Bourgeois libertarianism could save America

The standard American libertarian has been traditionally and boringly bourgeois. While preserving life is indeed a higher priority than preserving property, libertarians understand that property’s vital role in human flourishing means it should not be blithely sacrificed merely to show how angry you are or even to follow a dimly lit path to “justice” for others.

Bloody extremism never really appealed to most libertarians, at home or abroad. Our love of liberty, and of the peace and prosperity it helps secure, inclines us to think that truly effective and secure social change comes not from violence, chaos, and force but from treating fellow humans with respect—as ends rather than means—and working to persuade them that libertarian ideas should shape social life.

The fanatical insistence on “no justice, no peace” makes any reasonably desirable civic life impossible, no matter how great the wrongs you aim to right. Sacrificing peace in a way that alienates too many of your fellow citizens likely will damage your chances of getting the justice you say you want. Such potentially alienating actions include denying people the right to use public streets unmolested and ruining their livelihoods, especially since history teaches us that violent unrest can destroy a neighborhood’s prosperity for decades.