I recently listened to Tom and Sal’s podcast on libertarianism, but didn’t quite get in on the follow-up debate. So I thought I’d offer my critique in a separate post, as a non-libertarian who’s been trying to define libertarianism for years, with a little help from my Ricochet friends.
Here’s my current view on this. Libertarianism is best understood as a school of thought. It’s not the sort of thing for which it would be appropriate to draw up clear-cut identity conditions (as Tom and Sal were endeavoring to do). It has its own tradition, complete with revered thinkers such as Rand, Hayek, and Friedman. It has its own lingo and established relationships to particular disciplines (notably economics). But the difference between a libertarian and, say, a small-government conservative may have more to do with background and influence than with actual content.More