On August 7, Robert Draper (New York Times) asked: “Has the ‘Libertarian Moment’ Finally Arrived?” One excerpt: Libertarians, who long have relished their role as acerbic sideline critics of American political theater, now find themselves and their movement thrust into the middle of it. For decades their ideas have had serious backing financially (most prominently … Continue reading In Search of the Libertarian Moment
The always entertaining P.J. O’Rourke has some reflections on the recent FreedomFest in Las Vegas (DailyBeast). Much of the piece is good fun (as one might expect). But O’Rourke does end with an important question that has bedeviled libertarians for quite some time: how do you make the leap to mass politics? In O’Rourke’s words: … Continue reading Let Us All Not Get Together!
Alright, straw men... I guess I have been an academic for too long. Elizabeth Nolan Brown (Reason) observes that many journalists who write about libertarianism are in the business of constructing straw men. They simply do not feel the slightest need to do the kind of research necessary to make credible statements: Not only do … Continue reading Persons of Straw
After weeks of media obsession with Senator Cruz, the GOP-forced government shutdown, and the impact on public opinion, the Obama administration’s use of drones and the NSA’s vast surveillance efforts are once again gaining some space above the fold. The Washington Post has an interesting piece on the civilian casualties from drone attacks, reviewing the recent … Continue reading A Return to Drones and NSA Surveillance?
On Saturday I moved with my family to Lebanon, New Hampshire. I am teaching for a year in the Government Department at Dartmouth College. Although my reasons for leaving my tenure-track job at Buffalo were several, I decided last year to apply almost exclusively to jobs in New England so that I could fulfill (early) … Continue reading Free State or Bust
The Free State Project's Porcupine Freedom Festival was last week, and the media mentions have been trickling in. Unfortunately, I was not able to go due to scheduling conflicts, but the organizers claim, on the basis of 1,500 paid registrants, that over 1,700 people attended (including children). That makes it the biggest PorcFest ever, unsurprising … Continue reading PorcFest Roundup
I have great respect and (in many cases) affection for my friends at Bleeding Hearts Libertarians. But I am not a bleeding heart libertarian, and from the outset I have resisted its siren song, mostly over its endorsement of “social justice” as a moral and/or political ideal. Unlike Hayek, I do not think the concept … Continue reading Social justice as an emergent property
Last time I was here, I had a lot of fun teasing American libertarian readers, at least until the earthquake brought my guest blogging to an abrupt halt. Support for liberty is a lot like support for GMO-free food. If you survey people, they'll tell you how much they love it. They might even tell … Continue reading Now, where was I when we were so rudely interrupted?
The media has covered Paul’s CPAC address by playing a simple sound byte: “The GOP of old has grown stale and moss-covered. I don’t think we need to name any names here, do we?” Yes, that is in the speech, but there is much more. You can read the full transcript here. A few selections: … Continue reading Rand Paul at CPAC
One of the regular Pileus bloggers asked me to elaborate on a claim I made briefly in my earlier discussion of BHL. I had said "there is an intra-libertarian debate [that it is useful to have about philosophical justification: is a system of individual rights ultimately justified because it accrues the best results for the … Continue reading In which I overstay my welcome
One of the most significant developments lately in terms of framing libertarianism has been the advent of the “Bleeding-Heart Libertarian” blog. I know most of the contributors personally (and I’m electronically-acquainted with all of them), and there’s not one I don’t respect. Their mission statement says they are “libertarians who believe that addressing the needs … Continue reading Do we read Shakespeare because it’s good or because it’s historically significant?
Robert Farley of the University of Kentucky and Lawyers, Guns, and Money had a "diavlog" with me on bloggingheads.tv. We covered Pileus, the Conor Friedersdorf essay on why he can't vote for Obama, libertarianism and foreign policy, and secessionism. This was my bloggingheads debut, and we hope to do more of these in the future. … Continue reading My Bloggingheads Conversation with Robert Farley
At Bleeding Heart Libertarians, Jason Brennan takes up the question of which country is most libertarian and lodges a complaint against global "economic freedom" indices: This index may understate how anti-libertarian the United States is. After all, the index penalizes countries if their governments spend large amounts on social insurance. Yet classical liberals and neoclassical … Continue reading The Social Insurance State is the Administrative State
Political libertarians are a motley lot in terms of their moral philosophies. There are three dominant strands - utilitarians like Milton Friedman, deontologists like Robert Nozick, and teleologists like Ayn Rand - but I've also met egoists, postmodernists, and Rawls-style egalitarian consequentialists. In debates over moral foundations, Randians often ally themselves with the deontologists in … Continue reading Moral Philosophy & Dogmatism
I agreed with the first half of Jessica Flanigan's essay on "A Feminist Libertarian Dilemma," but then nearly choked on my invisible coffee when I read this: Bleeding heart libertarianism doesn’t rule out public policies that help women with families succeed in the workforce, like affordable public childcare, subsidized family leave, elder care, or a … Continue reading Libertarian Welfare Statism
I've recently returned from the New Hampshire Liberty Forum, held February 23-26 in Nashua, NH and sponsored by the Free State Project. The two evening keynote speakers were libertarian free-range farmer Joel Salatin and investor and recent U.S. Senate candidate Peter Schiff. In addition, session speakers included school-choice economist Angela Dills, former Libertarian Pennsylvania gubernatorial … Continue reading NH Liberty Forum Report
If one were to base one's world view on the MSM coverage of the Occupy movement, one would have to conclude that a growing percentage of Americans fear big business and are looking to the government for a solution. The new Gallup Poll suggests otherwise. According to the poll, "the 64% of Americans who say big … Continue reading Fear of Big Government
Libertarianism.org - Finally! A non-technical, one-stop shop for the major ideas in the philosophical tradition of liberty. Cato Institute project. Governance Without a State: Policies and Politics in Areas of Limited Statehood (Columbia UP) - File under "order in anarchy." Mostly European scholars giving somewhat different takes than you get with the UK-US "economics of … Continue reading Briefly Noted
That's from the lede of a new story in Mother Jones about the Free State Project, entitled "City on a Quill." Mother Jones is definitely coming from the left, but the story is meritoriously free of those lazy, paranoid arguments ad Kochum that we've seen about Free Staters from The Nation (no, I'm not going … Continue reading “A decade ago, libertarian activists… hatched a crazy plan to take over New Hampshire… It’s kind of working.”