What exactly is the Libtertarian movement?
The New York Times magazine had an interesting piece on Libertarians and posed the question “has their time arrived?” Right now, Libertarian ideology is the fastest growing ideology out there. I word searched the term Libertarian on Reddit and found it has 145,754 threads, whereas Anarchism has 5,922 and Marxism has 563 sub-Reddits. Compared to the main two political parties where Republicans (17694 hits) and Democrats (12118 hits) enjoy their political power, Libertarian ideology and group-thought has become ravenously infectious on the Internet.
What is being a Libertarian?
Libertarian ideology is steeped in the idea that government is too big, too dumb and too inefficient to do anything correctly. So on that pretext, they wish for less government and less taxes. Furthermore, Libertarians are, at the very least, skeptical of any regulation in any form. They believe the more liberty and freedom you have, the better your life will be. The basic social policy of a majority, but not all, Libertarians can be simply stated as “less is more.”
There is also an almost religious belief in self-autonomy. That is to say that an individual and individual’s rights are more important than the collective mass of people and the State. A key feature of Libertarian idealism is that individuality is the main motor of society, as illustrated in the book “Atlas Shrugged.” One person can make a difference, one person can move a mountain and a person’s own will cannot be constrained, obstructed or coerced by any private citizen or agent of the State.
They proclaim the same ideals in economics. They believe that free markets are rational and only through an unregulated economy can you have the best distribution of resources. Again, less taxes and less regulation is their prescription for a sluggish economy or for that matter any economic situation. They want as little State involvement in both monetary and fiscal matters as possible.
Talk to any Libertarian and the following topics of conversation are sure to come up: The drug war, marijuana, the Federal Reserve, war, guns, taxes, regulation, civil unions and so on.
Where do these ideas and beliefs come from?
To every ideology, there is a philosophical underpinning. Libertarianism is no different in this regard. The main philosopher responsible for Libertarian philosophy is Ayn Rand and, more specifically, Objectivism. Objectivism is the idea that in a society, a person only needs to be interested in his own personal happiness or “rational self-interest” to operate his life. Furthermore, the only acceptable socioeconomic order is a creative Capitalism that is totally unrestrained by the State, also known as laissez-faire Capitalism.
The more interesting aspect of the Libertarians is the strange bedfellow of Anarchists. As the Libertarian would say, the best government is one that governs the least. An Anarchist would say the best type of government is the government that doesn’t govern. An Anarchist has a more radical approach to dissolving the State versus the Libertarian who only wishes for a severely limited government.
An Anarchist would set the fire and the Libertarian would enjoy the smell of the smoke.
Another interesting component to Libertarians is their radical Liberalism. Not small “L” liberal as in Democrats but the big “L.” Liberal ideology and philosophy as written by John Locke. In fact, Libertarian thought really leans upon ideas that come out of the Enlightenment or Age of Reason. The Enlightenment was the attempt of people to use logic and science as a way to view and understand the world instead of superstition and religious dogmas. This is where Atheism comes into play and, interestingly enough, a good portion of Libertarians are Atheist as many of the Founding Fathers were.
Where is the Libertarian movement going?
The Libertarian movement is gathering steam. With politicians like Ron and Rand Paul on the national stage, Libertarians have been given a national voice and identity. On top of that, the Internet has been the Miracle-Gro of the so–called grass roots activism of Libertarians. Google the word Libertarian and the cornucopia of websites devoted to their cause is abundant. Even in Rhode Island there is a Libertarian radio show, a Libertarian running for Lieutenant Governor, and an ever growing Rhode Island Libertarian Party.
They have the attraction and appeal of a brand new and shiny iPad. The question is, will that iPad only work for five minutes? Do we have any proof that Libertarian idealism can actually work or is this simply the political feel-good religion of our day?