At a recent conference on conservative philosophy, I told another professor that I’d just written a critical history of libertarianism. “You’re too late,” he said. “After Trump, libertarianism is dead in American politics.”
Would that it were so. The Libertarian Party is indeed in deep trouble, torn apart by factionalism. Despite the increasing ubiquity of communitarian, nationalist rhetoric, however, libertarianism has a firm grip — on the Republican Party.
It remains committed to the notion that crippling state capacity will make us freer. Its rhetoric has become more populist. But when Republicans retake power – and they are likely to get at least a share of it in the next election – the campaign for small and weak government will begin anew (with a carveout for abortion, where they aim to take control over women’s reproductive lives). Thus the urgency of understanding the deep flaws of modern libertarian political philosophy.
Consider three data points: the record of the Trump administration, the plans that Republicans have made going into the midterm elections and the Supreme Court’s attack on the modern administrative state.
Former President Trump doesn’t look particularly libertarian. He abandoned free trade. And liberty is not obviously advanced…Read More
Andrew Koppelman, John Paul Stevens Professor of Law at Northwestern University, is the author of “Burning Down the House: How Libertarian Philosophy Was Corrupted by Delusion and Greed” (St. Martin’s Press, forthcoming). Follow him on Twitter @AndrewKoppelman.