Libertarianism: Left or right?

by Sean Gabb

Sean Gabb, speaking to the Manchester Liberty League on the 2nd December 2011.

Points made:

In early 19th century England, radical liberals – who may be regarded as libertarians on account of their views – were often in sharp opposition to conservatives. As such, always allowing for the overall lack of meaning to the term, these people were on the “left.”

By the end of the 19th century, people holding the same views had often closely associated themselves with the conservatives.

The reason was that the growth of municipal socialism and the increasing volume of collectivist legislation – usually brought in by Liberals. The Liberty and Propery Defence League was set up by conservatives and classical liberals to resist this growth of statism; and our libertarian ancestors became identified, and identified themselves, as on the “right.”

This identification was completed by the state socialist revolution in Russia. Between 1920 and 1990, politics became a tug of war. You could choose your ideological views. Once this was chosen, however, you gave up all control over which end of the rope you would be pulling. You also gave up any choice of allies.

This has changed since the collapse of the Soviet Union. The tug of war is over. We are free at last to have a good look at our allies; and big business is not particularly libertarian. Actually existing capitalism is largely the economic wing of an exploitative ruling class. It benefits from limited liability laws, infrastructure subsidies, and tax and regulatory systems that favour large scale business.

Now that we no longer risk becoming useful idiots for the Communist Party, we should be reaching out to ordinary working people and explaining how big business and big government stand in their way.

So far as left and right have any real meaning, libertarians should align themselves on the left as well as on the right.

7 responses to “Libertarianism: Left or right?

  1. Neither, not either.

  2. “There is a spirit that has flourished from time to time amongst some of those in the Conservative Party that is far more libertarian than could ever be expected in Labour, unless that party were to go beyond the robust addressing of reality that occurred during Blair’s first few years in power, and that probably actually came from Alistair Campbell, whatever his world view, and Labour actually seriously committed itself to the truth.”

    Outspoken Rabbit? Outspoken Halfwit more like.

  3. Untruth displaces truth at the point where truth is compromised by some form of ideological certainty rather than fact.
    Rather dispute on a factual basis, Mr Ecks.

    (Perhaps there is a lack of clarity by me? In saying “that party” I was referring to Labour, not Tory.)

  4. Gentlemen, Gentlemen before we talk of Left and Right, Conservative or Liberal, and we do not want to compound the confusion there are some basics you must consider. More to follow.

  5. Gentlemen, Gentlemen before we talk of Left and Right, Conservative or Liberal, and we do not want to compound the confusion there are some basics you must consider. The terms Liberal and Conservative are subjective. It is possible for a liberal to support a conservative agenda. Additionally it is possible for a Conservative to adhere to a liberal agenda. Left and right are objective.

    The objectivity surfaces when you answer the question; “What does the Single Plane Left Right Political Spectrum Supposed to measure?” T he Single Plane Left Right Political Spectrum measure the power of government, the power to make decisions for businesses and individuals. Or the Liberty for businesses and individuals to make decisions for themselves.

    A liberal generally favors tax supported preschool. This is an increase in government power. A liberal also wants to legalize marijuana. That is a decrease in governmental power. A conservative generally favors a reduction of farm subsidies. This is a reduction of government. Conservatives want to government to prevent illegal immigration. This is an increase in governmental power.

    Libertarians always favor a reduction of governmental power, that is why libertarians oppose tax supported preschool, and criminalization of immigration, and oppose farm subsidies criminalization of drugs.

    Go through the things you favor and the things you oppose. If you always oppose governmental power you are advocating a move toward the right end of the political spectrum. If you favor increases in governmental power you are advocating a move toward the left end of the political spectrum .

    Extreme left is total government, and extreme right is no government. Everything in the Liberty Movement confirms that thesis. History substantiates it, and even our language corroborates it.

    Read more at l

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