Must-Read: Brink Lindsey: Further thoughts on libertarian anti-democracy: "Further thoughts by Will on libertarian anti-democracy’s effect on the GOP...
...and a thread with a few thoughts of my own https://niskanencenter.org/blog/libertarian-origins-libertarian-influence-ruling-american-right/. In Will’s telling, libertarian property rights absolutism moralizes and thereby strengthens other sources of antipathy to democracy on the right. I think that’s right and important, but there’s another channel of influence I want to focus on. It goes like this: property rights absolutism -> “taxation is theft” -> tax-supported governments are illegitimate and indistinguishable from organized crime -> delegitimizing “the state” and exposing its criminality are therefore a necessary precondition for a truly free society.
Buying into this leads straight to “the worse, the better” nihilism. Anything that reduces public confidence in their rulers is a good thing. Declining trust in government (i.e., in democracy) is celebrated as a move in a libertarian direction.
Most self-described libertarians share this mindset to a substantial degree. Such thinking is most pronounced among anarchist libertarians—who, I believe, now dominate the libertarian rank and file thanks to the Ron Paul movement and the Mises Institute. When you think this way, you have no reason to defend the norms and institutions of liberal democracy, since they’re what’s standing between you and Libertopia. Getting policy right is all that matters, getting it the right way matters not at all. This kind of thinking badly compromises your intellectual defenses against authoritarian demagogues. If they get some important policies right, who cares if they’re trashing norms and institutions?
And if they’re corrupt, ignorant, incompetent thugs, well that’s OK—so much the better by revealing the true nature of the state!
Such thinking helps explain how so many libertarians and small-government conservatives ended up supporting or going along with Trump. In this channel, the key move is rejecting the liberal democratic state as illegitimate. Most libertarians get to this point via property rights absolutism, aka “natural rights.” But there are other routes. This clarifies why @bryan_caplan and Jason Brennan are what Will calls “culturally libertarian” even though they reject absolute prop rights. Both also reject the legitimacy of the state, which puts them in qualitatively different space from Hayekian classical liberals.