Down With Libertarianism, All Hail Liberaltarianism

The common perception is that libertarianism and liberalism are complete opposites and that conservatism is somewhere in the middle. The fact is that this perception is false. While mainstream libertarians are die hard “Objectivists” (I hate that word, sullying “objectivity.”), libertarianism is not all about maximizing liberty by limiting government’s theft of money. Conservatives love regulations as much as liberals do; they just love regulations of a different kind, albeit just as destructive if not more so.

If libertarians are indeed most interested in maximizing liberty and minimalist government, the one true and tried way to empower people, maximize liberty and keep people from becoming a dependent of government is through non-destructive social justice.

An example of non-destructive social justice is prioritizing job creation in order to limit unemployment and make sure everyone has the opportunity to provide for their families, society and to be productive. The mainstream libertarian responses tend to go along the lines of “it’s their fault, government shouldn’t accommodate them” to “we shouldn’t spend money stolen from the public nor ease money, for it is simply another form of theft by inducing inflation, devaluing money.”

And then equality of opportunity was thrown out of the window.

One of the main problems with mainstream libertarianism is that while its members argue that their liberty maximizing ideology would benefit everyone, including people with low and median incomes, their primary motivation is purely ideological. The possibility that their ideological preferences might somewhere down the line benefit people in poverty or low income is purely coincidental and not genuinely intentional.

Liberaltarianism’s primary drive is social justice – just as liberals wish for – but they believe there are much more efficient ways to go about it than the traditional brute-force liberal ways. I find many of the arguments very attractive, although often a bit too naive. I do believe we need to uplift liberaltarians and push back mainstream libertarianism, though; good ideas should always be welcomed while bad ideology needs to be smitten down into the rubble it would leave the world in.

Will Wilkinson wrote:

There’s a lot of diversity within libertarianism. And the most common forms of libertarianism are, I think, still pretty well shot through with conservative reflexes bred by the long Cold War alliance between libertarians and the right. For many libertarians, hating the left just feels like home. So many libertarians will indeed come running home when called to service by the organs of partisan conservatism. Well, good luck to y’all, but I was never on the team, and I’ve never wanted less to be on it. I’d rather work the long angle.

There’s a lot of culturally and psychologically liberal people out there who are, and are going to be, interested in a liberalism that actually works. I want to use this time of ferment to work on developing the missing option in American politics: an authentically liberal governing philosophy that understands that limited government, free markets, a culture of tolerance, and a sound social safety net are the best means to better lives.

So “whatever happened to liberaltarianism” is that it’s an ongoing project to change who talks to whom, to freshen the stale dialectic of American politics, and to create new possibilities for American political identity.


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