“I believe the real heart and soul of conservatism is libertarianism.”
Libertarianism is advocacy for individual liberty with libertarians generally sharing a distinct regard for individual freedom of thought and action, as well as a strong suspicion of coercive authority, such as that of government. However, there are also broad areas of disagreement among libertarians.
Libertarians generally advocate for the maximization of freedom of thought and action with few exceptions. One exception shared by libertarians is that the actions of an individual should not infringe upon the freedom of any other person, a premise often referred to as the non-aggression principle.
Minarchist libertarians, such as Robert Nozick, advocate for a minimal state with the belief that it is permissible for governments to counter aggression, while more anarchist libertarians, such as Murray Rothbard, have stated that aggression should be countered without government.
The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy describes the minimal state as providing only law enforcement, a judicial assembly, and armed forces; also described is the right-libertarian view called anarcho-capitalism which holds that government can be completely abolished because private companies working for profit should provide the court systems, military, and police forces.
In contrast to the anarcho-capitalist ideals, left-libertarian anarchists such as Noam Chomsky propose libertarian socialism which promotes the idea that liberty is best achieved through large-scale decentralization to empower workers, with the result of eliminating both government and private capitalist organizations, which they view as coercive.
Libertarians also exhibit differing approaches in areas such as the treatment of property rights, especially with respect to natural resources, with some libertarians advocating the grant of strong private ownership rights, and others holding that private ownership should be avoided as being inconsistent with the basic principles of libertarianism.
Perhaps the most fascinating and informative program I attended at the 2010 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) was an event sponsored by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI). ISI Books recently published a new book about the 1980 presidential campaign by Craig Shirley, a longtime associate of the late Ronald Reagan. Shirley’s book is called Rendezvous with Destiny: Ronald Reagan and the Campaign That Changed America. (In the interest of full disclosure, I should note that I was the recipient of a Richard M. Weaver Fellowship from the ISI for the 1986-87 academic year.)
The hosts recruited journalist Fred Barnes, who covered Reagan during the 1980 campaign and later in the White House, to lead a discussion with Shirley, who for just over an hour regaled the small (but fortunate) audience with anecdotes and analysis of how Reagan became president after being written off by the punditocracy when he lost the 1976 GOP presidential nomination by fewer than 100 delegate votes.
While I hope to edit and post the full video from the Barnes-Shirley colloquy within the next few days, there was one snippet that stood out and deserves special attention.
Asked by Barnes why he refers in the book to Reagan as the “sometime leader of the conservative movement,” Shirley replied that the independent-minded Reagan often broke with the mainstream of the movement on certain issues.
He gave the example of the 1978 initiative in California, Proposition 6 (better known as the “Briggs Amendment,” named for its principal sponsor, state Senator John Briggs, which aimed to prohibit gay people from serving as teachers or staff members in government schools. Reagan opposed the measure, and Briggs gave Reagan full credit or, from Briggs’ point of view, blame for the proposition’s defeat at the polls. (Shirley says the defeat was overwhelming, 57 percent to 43 percent.) Reagan was an ally of iconic gay politician Harvey Milk in opposing the Briggs Amendment. Reagan’s role in defeating the Briggs Amendment is mentioned in the award-winning biopic, Milk.
Shirley also referred in his remarks to the 1975 Reason magazine interview in which Reagan argued that libertarianism is the core of conservatism. By coincidence, I cited that interview just a few days ago in my post about the Mount Vernon Statement (and how it is inferior to the 50-year-old Sharon Statement).
Here is one minute and thirty seconds of Craig Shirley talking about Ronald Reagan, the libertarian:
The Lord Jesus Christ is, in all areas of life, the First, True Libertarian!
Christian libertarianism is a term used by people to describe the synthesis of their Christian beliefs with their libertarian political philosophy. It is also a political philosophy in itself that has its roots in libertarianism and it is a political ideology to the extent that Christian libertarians promote their cause to others and join together as a movement.
In general, Christian libertarians believe that Christians should not use government as a tool to control others’ moral behavior or to initiate the use of force against others. They further believe these principles are supported by Christ’s teaching and by the Bible.
The Lord Jesus Christ First, True Libertarian; His Coming Most Important “Political” Event In History
“And Jesus answering said unto them, Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s. And they marvelled at him.” — Mark 12:17.
God’s Word tells us that if the Son makes us free, we “shall be free indeed” (John 8:36) — meaning, among other things, at liberty from sin.
We are told of “the glorious liberty of the children of God” (Romans 8:21).
We are told that “where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” (II Corinthians 3:17).
We are told to “stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free…” (Galatians 5:1). And we are told of Christ’s “perfect law of liberty” (James 1:25).
Reviewing Hannity’s new book, Conservative Victory, the Charleston City Paper’s Chris Haire writes: “Hannity has nothing but disdain for the Tea Party’s No. 1 goal: to vote all the bums out, Democrat and Republican alike. Hannity wants to keep those bums in power, as long as they’re members of the GOP and their last name isn’t Paul… Even worse, like many of his talk radio and Fox News brethren, Hannity pays lip service to the Tea Party movement, but only for so long. For the talking head, there’s nothing more disastrous that could happen to the GOP than for the Tea Party to become a true force within the Republican Party.” Hannity’s partisanship and Napolitano’s principle paint a stark-and new-contrast for FOX’s conservative audience. Hannity closes his radio show each day promising a “conservative” line-up of regulars like Karl Rove and Mitt Romney, where these men do little more than nitpick Democrats and excuse Republicans. Napolitano closed his program’s television debut with the following: “The American public needs to know and understand that the government that serves best is the one that serves less.”
Related Previous Posts:
The Rise and Fall of Liberty (Ludwig von Mises Institute)
“Review of Huebert’s Libertarianism Today” Abstract: Libertarianism Today, by Jacob Huebert (Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger, 2010), is an excellent introduction to libertarianism.
“Rand, Rothbard, and Rights Reconsidered” Abstract: This paper examines rights and the protection of rights from both the minarchist and the anarchist perspectives.
Photo Credits: Photobucket Libertarian Pictures – end