Saturday, January 16, 2010

Why Do I Call This Place "Right-Wing"?

It's kinda funny, especially since I personally avoid labels like liberal, conservative, libertarian, and right-wing.  In different times and different places I might be called any one of these, but I reluctantly chose right-wing for several reasons:

1:  While I'd prefer to call myself a liberal, "liberal" doesn't mean now what it meant only forty or fifty years ago.  "Classical liberal" is something I might call myself if I weren't worried about how snotty it sounds.  "Liberal" today is synonymous with left-wing, socialist, big-government, atheist, etc.  It used to mean that you believed in human freedom.  Now it means that you believe in government crushing those freedoms for the sake of "social justice."

2:  Conservative is even worse.  What is it I want to conserve?  Not enough to warrant being called one.  It means different things depending on where you are.  A conservative in China would be a communist.  Plus, I spend a lot of time arguing with self-described conservatives and I don't think I have a lot in common with them beyond being staunchly pro-life.

3:  Libertarian comes closest, and I'd use it more often if only there weren't so many wackos and anti-authoritarians who usurped it from us decent libertarians.  Fewer Ron Pauls, Art Bells, Lew Rockwells, and more Friedmans, Hayeks, and Sowells, I say.  Plus, I prefer to make my arguments for political and economic policy on pragmatic bases without resorting to subjective positions about rights or freedom.  If I'm against something, I want to show objectively why it produces bad results, not just because it offends my value system.  For example, when attacking minimum wage, I don't want to resort to arguments about the rights of employers and employees, rather I'd first want to talk about how minimum wages raise unemployment rates, in case I'm talking with somebody who isn't big on rights.  Also, some people are confused about what a libertarian is, they confuse us with libertines--not the same thing.

4:  Right-wing is even worse, but it's more familiar than libertarian.  Right-wing often has a militaristic context to it, or even a fascist one depending on who you're talking to.  "Left-wing" is a much more consistent term.  I hear people described as "right-wing" who don't agree with me on much.  People as completely dissimilar as Milton Friedman and Hitler have been described as "right-wing," bizarrely.  But I find "right-wing" a good starting point, and people really want to have a label to pin on you before they even listen to you, I find.  That's why I also call the place "re-birth," I think we need to change our thinking.  I want people to think "libertarian" when they hear "right-wing," not "fascist" or "militarist," and I want people to know what "libertarian" really means and what it's all about.

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