Below is an edited transcript of my speech “Libertarianism After Fifty Years: What Have We Learned?” delivered at the NYC LibertyFest (Brooklyn, NY, October 11, 2014; available at Kinsella on Liberty Podcast, Episode 152). The original title was “Libertarianism After Fifty Years: A Reassessment and Reappraisal” but I was allotted only about 15-20 minutes so condensed the scope and could only touch briefly on many of the matters discussed.
Libertarianism After Fifty Years: What Have We Learned?
NYC LibertyFest, Brooklyn, NY
October 11, 2014
Hello. I’m glad to be here. Thank you to Ian and Mike for the invitation. I do have my eleven year old son with me. It’s the second or third time he’s seen me speak. He’s been to Auburn with me. I went to NYC Comic Con with him on Thursday. So turnabout’s fair play although it was fun. Comic Con was great.
I have fifteen minutes. My topic is “Libertarianism After Fifty Years – What Have We Learned”? If I get cut off I will continue this in a private podcast, if I run out of time. You can find more information, if I run out of time, because this is a big topic for fifteen minutes.
This is my own view of libertarianism. It might not be shared by everyone here. But what I would like to talk about is—what is the libertarian movement? How old is it? Where did we come from?
In my view, the libertarian movement is about fifty years old—the modern libertarian movement. I think we can date it, you know, the glimmers of the movement started with Ayn Rand and Isabel Patterson and Rose Wilder Lane with their books in 1943. Of course, there are precursors to the libertarianism in the Enlightenment and classical liberal thought. There are other writers, Leonard Read, Milton Friedman. But I think we can really date the dawn of the modern libertarian movement to 1957 with the publication of Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. And then the works of Rothbard, more importantly, with Man, Economy and State in 1962.
So the movement is about 55, 45 years old. It’s a relatively young movement as far as ideologies go and political philosophies go. We still have our disagreements over certain controversies like abortion and other issues. But a lot of progress has been made in the last fifty years. We’ve had a lot of development, partly because of incessant libertarian internal debate, criticism by outsiders, criticism by minarchists, criticism by insiders. But at the fifty year stage, I do think it is a good time to step back and reflect and think what have we learned over the last fifty years. How we could use this going forward to further refine and develop our ideas. [click to continue…]