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Can a Libertarian Also Be a Conservative?

For interested readers, here’s the text of my (unsuccessful) submission to this year’s Chris R. Tame Memorial Prize essay contest. * * * * * I Depending on the meaning of conservative , it may be that a libertarian should be a conservative, that a libertarian might be a conservative, or that a libertarian should not be a conservative. A libertarian, I take it, is someone who is for liberty and against aggression. The libertarian doesn’t like to be pushed around, and doesn’t like to see other people pushed around, either. The libertarian will likely affirm some version of what I will call the libertarian principle , and will have good reason as well to embrace the libertarian ideal . In its strongest form, the libertarian principle holds that someone may rightly use force against the person or property of another only to prevent or end an unjust attack or to secure compensation for the damage done by such an attack. On weaker versions, the initiation of force, while infreque