Why Aren’t Libertarians Protesting the Freedom-Busting Texas Abortion Law

By Lynn Parramore, Senior Research Analyst at the Institute for New Economic Thinking. Originally published at the Institute for New Economic Thinking website

It was a bad week for freedom in America. With Texas banning most abortions and empowering self-appointed vigilantes to stop women from exercising their right to reproductive healthcare, and the Supreme Court letting it stand, you’d think freedom-loving libertarians would be out in full force protesting.

After all, libertarians describe themselves as principled foes of state coercion and passionate defenders of individual liberty. While they may give different weight to principles of individual liberty, self-determination, and so on, libertarians claim to be highly skeptical of government intrusion into our lives. Wikipedia informs us that most generally agree that sperms, eggs, and fetuses are not persons with rights.

In his 1982 book, “The Ethics of Liberty,” libertarian economist Murray Rothbard wrote that “the proper groundwork for analysis of abortion is in every man’s absolute right of self-ownership. This implies immediately that every woman has the absolute right to her own body, that she has absolute dominion over her body and everything in it. This includes the fetus.”

That’s clear enough. Now is the chance for libertarians to stand up for what they believe, stated thus since 2008 in the official Libertarian Party platform:

“Recognizing that abortion is a sensitive issue and that people can hold good-faith views on all sides, we believe that government should be kept out of the matter, leaving the question to each person for their conscientious consideration.”

Got it. My decision to give birth is for me to decide, not the state. Very reasonable.

.Let’s check out how America’s most influential libertarians have been responding to the Texas Taliban and the most flagrant disregard for a woman’s personal liberty seen in a generation.

Give it to them, guys!

To get their take, I first consulted a list of libertarian heavyweights put together by Newsmax. Helpfully, the editors share their criteria for selection:

“To compile this list, our editors defined a libertarian as a consistent advocate of free-market capitalism, minimal government, and social tolerance (thus distinguishing libertarians from conservatives). Their motto might be “Keep government out of the boardroom and the bedroom.”

Social tolerance! Out of the bedroom! Right on.

According to Newsmax, the two top libertarians are former congressman Ron Paul and his son, Senator Rand Paul.

Ron Paul styled his 2008 run for the presidency as a “Campaign for Liberty.” Yet on the stump, he consistently denounced a woman’s right to make the most private decisions of her life. He wrote a book called “Liberty Defined,” but surprisingly, his definition did not include a woman’s sovereignty over her own body. Instead, he complained that taxpayers should be at liberty not to pay for abortions.

Like a good libertarian, Paul is very clear in the book that torture of any sort is reprehensible and sadistic. Yet oddly, he does not consider that torture might be a proper word to describe what is done to a woman forced to undergo an extremely painful and potentially life-threatening physical experience against her will.

On abortion, Senator Rand Paul goes even further afield of libertarian principles than his dad, calling himself “totally pro-life” and supporting “any and all legislation that would end abortion or lead us in the direction of ending abortion.” In fact, he wants federal control of women’s bodies, stating, “I believe in a Human Life Amendment and a Life at Conception Act as federal solutions to the abortion issue.”

It turns out that America’s most influential libertarian politicians are in strong opposition to the party’s own platform and principles.

Meanwhile, as the pandemic rages, Senator Paul has lost no opportunity to vociferate against Covid-19 safety measures and make rousing speeches to his Twitter followers on the need to “stand together” for freedom and resist mandated mask-wearing. Yet on the matter of mandates to endure pregnancy, labor, and childbirth, perhaps having your body ripped open or sliced, and permanently altered, evidently Paul considers this less constraining to personal freedom than affixing a thin piece of cloth to your nose.

So far, on the Texas abortion ban now dominating the headlines, the two libertarian giants have said…pretty much nothing.

Maybe it’s just something about being a politician that makes libertarians confused. Perhaps the intellectual stars of the movement can offer more consistency.

How about Ed Crane, former head of the Cato Institute and currently pundit-at-large on matters of freedom? The man the Wall Street Journal calls the champion of “free people and free markets” will certainly stand up for the liberty of women. Some years ago, Crane called himself a “pro‐choice advocate,” though he insisted there were far more important matters to deal with, such as private property rights. Nevertheless, he is said to be among the most well-reasoned of libertarians — the man you turn to when you want to hear something sensible.

Currently, Crane is talking about all kinds of things, like term limits, and tweeting about the need to defend civil liberties. So what does he say about the frontal assault on the liberty of 7 million women in Texas, and likely millions more in other states that try to copy the Texas law?

As far as I can tell, nothing. Nada. He recently retweeted a great line about how libertarians love the liberty of others. But there is no mention of the millions of American women currently filling up that “others” category.

Possibly, Crane is too chagrined by his sexual harassment accusations to opine on women’s rights at this time.

Fine. We’ll move over to a younger generation of thinkers, the Gen X libertarian luminaries Nick Gillespie, editor of Reason.TV and Reason.com, and Matt Welch, Reason Magazine’s editor-in-chief. Reason is the Bible of the libertarian movement and these two talk about every subject under the sun. Undoubtedly, they can tell us how libertarians are going to confront the authoritarian terror of the Texas Taliban.

Back in 2011, the pair, who co-authored a book called, “The Declaration of Independents: How Libertarian Politics Can Fix What’s Wrong With America,” got down to business in a video titled, “What’s the Libertarian position on abortion?” Gillespie and Welch are asked, “If libertarian philosophy puts individual rights paramount, shouldn’t libertarians oppose abortion?”

Very straightforward.

Gillespie reveals that while the majority of libertarians are pro-choice, a 30% minority is “anti-abortion.” While stating that you can be a libertarian and have that view (though not elaborating on exactly why), Gillespie is clear that he does not personally agree with the anti-choice position. “Abortion should be legal,” he affirms. For his part, Welch waxes philosophical about changing mores and the “sliding scale of humanity from egg to fetus to a viable fetus that can live outside the womb,” assuring us that thanks to the wonders of medicine and “more ways of controlling our sexuality and our reproduction…we are actually seeing the minimization of abortion as a major issue in American politics.”

I guess nobody told Welch that women in the United States are still not even able to purchase the 60-year old medical wonder known as “birth control pills” at the drug store. Or that his prognosis of the direction of American politics is about as wrong as it’s possible to be.

But maybe now that the topic is white-hot in the news and the freedom of millions of women is at stake, these two august journalists will weigh in. I checked out their Twitter feeds for the last few days.

Gillespie is tweeting about the cobb salad at his favorite New York restaurant.

Welch is focused on Afghanistan and defending free speech against cancel culture.

On the Texas law and the Supreme Court’s enabling of the assault on female liberty? Crickets.

Over at Reason mag, there is one lone writer who published a quibble with the law (scroll down below articles on homeschooling and the freedom to vape). His main point is to warn conservatives that a similar strategy could be used to take away their guns.

I could find but one person connected to Reason who seems to think there’s anything wrong with vigilantes collecting bounties for spying on women – a tweet from Liz Wolfe, Reason staff editor. Good for Liz, but this same person was not so very long ago lambasting pro-choicers for spreading “propaganda” on the dangers of abortion restrictions, blithely predicting that “tech advancement might render all this (mostly) pointless to sort out anyway.”

Tell that to low-income women in Texas, many of them women of color and immigrants, who are watching their futures destroyed and their internal organs commandeered, unable to afford the now-average 248-mile journey to an abortion clinic and the high costs and waiting periods imposed by anti-choice activists.

So much for Reason.

Ok, if the politicians and pundits aren’t standing up for their movement, perhaps the denizens of Silicon Valley, famous for their libertarian leanings, will take up the charge to fight the grotesquely coercive Texas law.

While not as outspoken about his political leanings as some of his tech-bro libertarian colleagues, entrepreneur Elon Musk has been noted for taking libertarian stances. The Financial Times refers to him as “space pioneer, electric car guru and cantankerous libertarian,” while his good friend Scott Painter calls him a “very libertarian, free-market type.”

Musk has been quite exercised on the topic of freedom recently. He has called quarantine measures “fascist” and railed against any government “forcibly imprisoning” people in their homes with shelter-in-place policies. Outraged that California Covid shutdowns were costing him revenue and sure that the virus would be gone in April (2020!), the billionaire packed his bags last year and moved to Texas.

Musk has offered this definition of freedom: the “maximum set of possible future actions.” Sounds like he wants people to be able to make lots of choices for themselves. That makes sense.

Surely, he would agree that forcing a woman to give birth against her will is sawing off large branches of her decision tree. Possibly, she will no longer have a tree at all, because she will be dead.

Yet Governor Greg Abbot of Texas recently bragged that he could count on businessmen like his friend Elon Musk to back him up on the abortion law: “Elon consistently tells me he likes the social policies in the state of Texas,” said the gov.

Musk responded with a Texas two-step of a tweet around the subject: “In general, I believe government should rarely impose its will upon the people, and, when doing so, should aspire to maximize their cumulative happiness…That said, I would prefer to stay out of politics.”

This is a bit confusing. He was way into politics a minute ago on the whole Covid thing. And if he felt that the Governor’s suggestion that he supported the Texas abortion law was inaccurate, he could certainly set the record straight. He might, for example, point out that coercing women into having unwanted children is a crystal-clear example of the state imposing its will upon the people, and making a lot of them miserably unhappy. A person who has been raped by her father, brother, or uncle, for example, would be unlikely to experience maximum happiness in being ordered to birth his baby. Musk is reputed to be very smart. He must have some insight.

But that tweet is evidently all he has to say. His feed is now extolling the virtues of space travel.

What about that most famous of libertarian contrarians, the tech entrepreneur Peter Thiel? Thiel is so adamant that the government stay out of his life that he once proposed the idea of a floating libertarian utopia where bureaucrats couldn’t bother him.

In 2017, Thiel did indeed weigh in on the subject of abortion and politicswith this prescient gem: “It’s like, even if you appointed a whole series of conservative Supreme Court justices, I’m not sure that Roe v. Wade would get overturned, ever. I don’t know if people even care about the Supreme Court.”

Given the rocket-sized hole blasted into this theory by recent events, it sure would be interesting to hear what is Thiel is currently thinking about.

Bitcoin as a financial weapon of the Chinese, of course.

In desperation, I scrolled down the Newsmax list to find an influential libertarian woman who would hopefully show some spine in defending the cause. I had to keep scrolling because there weren’t any women in the top 25. Finally, I found somebody who looked promising: Jennifer Grossman. She’s that rara avis, a libertarian feminist, and besides that the CEO of the Atlas Society, to the ideas of the doyenne of libertarianism, Ayn Rand.

Now we’re talking! Ayn Rand didn’t mince words on the subject of abortion. She described the notion that a fetus has rights as “vicious nonsense.” The famous thinker laid out her position in 1968 in “The Objectivist”:

“An embryo has no rights. Rights do not pertain to a potential, only to an actual being. A child cannot acquire any rights until it is born. The living take precedence over the not-yet-living (or the unborn).”

Rand didn’t stop there: “Abortion is a moral right—which should be left to the sole discretion of the woman involved; morally, nothing other than her wish in the matter is to be considered. Who can conceivably have the right to dictate to her what disposition she is to make of the functions of her own body?”

Who, indeed? Not a bunch of Texas politicians, one would think! As a feminist Randian, Grossman couldn’t possibly remain silent as the expressed tenants of her hero are violated on a gigantic scale.

I perused Grossman’s Twitter feed. Unfathomably, I could find absolutely nothing about the Texas abortion law. I went over to the Atlas Society website, where she blogs. There were some interesting musings about women, including an account of an alarming weekend she spent with the predator Jeffrey Epstein, whom she briefly considered dating. I saw some strong stuff about the badness of sexual harassment, and plenty of female empowerment messages.

But zilch on the Texas abortion law, or on the subject of abortion, period. A big zero.

So there you have it. Try as I might, I could not find a single influential libertarian exerting their influence on behalf of the freedom of the women of Texas. Despite the Texas government’s extreme coercion and its egregious violation of their most basic personal freedom. Despite the majority of libertarians who say they are pro-choice. Despite the Party’s own platform and stated beliefs.

I would like to be wrong. Please let me know if you see any influential libertarians in the media protesting the Texas outrage. Or marching in the streets on behalf of women’s reproductive freedom.

But if I am understanding all this correctly, I have to conclude that a libertarian is someone who will defend a woman’s right not to wear a medical mask during a pandemic, but inexplicably holds that choices about her body, her health, her economic situation, and her entire life trajectory, belong to the government. Let freedom ring?

Maybe it’s time to fix what’s wrong with libertarianism.

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  1. vlade

    Yes, conservatives are for “get the govt out of my life”, but only as long as it’s _their_ life.

    There are some really hard ethics questions around abortion (and some other parts of medicine, like geriatric care, and in general keep-alive stuff), but these need real debate, not “this is what I believe and hence it will be like that”.

    1. Adam Eran

      The actual sentence: “get the govt out of my [white, male] life”

      All this hypocrisy is simply divide-and-conquer wedge issue promotion in service of the pursuit of power. Not exactly a surprise.

  2. Fritzi

    All opportunistic, hypocritical, dishonest, sociopathic scum, without exception.

    As was totally to be expected.

    Freedom always was the ultimate weasel word.

      1. Daniel LaRusso

        I’m with Jordan Peterson on this. I just don’t agree that women have been oppressed anymore than men like me by the patriarchy. Everyone had it otugh in bygone generations – not sure how it was harer for women. They have their headlines like “I wasn’t allowed to vote..” Well honey… neither was my type of man, only landed gentry and the well healed could over here. I don’t think my type got the vote much before you.

        And on abortion, a serious question. Why isn’t it just murder ? I’m not being provocative, I genuinely think they could be the same thing.

        1. jimmy CC

          short answer, because murder is a legal term, ‘to kill someone unlawfully’. We have decided that abortion is legal.

          Why? you ask. Because we have made the decision that the right to control one’s body supersedes another persons right to life.

          It’s the same principle that allows me to refuse to give you a kidney, even if it means your death.

          We can’t even harvest body parts from dead people without their prior consent.

          I agree, they could be the same thing, but we have chosen as a Society that they are not.

          1. Pelham

            Where, then, does the right to control one’s body cease taking precedence over another’s right to life? Up to the minute of birth? Up to the point when the umbilical cord is cut? If it’s something like that, who’s the “we” deciding this?

            1. jimmy cc

              when the baby is viable outside the womb…

              that was roe v wades ruling.
              so scotus is the ‘we’ that decides.

              1. Daniel LaRusso

                I remember studying that at A level. I never understood it then, because long before birth the baby can feel pain and thoughts.

                I know in uk law if a pregnant women is murdered/killed intentionally there are two “vctims” long before then.

          2. Daniel LaRusso

            no … I don’t thinkthose examples are close to the same thing. How on earth can the right to control one’s body SUPERSEDE the right to life of a baby, a new born the most vulnerable of all.

            Now you’ve put it in those stark terms which legally true and say society wants it (which I must admit I’m not sure about). I think we might be in a sick society.

            How do I get off this ride, I don’t want to play anymore (no I’m not talking suicide)

            1. jimmy cc

              a better legal arguement is what responsibility does a woman have for her pregnancy and what obligations come from that.

              i have a longer post in the ether.

        2. Geo

          “I just don’t agree that women have been oppressed anymore than men like me by the patriarchy. Everyone had it otugh in bygone generations – not sure how it was harer for women“

          Have you read any books published before 1960? I could give you a list if you want. Just read Arthur Schopenhauer’s “Studies in Pessimism” (1852) which has an entire chapter on how fragile and stupid women are – and he’s considered one of the most important and forward thinking of modern philosophers. Or you could try Joseph McCabe’s “The Religion of Woman” (1902) which compares women’s rights of that time to the past and sums up that women of that era were more oppressed than women of Ancient Greece and Egypt – and the role of Abrahamic religions for that oppression.

          Or you could try HL Mencken’s “In Defense of Women” (1918) which argues that women deserve rights – an odd subject for such an esteemed intellectual and author to focus on if, as you believe, women were not ever oppressed by the patriarchy. The opening chapter is titled “The Feminine Mind” and its whole focus is on trying to explain that women have minds capable of higher thought worthy of equal rights and self-determination. He also addresses the thousands of volumes of writing on the subject he is arguing against (including that Schopenhauer book).

          Do you need more recommendations? I could go on and give you lots on specific subjects if you like. All from those eras and not twisted to fit the narrative of a modern day YouTube “philosopher”.

          As for Abortion: I have a book from 1890 called “Abortion and Its Treatment” by a group of doctors sharing their experience performing abortions and the importance of the procedure. Interesting how a book written back then could address the subject with barely a mention about any social morality condemning the act. It’s almost like this anti-abortion crusade was manufactured by modern day far-right religious zealots to control political groups and has little to no basis on historical thought or even their own religious books. https://time.com/3582434/6-abortion-myths/

          Stop listening to supplement-peddling podcast intellectuals and educate yourself by reading about the past through the words of those who lived in those times before assuming you understand what the past was really like.

          1. Geo

            And, if all those example don’t help illuminate your views, try pondering why all the books on the subject (and all subjects) from past eras are written, with very, very few exceptions, by men. Might that be a clue which could expose you to recognizing some form of patriarchy? Or, is there another explanation for why women weren’t publishing books on philosophy, politics, sexuality, medicine, psychology, etc until only the past few decades? Curious to know your thoughts.

            1. Ashes In The Fall

              All true. Yet we have arrived at the state, where their very wombs are oppressive!

              Me thinks we have thrown the babies out with the bathwater…

              Hysterectomies are still legal…

            2. Daniel LaRusso

              My thoughts are it’s incredibly easy to label someone a youtube peddler, on a faceless forum especially when he’s brighter than you. If reversed, would that misandry be mysogny ? My thoughts are women have been incredibly revered and protected throught out the ages … in all manner of things. From “happy wife, happy life” and cuckold men who do anything to avoid a confrontation in the home, to “women and children first” on the Titanic, to women avoiding military subscription and expectation to volunteer, to when I drive past where I grew up and see a monument to a coal mine collapse in the early 1900’s. Where there are the names of the men and children who died … but curiously no women.

              Lots of males didn’t recieve the education (white/black/yellow) to write those types of books until recently, having read some third wave feminist writers and commentators, I wish they hadn’t started … your thoughts ?

              I think the “patriarchy” wasn’t just the suppression of women but anyone who wasn’t in the club. None of those books were written by my type either (male or femaile), my type were also denied schooling, the vote, propert and sent down the mines and into the fields. I’m not seeing what priviledges my type had. One question though, when you were burning your bra in the sixties, and the good ‘ol boys were crying listening to the radio to see if their number got called. What steps did you take to ensure women were equally drafted as men?

              1. skippy

                I think your confusion rest on historical context and what is said and whom it is applicable too. Hence when the Corporatists I’ve identified before stitched together a bunch of antiquarian homilies and deployed them through their networks of media and educational[????] assets on the unsuspecting unwashed, and then some unwittingly extenuate them to the here and now out of context they become confused/befuddled.

                To clear that up for you …. it was all written by men of status of those times and applied to them and theirs and not anyone else eg. its a catagorical error to do so right out of the gate.

                  1. skippy

                    The request for simplification is an old rhetorical device, in some camps I’ve experienced. This comes after I attempted to do so –

                    “To clear that up for you …. it was all written by men of status of those times and applied to them and theirs and not anyone else eg. its a categorical error to do so right out of the gate.”

                    So on one hand you express views as if from an informed basis, but when confronted with something that puts a ding in them, take the position of ignorance.

                    1. Daniel LaRusso

                      thanks for that. That cleared it up. NOT

                      Everyone is equally informeed on society … if they live in it. yes some people can claim academic and intellectual superiority because they can quote a few historians and writers from the past… I’m surre that doesn’t describe you though. But so what … in the NOW the real world (that you think you can inform others on) is simply a matter of the lens/mind/prism one filters sense data through. The same can be said of anything you read, it’s not what they wrote – it’s what you interpret, or rather “want” to read into it.

                    2. skippy

                      I don’t think I’ve experienced such a tautological offering for some time. The rest could be best described as a dogs breakfast on second viewing, priors delivered in a pejorative spew.

                      Yet at the end of the day your exactly what you decry of all the others above if not more so. Your so called real world is is based on simplistic notions conjured from the deductive fog and everything is a simple matter of commodities and ownership rights e.g. a person is a self owning commodity where so called reality is extenuated from that cornerstone.

                      Again I answered your quire above by pointing out everything your views are based on come from antiquity, by men of status, it is applicable only in historical context, and does not apply to lesser beings. I then informed you that corporatist crudely stitched some of these offering together and used it as a PR agenda on the unwitting unwashed for reasons of self interest. Now here we are today.

                      Best bit is your thoughts are not your own, you mimic the thoughts of others without attribution and claim them as your own. At least its not Hopple nutty level I guess.

                    3. Daniel LaRusso

                      In the UK in 1831 – 11% of men had the right to vote
                      1832 – 18%
                      1868 – 32%
                      1885 – 63%
                      1918 – 100%, women 57%
                      1929 – 100% men and women

                      So where is a man of my caste oppressing women ? 1830 – 1918 I would have been involved in numerous military campaigns, hard manual employment, similar quality schooling (if not exact) and similar access to health care, family, social mobility…. and someone like me wasn’t allowed to vote either.

                      In 1918 after another 4 years of warfare (that women didn’t fight) with 20% lung capacity because of being gassed, trench foot, dysentry, shell shock and suicidal thoughts … I still wasn’t allowed to vote (residency lawsbecasue I’d been abroad fighting a war) until governement passed a law that allowed two thirds of women to vote as well (I agree should have been 100%, but it’s not reasonable for feminists in 2021 to lose their snizzle over 1/3, especially considering what I had to go through to earn my vote??). Where was the oppression of women, as opposed to the oppression of men and women who didn’t satisfy the criteria?


              1. Geo

                Nobody here won. It’s a discussion not a game.

                And, if you don’t care to learn from the past don’t claim to know anything about it. It will save all of us time and energy. Thanks.

          2. Daniel LaRusso

            huh ? A bunch of doctors write a book (fallible humans). Don’t mention morality… so, the matter is closed in 2021 ??? I genuinely don’t know what that proves? What has ‘historical thought’ got to do with it.

            Women have the same right to slef determination as men… I thinkthey did, especially men from my social caste. I’m not saying they don’t. I’m saying the patriachy did not just affect women … ALL of us outside the club got a rough deal.

            Women in 2021 aren’t as oppressed as the egyptians. Not oppressed at all. I’ve no interestin the past im interested in NOW. Try it.

              1. Daniel LaRusso

                I’m not sure there is a collective noun for those I term “outside the club”, would the 99% do? Becasue that it s waht it practically was through history – male and female.

          3. Daniel LaRusso

            “…Stop listening to supplement-peddling podcast intellectuals …” He is the only one who triggers you ?

  3. Henry Moon Pie

    Murray Bookchin refused to call them “libertarians” because they were not about human liberty. They are more accurately called “propertarians” because all they care about are the rights of those with property, especially those with lots of it.

    “Libertarian” is properly applied to us anarchists. The propertarians chose the term only as a marketing ploy and that choice should not be honored.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      So often, seemingly simple points are perfect, but this is the answer to most libertarian questions. Though based on the associations of notable libertarians such as Ron Paul, I imagine the lack of an embrace of Christian kitsch is to avoid the problems baptism presents when you want to treat people as property.

    2. Sailor Bud

      Yep. One of the most basic of animal freedoms is locomotion, wherever our feet can take us, in any viable direction. We are restricted from the majority of the planet now because of property and international borders. We are allowed to walk freely on roads, public spaces, and businesses when open, but otherwise need permission. The animal world exists in zoos, large and small, whether we look at it that way or not.

      Freedom is no catch-all. It is only ever conditional, and definitely a liar’s word.

      I’m amazed humanity never implemented limits to how much Planet Earth any one person could own by now, but then history rather slides from feudalism right into this world. What weirds me is that the US was a virgin wilderness just three of my lifetimes ago, and now it’s Borged already, end to end.

  4. MG

    Because true libertarians are like the tooth fairy, Easter Bunny, and Santa Claus in that they don’t really exist.

    Most self-professed “libertarians” I know tend to only have this wide point on a few narrow topics including income taxes, guns, etc. Some are more socially libertarian on a wider range of topics too including legalization of drugs, LGBT rights, etc but there isn’t a big cross-walk between the two.

  5. paul

    “any and all legislation that would end abortion or lead us in the direction of ending abortion.”

    Perhaps he should cast eye towards the netherlands, freely available contraception, sex education (my pearls!) and the lowest abortion rate worldwide.

    And the dutch are a pretty right wing lot.

  6. The Rev Kev

    ‘our editors defined a libertarian as a consistent advocate of free-market capitalism, minimal government, and social tolerance’

    Those first two are also what neoliberals believe in and if they are ‘woke’ that makes the trifecta. Look, I have as much faith in ‘libertarians’ as I do in ‘progressives’. So in other words, guilty until proved innocent. Their silence surprises me not at all here about abortion as it mostly affects poorer women. I have no doubt too that you can have a libertarian that is anti-union for example and pro-corporations. In fact, being a libertarian can put you in good stance within the PMC. But for some reason people keep on confusing libertarians with leftists but they are not the same at all. A good leftist is pro-union and any other measure that empowers poor people, women, minorities and anybody else with no power. A libertarian with their belief in free-market capitalism and minimal government is the one that takes away the tools that poorer people have to make their lives better. So ask yourself how many poorer people are libertarians. I would say not that many. They usually do not have that luxury.

  7. begob

    Scratch an American libertarian, and the blood of a goldbug oozes out. I’d like to hear opinions on the contrariness of their thinking – static and fluid. Cognitive dissonance doesn’t quite satisfy, and the phenomenon is different to the grasping exclusions of liberal elitism.

  8. skippy

    Free Market Libertarians = Corporatist Branded Commodities that went Locke on indoctrination.

    BTW Murray Rothbard said men and in case some have not noticed the sage thinkers of Libertarian thunkit are all men in the OT Patriarchal sense.

    Not that the original founders of the copy and pasted homilies from antiquity, by corporatists, pushing things like the Powell memo et al is some kinda enlighten perspective or anything e.g.

    “The story starts like this: In 1946, Herbert Nelson was the chief lobbyist and executive vice president for the National Association of Real Estate Boards, and one of the highest paid lobbyists in the nation. Mr. Nelson’s real estate constituency was unhappy with rent control laws that Truman kept in effect after the war ended. Nelson and his real estate lobby led what investigators discovered was the most formidable and best-funded opposition to President Truman in the post-war years, amassing some $5,000,000 for their lobby efforts—that’s $5mln in 1946 dollars, or roughly $60 million in 2012 dollars.

    So Herbert Nelson contracted out the PR services of the Foundation for Economic Education to concoct propaganda designed to shore up the National Real Estate lobby’s legislative drive — and the propagandists who took on the job were Milton Friedman and his U Chicago cohort, George Stigler.

    To understand the sort of person Herbert Nelson was, here is a letter he wrote in 1949 that Congressional investigators discovered and recorded:

    “I do not believe in democracy. I think it stinks. I don’t think anybody except direct taxpayers should be allowed to vote. I don’t believe women should be allowed to vote at all. Ever since they started, our public affairs have been in a worse mess than ever.”

    It’s an old libertarian mantra, libertarianism versus democracy, libertarianism versus women’s suffrage; a position most recently repeated by billionaire libertarian Peter Thiel —Ron Paul’s main campaign funder.”


    Some people worry about robot dogs and not people … whack on a bunch of absentee investors grinding the unwashed in to flour for their daily cake[tm] … and the day comes when no one is tilling the fields … no dramas tho … freedom units will save the day …

  9. DJG, Reality Czar

    In a way, it amazes me that author Paramore still has to engage with U.S. libertarians. Libertarians and their ideas are barnacles on the U.S. ship of state, as it were. My definition may be too dismissive, White Boys Who Don’t Want to Pay Taxes, but once one thinks of libertarians mainly as prosperous people who don’t want to pay taxes, it is easier to understand their appeal and also to understand the limitations of their “philosophy.” It isn’t about freedom. It’s about a certain kind of mean graspingness.

    No one seems to be able to name any libertarian policy that has been successful. Instead, people are constantly engaging with the supposed freedom-loving-ness and market fundamentalism of libertarians. Yet libertarians are the Great There’s No There There of U.S. politics.

    And one expects them to defend women and their right to privacy?

    1. pck

      Descriptively, we absolutely have to engage with libertarians. Murray Rothbard was one of the founders of the Cato institute, which is still alive and well today pushing out right-wing “studies”, and other think tanks like AEI and the heritage foundation are highly influential. I certainly wish this wasn’t the case, but unfortunately these institutions serve a purpose for the ultra-rich.

  10. Rodger Mitchell

    It’s quite simple, really. Today’s “Libertarians” simply are right-wingers, who don’t have the honesty to admit they are ultra-conservatives. So they masquerade as the middle ground, when in fact they are the most extreme version of the Republican party.

    To today’s Libertarians, “liberty” is not for women or the poor. “Liberty” is for control over women. “Liberty” is for gun ownership so that killing people is OK, except in the case of a fetus. “Liberty” is for cutting Medicare, Social Security, and poverty aids, so that the poor can be even poorer.

    Libertarians are the harsh, cruel spear point of conservatism, in which government money is far more precious than health and happiness for the underclasses.

    The Libertarians have fallen a long, long way from their origins, and today, the honest name for Libertarians should be “Trumpers.” At least the GOP Trumpers are honest for their disdain of the poor.

    1. Richard Hershberger

      I figured out years ago that “libertarians” are bog-standard Republicans except for having intellectual pretensions. Also, some of the most authoritarian people I know self-identify as libertarian.

  11. James Simpson

    I’m a socialist with no opinion on this, finding the arguments from both sides unconvincing and often self-serving. Philosophically, I find this statement interesting: “fetuses are not persons with rights”. At what moment during the birth process (which I understand can be quite a long time, especially from the point of view of the mother) does the foetus become a human baby with at least the legal right to life?

    1. Geo

      Lots of ways we could opine on the issue but in the end it should be determined by the person whose body is creating the life:

      • If the mother wants to give birth to the baby it is a life.

      • If the mother does not want to give birth to the baby it is not a life.

      Until it is removed from the mother through her own free will it is her body and mind which has autonomy over whatever her body must endure.

      Any opinion I have over the autonomy of the inner workings of another’s body has no role in their own decisions. The only time we should have any role in determining what another does with their own body is when it has the strong potential of impacting other autonomous individuals such as drunk driving, pandemic situations, etc. A person deciding to terminate or carry through a pregnancy is solely theirs and no one else’s. If they cannot decide on decisions related to their own body then they are not a free person.

      The only reason this is even in doubt in a modern society is because we still have too many manipulative religious zealots who don’t even know their own “sacred texts” have nothing to say on the subject (or conveniently ignore this fact) but like using it to drive fervent flocks of the faithful to vote against their own interests. And their messaging has polluted the dialogue to the point where we’re somehow “debating” whether a person has a right to their own body.

  12. Tom Stone

    Hand me the smelling salts, I find myself agreeing with Ayn Rand.
    And propertarian does seem like a more fitting label than Libertarian.
    I have had some success in talking to the anti abortion people I know by bringing up the fact that abortion bans are about class,not morality.
    They do not affect the well to do at all while condemning the poor and middle class to lives of misery.
    If they really wanted to reduce the number of abortions in this country they could start by enacting a law that would provide all workers with a living wage.
    The casual cruelty of American Society no longer surprises me, but it will continue to horrify me as long as I live.

  13. Mark Sanders

    My own personal definition of a “libertarian” is a republican who wants legal access to drugs and prostitutes.

    1. George Phillies

      You missed some of our other stands: End foreign wars, notably the war on the Middle East and Africa. End foreign aid. Massive cuts in our military budget. End defense welfare. End farm welfare. End draft registration. Vigorous separation of church and state. Yes, legalize all drugs. A tax credit, attached to the child, so that anyone can support private and home schooling of children of poor parents.

      1. neo-realist

        I knew an Ayn Randie who like high military spending, wanted the military to go after the Islamic terrorists, wholeheaetedly supported the war on terror. Watched a lot of Fox news. Voted for Bush II twice. Used the N-word. Mostly a republican who supported legalization of drugs.

  14. NotTimothyGeithner

    Somewhat jokeingly, because libertarians are Republicans who hate Christian kitsch?

    The Texas ban won’t stop a rich family from getting an abortion when needed. They just send the girl to finishing school. Libertarianism, not the Republicans who hope to avoid uncomfortable conversations, is functionally about perceived power of the believers as individuals.

    Wearing a mask is a constant “infringement”, but shipping a wayward daughter to finishing school is just getting her out of the house. As for poor people and anyone in a bind who can’t cross state lines, the simply don’t care because it doesn’t bother them.

    Bill Maher is a great libertarian. All his views are functionally about his personal demands and solutions don’t exist to protect everyone just him. There is a veneer of rage against the machine arguments, but libertarianism is just “I’ve got mine on hell with everyone else” dressed up.

    1. Anders K

      A question I have is why one could not just find out the names of women close to lawmakers in Texas, wait two months, then file a suit against each of them?

      I admit to not having a good grasp of the legal system in the US (especially not with the Federal/State interactions), but from a cursory view this law doesn’t seem to be limited to just Texan people aborting in Texas – not sure how that interacts with people going “across the border” for abortions (I would assume that if they return to Texas the suits can still be filed?) but I’m assuming that suing non Texans that have an abortion outside of Texas is a dud (but maybe if they visit Texas? I dunno!).

      Needless to say, this is a monstrous attempt to control women and I hope it dies in a fire ASAP. If that means that there has to be stupid laws against the holy calves of the Pro-Life crowd (as that Reason article mentioned) then so be it.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        At least from the GOP perspective and Roberts position, my guess is the Texas lawmakers never expected the Supremes to rule in favor of the ban. Without phony arguments about the babies, the GOP would dry up in plenty of places. Khristians would have a harder time when passing the collection plate. They all know this.

        The law was poorly written because there was never any expectation it wouldn’t be struck down. My guess is Thompson is too old to see clearly because he is usually a loyal GOP soldier, and Kavanagh is just a jerk (Trump likely saw a fellow traveler). Remember his breakdown. It’s probably his version of revenge. Not that he’s not conservative, but I suspect he’s more like Roberts normally.

        Barrett, Alito, and Gorsuch strike me as true believers. And Trump’s popularity with GOP elites likely kept him from having a list of guys like Roberts who know not to go too far for fear of backlash.

        Roberts isn’t pro or antichoice. He fears the more female issue aligned Team Blue donors recognizing groups like Emily’s List protect bad actors in the Democratic Party. They might demand Democrats act or fund other groups that might support more regulation and taxes on the rich, even changes to the Supreme Court.

      2. Gareth

        To clarify one point of confusion, you cannot sue a woman who gets an abortion under SB8. The law explicitly forbids it. It allows suits against her doctor or anyone who helps her but not the woman herself.

  15. George Phillies

    Your claim “According to Newsmax, the two top libertarians are former congressman Ron Paul and his son, Senator Rand Paul.” faces the difficult that NewsMax is a far-right site not friendly to the Libertarian Party. Rand Paul has always stressed that he is a conservative ‘they tried to hang the Libertarian albatross on me, and it did not stick’. Ron Paul long ago left the Libertarian Party, where he was a poor fit because he was an antiabortionist, and went back to the Republicans.

    The Libertarian Party plank, the concrete position on abortion, is the ‘government should have no role in this matter.’ That’s no, none, zero role.

    George Phillies
    Former Chair, Libertarian Party of Massachusetts
    Twice on the ballot as the Libertarian Party candidate for Federal office.

  16. jr

    A quick and easy way to verbally disembowel the propertarian (+100 by the way) is to ask them what happens when someone’s liberty impedes on another’s. For example, if the CEO of a factory is free to spew smog, what about the liberty of the people who have to inhale it? Of course they don’t really care about those people, but every propertarian I’ve met considers themselves brilliant and they hate hate hate to lose an argument. Only the crudest will come right out and say “Who cares?”, at least in a classroom setting.

    It’s good fun to hear them spluttering and shimmying around the fact that they are basically proponents of politicized sociopathy. Sometimes they will screw up in desperation and say something like “Well there have to be some limits.” Then you can compliment them on their burgeoning social conscience.

    Another little curveball I used to toss at them was the notion of private property not being very private. A bit of wordplay but the point is that property implies social relations, otherwise why would one have to claim it as property?

    If I were alone on an island with a lone palm tree, there is no reason to declare the tree my property unless someone else exists who might claim it. Bottom line: by it’s very definition, in short “Mine, not yours!”, property implies a social fabric. A sad one, to be sure, but there it is. This is anathema to the propertarian, of course.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      I thought the propertarians already had an answer to that question. I have long understood their answer to be that the tarpaper-shack asthma-sufferer has a perfect right to sue the billionaire asthma-gas emitter in court. Ha! Ha! Ha!

  17. GeoCrackr

    In the immortal words of an anonymous internet commenter, a libertarian is just “a Republican who owns a bong.”

  18. Robin Kash

    Republican pols make a good living off their hypocrisy–about abortion, and other issues. It is the fertilizer of the tyranny of lies. Truth-telling is drought-scarce and seems to grow nought but a few backbones.

  19. someone

    In this post-shame world, obviously, taking a hypocritical position is easy, but I would be quick to accuse pro-choice advocates of making it SUPER easy.

    The mistake, I think, pro-choice advocates make is to make abortion rights simply about body-autonomy, in the same vain as an appendicitis or a tattoo. While I do not necessarily disagree on this notion, the real question of reproductive rights, as I see it, becomes mere a token issue. This gives “libertarians” an easy escape route to avoid the issue. (I’m sure libertarians would be plenty animated on regulation of tattoos) As for social conservatives, they will quickly and rightly point to suicide, prescription, and drug/smoking/alcohol laws, none of which are as controversial.

    I have to believe that a stronger emphasis on reproductive rights rather than body-autonomy would be more productive in getting these silent tongues wagging: “Does govt have right to infringe on when, with whom, and how many children citizens may have?”

    If the basis of social-conservatives’ anti-abortion position is that Constitution is silent on issue and thus States are free to choose, it stand to reason that States would thus be free to take any form of pro- or anti- procreation stances. After all, Constitution is dead silent on all aspect of procreation.

    I wonder how silent libertarians, or social conservative for that matter, would be if the question on Roe were more explicitly (and I think appropriately) a question of what are the limits on how States right to regulate when and the number of children a person may have, using all tools available (including forced abortion), for legitimate state’s or child’s interests? Would social conservative be comfortable in a world where woke, progressive, childless, Satan-worshiping, Californian Democrats have authority to dictate when, with whom, and how many children Christian and atheists alike could have?

    1. George Phillies

      The libertarian responder, delivered to social conservatives, is that if tyou think government can control reproduction by banning abortions, it can also do it in ways some people would dislike, as by compelling mothers of unborns with Down’s syndrome to abort rather than bearing the unborn as a child.

      Often, there is then a breakthrough to comprehension: If you give government a power, do not suppose it will always be used the way you want.

      1. jimmy cc

        Do Libertarians apply that to property?

        As in: If you give the government power to deed property, in essence, the power to declare this property is yours, then you also give them the power to declare that this property isn’t yours, and belongs to someone else in a way Libertarians may dislike?

        I am all for getting government out of private property business, but I will insist it gets completely out of the private property business. No more deeds…

  20. drumlin woodchuckles

    Ian Welsh ran a post about the Texas Fugitive Birth-Slave Law. Some of the comments offered examples of and suggestions for actions people or groups of people could take against those supporting this law.


    Maybe one just writes off the libertarians and sees what one can do to paralyze, degrade, attrit, destroy, the economic functionality and existence of those who support this law.

    Once the Rat Fink infrastructure is in place, and people start sueing, there should be a way to name, dox and destroy-the-lives-of all those people who are involved in such suits.

  21. KD

    First, there is no “libertarian” position on abortion. Hugh Hefner, if he was still with us, would be horrified by the Texas law. You could imagine the trauma to a high wealth individual who date rapes a bunny in the pagoda who might have to fork over child support on top of hush money if abortion services were not available.

    On the other hand, the Pauls know “life begins at conception”, so you are opposed to a for profit industrial practice aimed at the destruction of human life on a scale larger than Nazi Germany, and the issue is not the Texas law, but how any decent person could oppose the Texas law.

  22. JBird4049

    It seems to me that the Libertarians, the American Conservatives in power in the Republican Party, and the Democratic Party/PMC are all hypocrites.

    First, on the Libertarians and abortion: the Liberatarians are all about the money and care not a bit about the community, which means that they can go buzz off. At least talk a long walk on a short ocean pier.

    Next, I get the pro-choice and the pro-life positions, but what most of the advocates say, doesn’t match what they do, especially when looking at the political and social leadership.

    I find it darkly humorous that making abortion unnecessary is probably the best, easiest, and least expensive choice, but the political parties are making it harder, more expensive, and an act of desperation that will kill women. Just like before it will be the upper middle class and wealthy who will not really be affected by Texas’ political virtue signalling.

    The political leadership, the elites say they are all about supporting the family; being able to have a child successfully and having that child have good life requires several things:

    Food, clothing and shelter
    Medical care
    An intact, multi generational extended Family
    An intact, functioning supportive community Community
    An Education
    In today’s society, adequate money
    And an enviroment that is not trying to drown, bake, dry, dehydrate, starve, or infect people would also be helpful.

    None of which people like Pelosi, Shumer, McConnell, Newsom, whatever are working to get us. They might have their ideological preferences and they are working for different masters, i.e. Big Finance, Big Ag, Big Oil, and so on, but what they really, truly want is money, power, status. Mothers and their children can go and die.

    Almost everything that they do is aimed at getting and preserving that money, power, and status.

    Just like our civil rights, healthcare, guns, jobs, the enviroment, the eternal (undeclared) wars, abortion is just another tool to get the rubes all hot and bothered. It. Does. Not. Matter. What. You. Believe In. All that matters is that they get the donations, votes, and the emotional and physical energy of the True Believers, whatever created silo and faction that supposed they are apart of.

  23. Tom Stone

    As JBird noted, Politicians are addicts, addicted to Power.
    Which is the most addictive drug known to humankind.
    One “Tell” is that there is not enough, no matter how much power you have it’s not enough.

  24. Dick Swenson

    Q: What’s the difference between white male Texas Republicans and the Taliban?
    A: The Taliban can carry bigger guns.

  25. eg

    The fundamental error of Libertarian thinking is its failure to grasp human nature as rooted in our biology. We are pack animals.

    It’s the same sort of category error that bedevils an orthodox economics which relies upon a mythical “homo economus” in place of real flesh and blood human beings in all of their messy, irrational glory.

    Also, as J.K. Galbraith said of conservative thought:

    “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.”

    That goes at least double for the “propertarian” libertardians.

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