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AlbertJayNock

Four quadrants of libertarianism

Bob Murphy has written an article celebrating the ascendancy of Austrian economics over the Chicago School at mises.org, and reposted at lewrockwell.com. It was written in response to an article by David Frum, who agrees about the state of libertarian economic thinking, but laments this development.

I confess to a little bias here. David Frum has long been a bete noir of mine, and I'm always happy to see somebody blow him a raspberry.
But it's not just that.  I'm a true believer in Austrian economics, and would swallow my pride and give Frum credit should he ever decide that Austrian economics is just swell. I was initially converted, not by reading any persuasive arguments, but simply by observing economic events over the last 10 years, particularly the massive slashing of interest rates in the early 2000's and the ensuing housing boom/bust.

Even though both schools advocate free markets, there are quite a few differences. For the purposes of this entry (and most of Murphy's article) the big difference is that an Austrian would not have approved of Alan Greenspan attempting to stimulate the economy by cutting interest rates to the bone, and a Chicago school economist would have had no problem. We see how well those interest rate cuts worked (Well, some of us do...Bernanke is still following the same disastrous path.)

This shows not all libertarians are alike. In addition to two different economic schools, libertarians also differ on just how much government we should have. Some libertarians, such as most of the folks at lewrockwell.com are anarcho-capitalists, who believe that the market can replace government entirely. Others are classical liberals in the tradition of John Locke, who believe we need government to prevent people from committing force and fraud against each other.

I can't help but think of  the Nolan chart, which shows a two (as opposed to one) dimensional political spectrum, divided into four quadrants.
Perhaps libertarianism itself can be divided into four quadrants. I've drawn a table below to show where some libertarian thinkers fall. I've included myself just to state what my views are. I don't mean to imply I am a pure libertarian or that I am of the same stature as the other people in the table.


 Austrian Chicago School
Anarcho-capitalist Murray Rothbard, Lew Rockwell David Friedman
Classical Liberal F.A. Hayek, babydoc3  Milton Friedman


I just divided a quadrant into quadrants. I wonder if the same can be done with the quadrants here, or the other quadrants on the nolan chart. Perhaps the political spectrum is not one or two dimensional, but fractal.

Comments

"Perhaps the political spectrum is not one or two dimensional, but fractal."

Totally. But if you could put me in a quadrant, I'd probably be next to you and Hayek.