Opinions Philosophy

Five Types of Libertarianism & Why They’re All Important to Liberty


  1. Classical Liberals

The foundation of classical liberalism is respect for individual rights, limited government, and free markets. And, as the name suggests, this was what liberalism used to be before progressives coopted the term. That’s why a lot of older writings on liberty will use the word “liberal” the way more modern works would use the word “libertarian”, which can be confusing for some when they first begin researching this. The U.S. has a rich classical liberal history. Many of the Founding Fathers are considered to have been classical liberals, the Constitution was certainly influenced by it, and a few presidents, including Thomas Jefferson and Grover Cleveland, demonstrated a respect for classical liberalism while in office. Classical liberalism has also had major influence on the modern libertarian movement. Frederic Bastiat, John Locke, Ludwig Von Mises, and F.A. Hayek are examples of classical liberal economists, writers, and thinkers who have each contributed many great works about liberty. Classical liberalism isn’t as narrowly defined as several other types of libertarianism. Some classical liberals might favor private roads and schools, while others can see a place for government (likely local government) involvement. Much like moderate libertarianism, this allows for a bit broader range of thought, which also makes it a good option for those who either haven’t thought through their stance on every issue, or who don’t feel the need to do so. And, like Constitutional libertarianism, it draws from American history, in addition to pointing out the way power tends to corrupt people due to its understanding of human nature. This makes classical liberals an invaluable resource in the liberty movement, both for the benefits of libertarians and in drawing in new people.

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