A good review of a new book highlighting the influence of libertarian thought in American politics up until FDR, or perhaps 1913. As expected, from the Wall Street Journal. Would be nice to note the role bloggers and open-source programming/creativity may play in expanding libertarian beliefs and policy.

The Libertarian Influence
Tagged on:

2 thoughts on “The Libertarian Influence

  • This is the section that I think really sums up simulatneously my feelings on the importance and limitations of Libertarianism:

    “…Mr. Doherty is candid enough to note that not every individualist he sketches consistently respected the rights of individuals. Textile baron Roger Milliken, for instance, required his executives to attend a libertarian “college” in the Rockies but also lobbied for tariffs to protect his products. And other libertarians showed a certain want of personal character. LSD guru Timothy Leary raised money for Libertarian Party candidates but didn’t exercise the integrity or personal responsibility he himself said must accompany freedom. Ayn Rand sold millions of copies of her novels but treated her acolytes abominably and “ended up kicking out of her life pretty much everybody.”

    Inevitably–as with any constellation of like-minded people–there is squabbling and the petty search for heretics. But there is also, Mr. Doherty shows, the great work of fertile, unorthodox minds. Harvard philosopher Robert Nozick abandoned the New Left when he realized capitalism worked best but acknowledged feeling for a while that “only bad people would think so.” Hayek, a supreme rationalist, ended his life believing that “a successful free society will always be in a large measure a tradition-bound society.” He even praised religion for encouraging restraint and long-term thinking “under circumstances where everyone believes that God will punish all for the sins of some.””

  • Personally, I’m a sort of “half-libertarian”: I’m a big fan of low taxes and general economic freedom, but also realize the need for a strong defense, and occasionally a forward strategy. Since wars are “irrational” (although often quite logical), many libertarians heads explode when confronted with the concept of implacable enemies that are attacking you and must be destroyed.

    Sadly, they often retreat into the same it’s-all-about-us moonbattery so common on the Left: “if we weren’t so bad, they’d leave us alone”. They forget that the political liberty and free trade they promote is itself highly disruptive, particularly to many of the world’s nastier people.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *