Libertarianism is hard to define because it means different things depending on where you’re at. In most of the world, especially in Europe, it’s a synonym for anarchism. But that’s the dead opposite of what it means in the USA where your sober libertarians know they need enough government to guard the loot of the few who’ve amassed it in what has become a casino economy.
A good capsule analysis of libertarianism, American-style, comes from Kevin Walsh in his blog:
“Libertarianism is a utopian ideology that is most commonly found among the European-American petit-bourgeoisie and intelligentsia which favors bourgeois property relations with little or no state apparatus to support those relations. Libertarians are opposed to involuntary taxation, military conscription, laws against narcotics, laws against prostitution, professional police forces, laws restricting private ownership of weapons, public education, government social programs, and just about all regulations on business. Libertarians favor privatizing all or nearly all government functions. Many Libertarians even favor privately owned highways, streets and sidewalks.
“Libertarianism is rare outside the USA, and in eastern Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America, it is virtually unknown. Within the USA, Libertarianism is unusual outside the European-American community. The idea that bourgeois property relations could be maintained without a strong state apparatus justly seems bizarre to most of the world’s people, but in view of the unusual history of the USA, it is understandable that some European-Americans could be led to believe this.”
As Kevin pointed out, class struggle was retarded in America. Workers could just pack up and leave, heading West. That’s why it was important after the Civil War to have the mass immigration occur in order build an industrial working class. But it also developed the class struggle–an event of real life and not an invention of Marx. This class struggle up to the Second World War was one of the bloodiest in the world. See DYNAMITE! by Louis Adamic.
But the drive West became the prevailing ideology for a great many European-Americans. Francis Parker Yockey called it individualistic imperialism; we call it libertarianism today.
It’s also based on a false reading of American history.Americans didn’t open up the West on their own. Rather, it was done by government and the U.S. Army. No invisible hand here.
Another hallmark of libertarianism is hostility to the idea of community, and from there to nationalism & populism. Margaret Thatcher who used libertarian rhetoric when it suited her–like our Republicans when out of office–said there was no such thing as society; just atomized consumers, presumably.
Libertarians are also blind to race. They wouldn’t understand the Kansas-Nebraska wars prior to the Civil War. The history books say it was the old sectional battle of free states vs slave states. And it was up to a point. The free white workers fleeing the factories in the East didn’t want the lands opened up by the Army to be doled out in large plantations to the slaveocracy. But they also didn’t want the presence of large numbers of blacks in the new territories.
Libertarians wouldn’t understand why northern states like Indiana and Ohio, prior to the Civil War, wouldn’t allow in free blacks unless they made a substantial cash deposit which would be refunded when they left.
Finally, libertarianism calls for more changes in human nature than socialism would call for. That’s why we style it utopian.
Libertarianism is also utopian in that it doesn’t come to grips with the hidden history of our times. Hidden history, parapolitics, and deep politics are all terms that describe the complicated intertwining of organized crime, drug trafficking, gun-running, money laundering, covert operations, intelligence collection, strategies of tension, assassinations, coups and other events hidden from public view, democratic oversight and effective accountability by the National Security State and the corporate-dominated media. That’s why on TV “24? was always more realistic than that liberal wetdream/soap opera “The West Wing.”