Libertarianism is defined as” Libertarianism (from Latin: libertas, meaning “freedom”) is a collection of political philosophies and movements that uphold liberty as a core principle. Libertarians seek to maximize political freedom and autonomy, emphasizing freedom of choice, voluntary association and individual judgment.
Libertarian thinkers focus on the rights of the individual and may downplay the power of the collective. They value the individual’s freedom of choice, to choose who the individual will associate with, and the choice of the individual to choose who they will vote for and what they will vote for in an election. Political parties may not play a big factor in a libertarian thinking but the voice of the independent voter is more critical. Libertarian thinking will shy away from big government and more toward the individual making his own choices regarding how he will think and run his life in the country he chooses to dwell in. Below, we briefly introduce some of the most influential philosophers and thinkers who have shaped that way of thinking.
David Boaz, a modern-day libertarian thinker, wrote this book on the historical roots of libertarianism and he defines the basic philosophy of libertarianism in simple but deep terms. If a person is interested in finding out more about what the basic premise of the philosophy is they could start here by reading this book. The book is a thorough rendering of the basic economic and political thinking of this philosophy. Boaz, applies these ideas that free association and free markets not government coercion and bureaucracy will solve pressing social issues and make wiser major policy decisions. So a libertarian thinker is against too much government intervention and too many government programs being implemented.
“The Law” written by Frenchman Frederic Bastiat, is a 19th century treatise on libertarian thinking that still speaks to the masses in the 21st century. His frank and bold style of writing takes head on the erroneous precepts that most economical and political thinking is based on. The book was written in 1850, and attacked the “legal plunder” or government directed taking of property by force.
Bastiat, says that the original meaning of the law was to protect our basic rights but when it turns into a forced redistribution of property it destroys its own objective and that is the right for the individual to own property. The practice of the law gave the government the right to take property by force from the individual and the individual has no freedom in the choice. This defeats the whole intent of the law. So it lets an unscrupulous government to take the right to own property from the individual.
As we mentioned earlier in this article, libertarianism is a family of philosophies that values individual freedom and measures need to be taken to secure these individual rights. A moderate libertarian view is what is called “self-ownership” which is attributed to Robert Nozick who said that the individual has the right to govern themselves in fact they have the most radical set of rights to control their rights. They have the right to control the entity—organizations, churches, etc.—or really at a personal level their person. And they will not let people use their possessions without their consent. They can also sell these rights to other individuals so the individual has the ultimate control over all of his rights, properties and all exterior things the individual controls.
Robert Nozick was a very smart person and is underrated by modern libertarians who have not achieved the level of skill he has. As we mentioned earlier he birthed the self-ownership concept that is a very popular way of thinking among thinkers and philosophers today. He died because of cancer on January 23, 2002 at the age of 63 in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
The Machinery of Freedom was written by David Friedman and in it the book describes different levels of libertarian thinking. The individual philosophies compared in this particular book state that different levels of government should be involved in people’s lives. Classic libertarians allow for government to tax some services but minimalists allow for government to only provide services such as law enforcement, courts, etc.
Anarcho-capitalists are on the extreme side of the equation they want to abolish any form of government in the country. They want to replace government with private and voluntary services and David Friedman, in this book introduces people to this latest form of libertinism or anarcho-capitalists and their perception of an ideal society is to have no government intervention but only volunteer and private intervention. He analyzes this way of thinking in his book. He fully embraces this radical form of libertarianism thinking.
The granddaddy of Libertarian books, Second Treatise of Civil Government, is still affecting our republic to this day. John Locke wrote this legendary book on libertarian thinking which was instrumental in the founding of the United States. His premise is that a country should be run on limited government involvement and individual liberty. He came up with a hypothetical country in which government is limited in the affairs of people and that a system of human rights are developed. The government is to protect the rights of the people.
Gustav de Molinari
Gustav de Molinari-was a late19th century and early 20th century Belgian philosopher who exceeded his counterparts in thinking about the role government should play in society. He contemplated the roles that government should play not only in his day but also what role governments should play in the future. His works have largely gone unnoticed in history. Recently, his works have come to light as Murray Rothbard has published his works. He is one of the most underrated philosophers of recent times. He was ahead of his time in his thinking about libertarian philosophy.
We have discussed some of the libertarian thinkers from the past and contemporary thinkers who have greatly influenced the system of thought known as libertarian philosophy and their concepts are still greatly influencing societies around the world. They all have a faithful school of followers who think highly of their works. We have also discussed some prominent thinkers from the past who have not been given their due recognition by fellow libertarian thinkers. Whether their influence will increase in the world of libertarian thinking remains to be seen.