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Vulgar libertarianism

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The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.
John Kenneth Galbraith

Vulgar libertarianism (otherwise known as "LOLbertarians", "brogressives", or "glibertarians") is a term used to refer to libertarians who approach that political philosophy with an altogether cynical attitude[1] or more generally as a term that describes libertarians who exist for the purpose of justifying unfair socio-economic hierarchies using appeals to laissez-faire capitalist and socially liberal ideology. The term was coined by the "free market anti-capitalist" blogger Kevin Carson as an analogue to 'vulgar Marxism'.

Kevin Carson on vulgar libertarians[edit]

In georgist tradition, vulgar libertarians are known as royal libertarians, a term coined by Dan Sullivan.[2]

Vulgar libertarian apologists for capitalism use the term "free market" in an equivocal sense: they seem to have trouble remembering, from one moment to the next, whether they’re defending actually existing capitalism or free market principles. So we get the standard boilerplate article arguing that the rich can’t get rich at the expense of the poor, because "that’s not how the free market works" — implicitly assuming that this is a free market. When prodded, they’ll grudgingly admit that the present system is not a free market, and that it includes a lot of state intervention on behalf of the rich. But as soon as they think they can get away with it, they go right back to defending the wealth of existing corporations on the basis of "free market principles."

Anti-authority posturing[edit]

See the main article on this topic: Reaganism
I am an aristocrat. I love liberty, I hate equality.
—John Randolph of Roanoke

Hard-libertarians and Randians gild themselves as enlightened individuals most in tune with reason, when in reality, they are so full of shit it's leaking out of their ears: No matter how much they pretend to care about scientific evidence, 'moral clarity', etc. they're somehow perfectly willing to believe in the fantastical myths of limitless growth and limitless profit, that history needs to somehow stop in its tracks and move backwards to move forwards[3] i.e. eliminate everything that's been gained with democratic government, placing all of the power into the hands of a few transcendent John Galt supermen, creating a situation that, in reality, would probably be akin to the inhuman power structures of ancient Egypt, or Putin's Russia that they pretend to hate but likely envy.[4][5] They see no problem at all in letting advertisers use whatever tricks they can think of to hoodwink the public (fostering public irrationality is perfectly fine so long as it's only fucking things up for 99.9999% of the population).

Anti-authority posturing is used to argue against pure democracy, but then they kick away the ladder to create a pure authoritarian society. Just going with the main spokespeople—and leaving out dumb individual comments made by Stefan Molyneux and other YouTube quacks—you will find:

  • Rothbard and Hoppe on restrictive covenants that would permit communities keeping all the "riffraff" out and govern people's lives in a very authoritarian manner.
  • Hoppe on the joys of feudalism, arguing medieval-style monarchy would be the next best thing to anarcho-capitalism.
  • Walter Block on slavery contracts and religious theocracy being compatible with anarcho-capitalism.[6][7][8] Legitimately a lot of right-wing turnaround on market fundamentalism is just realizing the resultant covenant communities aren't racist enough.
  • Gary North on theocracy and stoning people to death.
  • Rothbard's quote on "unleashing the cops" to administer instant justice.[9]
  • Lew Rockwell constantly shilling for Russia and Trump.
  • Mises Institute's support for the Confederacy. Also, the general belief that World War II and the American Civil War were acts of "meddling" and unjustified.[10]
  • Bryan Caplan and "charter cities", which he believes could be run by technocratic corporations. Basically IRL Delta City from RoboCop. Though it could theoretically be run by a foreign government within the borders of a poorer country. (Which is still authoritarian, since they have no accountability to the people in those countries.)[11][12]
  • Rothbard and Hoppe's hatred of what they call "nihlo-libertarians": libertarians who are "hedonistic" and laissez faire, instead of socially conservative and willing to sacrifice everything for the preservation of property. Block's views are similar, being contemptuous toward what he calls "libertines" and proposing "libertarian" solutions of discriminating against them all until they cease to exist.
  • Pinochet. If not for Hayek and his Chicago School hacks, he'd be another dimly-remembered bloody dictator. Pinochet went away, and the Chilean people voted in another left-wing party; only 9% remember the military coup with fondness. Libertarian goals have to be reached with libertarian means.[13]

Those are just some of the greatest hits. But much of the authoritarianism comes from things these authors don't talk about. Like the tremendous amount of power gained from privately-owned roadways,[14] or how children would have no independent income, ergo no human rights.[15] Within one or two generations, there would be no possibility of voluntarism in those societies.

Libertarians as corporate mouthpieces[edit]

Vulgar libertarians are those who focus on those parts of a free-market policy that most benefit big business, such as:

  • Privatization of land and commons
  • Deregulation - A grey area. Food trucks, for instance, whose only crime is competing with brick-and-mortar restaurants would certainly benefit.[16]
  • Corporate tax cuts - US tax law has a 'bubble' in its corporate tax rate that a small business will notice, but the Walton family can avoid without incident.
  • Anti-environmental policies, including global warming denialism.
  • Free Trade - Admittedly, it's a boon for businesses that couldn't exist under the old regimes (which enforced tighter regulation as well as trade restrictions), e.g. microdistilleries.[17]
  • Liberventionism - Regime change, conducted by the U.S. military, all in the name of liberation.[18] And buckets of aid to Israel and the Saudis "to fight ISIS", as well.[19]

...while ignoring other parts that would most benefit individuals and small businesses, such as:

  • Civil liberties - NSA, Homeland Security,[20] and DEA[9] will each have a place in Libertopia. Also, I am all for gay rights and interracial marriage, just don't expect me to bake a cake for you.[21]
  • Legalization of drugs
  • Meritocracy - Many libertarians deny the wage gap.[22][23] It's the same with race: If you believe the world is a meritocracy and are presented with racial income disparity you either revise your views or come to the conclusion that black people are inferior.[24][25]
  • Open borders - brown people asking to exist is a threat to liberty.[26][27]
  • Tax reform - closing loopholes exploited by big business.
  • Eliminating corporate welfare - unless it's going to corporations funding your think tank..

Nor ought you expect them ever to question the very existence of limited-liability corporations, which depends on the State's refusal to use or authorise force to collect some debts incurred by some actual persons but not others. Nor do they object to the State's interference with freedom to make contract when it increases employers' power. (Though they believe in personal responsibility, there is no contradiction because they say there isn't.) A few exceptions exist, for instance the Libertarian Party USA officially opposes right-to-work, but they negate this by (naturally) saying employers should be able to refuse recognition of unions and of course fire any worker who joins them. Many US states already permit employment contracts having "no union" clauses to this effect. Those who do oppose corporate status negate it by the fact that they would strip all regulations on these businesses otherwise, leaving them much more powerful even without this.

Steve Milloy, formerly of the Cato Institute, now of Fox News, is a vulgar libertarian, in that his primary interest is in denial of scientific developments that might suggest a need for new regulations, such as global warming research and the dangers of tobacco smoking.

Vulgar libertarianism vs. Beltway libertarianism[edit]

"Vulgar libertarianism" is somewhat similar to the insult of "Beltway Libertarianism" leveled at such think tanks as the Cato Institute and the Reason Foundation. Carson has accused some of these institutions of vulgar libertarianism; this might be expected, since (1) these think tanks are being funded by those noted beneficiaries of libertarian[note 1] policies, Koch Industries and oil, tobacco, and other corporate interests[28] and (2) Carson is being funded by that noted beneficiary of non-libertarian policies, the health care industry.[29]

See also[edit]

  • Plutonomy
  • r/Libertarian - Everything is slavery and rape, except slavery and rape which aren't all that bad.
  • Anarcho-communism - Property is theft, but that doesn't mean there should be a law against it.

External links[edit]


  1. Or rather selectively libertarian economic policies benefitting large corporations.


  1. Chomsky on American libertarianism vs. classical libertarianism
  2. Sullivan, Are You A Real Libertarian? Or, a ROYAL Libertarian?
  3. Chris Bertram, "Let It Bleed: Libertarians and the Workplace"
  4. Roman Skaskiw, "Putin's Libertarians"
  5. Austin Petersen, "When Do Libertarians Support Military Invasions? Apparently When Russia Does It."
  6. Block, "Towards a Libertarian Theory of Inalienability: A Critique of Rothbard, Barnett, Smith, Kinsella, Gordon, and Epstein." pp. 39–85, Journal of Libertarian Studies, vol. 17, no. 2, Spring 2003, p. 44, p. 48, p. 82 and p. 46.
  7. Block: Slavery Is Better Than Welfare For Black Communities, RT.
  8. Block, "Voluntary Sharia Law, Totalitarianism", (10/12/16 at 2:33 am).
  9. 9.0 9.1 Rothbard, "Right-wing populism" (1992) via
  10. Holly, Mike, "The Long History of Government Meddling in the American Marketplace", LvMI 2.29.16.
  11. Caplan, "A Quick Case for Charter Cities: Memo to the Gates Foundation", Library of Economics and Liberty 5.22.11.
  12. Bowman, Sam, "Could 'charter cities' help poor countries blossom?", Christian Science Monitor 3.5.11.
  13. O'Brien, Rosalba, "Forty years after coup, Pinochet again divides Chile", Reuters (9/8/13 at 7:02am EDT).
  14. Michael Bustillo and Nathan Koppel, "In Texas, Toll Roads Proliferate—and a Backlash Builds", WSJ (Updated 10/20/14 at 2:25 p.m. ET).
  15. Bruenig, Elizabeth, "Libertarians Have a History of Horrifying Views on Parenting", New Republic 2.4.15.
  16. Shackford, Scott, "Anti-Food Truck Meddling Ends Up Ruining Miami Farmer’s Market", Reason (7/21/13 at 5:17 pm).
  17. Risen, Clay, "American Single-Malt Whiskeys Serve Notice", NYT 1.15.13.
  18. Jon Lee Andersen, "The Unraveling", The New Yorker. Bernard-Henri Lévy, when asked why he supported the intervention in Libya, says, “I don’t know! Of course, it was human rights, for a massacre to be prevented, and blah blah blah…”[No, not The Onion]
  19. Alexander LeCasse, "With eye on 2016, Rand Paul tries to block US aid to Palestinians", Christian Science Monitor.
  20. John Stossel, "I just can't get that worked up about it", Reason 6.12.13.
  21. Shackford, Scott, "Libertarians, Gay Marriage, and Freedom of Association: A Primer", Reason 8.19.14.
  22. Chapman, Steve, "The Truth About the Pay Gap", Reason 9.19.10.
  23. Rachael Grezler and James Sherk, "Equal Pay for Equal Work: Examining the Gender Gap", Issue Brief #4227 on Labor. 5.22.14. Even the Heritage Foundation, after attempting to deflate the gap as much as possible, still admits a 5 cent gap.
  24. Cavanaugh, Jeffrey, "Ferguson Reveals Racists In Libertarian Clothing", Mint Press News. 8.25.14.
  25. Rockwell Jr., Llywellyn H., on Rodney King, L.A. Times 3.10.91. Lewser: "But street criminals, as economist Murray N. Rothbard points out, have the time preference of depraved infants. The prospect of a jail sentence 12 months from now has virtually no effect."
  26. Ron Paul: The sole function of a libertarian government would be to keep dark people out!
  27. Feeney, Matthew, "'Pro-Freedom' Parties That Aren't on Immigration", Reason 2.13.14. You know your philosophy's on life support when all of the Libertarian parties in Europe are protectionist.
  28. David Koch was a co-founder of Cato. Also see these funding reports: Cato, Reason
  29. Carson's profile