January 9, 2005 Leave a comment
“Given the increasingly troublesome nature of what is known as the right wing of the political spectrum, many libertarians have recently pondered the idea of opening up to the left … A major roadblock to such outreach is the realm of semantics.”
The Libertarian Critter has a powerful post this weekend. I recommend it both to open-minded leftists and to libertarians of my own paleoliberal persuasion. (And not just because the critter plugs one of my articles and one of my blog posts, both on this same issue of communicating with the Left.)
You should read his whole post, but I’ll give some fine excerpts here:
While many libertarians are quick to dismiss such criticism by correctly stating that such people are lacking in economic literacy, something needs to be done aside from just telling people to go read some Mises or Rothbard. There needs to be an attempt to forge dialogue that is sensitive to the language used by different groups.
There are some libertarians who will always defend any corporation simply because they view critics as being anti-capitalists who wish to regulate the market to death. A far better approach would be to explain what the root of the problem is (government privilege and intervention) and apply it to the criticisms that lefties may have.
No matter how removed their actual policies are from promoting free enterprise, conservatives continue to use free market rhetoric. This seems to serve two functions: it dupes conservative minded people into supporting Republicans who use such rhetoric, and it serves to vilify the notion of free enterprise amongst the left.
The fact that the modern right uses such rhetorical deception of an Orwellian nature is yet another reason why libertarians need to look leftward if they want the message of liberty to blossom in the future.
The swastika is a symbol that used to have a universally positive meaning, rooted in spirituality and found in many different cultures. The Nazis latched on to this symbol and tarnished it. As far as I’m concerned, those who falsely equate corporate socialism with “free markets” are tarnishing that term in a similar manner.
[Quoting Cat Farmer:]
The “free market” (as I define it) is the ebb and flow of transactions that occur peacefully between people who have choices, and voices. It does not mean freedom for monstrous people-eating corporations to prey freely on a captive workforce; it means freedom for people to interact without coercion.
Now there’s a definition that could make lefties reconsider free market ideas.
While we’re on the topic, I’ll do a little more self-promotion:
I maintain a glossary of relevant terms (a libertarian anarchist dictionary, if you will) at BlackCrayon.com. It is an attempt to make sure a visitor to the site knows what I mean by what I say.
I address the subject of communicating principles and positions more generally (with both Left and Right, although it may seem my aim is at the Left) in a piece that only appears to be about a more specific issue: