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Bleeding-heart libertarianism

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Bleeding-heart libertarianism, sometimes referred to as the Arizona School[1] and neoclassical liberalism,[1] is a libertarian political movement and ideology that focuses on the compatibility of support for civil liberties and free markets on the one hand, and a concern for social justice and the well-being of the worst-off on the other.


Some libertarians, Objectivists, and anarcho-capitalists have accused bleeding-heart libertarians of unfaithfulness to free-market principles due to their belief in some form of taxation to finance a basic income or welfare programs (right-libertarians often believe in the full privatization and in a strictly voluntary approach to providing for the poor and disabled, such as through private charities and mutual aid societies), the ill-defined nature of social justice, too much reverence for the ideas of John Rawls, and failing to recognize the importance of merit and desert.

Jonah Walters, writing for democratic socialist magazine Jacobin, states that bleeding-heart libertarianism is "a facelift" for traditional free market libertarian ideas, which Walters considers "discredited", noting that the ideology emerged in 2011, a few months before Occupy Wall Street. He specifically criticizes both the non-agreement of what the term "social justice" means in bleeding-heart libertarian circles, as well as the idea of "epistocracy" (a form of government by which the rule of the qualified would prevail over the will of the people by what Walters describes as "an exam — similar to a naturalization test — for prospective voters"), defended by movement ideologue Jason Brennan as specifically anti-democratic (Brennan, according to Walters, describing democracy as a polarising process which transforms people into "hooligans" - people with "intensely partisan views" who "can’t help but ridicule or out-shout those they disagree with" -, thus turning people from "market collaborators" into “civic enemies”), with Walters integrating it in a "pedigree of conservative thinkers that extends from Burke, to Mill, to John Adams, stretching back even to Plato", while concluding that bleeding-heart libertarians will only acknowledge persistent social problems and express vague concern for them but proposing very little in way of solutions, while those proposals they do have will only worsen those problems.[2]

See also[edit]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Brennan, Jason (2012). Libertarianism: What Everyone Needs to Know. p. 188. ISBN 978-0199933914. Search this book on
  2. Walters, Jonah (August 30, 2016). "Bleeding Heart Bullshit". Jacobin. New York: Jacobin Foundation. Retrieved August 30, 2016.

External links[edit]

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