Frum on Two Kinds of Libertarianism

In an article, “Rand Paul, Media Darling,” published April 10 on The Atlantic website, the well-known neoconservative David Frum makes an important point about libertarianism. He wonders why Rand Paul has attracted more attention for his presidential campaign than Ted Cruz and suggests five reasons for this. One of these is that “If you live and work in Washington, D.C., it’s easy to imagine libertarianism as a powerful national movement. Washington is home to Reason magazine and the Cato Institute, and to dozens of hard-working and talented libertarian writers, commentators, and policy analysts.”

Frum distinguishes, in my view correctly, between Beltway libertarianism, which “looks a lot more like the preferred politics of the institutional media (socially permissive, fiscally cautious)” and another type of libertarianism, which he views with horror. This “is the Lincoln-hating, bullion-believing, conspiracy-mongering politics of libertarianism beyond the Beltway at the Ron Paul Institute,, or the Ludwig von Mises Institute.” As I’d prefer to put it, there is “low-tax liberalism” and real libertarianism, a movement which hates the state and all its maleficent works. Murray Rothbard long ago identified this dichotomy; and, by the way, he was not very fond of David Frum.


4:28 pm on April 10, 2015