Thursday , October 19 2017
Home / Robert Murphy: Free Advice / If Libertarians Reject the “Left/Right Spectrum” Then Why Do We Use Those Terms?

If Libertarians Reject the “Left/Right Spectrum” Then Why Do We Use Those Terms?

Summary:
I’m genuinely asking the question. (And this isn’t just coming from me; I’ve seen other people in the last few months making this point.) On the one hand, we libertarians like to roll our eyes at standard political surveys or classification schemes in which Adolf Hitler is the polar opposite of Josef Stalin. We like to point out that they are both socialists and that it makes much more sense to have a spectrum of degrees of State control over people’s lives. I totally agree with this standard libertarian view. On the other hand, libertarians often self-sort into left/right, or at least distinguish themselves from other libertarians with such labels. And to be frank, I know exactly what they mean. (I don’t want this post to turn into a proxy war for the recent

Topics:
Robert Murphy considers the following as important:

This could be interesting, too:

Christopher Freiman writes Libertarianism for Luck Egalitarians

Tyler Durden writes Ron Paul: Here’s The Truth About The War Between The Alt Right And Cultural Marxists

Steve Horwitz writes Horwitz review of Nancy MacLean’s Democracy in Chains

Christopher Freiman writes Rawls, Ideal Theory, and the Public Goods Argument for the State

I’m genuinely asking the question. (And this isn’t just coming from me; I’ve seen other people in the last few months making this point.)

On the one hand, we libertarians like to roll our eyes at standard political surveys or classification schemes in which Adolf Hitler is the polar opposite of Josef Stalin. We like to point out that they are both socialists and that it makes much more sense to have a spectrum of degrees of State control over people’s lives. I totally agree with this standard libertarian view.

On the other hand, libertarians often self-sort into left/right, or at least distinguish themselves from other libertarians with such labels. And to be frank, I know exactly what they mean. (I don’t want this post to turn into a proxy war for the recent flare up, so let’s keep it on-topic in the comments.)

Does the reconciliation go something like this? I’m just throwing it out there:

“It’s not perfect, but we have to use words conventionally and so if someone is a ‘leftist’ we mean the person wants to focus on reducing income inequality, oppression of minorities, police brutality, and gender stereotypes in the workplace. If someone is coming from ‘the right’ we mean the person cares about maintaining the culture, tradition, family, church. However, most people just assume that the *way* to achieve these goals is through State power, and hence a ‘radical leftist’ is a Marxist, while a ‘radical right-winger’ is a Nazi. So a left-libertarian is someone who rejects the means of State power to achieve them, but endorses the typical leftist’s goals, and likewise for a right-libertarian.”

How’s that?

Robert Murphy
Robert Patrick Murphy (born 23 May 1976) is an American economist, consultant and author. He is an economist with the Institute for Energy Research (IER) specializing in climate change and a research fellow with the Independent Institute, He was a senior fellow in business and economic studies at the Pacific Research Institute, and he is an associated scholar at the Ludwig von Mises Institute. In addition to economic subjects, Murphy writes about, and has presented an online video class in, anarcho-capitalism on the Mises Institute website. Murphy also has written in support of Intelligent Design theory and expressed skepticism of biological evolution.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *