promoting the unwanted, redheaded stepchild that is individual liberty

Understanding libertarianism part I

In liberty and rights, politics on October 19, 2009 at 4:45 am

Before we can debate, we must first know what we are talking about. In an age of disinformation where anyone can become a news source via the Internet, its more important than ever to research before we regurgitate.

Point in case, the word libertarian.

In my recent post, I attempted to point out the contradiction and deceitfulness of conservative, pro-war radio personalities such as Glenn Beck, Mark Levin and Sean Hannity declaring themselves libertarians.

However, some of the post’s commenters argued that libertarianism and an aggressive, interventionist foreign policy can coexist — claiming there is a distinct difference between uppercase Libertarians and lowercase libertarians.

The difference between uppercase and lowercase libertarians is this: one is a proper noun and the other is not.

Libertarians with an uppercase L refers to members of the Libertarian Party. Lower case libertarians adhere to basic libertarian philosophy. Although I am not a member of the Libertarian Party and do not describe myself as a libertarian, my political philosophy would undoubtedly be categorized as libertarian by others.

So then, we must understand what basic libertarian philosophy is. To do this, it is important to understand the history of libertarianism.

Unlike the Libertarian Partys Web site which starts its history in 1971 when the party was founded, libertarianism goes back much further. Today’s libertarianism has its roots in classical liberalism and the enlightenment ideals of early America. Namely, individual liberty and limited government.

However, modern libertarianism began in the 20th century with the formation of the Old Right. The Old Right arose from Republicans and even progressives who were in opposition to FDRs and the Democrats New Deal. 

Former dean of the Austrian School of economics and founder of libertarianism, Murray in Rothbard, describes the Old Right in his article The Life and Death of the Old Right:

The Old Right was firmly opposed to conscription as well as war or foreign aid, favored free markets and the gold standard, and upheld the rights of private property as opposed to any sort of invasion, including coerced integration. The Old Right was socially conservative, middle class, welcoming people who worked for a living or met a payroll, and was the salt of the earth. [They were] opposing statism at home and war and intervention abroad.

However, the 1950s and its red fever saw the demise of the Old Right and its noninterventionist ideals. The New Right, as described by Rothbard, was determined to crush isolationism, and to remold the right-wing into a crusade to crush Communism all over the world, and particularly in the Soviet Union.


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