This was immediately amusing to me, as I have many Libertarian (large-L Libertarian?) friends and I don't very much agree with the priorities they seem to espouse.
But then I started thinking, I don't really know what this man said. Maybe I should do some research, and perhaps I'll discover whether I should be flattered, insulted, curious or intrigued.
Right now, I am at "intrigued".
As a very first step, I did an Internet search on the term "Libertarian", and pulled up a ton of references. Well, maybe not a "ton" because that's a physical measurement. How about "a slew"? Does 2,130,000 results count as "a slew"? I think it does.
I immediately discounted the official website of The Libertarian Party, and instead chose to look at this link. The Institute for Humane Studies - What Is Libertarian?
At this point I have something to work with, and without forming an opinion or making other searches ... and with NO idea where this will lead, I offer the following monologue which seems likely to generate a Geek-Length Post.
You have been warned, and if you aren't interested in either social or pholitical philosophy, this would be a good time for you to find the links in the sidebar and go read LAWDOG or MICHAEL BANE or some other much more readable writer. (Hint: Eschew The Smallest Minority. I love reading Kevin; he is a much more elegant writer, he does better research, but his articles are at least as long as mine.)
Okay, for the six of you who get past this point in the article, I refer back to The "What Is Libertarian" for the following quote:
Libertarianism is the view that each person has the right to live his life in any way he chooses so long as he respects the equal rights of others. Libertarians defend each person's right to life, liberty, and property-rights that people have naturally, before governments are created. In the libertarian view, all human relationships should be voluntary; the only actions that should be forbidden by law are those that involve the initiation of force against those who have not themselves used force-actions like murder, rape, robbery, kidnapping, and fraud.The source is cited as David Boaz, Libertarianism: A Primer, Free Press, 1997.
I chose this quote because all the other quotes talked about how "everyone should be free to do as they choose", but they didn't really pay a lot of attention to the limitations which must necessarily be considered.
The first limitation which came to mind for me was pedophilia.
We've all read the about the recent spate of prosecutions against people who take advantage of juveniles (priests and teachers are the current targets), and while some of the charges ("possessing pictures" depicting children in sexual situations) might seem to some to be pushing the edge of legal definitions, I understand that the intend is to go after the customers of pedophiles who seek to profit from their predation on children.
Anyway, I don't want to talk about pedophilia because it disgusts me. I want to talk about WHY it disgusts me, and more specifically why I think this is an important limitation on any of the more glib interpretations of Libertarianism.
Well, no, I don't even want to do that. I just want to establish that "...each person has the right to live his life in any way he chooses ..." is a valid statement of rights, but it is misleading without a balancing statement of acceptable limitations on human conduct.
Rape is a suitable exemplar, and that includes sexual activity with individuals who are not developmentally able to make an informed and rational judgement about acceptable behavior which others might inflict upon them. Enough said, we'll just keep this in the back of our minds so we don't go too far astray when we talk about what OUR rights are.
Getting back to the original question, why might I be considered a libertarian (small-l or Large-L)?
I suspect it's because I tend to be fairly independent, evaluating the appropriateness of my personal conduct on whether it meets my own moral code rather than that which might meet the moral code of someone else.
If I had to find a quick catch-phrase to summarize it, I would first be tempted to cite Gretta Garbo who, in the 1932 film "Grand Hotel" famously said "I want to be alone".
But that's not really true. I don't want to be alone. I just want to run my own life.
Which brings us to the Jonathan Edwards song "SUNSHINE", in which he sings:
"He can't even run his own life, I'll be damned if he'll run mine"!
Sunshine go away today,
I don't feel much like dancin'
Some man's gone, he's tried to run my life
Don't know what he's askin'
He tells me I'd better get in line
Can't hear what he's sayin'
When I grow up, I'm gonna make it mine
These ain't dues I been payin'
How much does it cost? I'll buy it.
The time is all we've lost. I'll try it.
He can't even run his own life,
I'll be damned if he'll run mine
Okay, that sums it up for me.
So what does that have to do with Libertarianism (or libertarianism)?
Dang, this is getting hard.
Let's go to the Politopia website ("The Land of Custom-Made Government") and take their quiz:
I haven't taken this quiz, so while you wait I'll take it now and see how I measure up to Big-L Libertarianism:
DURING THE TEST:
Like many tests, there are 5 levels of possible multiple-choice responses available. I'm not happy with all of them.
The war on drugs? Well, it's not working ... but I'm reluctant to say that the government should make all drugs legal, including Heroin. I chose "legalize Marijuana but maintain restrictions on (hard) drugs" such as heroin. I'm not comfortable with my decision, but I don't know what alternatives I would choose. I see that countries in Europe have removed all restrictions on drugs, and while citizens are shooting up in public parks and dying for it, other countries make drug use a capital crime and people are dying for it. What's the difference?
Welfare? Most of it seems to be "bread and circuses writ large", and should be abolished. Still, some people just can NOT earn their own living, and should we throw them to the wolves? Choice "D" instead of "E" (which I presume to be the Big-L Libertarian choice.)
Corporate Welfare? Governmental support of essential industries, forgiveness on violation of environmental regulations, are often necessary to maintain these industries. I'm looking at coal-fired plants which SHOULD incorporate the maximum environmental protections on pollutant discharges ... but if they did, they would be unable to continue providing vital products. Example: gasoline sells at three dollars a gallon now, and with the damage to off-shore oil refineries in 2005, or current fuel production is down from the 2004 levels although consumption is up. We are reduced to buying fuels from foreign sources. How many new oil refineries have been built in the past five years? Zero, zip, zilch, none, nada. This is the fault of the greedy oil industry? I think it's the fault of short-sighted governmental regulations which put too much emphasis on environmental regulations and not enough emphasis on providing affordable fuel to the truck which haul lettuce into New York City.
It's not a simple question, and the answer must fall somewhere between the extremes.
Obscene, indecent and discriminatory speech:
McCaine-Feingold restrictions on political commentary immediately before an election
obscenities on television as my grandchildren are watching.
As far as I'm concerned, the grandchildren are going to hear it all on the schoolground. I would rather they watch pornography between consenting adults than watch "In Cold Blood".
I would prefer they see neither, but I consider sex less "pornographic" than casual bloodshed.
Remember the "keep this in the back of our minds" prescription I mentioned earlier.
Taxation: I'm surpised, given the alternatives, that I voted for maintaining the current level of taxation.
But given the alternatives, a zero-percent tax is just flat not acceptable. We have to pay for services guaranteed in the Constitution, which include homeland defense.
Yes, I think we pay too much in taxes. No, I don't know any other way to maintain military vigilence.
B: Increase regulations to allow only select few immigrants in the country.
I feel strongly about this subject. I DO want my country to pay close attention to who comes into my country, why, and whether they can contribute as much as they take out of The System.
This is probably the widest varient between Large-L Libertarianism and me.
In a map which includes "Free Markets" in the North, "More Governmental Contol" in the South, "More Personal Freedom" in the West, and "Fewer Personal Freedoms" in the East, my Libertarian Quotient is:
NW-You would feel most at home in the Northwest region. You advocate a large degree of economic and personal freedom. Your neighbors include folks like Ayn Rand, Jesse Ventura, Milton Friedman, and Drew Carey, and may refer to themselves as "classical liberals," "libertarians," "market liberals," "old whigs," "objectivists," "propertarians," "agorists," or "anarcho-capitalist.
I have no idea what these catch-phrases mean.
I May Not Be Just Like NW:
On The Map, I find myself associated most closely to Drew Carey.
Who knows for sure what his politics are? (Well, you may know, but I don't watch a lot of television but I always liked his TV show and I strongly approve of "Whose Line Is It Anyway?".)
I'll reject the implication that I'm "Just Like Drew Carey", because I don't want to be "Just Like" anybody.
Ayn Ryan is up in Far NW Country. I remember reading her while I was in college, in the 1960's ... just before I graduated from college, and just before I was drafted and sent to Viet Nam. I discovered (two years later) that I didn't much care Who Is John Gault, as it seemed a sophomoric "in joke". I haven't changed my mind since then, because frankly too many of my classmates seemed to be letting Ayn (I can't even say that name) do their thinking for them.
Reading the website I linked to under her name, I find I don't necessarily agree to the embedded synopsis that "Ayn Rand was a truculent, domineering cult-leader, whose Objectivist pseudo-philosophy attempts to ensnare adolescents with heroic fiction about righteous capitalists."
Hey, she had some good things to say. I didn't believe in everything she espoused, but she presented some good arguments at the time and if I could remember what they were, I might even agree with them today!
Well, perhaps not ALL of them.
Let's look at who I am NOT like, for a comparison.
I am not just like NE: Rush Limbaugh.
Okay, I listen to him from time to time and (although I've never been able to sit through an entire show) he's a fine entertainer. I agree with some of what he says, I disagree with some of what he says, so perhaps that means I think for myself. Definately, I'm not willing to accept The Bush Administration at its word, although I suspect I agree more with official Bush Administration Policy than the average American.
I am not just like SW: Jesse Jackson
I do not like Jesse Jackson, Sam I Am. This makes me happy. I don't care about his race, I care about his apparant proclivity to use The Race Card to extort Corporate America. I feel much more affinity to Larry Elder than Jesse Jackson, and I think this makes me A Better American.
Surprisingly, Jackson is the only occupant of the Libertarian SW,
I am not just like SE:
Uh, well, the South East of Libertarian Country is occupied by some Not Nice People.
The Not Nice People in Libertarian SE include:
I'm not going to put too much emphasis on this quadrant of the Libertarian Map, because I suspect it was manipulated.
Hitler murdered milliions of his citizens, and citizens of other countries, for political (expansionist) reasons.
Stalin murdered millions of his citizens, and who knows how many citizens of other countries, for political (nationalist) reasons.
Franklin Delano Rosevelt was considered a Traitor To His Classby Robber Barons, Tycoons, Limosine Liberals of the 30's and 40's, and East Coast Elitists of the same era because he provided Federal assistance to The Little People (farmers, laborers) during that timeframe. He also led our country through most of the Second World War, when much of the East Coast Intelligentia would have preferred that he ignore the plight of the average citizen in Europe and The Pacific Rim, because his solutions included an imperative for The Moneyed Class to help the Little People survive The Great Depression. His methods may have been as arbitrary as Hitler and Stalin, but they served to alleviate, rather than promulgate, the starvation and other dramatic exploitation of a national underclass (in Stalin's case, both the Bourgoise and the Peasantry) which typified his apparent Fellow Travelers.
John Kerry is a dork. During his run for the Presidency, he provided no readily definable political platform. He said whatever he thought would be most readily acceptable to the Focus Groups which he used to define his political platform, and apparently even they didn't know what his position was on any given political agenda.
The most plitically believable website I could find in his favor was http://www.johnkerryisadouchebagbutimvotingforhimanyway.com/
Translated, that is "john kerry is a douche bag but I'm voting for him anyway.com/
This isn't a vote FOR a political position; it's a vote AGAINST his opponent, for reasons of peronality.
Kerry lost. Apparently, his opponent had a personality (whether we like it or not), but Kerry's perceived personality was a non-runner.
Stalin and Hitler may possibly be appropriately placed into this quadrant of "SE" (fewer governmental freedoms; more governmental control of the economy) for a historical reason.
The inclusion of FDR into this quadrant seems a mix of "political expediency" and "just bad manners".
The inclusion here of Kerry may be a combination of "because he's a dork" and "we couldn't find a more evil quadrant, so he's right up there with Stalin and Hitler".
Until Libertarians present some kind of justification for the inclusion of FDR and Kerry with Stalin and Hitler, I'm assuming that they're just being rude to people they don't like so they're bunching them (FDR and Kerry) together with other people who NOBODY likes (Stalin and Hitler) in a fit of pique.
Libertarians are human, and are subject to subjective evaluations based on emotional reactions to circumstances which are filtered through their own belief systems. I don't know how "small-l libertarian" I am, but I'm glad that I'm not rated a "Large-L Libertarian" based on this egregious and arbitrary mode of evaluation.
Okay, so the Libertarian Test may not be a valid description of Large-L Libertarians.
I get that they don't like Stalin and Hitler.
I get that they don't like Kerry, although I hesitate to compare him to the Dynamic Duo (even though much more "centrist" than they.
The thing I do NOT get is that they equate Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who can only be defined as a strong leader in a time of Troubles (WWII, The Great Depression), as their equivalent.
As far as I know, FDR was not inclined to minipulate the slaughter by starvation or Death Camp of his fellow citizens. He was just trying to find work for those Americans who couldn't get a job.
And Kerry wasn't doing anything more than trying to find a opposing political position to Bush. Since Bush had the Moral High Ground pretty well wrapped up, Kerry was left with ... "I'm Against Bush!" It's a difficult political position to defend, and while I don't think Kerry was able to defend it, he was just trying to oppose a political position which included defending Amrerica against Islamofascist aggression. I can't imagine anything more that he could do, and it's a wonder that he performed so well in the polls.
He doesn't deserve to be compared to Stalin and Hitler, and including FDR in this same 'quadrant' is just displaying the other side of the same coin: FDR was a Strong Leader when one was needed, and since George W Bush is not included in the same Quadrant (in fact, the Libertarians seem to consider him just barely North of "Centrist"), anything south of his political position is entirely reasonable.
Well, perhaps not reasonable in abolutist terms, but reasonable in political terms. What choice had Kerry but to oppose Bush?
Perhaps I'm guilty of trying to see all sides to any political question, but if this Libertarian test is an approprate measure of Libertarianism, I reject it totally.
The test is biased, predictable, and the conclusions are very much weighted toward predetermined indices.
I have no choice to accept it as a valid measure of Libertarian politics, which might be an unjust evaluation. Still, I accept it.
I have no wish to be considered a "Large-L Libertarian", and not much motive to accept a measure of "small-l libertarianism".
Perhaps the Libertarians of the world find this test to be as egrigiously biased as I do, but until that becomes crystal clear to me, I can only express my "libertarianism" in the words of Faye Dunaway portraying Joan Crawford in "Mommie Dearest":
"Don't Fuck With Me, Fellas!"