Four years after the Daniels misstep, many have failed to learn that lesson. The New York Times has proclaimed the "libertarian moment" has arrived, by which they seem to mean libertarian ideas about marriage and the family.
We hear people say the libertarian view is to "get the government out of marriage." But where did that slogan come from? There is simply no basis for that notion in the works of classic libertarian writers.
As a Harvard graduate student, I was present for what could be considered the beginning of libertarian thought in America. It was the first American speech by Friedrich Hayek following the worldwide success of "The Road to Serfdom," which had been read by millions of Americans through its publication in the Reader's Digest.
The thesis of Hayek's great book is that government efforts to redistribute the benefits and burdens of economic activity inevitably involve a loss of individual freedoms, which could lead to a totalitarian state, as happened in Germany and Russia. Now, 70 years later, Hayek's basic idea is part of most Republican stump speeches and forms the basis for Republicans' adamant opposition to Obamacare.
But nothing in "The Road to Serfdom," or in any of Hayek's later works or those of his fellow Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises, questioned the value or necessity of civil marriage in a free society. There is nothing to suggest that regulation of marriage was somehow inconsistent with individual freedom.
Mises' American disciple, the radical libertarian Murray N. Rothbard, once famously proposed selling off lighthouses to private owners who would then be supported by voluntary contributions from passing ships. Rothbard wanted to privatize nearly everything, but he never suggested privatizing marriage.
Another influential libertarian was the Russian-born novelist Ayn Rand, whose novels depict a titanic struggle between the creative geniuses who need maximum freedom to produce, versus the "looters" and "second-handers" who try to regulate them and share their wealth. Ayn Rand attacked Christianity and other conventional beliefs, but never questioned the value and necessity of civil marriage defined by law.
Phyllis Schlafly is a national leader of the pro-family movement, a nationally syndicated columnist and author of Feminist Fantasies.
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