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Before the mid-20th century, when American libertarians entangled themselves in conservative coalitions against the New Deal and Soviet Communism, free market thinkers largely saw themselves as liberals or radicals, not as conservatives. Libertarian writers, from Smith to Bastiat to Spencer, had little interest in tailoring their politics to conservative or pro-business measurements. They frequently identified capitalists, and their protectionist policies, as among the most dangerous enemies of free exchange and property rights.

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