Saturday, 31 January 2009

One of those irritating but have-to-do quizes...

Via Obnoxio, another one of those annoying quizes...

You are a right social libertarian.
Right: 7.23, Libertarian: 3.68

Apparently, I am a moderate libertarian - but with a neo-con twist :-)

Clearly, my pro-gay marriage, being able to say what you like about any ethnic group, etc. and violent video game but anti-abortion and pro-banging up criminals for life views completely fuck up their American-based 'Culture War' thingy though...

This has probably been debated to death on the interwebby, but what is it that makes someone a libertarian, i.e. what are 'core' libertarian views?

I would say:

- Belief in negative rights - free speech, freedom of association, all equal before the law, etc. This includes proper punishment for those who infringe those rights, not 5 seconds of 'community service'.
- No such thing as 'positive' rights
- Belief in a small state
- Economic liberalism (which might mean regulation when markets fail, provided the government failure isn't even worse)

Clearly, not all would agree with me though:

- The Chicago School libertarians take what is a useful simplification for analytical purposes - that markets work - and make it into dogma. Whereas markets do sometimes fail. What is then important is whether state intervention can make it any better, without imposing massive costs or distortions, and without infringing basic liberties. I think that it can in some cases.
- Some also have some slightly mad (in my view) opinions on returning to the gold standard and the like. I like to think that I'm radical, but... Basically, human psychology means that wages can't easily drop - they're not sufficiently flexible. So we're stuck with some inflation as the price...
- Many libertarians dislike /hate my more interventionist views with regard to foreign policy, e.g. in principle, I support the intervention in Afghanistan, although we're fucking it up somewhat...
- It is very difficult to deal with irrational individuals, particularly Islamists who want to make the UK into an Islamic state, by force - I tend to feel that they should go live in an Islamist country and leave us alone; whereas a classic libertarian would allow them to live here and simply imprison those who commit crimes. My problem with this is that I don't think a rational approach works with people who cannot be appealed to with reason;
- Most libertarians rather idealistically believe in open borders - I don't think this is practical in a world where most countries don't practice this and there are such disparities of wealth.

Still, libertarianism's a broad church... isn't it? :-)

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