Right-libertarian political thought is characterized by the strict priority given to liberty, with the need to maximize the realm of individual freedom and minimize the scope of public authority. Right-libertarians typically see the state as the principal threat to liberty. This anti-statism differs from anarchist doctrines in that it is based upon an uncompromising individualism that places little or no emphasis upon human sociability or cooperation. Right-libertarian philosophy is also rooted in the ideas of individual rights and laissez-faire economics. The right-libertarianism theory of individual rights generally stresses that the individual is the owner of his person and that people have an absolute entitlement to the property that his labor produces. Economically, right-libertarians emphasize the self-regulating nature and mechanisms of the market, portraying government intervention and attempts to redistribute wealth as invariably unnecessary and counter-productive. Although all right-libertarians oppose government intervention, there is a division between anarcho-capitalists, who view the state as an unnecessary evil and want property rights protected without statutory law through market-generated tort, contract and property law; and minarchists, who recognize the necessary need for a minimal state, often referred to as a night-watchman state, to provide its citizens with the military, the police and courts.
While influenced by classical liberal thought, with some viewing right-libertarianism as an outgrowth or as a variant of it, there are significant differences. Edwin van de Haar argues that "confusingly, in the United States the term libertarianism is sometimes also used for or by classical liberals. But this erroneously masks the differences between them". Classical liberalism refuses to give priority to liberty over order and therefore does not exhibit the hostility to the state which is the defining feature of libertarianism. As such, right-libertarians believe classical liberals favor too much state involvement, arguing that they do not have enough respect for individual property rights and lack sufficient trust in the workings of the free market and its spontaneous order leading to support of a much larger state. Right-libertarians also disagree with classical liberals as being too supportive of central banks and monetarist policies.
Right-libertarianism has been described as combining opposition to the state and individual freedom, with strong support for property rights and free markets. Property rights have been the issue that has divided libertarian philosophies. According to Jennifer Carlson, right-libertarianism is the dominant form of libertarianism in the United States. Right-libertarians "see strong private property rights as the basis for freedom and thus are—to quote the title of Brian Doherty's text on libertarianism in the United States—"radicals for capitalism".
The non-aggression principle (NAP) is often described as the foundation of present-day right-libertarian philosophies. It is a moral stance which forbids actions that are inconsistent with capitalist property rights. The principle defines aggression and initiation of force as violation of these rights. The NAP and property rights are closely linked since what constitutes aggression depends on what libertarians consider to be one's property.
While the principle has been used rhetorically to oppose such policies as victimless crime laws, taxation and military drafts, use of the NAP as a justification for right-libertarianism has been criticized as circular reasoning and as rhetorical obfuscation of the coercive nature of libertarian property law enforcement because the principle redefines aggression in right-libertarian terms.
While there is debate on whether right-libertarianism and left-libertarianism or socialist libertarianism "represent distinct ideologies as opposed to variations on a theme", right-libertarianism is most in favor of private property and property rights. Right-libertarians maintain that unowned natural resources "may be appropriated by the first person who discovers them, mixes his labor with them, or merely claims them—without the consent of others, and with little or no payment to them". This contrasts with left-libertarianism in which "unappropriated natural resources belong to everyone in some egalitarian manner". Right-libertarians believe that natural resources are originally unowned and therefore private parties may appropriate them at will without the consent of, or owing to, others (e.g. a land value tax).
Right-libertarians are also referred to as propertarians as they hold that societies in which private property rights are enforced are the only ones that are both ethical and lead to the best possible outcomes. They generally support the free market and are not opposed to any concentrations of economic power, provided it occurs through non-coercive means.
There is a debate amongst right-libertarians as to whether or not the state is legitimate. While anarcho-capitalists advocate its abolition, minarchists support minimal states, often referred to as night-watchman states. Minarchists maintain that the state is necessary for the protection of individuals from aggression, theft, breach of contract and fraud. They believe the only legitimate governmental institutions are the military, police and courts, although some expand this list to include fire departments, prisons and the executive and legislative branches. They justify the state on the grounds that it is the logical consequence of adhering to the non-aggression principle and argue that anarchy is immoral because it implies that the non-aggression principle is optional and that the enforcement of laws under anarchism is open to competition. Another common justification is that private defense agencies and court firms would tend to represent the interests of those who pay them enough.
Right-libertarians such as anarcho-capitalists argue that the state violates the non-aggression principle by its nature because governments use force against those who have not stolen or vandalized private property, assaulted anyone, or committed fraud. Others argue that monopolies tend to be corrupt and inefficient and that private defense and court agencies would have to have a good reputation in order to stay in business. Linda and Morris Tannehill argue that no coercive monopoly of force can arise on a truly free market and that a government's citizenry can not desert them in favor of a competent protection and defense agency.
Right-libertarian philosopher Moshe Kroy argues that the disagreement between anarcho-capitalists who adhere to Murray Rothbard's view of human consciousness and the nature of values and minarchists who adhere to Ayn Rand's view of human consciousness and the nature of values over whether or not the state is moral is not due to a disagreement over the correct interpretation of a mutually held ethical stance. He argues that the disagreement between these two groups is instead the result of their disagreement over the nature of human consciousness and that each group is making the correct interpretation of their differing premises. According to Kroy, these two groups are not making any errors with respect to deducing the correct interpretation of any ethical stance because they do not hold the same ethical stance.
The idea of taxation as theft is a viewpoint found in a number of political philosophies. Under this view, government transgresses property rights by enforcing compulsory tax collection. Right-libertarians see taxation as a violation of the non-aggression principle.
Right-libertarianism has been influenced by this school of liberalism. It has been viewed as an outgrowth or as a variant of it and it is commonly referred to as a continuation or radicalization of classical liberalism.
Traditionally, liberalism's primary emphasis was placed on securing the freedom of the individual by limiting the power of the government and maximizing the power of free market forces. The philosophy emerged as a response to the Industrial Revolution and urbanization in the 19th century in Europe and the United States, advocated a limited government and held a belief in laissez-faire economic policy. Built on ideas that had already arisen by the end of the 18th century such as selected ideas of Locke, Smith, Malthus, Say and Ricardo, liberalism stressed the belief in natural law, utilitarianism and progress. These liberals were more suspicious than conservatives of all but the most minimal government and adopted Thomas Hobbes's theory of government, believing government had been created by individuals to protect themselves from one another.
Neoliberalism emerged in the era following World War II during which social liberalism was the mainstream form of liberalism while Keynesianism and social democracy were the dominant ideologies in the Western world. It was led by economists such as Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman, who advocated the reduction of the state and a return to classical liberalism, hence the term neo-classical liberalism. However, it did accept some aspects of social liberalism such as some degree of welfare provision by the state, but on a greatly reduced scale. Hayek and Friedman used the term classical liberalism to refer to their ideas, but others use the term to refer to all liberalism before the 20th century, not to designate any particular set of political views and therefore see all modern developments as being by definition not classical.
Right-libertarianism has been commonly referred to as a continuation or radicalization of classical liberalism and referred to as neo-classical liberalism.
Paleolibertarianism is a political philosophy developed by theorists Murray Rothbard and Lew Rockwell that combines conservative cultural values and social philosophy with a libertarian opposition to government intervention.
Propertarianism is an ethical philosophy that advocates the replacement of states with contractual relationships. Propertarian ideals are most commonly cited to advocate for a state or other governance body whose main or only job is to enforce contracts and private property.
^ abcdefgGoodway, David (2006). Anarchist Seeds Beneath the Snow: Left-Libertarian Thought and British Writers from William Morris to Colin Ward. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press. p. 4. "'Libertarian' and 'libertarianism' are frequently employed by anarchists as synonyms for 'anarchist' and 'anarchism', largely as an attempt to distance themselves from the negative connotations of 'anarchy' and its derivatives. The situation has been vastly complicated in recent decades with the rise of anarcho-capitalism, 'minimal statism' and an extreme right-wing laissez-faire philosophy advocated by such theorists as Rothbard and Nozick and their adoption of the words 'libertarian' and 'libertarianism'. It has therefore now become necessary to distinguish between their right libertarianism and the left libertarianism of the anarchist tradition".
^ abcdeMarshall, Peter (2008). Demanding the Impossible: A History of Anarchism. London: Harper Perennial. p. 565. "The problem with the term 'libertarian' is that it is now also used by the Right. [...] In its moderate form, right libertarianism embraces laissez-faire liberals like Robert Nozick who call for a minimal State, and in its extreme form, anarcho-capitalists like Murray Rothbard and David Friedman who entirely repudiate the role of the State and look to the market as a means of ensuring social order".
^ abcCarlson, Jennifer D. (2012). "Libertarianism". In Miller, Wilburn R., ed. The Social History of Crime and Punishment in America. London: Sage Publications. p. 1006. ISBN1412988764.
^ abcNewman, Saul (2010). The Politics of Postanarchism. Edinburgh University Press. p. 53. ISBN978-0-7486-3495-8. 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). There is a complex debate within this tradition between those like Robert Nozick, who advocate a 'minimal state', and those like Rothbard who want to do away with the state altogether and allow all transactions to be governed by the market alone. From an anarchist perspective, however, both positions—the minimal state (minarchist) and the no-state ('anarchist') positions—neglect the problem of economic domination; in other words, they neglect the hierarchies, oppressions, and forms of exploitation that would inevitably arise in a laissez-faire 'free' market. [...] Anarchism, therefore, has no truck with this right-wing libertarianism, not only because it neglects economic inequality and domination, but also because in practice (and theory) it is highly inconsistent and contradictory. The individual freedom invoked by right-wing libertarians is only a narrow economic freedom within the constraints of a capitalist market, which, as anarchists show, is no freedom at all.
^Kymlicka 2005, p. 516. "Right-wing libertarians argue that the right of self-ownership entails the right to appropriate unequal parts of the external world, such as unequal amounts of land".
^Vallentyne 2007. "The best-known versions of libertarianism are right-libertarian theories, which hold that agents have a very strong moral power to acquire full private property rights in external things. Left-libertarians, by contrast, hold that natural resources (e.g., space, land, minerals, air, and water) belong to everyone in some egalitarian manner and thus cannot be appropriated without the consent of, or significant payment to, the members of society".
^ abRothbard, Murray (2009) [1970s]. The Betrayal of the American Right(PDF). Mises Institute. ISBN978-1610165013. One gratifying aspect of our rise to some prominence is that, for the first time in my memory, we, 'our side,' had captured a crucial word from the enemy. 'Libertarians' had long been simply a polite word for left-wing anarchists, that is for anti-private property anarchists, either of the communist or syndicalist variety. But now we had taken it over.
^ abBookchin, Murray (January 1986). "The Greening of Politics: Toward a New Kind of Political Practice". Green Perspectives: Newsletter of the Green Program Project (1). "We have permitted cynical political reactionaries and the spokesmen of large corporations to pre-empt these basic libertarian American ideals. We have permitted them not only to become the specious voice of these ideals such that individualism has been used to justify egotism; the pursuit of happiness to justify greed, and even our emphasis on local and regional autonomy has been used to justify parochialism, insularism, and exclusivity – often against ethnic minorities and so-called deviant individuals. We have even permitted these reactionaries to stake out a claim to the word libertarian, a word, in fact, that was literally devised in the 1890s in France by Elisée Reclus as a substitute for the word anarchist, which the government had rendered an illegal expression for identifying one's views. The propertarians, in effect – acolytes of Ayn Rand, the earth mother of greed, egotism, and the virtues of property – have appropriated expressions and traditions that should have been expressed by radicals but were willfully neglected because of the lure of European and Asian traditions of socialism, socialisms that are now entering into decline in the very countries in which they originated".
^ abFernandez, Frank (2001). Cuban Anarchism. The History of a Movement. Sharp Press. p. 9. "Thus, in the United States, the once exceedingly useful term "libertarian" has been hijacked by egotists who are in fact enemies of liberty in the full sense of the word."
^ ab"The Week Online Interviews Chomsky". Z Magazine. 23 February 2002. "The term libertarian as used in the US means something quite different from what it meant historically and still means in the rest of the world. Historically, the libertarian movement has been the anti-statist wing of the socialist movement. In the US, which is a society much more dominated by business, the term has a different meaning. It means eliminating or reducing state controls, mainly controls over private tyrannies. Libertarians in the US don't say let's get rid of corporations. It is a sort of ultra-rightism."
^Ward, Colin (2004). Anarchism: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford University Press. p. 62. "For a century, anarchists have used the word 'libertarian' as a synonym for 'anarchist', both as a noun and an adjective. The celebrated anarchist journal Le Libertaire was founded in 1896. However, much more recently the word has been appropriated by various American free-market philosophers."
^ abcRobert Graham, ed. (2005). Anarchism: A Documentary History of Libertarian Ideas. Volume One: From Anarchy to Anarchism (300 CE–1939). Montreal: Black Rose Books. §17.
^ abcMarshall, Peter (2009). Demanding the Impossible: A History of Anarchism. p. 641. "The word 'libertarian' has long been associated with anarchism, and has been used repeatedly throughout this work. The term originally denoted a person who upheld the doctrine of the freedom of the will; in this sense, Godwin was not a 'libertarian', but a 'necessitarian'. It came however to be applied to anyone who approved of liberty in general. In anarchist circles, it was first used by Joseph Déjacque as the title of his anarchist journal Le Libertaire, Journal du Mouvement Social published in New York in 1858. At the end of the last century, the anarchist Sebastien Faure took up the word, to stress the difference between anarchists and authoritarian socialists".
^Newman 2010, p. 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). There is a complex debate within this tradition between those like Robert Nozick, who advocate a 'minimal state', and those like Rothbard who want to do away with the state altogether and allow all transactions to be governed by the market alone. From an anarchist perspective, however, both positions—the minimal state (minarchist) and the no-state ('anarchist') positions—neglect the problem of economic domination; in other words, they neglect the hierarchies, oppressions, and forms of exploitation that would inevitably arise in a laissez-faire 'free' market. [...] Anarchism, therefore, has no truck with this right-wing libertarianism, not only because it neglects economic inequality and domination, but also because in practice (and theory) it is highly inconsistent and contradictory. The individual freedom invoked by right-wing libertarians is only a narrow economic freedom within the constraints of a capitalist market, which, as anarchists show, is no freedom at all".
^Woodcock, George (1962). Anarchism: A History of Libertarian Ideas and Movements. Meridian Books. p. 280. "He called himself a "social poet," and published two volumes of heavily didactic verse—Lazaréennes and Les Pyrénées Nivelées. In New York, from 1858 to 1861, he edited an anarchist paper entitled Le Libertaire, Journal du Mouvement Social, in whose pages he printed as a serial his vision of the anarchist Utopia, entitled L'Humanisphére."
^Hussain, Syed B. (2004). Encyclopedia of Capitalism. Vol. II : H-R. New York: Facts on File Inc. p. 492. ISBN0816052247. In the modern world, political ideologies are largely defined by their attitude towards capitalism. Marxists want to overthrow it, liberals to curtail it extensively, conservatives to curtail it moderately. Those who maintain that capitalism is a excellent economic system, unfairly maligned, with little or no need for corrective government policy, are generally known as libertarians.
^Carlson, Jennifer D. (2012). "Libertarianism". In Miller, Wilburn R., ed. The Social History of Crime and Punishment in America. London: Sage Publications. p. 1006. ISBN1412988764. "There exist three major camps in libertarian thought: right-libertarianism, socialist libertarianism, and left-libertarianism. [...] [S]ocialist libertarians [...] advocate for the simultaneous abolition of both government and capitalism."
^Bookchin, Murray; Biehl, Janet (1997). The Murray Bookchin Reader. Cassell. p. 170 ISBN0-304-33873-7.
^Hicks, Steven V.; Shannon, Daniel E. (2003). The American Journal of Economics and Sociolology. Blackwell Pub. p. 612.
^"Anarchism". In Gaus, Gerald F.; D'Agostino, Fred, eds. (2012). The Routledge Companion to Social and Political Philosophy. p. 227.
^"About the Libertarian Party". Libertarian Party. Retrieved 27 June 2019. "Libertarians strongly oppose any government interference into their personal, family, and business decisions. Essentially, we believe all Americans should be free to live their lives and pursue their interests as they see fit as long as they do no harm to another".
^Newman, Saul (2010). The Politics of Postanarchism. Edinburgh University Press. p. 43. ISBN0748634959. "It is important to distinguish between anarchism and certain strands of right-wing libertarianism which at times go by the same name (for example, Rothbard's anarcho-capitalism)".
^Marshall, Peter (2008). Demanding the Impossible: A History of Anarchism. London: Harper Perennial. p. 565. "In fact, few anarchists would accept the 'anarcho-capitalists' into the anarchist camp since they do not share a concern for economic equality and social justice, Their self-interested, calculating market men would be incapable of practicing voluntary co-operation and mutual aid. Anarcho-capitalists, even if they do reject the State, might therefore best be called right-wing libertarians rather than anarchists".
^Tame, Chris R. (1989). "Taxation Is Theft"(PDF). Libertarian Alliance Political Note (44). Retrieved 2 September 2012.
^Chodorov, Frank. "Taxation Is Robbery". Mises Institute. Retrieved 10 July 2012. Reprint from Chodorov, Frank (1962). Out of Step: The Autobiography of an Individualist. New York: The Devin-Adair Company. pp. 216–239.
^Miller 1987, p. 290. "A student and disciple of the Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises, Rothbard combined the laissez-faire economics of his teacher with the absolutist views of human rights and rejection of the state he had absorbed from studying the individualist American anarchists of the nineteenth century such as Lysander Spooner and Benjamin Tucker".
^Mayne, Alan James (1999). From Politics Past to Politics Future: An Integrated Analysis of Current and Emergent Paradigmss. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 124. ISBN0-275-96151-6.
^Sanchez, Julian; Weigel, David. "Who Wrote Ron Paul's Newsletters?". Reason Foundation. Rothbard pointed to David Duke and Joseph McCarthy as models for an "Outreach to the Rednecks," which would fashion a broad libertarian/paleoconservative coalition by targeting the disaffected working and middle classes.
^Lansford, Tom, ed. (2014). Political Handbook of the World 2014. CQ Press. p. 1157.