Justin Raimondo was recently asked by Mises Institute President Jeff Deist what he thought of the phrase paleolibertarian, which was once used (its manifesto starts in page 34 here) to distinguish the Rothbardians from the so-called “Modal libertarians” –the leftist libertarians who emphasized lifestylism over principled property rights theory. What were the modal libertarians? Karen DeCoster is helpful here:
Libertarian guru Murray Rothbard called them “modal libertarians.” They are an assemblage of leftover Marxists, 60s-70s drug users, cultural leftists, assorted members of the Arts-and-Croissant crowd, and Christian-hating atheists. They latch onto the libertarian name because, somehow, they think “libertarian” means “do-whatever-the-heck-you-want” in the name of freedom.
Exclusive property rights, and therefore, the right to discriminate against others on one’s own property, is not even a part of the left-libertarian thought process. After all, these concepts go against the very ideals they support, such as gay and civil rights, utilitarianism, moral relativism, and non-rationalism. However, enjoying true freedom, without absolute control of one’s property, is not possible. And on the mass immigration issue, the modal libertarians put their devotion to multiculturalism, diversity, and PC-ness ahead of the core libertarian principle of private property.
It is quite obvious that the modal libertarians who have transformed into the Progressivist Libertarians of today, have largely taken over the libertarian movement.
It is important therefore to defend our flavor of libertarianism with the label paleo-libertarianism which, as Raimondo suggests, simply refers to a libertarianism that goes back to the roots. Although, as Raimondo mentions, Lew Rockwell has abandoned this label, it is important that we don’t forget it. Raimondo thinks it significant and I completely agree. By losing focus on property rights and emphasizing multiculturalism and other leftist values, we abandon the purpose of libertarianism. Raimondo also said our strategy should be with working with those on the right, instead of the left. This is controversial in the libertarian world today. But here I also concur.