Libertarian conservatism

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Libertarian conservatism is a conservative political philosophy and ideology that combines right-libertarian politics and conservative values. Libertarian conservatives' first value is negative liberty to achieve socially and culturally conservative ends. They reject liberal social engineering.[1] Frank Meyer, a co-founder of National Review has called this combination fusionism.[2][3] In political science, the term is used to refer to ideologies that combine the advocacy of economic principles, such as fiscal discipline, respect for contracts, defense of private property and free markets[4] and the classical conservative stress on self-help and freedom of choice under a laissez-faire capitalist society with social tenets such as the importance of religion, and the value of traditional morality[5] through a framework of limited, constitutional, representative government.[6]

Freedom and Virtue: The Conservative/Libertarian Debate, edited by George W. Carey, contains essays which describe "the tension between liberty and morality" as "the main fault line dividing the two philosophies."[7]

Nelson Hultberg wrote that there is "philosophical common ground" between libertarians and conservatives. "The true conservative movement was, from the start, a blend of political libertarianism, cultural conservatism, and non-interventionism abroad bequeathed to us via the Founding Fathers." He said that such libertarian conservatism was "hijacked" by neoconservatism, "by the very enemies it was formed to fight – Fabians, New Dealers, welfarists, progressives, globalists, interventionists, militarists, nation builders, and all the rest of the collectivist ilk that was assiduously working to destroy the Founders' Republic of States."[8]

Thomas DiLorenzo wrote that libertarian/conservative constitutionalists believe that the way to limit government is to enforce the United States Constitution. However, DiLorenzo criticized them, writing, "The fatal flaw in the thinking of the libertarian/conservative constitutionalists stems from their unawareness or willful ignorance of how the founders themselves believed the Constitution could be enforced: by the citizens of the free, independent, and sovereign states, not the federal judiciary." He wrote that the powers accrued to the federal government during the American Civil War overthrew the Constitution of 1787.[9]

In the 1990s Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr., Murray Rothbard and others described their views as paleolibertarianism. They continued libertarian opposition to "all forms of government intervention – economic, cultural, social, international" but also upholding cultural conservatism in social thought and behavior. They opposed a licentious libertarianism which advocated "freedom from bourgeois morality, and social authority."[10] Rockwell later stated that they dropped that self-description because people confused it with paleoconservatism which they rejected.[11][12]

Laurence M. Vance wrote: "Some libertarians consider libertarianism to be a lifestyle rather than a political philosophy... They apparently don’t know the difference between libertarianism and libertinism.[13] However, Edward Feser emphasized that libertarianism does not require individuals to reject traditional conservative values.[2]

Friedrich Hayek, Ludwig von Mises, Milton Friedman and Albert Jay Nock have been described as libertarian conservatives.[1] Former United States Congressman Ron Paul,[14] and his son, United States Senator Rand Paul, have been described as combining libertarian and conservative "small government" ideas and showing how the Constitution defends the individual and most libertarian views.

In 1975, Ronald Reagan stated, "I believe the very heart and soul of conservatism is libertarianism." Some libertarians criticized Reagan for un-libertarian policy positions.[15]

See also



  1. 1.0 1.1 J. Richard Piper, Ideologies and Institutions: American Conservative and Liberal Governance Prescriptions Since 1933, Rowman & Littlefield, 1997, p 110-111, ISBN 0847684598, 9780847684595
  2. 2.0 2.1 Edward Feser, What Libertarianism Isn’t, Lew, December 22, 2001.
  3. Ralph Raico, Is Libertarianism Amoral?, New Individualist Review, Volume 3, Number 3, Fall 1964, 29-36; republished by Ludwig von Mises Institute, April 4, 2005.
  4. Johnston, Larry: Politics: An Introduction to the Modern Democratic State. University of Toronto Press, 2007. p.154-156
  5. Johnston, Larry: Politics: An Introduction to the Modern Democratic State. University of Toronto Press, 2007. p.154
  6. Johnston, Larry: Politics: An Introduction to the Modern Democratic State. University of Toronto Press, 2007, p. 154-155
  7. George W. Carey (Editor), Freedom & Virtue: The Conservative Libertarian Debate, Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 1998. ISBN 1-882926-19-6
  8. Nelson Hultberg, True Conservatism vs. Neo-Conservatism, Americans for a Free Republic web site, December 20, 2006
  9. DiLorenzo, Thomas. "Constitutional Futility". Retrieved 2008-07-02.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr. "The Case for Paleo-libertarianism" in Liberty, January 1990, 34-38.
  11. Johnsson, Kenny. "Do You Consider Yourself a Libertarian?". Retrieved 2008-07-02.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. Rockwell, Llewellyn H. "What I Learned From Paleoism". Retrieved 2008-07-02.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. Vance, Laurence (January 29, 2008). "Is Ron Paul Wrong on Abortion?". Retrieved 2008-07-01.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. Mafaldo, Lucas. "The Conservative Case for Ron Paul". Retrieved 2008-07-02.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. Inside Ronald Reagan, a Reason magazine interview with Ronald Reagan, July 1975.

External links