Are Libertarians Idealists?

Elliot Schroeder Elliot Schroeder 3 Comments


This article came out a few days ago: “Libertarians are the New Communists.” Feel free to read it first, I’ll wait. For those that don’t here is the  summary: Communists misunderstood human nature’s desire for individual freedom  but Libertarians misunderstand human nature’s willingness to free-ride and rip  each other off.

Is this right?

There are certainly a  lot of counterpoints I could post, but first and foremost no Libertarian I know ever said Aidid’s Somalia is the way to go. Actually, they look to the small government of 1783 or Jefferson’s “Empire of Liberty” as the example to follow.  The term “radical libertarian” is also a bit squishy but what is going on in San Diego or California?

I think a lot of people have libertarian tendencies. With low voter turn-out and the rise in ‘decline to state’ voters it appears that people are saying  they are disinterested in politics. It’s safe to say a lot of them don’t want government involved with them either. You can’t call it libertarian with a  capital ‘L,’ probably “disinterested” libertarianism fits best. But these people don’t realize how representative government tries to pass hundreds of laws each year. These aren’t radical libertarians, just people that want to live their lives without government involvement either way. It sounds like they want to roll back government too.

Is the linked article right about Libertarians? Can we ever reach the disinterested public? I look forward to your comments!


Comments 3

  1. Let me start by answering the question posed in the title:

    Of COURSE libertarians are idealists, idealists in the same American tradition as our Founders were. Libertarians recognize that government, by definition, is granting dominion over another so libertarians want to limit it to that power as much as possible.

    Like our Founders, libertarians strive for a “more perfect union” in the truly idealistic sense. So yes…libertarians are idealists, just like conservatives, liberals, and statists.

    “but Libertarians misunderstand human nature’s willingness to free-ride and rip each other off.”

    Let’s start with the second part of that statement. I think you’d be hard-pressed to find a libertarian who thinks theft and fraud are somehow okay. In fact, the whole libertarian premise is the non-aggression principle which sees a role of government to defend individuals from theft and fraud. Libertarians however, do an excellent job of explaining how government actually AIDS theft and fraud on behalf of others.

    All advancements in society are built on the principle of “free riding”. Ask Isaac Newton.

    Nanos Gigantium Humeris Insidentes

  2. Post

    Ah, I like that you replied to them in affirmative. Great take on idealism.

    Overall, I think they made a bad assumption on what libertarians believe.

  3. “human nature’s willingness to free ride and rip each other off.”

    It is our willingness to rip each other offer that is the bane of Capitalism, but it is our willingness to free ride that causes all other economic systems to fail.

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