I think a lot of libertarians don’t really care about libertarianism, they simply care about their own pet morality, and libertarianism – so they think – provides a blunt weapon with which to cudgel those who do not share that morality. Here’s an example: In recent history I encountered a particularly nasty piece of work (who shall remain nameless, other than to say he’s an individual whose re-entry to NZ has been denied because of his uncovered history of promoting “man boy love”) who was adamant that no real classical liberal or libertarian could possibly be a person who thought that same-sex marriage was immoral, because libertarians and classical liberals are tolerant people who don’t make such bigoted moral judgements.
He was wrong. Classical liberalism has nothing at all to say about whether or not a person will or should find himself agreeing with certain traditional moral mores like those about homosexuality. Read that again: Classical liberalism, and libertarianism for that matter, has absolutely nothing to say about whether or not a person should agree with moral judgements about homosexuality, or any number of other moral issues associated with dreaded “conservatism.” Edward Feser explains why here, and it’s worth a read. Just a note – he uses the term “fusionism” and “libertarian conservatism” in roughly the same way that I use the term “Classical Liberalism.”
Here’s a sneak peek at what he says:
If I had to sum up the common moral vision of libertarians and conservatives, I would say it is a commitment to the idea of the dignity of man. On this vision, a human being is not a mere animal, but a rational being with the power of free moral choice, a person – a creature made, as religious conservatives would put it, in the image of God. And because he is this, he (a) cannot legitimately be used as a resource for others, a source of labor and property which may be appropriated by the state for its purposes without his consent, and (b) is subject to the demands of a moral law which require him to live in a way which accords with his unique dignity, rather than in thrall to his every fleeting inclination. Libertarians stress (a) and conservatives (b), but both are united in their insistence that a man ought not to be a slave, either to another’s desires or to his own. And it is this insistence that separates them from the Left, which in its various factions tends to portray human beings in dehumanizing terms, as little more than clever animals, or as cogs in a vast social machine, helpless victims of forces beyond their control – and thus neither fit to rule themselves nor capable of living up to any morality that would require putting chains on their appetites.