The Chimeras of “Libertarianism”: What’s Behind This Political Movement?

The Chimeras of “Libertarianism”: What’s Behind This Political Movement?

The liberal tradition has always been ambivalent toward government. On the one hand, liberal theorists have usually deemed some form of civil government necessary to the security of life and property. In Locke’s view, only the promulgation and enforcement of law by a universally recognized authority can guarantee the peace. At the same time, liberals have tended to regard the state with suspicion. After all, power wielded in behalf of the governed might as easily be used to oppress them. Revolutionary pamphleteer Tom Paine captured the essence of the liberal dilemma when he wrote in Common Sense that “society in every state is a blessing, but government even in its best state is but a necessary evil.”

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