Two Kinds of Liberty
In the comments, Vox writes that libertarianism is, “the political ideology based on the principle of maximizing human liberty.”
Which inspired commenter cailcorishev to write:
Unfortunately, too many people take that to mean "individual human liberty" (more often "my individual liberty"), which translates into pro-abortion, open borders, etc. Taken to that extreme, you should be free to yell "fire" in a crowded theater, and you get a might-makes-right philosophy.
If you take it to mean the maximum amount of liberty that can be had by everyone in aggregate, you get something very different. Things like nation-states, borders, vice laws, and the like, may make humans more free as a whole, but you won't often hear that from your neighborhood libertarian. Too many libertarians are stuck supporting things like open borders because they can't say that the freedom of Americans as a group to control their borders trumps the freedom of Carlos from Mexico City to live and work wherever he wants.
I’m in favor of increasing human liberty, which is not the same as maximizing it. We have to decide how to quantify liberty if we’re trying to maximize it. The argument becomes abstract, and is indeed ideological.
My neighborhood libertarians are in the trap cailcorishev identifies. They do not shy away from claiming to desire maximum individual liberty. Which requires them to ignore aggregate liberty.
What’s worse is the slavishness to the ideology which prevents any meaningful progress. To compromise is to settle for something less than maximization. Since politics is the art of compromise, the liberty faction cannot be an enduring participant in the political process.
A political ideology based on individual liberty is self-neutering. An ideology that holds individual liberty as important, but which also recognizes aggregate liberty might work better for both. It seems that such was the ideology of the Founders. I’m not sure what label to put on it.