The Promise of Liberaltarianism

I very much liked this passage from Mark Thompson at The League of Ordinary Gentlemen:

[I]n order for libertarians to more consistently act as political free agents, or even to sign on to a coalition with the political Left, something else will need to happen to free libertarian philosophy from the predispositions that have resulted from such a lengthy alliance with the political Right.  

I would propose, then, that the “something” to which I refer is “liberaltarianism,” “soft Hayek” as Jim Henley calls it, or “actual Hayek” as I like to call it.  The promise of this derivation of modern libertarianism is not that it attempts to paint libertarianism in a light that is palatable to modern liberals/Progressives, which our friend Kip rightly fears; instead, its promise is that it can help to rescue the fundamental worldview of libertarianism from the prejudices instilled in it by such a lengthy alliance with the Right.

Simply put, the promise of liberaltarianism is that it can help to build a libertarianism that is more true to its classically liberal roots.  In so doing, it is possible that it will become a libertarianism that modern liberals are willing to take seriously, and even learn from.  To be sure, if this were to completely succeed, I find it likely that libertarianism would eventually become as corrupted by the Left as it has been by the Right, thus creating the need for the cycle to start anew.

Right-leaning libertarians and libertarian-leaning conservatives are naturally very displeased with the idea of the de-rightification or re-liberalization of classical liberalism. And most contemporary liberals are indifferent or suspicious. But that’s okay. Twitter once sounded like the stupidest thing I’d ever heard of, and now I, like millions, totally love Twitter. And they still don’t make a dime. But they will.

Author: Will Wilkinson

Vice President for Research at the Niskanen Center