the publication Left and Right: A Journal of Libertarian Thought, believing that the left–right political spectrum had gone "entirely askew" since conservatives were sometimes more statist than liberals. Rothbard tried to reach out to leftists. In 1971, Rothbard wrote about his view of libertarianism which he described as supporting self-ownership, property rights and free trade. He would later describe his brand of libertarianism as anarcho-capitalism.
Anthony Gregory points out that within the libertarian movement "just as the general concepts 'left' and 'right' are riddled with obfuscation and imprecision, left- and right-libertarianism can refer to any number of varying and at times mutually exclusive political orientations". He writes that one of several ways to look at right-libertarianism is its interest in economic freedom, preference for a conservative lifestyle, view that private business is "a great victim of the state", favoring a non-interventionist foreign policy sharing the Old Right's "opposition to empire". Some pro-property libertarians reject association with either the right or the left. Leonard E. Read wrote an article titled "Neither Left Nor Right: Libertarians Are Above Authoritarian Degradation". Harry Browne wrote: "We should never define Libertarian positions in terms coined by liberals or conservatives—nor as some variant of their positions. We are not fiscally conservative and socially liberal. We are Libertarians, who believe in individual liberty and personal responsibility on all issues at all times".
Tibor R. Machan titled a book of his collected columns Neither Left Nor Right. Walter Block's article "Libertarianism Is Unique and Belongs Neither to the Right Nor the Left" critiques libertarians he described as left and right, the latter including Hans-Hermann Hoppe, Edward Feser and Ron Paul. Block wrote that these left and right individuals agreed with certain libertarian premises, but "where we differ is in terms of the logical implications of these founding axioms".
Right-libertarianism and Objectivism
Objectivism is a philosophical system developed by Russian-American writer Ayn Rand. Rand first expressed Objectivism in her fiction, most notably We the Living (1936), The Fountainhead (1943) and Atlas Shrugged (1957), but also in later non-fiction essays and books such as The Virtue of Selfishness (1964) and Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal (1966), among others. Leonard Peikoff, a professional philosopher and Rand's designated intellectual heir, later gave it a more formal structure. Rand described Objectivism as "the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute". Peikoff characterizes Objectivism as a "closed system" that is not subject to change.
Objectivism's central tenets are that reality exists independently of consciousness, that human beings have direct contact with reality through sense perception, that one can attain objective knowledge from perception through the process of concept formation and inductive logic, that the proper moral purpose of one's life is the pursuit of one's own happiness, that the only social system consistent with this morality is one that displays full respect for individual rights embodied in laissez-faire capitalism and that the role of art in human life is to transform humans' metaphysical ideas by selective reproduction of reality into a physical form—a work of art—that one can comprehend and to which one can respond emotionally. The Objectivist movement founded by Rand attempts to spread her ideas to the public and in academic settings. As a result, Objectivism has been and continues to be a major influence on the right-libertarian movement, particularly in the United States. Many right-libertarians justify their political views using aspects of Objectivism.
However, the views of Rand and her philosophy among prominent right-libertarians are mixed and many Objectivists are hostile to libertarians in general. Nonetheless, Objectivists such as David Kelley and his Atlas Society have argued that Objectivism is an "open system" and are more open to right-libertarians. Although academic philosophers have mostly ignored or rejected Rand's philosophy, Objectivism has been a significant influence among conservatives and libertarians in the United States.
- Austrian School
- Classical liberalism
- Conservative liberalism
- Criticism of democracy
- Cultural conservatism
- Debates within libertarianism
- Economic liberalism
- Fiscal conservatism
- Freedom of association
- Free market
- Labor mobility
- Liberal conservatism
- Libertarian conservatism
- Libertarianism in the United States
- Market fundamentalism
- Mises Institute
- Outline of libertarianism
- Patriot movement
- Republican Liberty Caucus
- Ron Paul Revolution
- Taxation as theft
- Rothbard, Murray (1 March 1971). "The Left and Right Within Libertarianism". Originally published in WIN: Peace and Freedom Through Nonviolent Action. Reprinted at LewRockwell.com.
- Goodway, David (2006). Anarchist Seeds Beneath the Snow: Left-Libertarian Thought and British Writers from William Morris to Colin Ward. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press. p. 4. "'Libertarian' and 'libertarianism' are frequently employed by anarchists as synonyms for 'anarchist' and 'anarchism', largely as an attempt to distance themselves from the negative connotations of 'anarchy' and its derivatives. The situation has been vastly complicated in recent decades with the rise of anarcho-capitalism, 'minimal statism' and an extreme right-wing laissez-faire philosophy advocated by such theorists as Rothbard and Nozick and their adoption of the words 'libertarian' and 'libertarianism'. It has therefore now become necessary to distinguish between their right libertarianism and the left libertarianism of the anarchist tradition".
- Marshall, Peter (2008). Demanding the Impossible: A History of Anarchism. London: Harper Perennial. p. 565. "In its moderate form, right libertarianism embraces laissez-faire liberals like Robert Nozick who call for a minimal State, and in its extreme form, anarcho-capitalists like Murray Rothbard and David Friedman who entirely repudiate the role of the State and look to the market as a means of ensuring social order".
- Newman, Saul (2010). The Politics of Postanarchism. Edinburgh University Press. p. 53. ISBN 978-0-7486-3495-8.
It is important to distinguish between anarchism and certain strands of right-wing libertarianism which at times go by the same name (for example, Murray Rothbard's anarcho-capitalism). There is a complex debate within this tradition between those like Robert Nozick, who advocate a 'minimal state', and those like Rothbard who want to do away with the state altogether and allow all transactions to be governed by the market alone. From an anarchist perspective, however, both positions—the minimal state (minarchist) and the no-state ('anarchist') positions—neglect the problem of economic domination; in other words, they neglect the hierarchies, oppressions, and forms of exploitation that would inevitably arise in a laissez-faire 'free' market. [...] Anarchism, therefore, has no truck with this right-wing libertarianism, not only because it neglects economic inequality and domination, but also because in practice (and theory) it is highly inconsistent and contradictory. The individual freedom invoked by right-wing libertarians is only a narrow economic freedom within the constraints of a capitalist market, which, as anarchists show, is no freedom at all.
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- Baradat 2015, p. 31.
- Kymlicka 2005, p. 516. "Right-wing libertarians argue that the right of self-ownership entails the right to appropriate unequal parts of the external world, such as unequal amounts of land".
- Vallentyne 2007. "The best-known versions of libertarianism are right-libertarian theories, which hold that agents have a very strong moral power to acquire full private property rights in external things. Left-libertarians, by contrast, hold that natural resources (e.g., space, land, minerals, air, and water) belong to everyone in some egalitarian manner and thus cannot be appropriated without the consent of, or significant payment to, the members of society".
- Rothbard, Murray (2009) [1970s]. The Betrayal of the American Right (PDF). Mises Institute. ISBN 978-1610165013.
One gratifying aspect of our rise to some prominence is that, for the first time in my memory, we, 'our side,' had captured a crucial word from the enemy. 'Libertarians' had long been simply a polite word for left-wing anarchists, that is for anti-private property anarchists, either of the communist or syndicalist variety. But now we had taken it over.
- Bookchin, Murray (January 1986). "The Greening of Politics: Toward a New Kind of Political Practice". Green Perspectives: Newsletter of the Green Program Project (1). "We have permitted cynical political reactionaries and the spokesmen of large corporations to pre-empt these basic libertarian American ideals. We have permitted them not only to become the specious voice of these ideals such that individualism has been used to justify egotism; the pursuit of happiness to justify greed, and even our emphasis on local and regional autonomy has been used to justify parochialism, insularism, and exclusivity – often against ethnic minorities and so-called deviant individuals. We have even permitted these reactionaries to stake out a claim to the word libertarian, a word, in fact, that was literally devised in the 1890s in France by Elisée Reclus as a substitute for the word anarchist, which the government had rendered an illegal expression for identifying one's views. The propertarians, in effect – acolytes of Ayn Rand, the earth mother of greed, egotism, and the virtues of property – have appropriated expressions and traditions that should have been expressed by radicals but were willfully neglected because of the lure of European and Asian traditions of socialism, socialisms that are now entering into decline in the very countries in which they originated".
- Nettlau, Max (1996). A Short History of Anarchism. London: Freedom Press. p. 162. ISBN 978-0-900384-89-9. OCLC 37529250.
- Fernandez, Frank (2001). Cuban Anarchism. The History of a Movement. Sharp Press. p. 9. "Thus, in the United States, the once exceedingly useful term "libertarian" has been hijacked by egotists who are in fact enemies of liberty in the full sense of the word."
- "The Week Online Interviews Chomsky". Z Magazine. 23 February 2002. "The term libertarian as used in the US means something quite different from what it meant historically and still means in the rest of the world. Historically, the libertarian movement has been the anti-statist wing of the socialist movement. In the US, which is a society much more dominated by business, the term has a different meaning. It means eliminating or reducing state controls, mainly controls over private tyrannies. Libertarians in the US don't say let's get rid of corporations. It is a sort of ultra-rightism."
- Ward, Colin (2004). Anarchism: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford University Press. p. 62. "For a century, anarchists have used the word 'libertarian' as a synonym for 'anarchist', both as a noun and an adjective. The celebrated anarchist journal Le Libertaire was founded in 1896. However, much more recently the word has been appropriated by various American free-market philosophers."
- Robert Graham, ed. (2005). Anarchism: A Documentary History of Libertarian Ideas. Volume One: From Anarchy to Anarchism (300 CE–1939). Montreal: Black Rose Books. §17.
- Marshall, Peter (2009). Demanding the Impossible: A History of Anarchism. p. 641. "The word 'libertarian' has long been associated with anarchism, and has been used repeatedly throughout this work. The term originally denoted a person who upheld the doctrine of the freedom of the will; in this sense, Godwin was not a 'libertarian', but a 'necessitarian'. It came however to be applied to anyone who approved of liberty in general. In anarchist circles, it was first used by Joseph Déjacque as the title of his anarchist journal Le Libertaire, Journal du Mouvement Social published in New York in 1858. At the end of the last century, the anarchist Sebastien Faure took up the word, to stress the difference between anarchists and authoritarian socialists".
- "150 years of Libertarian".
- "160 years of Libertarian".
- Heywood 2004, p. 337.
- Newman 2010, p. 43 "It is important to distinguish between anarchism and certain strands of right-wing libertarianism which at times go by the same name (for example, Murray Rothbard's anarcho-capitalism). There is a complex debate within this tradition between those like Robert Nozick, who advocate a 'minimal state', and those like Rothbard who want to do away with the state altogether and allow all transactions to be governed by the market alone. From an anarchist perspective, however, both positions—the minimal state (minarchist) and the no-state ('anarchist') positions—neglect the problem of economic domination; in other words, they neglect the hierarchies, oppressions, and forms of exploitation that would inevitably arise in a laissez-faire 'free' market. [...] Anarchism, therefore, has no truck with this right-wing libertarianism, not only because it neglects economic inequality and domination, but also because in practice (and theory) it is highly inconsistent and contradictory. The individual freedom invoked by right-wing libertarians is only a narrow economic freedom within the constraints of a capitalist market, which, as anarchists show, is no freedom at all".
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- van de Haar 2015, p. 71.
- van de Haar 2015, p. 42.
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Depending on the context, libertarianism can be seen as either the contemporary name for classical liberalism, adopted to avoid confusion in those countries where liberalism is widely understood to denote advocacy of expansive government powers, or as a more radical version of classical liberalism.
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- Newman, Saul (2010). The Politics of Postanarchism. Edinburgh University Press. p. 43. ISBN 0748634959. "It is important to distinguish between anarchism and certain strands of right-wing libertarianism which at times go by the same name (for example, Rothbard's anarcho-capitalism)".
- Marshall, Peter (2008). Demanding the Impossible: A History of Anarchism. London: Harper Perennial. p. 565. "In fact, few anarchists would accept the 'anarcho-capitalists' into the anarchist camp since they do not share a concern for economic equality and social justice, Their self-interested, calculating market men would be incapable of practicing voluntary co-operation and mutual aid. Anarcho-capitalists, even if they do reject the State, might therefore best be called right-wing libertarians rather than anarchists".
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I certify that I oppose the initiation of force to achieve political or social goals.
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Depending on the context, libertarianism can be seen as either the contemporary name for classical liberalism, adopted to avoid confusion in those countries where liberalism is widely understood to denote advocacy of expansive government powers, or as a more radical version of classical liberalism.
- Carlson 2012, p. 1007.
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Like his father, the son also favors notions of limited government. "Libertarian would be a good description," Rand Paul told CNN, "because libertarians believe in freedom in all aspects of your life – your economic life as well as your social life as well as your personal life.
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They thought all along that they could call me a libertarian and hang that label around my neck like an albatross, but I'm not a libertarian.
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15 were hard-line conservatives who wanted a complete repeal of the Affordable Care Act. They are all members of the House Freedom Caucus, who are among the most conservative members of the House [...] Justin Amash, MI-3 [...].
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Amash is one of the most conservative lawmakers in Congress, which gives him street cred when he calls for impeaching a Republican president. But Amash is also a different strain of conservative; he leans libertarian.
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Amash, 39, who identifies as a libertarian Republican, is considered among the most conservative members of the House. [...] Conservative groups like the Club for Growth, Heritage Action for America and Americans for Prosperity have awarded him lifetime ratings of more than 85 percent.
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Rothbard pointed to David Duke and Joseph McCarthy as models for an "Outreach to the Rednecks," which would fashion a broad libertarian/paleoconservative coalition by targeting the disaffected working and middle classes.
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