The definition of Libertarianism is, of course, in the eye of a beholder since there really is no definition that will fit everybody’s tight box. The Webster dictionary defines a Libertarian as a person who advocates liberty, especially with regard to thought or conduct. I can point out to the main themes that summarize libertarian streaks and tendencies:
1. Limited Federal Government that stays within the confines of the Constitution.
3. Belief that the only legitimate purpose of a government is to protect the rights of its citizens.
While the nineteenth-century anarchists shared the libertarians dislike of government, they went further and believed that they could create a world with no government at all; but they also believed it would be a socialist world. Again, think of the hippie communes of the sixties or the nineteenth-century farm communes in various parts of the US: they were all socialist in nature; the only difference between the communes and the Soviet Union was that there was no one to coerce their members into behaving according to the strict precepts of Marxism. Consequently most of them failed after a few years, because of course, as we know, genuine socialism, voluntary or otherwise, never works. The nineteenth-century anarchists really believed that it was only the state, controlled by the capitalists, that prevented the people from voluntarily forming socialist communes in both industry and agriculture. Without government, socialism would be the natural result. You can’t get much more naïve than that! That’s why the libertarian anarchists of today prefer to call themselves “anarcho-capitalists,” to distinguish themselves from the socialist anarchists (who still exist, believe it or not!). As much as the anarcho-capitalist ideal appeals to some, I think it is just as unworkable as the socialist-anarchist paradise of the nineteenth century. Unfortunately, some sort of state is still necessary to keep the bad guys in line. A natural and genuine anarchy is what you have in Somalia. Not exactly a place even the anarcho-capitalists are rushing to emmigrate to.
Why do I like Libertarians?
I will answer with the wise words of Barry Goldwater in 1964: “Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. And moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.” A vivid opposite to the liberal preference: “Moderation in the pursuit of vice is no virtue.”
Will the Libertarians win this forthcoming or some other election? Most likely not. By their very nature libertarians are not in agreement as to how to pursue a political structure that would be practical in today’s society. People in general are too far gone down the “socialist” route and will not consider a society that is not controlled and organized by a strong central Government. However, I think that there is a libertarian streak in a majority of voting population and this may play a role in the upcoming election.
From our Washington corespondent