Right-libertarianism is a phrase some use to describe a variety of free market libertarian positions, sometimes to distinguish those positions from left-libertarian views. Anthony Gregory maintains that right-libertarianism can refer to "any number of varying and at times mutually exclusive political orientations."[1] Peter Vallentyne writes that libertarianism is not a "right-wing" doctrine because of its stand against laws that restrict private sexual relationships between adults or use of drugs, against laws imposing religious views or practices on individuals, and against compulsory military service. Nevertheless he uses the phrase to contrast views on property rights in natural resources which are different from what he labels "left libertarian" views.[2] Lawrence and Charlotte Becker main it most often refers to the political position that because natural resources are originally unowned, they therefore may be appropriated at-will by private parties without the consent of, or owing to, others.[3] Samuel Edward Konkin III defined the term "right-libertarianism" as an "activist, organization, publication or tendency which supports parliamentarianism exclusively as a strategy for reducing or abolishing the state, typically opposes Counter-Economics, either opposes the Libertarian Party or works to drag it right and prefers coalitions with supposedly 'free-market' conservatives."[4] Anarcho-capitalist views have also been described as a "right wing" form of libertarianism by several authors.[5][6][7]

Some market-oriented libertarians like Leonard E. Read, Harry Browne and Walter Block deny any association with both the political right and left.[8] Others like Sheldon Richman, Karl Hess, Roderick Long and Kevin Carson have written about libertarianism's "left wing" opposition to authoritarian rule.[9][10]

Individuals labeled "right-libertarian"

The term "Old Right" has been used to describe individuals also identified as libertarian. Such individuals include Albert Jay Nock,[11] a number of other intellectuals frequently seen as forebears of modern market-oriented libertarianism—including Frank Chodorov,[12] Garet Garrett,[13] Isabel Paterson,[14] Rose Wilder Lane,[15] and, perhaps, John T. Flynn[16][17][original research?] Old Right thinkers opposed the rise of the managerial state during the Progressive era and its expansion in connection with the New Deal and the Fair Deal. They also challenged imperialism and military interventionism.[18][unreliable source?] "Old Right" was a label about which many or most of these figures might have been skeptical; most thought of themselves, effectively, as classical liberals, and Chodorov famously wrote: "As for me, I will punch anyone who calls me a conservative in the nose. I am a radical."[19] The thinkers associated with the Old Right were not identified with the social conservatism of thinkers associated with later movements often identified as part of the right, and their resistance to the state—which amounted to anarchism in Chodorov's case.[20]

Lew Rockwell and Jeffrey Tucker identified the Old Right as not only anti-authoritarian but also culturally conservative. They deliberately distanced their brand of libertarianism from classical liberalism. And they affirmed, for instance, that "[v]igorous social authority—as embodied in the family, church, and other mediating institutions—is a bedrock of the virtuous society" and that "[t]he egalitarian ethic is morally reprehensible and destructive of private property and social authority."[21][unreliable source?]

Murray N. Rothbard was strongly influenced by the Old Right's opposition to the managerial state and, if anything, more unequivocally anti-war and anti-imperialist than his Old Right forebears and mentors.[22] Already a radical classical liberal and anti-interventionist, Rothbard became an anarchist during his time as a student at Columbia University.[23] By the 1960s, Rothbard had become the doyen of modern American market-oriented libertarianism,[24] for a few years building a relationship between libertarians and the budding New Left.[25]

Walter Block identifies Hans-Hermann Hoppe, Edward Feser, and Ron Paul as expositors of libertarian positions on the right.[26]

See also


  1. Anthony Gregory, Left, Right, Moderate and Radical," LewRockwell.com (n.p., Dec. 21, 2006) suggests the following might lead to the "right libertarian"description: an exclusive interest in "economic freedoms," preference for a "conservative lifestyle," endorsement of the view that big business should be seen as "a great victim of the state," favoring a "strong national defense," and sharing the Old Right's "opposition to empire."
  2. Peter Vallentyne, "Libertarianism," Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy [Stanford University, July 20, 2010]).
  3. Lawrence C. Becker, Charlotte B. Becker. Encyclopedia of ethics, Volume 3. Taylor & Francis US, 2001. p. 1562
  4. Samuel Edward Konkin III, New Libertarian Manifesto, 1983.
  5. Marcellus Andrews, The Political Economy of Hope and Fear: Capitalism and the Black Condition in America, NYU Press, 2001, ISBN 0814706800, 9780814706800 On page 61: "anarcho-capitalist-a right wing libertarian whose faith in private property and unregulated markets is absolute"
  6. David Goodway, Anarchist seeds beneath the snow: left-libertarian thought and British writers from William Morris to Colin Ward, Liverpool University Press, Liverpool University Press, 2006 ISBN 1846310253, 9781846310256 On page 4: describes confusion in definition of libertarianism because of "Anarcho-capitalism, 'minimal statism' and an extreme right-wing laissez-faire philosophy"
  7. Saul Newman, The Politics of Postanarchism, Edinburgh University Press, 2010 ISBN 0748634959, 9780748634958 On page 43 : "It is important to distinguish between anarchism and certain strands of right-wing libertarianism which at times go by the same name (for example, Murray Rothbard's anarcho-capitalism)."
  8. See Leonard E. Read, "Neither Left Nor Right", The Freeman: Ideas on Liberty 48.2 (Feb. 1998): 71-3; Harry Browne, "The Libertarian Stand on Abortion" (HarryBrowne.Org, Dec. 21, 1998); Walter Block, "Libertarianism Is Unique and Belongs Neither to the Right Nor the Left: A Critique of the Views of Long, Holcombe, and Baden on the Left, Hoppe, Feser, and Paul on the Right," Journal of Libertarian Studies 22 (2010): 127-70.
  9. Sheldon Richman, "Libertarianism: Left or Right?," Freedom Daily (Future of Freedom Foundation, Sep. 12, 2007). Richman notes that since the origins of the term "right wing" were from the French Legislative Assembly where supporters of the dethroned monarchy and aristocracy sat, libertarians should be on the "left wing" where their opponents sat.
  10. Some forebears of contemporary libertarians, like Benjamin Tucker, have been participants in the acknowledged history of the Left: Tucker embraced the First International. See, e.g., James J. Martin, Men against the State: The Expositors of Individualist Anarchism in America (Colorado Springs, CO: Myles 1970). Tucker identified his economic philosophy as a form of socialism. See Benjamin R. Tucker, "State Socialism and Anarchism: How Far They Agree and Wherein They Differ," Instead of a Book: By a Man Too Busy to Write One (New York: Tucker 1897). Sheldon Richman writes that Tucker's brand was to be achieved through free market, not state means. See Libertarianism: Left or Right?," Future of Freedom Foundation, Sep. 12, 2007
  11. See Albert Jay Nock, Memoirs of a Superfluous Man (New York: Harper 1943); Our Enemy, the State (New York: Morrow 1935); "Isaiah's Job," Atlantic Monthly 157 (June 1936): 641-9 (arguing for the importance of a libertarian "remnant" capable of affirming and preserving ideas likely to meet with popular scorn and incomprehension.
  12. See Frank Chodorov, Out of Step: The Autobiography of an Individualist (New York: Devin-Adair 1962); Fugitive Essays: Selected Writings of Frank Chodorov, ed. Charles H. Hamilton (Indianapolis: Liberty 1980).
  13. See Carl Ryant, Profit's Prophet: Garet Garrett (1878-1954) (Selinsgrove, PA: Susquehanna UP 1989); Bruce Ramsey, Unsanctioned Voice: Garet Garrett, Journalist of the Old Right (Caldwell, ID: Caxton 2008).
  14. See Stephen Cox, The Woman and the Dynamo: Isabel Paterson and the Idea of America (New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction 2004); Isabel Paterson, The God of the Machine (New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction 1993).
  15. See Rose Wilder Lane, Give Me Liberty (1936; Whitefish, MT: Kessinger 2006); The Discovery of Freedom: Man's Struggle against Authority (1943: Auburn, AL: Mises 2007).
  16. See John T. Flynn, As We Go Marching: A Biting Indictment of the Coming of Domestic Fascism in America (1944; New York: Free Life 1973); John Moser, Right Turn: John T. Flynn and the Transformation of American Liberalism (New York: New York UP 2005).
  17. See Ronald Radosh, Prophets on the Right: Profiles of Conservative Critics of American Globalism (New York: Simon 1975); Justin Raimondo, Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement, 2d ed. (Wilmington, DE: ISI 2008); Murray N. Rothbard, The Betrayal of the American Right (Auburn, AL: Mises 2007).
  18. See Bill Kauffman, Ain't My America: The Long, Noble History of Antiwar Conservatism and Middle-American Anti-Imperialism (New York: Metropolitan 2008).
  19. Frank Chodorov, letter to the editor, National Review 2.20 (Oct. 6, 1956): 23, qtd. Charles H. Hamilton, "Introduction," Fugitive Essays 29, qtd. Rothbard, Betrayal 165.
  20. See Bill Kauffman, "Found Cause: Don't Call Me a Conservative," American Conservative, May 18, 2009.
  21. Llewellyn Rockwell Jr., and Jeffrey Tucker, "Ayn Rand is Dead," National Review, May 28, 1990: 36.
  22. See Raimondo, Enemy; Brian Doherty, Radicals for Capitalism: A Freewheeling History of the Modern American Libertarian Movement (New York: Public Affairs 2007).
  23. Raimondo, Enemy 47.
  24. For overall assessments of Rothbard, see, e.g., Doherty 565-9, Raimondo, Enemy 372-83.
  25. See, e.g., Murray N. Rothbard, "Left and Right: The Prospects for Liberty," Left and Right: A Journal of Libertarian Thought 1.1 (Spring 1965): 4-22; Roderick T. Long, "Rothbard's 'Left and Right': Forty Years Later" (Rothbard Memorial Lecture, Austrian Scholars Conference 2006).
  26. Walter Block, "Libertarianism Is Unique and Belongs Neither to the Right Nor the Left: a Critique of the Views of Long, Holcombe, and Baden on the Left, Hoppe, Feser, and Paul on the Right, Journal of Libertarian Studies Volume 22 (2010): 127–70.