As a libertarian (or at least that’s what fans and critics alike call me), I’m placed squarely in the middle of the left-right spectrum. That’s what they assume, at least. Conventional wisdom leads one to the belief that a libertarian is socially tolerant and fiscally conservative. It is exactly the platform that Libertarian Presidential candidate Gary Johnson ran on – he agreed with both sides some of the time. He was “in the middle”.
Libertarians, the hardcore libertarians, HATED this because they saw their ideology being dumbed down and diluted. Libertarians actually reject the left/right paradigm and do not see themselves just as somewhere in the middle. In fact, the middle is actually the worst of both sides. Do not confuse libertarians with moderates.
A moderate is someone who wants increased government control both in the social sphere as well as the foreign policy sphere. Libertarians reject this, seeing government interference in almost every regard as having unintended consequences. Many of those consequences are foreseen by the honest and consistent libertarian mind, but are lost by those in power and by those who succumb to the propaganda of special interest groups.
Instead, what libertarians want is smaller government in every arena. When government disrupts the mechanisms of the free market here in the United States, we see this and call for the state to stay out of commerce and all of people’s affairs. Unlike neo-conservatives, libertarians also sense the overwhelming backlash that comes for government interfering in international affairs. The principle of allowing the individual to conduct his life holds true not just for domestic interactions, but also for international interactions.
All of this said, I must say that I prefer arguing and conversing with conservatives far more than liberals, although I agree with each on some individual issues. I prefer an intellectual argument over an emotional one. Conservatives tend towards intellectual arguments, but this is not always the case, and is increasingly rarely the case in our Donald Trump driven times. Too many conservatives have had their own ideology co-opted by the collectivist right – people who want government to do what they want, as opposed to what the liberals want. In my mind, the alt-right, and the collectivist-right, are not even conservatives in the first place.
We Needs Libertarians Now!
This is why America, and the entire world, really, need libertarian theory more now than ever. Unfortunately, during the times of Nazi Germany and fascist Italy and Spain, horrible individuals were identified, but the ideology they followed was not. We correctly pointed at men like Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini at horrible individuals, but somehow we forgot what kinds of economic and social doctrines they operated under.
These men were horrible. Beyond horrible. BUT, what drove them?
They were driven by what has today re-identified as economic nationalism. Their pursuits were ones where government worked alongside business to grow their GDP, regardless of how this squelched the freedom for the individual. In Germany, the individual meant nothing. The individual was here to give himself for his nation, and not to think for himself. Remember that it was under these circumstances that Ludwig von Mises fled Germany, foreseeing that the end was coming.
What we are seeing now is a remerging of the collectivist-right; a group of people who hate communism, but still wish to crush the individual in sacrifice for the group.
Jeffrey Tucker wrote in 2015 for Newsweek,
Since World War II, the ideology [Trump] represents has usually lived in dark corners, and we don’t even have a name for it anymore. The right name, the correct name, the historically accurate name, is fascism. I don’t use that word as an insult only. It is accurate.
Though hardly anyone talks about it today, we really should. It is still real. It exists. It is distinct. It is not going away. Trump has tapped into it, absorbing unto his own political ambitions every conceivable resentment (race, class, sex, religion, economic) and promising a new order of things under his mighty hand.
Immediately following the publication of Tucker’s article, he was met with the fiercest of blowback from members of the “right”. Anyone who would claim that Trump’s driving ideology is reminiscent of the collectivist-right of WWII Germany or Italy must be destroyed. Tucker wrote about this subject from a historical and intellectual point of view, not a emotional liberal one. Still, any criticism of Trump was met with severe hatred. Odd?
It is at times like this that libertarians must reaffirm the principles they have and use all of the evidence of history to destroy arguments both of the rabid SJW left, but also of the collectivist-right. One enemy leads us towards communism and destruction. The other leads us towards fascism and destruction. Stand firm, friends.
As libertarians we stand for the individual – his rights and his liberty. To give this up is give in to collectivism which is the main string that today holds the “left” and the “right” together.
Tim Preuss is the host of the Tim Preuss Podcast, available Monday-Friday on iTunes, the Liberty Radio Network, Talk America Radio, and everywhere else. More of his work is available at PreussPodcast.com.