Notes from a university political science course, in which we were being taught about ideologies:
- “liberty from government control”
- Opposes laws that limit drug use, abortion, speed limits, seatbelts, pollution control
- Foreign policy focus on isolationism (troops @ home for only defense)
- Different tenets disliked by conservatives and liberals
- Conservatives dislike disrespect for traditional values
- Liberals don’t like that it does away with social programs”
Given that I consider myself mostly libertarian, I was more than a little surprised to learn that my main goals are legalizing drugs, ending all traffic laws, killing babies, halting all trade with “threatening” countries, spreading disrespect for traditional values, and destroying the environment. I thought my main goals were economic freedom, self-reliance, and maximizing individual choices, but those broader and more important subjects did not even make it into the discussion. Unfortunately, in order to have a “political education” in this country, I only need to remember that libertarians hate seat-belts. I can remember that, and make an “A” in the class for doing so, but it certainly does not make me any wiser; for some, it may actually have the opposite effect.
Libertarianism values individual liberty, private property and social contracts. My professor will admit that classical liberalism, or laissez-faire liberalism, was the primary philosophy behind America’s founding, and he will admit that he cannot name a difference between libertarianism and classical liberalism, but he cannot bring himself to say that America had a libertarian founding.
I pointed out to my professor that isolationism is not actually a tenet of libertarianism, because isolationism assumes non-intervention (which libertarians support) as well as economic protectionism (which libertarians condemn). I suggested he use the word “non-interventionism” instead of “isolationism,” because libertarians are staunch defenders of uninhibited international trade, and isolationists are very much opposed to uninhibited trade. Realizing his error, but caring more for his coercive power over his students than he cares for their proper understanding of politics, he stumbled to his chalkboard and underlined the word “isolationism,” muttering something about how libertarians oppose aid to struggling countries.