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“Libertarianism” and the Social Ideal of Liberty: Neo-conservatism's “Libertarian” Claims Reconsidered

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This article reconsiders contemporary conservatism's “libertarian” claim to economic and political liberty and related claims. It re-examines the relation of conservatism and its supposed “libertarianism” to the principle or ideal of liberty in society and economy, respectively. The paper argues and demonstrates that since its inception out of medieval traditionalism, conservatism has continued to consistently oppose the ideal and practice of liberty defining liberalism, and to that extent modern liberal-democratic society as a reality or project premised on that ideal. The argument and inference is that conservative “libertarianism” is effectively the antithesis to the ideal of liberty, couched in and rationalized as antagonism toward liberalism identified as its original and continual antagonist.

Keywords: Conservatism; Ideal of Liberty; Liberalism; Libertarianism

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02691721003749893

Publication date: April 1, 2011

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