Utne Blogs > Politics

The Online Libertarian University

by Will Wlizlo


Tags: liberalism, libertarians, LearnLiberty, webinars, politics, Will Wlizlo,

american-flagSometimes in the midst of partisan trench warfare and the 24-hour media spin-cycle, it’s hard to remember that our de facto two-party system and our country were founded on a fresh and edifying principle: liberalism. Both Democrats and Republicans misappropriate the concepts of classic liberalism, a set of tenets boosting individual liberties and laissez-faire economics.

As you read the previous sentences, you undoubtedly started recalling very specific images and ideas. Tea Party. Social Darwinism. Big Government. Ron Paul. Don’t tread on me. But there are compelling (and swiftly forgotten) philosophical, economic, and moral ideas underpinning even the most visible manifestations of liberalism, the speakers at LearnLiberty.org collectively argue. In an attempt to dispel pervasive misconceptions of classic liberalism, LearnLiberty has started producing a number of informational webinars—at worst they’re surreptitious, at best educational, and either way didactic.

Progressives be warned: LearnLiberty is a side-project of the Institute of Humane Studies, a non-profit which has received financial support and leadership stints from the much-demonized Koch family. That being said, many of the site’s webinars are given by academics, hailing from Rhodes, Duquesne University, George Mason University, and Harvard, among other institutions. More importantly, when presenting “ideas of a free society”, the lecturers’ arguments are often calm and cogent—a far cry from the populist, incendiary tactics of cable news.

Try this exercise: Ask yourself what a libertarian is, brainstorm for about 30 seconds, and then compare to the video below. Now who sounds irrational?

 

(Thanks, Hit & Run.)

Image by joewcampbell, licensed under Creative Commons.