Libertarianism is Americanism!
Libertarianism provides an effective riposte to mushy, confiscatory, feel-good liberalism. Debate a liberal from a conservative point of view and your basic argument is "my statism is better than your statism." Both ideologies work at the "Tyranny" end of the Liberty - Tyranny continuum. Libertarianism is a scary area for many--inaccessible and filled with robot-like logicians and pot smoking, anti-war atheists. This is an inaccurate stereotype. Libertarianism accords with our founding principles much more so than Republicanism or Conservatism.
The down side. The logical end of libertarian political philosophy is anarchy. You will often see the term anarcho-libertarianism. Back in the late 1800's and early 1900's, anarcho-syndicalists were all the rage; President McKinley was assassinated by one. There are still adherents around today. There is also the Nietzschean ubermench morality of Ayn Rand. Her books have done much good in the world, but many Christian readers would be shocked and disoriented by a descent into her atheistic Objectivist Philosophy
There are many strains to libertarianism, just as there are to liberalism and conservatism, so don't let the more hardcore stuff scare you. Simply put, libertarians believe we have the right to do whatever we want with our property (which includes our bodies) as long as we cause no harm to others.
Why conservatives don't like libertarianism: Anti-war, but not in a "Bush is Hitler!" screamer way. Rather in a "leave other people alone and don't waste taxpayer money on foreign adventures" kind of way. Neutral on moral issues like abortion, homosexuality, prostitution, and drug use, to the point of advocating abolishing all "blue laws" that prohibit these activities by consenting adults. Libertarians are not anti-God or anti-religion, they just believe these issues should be left to the churches and individuals and that they should not be pushed by the government.
See: Conservatism vs. Libertarianism
Why liberals don't like libertarianism: Libertarians advocate abolishing all social programs and leaving it up to private charity and personal choice (create your own retirement fund!). They are very pro-free trade and adamantly opposed to protectionism. No tariffs or import barriers. Libertarians are for true free market capitalism. No crony capitalism where the party in power pushes "green jobs," windmills and other such nonsense. Schumpeter's creative destruction rules the day, regardless of how many people are thrown out of work. Libertarians are for small government and a narrow reading of the constitution--no stretching clauses out of shape so progressive do-gooders can ply their social experiments on the public.
If you're new to libertarianism, start with the Reason Magazine link.
- Ludwig Von Mises Institute - Libertarian thought and Austrian School economics. Scholarly but understandable. This is a gold mine of intellectual thought.
- The Cato Institute- The Preeminent libertarian think tank
- Reason Magazine Interesting articles by John Stossel, Drew Carey and other libertarian columnists. Start here if you're new to libertarianism.
- Libertarianism.com - A very good, friendly and accessible gateway to libertarianism
- Libertarian.com - A serious, hard core libertarian site.
- Lew Rockwell - A libertarian blog
- Key Concepts of Libertarianism - Short and useful CATO article by author David Boaz
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