Matt Zwolinski and John Tomasi: Who Owns Libertarianism?

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My guests today are University of San Diego philosopher Matt Zwolinski and Heterodox Academy President John Tomasi, authors of The Individualists: Radicals, Reactionaries, and the Struggle for the Soul of Libertarianism. This is the definitive intellectual history of a movement that they argue began in recognizable form in the 19th century in Europe as a response to socialism and in the United States as part of the abolitionist movement. I liked the book so much that I blurbed it for Princeton University Press. We talk about virtually every aspect of libertarianism, including its strange lack of interest in the civil rights movement given its origin in abolitionism.

Today’s episode was recorded in New York City before a packed house at a Reason Speakeasy, a monthly live taping of this podcast. I spoke with Zwolinski and Tomasi about major 20th-century figures such as Ayn Rand, Milton Friedman, Friedrich Hayek, and Murray Rothbard, as well as the complicated and often-contradictory contributions each made to libertarian thinking. We also spoke about the rise of the Mises Caucus within the Libertarian Party, the seemingly complete rejection of libertarian ideas in the contemporary GOP, and whether the larger libertarian movement is ascendant or sputtering out.

Today’s sponsors:

  • The Reason Roundtable Live in New York! For the first time, Katherine Mangu-Ward, Peter Suderman, Matt Welch, and Nick Gillespie will tape live and unfiltered in New York. Come out on Tuesday, April 25 to the historic Village Underground (130 West 3rd Street)! Tickets are $25, include entry to the after-party, and are going fast. For more details and to buy tickets, go here!
  • The Reason Speakeasy. The Reason Speakeasy is a live, monthly, unscripted conversation with outspoken defenders of free thinking and heterodoxy that doubles as a taping of The Reason Interview. On Monday, May 1, at Manhattan’s Blue Building (222 East 46th Street), Nick Gillespie interviews Ben Smith, the first editor in chief of Buzzfeed News, former New York Times media columnist, and founder of Semafor. In Traffic: Genius, Rivalry, and Delusion in the Billion-Dollar Race To Go Viral, Smith charts the rise and fall of Gawker, HuffPost, Breitbart, and his old employer, Buzzfeed. Doors open at 6 p.m. Tickets are $10 and include beer, wine, soft drinks, and appetizers. For details and to buy tickets, go here.

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