What Is The Difference Between Conservative And Libertarian?

If we look at history, conservatives and libertarians have made alliances several times. These alliances for the common objectives related to political and economic matters. However, assuming conservatives and libertarians to be synonymous with each other based on the alliances will be an unjustified argument.

Conservatives are different from libertarians, whether it’s ideology, traits, or socio-political or eco-political views of both schools of thought. This can be proven by merely taking a few topics from the conservatives’ side and libertarians’ sides.

For instance, the mediation of institutions is a principle ideology of conservatives in order to run a successful society. Whereas libertarians believe that personal freedom and individual liberty are the most critical constructs of a successful society.

Although conservatives and libertarians often make alliances, the differences are often unseen on college campuses. It’s important to define the difference between the two schools of thought without leaving any room for grey areas.

This article will explain what conservatives and libertarians are and all about their role in social, economic, and political movements. Besides, we will also draw a comparison between the two to highlight the differences.

So let’s get into it.

Who Are Conservatives?

The conservatives are believers in the political theory of conservatism that emphasizes the value of traditional practices and institutions. Conservatives can be described as conscious of the social norms and traditions at the core of their behaviors. These individuals can also be described as ones who’re highly inclined to maintain status.

Conservatives are also opposers of rapid change and radical changes. They believe that change is a time-taking process and should be introduced slowly and cautiously.

Unlike the popular belief that conservatives are against individual freedom, they believe in personal freedom but do not emphasize its entirety.


Conservatives believe in the ideology of conservatism, which is a political theory. Conservatism is more focused on the historical inheritance of the values, traditions, and norms. Therefore, conservatives believe in pre-existing principles that are seen as absolute truth and idealism by the conservatism proponents.

The idea of conservatism may vary in different contexts, topics, and regions. We can explain conservatism as a political, social, cultural, and aesthetic philosophy that emphasizes traditional institutions, norms, and social practices. For instance, if we study the conservatism of Western culture, religion, parliamentary government, property rights, etc., are considered the pillar institutions of a society. 

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Political Beliefs

If we talk about conservatives’ political ideologies and views, they are identified as right-wing and anti-federalist. They advocate the parliamentary government and believe in smaller governments with most services provided by the private sector in a free & competitive market. One part of the ideology of conservatism also emphasizes fewer regulations, taxes, etc., and the literal interpretation of the Constitution.

Social Values

When applying conservatism in the social settings or social views of conservatives are concerned, they’re advocating the presence of religion as an integral part of society. They are against gay marriages, believe in the right to live(therefore, oppose abortion), and oppose embryonic stem cell research. The conservatives also support the traditional norms of the death penalty, the personal responsibility of individuals, and the right to carry arms for safety.

Economic Views

When we talk about the economic beliefs of conservatives, they’re an advocate of least or no intervention by governments in the country’s economic affairs or social settings.

Other views of conservatives on economic issues highlight that governments should impose fewer taxes and, therefore, have less spending. Individuals falling in higher tier income should be incentivized by opportunities to invest. They also believe that charity is the personal responsibility of individuals.

Personality & Psychological Traits

The proponents of conservatism advocate personal responsibility at an individual level. They also advocate interventions of governments for accountability and penalties for those who do not abide by their responsibilities.

Who Are Libertarians?

Libertarians, on the other hand, are staunch believers in individual freedom and liberty. They believe individual freedom and liberty to be the founding and essential pillars of a free society.

The libertarians, in general, are opponents of government interference in the personal, family, and business decisions of any individual. However, they prefer high regulations and services by the government for the people. For instance, they believe that free healthcare should be the government’s responsibility for all citizens.

The advocates of libertarianism also support the non-aggression principle(NAP). Therefore, it implies that Libertarians are against any kind of violence, aggression, coercion, or use of force other than done in self-defense.

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Libertarianism is also a political philosophy like conservatism but with a more prominent shade of economics. Therefore, many people call libertarianism an economic philosophy.

If we go back to the roots of the philosophy, it centers around individual rights. It’s the same thing as the ole Declaration of Independence said that every individual has the right to live, have liberty, and pursue happiness.

The ideology of the libertarianism advocates is to enhance autonomy and political freedom to their highest degree and decrease the state’s intervention in individual liberties. The individuals should be free to choose, associate, volunteer, etc. lIbertarianism is often related to the capitalism and

Political Beliefs

The libertarians are often identified as left-wing and federalists. As mentioned earlier, the political views of the libertarians revolve around more regulations and free services from the government.

Since they believe in individual freedom and claim that no one can control the peaceful activities of other individuals. Similarly, no such powers are vested in the government, and governments are very limited in their authority. 

They carry forward the principle of the non-aggression axiom, claiming that governments’ aggression against individuals would be unjust. However, governments can only use aggressive means when preventing illegitimate force of another individual on citizens of the state.

Social Values

The social values of the libertarians are also aligned with their basic philosophy of non-aggression and personal freedom. Their social beliefs and views imply that individuals have the right to choose everything for themselves, whether it’s gay marriage, a decision to abort a baby, or supporting embryonic stem cell research.

The distinction between the ideologies of conservatism and libertarians also extends to ownership or carrying of arms. Unlike conservatism, libertarianism is against carrying arms or weapons if it’s for a purpose other than self-defense.

Therefore, the libertarians advocate investigation and inquiry of individuals looking to buy weapons or arms. In principle, they propose restrictions on arm bearing under the non-aggression axiom.

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Economic Views

We already mentioned that the libertarians are against government interference in personal affairs and business. However, they look forward to governments providing more services to weak members of society.

They advocate increasing government taxes, if necessary, to provide the less fortunate members of society with all the basic services. According to them, those who earn more should pay more taxes and contribute to the economy.

Personality & Psychological Traits

At a personal level, the libertarians support individuals to depend on the government to provide a structure of society and laws.

They believe, unlike personal responsibility, that laws are necessary and beneficial for individuals to create equality in society, no matter if it costs economic freedom.

Liberals Vs. Libertarians

People often confuse liberals with libertarians. Therefore, it’s also necessary to clarify the situation. Conservatives and liberals are two extremes, but libertarians exist between the two.

We already talked a lot about conservatives and libertarians. Let’s define liberals and then the difference between liberals and libertarians.

The liberals are advocates of classic liberalism, a political ideology focused on free markets, civil liberties, and freedom in the economic, social, and political spectrum.

Liberals depend on the government to help them achieve their claimed equality and freedom. Whether it’s freedom, non-aggression, equality, etc., they emphasize that the government must reinforce the regulations.

On the other hand, libertarianism is everything about liberalism, but they believe the government’s intervention should be minimized to zero when it comes to personal freedom and decisions of individuals, institutes, and businesses.


From the above discussion, we can summarize the difference between conservatives and libertarians as follows:

Right-wing and non-federalistsLeft-wing and federalists
Advocates the classic norms and traditional importance of religion, institutions, and individualsAdvocates personal freedom and liberty at all levels, whether individuals, businesses, or family.
The government should impose fewer taxesMore taxes should be levied on people earning more
The private sector should be providing all the services in society.Basic services should be provided by the government to accommodate the less fortunate and underprivileged
Oppose the gay marriages, abortion, and embryonic stem cell researchThey’re okay with the gay marriages, abortion, and embryonic stem cell research

Wrap Up

The purpose of differentiating between conservatives and libertarians is not to break the much-celebrated alliance of the two ideologies. However, the purpose is to inform the individuals about the foundation of each ideology so that they can make informed decisions about which ideology aligns well with their vision.