Schools of Thought in Classical Liberalism, Part 7: Conclusion: What’s Your View?

In his conclusion to the series “Schools of Thought in Classical Liberalism,” Dr. Nigel Ashford asks: What do you think the role of government should be? How do you decide what government should or shouldn’t do? What’s your philosophy?

What do you believe?

  • Anarchy: there is no role for government.
  • Minimal government, or minarchy: government should provide an army, police, and courts, but nothing else.
  • Social market economy: government has a responsibility for helping the poorest in society and providing a basic welfare state.
  • Non–classical liberal views: it’s the role of the government to promote a virtuous society (conservatism), to create equality (leftist), to own or control all aspects of the economy (socialism), or to control every aspect of life (totalitarianism, communism, and fascism).

12 Comments

  1. Brian Phillips

    Excellent video.  Government needs to be constrained.  The bigger it gets, the more power is concentrated at the top, and the more people suffer.  This happens many times throughout history.

  2. WmShaw66

    I am an Anarcho-Capatalist at heart.  If I have to put a single point of view on it, that view would be Hayek’s "Rule of Law."  All law must apply equally to all.  Couple that with Lord Acton and the fundamental nature of bureaucracies you come to the understanding that no ‘State’ that will be constrained by "Rule of Law."  Add in Rothbard and David Friedman, and it starts to become very difficult to justify any government at all. 

  3. Jeremy Harding

    Of those listed, I am AnarchoCapitalistic. However, I see utility for Parecon, in order to wean the Left off the State, and I would personally love a Voluntaryist society, populated by Agorists and AnarchoCapitalists alike. It would be a handy way to copasetically run industry and agriculture in the same stateless society. Either way, great series!

  4. Jaysuf

    Should government be limited due to consequences of government action, or because they infringe upon natural rights? I don’t necessarily see the two as mutually exclusive, one of the consequences of government action is that they infringe upon natural rights.

  5. Adam

    Thanks for a great series. This is one of the more valuable and informative set of videos (for me) at Learn Liberty. I am a moderate classical liberal utilitarian. Biggest influences are Milton Friedman, FA Hayek, and Jeremy Bentham. I am a pragmatist, and think the role of government includes everything it does better than a free market. Rule of law, property rights, contract enforcement, public goods, externalities, etc….

  6. mechytech

    I have witnessed that the government can infringe upon our natural rights, and that the consequences of government action tend to prove that. I think that both of those methodologies touch upon my own opinion, that governing can be good in some ways and completely disastrous in others. The checks that should be on government, I believe, are 2 fold: 1:) Having enumerated, unassailable rights written down in a pact with those who participate in said government laying down a boundary which those governing can never legally cross. and 2:) A sufficient recourse for those governed to alert or remove those governing who have stepped across those boundaries, or who have enacted methods within those boundaries which are completely useless or punish people directly or indirectly for pursuing their natural rights.

    I do believe in a social safety net, or welfare state, but only one which incentivizes being more independent over being more dependent. 
  7. Anonymous

    My opinion at this point is in the hands of equality of their hiring process. I believe that aspect of the government responsibilities is more in question, then what their exact job should be. There is a prejudice in the hiring process because of the Legistrative Branch itself. The privileges of the Presidency seat have been dampened by the injustice of hiring criminals into the F.B.I. agencies.

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