Libertarianism in the United States

In the United States, libertarianism is a political philosophy promoting individual liberty.[1][2][3][4][5][6] According to common meanings of conservatism and liberalism in the United States, libertarianism has been described as conservative on economic issues (economic liberalism) and liberal on personal freedom (civil libertarianism),[7] often associated with a foreign policy of non-interventionism.[8][9] Broadly, there are four principal traditions within libertarianism, namely the libertarianism that developed in the mid-20th century out of the revival tradition of classical liberalism in the United States[10] after liberalism associated with the New Deal;[11] the libertarianism developed in the 1950s by anarcho-capitalist author Murray Rothbard, who based it on the anti-New Deal Old Right and 19th-century libertarianism and American individualist anarchists such as Benjamin Tucker and Lysander Spooner while rejecting the labor theory of value in favor of Austrian School economics and the subjective theory of value;[12][13] the libertarianism developed in the 1970s by Robert Nozick and founded in American and European classical liberal traditions;[14] and the libertarianism associated to the Libertarian Party which was founded in 1971, including politicians such as David Nolan[15] and Ron Paul.[16]

The right-libertarianism associated with people such as Murray Rothbard and Robert Nozick,[17][18] whose book Anarchy, State, and Utopia according to David Lewis Schaefer received significant attention in academia,[19] is the dominant form of libertarianism in the United States, compared to that of left-libertarianism.[20] The latter is associated with the left-wing of the modern libertarian movement[21] and more recently to the political positions associated with academic philosophers Hillel Steiner, Philippe Van Parijs and Peter Vallentyne that combine self-ownership with an egalitarian approach to natural resources.[22] It is also related to anti-capitalist, free-market anarchist strands such as left-wing market anarchism,[23] referred to as market-oriented left-libertarianism to distinguish itself from other forms of libertarianism.[24] Libertarianism includes anarchist and libertarian socialist tendencies, although they are not as widespread as in other countries. Murray Bookchin,[25] a libertarian within this socialist tradition, argued that anarchists, libertarian socialists and the left should reclaim libertarian as a term, suggesting these other self-declared libertarians to rename themselves propertarians instead.[26][27] Although all libertarians oppose government intervention, there is a division between those anarchist or socialist libertarians as well as anarcho-capitalists such as Rothbard and David D. Friedman who adhere to the anti-state position, viewing the state as an unnecessary evil; minarchists such as Nozick who recognize the necessary need for a minimal state, often referred to as a night-watchman state;[28] and classical liberals who support a minimized small government[29][30][31] and a major reversal of the welfare state.[32]

The major libertarian party in the United States is the Libertarian Party, but libertarians are also represented within the Democratic and Republican parties while others are independent. Through twenty polls on this topic spanning thirteen years, Gallup found that voters who identify as libertarians ranged from 17 to 23% of the American electorate.[33] However, a 2014 Pew Poll found that 23% of Americans who identify as libertarians have little understanding of libertarianism.[34] Yellow, a political color associated with liberalism worldwide, has also been used as a political color for modern libertarianism in the United States.[35][36] The Gadsden flag, a symbol first used by American revolutionaries, is frequently used by libertarians and the libertarian-leaning Tea Party movement.[37][38][39]

Although libertarian continues to be widely used to refer to anti-state socialists internationally,[25][40][41][42][43][44] its meaning in the United States has deviated from its political origins to the extent that the common meaning of libertarian in the United States is different from elsewhere.[17][26][27][28][45] The Libertarian Party asserts the following core beliefs of libertarianism: "Libertarians support maximum liberty in both personal and economic matters. They advocate a much smaller government; one that is limited to protecting individuals from coercion and violence. Libertarians tend to embrace individual responsibility, oppose government bureaucracy and taxes, promote private charity, tolerate diverse lifestyles, support the free market, and defend civil liberties".[46][47]