Today, I finally acknowledged publicly what I have been knowing for sometime that I am no longer a libertarian. For awhile, I was feeling like I did not fit in any longer and felt alienated.
My own libertarianism was of a more moderate strain. I have no desire to privatize the roads, completely abolish the welfare state, abolish the military, privatize the police, and other anarchist fantasies. I believe in a strong, but limited government to maintain order, protect against external threats, enforce the laws and settle disputes, and provide the basic infrastructure the free market cannot provide. I continue to believe that free markets are preferable to central planning and do provide for greater prosperity for most people, although I do believe in a safety net for those who are inevitably the losers in capitalism, which I do not believe the private sector can provide on its own. Finally, I believe in a “live and let live” approach from the state as to how people live their lives, as long as they do not harm others. These beliefs have not changed.
However, for a few reasons I no longer feel comfortable calling myself a libertarian.
1)Libertarianism leads inevitably to anarchism. I agree with Thoughts on Liberty’s Rachel Burger that libertarianism eventually leads to anarchy and anarchy is quickly becoming the predominant strain in libertarianism. Organizations such as the Mises Institute, the Center For A Stateless Society, Students for Liberty, and the Foundation For Economic Education are promoting anarchy. I believe that a limited government is necessary to protect individual liberty and property. An armed mob is as coercive as any government agency and there must be a coercive power to protect life, liberty, and property from those who do not accept the social contract.
2) The infighting and dogmatism. Left-libertarians call right-libertarians racists, sexists, and homophobes and right-libertarians call left-libertarians communists. Both agree the other has to go. The differences between the two are becoming irreconcilable. In addition there is the unwillingness to tolerate opposing views in the movement. Such petty arguments are not conducive to a big tent or to a reality based approach to politics.
3) Making libertarianism into a cultural and not just a political ideology. One of the appeals of libertarianism is that anyone can support liberty, regardless of their cultural and moral views. All that is to be agreed to is that they would agree to not use the state to impose their morality. Unfortunately, that is no longer good enough. I outgrew utopian nonsense in elementary school.
I am a classical liberal which is the tree both libertarianism and American conservatism are spawned from. It is because of this common ancestry that I promote the conservatarian viewpoint. I still believe in limited government, the rule of law, private property rights, individual liberties, and free markets and that has not changed. I still consider myself a part of the broader liberty movement and I will stand up for liberty with anyone else who loves liberty, regardless of the label they give themselves.
I will fight for liberty alongside libertarians, however I will not fight for liberty as a libertarian.