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

Does Classical Liberalism Have a Chance in South Africa?

By Marian L. Tupy. Reason.com. June 20, 2017.

Goodbye, Obama

By Gene Healy. Reason. March 1, 2017.

Why the Worst Now?

By Tom G. Palmer. Liberty Law. February 6, 2017.

Cato Studies

Options for Federal Privatization and Reform Lessons from Abroad

By Chris Edwards. Policy Analysis No. 794. June 28, 2016.

State Capitalism vs. Private Enterprise

By Donghua Chen, Dequan Jiang, Alexander Ljungqvist, Haitian Lu, & Mingming Zhou. Research Briefs in Economic Policy No. 28. June 17, 2015.

Policy Priorities for the 114th Congress

By Cato Institute. White Paper. February 4, 2015.

Articles

Connoisseurs of Liberty

Cato's Letter. George F. Will. Vol. 15. No. 3. Summer 2017.

Defending Liberty in Congress

Cato's Letter. Rep. Justin Amash. Vol. 14. No. 4. Fall 2016.

How I Became a Libertarian

Cato's Letter. Penn Jillette. Vol. 14. No. 2. Spring 2016.

Events

Cato University: College of History and Philosophy

Featuring Robert McDonald, Dr. Steve Davies, and Tom G. Palmer. October 26, 2017 to October 28, 2017. Cato University.

Debate: Libertarianism vs. Conservatism

Featuring Mark Houser and Charles C. W. Cooke. August 3, 2017. Debate.

Cato University: College of Economics

Featuring Jeffrey Miron, Lynne Kiesling, Daniel J. Ikenson, & Tom G. Palmer. July 27, 2017 to July 29, 2017. Cato University.

Downsizing the Federal Government

Five Types of Spending

By Chris Edwards. March 2014.