Wednesday, August 25, 2010

News from the "liberaltarian" front

As I've remarked before, Robert Anton Wilson was a libertarian, but perhaps not a conventional one. Explaining his vote for John Anderson in 1980 he said, "Ideologically, of course, I should have voted for Ed Clark, the Libertarian Party candidate; but I am not that kind of Libertarian, really; I don't hate poor people."

The current term for libertarians who favor a social safety net for the poor and who worry about issues such as sexism and racism is "liberaltarian," although the movement scarcely amounts to more than a few bloggers and their followers and commenters. There's some news from the world of liberaltarianism that I thought I would pass along.

First, the good news. Two of the leaders of the nascent movement, Brink Lindsey and Will Wilkinson, are at work on a book, tentatively titled "The Free Market Progressive: How We Can Use Capitalist Acts Between Consenting Adults to Create Peace, Prosperity, and Justice." If it's a good enough book, it could serve as a kind of manifesto for the movement. I doubt it will be a visionary as Robert Anton Wilson's political writings, but it could be a tad more practical. I'll just add that I hope the book discussed Milton Friedman's negative income tax, which both RAW and Wilkinson have expressed interest in.

The possible bad news: Lindsey and Wilkinson apparently have been forced out in a purge at the Cato Institute, the libertarian think-tank in Washington, D.C., according to this report from Dave Weigel. This would suggest there's no room for liberaltarians at the leading libertarian think tank. Also note, however, this post by Ilya Somin, which disputes the "purge" theory. None of the actual principals are talking candidly at the moment, so it's hard to say who has the real story.

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