Liberaltarians Leaving Cato

Brink Lindsey and Will Wilkinson are both leaving the Cato Institute for other jobs.They are two leading proponents of liberaltarianism, promoting greater cooperation between libertarians and liberals, which is counter to the larger trend for libertarians to work with conservatives. David Weigel reports that some see this as a purge of the liberaltarians, while Ilya Somin of The Volokh Conspiracy disagrees.

I have no idea if this is a conscious decision by Cato to remove the liberaltarians. As we are dealing with only two people it is certainly possible that it is coincidental that both are moving on to other jobs at the same time. Regardless of whether the two are at Cato, I do hope that they maintain some degree of influence in the libertarian movement. Libertarians are greatly in need of such influence, as I’ve seen far too many libertarians take on too many attitudes of the conservative movement.Libertarianism corrupted by such authoritarian beliefs tends to become ridiculous. (For example, look at Ron and Rand Paul).

Of course it works both ways. Many liberals can also benefit from exposure to some libertarian ideas, and far too few libertarians can communicate their ideas intelligibly to those who don’t already share their views. With many on the left being primarily concerned about civil liberties, social issues, and opposition to the war, the “big government” attitudes of the past are far less prominent among many liberals, leaving room for consideration of some libertarian views.

Unfortunately there does not appear to be any benefit coming from conservative exposure to libertarians. While many libertarians have adopted conservative ideas, conservatives are far less likely to change their ideas. Besides, if they do they risk being drummed out of the conservative movement.

Related: Right Wing Confusion Over “Statism”

Many conservatives mistakenly believe that a fundamental view of liberalism is “statism” and having big government control everything. While this view is spread by Fox and conservative talk radio it is not only false but it is the opposite of the real differences. The left is a big tent containing a variety of views bu…t one view held by many is opposition to the authoritarianism and disregard for knowledge and reason coming from the right wing.