The first-ever libertarians were the Levellers, an English political movement active in the seventeenth century. The Levellers contributed to the elaboration of the methodological and political paradigm of individualism, and they are at the origin of the radical strand of classical liberalism. While the Levellers are often characterized as a quasi-socialist movement, closer examination shows that the Levellers had much more in common with advocates for free markets than with socialists.
This interpretation of the Levellers is supported, among others, by Murray N. Rothbard who considers them as “the world’s first self-consciously libertarian movement.” Rothbard notes that
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