Libertarianism (from Latin: Libertas, meaning “freedom”) is a collection of political philosophies and movements that uphold liberty as a core principle. Libertarians seek to maximize political freedom and autonomy, emphasizing freedom of choice, voluntary association and individual judgment.
The non-aggression principle (NAP) is the foundation of present-day libertarian philosophies. It is a moral stance which forbids actions that are inconsistent with property rights. The principle defines aggression and initiation of force as a 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.
Schools of Thought
Free-Market Anarchism (Anarcho-Capitalist)
Murray N. Rothbard
Anarcho-capitalism, also referred to as free-market anarchism, market anarchism and private-property anarchism is a libertarian political philosophy which advocates the elimination of the state in favor of individual sovereignty in 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 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 the 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 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.
Libertarianism has been influenced by this school of liberalism and viewed as an outgrowth or a variant of it, and commonly referred to as a continuation or radicalization of classical liberalism.
Conservative libertarianism, or libertarian conservatism, is a political philosophy and ideology that combines 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 libertarianism. The philosophy is most closely associated with Frank Meyer.
Main article: Minarchism
Minarchism is a libertarian political philosophy 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 the 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.
Main article: Neoliberalism
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 the 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. 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 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 to 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 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.
See also Agorism