John Locke, Lord Anthony Ashley Cooper, 1st Earl of Shaftesbury, Francis Bacon; when these names are laid out before a modern-day advocate of the political party labeled as (L)ibertarian ~ note the capital ‘L’ ~ one asks, “What do these men represent to you and your Party?” Having performed the aforementioned exercise at various events ~ to include such venues appropriately frequented by today’s (L)ibertarians (Tea Party rallies, 9.12-er projects, etc) ~ the witnessing of shrugs, harrumphs, and general signs of discomfort ensues. Today’s followers of the (L)ibertarians, seemingly, want nothing to do with (l)ibertarians ~ or perhaps they haven’t the time for trivialities such as research; they quote Thomas Jefferson, having no clue the man’s mentors.
The (l)ibertarians of the 17th and 18th century abhorred monarchial rule, escaping tyranny on the basis that the ascension of rulers was neither God-granted nor guaranteed. They were the foes of the Tory party whose members advocated monarchism in favor of the Kings of the British Empire. The (l)ibertarians of the day during those centuries carried the (l)iberal moniker; holding dear the concepts of constitution, fair elections, capitalism and free trade, human rights, as well as the separation of church and state. Referring to a (l)ibertarian as a (l)iberal circa 1700 was one of the day’s great compliments.
God and religious tolerance were at the center of the (l)ibertarian movement during The Age of Reason as evidenced by the highly influential writings of that time by John Locke. Locke’s writings endorsed, promoted and were the catalyst for societal acceptance of multiple religions. Through his works, monarchs, politicians and the society of his day were exposed to the theory that to impose a singular religion upon a nation through force based on bigotry was without reason. Locke’s thesis correctly assumed, as none other had in writing before, that to attempt such religious constraint led simply to additional national uproar; freedom of religion, Locke postulated, practically ensures national harmony between the religious. And it would be Locke’s writings that would establish many of the foundations of the Constitution of the United States of America.
Fast forwarding now to the 1970s, we encounter the official formation of a political party: The (L)ibertarians. Hosting their first national convention in 1972, the (L)ibertarians ~ a political party that very nearly called themselves the “New Liberty Party” ~ galvanized a movement bearing a moniker most closely related to the word, libertaire; a term coined by 19th century French anarchists. THESE (L)ibertarians, eager to establish themselves apart from what they viewed as the statist-run government, promoted a platform of government elimination, national isolationism, anti-conscription, societal freedom to “do as one wishes as long as no one is harmed”, free will, unlimited trade, and migration across unencumbered borders.
During that period (circa 1975), then-Governor Ronald Reagan, having grown ever-weary of the party he once promoted and called his own ~ “I didn't leave the Democratic Party, the party left me…” ~ was often overheard discussing the idea of a “(l)ibertarian-(C)onservative” and how that theory applied to political policies of his own. One quote from an interview granted by Reagan in July of ‘75 is now quoted out of context by The (L)ibertarian Party’s followers more than any other such statement:
“If you analyze it I believe the very heart and soul of (c)onservatism is (l)ibertarianism.”
That one statement by Reagan comes with additional qualifications to span 7 pages of text, to include
“…(c)onservatism is really a misnomer just as (l)iberalism is a misnomer…”
Reagan states clearly that so-called (C)onservatives of 1975 would be the (l)iberals if one were viewing the world through the Age of Reason lens. And therein lays a major factor for confusion when referencing the above-linked article as a source of support for TODAY’s (L)ibertarian Party. The editor’s inappropriate use of capital letters leaves one profoundly misguided.
In 1975, Reagan (C)onservatives were the Republicans on the far “right” of the political spectrum, therefore requiring capitalizing of the word per rules of proper grammar; and should the editors have followed grammar rules as they apply to the use of (l)iberals as well (in that particular paragraph), well perhaps THIS article may have very well never been quilled.
The (C)onservatives of 1975, as Reagan was explaining, were more closely related to the (l)ibertarians as the world knew them during the time of the “Revolution”, as Reagan put it (meaning the Age of Reason; evidenced by his immediate referencing of the Tory Party). Following Reagan’s logic, he considered the (L)iberals (circa 1975) as being comparable to the Tory Party (statists content with their “King”). Note, once again, the improper capitalization in the above-linked article.
This one opening paragraph has been the cause of more consternation than perhaps any other of its kind; and is outrageously profound proof warranting intense knowledge of the issues addressed before voters blindly follow a party’s shtick.
Reagan, in that one paragraph, addressed conservatism and libertarianism ~ then immediately brushed them over as “misnomers” considering the political landscape in 1975; moving on instead to emphasize the importance of the individual men and women of the given political movements.
[a](c)onservatism is a philosophy, which has altered just as the landscape…
[b](l)ibertarianism is a philosophy, which has altered just as the landscape…
[c]People running for office as (C)onservatives are politicians; often [a] joins hand in hand, rarely does [b] as defined by [d]…
[d]People running for office as (L)ibertarians are politicians; [a] rarely, if ever, is a factor, and [e] is NEVER a factor…
[e]America’s Founding Fathers, John Locke, and Francis Bacon (among many others) were (l)ibertarians of the Age of Reason; escaping tyranny to establish a Republic based on (C)onservative ideals.
Considering the changes witnessed by voters of this era ~ in a 21st century where a “moderate Democrat” was voted into office, later to be ultimately recognized as a nation-compromising Socialist ~ perhaps now more than ever Reagan’s call to vet our politicians (particularly those in the (L)ibertarian Party) is a call well worth heeding.
After all, as this study clearly outlines, (L)ibertarians are NOT (l)ibertarians.