Libertarian Vs. Liberal (What’s The Difference?)


Among the political parties, the libertarian party is often confused with being either conservative or liberal.

Many even confuse libertarianism with liberalism.

Part of that is due to libertarianism’s origin in Classical Liberalism.

However, there are several differences between libertarianism and liberalism.

We’ll dig into them and the different types of each.

Libertarian Vs. Liberal (What’s The Difference?)

The primary difference between a libertarian and a liberal is the way in which they view the government.

A libertarian believes that the government should have minimal involvement in economic and social policies.

They believe that the government coerces society too much.

Instead of the government, they believe that individuals can hold themselves accountable.

Liberals believe that the government is something society needs to help them achieve freedom and equality.

How Do Liberals And Libertarians Compare On Protesting?

Liberals use peaceful protests to push their agendas.

However, they’re not afraid to use civilized violence to also state their cases.

Civilized violence is something like intimidation.

They differ in how they approach protesting from libertarians.

Libertarians believe in non-violent protests.

They rely on rational debate.

The very foundation of their philosophy is an ethical one.

Their belief in 100% voluntary contracts without coercion means that they are responsible for themselves and their behavior.

How Do Liberals And Libertarians Compare On Equality?

There are a few different ways to measure equality.

One is equality of outcome.

This type of equality means that the processes or methods used aren’t equal, but the end result is equal.

An example is the taxation of the rich.

A rich individual needs to pay more taxes than a poorer individual.

As a result, everyone in society is able to receive equal benefits like healthcare, security, and income.

While everyone is equal in the end, the method in which they achieve that equality is not equal.

The rich have to contribute more than the poor.

This type of concept is something that liberal philosophy adopts.

They believe in equality of outcome.

They also rely on the government to determine what’s fair for everyone involved in society.

Then the government must reinforce those regulations.

The other type of equality is equality of opportunity.

This type of equality means that everyone follows the same rules.

If they break the rule, then they’re punished the same.

An example is two individuals that get caught speeding on the highway.

They’re arrested and taken to court.

If one of those individuals is able to hire a rich attorney, then they may be able to bend the rules in their favor.

Equality of opportunity means that both individuals have the same access to the same resources for their defense.

They are both given the same punishment regardless of their wealth or identity because they broke the law.

You follow the rules like everyone else, or you receive punishment like everyone else.

Libertarians believe in equality of opportunity.

When everyone has to follow the same rulebook, then society is equal.

What Are The Origins Of Libertarianism?

Originally, libertarianism was a part of Classical Liberalism.

It shared many of the same views on the economy as Classical Liberalism.

It wasn’t until the 1960s and the Vietnam War that libertarianism started to branch out on its own.

During the Vietnam War, anti-war protests were common.

Americans were being drafted and forced to fight in a war that they didn’t believe in.

Individuals started to see it as the government forcing itself into the lives of people when it had no business doing so.

Libertarianism suggested that society should live without most, if not all, forms of government coercion.

The idea attracted both liberals and conservatives to it.

While there are several types of libertarianism, there are two main schools of thought.

One is that society should exist without government involvement entirely.

Instead, control comes either from corporations or labor forces.

The other school of thought, one that Modern Libertarians adopt, is that the government needs minimal involvement.

Limited government control is primarily over the military defense and that’s it.

Otherwise, they believe that individuals can hold themselves accountable.

What Are The Origins Of Liberalism?

Liberalism began with Classical Liberalism.

It’s a school of thought that believes people are bound by their own agreements, contracts, and decisions.

They also believe in voluntary association, self-interest, and incentives.

This means that an individual has the right to make the choice to work a job that they don’t want to because it pays well.

That same person also has the right to work at a job that they enjoy.

Out of Classical Liberalism came many different types of liberalism.

One of the main types that contrast from Classical Liberalism is Welfare Liberalism.

Welfare liberals believe that the people deserve certain welfare guarantees.

They also expect the government to fund and enforce those welfare guarantees.

Welfare liberals also focus on social obligations.

They’re less concerned with basic rights.

They believe that those who are financially fortunate have a social obligation to help those who are not.

They have a right to help and serve their community.

As a result, they’re more inclined to seek help from the government to enforce those rights and social obligations.

This is different from Classical Liberalism which favors incentives.

They believe that individuals can better themselves through their upbringing and participation in certain jobs and organizations.

Are Libertarians Left Or Right?

Libertarians have ties to both left-wing and right-wing policies.

Many consider them extreme radicals of the left or right.

In truth, they reside at the center of the political spectrum.

Some types of libertarianism are even more liberal or more conservative than the actual political parties themselves.

Libertarians And The Right

Some of the right-wing policies that libertarians share with conservatives are their stances on the economy.

Libertarians are in favor of tax cuts to stimulate the economy.

Their tax cuts aren’t reserved solely for corporations and big businesses, however.

Both conservatives and libertarians believe that the government needs to stay out of the market.

Involving the government in the market keeps it from becoming a truly free market.

They believe that every business should see its fair share of tax cuts.

Libertarians also believe in the second amendment.

Libertarians are more interested in providing mental healthcare availability.

That’s because they believe that individuals need to hold themselves accountable.

If they’re not mentally healthy, then they need to take it upon themselves or have their family take it upon themselves to get them the care that they need.

If individuals cannot hold themselves accountable, then they must face the consequences.

Conservatives are also interested in cutting federal spending.

They’re always trying to find ways to bring the federal government into the black, if not the green, in terms of debt.

Libertarians also want to do this.

They believe that the federal government should have minimal spending.

The difference is that conservatives are happy to use that spending in other areas of interest to them.

Military spending, for example, increases every year.

Libertarians are more than happy to cut military spending to decrease overall federal spending.

One final issue is that conservatives also want the government to stop regulating and being involved in schools and school districts.

Libertarians also believe that parents should be able to choose the school that they want their kids to attend.

Schools should not have regulations through districts established by the government.

Libertarians And The Left

Libertarians also share many beliefs with the left-wing.

Liberals are slowly starting to end the War on Drugs.

Local governments are becoming more interested in legalizing drugs like marijuana.

Several have already taken the steps to do so.

Libertarians are also in favor of decriminalizing drugs.

They believe that all drugs should be legal.

More importantly, they believe that the government shouldn’t have a say in what people do with their bodies.

They believe if an individual wants to use drugs, then it’s their decision.

They’ll deal with the consequences of their actions later.

Another policy that liberals and libertarians share is a reduction in mass incarceration.

Liberals are trying to reduce the number of inmates sent to prison.

They prefer rehabilitation efforts instead.

Libertarians agree that mass incarceration needs reducing.

Part of that is making drugs legal.

Since libertarians believe that the government shouldn’t regulate what a person does with their body, then it shouldn’t have a right to send them to jail.

An individual should only go to jail if their actions directly harm another individual.

That’s when their individual rights end.

With this philosophy in mind, it’d be easy to reduce the number of prisoners in jail.

Immigration rights is another issue that both liberals and libertarians support.

The degree to which they support the immigrants depends on the particular libertarian.

Modern libertarians see immigrants as a way to bring in more taxes.

They believe that immigrants should be able to take part in the free market as citizens.

By doing so, they can pay taxes and fund their local communities.

Liberals also believe in allowing immigrants to enter the country.

Many libertarians claim that liberals have forgotten their roots when it comes to war.

Liberals first started as anti-war activists.

While some liberals are still against war, many centrist liberals are pro-war.

Libertarians agree with the parts of the party that are anti-war.

Liberals are usually against war because of the cost of human lives, the funding, and the reason.

War brings out the worst in people and societies.

Libertarians dislike war because it allows the government to regulate people’s lives.

They can force men to go to war even if they don’t believe in it.

They can institute rationing and production levels.

These are concepts that libertarians don’t agree with.

Some types of libertarians even prefer an isolationist philosophy.

They believe that the country should stay out of foreign affairs entirely.

Both liberals and libertarians are usually anti-war and support policies that promote diplomacy over combat.

A rising issue that libertarians and liberals share is privacy rights.

In particular, the use of domestic surveillance programs is concerning to both.

Liberals have a concern over the usage of the information that’s derived from surveillance.

Libertarians don’t like the idea of supervision at all.

They believe that the government shouldn’t survey its people.

What Are The Different Types Of Libertarians?

You may think that there’s only one type of libertarian, and that type dislikes government involvement.

In truth, there are several different types of libertarians.

Each one has its own beliefs on how much the government should involve itself in society.

Here are some of the prominent libertarian schools in society and their beliefs.


Anarcho-Capitalists believe that the government is unnecessary.

They prefer a society in which there isn’t government control.

Any service that the government provides is something that a corporation can do.

Those services should come directly from the corporations instead of a government body.

In so doing, the society has access to a free economic market, and they have protected basic rights.

They’re able to purchase the services that they actually want and need.

Civil Libertarianism

These types of libertarians also believe in minimal government.

The government shouldn’t oppress, restrict, or fail to protect its people in their day-to-day lives.

It does not have a say in what goes on in their homes.

They also believe that your personal rights end when they interfere with or harm another person’s personal rights.

Classical Liberalism

Another type of libertarianism is classical liberalism.

This school of thought believes that the rights of every individual are in the Declaration of Independence.

The government’s sole job is to protect those rights.

They’re there to enforce an individual’s rights and punish the individual when they harm the rights of another individual.

Fiscal Libertarianism

Many traditional Republicans adopt fiscal libertarianism into their own political platform.

The problem is that Republicans are only moderate fiscal libertarians.

True fiscal libertarians believe in free trade and non-existent taxes.

They also believe in minimal corporate regulation from the government.

By eliminating or reducing taxes and allowing corporations to regulate themselves, society can access a free market.


This type of libertarian believes that no one owns the land.

Instead, they believe that individuals rent the land.

With this thinking, they want to abolish income and sales tax.

In its place is a single land rental tax.

The money that’s generated is then used for the collective interest of the people.

The locals in the area then decide what those interests are in a democratic process.

What Are The Different Types Of Liberalism?

Like libertarianism, liberalism also has several different schools of thought within it.

Each philosophy develops into a particular type of liberalism.

Here are some of the most common types of liberalism and what they believe.

Social Liberalism

Social liberalists believe that the government has an obligation to provide basic rights to its people.

Those rights include healthcare, income, and education.

They believe that by investing in society with the help of the government, society can grow and develop.

They rely on the government to fund and enforce an individual’s rights to education, health, and a living wage.

Conservative Liberalism

Conservative liberalists, on the other hand, are less inclined to use the government to fund and enforce social programs.

They do believe that the church and state need to be separated, unlike conservatives.

They see the government as primarily useful for military interventions.

American Liberalism

Also known as progressives, American liberalists seek the betterment of society by providing access to healthcare, education, and a living wage.

Freedom is their ultimate goal, and they believe that society can achieve this when they have free access to education, healthcare, and a living wage.


Libertarians and liberals share many similarities.

Libertarianism branched out of classical liberalism.

The difference between the two is that libertarians believe in little government involvement with society while liberals rely on government involvement to better society.

There are also several different types of liberals and libertarians with each of their own belief systems.

Consider the information above when trying to better understand the different political and social philosophies of both parties.


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