What do “left” and “right” really mean in a political context? Where did those terms come from? Are libertarians “left” or “right” or neither? For that matter, what do the terms “conservative” and “liberal” mean? Are libertarians “conservative,” are they “liberal,” or are they something else?
Modern libertarianism sprung from a reaction to the New Deal and has been linked to conservatism or “the right” ever since. But while right-wing conservatives may have been allies in opposition to the Roosevelt regime, they are not libertarians or anything close to it, and every once in a while, the truth about right-wing conservatism is exposed.
“…by definition … the best form of government … is a compassionate monarchy — a monarchy that loves and respects its citizens and … is able to make easy decisions without the weight of a bureaucracy.”
These are not the words of Hugo Chavez or David Duke or Robert Mugabe, but of U.S. congressman, John Shimkus (R-IL). According to Shimkus, monarcy is “by definition” the “best form of government” — so long as it is “compassionate” and “loves … its citizens.” If this doesn’t describe Big Brother, I don’t know what does.
Are right-wing conservatives for limited government? Of course not! They are for the least limited government known to man — monarchy — which is essentially the same as the religious dictatorship of the Taliban (also a “right-wing conservative regime”), since monarchs rule under the divine right of kings. “Conservative” Shimkus is not concerned with limited government when he advocates monarchy specifically on the basis of its ability to “make easy decisions without the weight of a bureaucracy” — i.e. without the checks and balances the founding fathers wrote into our Constitution.
But back to the original point: The terms “left” and “right,” as used to describe someone’s position on the political axis date back to pre-Revolutionary France. The monarchists — who were for ulimited government and central planning — sat on the right side of parliment; while the “radicals” — who were for limited-government democracy and laissez-faire capitalism — sat on the left. The inversion of these terms is Orwellian on the level of “slavery is freedom,” and something similar has happened to the definitions of conservative and liberal.
“Broadly speaking, liberalism emphasizes individual rights and equality of opportunity. A liberal society is characterized by freedom of thought for individuals, limitations on power, the rule of law, the free exchange of ideas, a market economy, free private enterprise, and a transparent system of government in which the rights of all citizens are protected. In the 21st century, this usually means liberal democracy with open and fair elections, where all citizens have equal rights by law.”
This is the definition of “liberalism” that the rest of the world uses.
Most countries have three political schools of thought:
- Big-government, nationalist conservatism
- Big-government, “labour” socialism
- Limited-government, pro-market liberalism
We wanted the liberals to defeat the Communists in Russia, just as we now want the liberals to defeat theocracy in Iran. Domestically, right-wing police-statists have turned the word liberal on its head, and left-wing nanny-statists have been happy to claim the liberal legacy of freedom as their own — but “liberal” Democrats are not liberal democrats, and they don’t deserve the distinction of “liberal.”
Milton Friedman insisted he was a liberal and refused to be called a conservative. F.A. Hayek even wrote a chapter specifically titled “Why I’m Not a Conservative.” “Libertarian Republicans” think “libertarian” is a euphamism for truly right-wing-conservative Republicans, but true libertarians are the proper heirs of classical liberalism and hold both conservatism and socialism in equal contempt as the enemies of liberty and human progress that they are.