So asks this Reason post, discussing five types of libertarian identified by Tyler Cowen. The five types are:
- Rothbardian anarchism;
- Mises Institute nationalism;
- Jeff Friedman and Critical Review; and
- 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.
The list is odd, indeed. Mises Institute people are not nationalists and generally are Rothbardians, so really 3 should collapse into 2. Hayek was not really a libertarian.1 And it’s not clear that Jeffrey Friedman is either; he’s some kind of “postlibertarian.” (See Postlibertarianism is not libertarianism: Rejoinder to Nove; After libertarianism: Rejoinder to Narveson, McCloskey, Flew, and Machan; and What’s Wrong With Libertarianism. ))
As for Cato: 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:
- have opposed tax cuts (see also Re: Cato Opposes Tax Cuts (Again));
- don’t want libertarians to advocate the aboliton of all medical licensing because people will think we are “moonbats”;
- think we need inflation to counter irrational exuberance;
- defend the Iraq war (not all of them, thank goodness);
- praise socialist-welfarist John Rawls;
- defend (archive) federal surveillance and the “Police America Act”;
- prefer Hamilton to Jefferson;
- are tepid in criticizing state-imposed intellectual property (and many of them support IP);
- oppose free trade (drug reimportation) because it would undercut the state-granted anti-competitive patent monopoly privilege;2
- support centralized federal supervision of states;
- praise “sensible gun regulations“;
- sought $3.5M in DC taxpayers’ money for reimbursement for helping to foist a national rule on the entire country that redefines the natural right to bear arms as a limited State-conferred privilege, clearing the way for all manner of gun regulations;
- flirt with the idea of carbon taxes;
- support NAFTA’s managed trade system;
- laud Ben Bernanke’s performance as Fed Chairman and distractingly focus on the importance of the “independence” of the Fed;
- want to run the TSA (and see Bob Poole on the TSA);
- opposed Ossetian independence from Russian in the name of “territorial integrity”;
- consort with Russian dictators.
- [Update] flirted with the universal basic income: “advocates of free markets and welfare reform should not dismiss the idea out of hand. The current welfare state is a clear failure. A universal basic income may or may not provide a better alternative, but it’s almost certain we will hear a great deal about in the next few years.”
- Update: endorse mandatory covid vaccines (tweet)
It’s almost a compliment to be called a nationalist by someone who holds up this as the libertarian ideal.
Lew’s reply was:
Posted by Lew Rockwell on July 9, 2009 03:00 PM
Stephan, these detailed taxonomies are just sand in the eyes. There are only two kinds of libertarian, much as some would like to obscure it: Rothbardian and non-Rothbardian. But even that can be a distraction in our everyday work. As Murray noted — minarchist or anarchist, constitutionalist or monarchist — there is really only one consideration: Do you hate the state?
Update: On Cato Unbound, an article arguing for military conscription.
And now we have them arguing for a minimum basic income.