Libertarians: Left, Right or Neither?

The big Libertarian Party news in the last few days has been Democratic Party mailers sent to conservative voters asking them to vote for Libertarians as “true conservatives” rather than Republicans (see here and here). And, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Chuck Donovan, the Libertarian [..] steadfastly attacked Isakson as something other than conservative. In IPR comments, Robert Capozzi wrote,

If Ls are for lower taxes and spending, that’s widely viewed as right wing. Higher taxes and spending is left wing.

Where we CAN differentiate is where we cut from first. Military and corporate welfare cuts makes us different kind of right wingers on economics, and of course we actually would like to enact real cuts.

My response, also quoted as an article by Tom Knapp at Kn@ppster (note: personal opinion, not an IPR editorial):


Historically, right and left wing are determined by goals. Right wing goals are the maintenance of existing social and economic privilege, traditional social and religious values, and existing social and economic hierarchies. They also frequently include degrees of cultural, social and national chauvinism. Left wing goals are to level the playing field for the underdogs, break down barriers of privilege, and in general the opposite of the right wing goals as outlined above.

Libertarianism is a philosophy of acceptable means. Radical libertarians believe in completely outlawing initiation of force, while moderate libertarians seek to minimize initiation of force while maintaining that a functional society is impossible without some initiation of force.

Big government is the opposing philosophy of means — that is, whatever your goals are, they are best achieved by a powerful state.

So, the assumption above — one shared by most people in America today — is that big government is what serves to achieve leftist goals, and small government leads to rightist results. But, I believe that in fact the opposite is the case … that big government naturally goes hand in hand with big institutions and static hierarchies in all other fields of life.


Similarly, see Libertarian Party: ‘Anti-war liberals can vote Libertarian’, Libertarian Chair: Time to Re-Legalize Immigration, Randy Shaw: ‘Media Falsely Brands Corporate Plutocrats as Libertarians’, and Lee Wrights: ‘Anti-war liberals should vote Libertarian to stop all wars’.

Of course, many would say that Libertarians are neither left nor right. This concept is illustrated by the World’s Smallest Political Quiz, and by some other recent articles such as Casey Givens at UC Berkeley Students for Liberty:

“Perhaps I’m just blind, but I fail to distinguish any semblance of dissimilarity between Republicans and Democrats in modern politics. On the federal level, both parties have supported foreign interventionism in Iraq and Afghanistan, massive bailouts via the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), violations of our civil liberties via the PATRIOT Act, and secretive prisons overseas such as Guantanamo Bay. And, mind you, this is under both Bush and Obama.

See also: Libertarians release top 10 disasters of 2009 Obama administration:

Top 10 disasters of the 2009 Obama administration (in no particular order):

1. Cash for Clunkers
2. War escalation in Afghanistan
3. Giant government health care expansion bill
4. Post office loses money hand over fist
5. Stimulus package
6. Expansion of “state secrets” doctrine
7. Big increase in unemployment
8. “Bailout” Geithner as Treasury Secretary
9. Skyrocketing federal spending
10. Huge federal deficits

Top 10 disasters of the 2001-2008 Bush administration:

1. Cash for Car Companies
2. War in Iraq
3. Giant Medicare expansion bill
4. Post office loses money hand over fist
5. Stimulus “rebate” checks
6. PATRIOT Act
7. Big increase in unemployment
8. “Bailout” Paulson as Treasury Secretary
9. Skyrocketing federal spending
10. Huge federal deficits

Readers are welcome to post their own thoughts on the subject in the comments.

66 thoughts on “Libertarians: Left, Right or Neither?

  1. Darryl W. Perry

    The entire concept of “left” & “right” is flawed. The terms came about based on which side of the chamber the members of the French Parliament sat on during the French Revolution.
    “those who sat on the left generally supported the radical changes of the revolution, including the creation of a republic and secularization.” While, “those who sat on the right supported preserving the institutions of the Ancien Régime (the monarchy, the aristocracy and the established church).”

  2. paulie Post author

    Not all that very. Aristocracy (today, in the form of corporate plutocracy) and the church getting involved in politics are still very much with us. Secularization is still a hot topic.

    The one thing that has changed is that most of what is called the left nowadays has fallen for the idea that when it comes to economic issues (only), big government means – that is, what has historically been considered rightist means – are the way to achieve leftist goals. I maintain that this idea is flawed, and that when we see instead that big government actually achieves rightist goals on economic issues – that is, the maintenance of established class privilege – just as it does on social/civil liberties issues and foreign policy – libertarianism becomes apparent as the true left.

  3. Gene Berkman

    “Left” and “Right” in America have nothing to do with seating in the French National Assembly.

    All the socialist groups clearly consider themselves on the “left” except perhaps the National Socialist Movement.

    The “Right” developed in opposition to the New Deal, and included both principled free market liberals as well as more pragmatic politicians.

    Since the Reagan campaign in 1980, the “Right” has absorbed many politically active Christians, who believe in using government to promote Christian values.

    Libertarians are by default on the Right because we oppose socialism and favor the Free Market. But we are clearly opposed to government intervention in personal lives, which so many Christian conservatives promote.

    And if we find allies among liberals and progressives in opposition to war, or in favor of legalizing marijuana, good. In my experience, I have worked with left-liberals, Greens and others in antiwar groups, and they all think of libertarians as right-wingers.

  4. paulie Post author

    The “Right” developed in opposition to the New Deal,

    There was a left and a right in America long before the New Deal.

    In my experience, I have worked with left-liberals, Greens and others in antiwar groups, and they all think of libertarians as right-wingers.

    I think this has to do with the way libertarianism is most commonly marketed, not with anything inherent within libertarianism per se, and I believe we need to change this mistaken perception in order to unlock our true political potential.

  5. Gene Berkman

    @ 7 – my experience with people on the Left is that their basic premise is collectivist, and if they become libertarians it means “leaving the left.”

    I met lots of people from rightwing backgrounds, and still involved in rightwing groups who are libertarian on most issues, and some who are almost completely libertarian.

    At this point, the biggest divisions between principled rightwingers (as opposed to GOP politicos) and libertarians comes down to abortion, immigration, and tolerance for gay people.

    People on the left, even if the are antiwar and favor legalizing marijuana, still want government takeover of medical care, and they want to tax the rich and they think self-interest is some kind of sin. Why would anyone want to pander to such people?

  6. Gene Berkman

    also @ #7 – yes, there was a Left before the New Deal. The Communist Manifesto was written in 1848 and The Peoples Party was significant through the 1890s, followed by the “Progressives” of the TR & LaFollette variety.

    But there was really no “Right” in the terms of a political movement before The Freeman was founded in the early 1950s and National Review in 1955.

  7. paulie Post author

    @ 7 – my experience with people on the Left is that their basic premise is collectivist, and if they become libertarians it means “leaving the left.”

    The basic premise of the left is not collectivist. It tends to be less collectivist than the right on 2 of 3 broad policy areas – social issues and foreign policy.

    On economic issues, what defines someone as being on the left is not collectivism per se, but whether they want to maintain or break up established economic privilege. Most people in America today tend to believe that collectivism tends to break up economic privilege and that laissez faire economic policies tend to concentrate wealth. I believe that this is exactly the opposite of what is actually true. If leftists came to once again believe that economic collectivism works against their goals – as they once did – they would cease to be collectivists in any sense.

    I met lots of people from rightwing backgrounds, and still involved in rightwing groups who are libertarian on most issues, and some who are almost completely libertarian.

    This is again the product of the common modern American misconceptions that collectivism defines the left and laissez faire defines the right.
    In fact, this has never been the case anywhere in practice, nor is it the case in America today. The right works towards collectivism in social policy and on military spending, and is not shy about using collectivism – corporate welfare, etc. – in the service of maintaining economic privilege. Libertarians who paint themselves as part of the right and work within rightist groups are falling into the trap that this modern misconception sets up, just as progressives fall into a trap when they think collectivist means help achieve their economic goals. So long as both libertarians and progressives fall for this misconception, both are working against their ultimate goals.

    Who wins by this misalignment? The collectivist right wins because it gets libertarians to work on its behalf, and the collectivist pseudo-left wins because it gets genuine liberals to work on its behalf. Both groups are mostly motivated by fear of each other. The elitists who consciously manipulate this dynamic are the ultimate winners, as all political power sharing compromises between the left and right in power tend to be in the direction of bigger government, whether on social, economic or foreign policy.

    To break up the dynamic, we have to go back to looking at government and corporate power as largely aligned on the same side and against those of us at the bottom. This was the original left, and it is also libertarian. It needs to be again if we are ever to move forward.

  8. paulie Post author

    yes, there was a Left before the New Deal. The Communist Manifesto was written in 1848 and The Peoples Party was significant through the 1890s, followed by the “Progressives” of the TR & LaFollette variety.

    This was not the genuine original left, which has existed much longer. It was just the beginnings of the the pseudo-left that purports to achieve leftist goals through rightist (that is, statist) means, which has successfully carried out a hostile takeover of the left and pushed libertarians into a mistaken alliance with the right. However, that did not make the right libertarian.

    My thesis is that in order to make any significant forward progress we have to restore the original left, which opposed big government in all policy areas and also opposed corporate power and concentrations of wealth. Their view was that free markets would work naturally to break up accumulations of wealth, and that big government would only ultimately work on behalf of the plutocrats. I believe they were correct.

  9. paulie Post author

    But there was really no “Right” in the terms of a political movement before The Freeman was founded in the early 1950s and National Review in 1955.

    This is also historically incorrect. The right has existed throughout American and world history, and in fact has changed less than the left has, even with some (completely surface) libertarian window dressing in 20th and early 21st century America.

  10. Gene Berkman

    Paulie – in fact Republican politicos have given us wage & price controls, No Child Left Behind, medicare expansion and other collectivist programs.

    As for marijuana laws, thank FDR. FDR also gave America its first peacetime draft. FDR, JFK and LBJ were all big promoters of international military intervention. So the left is as much responsible for limitations on social freedoms and for militarism as the later pseudo-conservative Republicans who continued the New Deal policies are.

    There are self-styled conservatives and constitutionalists who oppose the Iraq war – The Constitution Party, The John Birch Society, The American Conservative magazine.

    There are conservatives who favor legalizing marijuana – the National Review crowd, the late Barry Goldwater, etc.

    But if someone on the left repudiates socialism, they are not really on the left anymore. Maybe liberals if they still favor the welfare state, but opposing economic collectivism means leaving the left.

    This does not mean we cannot work with Greens and liberals in opposition to war, or in support of immigrant rights or gay rights or in support of legalizing marijuana. But a coalition of libertarians with the left is not the same thing as regarding libertarians as part of the left.

  11. paulie Post author

    But if someone on the left repudiates socialism, they are not really on the left anymore.

    Actually, they don’t necessarily even have to repudiate socialism to become libertarians, just state socialism.

    Socialism is worker control over the means of production. The state as a supposed means towards that goal has been an epic failure, just as voting for right wing conservatives to achieve laissez faire economic policies has been a failure.

  12. Michael H. Wilson

    re paulie @ 14.

    Here’s a bit about Mondragon which is the world’s largest worker owned co-operative.

    “MONDRAGON Corporation is the embodiment of the co-operative movement that began in 1956, the year that witnessed the creation of the first industrial cooperative in Mondragón in the province of Gipuzkoa; its business philosophy is contained in its Corporate Values:
    • Co-operation.
    • Participation.
    • Social Responsibility.
    • Innovation.
    The Corporation’s Mission combines the core goals of a business organisation competing on international markets with the use of democratic methods in its business organisation, the creation of jobs, the human and professional development of its workers and a pledge to development with its social environment.
    In terms of organisation, it is divided into four areas: Finance, Industry, Distribution and Knowledge, and is today the foremost Basque business group and the seventh largest in Spain.”

    http://www.mondragon-corporation.com/language/en-US/ENG/Who-we-are/Introduction.aspx

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  14. Best We Can Do? [Lake]

    Gene Berkman // Oct 30, 2010:

    the left is as much responsible for limitations on social freedoms and for militarism as the later pseudo-conservative Republicans who continued the New Deal policies are.

    ……… conservatives and constitutionalists who oppose the Iraq war – The Constitution Party, The John Birch Society, The American Conservative magazine.

    There are conservatives who favor legalizing marijuana – the National Review crowd, the late Barry Goldwater ………

    ———- and the hesitancy of left and right (what ever those terms really mean) to get to gether on issues ——- as seen first hand on anti war week ends at Balboa Part year after year!

  15. paulie Post author

    Slightly longer snippet from that…hopefully it will get some more people to read it and discuss it here:


    I’m talking about union workers who’ve figured out that the Wagner Act framework has been sold to them as a way of protecting their interests, when the real motivation behind it was to prop up the power of their bosses and stop genuinely radical self-help measures.

    I’m talking about the drug freedom activists who’ve realized that supposedly progressive politicians just want a kinder, gentler drug war, and members of minority communities who realize that the nanny state is responsible for a systematic assault on people of color that has left unbelievable numbers of the non-violent behind bars.

    I’m talking about principled leftists who haven’t abandoned their goals, but who’ve figured out that their preferred means are ineffective, dangerous, and wrong—people who’ve realized that the problem isn’t this or that politician, but the state itself, that abuse by the state isn’t a bug, but a feature!

    Some people will know that—along with friends like Roderick Long, Kevin Carson, Charles Johnson, Brad Spangler, Sheldon Richman, Tom Knapp, Paulie Cannoli, and Joe Stromberg, most of them at the Center for a Stateless Society—I regularly argue that libertarianism is and should be a movement on the left. But I’m not trying to make that case here. And I’m definitely not arguing that libertarians should try to trim their sails in order to persuade statist leftists to like them. My point today is just that libertarians can say to principled leftists: libertarianism is correct; freedom is right—it works, you should embrace it, and you don’t have to give up what you care about in order to do so. Libertarians care about things that matter to you, and you can and should achieve your goals using libertarian means.

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  17. john

    This article is totally absurd and seems to be written by someone politically ignorant.

    Libertarianism is right-wing and only right-wing. Left-libertarianism is really nothing more than confused socialism, another attempt by the left to hijack a respected term, after they hijacked the word “liberal”.

    Left versus Right is fundamentally a balance of power between centralisation (whether it be a community or a state) and the individual. Many issues which are profoundly left-wing like racism have been turned into right-wing symptoms by historical revisionists. Socialists like the Nazis are now deemed as right-wing despite being an ideology which was the culmination of European socialist thinking in the 1930s.

    The issue is confused because conservatives are often deemed by ignorant people to be right-wing, when in reality conservatism is nothing more than the preservation of a status-quo. In Russia and China, conservatives lie strongly on the left and oppose modern laissez-faire capitalism. Conservatives tend to hold right-wing values in the West, but certain values are authoritarian in nature and therefore left-wing.

    In reality the only true right-wing ideologies are those based on individual freedoms and private ownership.

  18. paulie Post author

    This article is totally absurd and seems to be written by someone politically ignorant.

    I’d say this is more likely true of your comment, but that depends on how you define left and right. Where do you get your definitions from? The original concepts came from the French Parliament in the 18th century, where conservative/authoritarians sat on the right and liberal/libertarians sat on the left.

    Libertarianism is right-wing and only right-wing.

    Nonsense, unless you are defining right wing far differently from its historical origins, as well as far differently from its present reality.

    Left-libertarianism is really nothing more than confused socialism, another attempt by the left to hijack a respected term, after they hijacked the word “liberal”.

    False. I count myself as a left-libertarian and I despise coercive economic systems and all other forms of coercion. I love both voluntary cooperation and voluntary competition. I can’t be hijacking libertarianism since it originated out of the same kinds of ideas I hold.

    Left versus Right is fundamentally a balance of power between centralisation (whether it be a community or a state) and the individual. Many issues which are profoundly left-wing like racism have been turned into right-wing symptoms by historical revisionists.

    If anything you are a historical revisionist. How is racism left wing? Historically, the right was always all about blind obedience to tradition, authority, the Church, the aristocracy, militaristic jingoism, ultra-nationalism, absolute monarchy, patriarchy, and racism ties in with all that. Individualists sat on the left; collectivists on the right.

    Socialists like the Nazis are now deemed as right-wing despite being an ideology which was the culmination of European socialist thinking in the 1930s.

    Nazis were/are only socialist in name. Their actual economics are corporatist.

    The issue is confused because conservatives are often deemed by ignorant people to be right-wing, when in reality conservatism is nothing more than the preservation of a status-quo.

    Yes, that’s part and parcel of what right wing has always meant.

    In Russia and China, conservatives lie strongly on the left and oppose modern laissez-faire capitalism.

    I don’t know about China, but what is called the right in Russia (where I am originally from) is conservative-authoritarian. Libertarians and liberals are considered left wing in Russia. Russian rightists are ultra-nationalist, authoritarian, jingoistic, territorialy expansionist, anti-immigrant, anti-gay, racist, ethnic supremacist, anti-Western, anti-Muslim, anti-Jew, support a formal union of Orthodox church and state, and the extreme ones are openly fascist. Much like in the rest of the world.

    Conservatives tend to hold right-wing values in the West, but certain values are authoritarian in nature and therefore left-wing.

    Correct except for the last part (and therefore…)

    In reality the only true right-wing ideologies are those based on individual freedoms and private ownership.

    Please provide historical backing for this statement, which seems completely absurd on the face of it.

  19. Starchild

    I generally agree with Paulie’s comments and historical analysis in this thread. However I would say that technically we as libertarians ought to be more about restoring the original *liberalism* than about restoring the original *left*.

    The original left, as alluded to by Darryl Perry (October 30, 2010 at 4:24 pm) was a broadly anti-monarchist and anti-ecclesiastical coalition that formed in the French Revolution in opposition to the then-dominant oppressive powers of State and Church presided over by the ruling classes of the nobility and the clergy. As is often the case with such broad coalitions however, while it knew what it was *against*, it was much less definitive (fatally so) about what it was *for*.

    As the monarchist and ecclesiastical threats receded, the movement fairly quickly began to resolve itself into two distinct camps, the liberal or proto-libertarian wing that sought first and foremost to maximize freedom, and the state-socialist or Marxist camp that sought first and foremost to maximize equality.

    The problem with the latter approach was succinctly described by Milton Friedman: “The society that puts equality before freedom will end up with neither. The society that puts freedom before equality will end up with a great measure of both.”

    While I can see an argument for saying that libertarianism is the “real left”, I also see great value in the Nolan Chart as a fairly broadly accurate description of politics, and it is one that has been, and continues to be, widely circulated by libertarians and used to illustrate where libertarianism fits in politics. In the context of that chart, I think it is much easier to explain that liberalism is really anti-authoritarianism and belongs at the top of the chart, and that modern leftism as depicted on the chart is not liberalism but rather the modern welfare state, than it would be to try to explain that libertarianism really belongs on the left side of the chart, or the left is really the top, or something to that effect.

  20. paulie Post author

    Starchild, I completely agree. The one caveat I have is that I see foreign policy as a third dimension to the chart and one that puts us somewhat closer to the left in a 3-D Nolan chart environment.

  21. Starchild

    Paulie — I think there is a lot of validity to your overall point, however while one can sort of imagine a 3-D Nolan Chart that measures how pro-freedom one is on issues of global relations*, the Nolan Chart that we have today does not incorporate such a dimension, and I have yet to see a model that I feel does so in a satisfying manner. The creation of such would be a significant accomplishment.

    *I don’t like the term “foreign policy”, as it has an inherently nationalist or us-vs-them tinge. I can’t count how many times I’ve heard opponents of freedom of movement justify their statism on the issue of immigration by likening people coming into the United States without U.S. government permission to guests coming into your house without your permission, and feel that the use of the term “domestic” as the counterpart and opposite of “foreign” only encourages that kind of false analogy. I’m less opposed to the term “international relations” but feel it also subtly implies a world organized into, and around, nation-states and the governments that control them. “Global relations” doesn’t quite feel like an ideal term either, but I haven’t come up with a better substitute.

  22. paulie Post author

    Good point on the terminology. I can visualize the model but it’s harder to model on a 2-D surface such as paper o screen. Technology will change that in the future, as 3-D projection will become easier.

  23. Robert Capozzi

    PF, good point. There easily could be a 4D aspect, and that would be time. For ex., incrementalist to abolitionist in L circles. More generally, moderates to extremists in the wider world.

    If we need models, I personally found the Transpartisan Triangle more serviceable than the Nolan Chart.

    http://freeliberal.com/archives/001180.php

  24. langa

    Just as the Left hijacked the term “liberal”, the Right is currently in the process of hijacking the term “libertarian”, if they haven’t done so already. It’s gotten to the point that I’m afraid to tell people I’m a libertarian, unless I also tell them I’m an anarchist. Otherwise, they will almost automatically assume that I support “Tea Party” types like Rand Paul, or even worse, Ted Cruz.

  25. Matt Cholko

    I can relate to that langa. I have come across many people – intelligent, learned people – that mention Rand Paul and Cruz (and sometimes the larger tea party movement) whenever the word libertarian enters a conversation. That ain’t good for the LP, or real libertarianism in general..

  26. NewFederalist

    This is a wonderful and highly enlightening thread. Thanks to all above who have put such time and thought into their positions and the defense thereof.

  27. Robert Capozzi

    Langa: Just as the Left hijacked the term “liberal”, the Right is currently in the process of hijacking the term “libertarian”, if they haven’t done so already.

    me: Dunno if that’s a good analogy. Consider the Santorum factor: “I am not a libertarian, and I fight very strongly against libertarian influence within the Republican Party and the conservative movement.”

    My sense is there are 2 small L-ish wings in the GOP: Paulistas and fiscal conservative/social moderates. The latter seem unorganized, but they tend to be from coastal or more cosmopolitan places..

    L: It’s gotten to the point that I’m afraid to tell people I’m a libertarian, unless I also tell them I’m an anarchist. Otherwise, they will almost automatically assume that I support “Tea Party” types like Rand Paul, or even worse, Ted Cruz.

    me: What is their reaction to your saying you are an “anarchist”? A forced smile, “oh, that’s interesting,” while they back away?

    Or do they get a wild look in their eyes, ask you how many guns you own, and wonder what year the Zombie Apocalypse is likely to happen? 😉

  28. Jill Pyeatt

    Again, I’ll observe that Robert is clearly not hanging out with the same kind of people I do.

    In Los Angeles, being an anarchist helps to differentiate a person from the confused Republicans who think Libertarians are just errant children who will grow up and join their party sometime soon. Within political circles, most people understand what anarchy is and don’t think we are the wild-eyed flame-throwers many people think anarchists are. Even the general public doesn’t seem to think anarchists are such bad guys. I like to think it’s because they instinctfully know that both Democrats and Republicans–but I repeat myself– are so awful , ANYTHING is an improvement.

    I also think the media is to blame that Republicans and Libertarians are so often thought of as being similar. It’s much easier to villify us if we’re thrown together. Even Democrats are terrified the public will begin to understand what libertarianism really is all about.

  29. Jill Pyeatt

    I’ll also observe that it’s great to have New Federalist back again!

  30. Robert Capozzi

    jp: Again, I’ll observe that Robert is clearly not hanging out with the same kind of people I do. In Los Angeles, being an anarchist helps to differentiate a person from the confused Republicans who think Libertarians are just errant children who will grow up and join their party sometime soon.

    me: Well, I hang out with myself more than anyone, and since the long version of my political ideology is “theoretical asymptotic anarchist/applied lessarchist,” it should be fairly clear that I’d ultimately like to see very little government, as possibly none (so long as I’d be convinced that none could maintain a semblance of domestic tranquility.).

    Sometimes/very often, our own experiences and biases color our perceptions. I’ve seen no evidence that most Angelinos are any different than the rest of the country in that to say one is an “anarchist” evokes images of violent extremists.

    If there’s polling or other hard evidence to the contrary, please do share.

    jp: Within political circles, most people understand what anarchy is and don’t think we are the wild-eyed flame-throwers many people think anarchists are.

    me: I await the evidence for this assertion.

    jp: Even the general public doesn’t seem to think anarchists are such bad guys. I like to think it’s because they instinctfully know that both Democrats and Republicans–but I repeat myself– are so awful , ANYTHING is an improvement.

    me: Perhaps on one level that’s true, and yet they keep getting elected 99% of the time.

    jp: I also think the media is to blame that Republicans and Libertarians are so often thought of as being similar.

    me: Possibly, but I’d say the easier explanation is Ron Paul, who has crossed over that line 2x..

    jp: It’s much easier to villify us if we’re thrown together. Even Democrats are terrified the public will begin to understand what libertarianism really is all about.

    me: I recognize the assertion, but see no evidence. Ds villify L-ism for obvious reasons: we want a lot less government, and they don’t.

  31. Jill Pyeatt

    With all due respect, Robert, I’m much too busy to provide evidence of what my personal experience in Los Angeles is. The point I’m trying to make is that some exciting things are happening for those of us working toward Liberty for all. It’s a shame that you seem to be missing it. I’d like to suggest that you try to get out a little more, and I hope there isn’t a health issue preventing this for you.

  32. NewFederalist

    “I’ll also observe that it’s great to have New Federalist back again!”

    Thanks, Jill! It is good to be back. I just hope the discourse can remain civil and on topic.

  33. Matt Cholko

    I’m gonna have to agree with RC on this one. Saying you’re an anarchist, to John Q. Public, almost always gets a negative reaction, or “forced smile,” or something along those lines, in my experience.

  34. paulie Post author

    It depends who you are talking to. I talk to a lot of different kinds of people all the time, far more so than most.

    Gettin out more is definitely good advice I think.

    As for CLC, his new personae (I’m sorry: his relatives/coworkers/cohabitants) will get 86ed if and when they get too out of hand and stay that way too long. So far so good though.

  35. Jill Pyeatt

    My observations/opinions in my comment above apply to only Los Angeles County. I recognize that we are unique to other communities, and perhaps our group of anarchists are a little stronger or better known. I know a lot of them from the Liberty on the Rocks group, and an event put on by the Restore the Fourth chapter here.

  36. paulie Post author

    Jill: I go all over the country all the time. LA is not unique in any respect we are discussing here.

  37. Robert Capozzi

    jp: I’m much too busy to provide evidence of what my personal experience in Los Angeles is.

    me: Sorry, I must not have expressed myself clearly. I have no doubts about your PERSONAL experiences, in LA or elsewhere. Like MC, my personal experience is that “anarchy” has negative associations for most I encounter.

    What I’m getting at is polling or other data that indicates that people associate “anarchy” with something positive. I’ve not seen any indication other than most find the idea scarey.

  38. paulie Post author

    Once again: it depends who you are talking to.

    I say that as someone who speaks to a lot of different kinds of people in a lot of different places on a regular basis. Unlike some other folks….

  39. Robert Capozzi

    pf: Once again: it depends who you are talking to.

    me: Well, sure. I use discernment when I say I am a theoretical asymptotic anarchist,i.e., only with other Ls.

    In my case, with John Q. Public, I’ll say L, or possibly moderate L to avoid the McVeigh associations.

  40. NewFederalist

    To get back to the title of this thread… When I first became involved with the LP in 1972 the standard answer to the question “is the Libertarian Party on the Right or the Left?” was we are both and we are neither. I always liked that response.

  41. Nathan Norman

    Very curious. I am neither left nor right but I am certainly not libertarian.

  42. Nathan Norman

    I believe government should be active in promoting good policies for the best interests of mankind. It’s neither left nor right.

  43. Nathan Norman

    Government need not be bad. It can be involved while being open and transparent.

  44. paulie Post author

    To get back to the title of this thread… When I first became involved with the LP in 1972 the standard answer to the question “is the Libertarian Party on the Right or the Left?” was we are both and we are neither. I always liked that response.

    Somewhat true.

  45. paulie Post author

    Very curious. I am neither left nor right but I am certainly not libertarian.

    Yes, that is correct. You are authoritarian, the opposite of libertarian.

  46. paulie Post author

    I believe government should be active in promoting good policies for the best interests of mankind.

    That always backfires (only sometimes spectacularly).

  47. langa

    What is their reaction to your saying you are an “anarchist”? A forced smile, “oh, that’s interesting,” while they back away?

    Or do they get a wild look in their eyes, ask you how many guns you own, and wonder what year the Zombie Apocalypse is likely to happen?

    Most people respond with some combination of curiosity, skepticism, and amazement. Virtually the only people that react with contempt or scorn are pseudo-libertarians like you*, who often launch into angry lectures on how government is a “necessary evil”, and what a fool I am for not realizing that.

    *If you’re about to start telling me what a radical you are, save your breath. I already know that in theory, you claim to be an antithetical, asymmetrical, anticlimactic, asymptomatic anarchist (or something like that), but in practice, you seem reluctant to even advocate for minarchy.

  48. Robert Capozzi

    Langa: n practice, you seem reluctant to even advocate for minarchy.

    me: Correct. I don’t advocate minarchy. I advocate lessarchy.

    I find it profoundly grandiose to claim to know how civil society should be ordered – with specificity.

    In general, liberty works, is peaceful and feels right.

    Specifically, more liberty is indicated at this time. If successful, more liberty will likely be indicated for the foreseeable future.

    Wish I had the time to write a book on this. IPR allows me to think this stuff through to some extent. If I ever do, I might call it FOR A NEWER LIBERTY or FOR AN ANCIENT LIBERTY.

    Any feedback, Langa?

    And good for you that those you encounter seem generally interested in what you say. You must have a strong, sincere presence about you.

  49. Robert Capozzi

    More…

    As for “necessary evil,” it’s not my practive to use that term, Langa, regarding civil society or anything else. I’m with Shakespeare on the matter, “only thinking makes it so.” I don’t believe in “evil” any longer. Rather, there are things I find “confused,” “dysfunctional,” or simply “insane.”

    Undoing statist dysfunction requires some judgment. Abolishing the Ex-Im Bank seems more plausible and I’d say is peaceful. Abolishing Social Security or NORAD seems unwise to me for the foreseeable future.

    Don’t you agree?

  50. langa

    And good for you that those you encounter seem generally interested in what you say. You must have a strong, sincere presence about you.

    I think it has more to do with whom I choose to talk politics. I generally don’t waste my time unless the person strikes me as intelligent, honest, and open-minded.

    Undoing statist dysfunction requires some judgment. Abolishing the Ex-Im Bank seems more plausible and I’d say is peaceful. Abolishing Social Security or NORAD seems unwise to me for the foreseeable future.

    Don’t you agree?

    No, I don’t. There is never a wrong time to stop behaving immorally. Of course, that doesn’t mean I don’t have opinions as to which things should be prioritized. For example, if I had to choose between ending Social Security and ending the Drug War, I would definitely choose to end the Drug War. However, if the choice was between ending Social Security or maintaining the status quo, with no change whatsoever, then I would choose to end Social Security, and the same would hold true for any particular government program that was chosen.

    Your position seems eerily similar to that of anti-abolitionists who argued that although the slaves “deserved” freedom, they weren’t “ready” for it, since they supposedly lacked the education and skills they would need to make it on their own.

  51. Robert Capozzi

    langa: if the choice was between ending Social Security or maintaining the status quo, with no change whatsoever, then I would choose to end Social Security, and the same would hold true for any particular government program that was chosen.

    me: Yes, this does not surprise me, as I once thought in ways similar to you.

    Of course, ending SS is not on the table, nor will it be anytime soon. The hand that has been dealt has been dealt. OTOH, maintaining the status quo seems to me to be unwise.

    Good luck making the case that SS = slavery. I suspect few will buy it, no matter how long you sell it.

  52. langa

    Good luck making the case that SS = slavery.

    There you go again, putting words in my mouth. I never said that Social Security is the same thing as slavery. I said that the logic you use to justify the continuation of Social Security is the same logic that was used by some to justify the continuation of slavery.

  53. Robert Capozzi

    Langa, my bad. Perhaps here’s the better formula:

    SS => immoral <= slavery.

    And this is the problem with deontological NAPsolutism…everything comes down to one simple formula, the NAP. To persuade large numbers to NAPsolutism one must first convert the masses to the NAP and its simplistic moral/immoral stance.

    The masses are more practical in their orientation, I submit. If you say Yes, you would end the immoral SS program tomorrow, they envision millions of seniors panhandling the next day.

    Similarly, it was reasonable to consider what might happen if in 1850, say, all slaves were freed overnight. On the plantations especially, many were kept like livestock, with little life skill training. It might have been cruel to just release them with no transition considerations.

    NAPsolutism, then, is prone to grandiosity, making sweeping generalizations when specificity seems necessary.

  54. paulie Post author

    In general, liberty works, is peaceful and feels right.

    Specifically, more liberty is indicated at this time. If successful, more liberty will likely be indicated for the foreseeable future.

    That works for me.

    I prefer a soft landing if possible, and it avoids the mostly pointless at this time argument about how much monopoly government, if any, is desirable in a perfect world.

    I would rather spend the bulk of my time getting the ball rolling in the correct direction than pointlessly wondering how far it will end up rolling…all while it is headed in the wrong direction.

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