Libertarianism is the belief that each person has the right to live his life as he chooses so long as he respects the equal rights of others. Libertarians defend each person’s right to life, liberty, and property. In the libertarian view, voluntary agreement is the gold standard of human relationships. If there is no good reason to forbid something (a good reason being that it violates the rights of others), it should be allowed. Force should be reserved for prohibiting or punishing those who themselves use force, such as murderers, robbers, rapists, kidnappers, and defrauders (who practice a kind of theft). Most people live their own lives by that code of ethics. Libertarians believe that that code should be applied consistently, even to the actions of governments, which should be restricted to protecting people from violations of their rights. Governments should not use their powers to censor speech, conscript the young, prohibit voluntary exchanges, steal or “redistribute” property, or interfere in the lives of individuals who are otherwise minding their own business.

More on Libertarianism

Commentary

Big Business Vs. Libertarians in the GOP

By David Boaz. The Daily Beast. June 12, 2014.

115 Years after His Birth, Hayek’s Ideas Remain Relevant

By Gerald P. O’Driscoll Jr.. Investor’s Business Daily. May 8, 2014.

The Libertarian Surge

By David Boaz. Politico Magazine. April 7, 2014.

Cato Studies

Libertarianism and Federalism

By Ilya Somin. Policy Analysis No. 751. June 30, 2014.

Libertarian Roots of the Tea Party

By David Kirby and Emily McClintock Ekins. Policy Analysis No. 705. August 6, 2012.

Marriage against the State: Toward a New View of Civil Marriage

By Jason Kuznicki. Policy Analysis No. 671. January 12, 2011.

Articles

On the Origins of the Modern Libertarian Legal Movement

Roger Pilon. Chapman Law Review. Vol. 16. No. 2. 2013.

Introduction

Roger Pilon. American Conservative Thought in the Twentieth Century. 2011.

A Faint-Hearted Libertarian at Best: The Sweet Mystery of Anthony Kennedy

Ilya Shapiro. Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy. Vol. 33. No. 1. Winter 2011.

Cato Reviews & Journals

Opportunity Cost

John A. Allison. Policy Report. May/June 2014.

Woodrow Wilson’s Great Mistake

Jim Powell. Policy Report. May/June 2014.

Chinese Scholar Xia Yeliang Joins Cato

Policy Report. March/April 2014.