Print

Libertarianism Still Doesn't Exist….

|

…to certain elements of the elite media, despite it being, you know, completely to blame for the Current Crisis.

In a profile of billionaire philanthropist David Koch in its November issue, Conde Nast's Portfolio focuses mostly on Koch's recent spate of more standard philanthropic efforts–arts institutions, universities and the like. (It also spends a lot of time on the dramatic plane crash he survived in 1991, and his so-far winning fight with prostate cancer.)

But it does allude to Koch's longer history of political philanthopy as well. Despite the fact that the two major political/ideological non-profits to which Koch has been a long-time supporter (he serves on the board of both) are the Reason Foundation (parent of this web site and its associated magazine) and the Cato Institute, Portfolio refers to his political views and giving as "conservative" and "right-wing."

Both the Reason Foundation and Cato are, of course, loudly and proudly libertarian, neither right-wing nor conservative.

I suppose in the service of this misidentification, Portfolio also fails to mention a pretty interesting fact about Koch: he was the vice-presidential candidate for the Libertarian Party in 1980, the year the party got its highest-ever vote total.

For more accurate info about Mr. Koch's political views and political philanthropy, consult my book Radicals for Capitalism: A Freewheeling History of the Modern American Libertarian Movement.

NEXT: Strangely, Developing World Still Not Drained of Brains

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Well libertarians are right-wing on economic issues and left-wing on social issues. We’re all bad things to all people.

  2. Portfolio refers to his political views and giving as “conservative” and “right-wing.”

    AAAAAAAARrrrrrrrrrrrrrGGGHHH! %%#&*%% #&*@@#! *&*$# @&%^ *&%$%@@!!

  3. Frankly, I think that most on the left are completely or almost totally incapable of telling the difference between libertarianism and conservatism.

    That, or they see the differences as being small enough that, from their standpoint, there’s no need to even try to differentiate them.

  4. “libertarians are Republicans that smoke marijuana”

  5. Gee, you support deregulation (destruction of the economy notwithstanding), tax cuts for the rich, private property absolutism, and the elimination of all laws protecting workers from predatory employers. No, you’re not right-wing at all.

  6. That, or they see the differences as being small enough that, from their standpoint, there’s no need to even try to differentiate them.

    I don’t think that’s quite it. Both conservatives and libertarians are the Enemy, and that is all that matters.

  7. There are only two boxes to most media morons. Liberal and Conservative, or left-wing and right-wing. Nothing else exists. If someone does not fit into one of the boxes, they look at the positions that person holds that they don’t like and that defines the person.

    Don’t expect anything else from such deep thinkers.

  8. Lemme help, co, with an equal and opposite caricature:

    Gee, you support drug legalization, abortion on demand, open borders, and are anti-war. No, you’re not left-wing at all.

  9. Either you believe in Unionizing South American Coffee Farmers to save the rain-forest and combat global warming, or you’re a “wing-nut”.

  10. Pro ending the war on drugs.
    Anti police and prosecutorial misconduct.
    Anti Iraq war.
    Pro gay marriage.
    Anti using eminent domain to take poor people’s property.
    Pro freedom of expression (including porn and flag burning).

    Holy Shit! You are a bunch of “conservative” and “right-wing” zealots.

  11. Used a perfect quote from Radicals for Capitalism in the Jeffery Miron articles comments. Loved the book.

  12. @Buddy Holly-Yes, those things are all very well when you’re busy paying tribute to your corporate taskmasters.

  13. On the rare occasion the idiots at Cato get something into print/radio/TV its not odd to see them labeled as conservative or free-market and not libertarian…whats so newsworthy about this?

  14. Libertarianism is much more closely associated with the Republican Party/conservatism/right-wing thinking because most libertarians emphasize low or no taxes and small or no government over liberal social issues-and, in fact, many so-called “libertarians” don’t actually believe in liberal social issues at all. The most prominent “libertarian” in the country is Ron Paul, a Republican, whose positions on most social issues are not much different from the Republican party line. The nominee for the Libertarian Party presidential ticket is an ex-drug warrior and an ex-Republican. There are few Democrats who are even marginally libertarian-and those that are the closest (examples: Russ Feingold or Barney Frank), liberatarians hate for some of the typical Democratic views on economics.

    Now, I hear everybody yelling at me that Feingold isn’t libertarian in the slightest, due to McCain-Feingold. However, Feingold voted against all of the following:

    The war in Iraq
    The Patriot Act
    The economic bailout
    Renewal of the Assault Weapons ban
    The Communications Decency Act
    The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act
    More earmarks than McCain ever has

    If he’s not libertarian, then no left winger is-which is my point exactly, and why the press tends to equate libertarian with conservative/right wing.

  15. geotpf-the libertarians are busy being outraged that someone would think a bunch of elitist racists are rightwing. Give them time to calm down.

  16. concerned observer is edweirdo, isn’t he?

  17. Both the Reason Foundation and Cato are, of course, loudly and proudly libertarian, neither right-wing nor conservative.

    Just keep telling that to the interrogators in Barack Obama’s Liberal Fascist torture chambers.
    They can use the laugh:)

  18. Wow, trolling in its purest form. Bravo, c.o.!

    The fact that the media is ignorant about libertarianism is not an indictment of libertarians.

    If Obama wins, the resulting war on the productive and the crack-up within the GOP will hopefully provide libertarians with more opportunities to influence policy. At the moment, neither major party has much interest in libertarian ideas.

  19. @the innominate one-No, for the last f$%&ING TIME, I AM NOT EDWARD!

    @SIV-Thats right Barack will have fascist torture chambers just like George Bush. Just keep telling yourself that, and remember to wear your tinfoil hat!

  20. THat’s right ChrisO, Obama will crack down on the productive folks who…post on Hit and Run? Please. Your paranoia really knows no bounds. I’m glad you’re only 8% of the population.

  21. hmm, I haven’t asked that before and you sure sound like him. no need to get your panties in a bunch.

  22. concerned observer (and everybody else) is missing my point. My point is most people think libertarians are right wing because, for the most part, libertarians (and “libertarians”) are mostly/only concerned with low taxes and small govenment (economic freedom) and not about things like drug legalization, gay rights, free speech, and the like (social freedom), which makes them look like extreme “Wall Street” Republicans. Plus, the few mainstream politicians who call themselves “libertarian”, and/or who are called libertarian by others, are all Republicans. Until that changes, and libertarians embrace Democrats like Frank and Feingold, the right-wing label will stick, for very understandable reasons.

  23. Most “journalists” are utterly stupid and retarded. No surprise that 90% of them are Democrats.

    I’m sure this applies well Portfolihole.

  24. @TIO-Ive been asked if Im edward before and i have answered. You have a strange tendency to assume that everyone who disagrees with you is actually the same person.

  25. Libertarianism is much more closely associated with the Republican Party/conservatism/right-wing thinking because most libertarians emphasize low or no taxes and small or no government over liberal social issues…

    As far as I can tell from chatting with libertarians across the country on blogs like this one, what you are describing is a local condition in certain parts of the country: the South, Texas, a few other regions.

  26. @geotpf-Libertarians aren’t interested in embracing any politician who could actually bring some of their hopes to fruition. Given that most here think Obama is the antichrist, I’d say you’re wasting time trying to convince them.

  27. Although I was joking in my above comment I have always believed that libertarians are ultra-rightists in a uniquely American sense.
    American Conservative ideology (as opposed to politics and policy)seems to harbor the same hostility to central government to a point.They just don’t go as far.Anarcho-capitalists go further.

  28. really… Barney Frank? libertarian? Am I missing something?

  29. Mike Laursen-Name a Libertarian Democrat, or even a more generic “liberal libertarian”, than has any name recognition amoungst the general public for being a libertarian (there are a few actors/performers who are libertarians (Drew Carrey, Penn Jillette, etc.) but are mostly known for their performances not their politics). That is, there is no Democratic Ron Paul. There is no ex-Democratic Bob Barr.

  30. Can we make words mean whatever we wish now? That would make arguing a point so much easier.

  31. Actually, I can’t name anyone known generally to the public as a “libertarian”. I usually heard Ron Paul described as a conservative.

  32. Kyle | October 21, 2008, 6:00pm | #

    really… Barney Frank? libertarian? Am I missing something?

    In the last few months, he sponsored bills to legalize internet gambling and personal possession of pot. That makes him just as much a libertarian as the most anti-tax Republican, assuming the social and economic aspects have equal weight in determining if somebody is a libertarian. Of course, they don’t have equal weight, which is why you asked the question.

  33. “Gee, you support drug legalization, abortion on demand, open borders, and are anti-war. No, you’re not left-wing at all.”

    Given his ongoing support for his war in Iraq, I call RCD be banned from claiming to be associated with anything “anti-war”.

  34. concerned observer | October 21, 2008, 5:53pm | #
    @TIO-Ive been asked if Im edward before and i have answered.

    obviously, I haven’t seen that question, nor the answer. edward likes to post under a few different names, so it’s not illogical to think you might be him.

    You have a strange tendency to assume that everyone who disagrees with you is actually the same person.

    based on what? this one posted question? no, I’m well aware that joe and Mr. Nice Guy and The Angry Optimist, all of whom I disagree with on some level, are different people.

    your strawman-leavened, trollerific, libertarian-baiting comments are reminiscent of edward. thus the question.

  35. Geoptf-

    Bill Maher alleged libertarian leanings.

    Camille Paglia is a libertarian Democrat.

  36. the innominate one-

    Maher is another actor/entertainer. I had to Google Paglia’s name to figure out who she is, and she’s never held elected office, unlike Barr or Paul.

  37. Wow, Geotpf, you put a lot of qualifications on whom I am allowed to name as an example. I wasn’t even making a claim I could point to a particular person. I was only thinking of how much intersection there is between libertarian and liberal philosophies. In fact, they have common roots.

  38. conserned observer,

    If it makes you feel better, I am certain that there are enough cowardly trollish cancre sores on the intertubz that you don’t have to be edward. However, to an unbiased person you do both appear to have come fram the same syphilitic crack whore’s asshole.

  39. i aM tEh concernED OBBserver!!!!!!!!!!!!!!?

  40. WhAt’s Wrong with beijng born from a syphilitic crack whore’s asshole!?

  41. Further proof that the MSM knows that shit stinks but they are refusing to look for a way to clean it:

    I present the Republicrats via MSN.

  42. Get a fucking job you fat lazy fuck. You haven’t done fuck since you fell out of my twat.

  43. “Well libertarians are right-wing on economic issues and left-wing on social issues. We’re all bad things to all people.”

    You know, I use this same description when I want to give a very minimalist view of my beliefs. However I have to say that I hate it. I haven’t though I anything better really for just a quick one liner but I just don’t see it as being completely true.

    Quite frankly I see the liberals as being some of the biggest perps of civil liberties. Maybe they support abortion and gay marriage, but they lead the way when it comes to smoking bans (tobacco), food bans, socialism bigger government yada yada yada. I have said it before but liberals are the LEAST liberal minded people I know.

  44. I, in my own simplemindedness, see libertarians as pre-jesusland republicans that have evolved enough to be open-minded toward their fellow man.

  45. Could you PLEASE ask your publisher to make Radicals For Capitalism available on the Amazon Kindle? Pretty please?

  46. I enjoyed the article very much, especially the part about how the father structured his estate to avoid taxes. Not sure if that sort of thing would be legal nowadays — I’ll probably have to do a generation-skipping trust.

    Does anyone know why the eldest son was disinherited?

  47. I’m back for a few minutes!
    Kaiser,
    The difference between libertarians and liberals is that libertarians are motivated (generally) by the belief that the first consideration in any government policy should be to make sure it does not infringe on the freedom of the individual. By contrast liberalism is (generally) defined by the desire to make sure that members of one group are equal to members of other groups. These different philosophies usually lead to divergent views in the economic realm, and can lead to other convergent or divergent views in the realm of civil liberties.

  48. You’re overstating the case a little. Many liberals believe equality is important for certain essential matters (education, health care, etc.), but also want people to be free in other areas. Some liberals put more things in that essential category than others. And, yeah, there are some liberals that want to control everything.

    Anyway, there are different flavors of liberals just like there are different flavors of libertarians.

  49. A portion of Brian’s points was made in a comment at the author’s blog a couple of days ago.

  50. The myth is still that freedom and equality are mutually exclusive concepts. I think liberalism is far easier to rectify with libertarianism than conservatism is. Liberals who have relied on government to solve their economic inequalities should have learned that unaccountable bureaucracies easily influenced by the rich and the powerful generally don’t have the best interests of the poor in mind and that corporations grow bigger in a regulatory environment where it is more efficient to merge than compete. Libertarians should have learned long ago that without sufficient education for the poor and a naturally progressive tax structure (such as land and corporate value taxes), a free society will likely lead to greater inequality, which only leads to more distrust of capitalism and more support for government intervention and welfare.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.