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Libertarian conservatism is a political philosophy and ideology that combines right-libertarian politics and conservative values. Libertarian conservatism advocates the greatest possible economic liberty and the least possible government regulation of social life, mirroring laissez faire liberalism. But harnesses this to a belief in a more traditional and conservative social philosophy emphasizing authority and duty. Libertarian conservatism prioritizes liberty as its main idea, promoting free expression, freedom of choice and free market capitalism to achieve socially and culturally conservative ends as they reject liberal social engineering. Frank Meyer, a prominent contributor to the National Review, has called this combination "fusionism".
In political science, the term "libertarian conservatism" is used to refer to ideologies that combine the advocacy of economic principles such as fiscal discipline, respect for contracts, defense of private property and free markets and the traditional conservative stress on self-help and freedom of choice under a laissez-faire and economically liberal capitalist society with social tenets such as the importance of religion and the value of traditional morality through a framework of limited, constitutional, representative government.
Freedom and Virtue: The Conservative/Libertarian Debate, edited by George W. Carey, contains essays which describe "the tension between liberty and morality" as "the main fault line dividing the two philosophies".
Nelson Hultberg wrote that there is "philosophical common ground" between libertarians and conservatives. "The true conservative movement was, from the start, a blend of political libertarianism, cultural conservatism, and non-interventionism abroad bequeathed to us via the Founding Fathers". He said that such libertarian conservatism was "hijacked" by neoconservatism, "by the very enemies it was formed to fight – Fabians, New Dealers, welfarists, progressives, globalists, interventionists, militarists, nation builders, and all the rest of the collectivist ilk that was assiduously working to destroy the Founders' Republic of States".
Thomas DiLorenzo wrote that libertarian conservative constitutionalists believe that the way to limit government is to enforce the United States Constitution. However, DiLorenzo criticized them by writing: "The fatal flaw in the thinking of the libertarian/conservative constitutionalists stems from their unawareness or willful ignorance of how the founders themselves believed the Constitution could be enforced: by the citizens of the free, independent, and sovereign states, not the federal judiciary". He wrote that the powers accrued to the federal government during the American Civil War overthrew the Constitution of 1787.
In the 1990s, Lew Rockwell, Murray Rothbard and others described their views as paleolibertarianism. They continued libertarian opposition to "all forms of government intervention – economic, cultural, social, international", but also upholding cultural conservatism in social thought and behavior. They opposed a licentious libertarianism which advocated "freedom from bourgeois morality, and social authority". Rockwell later stated that they dropped that self-description because people confused it with paleoconservatism, which they rejected.
Laurence M. Vance wrote: "Some libertarians consider libertarianism to be a lifestyle rather than a political philosophy... They apparently don't know the difference between libertarianism and libertinism".
Friedrich Hayek, Ludwig von Mises, Milton Friedman, Richard Posner, Richard Epstein and Albert Jay Nock have been described as libertarian conservatives. Former U.S. Congressman Ron Paul and his son U.S. Senator Rand Paul have been described as combining libertarian and conservative "small government" ideas and showing how the Constitution defends the individual and most libertarian views.
Libertarian conservatism subscribes to the libertarian idea of free market capitalism, wanting little to no government interference in the market. They favor Austrian economics and are critical of fiat money, supporting ideas like pay what you want cafes. Libertarian conservatists look for ways to privatize activities run by government, from airports to toll booths.
Edward Feser emphasized that libertarianism does not require individuals to reject traditional conservative values. Libertariansim supports the ideas of liberty, privacy and ending the war on marijuana.
Prominent libertarian conservatives
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- Albert Jay Nock (1870–1945), prominent libertarian Georgist thinker, author and journalist
- Ludwig von Mises (1881–1973), prominent Austrian economist and classical liberal thinker
- Fredrich August von Hayek (1899-1992), Nobel Prize-winning Austrian school economist
- Frank Meyer (1909–1972), journalist, politucal philosopher and chief proponent of fusionism
- Ronald Reagan (1911–2004), President and conservative icon
- Milton Friedman (1912–2006), Nobel laureate Chicago school economist, monetarist and political thinker
- William F. Buckley Jr. (1925–2008), journalist, author, conservative activist and the founder of National Review
- Murray Rothbard (1926–1995), heterodox economist, historical writer, political thinker and founder of deontological anarcho-capitalism
- Thomas Sowell (1930–), American economist, social theorist, political philosopher and author
- Ron Paul (1935–), Republican former Congressman from Texas
- Walter E. Williams (1936-), economics professor and syndicated columnist
- Richard Posner (1939–), Chicago school economist, jurist and prominent legal scholar
- Lew Rockwell (1944–), right-wing anarchist writer, editor and political consultant
- Rand Paul (1963–), Republican Senator from Kentucky
- Jedediah Bila (1979-), American television host, author, and columnist
- Classical liberalism
- Conservatism in the United States
- Conservative liberalism
- Democracy promotion
- Empire of Liberty
- Fiscal conservatism
- Freedom Caucus
- Liberal conservatism
- Libertarian perspectives on foreign intervention
- Libertarian Republican
- Libertarianism and Objectivism
- Liberty Caucus
- Manifest destiny
- Objectivism (Ayn Rand)
- Old Right
- Republican Liberty Caucus
- Supply-side economics
- Tea Party movement
- Heywood 2015, p. 37.
- J. Richard Piper, Ideologies and Institutions: American Conservative and Liberal Governance Prescriptions Since 1933, Rowman & Littlefield, 1997, pp. 110–111, ISBN 0847684598, ISBN 978-0847684595.
- Edward Feser, "What Libertarianism Isn't", Lew Rockwell.com, December 22, 2001.
- Ralph Raico, "Is Libertarianism Amoral?", New Individualist Review, Volume 3, Number 3, Fall 1964, 29–36; republished by Ludwig von Mises Institute, April 4, 2005.
- Schlesinger, Arthur (September 1933) [1st pub. 1933]. "Vol. 48". The Rise of the City: 1878-1898. The Academy of Political Science. pp. 454–456.
- Randall, Margaret (January 14, 2018) [1st pub. 1995]. "Preface". Sandino's Daughters: Testimonies of Nicaraguan Women in Struggle. Rutgers University Press. pp. ii.
- Johnston 2007, pp. 154–56.
- Johnston 2007, p. 154.
- Johnston 2007, pp. 154–155.
- George W. Carey (Editor), Freedom & Virtue: The Conservative Libertarian Debate, Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 1998. ISBN 1-882926-19-6.
- Nelson Hultberg, "True Conservatism vs. Neo-Conservatism" Archived August 20, 2008, at the Wayback Machine., "Americans for a Free Republic" website, December 20, 2006.
- DiLorenzo, Thomas. "Constitutional Futility". LewRockwell.com. Retrieved July 2, 2008.
- Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr. "The Case for Paleo-libertarianism" in Liberty, January 1990, pp. 34–38.
- Johnsson, Kenny. "Do You Consider Yourself a Libertarian?". LewRockwell.com. Retrieved July 2, 2008.
- Rockwell, Llewellyn H. "What I Learned From Paleoism". LewRockwell.com. Retrieved July 2, 2008.
- Vance, Laurence (January 29, 2008). "Is Ron Paul Wrong on Abortion?". LewRockwell.com. Retrieved July 1, 2008.
- Mafaldo, Lucas. "The Conservative Case for Ron Paul". LewRockwell.com. Retrieved July 2, 2008.[permanent dead link]
- "Inside Ronald Reagan", a Reason interview with Ronald Reagan, July 1975.
- Heywood, Andrew (2015). Key Concepts in Politics and International Relations:Palgrave Key Concepts. Macmillan International Higher Education. ISBN 1-1374-9477-8.
- Johnston, Larry (2007). Politics: An Introduction to the Modern Democratic State. University of Toronto Press. ISBN 1-4426-0040-3.
- Republican "Liberty Caucus", a group of libertarian conservatives.
- "Frank S. Meyer: The Fusionist as Libertarian Manqué".
- "What Libertarians and Conservatives Say About Each Other: An Annotated Bibliography", by Jude Blanchette, LewRockwell.com, October 27, 2004.