Thursday, 19 October 2006

Are libertarians "right wing"?

Libertarianz are an "extreme right wing party," declared Helen Clark a few weeks back. The Herald yesterday called Libertarianz a "right wing political party" (since amended I see, well done The Herald.) Well let me just clarify: libertarians are as "right wing" as Herald journalist Fran O'Sullivan is a blogger.

Libertarians are not right wing. The "right wing" is generally inhabited by conservatives, and what they wish to conserve depends on the context. At best conservatives are economically liberal, but on issues of personal freedom they're generally big-government busybodies. In New Zealand, in general, conservatives have helped to conserve big government and a shackled market while being agnostic or even worse on issues of personal freedom such as free speech.

Libertarians are not right wing.

Libertarians are not left wing. The "left wing" is generally inhabited by those who are personally liberal but economically authoritarian -- with the authoritarianism generally infecting whatever liberalism they espouse.

Libertarians are not left wing.

In fact, both left and right wing are just variations of a collectivist theme. Both "wings" see government's job as bossing people around, putting their hands in your pocket and distributing whatever they find there -- the only fundamental arguments between them are over what the bossing is about, and to whom the goodies go.

"Left" and "right wing" are simply two ends of a one-dimensional spectrum that collapses important distinctions and obscures more than it reveals.

Libertarians are neither left nor right wing. On the two-dimensional spectrum seen at left we are North, as oposed to the authoritarian South of the spectrum. We are economically liberal AND personally liberal: we say you should have the same freedom to do what you wish in the boardroom as you should in the bedrooom, (with the only proviso being rules against the initiation of force or fraud). We are in favour of capitalist acts between consenting adults.

So are we liberals? No! The word "liberal" has been perverted too long by wet, hand-wringing, limp-dick, pussy-whipped, guilt-ridden, spineless, big-government-worshipping tossers intent on stealing your wallet and bossing around your children. It's too late for "liberal," whether classical or otherwise.

We are not liberals; we are not right wing; we are not left wing. We are libertarian. If you too believe consistently in economic and personal freedom, then have the balls to call yourself a libertarian too!

MORE: Left and right and that post-modern nonsense - Not PC (Feb, 2006)
Right Plus Left = Wrong - Lindsay Perigo, Free Radical
NZ's Political Spectrum - Not PC
Left Wing - Right Wing -
The World's Most Popular Political Quiz - Advocates for Self Government
Left? Right? A plague upon you both! - Not PC (April, 2005)

RELATED: Politics, Libz, Libertarianism, Politics-NZ


  1. You think the NZ political spectrum post/image needs updating a bit based on recent behavior of parties and post election MPs.

    I.e. Now we've seen the maori party in action, and ACT is down to its two "more libertarian" MPS (well so libertarian as to force a board member to resign apparently :-P)

  2. Hi Mike,

    You may be right, and I should probably send out all the quizzes to all of the 120 MPs since the composition of Parliament has changed so much since last time.

    In the meantime all I have to go on is policy, which (as we've argued about before here at this blog) is reflected in the current party positions -- and whatever the private views of politicians might be, in the end it's their policies by which they're judged.

    Whatever the private views of the ACT caucus for example, their position on the spectrum is accurately reflective of their party policies.

    And as far as the Maori Party goes, I don't think we've seen any substantive policy yet beyond the one single issue, so how you would position them at all is beyond me.

    But do feel free to pre-empt me and send out quizzes to all the MPs you wish and let me know the responses at 'organon at ihug dot co dot nz.' If you do decide to do the hard work, can I suggest you use the Advocates quiz linked above, since it keeps the positions consistent.


  3. Nevertheless your support and readership base is overwhelmingly conservative.

    They've bought in because by-and-large you support policies that they support. The rest of the libertarian "morals" stuff - abortion and so forth- is just baggage to the tax cuts, the drowning the government, the Iraq war, Islam etc. I'd argue that many only believe or say they agree with the "moral" stuff because it helps defend emotionally their position on more substantive matters.

    For example I doubt many here would be apoplectic about the Bush destruction of the Constitution, torture, illegal wire-tapping etc.

    I do think there is a significant segment of well-meaning, intelligent right-wing people who are not beyond reason, but I suspect most see you as playing to their frames. That's not a criticism of you - it's just the way it is.

  4. Anon, you say, "Nevertheless your support and readership base is overwhelmingly conservative."

    Well, since most criticism of government is criticism of a particular Government, other critics of that same Government will often see you as an ally, as indeed you are in trying to get rid of that Government. The enemy of my enemy is my friend is the principle here, isn't it.

    There might be many areas of agreement on grounds for criticism, but that doesn't mean you're allies on everything you wish to actually promote however, does it?

    When criticism is the name of the game -- as it largely is in opposition -- then all criticisms get thrown into the pot, with the justification for those criticisms often ignored, no?

    When a more obviously socialist government is in power for example and a libertarian declares that taxation is theft and therefore a tax cut is a moral imperative, a conservative is likely to look at such a criticism approvingly. Try making the same criticism of a conservative government in power however, and you'll find the number of conservative cheerleaders for that line of criticism greatly diminished.

    So it's all about context.

    It was very much easier, I should point out, to differentiate Libz from conservatives when the earlier National Socialist Government of Neville Bolger and Headmistress Shipley was still in power because they were so bad, and our criticisms of them so savage.

    No one then could have claimed that "we support policies they support" or anything even close to vice versa.

    I agree with you that "there is a significant segment of well-meaning, intelligent right-wing people who are not beyond reason," and while I'm criticising their enemy and they are in agreement I hope I can persuade them at the same time to be more principled in their opposition, and more freedom-loving in their own policy positions.

    And I would say the same about any well-meaning, intelligent people who visit here who identify as left-wing.

  5. I see that the Green Party occupy the 'West-Wing' on that diagram. Does the White House know that the Greens are after all pro-American since they had always occupy the West-Wing.


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