Libertarians and Tories share much ideological ground. Robert Nisbet usefully catalogued the similarities. Both loathe the Leviathan of the Central State, and its interference on our social, economic, intellectual and political lives. Both share a belief in the meaning of equality as meaning all persons being equal in access to the law, and equal before the law; in legal equality. Both condemn the socialist belief in equality of result - of forced equality in class, status or wealth. Both share a belief in freedom, and particularly economic freedom. There is a common dislike of what Nisbet terms a war-society, and of warfare. A war-society, organised on lines of central command and control, with conscription, rationing and other evils, is anathema to both Libertarians and Tories. And both share a dislike of what we can term political correctness, a perverse liberalism that robs individuals of dignity and humanity.
Where Libertarians and Tories differ is in the extent of the primacy of the individual, or the primacy of the structures that those individuals create for themselves, seding a degree of individualism. Tories follow Burke in his insistence on the rights of society and of its structures - family, locality, church, guilds and associations, local social structures, the "little platoons" - against the arbitrary power of the central State. Tories believe that individual liberty is only possible within 'the context of a plurality of social authorities, of moral codes, and of historical traditions, all of which, in organic articulation, serve at one and the same time as “the inns and resting places” of the human spirit and intermediary barriers to the power of the state over the individual.'
Libertarians can draw philosophically from Adam Smith, from Locke, and from Jefferson, but it's primarily John Stuart Mill who provides the mainstay of Libertarian ideology. In 'On Liberty' Mill wrote:
The sole end for which mankind are warranted, individually and collectively, in interfering with the liberty of action of any of their number is self protection.. . , His own good, either physical or moral, is not a sufficient warrant.He didn't of course include everybody in this paramount right; just people like himself. He excluded anyone below the age of 21, anyone in a state that required them to be 'taken care of by others', all people who are in 'backward states of society' and anyone who is a 'nuisance' to others. Oh, and he qualifies the entire thing by writing that liberty should apply to words but not necessarily to deeds - 'no one pretends that actions should be as free as opinions'.
And many modern Libertarians hold Mill's exclusion clauses fast still; that the right to Mill's absolute freedom from interference doesn't extend to one's own or other people's children, the underclass, the feral and ill-educated, the unsocialised, foreigners or anyone who is too rich, too Christian or who has a historic title. And it doesn't allow creating a disturbance on the streets. In such cases, Libertarianism, as it is distinguished from Toryism, seems largely to exist in defence of the right of the educated middle classes to consume pornography, use dirty words on the internet and be rude about Christians.
In practice, though, many Libertarians recognise the authority of the family, the authority of a caucus of moral opinion, the authority of intermediate institutions, the belonging to a place; they love their 'little platoons' as much as any good Tory. As such they are as good Localists as any Tory.
Must dash - I'll continue anon.