Why Libertarians are NOT Liberals

Modern-day Libertarians have emerged from right-wing* politics although they’ll often disguise what is, in reality, their ‘self-first’ agenda by defining it as a seemingly less selfish ‘my right to choose.’

The further right you go the more the ‘self-first’ agenda exposes itself for what it really is – ‘I can do whatever I want and no one has the right to stop me/challenge me.’

A Liberal on the other hand will say ‘I am an individual and my views should not be constrained by the state, however, I also accept that I take both responsibility for my actions and I will always try not to pursue individual liberty when it has negative effects on others, the environment, the natural world etc.’

So what would a typical Libertarian think? How about these examples? –

* I won’t be vaccinated, it’s my right to decide what goes into my body and it’s not my responsibility to protect others.
* I don’t go with climate change, it’s not happening and I won’t do things to stop what is not happening.
* I park my vehicle where I want, if pedestrians can’t get past it then that’s their lookout; nothing to do with me.

A Liberal on these same issues will respond to them:-

* I will be vaccinated as it’s my duty to protect my own health and that of others.
* On climate change, I follow the science and will do my bit to address it.
* I don’t park my vehicle where it will impede pedestrians and those with disabilities.

And then whilst thinking about such issues and debating them with my very progressive and Liberal daughter she said this – It’s a Bill Bryson quote from the Road to Little Dribbling book:-

Now lots of people are governed not so much by whether something is right or wrong as by whether they think anyone’s watching. Conscience only operates when there are witnesses”

To me, that thoughtful contribution says that those who tend to be Libertarians, but who don’t want to get caught being selfish, will tend not to be self-first if they are likely to be caught at it. That means, for example, they won’t drop litter if they think someone may see them but if they can get away with it, it’s OK.

* Libertarians were originally of the ‘left’ but in modern times the ‘right’ has taken the term on as its own. They have in effect corrupted what was once based firmly in progressive and radical Liberalism.