The libertarian movement in Ireland

What does it mean to be a libertarian?

Written by Shane Burke


Have you ever wondered what it means to be a libertarian? Many people have probably heard the world libertarian thrown around over the past few years, but are probably wondering what policies are libertarian, and if there are libertarian organisations active in Ireland? This article will answer these questions, hopefully, clearing up some misapprehensions about libertarianism.

The answer to the first question is to be a libertarian means to be concerned with human freedom, and value it highly. However, it needs to be made clear immediately what libertarians regard as freedom differs from libertarian to libertarian; people may not notice but there are different types of libertarians fighting for different freedoms, socialist libertarians fight for freedom from exploitation, and advocate for ownership of the means of production. On the other hand, their right wing cousins would themselves feel if you take all the risks you deserve all the rewards; this shows the diversity in the libertarian movement, though it can be difficult to avoid a heated conversation.

As was said earlier it can be difficult to know if you are an Irish libertarian where to turn in Ireland. There is a libertarian movement growing, but it is isolated to Dublin at this point in time, and Carlow to an extent. In Dublin, there exists a group called Freedom Ireland. This group meets up to discuss ideas, and organise in the Long Stone pub in Dublin, the second week of the month throughout the year. In Carlow, the European Students For Liberty have a group in St Patrick’s Carlow College called the Carlow Libertarian Society.

Who are the European Students For Liberty? They are a Europe wide body supportive of libertarian students in higher education creating a community over the continent. How does ESFL serve the needs of these students? ‘ESFL supports pro-liberty student groups by helping to provide resources, advertising students on effective leadership strategies, and connecting students from across Europe with both likeminded peers and important leaders and organisations in the pro-liberty movement’.

Like the sound of this? Want to get involved with Freedom Ireland or ESFL? There are a number of ways to get involved with both – join the Freedom Ireland Facebook group where you will see what is discussed, and be invited to meetings since ESFL is only after beginning in Ireland people will need to set up their own groups on college/university campuses, but fear not people will not be alone in this task; they can apply to the local coordinator programme where they will learn to organise a campus group.

Now to get rid of a few myths about libertarianism, it is not purely an American phenomenon in fairness early libertarian thought can be said to be strongly influenced by British thinkers such as John Locke, Adam Smith, and John Stewart Mill, however some ideas can be traced back many years beyond modern human memory. In China, spontaneous order can be traced back to Zhuangzi.

What is spontaneous order? It is self-organisation by people who are self-interested without it being planned that they create a world around them.

What is the profile of the average libertarian? Unfortunately the profile for the US must be used as it is the only information at hand going with the information for America. The average libertarian does not come from a minority background, they are disproportionately male; 62% male compared to 38% female. Libertarians have a younger age profile. 25% of libertarians are under the age of 30. While these statistics can be viewed in many different ways there are no reasons for people not to be libertarians. Women should be strongly encouraged to explore libertarian feminism; it is a way of looking at the conditions of women while taking into account the coercive power of government, and the consequences of its actions.

In conclusion if you want to be involved in a diverse movement of people regardless of your views you should take the first step go to a Freedom Ireland meeting in Dublin, set up your own group where you study, and explore the origins, and ideas of libertarianism.

You can follow European Students for Liberty on Twitter and Facebook.

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