There are a lot of different resources out there on the internet besides the blogs in the sidebar. I’m attempting to create a comprehensive list of different resources for libertarian interested people. Though not all strictly follow a libertarian ideology, they still offer something libertarians might like. There are many sections of this page, and I’ve tried to mention any connections between entries. Each entry also has a recommendation level indicating my totally subjective micro-review of the entity. I realize no one has time to check out everything on the list so this can help prioritize what to check out.
Think tanks are an excellent place to look at policy proposals. Blog posts on think tank websites are usually based on actual research papers done by the institute, or written by actual researchers. They exist to develop and discuss ideas, and so I’m a big fan of reading and following the discussions around think tanks.
Cato Institute – In their own words: the Cato Institute is a public policy research organization dedicated to the principles of individual liberty, limited government, free markets and peace. They are the most well known libertarian think tank. Recommend: Fully.
Heritage Foundation – One of the most prominent conservative think tanks in the US. Recommend: Mostly. Their work on fiscal constraint and limited government is excellent, although I’m less a fan of their “traditional American values” and relentless apologies for the military-industrial complex.
American Enterprise Institute – A conservative think tank. Recommend: Mostly. They do great economic research, but again, I’m less excited about their foreign policy positions.
Brookings Institution – The most influential think tank, at least in the United States. I would describe it as centrist, maybe left-of-center. Recommend: Mostly. Excellent, informed, non-libertarian perspective.
Fraser Institute – A top think tank in Canada, leans conservative/libertarian. Recommend: Somewhat. I’m not particularly familiar with their work.
Center for American Progress – Probably the most prominent Left-wing think tank. They run ThinkProgress.com. Recommend: Partially. Most of their work, I disagree with, but it’s good to have an honest opponent to argue with.
Independent Institute – the Independent Institute is a non-profit, non-partisan, scholarly research and educational organization that sponsors in-depth studies of critical social and economic issues. They promote generally libertarian ideas on foreign policy, free market economics, and individual rights. Recommend: Mostly. I would say they aren’t quite as prolific on every issues as the Cato Institute, but definitely worth checking out if you are interested in libertarian think tanks.
Hoover Institution – A think tank dedicated to freedom and free enterprise. Loosely libertarian, but has been called conservative. Part of Stanford University. Recommend: Somewhat. Their website has some resources, but it’s the work of their fellows which is excellent, and much of it is off site. Nevertheless you should follow this link and to find where the researchers themselves blog.
Mercatus Center – A think tank focused on education and outreach. Mercatus is associated with George Mason University, but independently financed. Recommend: Somewhat. Their scholars are excellent, along with their publications, but the website’s daily updates are only ok.
State Policy Network – An umbrella organization for state-level think tanks who focus on issues from libertarian and conservative views. Members can exchange policy plans across states. Recommend: Mostly. When you drill down to the state level, there are far fewer choices among groups to network with, and it is more likely that any local think tanks will be associated with a broader conservative coalition than strictly libertarian. Nevertheless, much of the important policies affecting people occur at the state level, despite there being far less information available. State level organizations are critical to understanding policy ideas at this level of government, and so the SPN’s directory tool is very useful. As for the rest of the organization, I’m afraid I don’t know much about it.
Reason Foundation – A libertarian research organization. The foundation publishes the libertarian magazine Reason, as well as Reason TV, and also does research into all sorts of libertarian areas like school choice, eminent domain, privatization, transportation, and police militarization among others. Recommend: Mostly. Reason Magazine is their primary publication and is quite excellent, but it is editorially independent. The foundation’s research is great, but I have to admit, I don’t check the website that often.
Mises Institute – The primary think tank discussing and promoting Austrian economics and anarcho-capitalism. Founded by Murray Rothbard after his departure from the Cato Institute, the Mises Institute focuses on libertarian ideas with a bend towards concepts Rothbard advocated most strongly including sound money and extensive privatization. Recommend: Mostly. If you are new to the libertarian movement, the Mises Institute is a pretty radical place to start, and their economic ideas are relatively outside the mainstream. Rothbard is a controversial figure, even among libertarians, but there is no better place to learn more about some fairly radical libertarian theory.
Some organizations are not exactly think tanks, but still deal in ideas and are closely related. I’ve called them Educational Organizations because their focus is on spreading ideas and educating a broader audience. They are sort of a more popular version of think tanks, but share a lot in common with them, although the line between think tanks and educational organizations is done for convenience more than anything.
Foundation for Economic Education – One of the oldest libertarian organizations, FEE was started by big names in the classical liberalism movement: Leonard Read, Henry Hazlitt, David Goodrich, and others. It has a great site, updated often, with posts written by smart people. FEE also publishes the magazine The Freeman, which is worth checking out. Recommend: Fully.
Library of Economics and Liberty – A free online resource of economic material. This includes the blog Econlog, which can be found in the sidebar, the podcast EconTalk, which has its own entry, an encyclopedia of economic terms, and many other books and resources. It’s funded by Liberty Fund, a private philanthropy, also with its own entry. Recommend: Fully.
Institute for Humane Studies – IHS is a non-profit associated with George Mason University that focuses on educational and career programs. It also hosts a networking website for classical liberal academics and sponsors the Learn Liberty website and YouTube channel, see the next entry. Recommend: Somewhat. It’s really tailored for academically oriented libertarians. If you just want discussion of ideas, you’re better off checking out Learn Liberty.
Learn Liberty – A project by the Institute for Human Studies. Learn Liberty tackles economic, philosophical, and political aspects of libertarian thought. It also has a YouTube channel where you can see most of their content. Recently they’ve fleshed out the project with a blog, as well as programs and opportunities for interested people. Recommend: Mostly. It’s pretty easy content to consume, but that also means it’s not necessarily on the highest academic level, so there’s a ceiling to how much you can learn from only Learn Liberty.
Charles Koch Institute – The Koch Institute does education, research, and training programs for careers in advancing economic freedom, including placement in many other organizations. They are a real libertarian group, and one of their big policy initiatives has been to focus on criminal justice reform, largely partnering with left-leaning groups. It is largely supported by the Charles Koch Foundation (which has its own entry). Recommend: Mostly. It’s a pretty effective organization, and even if you’re not planning to get involved directly in a libertarian non-profit, their website has some in depth discussion on their activities and objectives.
Political Advocacy Organizations
These groups are focused more on political organizing, lobbying for legislation, or raising awareness. Their strengths are in resources and networking, not necessarily in ideas. If politics is your interest, you should at least know that these organizations exist.
Americans for Prosperity – A group focused on grassroots organizing and advocacy for conservative economic goals. Backed by the Koch network, AFP is one of the largest grassroots organizations, and the good news is that it focuses only on the issues libertarians and conservatives agree on. Recommend: Somewhat. The website is nicely designed, the group is well-organized, and if political advocacy is your thing, there is probably no better mainstream group to advance economic freedom through political channels. But since they focus on real-world work, their website isn’t a great online resource if that’s what you’re looking for.
Young Americans for Liberty – The largest pro-liberty student group focused on advocacy and activism. This group was born out of the 2008 Ron Paul campaign, and has grown very well, it also hosts a major national convention every summer. Recommend: Mostly. Again, their website isn’t overflowing with online resources, but that’s not its purpose, instead it is there to connect you with its student chapters and as a resource to those students. If that’s what you need, there is no better place for it.
Students for Liberty – Similar ot YAL, and started around the same time, SFL is an international youth libertarian activist group. They also host a large conference every year and are one of the larger liberty focused activist groups out there. Recommend: Mostly. Same deal as YAL, it’s a great organization, but you might find the website a bit sparse as a resource unless you’re looking to get involved in this organization.
Leadership Institute – A conservative political group that focuses on training conservative activists. Recommend: Partially. It’s not a libertarian group, but may offer some networking opportunities to a larger political activist networks, especially on college campuses.
Campaign for Liberty – Created at the same time as YAL from the leftovers of the 2008 Ron Paul campaign. C4L aims to sustain the grassroots support and interest of the Ron Paul movement by educating and discussing constitutional issues. Big issues for them have included the Audit the Fed bills as well as opposing the SOPA and CISPA bills on internet freedom grounds. Recommend: Partially. Constitutional conservatives are an important part of the libertarian movement, but they are only a part. C4L is limited to political issues Ron Paul and Ron Paul fans are interested in. As he becomes less commonly seen in the political stage, C4L seems to be less commonly seen as well.
FreedomWorks – This conservative and libertarian organization was formed when the Koch organization Citizens for a Sound Economy split into FreedomWorks and Americans For Prosperity. It was also closely associated with the Tea Party movement (I’d argue it was associated with the better part of the Tea Party, not the Donald Trump part). They also take some specifically libertarian positions, such as civil liberties protections and criminal justice reform for nonviolent offenses. Recommend: Mostly. I like most of what I know of this organization, their website has a lot of content discussing relevant issues, and they have a very easy to read scorecard of congressmen. But I must admit I don’t know FreedomWorks as well as I would like. Just like all of these political organizations, the focus is on the political arena, not research or policy, so it’s important to understand the limitations and goals of each organization.
Some groups focus on specific issues. Specialization in the NGO space, just like in the market, allows for deeper depth of knowledge of the best ways to succeed on those issues or areas. This list of groups will certainly expand, but for now here are a handful of interesting issue groups.
Institute for Justice – A libertarian non-profit public law firm that litigates cases to achieve libertarian legal outcomes. They also try and focus on cases that will educate the public on the issues. Their work included defending school voucher programs, opposing civil forfeiture and eminent domain (they represented the plaintiffs in Kelo v New London). Recommend: Fully. The Institute for Justice does great work in the courts protecting individual rights from abuse of the state.
Foundation for Individual Rights in Education – Focuses on civil liberties in academia in the United States. It was founded by a libertarian professor and a civil liberties lawyer, but remains nonpartisan in its work. Since universities tend to be more progressively inclined, they often end up defending libertarian or conservative groups, but have also defended left-leaning groups when their civil liberties are infringed as well. They also have a rating system for universities’ tolerance of free speech. Recommend: Fully.
American Civil Liberties Union – The ACLU is one of the oldest organizations on this list. It has a long history of principled defense of civil liberties. It does lean left on some issues (I believe there is some honest disagreement among civil libertarians on abortion and private discrimination, but the ACLU does not), the ACLU’s work defending citizens from the overreach of governments is impressive. This includes defending such unpopular groups as socialists in the early 20s, Japanese-Americans in World War II, anti-war protesters during the Vietnam War, neo-Nazis in Skokie, Illinois, suspected terrorists imprisoned without trials, and even Citizens United. Recommend: Mostly. Even if we disagree on some issues, the ACLU is an excellent organization.
Electronic Frontier Foundation – The EFF is one of the most active and well known civil liberties (and cryptography) groups for the digital age. You can already find their blog in the sidebar, but, like the ACLU, much of their work is done in the court room fighting for legal recognition of digital rights. In addition to these cases, the EFF also publishes white papers on important topics, and even writes useful software for end users, such as the the HTTPS Everywhere Firefox addon. Recommend: Fully.
National Police Misconduct Reporting Project – At the risk of sounding like a hipster, the Cato Institute’s Police Misconduct Reporting Project has been cataloging police abuses for years before it became a major issue in 2014. While the Left’s interest may be largely (only?) focused on the racial issues of policing, the NPMRP has updates on police abuses of all types, often every weekday. Libertarians may often complain about many aspects of the state which seem hypothetical or focused on theories of individual rights, but on this site, you will find actual physical manifestations of tyranny perpetrated by agents of the state every day. Recommend: Fully.
EconTalk – Great podcast on all sorts of economic issues. Hosted by Russ Roberts, Hoover Institute Fellow, and free marketer. Part of the Library of Economics and Liberty (has its own entry). Recommend: Fully. It’s only an hour a week, and Russ does a great job interviewing a wide variety of different experts, while remaining moderately skeptical of everything, even his own biases.
Security Now – The best computer security podcast. Steve Gibson knows everything about security technology, and even covers news and policy debates involving security and privacy. Steve hosts it with Leo Laporte of TWiT. Recommend: Mostly. If you are a crypto-minded libertarian, it’s definitely worth checking out.
The Fifth Column – An excellent libertarian news podcast with Matt Welch, also listed on the list and Editor of Reason magazine, Kmele Foster, an entrepreneur and libertarian talking head, and Michael Moynahan, a libertarian-leaning columnist. Recommend: Fully. Seriously, The Fifth Column is entertaining, provocative, and exactly what I want from a news and politics podcast. It’s my favorite podcast right now, libertarian or otherwise.
Cato Daily Podcast – A daily podcast from the Cato Institute discussing libertarian news and ideas. It’s often pretty short and quick to listen to. Recommend: Mostly. I wouldn’t say it’s an incredible podcast, but easily consumable.
The Tom Woods Show – One of the longer running libertarian podcasts, Tom Woods is a historian and political analyst, and has self-identified as an anarcho-capitalist and Austrian economics proponent (he often works with the Mises Institute). He’s a good speaker and a prolific writer and podcast producer (there’s a new episode almost every day). Recommend: Somewhat. Tom Woods is more radical than I am, and while his podcast does a great job bringing inaccessible libertarian ideas to an everyday-politics level, I am biased towards liking more libertarian theory debates. Also, there is no way I can keep up with the amount of content Tom Woods puts out. But if there is something you are interested in, I can bet Woods has done a podcast on it.
Reddit is the forum system where you can vote on forum posts and forum comments. Once you go there, you can never go back to regular commenting systems. There are tons of forums on reddit for anything you can think of. When you need information on a subject, google that subject, and then look for a reddit forum on that subject.
/r/Rational_Liberty – A small community of libertarian rationalists. Not a ton of posts every day, but almost all of the content put there is excellent. Recommend: Mostly. If you are into rationality (and if you’re a libertarian, you probably are), you should definitely check it out.
/r/Anarcho_Capitalism – A small, but robust community discussing propertarian anarchy, libertarian ethics, and other deep-libertarian topics. Recommend: Somewhat. If you are already pretty invested in libertarian ideas, it’s one of the better libertarian communities on reddit, even if you’re not a anarchist. Just take everything with a grain of salt, as most perspectives in this reddit are far outside the mainstream.
/r/badeconomics – A great economics discussion subreddit focused on criticizing bad economic ideas on other parts of reddit. While not exactly libertarian, the debates in this community focus on economic evidence and consensus, spurning both Austrian theory and Progressive populism. Recommend: Somewhat. If you want to talk about economics, this is the best place to do it, but you need to back up your claims and keep your mind open to new evidence.
/r/Libertarian – A broad libertarian discussion community. This subreddit covers all sorts of libertarian politics, but due to the democratic nature of reddit, it trends towards big issues, or popular ideas (weed, memes). Reddit also lacks a good community for many conservatives, so many posts in /r/Libertarian tend to be areas where libertarians and conservatives agree (hating on Democrats, talking about gun issues). Recommend: Somewhat. It’s a great introductory subreddit, but if you want to learn more about important issues at the research and think tank level, the level of discussion in /r/Libertarian isn’t quite there.
Local Party Subreddits
These are small communities for local libertarian activists
Reason Magazine – The biggest libertarian news site. Reason Magazine has been the most well known libertarian mainstream news source for a few decades. Their website, despite being bathed in advertising, contains excellent articles on a variety of subjects specifically geared towards libertarian ideas. The benefit of having that non-partisan, independent ideology of libertarianism means their pieces can offer new perspectives that you won’t find in more mainstream partial publications. Nick Gillespie edits reason.com while Matt Welch is Reason magazine’s Editor-at-large. Recommend: Fully. Reason focuses on a moderate, mainstream libertarian ideas. I find this to be its strength, but more hardcore libertarians might dislike it because of its resistance to extreme stances.
Techdirt – Techdirt could easily be on the blog side bar, but I treat it more as a news source than a blog since it covers copyright and economic issues related to technology so well. Recommend: Mostly. If you are at all interested in technology, Techdirt has a lot to offer in terms of tech policy, even its not always strictly libertarian leaning.
FiveThirtyEight – Started as a blog by Nate Silver covering politics with statistical analysis, after being bought by ESPN, it has developed into a full news website, covering not just politics, but sports, economics, and popular culture. It is not remotely libertarian, but for good stat-based analysis of politics (and yes, sports), you can’t beat it. Recommend: Fully. Although only read the topics you are interested in.
Journalists and Columnists
The rest of these have been organizations or websites. Here are some writers you should just know of, regardless of what organization they write for or even if they are libertarian. I’ve linked either to the writers’ Twitter accounts, or the author page of their publication.
Nick Gillespie – Former editor-in-chief of Reason magazine, current editor of Reason TV and reason.com, as well as sometimes contributor to other publications, Gillespie was described as the “intellectual godfather” of Reason by the New York Times. He’s an excellent writer with a dry wit. Recommend: Fully.
Matt Welch – Editor-at-Large of Reason magazine, cable news talking head, and LA Angels fan. Welch is a another excellent libertarian writer. Recommend: Fully.
Tim Carney – A political writer at the Washington Examiner. He’s libertarian. Also worth following on Twitter. Recommend: Mostly. I don’t follow him quite as much as I should so I can’t fully endorse him.
Robby Soave – Obviously I’m a big Reason fan, and I could put most of their staff writers on this list, but Robby Soave is especially awesome. He’s not only a great writer, but a great journalist (he was one of the first people to publicly question the Rolling Stone UVA story which turned out to be false). Soave was also named in Forbes’ 30 under 30 this year. Recommend: Fully.
George Will – Will is one of the most well known, and mostly respected, conservative columnists around today. He is also often on cable news as a talking head. He is pretty reasonable on most topics, and while he’s not really a libertarian, he’s a good advocate for free market ideas most of the time. I would definitely recommend reading his columns, especially if you feel like you disagree with conservatives. George Will is the guy you want to be engaging with, not the loud obnoxious talk radio types. He’s well informed and makes sound arguments. Recommend: Fully.
Paul Krugman – Probably the most well known progressive economic blogger. Many economic blogs on the Right, as well as libertarians, have made a sport of telling Krugman why he’s wrong, but he still draws a large audience. It’s worth challenging yourself with what he says. Recommend: Somewhat. I can only take so much of Krugman at a time.
Megan McArdle – A libertarian writer, currently at Bloomberg View. McArdle has previously worked for The Economist, The Atlantic, and The Daily Beast and has been published in many outlets. Recommend: Mostly. I haven’t been following her for that long, but I enjoy everything I’ve read from her so far.
As rare as they might be, there really are some active politicians pushing for almost-libertarian agendas.
Justin Amash – Amash is at the top of this list because he just does almost everything right. He was associated with the Ron Paul movement when he ran for the Michigan House of Representatives in 2008. In 2010, he was elected to represent Michigan’s 3rd district at the age of 30. Amash posts all his votes publicly on his website and on Facebook, along with his reasoning and an explanation for why he voted that way. His positions are based on impressively principled libertarian positions promoting free markets, civil liberties, and reduction of the military budget. Despite his continued opposition to warrantless domestic spying, indefinite detention, and endless military spending, Amash has one of the most conservative records in Congress. Recommend: Fully. Check him out on Facebook and Twitter.
Gary Johnson – Gary Johnson is a businessman from New Mexico, who founded one of the larger construction companies in the state. In 1994, he ran for governor of New Mexico as a Republican and won. He reduced the size of the state budget, and after being reelected in 1998, focused on school voucher reform and fighting the War on Drugs. His marijuana legalization legislation was defeated by a Democratic legislature. This is a true story. After leaving office, he endorsed Ron Paul in the 2008 Republican primaries, started the Our America Initiative to advocate for libertarian public policies, and eventually ran first as a Republican and then Libertarian in 2012. He received the most votes out of any Libertarian Party candidate in history, but ended up only receiving about 1% of the votes in the national election. He’s running again in 2016, and we’ll see if he can do any better. Recommend: Fully. He’s got the real libertarian credentials, but with a bit less ornery-ness of Ron Paul or Bernie Sanders.
Rand Paul – Son of Ron Paul, Rand is a Republican Senator from Kentucky. He sought to mold parts of the hardcore libertarian philosophy of his father with a more moderate outlook, seeking to appeal to both independents and mainstream conservatives. He ran for the Republican nomination, and had this been early 2014, he would have had an excellent chance to win. Unfortunately, in the face of ISIS, immigration fears, and Donald Trump, Rand never really caught on with Republican primary voters. He will be running for his Senate seat this year, and if he is reelected, he will remain the best advocate for libertarians in the U.S. Senate. Recommend: Fully. Rand Paul is the Republican Party’s best hope to save their coalition or form a new one, and likely libertarians best road to mainstream political relevance.
Thomas Massie – Massie is one of the more libertarian members of Congress. He’s a Republican from Kentucky’s 4th District, and was endorsed by Ron Paul and Rand Paul. He’s a member of the House Liberty Caucus. He’s opposed the NDAA due to its indefinite detention pieces, and is generally skeptical of prolonged foreign involvement. Recommend: Mostly. I haven’t follow Representative Massie as closely as I would want for a full endorsement.
Mike Lee – A self-described constitutional conservative, Mike Lee was elected in 2010 at the age of 39. It can take a while to gain power in the Senate, so hopefully Lee will continue to fight for federalism and limited government for years to come. In the six years serving as senator thus far, Lee has voted against extending the Patriot Act and against the 2012 NDAA and it’s indefinite detention provisions. He also voted to reform social security, to repeal tax credits for businesses that distort economic investment, and to end the Import-Export Bank. Recommend: Mostly. I just haven’t followed Mike Lee close enough for a full endorsement, but I have not found anything to dislike about him.
Learn Liberty – A project by the Institute for Human Studies. Learn Liberty is the YouTube channel of the program. Most of their content is hosted here. Recommend: Mostly. Again, the videos are great places to start, but don’t often offer huge depth to really dive into a subject.
ReasonTV – Can also be found on Reason’s website. This is Reason’s video content program. It covers news and topics relevant to libertarian interests, and has some good journalism as well as interviews. Recommend: Fully.
Some groups don’t focus much on policy or even politics, but actually using technology to improve the privacy and protect the freedom of others.
Cryptohack.net – A network of technologists who care about digital privacy. Recommend: Somewhat. I’m pretty new to this group so I don’t know a ton of what they do and how successful they’ve been.
Open Whisper Systems – A group (founded by Moxie Marlinspike) that builds open source tools that allows users to communicate securely for free. Their new unified app is called Signal which works on most smart phones and allows for encrypted calls and messaging, even among several people. These communication tools are cryptographically secure, which means even on the servers the calls are routed through, they cannot be decrypted without the keys. Recommend: Fully. You should be communicating to everyone willing through Open Whisper Systems.
These are some of the big sources of funding in the libertarian nonprofit network. It’s usually less about what these groups do, than who they give money to.
Liberty Fund – The Liberty Fund is a nonprofit foundation, founded by Pierre Goodrich that funds various conservative and liberty-oriented areas including books, conferences, and online resources. Most notable of these resources is probably the Library of Economics and Liberty which has its own entry. There is also the Online Library of Law and Liberty, the Online Library of Liberty. Recommend: Acceptable. There are some resources here, but the good stuff is on the websites they sponsor.
Charles Koch Foundation – This is one of the big philanthropy enterprises of the Koch brothers. The foundation funds universities and other non-profits to promote ideas of economic freedom, the usual Koch goals. I should make it clear, that where the Koch brothers and donations are concerned, there is often controversy. I am, of course, biased, but I don’t understand much of the controversy; ideas are valuable, and research is expensive. Universities and non-profits are part of this huge interconnected marketplace of ideas and intelligence. The Charles Koch Foundation provides much of the funding for the Charles Koch Institute, which has its own entry and does more of the education and outreach. Full disclosure, the foundation does fund things I’m less excited about, like the Heartland Institute. Recommend: Somewhat. The places they sponsor are where in the information is, their website doesn’t contain much, but you should know the foundation exists.