A password will be e-mailed to you.


By Caleb Coggeshall

The libertarian movement is still in need of converts, no doubt. However, some who try to spread the message might not always the most qualified to do so. Libertarians themselves can mess the process up and inadvertently turn people away. There are certain don’ts for the liberty movement and it’s crucial to keep a few of them in mind.

Note: I am probably as guilty as any fellow libertarian of committing a few of these transgressions.

1. The Purist Libertarian

This person believes that if you take one step out of line, you aren’t a true liberty lover. Don’t like Murray Rothbard? You’re not a real libertarian.

You don’t believe that we should completely do away with driver’s licenses? Then you don’t know what the liberty movement is about.

The purist can also have a knack for deterring potential newcomers, in that they immediately go straight to recommending daunting works such as “The Fountainhead” or Atlas Shrugged.”

2. The Pro-Drug, but Meh on Everything Else Libertarian

Unfortunately, this is the one libertarian that sometimes gets the most attention in our society. They advocate legalizing just about every drug under the sun, but shrug their shoulders when asked about the market, individualism, self defense and healthcare. This guy is the reason that many libertarians are falsely accused of just being a bunch of potheads.

3. The Left Libertarian

I first became familiar with this term when I was in college and one of my classmates described himself as such. This was before I made the move to the liberty movement myself, but even then I remember thinking: “What exactly is that? Isn’t there just libertarian?” Left libertarians muddy the waters when it comes to the freedom movement: they’re pro-gun, to an extent. They’re pro-market, to an extent. They’re anti-government, to an extent. Depending on who you talk to, Gary Johnson could be considered as such a person (though I personally think he’s just a progressive republican). The man doesn’t know how to explain the libertarian movement because he doesn’t know what it truly is. He knows it has something to do with freedom (or something like that) and legalizing marijuana. He has managed to confuse people rather than convert them.

4. The Burn-it-all-to-the-Ground Libertarian

When people think of this particular dude, they probably think of “V for Vendetta:” blowing up government buildings, hacking into the pro-government news channels and murdering politicians. Now these are extreme examples, of course, but nevertheless, there are those in the modern freedom campaign that believe all government programs should immediately be defunded and done away with. And right after that they want the entire government abolished. Now these are not all necessarily bad wishes, the problem is that the burn-it-down person thinks it will all happen overnight. Progressivism took a century or so to take complete hold of our government and society, it will probably take more than one year to eradicate it.

The reason I write this list is because I have experienced infighting within liberty oriented groups and the constant squabbling has done nothing to promote freedom. Sometimes individuals get into petty spats, trying to see who is the more libertarian. People can become so preoccupied with the details that they forget it’s all about a simple concept: self-governance.

EDITOR’s NOTE: The views expressed are those of the author, they are not representative of The Libertarian Republic or its sponsors.


  • Pingback: Don’t Be THAT Libertarian: How Certain Strains Muddy the Message – The Libertarian Republic |

  • GeorgeDance

    I suspect you’re a “paleolibertarian,” since you left them off your list. But I won’t go into listing my pet peeves. I did want to say that the worst are what I’d call “libertarian libertarians”, the people who do go around telling anyone they’d disagree with (from Johnson on down) that they aren’t “real libertarians.” That may sound like what you call “purists”, but it’s not the same thing; purists are devoted to the core ideas, like NAP, while “libertarian libertarians” can be anywhere on the ideological map.

  • IceTrey

    There’s theoretical and practical libertarianism. In other words the first is what is the ideal and the second how do we get there. I feel there is room and indeed we need both types.