Monday, October 19, 2009


I was asked this weekend what libertarianism actually is, and it's difficult to answer briefly. One definition I found on the internet is:

Libertarians support maximum liberty in both personal and economic matters. They advocate a much smaller government; one that is limited to protecting individuals from coercion and violence. Libertarians tend to embrace individual responsibility, oppose government bureaucracy and taxes, promote private charity, tolerate diverse lifestyles, support the free market, and defend civil liberties.

Here is a link to a test on the same website. Try it and, albeit rather simplistically, you will get an idea if you are libertarian or not.

There are many strands to libertarianism, as there are with most philosophies. The side bar has links to some libertarian blogs and websites such as the Libertarian Alliance, the Ayn Rand Institute and the Adam Smith Institute.

Here is a link to an essay entitled Classical Liberalism v Modern Liberalism and Modern Conservatism. Libertarianism has its roots in classical liberalism. Libertarians believe that modern 'liberals', such as the Liberal Deemocrats, have corrupted classical liberalism beyond recognition. My view is that the Lib Dems are nearer to social democrats than classical liberals.

I was then asked how libertarianism differs from the liberalism that many people espouse today. I would say that many 'liberals' today are not liberal. I would always be cautious of people who describe themselves as 'liberal' as I would any country that plonks the word 'democratic' in its name, both words are terribly abused.

Libertarians believe in the maximum freedom and individual liberty. Free speech means free speech, not 'free speech as long as I approve'. Liberals think they know what's best for you, libertarians let you decide what is best for you.

For example Nick Griffin of the BNP is to appear on BBC Question Time this week. The libertarian approach would be to allow him on, many 'liberals' want him banning. Do the 'liberals' actually believe that the public, if exposed to Nick Griffin, will all suddenly want to rush to join the BNP? Do they think that we will all be mortally offended and fall on our swords if we hear Nick Griffin speak? If so then that's democracy. I prefer to think that most people will shun the BNP, let them be condemned by their own words rather than the illiberal actions of 'liberals'.

More and more people are seeing the dangers to their freedom and liberties from the ever expanding nanny state, and there is now a Libertarian Party in the UK. Here is the introduction to the Libertarian Party website:

The Libertarian Party of the United Kingdom aim to take the cynicism out of British politics, by taking the politicians out of your everyday life.

Libertarians believe in individual liberty, personal responsibility, and freedom from government—on all issues at all times. We don't say government is too big in one area, but then in another area push for a law to force people to do what we want. We believe in individual liberty, personal responsibility, and freedom from government—on all issues at all times.

Let's end on a question. Who would you prefer to run your life, the state (politicians and bureaucrats) or yourself?

Here endeth the lesson.


Beaman said...

I guess I am a Libertarian going by the definitions you have provided. I've never really considered the label before. In many ways, it seems similar to the basic tenants of classic Neoconservatism as described by Irving Kristol.

Off to read the links you've provided.

Edward Beaman said...

Sorry haha. I just remembered your name is also Beaman so I just want to declare that the above comment is mine and not Gregg's.

Gregg's Blog said...

Good to hear from you Edward. Saturday night on Twitter was fun wasn't it?

Labels can be a pain can't they? But necessary sadly, especially when not wanting to be mixed up with Liberal-Fascists.

Greg L-W. said...


Gregg's Blog said...
Saturday night on Twitter was fun wasn't it?

Remember when you used to go out on a Saturday night!!

'Fun' on Twitter!!!!

Greg L-W.

Gregg's Blog said...

Indeed Greg, age is a terrible thing!!!