The Golem Speaks

What Libertarianism Isn't

Published by Peter Mains on June 28, 2010 at 08:21 PM

Someone asked me yesterday about libertarianism. There are various definitions out there, and I'm not going to recite them here. Suffice to say, the impression that libertarians are against "all government" is the kind of thing that doesn't help us. Someone who is opposed to all government is an anarchist.

Murray Rothbard is sometimes described as both an anarchist and a libertarian, but even he admits that he is "simply smuggling the state back into society in another form." As I understand it, it's an odd sort of anarchism, where you break down the current government and wait for society to reform those institutions that we think of as government. So, anarchism in that sense is merely radicalism and opposition to our current form of government.

Ayn Rand, though, was very critical of anarchism. I would take her word over Rothbard's. My impression is that Murray Rothbard seems to have a lot of interesting ideas, but I've always found him far less clear in his thinking than Ayn Rand. Then again, I've never read any of his books, whereas I've read several of Rand's. That may bias me.

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