David Boaz on the Libertarian Ethos

Berkeley, California—The home of the “Free Speech Movement” became a center of attention last year when writer and professional provacateur Milo Yiannopoulos ignited protests on campus – testing the city’s tolerance of viewpoints outside the progressive orthodoxy. Libertarians, for the most part, have found common cause with these speakers in opposing the new threats to free speech. As Anthony Fisher of Reason has pointed out, groups like Antifa have resorted to violence against innocent parties, and labeled anyone to the left of Bernie Sanders as “fascist.” Unfortunately, the left-wing reaction has caused some libertarians to over-sympathize with members of the so-called “alt-right,” whose aims are also opposed to a free society. David Boaz is Executive vice president of the Cato Institute and author of The Libertarian MindThe Libertarian Reader, and Libertarianism: A Primer. He visited Berkeley in February to give a warning to students who might be seduced by the alt-right, and to explain why the reactionary philosophy is incompatible with libertarianism. While libertarians have reason to be frustrated by the status quo, there is a danger of this anger congealing into hatred. “Ultimately,” Boaz says, “libertarianism is about peaceful cooperation―markets, civil society, global trade, peace, so it just isn’t angry enough for some people.” He joins Bob to make clear how alien the alt-right’s thinking is to a truly libertarian mind.