There Are Two Kinds of Libertarians…


…and an infinite number of ways to argue about and between them. Riffing off a distinction I limned between Hayekians and Rothbardians last month here at Reason Online are Jonah Goldberg and Jim Manzi over at National Review.

Goldberg thinks I was unfairly one-sided in making it seem like Bill Buckley went out of his way to be disdainful of Rothbard (who, as Goldberg rightly points out, returned the disdain in spades). Manzi lays out his vision of the rough Rothbardian/Hayekian distinction I wrote about this way:

one strand takes liberty to be a (or in extreme cases, the) fundamental human good in and of itself; the other takes liberty to be a means to the end of discovery of methods of social organization that create other benefits. I'll call the first "liberty-as-goal" libertarianism and the second "liberty-as-means" libertarianism. Obviously, one can hold both of these beliefs simultaneously, and many people do. But in my observation, when pushed to develop a position on some difficult issue, most self-described libertarians reveal a temperament that leans strongly in one direction or the other. Again, in cartoon terms, I'd describe the first temperament as idealistic, deductive and theory-based, and the second as practical, inductive and experiment-based.