By Walter Block
This is my attempt to help temper the rancor I currently see in the liberty community. I am a staunch thin or pure libertarian. For me, the correct (Rothbardian) libertarianism is firmly predicated on the non aggression principle (NAP): the law should prohibit the initiation of violence against innocent people and their property. That is it. That is entirely it. There is no more to thin libertarianism, other than implications of this basic axiom; well, that’s quite a lot.
Of late however, many leftists have been attempting to hijack the good ship libertarian in their own direction, adding to the NAP their own pet projects: opposition to bossism, racism, sexism, homophobia, prejudice, bigotry, brutalism, etc. Some call this humanitarian libertarianism, many call it thick libertarianism, and others characterize this as “New Libertarianism” (http://www.johnmccaskey.com/joomla/index.php/blog/71-new-libertarians). Whatever it is called, it is an unwarranted and unjustified attack on pure or thin or Rothbardian libertarianism.
But this isn’t simply an issue of leftism trying to envelop libertarianism. The push towards the right has been going on just as long and just as forcefully; for example, some right wing thickists urge acceptance of conservatism. This article of mine was an attempt to make the case that not one but both sides are guilty of this misunderstanding of libertarianism, and to point out errors on not one but both sides:
Block, Walter E. 2010. “Libertarianism is unique; it 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; Vol. 22: 127–70; http://mises.org/journals/jls/22_1/22_1_8.pdf; http://184.108.40.206/exchange/walterblock/Inbox/JLS%20article.EML/1_multipart_xF8FF_2_block%20libertarianism%20is%20unique%20one.pdf/C58EA28C-18C0-4a97-9AF2-036E93DDAFB3/block%20libertarianism%20is%20unique%20one.pdf?attach=1http://mises.org/journals/scholar/block15.pdf; http://www.mises.org/journals/scholar/block15.pdf
I am not sure whether or not it will temper the rancor now racing through the libertarian community to point out that not only leftists, but rightists too are guilty of thickism. I am being even handed, criticizing attacks on pure libertarianism from whichever direction they emanate, one, in an attempt to reduce hostility, name-calling, flaming, etc., but more important, because it is the truth. Both sides are guilty of making this elementary mistake, not just the lefties.
For voices of sanity on this issue other than (hopefully) my own, see anything written on the subject by Bob Wenzel, and also this magnificent essay by Lew Rockwell:https://www.lewrockwell.com/2014/05/lew-rockwell/the-future-of-libertarianism/. Wait, here’s one more excellent essay on this topic, by Laurence Vance: https://www.lewrockwell.com/2014/05/laurence-m-vance/i-am-a-libertarian/