I am not a “left libertarian” for the exact same reason I am not a “right libertarian”.

Regardless of claims to the contrary, “left” and “right” are incompatible with liberty.

Some months ago I ran across this: Why I Am a Left Libertarian. As I often do with things that attempt to revive the zombie of “right vs left” I shrugged and promptly forgot it.

But, recently someone brought it to my attention again and asked me to address it.

So, I will.

I know a lot of people who call themselves “left libertarians” hark back to the origins of the idea of political “right vs left” to show why libertarianism is always of the “left”. But I point back to those origins to demonstrate exactly why I am neither.

And here, taken from that column, is the important point:

“…it was in the French Legislative Assembly in the fall of 1791 that the terms Right and Left were first used in this political sense. As the Durants tell it, when the assembly convened, the ‘substantial minority dedicated to preserving the monarchy. . .occupied the right section of the hall, and thereby gave a name to conservatives everywhere.’ The liberals, meanwhile, ‘sat at the left.'”

Did you see that? Here it is again:

“Some fifty-odd years later, after another French Revolution (the one that took place in 1848) had unseated the last French king, Louis Philippe, the same seating arrangement was revived for the newly elected legislative assembly of the Second Republic. As has often been noted, two of the newly elected legislators who sat together on the left side of that assembly in 1848 and 1849 were the free market economist and publicist for free trade Frederic Bastiat and Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, the first man ever to publicly declare himself an anarchist.”

Do you see the problem?
“Right” and “left” are notions reserved for those who want to govern you, or at least play the governing game. Maybe they want to govern you toward liberty, but they are still working to use government- the enemy of Rightful Liberty- to free you. How is that working out?
If you fall for the idea of “right” and “left” you aren’t nearly as liberated as you could be. There is authoritarianism, also known as bullying, and there is libertarianism- also known as self-ownership, or “everything voluntary”. No government involved. Liberty is not of the “right” or “left”. It is superior to the methods of those who would govern- the tactics of the bullies.

So, call yourself what you want, but I am not a part of the “Left” nor of the “Right”.

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9 Responses to “”

  1. sofa Says:

    … besides which, the terms “left” and “right” refer to differing actions of govts over time. Terminolgy whiplash. Within a single presidency, what proponents declared as right is then accepted as left and versa visa. Temporary distinctions with the same objective: control over slaves. Double-plus ungood.

    Excellent article.
    Liberty and Volunteerism.
    Or Statism, and Enforcers, and Slavery.

  2. sofa Says:

    What do the terms mean anymore?
    Your example:
    Bastiat = personal property, free markets
    Bernie = state control, enforcers
    What is Left or Right?
    Locke, Jefferson, Bastiat, Spooner?
    Marx, Stalin, Mao, Franco, Bernie?
    Left-Right: Just propoganda phrases to get different people to support the same thing (more govt, less liberty).

  3. John Frederic Kosanke Says:

    This is why the underused Nolan Chart needs to be brought back into vogue. The left puts libertarians on the right. The right puts libertarians on the left. Libertarianism is both – and neither. It all depends on whether one is talking about person or property.

  4. Kent McManigal Says:

    I have my own little diagram: link

  5. Chuck McGlawn Says:

    Kent, you could not be more wrong. Not only wrong about the source, but to believe that any definition established in 1789/91 could maintain its meaning. If you had been on the planet long enough you would have learned and know that, The Single Plane Left Right Political Spectrum was not brought into use until much much later. I do not find any reference to a spectrum until the early 20th Century. Contemporary writers have used the facts surrounding the French National Assembly to designate the significance of the seating arrangement.

    If you would like “my spin” on how right means an advocate of less government. And my spin is no more conclusive than any of the others. In the 1840s Marx began calling his movement a “movement of the left” it may have had something to do with whom he viewed as his enemy. You will recall the landed nobility, were the exploiters of labor, and that “Religion is the opiate of the proletariat”. Remember, it is just an opinion. Regardless of why Marx chose the LEFT designation. Lenin and Trotsky continued to refer to Communism as a movement of the left. The name caught on and has been used ever since to describe Communism, Socialism and totalitarianism.
    Over the years the name spread to describe governments that were totalitarian, including the National Socialism of Hitler and Fascism of Mussolini. In the early 20th Century it included people who advocated a move toward more government, and the “Right” got its name and meaning merely by default.

    Now, stay with me here, if advocating more government (as Communism did) is “Left” and 100% government is the “extreme left”, then the advocacy of less government would have to be “Right” and 0% government would be the “extreme Right”, on the single plane political spectrum. Conveniently, the English Language, has words that substantiates this assertion. Please note, that 100% government and 0% government respectively are Totalitarianism (Note the word “total in totalitarian.), and Anarchy derived from the Greek meaning “no rule”.

    This is not just conjecture; gentle reader, nor is it just my opinion. An advocate of more government is not necessarily a communist but is calling for a move toward 100% government on the left. An advocate of less government is not an anarchist but is calling for a move toward 0% government on the right. (To be continued.)

  6. Chuck McGlawn Says:

    Continued from above.

    Confirmation of this hypothesis can be found in two articles by Murray Rothbard. According to early Murry Rothbard who wrote: In The Transformation of the American Right First published in Continuum, Summer 1964, pp. 220–231. Murray Rothbard correctly observed:
    “The modern American Right began, in the 1930's and 1940's, as a reaction against the New Deal and the Roosevelt Revolution, and specifically as an opposition to the critical increase of statism and state intervention…”

    Additionally, in “Confessions of a Right-Wing Liberal” published in 1969, Rothbard further observed:
    “All of our political positions, from the free market in economics to opposing war and militarism, stemmed from our root belief in individual liberty and our opposition to the state. Simplistically, [still quoting] we adopted the standard view, let me say that again. we adopted the STANDARD VIEW of the political spectrum: “left,” meant socialism, or total power of the state; the further ‘right’ one went[still quoting] the less government one favored. Hence, we called ourselves 'extreme rightists'.”

    You must be a little uncomfortable knowing that the first Political Platform of the libertarian Party was written by Murry Rothbard, an “Extreme Rightist”.

    Farther along in that same article Rothbard reinforced exactly what he meant when he said.
    “Originally, our historical heroes were such men as [Thomas] Jefferson, [Thomas] Paine, [John]Cobden and [Richard] Bright and [Herbert] Spencer. As our views became purer and more consistent, we eagerly embraced such near-anarchists as the voluntarist, Auberon Herbert, and the American individualist-anarchists, Lysander Spooner and Benjamin R. Tucker.” In other words as they became “purer” and more “consistent” in their Libertarian thinking there heroes were chosen from men that were closer to anarchy and 0% government of the right end of the spectrum.

  7. Chuck McGlawn Says:

    Continued from above.

    Confirmation of this hypothesis can be found in two articles by Murray Rothbard. According to early Murry Rothbard who wrote: In The Transformation of the American Right First published in Continuum, Summer 1964, pp. 220–231. Murray Rothbard correctly observed:
    “The modern American Right began, in the 1930's and 1940's, as a reaction against the New Deal and the Roosevelt Revolution, and specifically as an opposition to the critical increase of statism and state intervention…”

    Additionally, in “Confessions of a Right-Wing Liberal” published in 1969, Rothbard further observed:
    “All of our political positions, from the free market in economics to opposing war and militarism, stemmed from our root belief in individual liberty and our opposition to the state. Simplistically, [still quoting] we adopted the standard view, let me say that again. we adopted the STANDARD VIEW of the political spectrum: “left,” meant socialism, or total power of the state; the further ‘right’ one went[still quoting] the less government one favored. Hence, we called ourselves 'extreme rightists'.”

    You must be a little uncomfortable knowing that the first Political Platform of the libertarian Party was written by Murry Rothbard, an “Extreme Rightist”.

    Farther along in that same article Rothbard reinforced exactly what he meant when he said.
    “Originally, our historical heroes were such men as [Thomas] Jefferson, [Thomas] Paine, [John]Cobden and [Richard] Bright and [Herbert] Spencer. As our views became purer and more consistent, we eagerly embraced such near-anarchists as the voluntarist, Auberon Herbert, and the American individualist-anarchists, Lysander Spooner and Benjamin R. Tucker.” In other words as they became “purer” and more “consistent” in their Libertarian thinking there heroes were chosen from men that were closer to anarchy and 0% government of the right end of the spectrum.

  8. Kent McManigal Says:

    ^ And that is exactly why I completely reject the “right”/”left” distraction.
    Those who wish libertarianism to be of the “right” have all their justifications, and so do those who wish libertarianism to be of the “left”. It's harmful to liberty to try to squeeze it into either hole.

    Here's how I see it shape up: my view

  9. Paf Dvorak Says:

    This makes sense.

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