There are libertarians on the left and the right, but would you consider yourself a libertarian? If not, what's your view on libertarianism?
(1) "Libertarianism" is an umbrella term covering many variant forms, just as are the terms "socialism" and "fascism."
(2) However, when used correctly, the term "libertarianism" refers to a self consistent ideology, not to a tendency or attribute of other views.
(3) It may or may not be possible to give a concise definition of "libertarianism" depending on the variant of libertarianism you are referring to. Some libertarianisms are axiomatic resting on ONE BIG PREMISE [usually the "nonaggression principle"], some rest on a more pluralistic basis, some are merely a rejection of certain "social myths." To illustrate let me give an example of certain proposiions that all libertarians would reject:
(a) We would all be better off if morals concerning actis involving consent of all parties were legislated and the resulting statutes were narrowly interpreted and rigorously enforce.
(b) Central planning of a national economy would be more rational than the anarchy and directionlessness of markets.
(c) Government is just another social institution resting on persuasion and rational justification.
(d) We should apply the same moral principles to everyone in the world [or in the nation] that we apply to those closest to us [the "it takes a village" principle vs. the "invisible hand" principle].
(e) War is a good thing that builds the character of the citizenry and enriches the nation.
(f) Western Civilization is the most advanced form of society yet invented, and it would be better for everyone else if they accepted its principles, even if they had to be forced to do so.
(4) Incidentally, Objectivism is not a form of libertarianism. Objectivists from and including Rand have very explicitly rejected libertarianism. Neither is Objectivism some sort of sophisticated philosophy. It is considered to be a joke by virually all professional philosophers. Rather, Objectivism is and was a cult employing unthinking mumbo jumbo slogans derived from Rand's total ignorance of Philosophy, Economics and Political Theory. Objectivism was very explicitly run as a cult during Rand's life, and Leonard Peikoff has carried on this "great tradition." [References and links on request.]
I don't consider myself as much libertarian as I do anti-federalist and favor whichever polity holds closest to that standard without falling into utter nihilism. I can best decide for myself.
Trust is being asked no matter what government we elect. Do we trust the guy next door to do us no harm, or do we entrust a few guys in an emerald palace? Corruption is a fact of life. Men will always seek power.
I think the most insidious manifestation of that power is only supported when it is hidden under the guise of law as fickle and unjust as the men that render it... Kooky notion! The Democratic-Republican party is alive and thriving... I assure you.
"Government is a disease masquerading as its own cure." L. Neil Smith
*** "A libertarian is just a republican who wants to smoke dope and patronize hookers..."
...you say that as if it were a bad thing. :p
In answer to the OP I find myself in agreement with libertarian ideas much more often than 'liberal' or 'conservative' ideas. Regardless of what I might desire an honest government to do, we will always be stuck with a dishonest government whose only real motive is to propagate the interests of thos in power. To the extent the citizenry must be placated to accomplish that primary objective, it's just a byproduct. This more than anything is the reason I'm for minimal government. I just don't trust the b**tards.
I remember reading an article by a libertarian when I was in my teens and simply being astonished that such a selfish person could exist in the world. It may have been that particular guy, rather than all libertarians, but I remain convinced that there are moral abolutes in this world, and that one moral imperative is to think of other people before ourselves. The man in that article seemed to think that he owed nothing to anyone but himself, and that a little basic care not to 'step on others people's toes' was all that was necessariy in life. So, from what I understand of it, I find libertarianism to be a cold and isolated ideology.
I do know that Rand rejected the term Libertarianism but I'm not aware of her rejecting its core principals. She chose to represent her ideology as Objectivism because she thought libertarianism sounded made up and didn't have a good ring to it. Even though some Libertarians may be embarassed to be associated with Rand most of the Libertarians I met were strongly influenced by her. Indeed nearly everything I've read about Libertarianism mentioned Rand and Objectivism in some form or other.
I went through a Libertarian phase in my early 20's. In my evolution from a conservative to a liberal I made a small detour to libertarianism but while it is interesting as an ideology I don't see it being useful as a practical way of doing things. I still retain some libertarian ideals but libertarianism as presented by libertarians is largely unworkable IMNSHO.
flossheal, Ayn Rand wrote a book, "The Virtue of Selfishness" To tell the truth I never read it though I started it a few times. While Ms. Rand's fiction isn't bad I never thought much of her philosophical works. She argues that the ultimate moral value for each of is our own well-being. Thus selfishness is good.
Yes, if we could trust everyone to be moral and ethical... we could all be libertarians. Some things I agree with, as the stance on the FDA, experimental drugs should be available for those that need them. And the freedom from prosecution for victimless crimes.
An interesting branch of Libertarianism is Objectivism. I never found Ayn Rand a compelling philosopher. Her best ideas were warmed over Neitzsche. I'm still suprised by how many otherwise reasonable people consider themselves Objectivists.
filletofspam covered it nicely; it's a beautiful idea on paper, but doesn't overly work in real life. bummer.
A libertarian is just a republican who wants to smoke dope and patronize hookers...