I keep seeing people refer to libertarianism and classical liberals as proponents of individualism to the point of placing the individual above social institutions. I’m also reading Robert Nisbet’s “Quest for Community” which talks about the problems humans encounter when they don’t have a social structure that communicates values and meaning to them.
Personally, I’ve never taken people like Bastiat to be saying that social institutions are unimportant, just that government ought not to be confused with those institutions, nor should it be attempting to fulfill their functions. I can’t see it, but Is there anything inherent with libertarianism/classical liberalism that works to undermine legitimate, voluntary social organization?
There shouldn’t be, but there is a strain of classical liberalism that comes from John Stuart Mill that claims to find oppression also in these voluntary organizations if they don’t ratify the lifestyle decisions individuals make.