Liberaltarianism Redux, Plus Survivalists vs. Cosmopolitans


Supply-sider and occasional Reason contributor Bruce Bartlett goes to one of those liberaltarian dinners in Washington, D.C. and expresses hope that "the dialogue continues." Along the way he makes some characterizations of Planet Libertarian (and, later in the column, some recommendations) that many here may find interesting. A selection:

Libertarian A

Libertarians' views on social policy and national defense make them sympathetic to the Democrats, while their views on economic policy tend to align them with the Republicans. If one views social, defense and economic policy as having roughly equal weight, it would seem, therefore, that most libertarians should be Democrats. In fact, almost none are. Those that don't belong to the dysfunctional Libertarian Party are, by and large, Republicans.

The reason for this is that most self-described libertarians are primarily motivated by economics. In particular, they don't like paying taxes. They also tend to have an obsession with gold and a distrust of paper money. As a philosophy, their libertarianism doesn't extent much beyond not wanting to pay taxes, being paid in gold and being able to keep all the guns they want. Many are survivalists at heart and would be perfectly content to live in complete isolation on a mountain somewhere, neither taking anything from society nor giving anything. […]

Libertarian B

One is not likely to run into that type of libertarian at a Washington dinner party. These libertarians tend to be well-educated, arriving at his or her philosophy through reading obscure books or random contact with some libertarian in graduate school. They don't own guns–probably never even fired one, don't mind paying taxes too much, have no particular nostalgia for the gold standard and certainly would not choose to live in isolation on a mountaintop. They are cosmopolitan, urbane, articulate and interested in ideas more than just about anything else. They are not especially career-oriented–they are happy to be paid less than they probably could make as long as they don't have to compromise their principles and can do work that advances the cause. For the most part, they aren't family-oriented or religious, and they mostly fit the stereotype of a nerd.

As a poorly educated, non-tax fetishizing, family/career-oriented, gun-firing, non-goldbug city mouse, I don't feel particularly represented in that list above. Nor, for that matter, do I hold much short-term hope for the liberaltarian project. But I'm not much of a joiner, and it's a worthwhile read.