The Volokh Conspiracy

Mostly law professors | Sometimes contrarian | Often libertarian | Always independent

Never Took That Libertarian Loyalty Oath

|The Volokh Conspiracy |

A recent comment suggesting it was "funny" for a "libertarian blog" to suggest the possibility of restricting private social media platforms' property rights led me to want to repost this reminder:

I'm not a libertarian.

This is not a libertarian blog.

Don't expect solid or even near-solid libertarianism from us.

Some of us are pretty hardcore libertarians. Some are more conservatives. Some are moderates. Most of us are a mix. Our blog subtitle says "Often libertarian," and that's true. But "often" was deliberately chosen to also flag "not always" (and not even almost always).

If you call me anything, you might call me a libertarianish conservative, but even that isn't really that helpful, since sometimes my positions aren't aligned either with most libertarians or most conservatives. I think human affairs are complicated things—as my father likes to quote, "Out of the crooked timber of humanity, no straight thing was ever made." We all come at this with some general principles, but, to offer another quote, "General propositions do not decide concrete cases," in part because there are so many things we want at once and so many opportunities for good general principles to conflict.

For instance, I want liberty (often including privacy) and security; indeed, security is often another term from liberty from private misconduct (or liberty from foreign governments). These aren't always consistent, but I can't tell you that one should always trump the other. (That's why the Fourth Amendment, for instance, bans unreasonable searches and seizures rather than banning all searches and seizures; that's why the Constitution tries to create a limited government, but does create a government.) I support private property rights, subject to some limitations, and can't easily capture all the limitations into one formula. My guess is that many of my cobloggers take the same view.

Now maybe I'm not libertarian enough. Or maybe I'm too libertarian. Or maybe I'm one of these in some situations and another in others. Perfectly possible, indeed very likely. But measure me, and the blog, based on the merits of the particular analyses we offer in each post, not against our supposed (but never actually offered) assurances of libertarianism.