The following is a guest post by SFL Campus Coordinator Levi Gourdie.
Earlier today, my colleague Jason Byas published a piece on left-libertarianism to help promote one of SFL’s two virtual reading groups, which will explore Markets Not Capitalism, a collection of left-libertarian writings edited by Gary Chartier & Charles W. Johnson. To balance the scale, I will give a brief overview of right libertarianism, the dominant form of libertarianism that first came out of the classical liberal tradition. Murray Rothbard, the subject of the other virtual reading group, could arguably be considered a right libertarian. There are several distinct ideas that are included in the right-libertarian tradition, but here I will focus on just one: The view of liberty as an end in itself.
A distinguishing view of many left-libertarians is the notion that liberty is the means by which they can achieve their ideal social hierarchy (or more accurately, lack thereof). To explore this, let’s look at one typical left-libertarian tradition, anarcha-feminism. Anarcha-feminists view the state as an inherently partiarchal system that must be abolished because it perpetuates an unequal society. While the equal treatment of men and women is a noble goal worthy of pursuit, right-libertarians do not support liberty because it is a means to that end (or any other, for that matter). Rather, liberty of the human condition is an end in its own right and should not be considered just a means to socially engineer society to fit one’s personal preferences. To view liberty as a means to an end is the same logic many use to advocate for a powerful state.