The modern left/right dichotomy is essentially a scam - an identification as either one is incoherent, and to say that cherry-picking from each 'side' is somehow 'moderate' is patently absurd. Every 'moderate' I've ever known is moderately awful.
In the real world, the true dichotomy is: how far are you willing to accept aggressive government intervention?
And this can be split up into three main areas:
The modern 'right' is ideologically similar to libertarianism on the economy, in that it wishes the government to leave the economy alone as best as possible, but comes up short on foreign policy and civil liberties. The modern 'left' is only ideologically different in economics, whereas they are generally in agreement on foreign policy and civil liberties (that the military should not over-stretch itself and seek out wars, and that the government should respect individual rights and privacy).
That makes the left more ideologically similar to libertarianism, whether they like it or not. (Notice I'm talking about ideology and not the Democrats or Republicans, who are both bad at everything, at all times.)
So my point is: those on the left that reject the libertarian wing of the Republican party need to think twice!
(and maybe read Henry Hazlitt's 'Economics in One Lesson')
Disagree on the civil liberties. While the left seems more prominent in large matters of personal freedom (abortion, gay marriage, etc.) they also seem far more prominent in the smaller matters such as the size of soft drink you can have, what gun you can own etc.
So on the one hand the left promotes civil liberties and on the other takes it away "for your own good". Just as the religious far right does.
very astute, wilderness; so true!
But I agree with innersmiff's main assessment about libertarians.
That would technically count as an economic issue, which Miff pointed out the left is in favor of regulating. I'm not in favor of limiting that though, just for the record.
No it doesn't. Limiting the size of a Big Gulp for health reasons has nothing to do with economics. It's about the nanny state caring for it's citizens because said citizens are incompetent to do it themselves. Almost a trademark of the left.
Or maybe because seriously obese people are a drain on us all.
Aw come on! Don't pick on overweight people! There's something about all of us that could be picked on, if we wanted to be mean.
I'm not picking on over weight people, just stating a fact.
However, I do hope you remember what you just said when next you feel inclined to sound off about people with who you disagree.
You're going off onto an invalid tangent. I'm simply telling you to not cut people down because of their weight. That has nothing to do with theology or societal issues. I hope YOU know that.
Pointing out the obvious and well known drawbacks of being overweight, like diabetes, heart problems, joint problems and all the rest, is hardly being down on anybody.
Saying that I should ignore all that is a societal issue.
I know a person who was never overweight in their life, yet developed diabetes. Heredity, maybe? Who knows?
The point is that we are all subject to some form of disease or physical frailty at some point in our lives. So why pick on one facet of human frailty?
Actually it was Wilderness who raised the issue of giant sized drinks.
Oh well. I cannot fight with wilderness because we both like McDonalds. hahhhaa
If overweight people are a drain on you it is by your choice (or that of your government). If you don't like it, change the laws that require you to pay for them.
So, does Obamacare charge greater premiums for overweight people, or does it put a drain on us all?
If Obamacare charges higher premiums for overweight people, should it also charge higher premiums for those who engage in dangerous activities and sports? Should it examine our driving records to determine who's at the greatest risk of causing an accident?
It already increases premiums for smokers. What about drinkers, pot smokers, drug addicts? Should they have higher premiums?
Maybe it should charge the highest premiums of all for those who are the biggest drain on the program - those that are being subsidized because they cannot/will not work. Those folks are the mother of all drains.
Because if people who actually BUY their policies are punished for being fat - that punishment should also extend to Medicaid recipients.
If having socialised healthcare means you have to implement a nanny state to make it work: I don't want it!
I'm defining economic as in the economic realm (buying and selling), not the particular motivations behind the actions.
I think they are generally more concerned with privacy and freedom of speech matters too. The nanny-state thing is probably true, but minor compared to the former.
Again, I would disagree. Any nanny state is eventually going to intrude into privacy and freedom of speech, and far beyond anything you or I would consider reasonable or necessary.
They will pay lip service to it, yes, but any politician willing to stand up and declare they know better than you what you should put in your mouth isn't going to care about your (perceived) right to privacy.
Well Miff, I don't reject the libertarian wing of the party! I just hate it when people call the Tea Party libertarian, when they are anything but. They are Christian Conservatives and never speak out about government intrusion into the sexual lives of citizens. I also haven't heard much Tea Party backlash from the NSA spying either.
Real libertarians though, the anti-war, pro-peace types, who are in favor of true freedom in civil liberties and a foreign policy that does not dictate our will to foreign countries and believes in their right to self-determination is definitely in line with what I believe.
I keep saying libertarians and liberals need to put aside their differences on economics, just for a little while, and fight the expansion of the military-industrial-complex and the police state. Once that battle is won, then we can go back to arguing about regulating milk.
The Tea Party does have its roots in libertarian thought, but it has since been shifted away to Christian conservative concerns, like you say. It is more concerned about calling Obama a commie than any principles such as individual rights.
I would honestly rather vote for a out-and-out Socialist than someone closer to me economically if there was a cast-iron guarantee that he or she would destroy the military-industrial-complex.
That's why I was willing to vote for Ron Paul or Gary Johnson last election cycle.
Is there a British equivalent to the Tea Party? To American-style libertarianism?
The closest to the Tea Party would be something like UKIP (UK Independence Party) - nationalist, obsessed with immigration, but is somewhat committed to rolling back government. However, there is no tangible true libertarian movement in the UK as yet, probably because there is no precedent for it as there is in the US.
What about economic libertarian Margaret Thatcher?
And in your more distant past: Herbert Spencer?
But Thatcher did nothing to roll back government in fact she pushed hard for more government control rather than less by taking much control out of the hands of local people and investing that control in central government.
Thatcher's record is very clear: She was an economic libertarian and perhaps more closely linked to the deep intellectual roots of British liberalism (as in the "classical liberalism" of Adam Smith) and not to present, popular cultural definitions of libertarianism which tend to conflate it with what is essentially anarchism---which considers any state by the fact that it is a state to be immoral and therefore which advocates for stateless societues AND/OR minarchism---which suggests that the only legitimate role of government is protection of individuals from aggression, theft, breach of contract, and fraud, and that the only legitimate governmental institutions are the military, police, and courts.
Clearly, if one is essentially advocating for anarchy or minarchy, one would find any government---even the clearly libertarian government of Thatcher, to be excessive.
I assume then that you are looking at a very different record to that which I see.
For instance economic libertarians are broadly in favour of welfare programmes to address social inequalities and support for equal opportunity's. Both of which her record denies.
She was supportive of big business at the expense of the individual, unlike other economic libertarians
Most, if not all, her policies were in direct opposition to what Adam Smith saw as essential.
I am not understanding what you are saying.
You claim that "economic libertarians" support social welfare programming; programming to deal with social inequality and equality of opportunity.
How is this possible when the bottom-line of libertarianism is, basically, a laissez-faire approach to governance?
Isn't a hands-off, self-motivating and self-directed moral economy (capitalism) functioning without government intrusion or direction the core of Adam Smith's "Wealth of Nations" and "Theory of Moral Sentiments"?
As evidenced by the fact that welfare programmes were introduced by economic libertatrians and opposed by those on the left.
Yes, and all that was not in Thatchers remit. No previous government of any colour had been so intrusive in the market place.
Nothing at all laissez-faire about Thatchers governance.
Not for anything, but I think you need to review some British history and get your basic facts right.
Prior to World War II:
Emergence of the United Kingdom, as a modern welfare state, can be traced to Liberal welfare reforms championed by Liberal Prime Minister Herbert Asquith. These included the passing of the Old-Age Pensions Act in 1908, the introduction of free school meals in 1909, the 1909 Labour Exchanges Act, the Development Act 1909, which heralded greater Government intervention in economic development, and the enacting of the National Insurance Act 1911 setting up a national insurance contribution for unemployment and health benefits from work.
After World War II:
The general recommendations of the Beveridge Report were adopted by the Liberal Party, Conservative Party and then by the Labour Party. Following the Labour election victory in the 1945 general election many of Beveridge's reforms were implemented through a series of Acts of Parliament. On 5 July 1948, the National Insurance Act, National Assistance Act and National Health Service Act came into force, forming the key planks of the modern UK welfare state.
There is NOTHING in the record to suggest that Beveridge or any of the champions of the welfare state were libertarians nor is there anything to suggest that left-of-center parties opposed the welfare state.
On what British history texts do you base your claims to the contrary?
I don't think there has been anything laissez-faire about any British government has there?
Thatcher was like Reagan - a classical liberal in name only. On NET she didn't make any tangible cuts in government spending, was a mild keynesian and dictatorial in her manner. Definitely not a modern libertarian, but a relatively bad Adam Smithian.
Libertarianism can encompass both the classical liberal and the anarchist variety, so I don't think it's necessarily a conflation.
Democrats don't typically like Ron or Rand Paul . . . Based on your statement, democrats should favor these two gentlemen over many, many republicans and even some centrist democrats, yet they largely don't. Why do you think the majority of democrats don't like Ron or Rand Paul if their ideologies are so similar?
I think that's because people's support for a candidate rarely relates to their ideology, but what their prejudices are of where they think they are coming from. I think many on the left are wary of Ron and Rand Paul precisely because they are associated with the Republican party, which in their eyes is the great Satan - their reasoning basically is that a bad Democrat is better than any Republican. No rationality involved.
But many leftists who were particularly aggrieved about US military over-stretch, and the government's disrespect for civil liberties, ended up supporting Ron Paul in the last election. They were willing to swallow their pride, forgo their economic concerns, and vote for someone who would at least attempt to change what they cared about most - something Obama could not offer them. So to their credit, a lot of leftists are willing to see the similarities in viewpoint.
I myself am an example of a libertarian converted from a leftist viewpoint, and it wasn't exactly a complete reversal of my ideology . . . I just read Ludwig Von Mises, haha.
On social issues Libertarians are to the left because they advocate redefining marriage, killing babies in the womb, and legalizing drugs. However, as far as economics go they are more to the right than some Republicans.
And as for foreign policy goes they aren't willing to go to war, whereas both Democrats and Republicans are equally willing. Depending on who is waging the war.
In recent decades, Democrats tended to be antiwar. What happened to that stance? It seems that Democrats are just as willing as Republicans to commit to military force now. It seems like a change in ideology.
World War I - Woodrow Wilson - Democrat
World War II - FDR - Democrat
Korean War - Truman - Democrat
Bay of Pigs - Kennedy - Democrat
Vietnam War - LBJ - Democrat
Bosnia and Herzegovina - Clinton - Democrat
Libya, Yemen, Somalia, Pakistan - Obama- Democrat
Democrats are only anti war when Republicans are in office.
Just a slight correction: libertarians argue that government should not be involved in marriage at all. Not exactly changing the definition of anything. They differ on abortion.
And. as I intimated, the Republican and Democratic parties do what the hell they want - they're not interested in ideologies.
You are correct about the marriage part. However as of right now Republicans are fighting heavily against the implementation of socialized medicine, and have stood firm against several social issues such as drugs, racial equality, religious liberties, and redefinition of marriage. All of which are fundamental ideologies of the party.
Your comment contains inaccuracies as it paints "libertarians" with a large brush and presumes they are all the same in their ideological and political thinking and positioning.
In fact, several self-described libertarians, including current Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, are strongly against same-sex marriage (Rand Paul supports a constitutional amendment to define marriage as between 1 man and 1 women) and against abortion rights. And few advocate for the legalization of all drugs.
As for war: libertarians tend end toward non-intervention.
In terms of international relations, libertarians also tend toward isolationism.
This is true only on the most shallow level. The American Democratic policy is essentially a party of milquetoast apologists for Capitalism, but they also have as much a love for violating civil liberties and imperialistic foreign policy as a lot of the Republican party.
What separates political ideologies at their core is not what they believe but why they believe it. Sometimes two political ideologies can agree on an issue but for vastly different reasons. Both John Locke and Jean-Jacques Rousseau supported a social contract model of government based on representational democracy. Locke however believed that a persons participation in society limited their freedom and it was best to try and create a government with as little intervention as possible. Rousseau believed that participation is society made a person more free because it increased social autonomy. There are some things that an individual needs society in order to achieve.
A more stark example can be found in anarchist thought. There are "left" (communist) and "right" (anarcho-capitalist) anarchist. Both groups reject the authority of any state and seek a society with no centralized government. However, left anarchist believe this society will function because people will be forced to corporate in order to achieve their goals. Right anarchists believe this society will function because people will be forced to compete in order to achieve their goals.
So you see, while these two groups may work together if they want to achieve their goal of an anarchist society, once they had achieved that goal they would be pitted against each other again.
Parties change over time. The Republican party used to be very antiwar during the beginning of the twentieth century and will probably drift more toward the Libertarian side over time but Libertarians and Neo-cons still agree on the underlying philosophy of "negative rights" (but no "positive rights") and capitalism. Libertarians are merely an ideological "pure" form of this philosophy while neo-cons are more contradictory. So Libertarianism is an essentially right wing ideology not because of what it believes but why it believes it.
A well reasoned argument.
The different ideologues differ on 'why', but think of it from the point of view of the idealist. Individuals who wish to make a change in society may see what I have laid out in my OP: that, on the whole, the left agree more on what they believe with libertarians than the right do. After all, it is ultimately how people act on what they believe that matters.
Does the individual who wants to end slavery care much whether it is ended by everyone believing that everyone has the right not to be enslaved, or that aliens will come down and punish them if they don't end slavery?
Your anarchist example is still fundamentally about practicality: can anarcho-communists and anarcho-capitalists co-exist peacefully after the state has disappeared? Conceivably, they could or couldn't, regardless of their ideological differences. It seems foolish to me to draw a line based on such an arbitrary thing as 'why' if we're looking to persuade and convince.
(I also pointed out that the Democratic and Republican parties don't apply to this).
Should the "Left" reject regulation when it involves regulation of business to protect labor? To protect the environment? To protect consumers?
And "wilderness"...this time I agree with you...
I am done with the "Nanny State" because whether or not it is constituted form the Right or the Left, it is a problem. I am done with Nanny State liberals who seek to deconstruct the American way of life as defined---at least in part, by the Second Amendment AND done with the Nanny State conservatives who seek to deconstruct privacy as defined---at least in part, by the First Amendment.
The problem is, what are you counting as civil liberties? Civil liberties is pretty broad, and covers more than just abortion and gay marriage. I know people have already mentioned gun control and the 'nanny' state, but what about affirmative action, campaign finance reform or school vouchers? Many people view those as social issues, but these are issues where libertarians side with conservatives.
I mention this because the "socially liberal" part of the fiscal conservative/social liberal moniker for libertarians is largely superficial. I think it's quite common for libertarians to have just as much in common with conservatives as liberals on social issues.
In short, I don't agree that liberal ideology has more in common with libertarianism than conservatives, especially what the democratic party has turned into recently. Even on things like marijuana legalization, I really don't see many leftist blogs discussing the issue, which leads me to believe that they don't particularly care about it that much, at least as much as libertarians do. I'm not saying conservatives are all that great, but the modern democratic party is pretty inhospitable to libertarianism.
Your post implies that you think the Democrats are a left wing party. They aren't,they are equally right wing and there is no left wing party in the US.
Well, they are a left wing party by US. standards. I know the standards are different in many other countries. Frankly, I'm fairly glad the democratic party is as left wing as it gets in this country. In any case, the Green party is pretty left wing by Euro standards, and they exist in the US., although they get no success.
These are of course general guidelines. I'm defining civil liberties as the freedom of personal action and interaction: right to freedom of speech, privacy, protest, free association, free travel - that the left are largely in favour of. "Social issues" is way too broad a label to be helpful. Affirmative action and school vouchers are economic concerns - those that pertain to the market place. Campaign finance reform is kind of a niche issue.
And, again, the Democratic and Republican parties have nothing to do with this.
I'm open to a case that affirmative action and vouchers could be considered economic issues. To an extent, they are. But I'd say most would define them as social issues. Could they be defined as civil liberties issues too, like you are defining it? Maybe. Campaign finance reform is related to free speech, and liberals take the un-libertarian position on it. Regardless of how you define the issues though, libertarians as a whole have more conservative positions than liberal positions and that's a fact so I don't agree with the point of your hub.
Maybe it's different in Europe though. I know "libertarians" (called liberals in Europe, right?)in Europe often support universal health care and such, so it differs from the admittedly extreme attitudes on economics of libertarians in the United States.
Perhaps the Atlantic divide exists for libertarians/liberals as it did centuries ago for Whigs and Whigs.
To be honest, and this is not to back-track or anything like that, you could pick holes forever. This is because political language has been so retarded over time that we hardly know what we're talking about. What are "social issues" anyway? Sounds like something a bureaucrat thought up to justify some hair-brained government scheme. It doesn't actually mean anything in the real world - you could just about call any issue involving the interaction of human beings a "social" issue. In real life, I don't care about 'left' and 'right' - the post is only an appeal to those that consider themselves 'leftists' to see where there might be agreement. It is my contention that there is a lot to agree with.
to be fair, I'm only moderately libertarian myself, and think they're way too extreme on certain issues. If I qualify as a libertarian at all, I would be a left-leaning one, actually. So I do think you can form alliances on either side for any issue rather than being too partisan about anything. The commenters at reason.com, for example, are way too right -wing and blame everything they disagree with on 'progressives' even when it's the right that deserves the scorn.
There it goes again, "right-wing"- what does that even mean? What does "extreme" mean? None of this has any application in the real world. Taking away all of that spin, cultural effect, (everyone is guilty of this by the way) when you break it down, the left agree with 2 of the 3 most important issues in politics, whereas the right only agree with 1.
I would say to the right:
Apply your economic understanding to the other 2 issues: why do you see government inefficient in the market, but efficient in foreign policy and homeland security?
I would say to the left:
If the government is overreaching and dangerous when it gets too involved in the lives of private people, and when it inflates the military and launches irresponsible wars, why is it suddenly benign when controlling the economy?
It takes a bit of thinking to get to that point though - breaking down all the "left-wing/right-wing" blab that obscures the real issues. Ever heard of the Ron Paul Peace and Prosperity Institute? This was founded on the same basis: that there is common cause between those on the left, right and libertarians, and the institute is populated by those on all sides.
I can see where you are coming from, but if we narrow the definition of civil liberties to your definition, yes, liberals agree with libertarians 2 out of 3, but my original point was, even that said, libertarians still agree with conservatives more than liberals on more issues, regardless of how you define the terms. I don't see the relevance in the amount of areas where liberals agree compared to conservatives, split into these three categories. It just ultimately depends on what issues you view as most important. If you view civil liberties and war as extremely important, you may vote for a liberal over a conservative, and vice versa. If you view the opposite, you will vote for a conservative. libertarians have more common cause with conservatives, but it depends on what you view as most important.
I'm not sure I understand your point about the meaning of labels. If libertarian has a meaning, doesn't "right wing" also mean something?
I agree. There is little doubt, at least in politics in the United States, that libertarians are much more closely aligned with conservatives (and are more often than not former members of conservative parties) than with liberals (or parties aligned with liberal politics).
Clearly libertarians favor as little government as possible---and in the US favor as little government as possible UNTIL it comes to issues that generally are liberal causes such as same-sex marriage, abortion rights, civil rights.
In terms of these issues most libertarians are decidedly conservative with many national libertarian leaders calling for such things as a constitutional amendment to define marriage as between 1 man and 1 women only; demanding a roll-back of abortion rights, demanding roll-backs of various civil rights legislation from affirmative action to laws banning discrimination in public facilities.
We saw this very clearly with libertarian hero Rand Paul (Senator from Kentucky and son of Ron Paul) who supports an amendment to ban same-sex marriage; is decidedly pro-life and votes consistently conservatives seeking to curtail a women's right to an abortion, and who has said on more than one occasion that he does not support civil rights legislation---including the Voting Rights Act.
Yes, but keep in mind that Rand Paul is a conservative-leaning libertarian. Many libertarians, particularly those who campaign for the libertarian party, disagree with Rand Paul about abortion and gay marriage. Most libertarians don't have a problem with homosexuality, and don't want laws against it. Most also support gay marriage but think the ideal solution is to get the government out of marriage in the first place. Libertarians tend to be roughly divided about abortion.
My point is, don't mistake libertarian-leaning politicians in the Republican party as the epitome of libertarian. Have you heard of Gary Johnson? He was the libertarian party candidate last year and he was pretty pro-choice on abortion and gay marriage. He was also a former governor of New Mexico as a Republican in the past.
And for the record, Rand Paul may be personally socially conservative, but I have Never heard of him calling for a federal marriage amendment. Even he wouldn't do that.
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