According to previous political plotting most everybody on this forum are pretty staunchly liberal and libertarianism to varying degrees.
Does anybody have any good reasons to prefer liberalism over libertarianism or vice versa? Is there a good line? Does it shift? Are there good justifications for such a preference?
Doug offers a quick case for libertarianism:
Liberals and conservatives both believe that if they can just get the right people, and enough of them, elected to office, then the government can make some good things happen. What they disagree about is just what those good things are.
Libertarians don't trust the government to make anything good happen, but think it's necessary only to keep certain bad things from happening.
Iconoclast offers a defense of liberalism over libertarianism:
One thing liberals and libertarians agree upon is that the government should not interfere in its citizens' personal lives - when it comes to social issues. So for issues that have little economic impact, such as abortion, same sex marriage, war, etc, there is no real difference.
Libertarianism's defining feature, however, is an unabashed acceptance of laissez faire capitalism. This includes the necessary results of laissez faire capitalism: monopolies, enormous gaps between the rich and poor, periodic crashes, and a permanent, desperately poor underclass.
I prefer liberalism because libertarianism must perform wild contortions to justify such a system. They must deny the facts of laissez faire capitalism, and claim that capitalism will produce a strong middle class all on its own, and will self-regulate its crashes out of existence. Historical precedent makes this exceedingly unlikely. Or libertarians must deny the immorality of a system that forces a substantial portion of the population to choose between heating their homes and feeding their children. Such a position is monstrous on its face.
Libertarianism is more rightly called propertarianism. If you have property and capital, you're taken care of. You have high class education, excellent health care, live in a beautiful house with every amenity imaginable, and have access to a wide variety of life choices. If you don't have property or capital, you have nonexistent education, nonexistent health care, live in a shack, and (unless you're extremely lucky) have a single life choice: serfdom.
I find myself agreeing with the critics of libertarianism and favoring liberalism, generally speaking. What I find interesting is the degree to which libertarians — or at least the more dogmatic ones — can mirror their complaints about socialists. More extreme socialism sees capitalism as the source of all problems and the government as the source of all solutions; more extreme libertarianism sees government as the source of all problems and capitalism as the source of all solutions. Both are wrong — and for the same reasons, ironically enough.
The source of problems (or at least a major source of a lot of problems) is one group of humans having unchecked power over other humans. A principle solution, naturally, is to find ways to add checks to that power. Capitalism adds certain kinds of checks to certain kinds of power; government adds different kinds of checks to different kinds of power. Free market checks work well in some situations but not in others; the same is true with government.
Market failures may be a sign that government checks are necessary, or maybe just that the market needs to be reorganized a bit so the right checks can exist; again, the same is true of the government. It's wrong to think that a failure in either necessarily means that it's because it's the wrong venue for checking power. Because libertarianism tends to assume that only market checks are appropriate, it can cause more harm than good. Even where liberalism does go wrong, at least it doesn't start out with the premise that one sort of check on power should be primary and preferred. Add your thoughts to the comments here or join the ongoing discussion in the forum.