The problem of Libertarianism is that it believes in an abstract form of freedom and they all differ greatly with each other on what that freedom allows. Which is the trouble with the word – it invites all sorts of people of kinds of philosophical backgrounds, with no consistent ideology. They use words like freedom, liberty as buzzwords to further their own usually selfish agendas; words like ‘statist’ and ‘socialist’ used like insults.
So different they are that they normally call themselves something else like classical liberal, Thatcherites, Ron Paul worshippers, Mises school adherents, free market anarchists…. List goes on, but they all call themselves ‘libertarian’ just to oppose statism. If they are in the same room together they would be arguing in minutes be the conversation be economics or (more explosively) social issues (though better yet just watch them argue online).
Libertarians rightly concede that one’s freedom must end at the point at which it starts to intrude upon another person’s but they severely underestimate how easily this happens. No man is an island. So even if the libertarian principle of “if it harms no one, do as you will” is true, it does not permit the behaviour libertarians claim.
For example with pornography: a libertarian would say it should be allowed because if someone doesn’t like it, they can choose not to watch it. But what others cannot do is choose not to live in a culture that has been vulgarized by it. I apply this with drugs too, I will be forced to live in a more dangerous, miserable and (as I have argued before) more authoritarian world.
Some libertarians I have come across rarely live up to their own theory but tend to indulge in the nice parts while declining to live up to the difficult portions. Such as those who ignore drug laws but continue to collect what they deem “socialist” government benefits they consider illegitimate such as child benefit, and free NHS care. Many also bemoan taxation on other threads of this forum but it is considered ok to tax legalised drugs and/or for drugs to be available through the state for some reason.
Funnily enough I think most people don’t want absolute freedom which is probably why democratic countries haven’t elected a purely libertarian government. Ironically people don’t seem to choose absolute freedom. This also refutes libertarianism by its own premise that people will choose to do good, as libertarianism believes that people will freely choose goodness, yet people do not choose it. Paradoxically, people exercise their freedom not to be libertarians.
Society is dependent upon taught self-restraint if it is not to slide into barbarism, and libertarians attack this self-restraint along with the liberal classes of the last 40 years. Ironically, this often results in internal restraints being replaced by the external state led restraints of police and prison and the innumerable petty extra laws brought in by Nu Labour, resulting in less freedom, not more.
Libertarianism has a lot to say about freedom but little about learning what to do with it. Freedom without order is dangerous at best and useless at worst. If find libertarianism too dogmatic in because of its belief that all free choices are equal, which it cannot abandon except at the cost of admitting that there are other important ideals other than freedom. With no transcendent sanctions for conduct libertarians are left with only the utilitarian method of applying the cost/benefits analyses and calculators to social issues. With economists as their clergy they can now see that anything that generates tax and economic growth as “good”.
I can see the word "libertarian" quickly losing its meaning and fast become nebulous in years to come, and to mean just something "liberal". Just like the word "fascist" has lost its meaning and used in place of the word "bad" and hurled like an insult - I think libertarian will be the inverse. That is meant to be something "good" and worn like a medal of righteousness. It is happening now already being used a buzzword for liberal.
UKIP labelling itself liberal could indeed get it more votes, but in my opinion UK politics does not need another liberal party - we have too many of those in Westminster at the moment. Britain needs to return to proper parliamentary politics whereby we have two or (preferably) more parties of opposing ideas. There is no dissent or major disagreement in the Commons, and it is this what is killing true parliamentary politics for everyone.
By jumping on this "libertarian" bandwagon (which does stink of a ill thought out PR marketing move), UKIP have now forged its own chains and manacles. Bhurka bans (No, I was not in favour of it) and stance on gay marriage will now look foolish and contradictory.
UKIP was better off unlabelled with no ideology.