Back in the 60s there were a lot of alleged problems like gaysex, dirty books, comedians using the F-word on stage, and dope smoking that people were supposed to be arrested for. Some of us filthy hippies thought that the government should mind its own business. Then there was an Asian war for which the same solution applied, and I started wondering how much it generalized.
In the 70s Robert Nozick wrote a great book called Anarchy, State, & Utopia. I remember that after The Times reviewed it, they got an angry loc saying that the very existence of the book proved that we’re going to Hell in a handbasket because it would make it acceptable to consider politics an imposition on the life of the individual. Since that’s how I feel, I thought it was nifty. (It wasn’t quite Area Teen Is the Only Libertarian in the World, but I did feel outnumbered. And in my more lucid moments I realize that I am extreme, and I have compared my feeling about the need for politics to that of the unfortunate souls who are horrified and disgusted that the survival of the species requires that icky business with pee-pees and hoo-hahs. But as Uncle Sigmund said about paranoids in general, I am not entirely mistaken.) And he did make libertarianism academically respectable.
Nozick did not say, as some of his enemies and some of his supporters maintain, that any State intervention in the economy puts us on the road to gulags. What he said was that the more government we have, the more it controls our private lives and the more it is open to the abuses of totalitarianism, and that the tipping point is likely to come when we decide that a just distribution of everything is the state’s business (which Richard Rorty said is the defining quality of the Left). I agree.
But Nozick reratted to liberalism, and so did I. Libertarianism doesn’t work, and Scott Alexander has a thorough discussion of why it doesn’t.