Difference Between Liberalism And Libertarianism

Liberalism and Libertarianism are two political ideologies that often get mixed up, yet they have significant differences. Understanding these differences is crucial in comprehending the political landscape of any region. The following article will take a closer look at the differences between liberalism and libertarianism.

Liberalism – A Brief Overview

Liberalism is a political philosophy that emphasizes individual liberty, equality, and social responsibility. It is a broad ideology that encompasses multiple beliefs and sub-ideologies, such as social liberalism, classical liberalism, and classical conservatism. It is a form of democracy that advocates for freedom of speech, religious freedom, and the free market.

The liberal philosophy emphasizes social interventions and state action to establish economic and social equity. This ensures that the government provides benefits and safety nets for its citizens, such as healthcare, education, and welfare. Liberals believe in progressive taxation and wealth redistribution to ensure that everyone is taken care of.

Libertarianism – A Brief Overview

Libertarianism is a political philosophy that emphasizes individual freedom, personal autonomy, and minimal government intervention in society. Libertarianism is grounded in the non-aggression principle, which holds that any coercion or force initiated by one person against another (or group) is immoral.

Libertarians believe that the state should only exist to protect individual freedom and private property rights. They advocate for free market capitalism, and support laissez-faire policies, free trade and a limited role of government in society. They believe that the state’s primary functions should be national defense, upholding the rule of law, and protection of individual rights.

The Differences Between Liberalism and Libertarianism

Political beliefs strongly influence people’s views on the economy, wealth redistribution, individual freedom, and the role of government in society. Here are some notable differences between liberalism and libertarianism.

1. Liberty and Equality

Liberalism emphasizes equality alongside freedom in creating an equitable society. Liberals believe that some of the population may face limitations that require government intervention to promote equity in society. On the other hand, libertarians prioritize individual liberty which may unavoidably create inequality. The government has no role in promoting equality in society to libertarians, but personal liberty and individual rights are top priorities.

2. Government’s Role

Libertarians believe that the government’s role should be minimal and limited, to protect the citizens’ individual rights. They seek to limit government spending and regulations, leaving people and markets to operate without interference. To Liberals, reduced government intervention could lead to the market being left open to abuse by powerful interests. Liberals believe that the government has a responsibility to intervene in creating and upholding necessary standards of living, protecting both social and economic rights.

3. Free Market and Welfare

Libertarians believe that the free market works best when it is left alone without any government regulations, giving individuals the power to control their lives and generate wealth. They oppose government intervention to redistribute wealth, provide welfare or other social programs, which creates dependency among citizens. Liberals believe in the free market, but also see government intervention as necessary to build a more prosperous and equitable economy. They believe that redistributive policies and public institutions ensure the free exchange and upward mobility creation possibilities for all.

4. Individual Rights and Community Responsibility

Libertarians emphasize individual rights and personal responsibility over community or social responsibility. They believe that individuals have the freedom of choice to take care of their personal lives and decisions. Liberals, however, believe in community and social responsibility, with a belief that everyone has opportunities for social mobility. They prioritize a community and social aspect of responsibility, but individuals still have their rights in society.


In conclusion, liberalism and libertarianism are two political ideologies that approach governance principles quite differently. Liberals prioritize interventionism by the government to create a more fair society. Libertarians are more laissez-faire and minimalist, emphasizing personal liberties and individual rights over the greater good the government provides. Understanding the core values of these ideologies illuminates differences in policy and why they are often pitted against each other in society. These two ideologies have influenced politics worldwide and will continue to do so in the future.