Boettke on Rothbard and Libertarianism

by David Gordon

In a recent post on Facebook, Professor Peter Boettke of the George Mason University Department of Economics speaks in harsh terms of the view of libertarian rights held by Murray Rothbard and others, who, he thinks, were too clever for their own good. He complains, “there is a habit among libertarians to engage in what I have called ‘litmus test’ libertarianism. What I mean by that is pick a position that is most obnoxious to liberal sentiments and most outrageous to basic humanity but is consistent with some notion of the principle of self-ownership and non-aggression axiom, and then hold that up as the litmus test to show whether someone is, or is not a ‘libertarian’. This is, I argue, the route to illiberal libertarianism, and rather than being celebrated for his [sic] shock value’, should be held up as the mistake of putting cleverness above insightfulness.”

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