Is the Libertarian Moment Finally Over?

The face of popular protest against dreary centre-ground politics has emerged. Just about everybody is in agreement that the face is nationalist and populist.

Donald Trumps’ inauguration speech and the executive actions he has taken since becoming president seem to confirm this. Disappointingly these headwinds of popular discontent have very little to do with libertarianism.

Since the 2008 financial disaster, the freedom movement has been growing. However, I can’t help wondering almost a decade later if the libertarian moment is finally over?

It would seem that in the wake of the great Credit Crunch libertarians have upped their profile. But have we reached our high water mark?

In the last ten years, there has been an outpouring of good quality Libertarian leaning literature (admittedly as well as a whole lot of awful stuff). People who represent freedom oriented positions have been heard in popular discussions and libertarianism has provided a popular non-Marxist outlet for discontent.

We have gone from being a microscopic section of popular opinion to being merely marginal. Not an easy transition to make. Certainly, Libertarians still have no influence in mainstream politics but that is hardly surprising.

However, the libertarian movement is not about to retreat because there is still a great need for libertarianism.

Governments are still ready to trample on the freedom of their people. Furthermore, the disastrous financial policies that triggered chaos in 2008 are still in place today and look set to implode again in the near future. In a world of closing borders we need voices of tolerance that are pragmatic rather than hysterical.

The libertarian moment is not over yet.


  1. Freedom peaked in different places at different times.

    In this town (Kettering, Northamptonshire) it peaked in 1874 – that was when national taxation was lowest (as a proportion of the economy) and local taxation was not high as we had (by referendum – who says they are new things) rejected the creation of a School Board (it was not forced on the town till the Act of 1891) – and regulations did really get out of hand till 1875 (the Disraeli Act imposing about 40 different functions on local government – whether local taxpayers were in favour of them or not).

    In America freedom in the North peaked just before the Civil War – but slavery existed in the South (there were handful of slaves in some Northern States – but not mass slavery, it was a matter of people who had been born before “people born after this date are free” laws) slavery ended in 1865, but the horrible antics of the Redshirts and KKK started to be really effective in the 1870s. So 1869 as the peak of American freedom?

    In Western Europe freedom was at a peak in the late 1850s – before the statism of German and Italian “unification” really got under way. But in eastern Europe the horror of Russian serfdom can not be ignored – and that does not end till 1861.

    In Japan “feudal” restrictions end in 1868 – but statism is on the rise in the 1870s, mass state education, military conscription and so on.

    So, if forced to choose a year, I would say that the closet thing the world has had to a “libertarian moment” was 1869.



  2. As for now.

    Well most people never did understand that the Financial Crises of 2008 was the creation of Government backed Central Bank Credit Bubble monetary policy – such works as “Meltdown” by Thomas Woods were carefully NOT reviewed by the mainstream media. So most people blamed “the bankers” or just “capitalist greed” one reason for eight years of Comrade Barack Obama – although he proved to be Cloward and Piven type, NOT a firebrand Leninist.

    Fiscal Side?

    Well Ted Cruz outlined detailed plans to reduce government spending – many Federal Government Departments and Agencies to be closed down, actually abolished.

    Sadly most Republican Primary voters were not interested and supported Donald Trump – who has no plans to get rid of government departments.

    The Democrats? They have been a bigger-government-party since they rejected President Grover Cleveland in 1896.

    This time they went for “Liberal Fascism” (Jonah Goldberg’s book) herself – Hillary Clinton, who promised to make every aspect of government bigger and more interventionist. And that was a set of promises the lady would have happily kept.

    Britain? Surely no one believes there has been a “libertarian moment” here?

    Even Mrs Thatcher was very conflicted in some ways – and the history of the United Kingdom since the lady fell in 1990 is best not thought about very much.

    Try supporting even Freedom of Speech in the United Kingdom – in American “ban hate speech” is a demand of the radical left, in Britain such a ban has been the law of the land since 1965.

    Freedom of Speech, Right to Keep and Bear Arms, conservative (let alone libertarian) television and radio stations, limiting government spending, taxes and regulations?

    In the United Kingdom? Not likely – not likely at all.

    What “libertarian moment”? When?



    1. Paul,

      The Libertarian Moment that I describe is the momentum that libertarianism has gathered since 2008.

      I am also in agreement with you that if there was ever a golden age of liberalism it would have been in the 1860s, before the 1870s financial chaos.



      1. I must confess that I had not noticed any momentum – but there may well have been some.

        Clearly Kettering is not the centre of the universe – so I can be out of touch.


  3. I meant that regulations did NOT get really out of hand in Britain till 1875 (the Disraeli Act imposing about 40 duties on local government – whether local people wanted to pay for them or not) – that was also the year that the government legalised obstruction (under the military word “picketing” – as in “picket line” of men trying to prevent people either going to work or visitors going into a place of business). Governments not only can make non crimes “crimes”, they can also make obvious crimes “not crimes”. This time under the mistaken notion that low wages were a Capitalist plot by “Tom Gradgrind” employers out of the badness of their hearts – the idea of supply and demand and marginal productivity was not exactly part of Disraeli’s mental universe.

    W.H. Hutt explained how such “collective bargaining” (maintained by force and the threat of force) is nothing to do with the free market – and can only result in higher unemployment and decaying industry in the long term.

    Rise of Public Prosecutions in the 1870s as well of course – before then if a crime was not against the state, then an ordinary person (at least formally) brought the prosecution. Even if a policeman was the prosecutor (there were policemen in London from the 1820s and they became compulsory in every county from 1856) he formally brought the prosecution as an individual. “I found the dead body of the murdered Mary-Anne – and I accuse Mr John Smith, who stands before you in the dock, of this vile deed” (well a bit like that anyway).

    Still back to today…….

    Will the next Credit Bubble collapse be blamed on the Federal Reserve?

    Most likely NOT – the media will blame President Donald Trump – even though the economic collapse will be nothing to do with him.

    “Greedy capitalist tax cuts for the rich, have led to disaster” – and other such rubbish.

    The “solution” will be presented as more statism.

    Bismark played that game after the crash of the early 1870s.

    The German Liberals were “a party of Jews” and the solution to the problems of Germany was more statism.

    After one and half centuries – blaming “the rich” and “big business” for everything has still not worn thin.

    It does not wear thin because it plays into the hands of human envy.

    Especially with someone who was born a millionaire (forget a silver spoon – his spoon was gold) as President.



    1. Indeed. The MSM will blame Trump, alt-left will blame greedy capitalists, alt-right will blame greedy Jews. Good that Trump fits into all categories. (someone with Jewish in-laws, surrounded by Jews is as good as Jew, if you ask the hard core alt-right).



  4. I think it was our our last year in the rose and crown, when a pair of objectivists with no particular public profile came to the pub and told me that it was because they had read about an unnamed south london pub meetup in the Economist.

    That does not mean it is time to stop trying. In fact Donald Trump is a bit of gift for the minimal state argument.



  5. I have to concur with Mr. Marks – there is no “libertarian moment” and never had been. Libertariansm is strong in theory, but in practice it failed as is possible for political movement to fail.

    Why? Humans are not “rational animals” and are not moved by arguments and logic, but stories, tales, songs and other forms of art.

    Where is more persuasive power? In 100,000 hours of libertarian and anarcho-capitalist lectures, or in one song like this?

    Ayn Rand understood it, but since her no one.



    1. Ayn Rand had a good point about the arts. Leaving the arts to the left (the position of “practical” people) has been a disaster.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s