STIGMERGY: The C4SS Blog
Initial Thoughts On Libertarianism Today

Jacob Huebert has penned a very informative introductory text to libertarian philosophy called Libertarianism Today. It was a pleasure to read, but this left-libertarian market anarchist has some qualms to raise. A detailed review is in the works, so this will be a brief exploration. Quotations from the book will be provided for the reader’s edification. The reader is encouraged to read the whole book.

On pg.39; Huebert states:

Some libertarians argue that libertarianism is not just about property rights and the non-aggression principle, but requires promotion of certain liberal social values.

This left-libertarian market anarchist supports a thick approach to libertarianism. One that emphaizies a broad conception of liberty requiring the promotion of liberal cultural values. The dialectical libertarian model of Chris Matthew Sciabarra serves as an inspiration for this too. The book never mentions thick and dialectical libertarianism. It briefly mentions left-libertarianism, but the coverage is not too extensive. In fairness to the author; the book is intended as an introductory text and broad overview. Not a comprehensive encyclopedia of libertarian thought. 

These thinker’s liberal social views may or may not have merit, but they are not part of libertarianism per se. Again, libertarianism itself is compatible with both liberal and conservative social values.

Is it really? Insofar as conservative social values tend to promote collectivist conformity, deference to traditional or established authority, or self-sacrificial dutifulness, there is a conflict with the individualistic orientation of libertarianism. Implicit in the libertarian conception of individual rights and non-aggression is a liberal sensibility. A society with the conservative social values mentioned above is less likely to sustain it.

On pg.39 to 40; Huebert goes on to say:

To suggest otherwise is an ideological mistake and probably also a strategic mistake. It redefines libertarianism to mean something it has never meant to most modern libertarians, and it narrows the audience for libertarianism to only those people who share this liberal worldview. For many people, the beauty of libertarianism is that it lets everyone pursue their values, as long as they do not feel a need to force their views on the rest of the world.

Redefinition of a paradigm or fundamental change is sometimes necessary to make ideological progress. The subjective comfort of most modern libertarians matters less than pinning down a proper conception of liberty. An abandonment of this liberal worldview could have serious consequences for marginalized populations that run afoul of traditional social norms. It’s also not true that only those with a liberal worldview will then be enticed by libertartarianism. Open minded conservatives who are convinced to challenge their beliefs could still find a reason to jump on board.

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