Portal:Libertarianism

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Portal:Libertarianism

Introduction

Libertarianism (from Latin: libertas, meaning "freedom") is a collection of political philosophies and movements that uphold liberty as a core principle. Libertarians seek to maximize political freedom and autonomy, emphasizing freedom of choice, voluntary association, and individual judgment. Libertarians share a skepticism of authority and state power, but they diverge on the scope of their opposition to existing political and economic systems. Various schools of libertarian thought offer a range of views regarding the legitimate functions of state and private power, often calling for the restriction or dissolution of coercive social institutions.

Traditionally, libertarianism was a term for a form of left-wing politics; such left-libertarian ideologies seek to abolish capitalism and private ownership of the means of production, or else to restrict their purview or effects, in favor of common or cooperative ownership and management, viewing private property as a barrier to freedom and liberty. In the United States, modern right-libertarian ideologies, such as minarchism and anarcho-capitalism, co-opted the term in the mid-20th century to instead advocate laissez-faire capitalism and strong private property rights, such as in land, infrastructure, and natural resources.

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Classical liberalism is a political philosophy committed to the ideal of limited government and liberty of individuals, including freedom of religion, speech, press, assembly and free markets.

Classical liberalism developed in the 19th century in Western Europe and the Americas. Although classical liberalism built on ideas that had already developed by the end of the 18th century, it advocated a specific kind of society, government and public policy required as a result of the Industrial Revolution and urbanization. Notable individuals who have contributed to classical liberalism include Jean-Baptiste Say, Thomas Malthus and David Ricardo. It drew on the economics of Adam Smith, a psychological understanding of individual liberty, natural law and utilitarianism and a belief in progress. Classical liberals established political parties that were called "Liberal", although in the United States classical liberalism came to dominate both existing major political parties. There was a revival of interest in classical liberalism in the 20th century led by Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman.

In the late 19th century, classical liberalism developed into neo-classical liberalism, which argued for government to be as small as possible in order to allow the exercise of individual freedom. In its most extreme form, it advocated social Darwinism. Right-libertarianism is a modern form of neo-classical liberalism. The term "classical liberalism" was applied in retrospect to distinguish earlier 19th-century liberalism from the newer social liberalism. Classical liberalism is also sometimes used to refer to all forms of liberalism before the 20th century whereas some American conservatives and libertarians use it to describe their belief in the primacy of economic freedom and minimal government. However, it is not always clear which meaning is intended.

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I remember the occasion when a fellow graduate student at Columbia from Sweden wanted to take me downtown to a restaurant for a Swedish meal and introduced me to the Swedish drink aquavit. This was a restaurant at which this Swedish fellow had been getting aquavit all during Prohibition; they had been selling it to him. And this was just after the repeal of Prohibition. We went there and he asked them for some aquavit. They said, "Oh, no, we haven't gotten our license yet." And finally, he talked to them in Swedish and persuaded them to take us into the back where they gave us a glass of aquavit apiece. Now that shows the absurdity of it.

Prohibition was repealed in 1933 when I was 21 years old, so was a teenager during most of Prohibition. Alcohol was readily available. Bootlegging was common. Any idea that alcohol prohibition was keeping people from drinking was absurd. There were speakeasies all over the place. But more than that. We had this spectacle of Al Capone, of the hijackings, of the gang wars...

Anybody with two eyes could see that this was a bad deal, that you were doing more harm than good. In addition, I became an economist. And as an economist, I came to recognize the importance of markets and of free choice and of consumer sovereignty and came to discover the harm that was done when you interfered with them. The laws against drugs were passed in 1914, but there was no very great enforcement of it.

— Milton Friedman (1912–2006)
America's Drug Forum (1991)

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Selected biography

Murray Newton Rothbard
Murray Newton Rothbard was an American economist of the Austrian School who helped define modern libertarianism and founded a form of free market anarchism he termed "anarcho-capitalism".

An individualist anarchist of the Austrian School of economics, Rothbard associated with the Objectivists in his early thirties before allying with the New Left in the 1960s and eventually joining the radical caucus of the Libertarian Party. In the course of his life, Rothbard was associated with a number of political thinkers and movements. During the early 1950s, he studied under the Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises along with George Reisman. He then began working for the William Volker Fund. During the late 1950s, Rothbard was an associate of Ayn Rand and Nathaniel Branden, a relationship later lampooned in his unpublished play Mozart Was a Red. In the late 1960s, Rothbard advocated an alliance with the New Left anti-war movement on the grounds that the conservative movement had been completely subsumed by the statist establishment.

However, Rothbard later criticized the New Left for not truly being against the draft and supporting a "People's Republic" style draft. It was during this phase that he associated with Karl Hess and founded Left and Right: A Journal of Libertarian Thought with Leonard Liggio and George Resch, which existed from 1965 to 1968. From 1969 to 1984, he edited The Libertarian Forum, also initially with Hess (although Hess' involvement ended in 1971). In 1977, he established the Journal of Libertarian Studies, which he edited until his death in 1995.

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