François Marie Arouet, ie “Voltaire”, Libertarian?

Like some of his high-minded contemporaries, he had a strain of anti-Semitism and a penchant for offhand cynicism. But his libertarian (libertaire, in French) convictions made him basically a force for good: a fierce advocate of free will, individual liberty, tolerance, open expression, and free trade, none of which France provided in his lifetime.
. . . Who is more valuable, Voltaire asked in one of his English essays, a “well-powdered noble-man who knows exactly at what minute the king gets up and goes to bed…or a businessman who enriches his country, issues orders from his office to Surat or Cairo, and contributes to the well-being of the world?”

He ain’t perfect, as his anti-Semitic comments attest. Here.


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