Why There’s a Left-Right Divide among Libertarians
Amid the sociocultural convulsions and boutique displays of urban anarcho-tyranny that have taken place in America in recent months, there has been renewed discussion within certain circles of the liberty movement about how appropriate it is for libertarians and their intellectual brethren to self-identify as “right-wing” or “left-wing.” While libertarianism itself, which merely requires adherence to the nonaggression principle (NAP) and a desire to minimize or abolish state power, need not be considered a “right-wing” or “left-wing” political philosophy, I contend (from a decidedly right-wing perspective) that individual libertarians are almost certainly on the right or on the left.
All too often, libertarian infighting and internecine squabbles come across as mere navel gazing, with many mainstream libertarians—especially Libertarian Inc.—insisting that they have heroically transcended the old left-right spectrum. (Strangely enough, some libertarians seem to believe that this spectrum primarily pertains to red/blue politics.) Nevertheless, in recent months there have been some important conversations touching upon rights, human nature, the left-right spectrum, and what being a libertarian actually means. These conversations have taken place on podcasts such as Dave Smith’s Part of the Problem, Free Man Beyond the Wall, and The Tom Woods Show, among others.
I believe that these conversations are quite useful, as they might help convince some libertarians to abandon the hackneyed idiocy of defining and summing up the movement as “economically conservative but socially liberal.” It is a cheap cop-out, and individual libertarians should not shy away from accepting a “right-wing” or “left-wing” label; in fact, attempting to do so is an exercise in futility.
Stripped down to its very core, being right-wing entails a defense of natural hierarchies and a recognition that human beings are not all the same. This is consonant with thinkers from Aristotle all the way through the “revolutionary” leaders of the American War for Independence. Thomas Jefferson—admittedly not typically cited as a right-winger—voiced this sentiment in a letter to John Adams:
Article from Mises Wire