What Kind of Libertarian Are You?

So asks this Reason post, discussing five types of libertarian identified by Tyler Cowen. The five types are:

  1. Cato-influenced;
  2. Rothbardian anarchism;
  3. Mises Institute nationalism;
  4. Jeff Friedman and Critical Review; and
  5. Hayek libertarianism.

“Cato-influenced” is defined as “orthodox” libertarianism, “defined by the troika of free markets, non-interventionism, and civil liberties.  It is based on individual rights but does not insist on anarchism.  A ruling principle is that libertarians should not endorse state interventions.” Of course, Mises Instituters tend to adhere to these principles (and to be Rothbardians, often anarchists; and not “nationalists”). As Wirkman Virkkala notes:

Cowen apparently desired to carry water in the culture war between George Mason economists and the scholars and enthusiasts associated with the Mises Institute. His characterization of a “Mises Institute Nationalism” borders on bizarre, though I see why he would make the attempt. The fact that so many of these folks are themselves anarchists means that whatever “nationalism” they promote must be a different sort. I took from this short description that Cowen doesn’t like Hans-Herman Hoppe. Yeah, thanks for sharing. This description of a strand of libertarianism is less coherent than the previous.

Look, I’m glad Cato is generally on our side. But the implication that Cato is “orthodox” libertarian, compared to the Mises Institute’s “nationalism” is guffaw-inducing. Of course, no group’s members have perfectly uniform views, but consider the following cases that seem to stray from the troika of basic libertarian principles of free markets, non-interventionism, and civil liberties, where various Catoites:

It’s almost a compliment to be called a nationalist by someone who holds up this as the libertarian ideal.

Update: Now they are calling for more inflation.

Update 2: And for the people and the world to show gratitude to the military, the CIA, and the NSA, for killing bin Laden.


1:53 pm on July 8, 2009