Philosophically it repudiates the deterministic outlook of human life, treats man as maker of his destiny. In the political sphere, libertarianism particularly insists that man’s economic activity must be actively liberated from all restrictions to enable him to achieve true progress and prosperity.

Libertarianism holds that certain rights of the individual which precede his political life are indefensible and these cannot be surrendered in favour of the collectivity. It particularly defends the right to acquire and hold property and freedom of contract.

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These rights are by no means product of the state itself; hence the state cannot be allowed to intervene for any artificial balancing of rights. It even condemns taxation of the rich for the benefit of the poor. It argues that taxation for welfare of certain sections of society involves the forced transfer of fruit of one man’s labour to another, which serves as a disincentive to the individual. On the contrary, if all individuals are free from it.

F.A. Hayek:

Hayek in his ‘The Road of Serfdom’ exhorts that the growth of state will lead inexorably to totalitarianism.

To him, socialism, planning and collectivism are a tool to curtail individual freedom. He supports free market economy. It is not concerned with distribution. But, he advocates state provision of a minimum income.

In his “Constitution of Liberty” Hayek defines liberty as the “State in which a man is not subject to the coercion by the arbitrary will of another.

It is purely a legal conception and not a political one. In fact, law, liberty and property are intricately intertwined in his scheme. A liberal social order is necessary for its realization.

Robert Nozick:

Nozick in his “Anardy, State and Utopia” holds the view that the welfare state is minimal to individual freedom. He defends the market and a minimal “night watchman” state. To him, the state comes into existence for the maintenance of property rights of the individuals.

It has no legitimate powers beyond the functions of protection, justice and defense. It cannot redistribute property or income. He argues that inequalities at the level of production should not be rectified at the level of distribution.

Milton Friedman:

Friedman condemns the welfare state by observing that “not all means are justified simply by reference to the ends, how so ever noble they are.

In his “Capitalism and Freedom” he sees an inevitable link between capitalism and enjoyment of freedom, consequently, he supports state intervention only in those sphere which cannot be handled by market. It has no role beyond and above sustaining and supplementing a market society.

Criticism:

1. The Libertarians have been dubbed as philosophers of the bourgeoisie interested primarily in the maintenance of status quo.

2. The renewed emphasis is on negative liberty and minimal state neglects the egalitarian agenda which every genuine political theory should serve.

3. It paves way for renewed emphasis on the biological law of natural selection and survival of the fittest syndrome.

4. It neglects the claims of disadvantaged and discriminated sections of society.