'Memory, like liberty, is a fragile thing.' -Elizabeth Loftus

Libertarian Identity Crisis?

by Ethan Glover, Fri, Dec 05, 2014 - (Edited) Wed, Jan 10, 2018

I recently came across the idea that libertarians need their own ethnicity. This was expressed by Michelangelo Landgrave on Notes on Liberty in Libertarian as Ethnicity. I think this is a very quickly debunked idea. The thought was that libertarians often have a moral separation from the idea of nationality for government and country. They don’t feel that they should be loyal to the United States merely because they live in the United States. Therefore, they don’t have a nationality. I think the idea of this article is that there is something missing because of that.

Except that, as libertarians we already belong to a general group called libertarian. I think we can all see that individuals within this group are all different, but we are comfortable with the general term. Maybe some people are very particular about separating big-L Libertarianism and small-l libertarianism but the point remains. There is this philosophy of liberty out there that we belong to and can connect to each other through.

I don’t get why there is any necessity for nationality at all, or why you would even miss it. If you have some moral standing against nationality, why would you want to create one? That doesn’t make sense. Why would you feel a void due to a lack of nationality when you’ve got libertarianism to take its place?

You might be able to argue that libertarianism is already an ethnicity; that’s fair. But this article proposes an entirely new word, “Libertarios.” This is, of course, unnecessary. There are a lot of different kinds of libertarians. There are constitutionalists, tea partiers, anarcho-capitalists, voluntarists, agorists and even just plain libertarians. These are all fine things; I have no problem with descriptive terms. But a word that explicitly describes libertarian as an ethnicity is redundant.

As I was thinking about this topic, I got to thinking about how far libertarianism as an idea has come. It is a worldwide thing; it is recognized almost everywhere you go. If you tell a stranger that you are a libertarian, they almost immediately know your general beliefs. They might not know a lot of finer details; they may not be aware that libertarianism is so broad as to include anarchism, but they’ve got a rough idea from the start. If this stranger happens to be a libertarian herself and they say so, then you’ve immediately got a connection.

Again, why would you want libertarianism to be an ethnicity if libertarianism already is what it is? Why would you want a word to describe libertarianism as an ethnicity if it already is an ethnicity? I just think this whole idea is pointless. The article presents an excellent view; it’s interesting to think about. It’s a good passing thought, but at the end of the day, there’s no reason to pursue it any further.

Libertarians as a group have already put in the work to make a name for themselves. They’ve shown the world that they exist, they’re not going away, and they deserve recognition. Libertarianism as an ethnicity? It’s been taken care of, let’s keep moving.