For nearly a century, many libertarians have seemingly forgotten many issues their 19th century forerunners talked about. One of the most crucial topics was feminism, which gets a bad rap in most libertarian circles today, perhaps somewhat justifiably so because modern feminism is so closely knit with pro-government voices. However, rightly understood, libertarianism and feminism are natural allies and can learn from one another. Unfortunately the libertarian feminist went nearly extinct in the 20th century as libertarians increasingly aligned with the right.
During this time, the rise of state socialism and communism changed the direction of classical liberalism and radical individualist thought. In order to combat the forces of central planning, the individualist thinkers focused more and more on economic issues, spending less time on other aspects of the individualist tradition (such as minority rights, worker empowerment, and feminism) and starting to align with the right. The ever-growing libertarian movement grew as a subset, or more radical branch, of mainstream conservatism. This is why, even after the fall of the Soviet Union, libertarians are often lumped in with the right.
Enter Ron Paul in the 2008 election. While he did run on the Republican ticket, the growing student movement for libertarianism that he inspired has adamantly rejected being lumped into the conservative milieu. Instead, these millennial libertarians fully embrace social freedom as an integral part of their libertarianism, and want to talk about things beyond just free market economics. Millennials are recognizing that libertarianism is about much more than low taxes and getting rid of red tape.
It’s not that millennial libertarians are trying to alter libertarian principles or create a new philosophy. Instead, this shift is about embracing our core principles, which date back to the enlightenment, but with a wider focus, thereby destroying the old stereotypes. As Students For Liberty President, Alexander McCobin writes,
“What does it mean that a second wave of libertarianism is taking charge? … First is a new prioritization of issues for second wave libertarians, particularly regarding social freedom, foreign affairs, and the environment.”