Left-right? Thick-thin?

By Nathan Barton

Mama Liberty wrote: I am still trying to understand this left, right, thick/thin idea of libertarianism. If the non-aggression principle is the center, a great deal of all that other is bogus nonsense… but they can believe anything they want, of course. 🙂

I originally responded: I don’t have the foggiest about the “thick-thin” business myself.  But I think the left-right has to do with the Nolan chart and minarchists: people can be 80-80 or 90-90 “libertarian” but be biased to the left (more personal liberty, less economic liberty) or right (more economic liberty, less personal liberty).  Probably an argument that we anarchist free-market types (100-100?) don’t really have to worry about, since we believe in all liberty, all the time. As long as my fist doesn’t intersect your nose or vice-versa.

But I also get the idea that the “left-libertarians” share some things with the Tranzis that are (to my way of thinking) not libertarian at all.  One of these is the idea that it is not enough to tolerate people’s personal actions and beliefs (especially considering sexual mores and matters such as abortion).  You must “affirm” and promote their beliefs and actions. It is not enough to say, “they can believe what they want to,” but rather we are supposed to say, “What you believe is just as good, or better, than what I believe. And I will advocate not just for your right to believe it and act upon it, but I will advocate that what you believe and do is better and more acceptable for society and people in general than what I believe and do.”  

Based on that concept, Gary Johnson’s otherwise inexplicable advocacy of government cracking down on bakers and others who refuse to make products supporting so-called homosexual marriages, he must be something of a left-libertarian.  Others of that ilk seem to  get upset when folks like me don’t buy into the whole “government redefines words to mean what the popular will (or the loudest screechers) say it should be” business – like marriage and rights to this or that – like medical care.

Mama’s Note: A topic for another time, but even so-called “libertarians” are often confused about this business of “rights.” I think we need to speak of our natural AUTHORITY over ourselves and our choices. As with so many other words, “rights” don’t mean what they did originally. It so often boils down now to entitlements, provided for parasites via theft and coercion, instead of the natural rights long recognized. Life, liberty, property and self defense – negative rights which each individual must claim and defend for themselves.

Maybe I’m reading too much into it.  Maybe they are all true-blue lovers of liberty, where the only disagreement is how much government we can tolerate.  (Not that differing views on that topic constitutes a minor concern.)

Or maybe some of us are playing the rest of us, using their libertarian philosophy as an excuse for their addictions, perversions, and hobby-horses. Yes, I know that is a story that many of us have heard before – and have even been accused of, ourselves.  We don’t want other people to tell us what to do, but we can’t provide the discipline we need for our own lives. License instead of liberty.

Except, of course, for the vast majority of libertarians, that just isn’t true. (At least I like to think so.)  Even when they come across as these left-leaning libertarian types, when you look at their lives, their actions, and all their words, they do not SEEM to be playing this sort of game. They really are “live and let live” sorts of people.

But maybe I am just being a Pollyana.

All too often, I read something or hear something from someone claiming to be “libertarian,” in which they seem to state that it is okay to coerce people; to FORCE everyone to do something that these people believe is “libertarian.”  I  hasten to point out it is not only left-leaning “libertarians” that do this – some “right-leaning” so-called libertarians do as well. William Weld, (who claimed to be a libertarian and probably fits in the “right-leaning” category) with his outrageous statements about guns might be a recent example.  Just as might people who claim to be libertarian and then go on to state how people should be FORCED to buy and have guns, or forced to allow people to carry guns into their businesses.)

Now don’t get me wrong.  I do NOT believe that “aggression” or “force” is involved when someone is “forced” to hear a street preacher (or a libertarian candidate) as they happen to walk by on the sidewalk within hearing distance.  But I DO believe it is both aggression and force when a person is prevented from speaking on a street corner because someone else’s “right” to not be “offended” or “bothered” or because “having to hear” someone saying something that we don’t like supposedly constitutes a “governmental endorsement” of what is being said.  And particularly when someone uses (or is or becomes) government to prevent this “violation” against being offended or bothered.

But however this left- and right-leaning business is supposed to work, I cannot for the life of me see how anyone who claims to be an anarchist can be identified (self- or not) as left or right leaning.  Fine for minarchists to do that (which further prejudices me against them). But we true anarchists think that humans deserve to have liberty in both social and economic matters – that government has no more business dictating marriage and what you drink (or don’t) than it has dictating what you can buy or whom you can buy services from or whether you should be free from the slavery of taxes.  It is clean and simple and easy to understand – even if it is an ideal we may never achieve.  It isn’t hypocritical or swarmy or self-serving to say “I believe that government is evil and even though I have to deal with it and accept what it does, I will still work to get rid of it.”

Putting it a different way:

I believe that drinking alcoholic beverages for pleasure or taking recreational drugs (for pleasure) is wrong.  I believe that marriage is not between two men, or between two women, or between four women and X number of men.  And I believe that a dog only has four legs and that the thing sticking out in back is a tail, not a fifth leg.  But if you believe (and practice) the opposite: that marriage can be between a woman and a swan or a man and a sheep or six different genders all in a lump, or that, by golly, that dog has five legs, well, more power to you!  I will defend your right to be (IMHO) that stupid.  As long as you don’t try to FORCE me to believe that is marriage or a fifth leg, or use that irrational and bizarre belief of yours in some way to harm me and mine physically or financially.

(By the way, even with all the reading and thought I’ve given this over the past three months, I am STILL at a total loss of what thick-thin is supposed to mean.  Is it “blood is thicker than water?” Not a clue.

Mama’s Note: I don’t know either, Nathan, and furthermore just don’t care anymore. I’m sick and tired of all the labels and the impositions of this PC insanity. There are two kinds of people… despite the plethora of labels and definitions. Some people want to control other people, to one extent or another – by one means or another. The rest of us don’t – and are content to control our own lives and property, no matter what we call ourselves. I am not a “libertarian” of any kind. I’m a self owner, self responsible, and willing to cooperate with people who have similar integrity and goals – whatever they call themselves.

About tpolnathan

Follower of Christ Jesus (christian), Pahasapan, Westerner, Lover of Liberty, Free-Market Anarchist, Engineer, Army Officer, Husband, Father, Historian, Writer.
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