Ask a Libertarian: What's a "liberaltarian" & how is it different from a libertarian?


Welcome to Ask a Libertarian with Reason's Nick Gillespie and Matt Welch. They are the authors of the new book The Declaration of Independents: How Libertarian Politics Can Fix What's Wrong With America.

Go to http://declaration2011.com to purchase, read reviews, find event dates, and more.

On June 15, 2011 Gillespie and Welch used short, rapid-fire videos to answer dozens of reader questions submitted via email, Twitter, Facebook, and Reason.com. In this episode, they answer the question:

"What's a liberaltarian? How is it different than a libertarian?"

For the complete series, go to https://reason.com/archives/2011/06/10/ask-a-libertarian and Reason.tv's YouTube Channel at http://youtube.com/reasontv

Produced by Meredith Bragg, Jim Epstein, Josh Swain, with help from Katie Hooks, Kyle Blaine and Jack Gillespie. 

NEXT: Ask a Libertarian: Final Question - Why is it different this time?

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  1. Dammit, I missed the final installment.

    Anyway, how do I know I'm not just a Democrat that hates paying taxes?

    1. That's why Nick says the word Libertarian is more an adjective than a noun.

      1. Or is it verb?

        1. I Libertarian you so much right now.

          1. I'm going to Libertarian all over your face.

            1. Libertarian me?

              1. I would love to Libertarian all over you, Epi.

            2. Me Gusta -_-

    2. Because you don't work at a cabinet-level government position?

      Thanks, I'll be here all week.

  2. One exists?

    1. We had better ask Terry Michaels!

      1. Who is this?

  3. I can answer this question. It's a fictional construct, along the lines of flying donkeys.

  4. You guys debunked the one about how libertarians are just Republicans who want to smoke pot, right?

    Well liberaltarians are pot smokers who project their positions on libertarians--when they're HIGH.

    1. Bill Mahr?

  5. Yeah I think libertarians were also pretty fucking pissed at the left...and still are.

    Progressives were not the only group who had a tin ear for libraltarianism....the idea was a big dud among libertarians as well.

    Speaking of left/libertarian fusion-ism I think now is the time to look in on the Bleeding Heart Libertarians:


    1. To some extent, this has to be an aesthetic issue for some people...

      It's like how people started calling themselves "new wave" when they were too ashamed to call themselves "punk".

      Bleeding Heart libertarian sounds like somebody who's embracing libertarianism--but doesn't want their friends to think they've lost their mind.

      1. Lost their heart, Ken. It's clearly in the title. Now where can I find NutSackKickingLibertarians?

        And, I never want to be accussed of being non-rality based, out of my freakin' mind by a liberal after this shit --


        The comments are actually stacked with ridicule even though it is Politico.

        Personally, I don't know why The Guy is running. He was pretty much saying the same thing over the week end she did. Where does his sense of accomplishment originate? It is a mystery to me why he has one.

        1. being non-rality based, out of my freakin' mind

          Sorry about that, girlfriend walked by to show off her newly nipped and raised boobs when I wrote that.

        2. That's one ugly mulatto.

          1. In her defense, Obama just told her, 'you sure do have a purty mouth.'

  6. liberaltarian

    I don't even know what the fuck that means.

    1. It means whatever you want it to mean.

    2. It doesn't mean anything. It's merely TEAM BLUE trying to convince libertarians that they have something in common with TEAM BLUE when they don't, just like TEAM RED tries to woo libertarians.

      1. Liberaltarian is what TEAM RED says to to convince themselves that libertarians are their enemy.

        1. This.

          Gregoo comes on here and calls everyone he disagrees with a liberalterian.

          'nuff said.

          1. And my all-time fav: loserdopians

            1. lolbertarians

              1. Colberians? is available, for a small licensing fee.

  7. Liberaltarianism is verb not a noun!!

    *sorry Nick I could not resist. In consolation i am going to order your book when I get home.

  8. What's the libertarian definition of "final"?

    1. I think reason's introduction of threaded comments long ago answered the question:

      "Do libertarians like things to be in chronological order?"

  9. Liberals love equality, libertarians love freedom.

    The two can never get together. Not even for a one night bumping of uglies.

    Next question.

    1. I like equality and I am a libertarian.

      In fact the greatest instances of political and economic equality ever achieved in history is thanks to classical liberal (libertarian) thinking.

      The left only loves equality in so much as freedom is not included in achieving it.

      1. You cannot have, I think, equality and freedom.

        Human beings are too different that, if allowed freedom, everything at the beginning of the day will be equal at the end of it.

        I don't particularly care for equality anyway. Everyone looking the same, having the same interests, the same clothes, the same views...

        Blah. Viva' la difference. Diversity in both appearances and thoughts.

        1. You cannot have, I think, equality and freedom.

          We have moral equality under the law right now...and it has worked out pretty good.

          you don't like the 14th amendment?

          But yeah i am pretty sure you are only talking about social justice type economic equality.

          But i would argue that even this type of equality is being achieved today although with lesser results then the former type, and it is being achieved though trade and innovation...ultimately capitalism

          Essentially the big issue is with wealth...and the left want everyone to have equal wealth.

          In an absolute monetary sense this is obviously not happening. but in other measures of wealth it is being achieved. A rich man can own as many ipods as he wants but the only real wealth he gains from ipods is with the first purchase....he can own a $100,000 car...yet the vast majority of the utility (wealth) that the expensive car has can be achieved with a 15,000 car. The internet is another example. Google benefits anyone equally...and one cannot deny any asshole can set up a blog. There are a million more examples from energy costs in relation to incomes, to food to housing...on and on and on.

          In very real terms we are becoming more and more economically equal and we are doing it without the help of central authority....one can hardly call that incompatible with libertarianism...in fact i would argue that adopting libertarian policies would accelerate the process and would extend this growing equality to greater and greater numbers of people.

          The lefts misunderstanding of this concept is where the problem lies. They have set up a cargo cult based on money and see that the numbers are different between rich and poor...yet by focusing on this they completely ignore the real world social equality that is being achieved today.

          1. To put it simply equality and liberty are not only compatible but equality through liberty is the most efficient method of achieving equality...and i think ultimately liberty is the only method to achieving the greatest possible equality to the greatest number of people.

            1. I like equality of opportunity however unequal the ultimate outcome.

              While progs fetishize equality of outcome even though that kills opportunity.

        2. slow down there cowboy.

          Can I make an amendation: Liberals like ENFORCING equality, Libertarians like ENFORCING freedom.

          I like equality just fine, which is why I contribute out of my own pocket or a slice of my wristwatch towards those ends.

          1. yonemoto|6.15.11 @ 10:58PM|#
            ..."Libertarians like ENFORCING freedom..."
            Please explain how anyone ENFORCES freedom. I call bullshit.

            1. you enforce the government to not enforce things which take it way. double negative.

      2. Joshua Corning|6.15.11 @ 9:04PM|#
        "I like equality and I am a libertarian."
        Me, too, so long as the equality is achieved absent coercion.
        But to be honest, I'm less concerned with equality than I am with generalized prosperity. And that *certainly* can be achieved absent coercion.
        If Max over there has a better house than me, so what so long as I have food to eat, etc.

        1. Yeah I think a lot of the left's cries for social justice are really cries of jealousy.

          "I have a house, i have food, i have clean water....but that rich guy down the road has a better house better food and cleaner water!!!! I demand justice!!!"

    2. There's some overlap -- a good chunk of what we call "civil libertarianism" is more "civil egalitarianism". That is, civil libertarians pioneered the changes between citizen and government, but civil egalitarians gave those freedoms to non-landed white males, to non-white males, to non-males, to legal constructs (hurr durr Citizens United), and so on.

      It's a little like technology, where the cutting edge innovators create things that are new, clunky, confusing, and expensive as hell; and then less inspiring but equally important innovators find ways to polish the invention -- to make it slightly more effective, smaller, less resource intensive to use and to create, more straightforward to use, and in general more accessible in all respects. Both are critical for "progress", as something relevant to the ordinary person.

      Without the egalitarians, all the good work of the libertarians is fairly useless to most of society. Without the libertarians, we slowly slide into a state of equally-shared misery.

    3. It's a partial false dichotomy:

      Equality in the eyes of the law is perfectly in tune with libertarianism; equality of outcome is only accomplished by tyranny.

      1. ...it's been awhile since I've heard someone so succinctly describe to me the appeal of libertarianism. There it is in one semicoloned sentence.

      2. Equality under the law can actually be un-libertarian in some ways. Equality of authority, however, sounds more "in tune" with libertarianism.


  10. liberaltarians swallow ; ).

    1. Well, you put it slightly differently than I did but, okay.

  11. Slight change:
    "Liberals love [the fantasy of] equality, libertarians love freedom."
    What liberals supposedly love isn't possible, and the attempts at achieving it are doomed to failure.
    Even Tony Judt was finally forced to admit that 'centralized planning leads to centralized killing'.

    1. What liberals supposedly love isn't possible

      post-scarcity is possible (in many ways we are living in it today)...the left simply does not like the idea of it being achieved without a stamp from a central authority.

      1. "post-scarcity is possible"
        I'm not sure what you mean; care to enlarge on that?

        1. I'm not sure what you mean; care to enlarge on that?

          It is pretty simple.

          You have no problem getting food. So in other words food is not as scarce as it was 100 years ago...or a 1000 years ago or 10,000 years ago.

          The same can be said about just any human need or want. Resources in real terms are getting less and less scarce.

          Without scarcity of resources you have economic equality ie social justice.

          the rest of my above comment explains the rest:

          the left simply does not like the idea of it being achieved without a stamp from a central authority.

          1. Joshua Corning|6.15.11 @ 9:56PM|#
            ..."You have no problem getting food. So in other words food is not as scarce as it was 100 years ago...or a 1000 years ago or 10,000 years ago...."

            Agreed, and the chance of starving in the US is pretty slim; hang out at a dumpster behind any restaurant and you ain't gonna starve.
            *BUT* that does not satisfy the left's concept of "equality". That would be satisfied only when the hungry guy was invited in, given a table with a white tablecloth and not charged for the dinner. And the wine.

            1. Humans are primates and all primates live in hierarchical societies wherein individuals compete for social rank which yields preferential reproductive and resource access.

              The left's concept of "equality" is counter not only to human nature, but the nature of all animals more complex than bacteria.

          2. "Without scarcity of resources you have economic equality ie social justice."

            Actually, from my experience, that's not what they mean by social justice much of the time. Typically it's a relative concept formed around, ironically, inequality itself. For instance, people now are much more wealthy in a very real sense than the wealthy of a couple hundred years ago to say the least. But their measure of disadvantage and social ills seem to be on a relative scale. They are upset, often, merely over the inequality itself - the fact that some people, materially, have much more than others. In other words, if 200 years passed and the poorest among us had something roughly equivalent (upon subjective evaluation), of the lifestyle of 2011 Bill Gates, I still think there would be cries of injustice as long as people have vastly more than they have.

    2. It was always jarring reading Judt and other leftists in the NY Review of Books as they (mostly correctly) warned about the abuses by the national security state and then, two pages later, praise the statist control of our entire economy.

      Apparently the people abusing the police powers of the state would never ever abuse the economic regulatory policies of the state.

      Very odd.

      1. AreopagiticaCelebrates|6.15.11 @ 9:27PM|#
        "It was always jarring reading Judt..."
        IMO, his "Post War" is sort of required reading.
        What's amazing about the book is his honesty. Like Manchester in "Armss of Krupp", he's too honest to support his ideology. An assertion on page X will be followed on page X+Y with a factual statement that totally invalidates the earlier assertion.
        The exact quote (Pg 561) is: "What begins with centralized planning ends with centralized killing".

        1. He was brilliant though. I think he really did try to find the "truth" in things. A sort of leftist Isaiah Berlin.

          But his views on Israel were just utterly perplexing. One state solution is a fantasy.

  12. A better question would've been, "What's a 'libertine,' and how is it different from a libertarian?"

  13. "Liberaltarian" is something between a douche and a moron. For examples, see Terence Watson and most of the rest of the crew at The Volunteer.

  14. What's a "liberaltarian" "Jackalope" & how is it different from an libertarian antelope?

    1. When a taxidermist stuffs an antelope it is an expression of realism.

      When a taxidermist stuffs a jackalope it is an expression of the madness of mercury toxicity and methyl alcohol poisoning.

  15. What liberals supposedly love isn't possible, and the attempts at achieving it are doomed to failure.


    1. Make that 3--and shorthanded too!

      P.S. In regards to that question earlier, Winnipeg should go back to calling themselves the Jets, but Coyotes should change their name to "The Goldwaters".

      1. Winnipeg name should be released Tuesday afternoon.

      2. Considering the Coyotes tactics with regards to their arena would not that be an insult to Goldwater? A more appropriate moniker would be "Golddiggers"

        1. I shall not have my good name besmirched by hockey in goddamn Phoenix.

      3. How the fuck that goal counted is beyond me. It shouldn't have been allowed.

        1. Unless the Canucks suddenly score two goals, what difference does it make?

          It wasn't the third goal that did them in.

          1. Make that 4.

            This is gonna be the slowest 2 minutes and 44 seconds in Vancouver history.

          2. So it should be allowed because the other two were good?

            1. not sure what was wrong with that goal?

              1. #1: can't charge the goalie in the crease.
                #2: Can't hit it with your hand into the goal with a 'punching' motion.

                1. #1: he didn't charge the goalie, and was pushed into him if anything
                  #2: he didn't punch

                2. #1: he didn't charge the goalie, and was pushed into him if anything
                  #2: he didn't punch

                3. "#1: can't charge the goalie in the crease."

                  He was hit from behind!

                  Vancouver got a penalty because of that play!

                  Fer Christ's sake.

              2. Even if his hand was on it, there wasn't any pushing motion.

                ...and what difference does it make?!

                1. "...and what difference does it make?!"

                  Having to negate a 2-0 lead vs. a 3-0 lead..

                2. "Even if his hand was on it, there wasn't any pushing motion"

                  Yes there was. pushed his right hand into the crease as he made contact with the goalie, while pushing the goalie back into the net. classic goalie interference that was waived off there.

                  1. "#1: he didn't charge the goalie, and was pushed into him if anything
                    #2: he didn't punch"

                    This is just going to be a disagreement, but the way it went down was pretty sketchy, with the puck release happening inside the crease with goalie contact. It used to be that you could absolutely not shoot from inside the crease. I don't know if that's changed or not. And even during regular season, the refs would have been on the phone with the NHL for a solid 3-5 minutes. It looked like as soon as they picked up the phone that they got their answer. It just came off as way too questionable a goal to be allowed

                    1. Crap. I said you won the thread. But then you lost it with this. Revoked. Are you kidding?

          3. I have no love for Vancouver, but I cannot fucking stand the bruins. It's not so much the team as it is their obnoxious fans.

            1. There's no doubt they've got some obnoxious fans.

              Habs fans can be pretty obnoxious too. So can Rangers fans. Vancouver fans. ...

              I love that about hockey!

    2. I will be stunned if Vancouver can recover from this. The Bruins are too strong. I don't think the Canucks players are going to get the Sidney Crosby treatment tonight. Oh well; don't choke if you want to be a winner.

      1. Have the riots started yet?

        1. Canadians don't riot, dude. It's rude.

          However, the unbelievable vortex of collective disappointment may cause downtown Vancouver to have tremors.

          1. Vancouver rioted in 94 when they lost in Game 7 to the Rangers.

          2. "Canadians don't riot, dude. It's rude."

            Two words:

            Habs fans.

            I'm seeing them riot at least three times in the last three years--and they weren't even in the Stanley cup.


            Habs fans riot when they lose.

            Habs fans riot--when they win.

            1. Habs fans are Quebecois, dude. Very different kind of "Canadian".

              1. They're going batshit, apparently. Never underestimate men and their propensity to tear the nutsacks off of each other, however they may seem.


              2. This photo is great.


                1. Gee, I went to a libertarian blog and a hockey fight broke out.

                  Rim shot.

      2. Just wait until they have to play the Caps in the next round.

        Okay, I've been sleeping alot lately.

        Caps = choking dogs on skates.

        1. Caps = choking dogs on skates.

          I went to my first caps game in 1975.

          I'm not sure we're chokers; I think there may be some problems with changing our defensive philosophy half way through the year. We may not have the personnel necessary to do what we need to do to win in the playoffs in the east.

          If we were in the West, we'd have beat Vancouver. The Caps are built like Vancouver and the Canucks. ...both teams that are likewise considered chokers. It's really about their philosophy not working in the playoffs against physical teams.

          Unlike Vancouver, though, the Caps best player is physical. I don't think the Sedins have what it takes to play physical--and the flopping obviously won't win them the Cup. We have a lot of problems, but Ovie not playing physical just isn't a problem.

          And we've got just as good or better goal tending than Vancouver too--and they're paying Lou how much?

          We've got THREE goalies I'd rather have than Lou--not even considering the cap hit.

          1. "and the flopping obviously won't win them the Cup"

            Like when Chara slams them onto the ice?

            1. Seriously?

              I saw at least four dives tonight by the Canucks.

              1. I have friends in Europe, and they said the Canucks development squad is looking for soccer players over there?

                ...and the tryouts are at swimming pool?!

            2. If those were jokes, don't quit your day job.

              1. Oh come on. That was funny!

                I hear every new prospect gets green and blue speedos when he signs up?

                I heard the Canucks are the official sponsor of the 2014 Canadian diving team in Sochi!

                1. in your pants!

            3. I know you just got done jerking off to Thornton hoisting Lord Stanley's goblet, but try and work on your material.

              1. I heard the Canucks are changing their entrance song from "Where the Streets Have No Name" to this one...


                1. Oh, right. To a bruins fan, I guess everything is diving.

                  1. I'm not a Bruins fan. Although having Kaberle and Krejci in my pool definitely helped put that money in my pocket this year.

                    And I saw that Patches hit live.

                    I condemned it completely.

                    Just because Chara should have been suspended or worse? Doesn't mean the Canucks aren't a bunch of divers.

                    I've listened to habs fans on boards. I've listened to fans from everywhere. I have never heard so much whining--from a team of floppers--like the Canucks fans in all my life.

                    In the last five games of the Stanley Cup?

                    Boston outscored Vancouver--22 to 3!

                    I don't have what it takes to feel sorry for a flopping team that gets outscored 22-3. I'm sick of hearing about Campbell's kid playing on the Bruins too.

                    There's no excuse for whining when the Canucks had more powerplays than the Bruins--throughout the series--and got outscored so bad!

                    And just when I didn't think there was anything that could have make it any worse? The fans riot!

                    As poorly as the Canucks played, it's amazing it went to 7 games. ...but the better team won.

                    I'll tell you this--none of those rioting fans setting fires and smashing up businesses? Have any right to complain about anything Chara did!

                    And one of the best things about hockey is? The pre-season starts again in just a few weeks! The Canucks will be back to dive around and flop again! With their $10 million dollar cap hit of a goalie too!

                    And they are floppers. They dive like submarines...


                    1. You're right. You convinced me. Every single one of the Vancouver Canucks is a flopper and not one single bruin can ever be accused of doing it.

      3. Also, Tim Thomas has been superhuman for this series. Fucking unreal.

        1. Very. And on the other end, you've got the manic Luongo who can't find his fucking blocker.

          1. And another power play with Vancouver refusing to put men in front of the net. How they managed to get this far is fucking beyond me.

            1. Their PP is populated by Swedes who stop playing in may. Maybe they would rather assemble furniture.

              1. I guess so. Worst game 7 of the playoffs.

        2. Yep. We were laughing at the bar I was at. Even when they were all alone and in on Thomas, nobody was even nervous. If there were tips or misdirections, it wasn't going in. He owned the series. Poor Roberto got outclassed.

          1. *if there weren't tips or misdirections.


            1. Yeah, it was pretty clear halfway through the 1st, they weren't going to generate any sort of offense.

              1. Ten minute mark was the end. Holy crow, you know your hockey, because the Bruins got badly outplayed for the first ten minutes. And then they dominated the game.

    3. What about us?

  17. Good God, what a horrible Game 7. Vancouver stopped at the end of 1st period. fucking horrible.

    1. Losing game 6 of a Stanley Cup playoff series is an excellent way to lose game 7.

      1. I should have stopped watching the playoffs after the first round. Best series I've ever watched were the canucks vs. blackhawks.

        1. Ding! You win with that comment about Chi-Couv. But Bruins hockey is not wide-open hockey. You have to love D to D and negatory to really appreciate it. They were masterful. Eight goals in seven games is ridonculous.

          1. Well, with Toews, Kane, and Bolland you actually had some offensive talent that would actually finish a check. boston-chicago would have been a much better matchup.

            1. Agreed, except for Kane hitting people. I like Chicago -- love watching Toews and Kane -- but they were outclassed in Game 7 against Vancouver.

  18. They are booing Bettman! NICE

    1. good. piece of shit.

  19. Good. Now that this fiasco of a finals is over and done with, I can go back to sleeping through Rangers games in this miserable Texas heat.

  20. Riots are starting

  21. I hope you didn't park your silver Prius in downtown Vancouver tonight.

    1. So team A won ice-soccer? How............

  22. "Liberaltarian" is someone who finds social conservatism so icky that they will try to ally themselves with people who actively despise free markets, free association just so they do not have to be on the same side as people who agree with them on 75% of most issues the government deals with on a day to day basis.

    1. I always thought liberaltarian was the guy at the DNC who before any given election draws the losing straw and has to go out and recruit votes from icky libertarians.

  23. There are at least 10 fires now in downtown Vancouver.

    1. Burn Baby Burn! Their hopped up from dope smoking.Marijuana is not a victimless crime.

    2. all this riot needs is someone with a "Stop Harper" sign

  24. take that you flappy headed soviet canuckistanis!

    1. The Canucks have apologized several times for Brian Adams, sir.

  25. I laughed my balls off when the United States kicked Spain's ass in the Confederations Cup before FIFA 2010. The Limeys and Eurotrolls were literally ripping their hair out on the TeamSpeak channels we raided with a few pals.

  26. Libertarians seemed to be more pissed off at the right, some of them even defend George Soros!

    Frankly, I think some libertarians wouldn't mind paying higher taxes as long as they get pot legalized.

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