What is a libertarian?
Libertarianism seems like a complex political philosophy. It isn’t difficult to understand. It comes down to three big ideas. If you haven’t been through our guide to the libertarian philosophy, The Path to Libertarianism, then please check it out here.
Before you think through these ideas, take the World’s Smallest Political Quiz. Retake it afterwards to see if you have moved closer to the top of the diamond. Marshall Fritz, the man in the YouTube video below, was the creator of the quiz. In the video and audio, he gives one of the best explanations of what a libertarian is.
First, a little synopsis. A lot of people like to say that libertarians are socially liberal and fiscally conservative.
Fundamentally, libertarianism is about the freedom and liberty of an individual. Each individual knows what is best for them and their community. Yes, it IS about reducing the size of government, but that is a small piece of what a libertarian believes. Simply put, libertarians don’t want to hurt others or take their stuff and that idea is extended through all aspects of society.
“Libertarianism is what your mom taught you: behave yourself and don’t hit your sister.” – Ken Bisson
David Boaz in his book Libertarianism: A Primer outlines the key concepts of the philosophy: Individualism, Individual Rights, Spontaneous Order, The Rule of Law, Limited Government, Free Markets, the Virtue of Production, the Natural harmony of interests, and Peace. (Read his description here.)
“Libertarianism is what you probably already believe… Libertarian values are American values. Libertarianism is America’s heritage of liberty, patriotism and honest work to build a future for your family. It’s the idea that being free and independent is a great way to live. That each of us is a unique individual with great potential. That you own yourself, and that you have the right to decide what’s best for you. Americans of all races and creeds built a great and prosperous country with these libertarian ideals. Let’s use them to build America’s future.” – David Bergland, 1984 Libertarian Party Presidential Candidate and author of Libertarianism in One Lesson
“Marshall Fritz founded the Alliance for the Separation of School and State and Advocates for Self-Government, and was perhaps best known as the creator of the World’s Smallest Political Quiz, a 10-question survey that places quiz-takers in one of five categories: Libertarian, Liberal, Centrist, Conservative, or Statist. Fritz passed away in 2008.”
“In this video from a California Libertarian Party conference in 1991, Fritz gives an introduction to libertarianism by answering four questions about it: What are libertarianism’s basic principles? How does it compare to the ‘left’ and ‘right’? Who would be better off in a libertarian world? How can you prove the principles of libertarianism work?”