Justin du Coeur (jducoeur) wrote,
Justin du Coeur

Help me with a definition?

I need a concise term for "philosophical Libertarian", in contrast to "religious Libertarian". Because, y'know, I'm getting *really* tired of the two being lumped together.

I mean, I think that the fundamental Libertarian ideals are good ones. Unintrusive and small government, limited regulation, that kind of thing -- I think they're fine goals, and ones to shoot for. That said, I recognize that reality is complicated, and that there *is* a place for things like Government and Regulation and so on. I just treat them with the measure of suspicion they deserve, recognizing that they have costs as well as benefits.

But that's not what people seem to mean when they say "Libertarian" these days. An awful lot of people, mainly on the Left -- indeed, a lot of my friends, which is what sparked this particular soul-searching -- use the word in more or less exactly the same way that the Right uses the word "Liberal": with a definition of, "Those loonies on The Other Side who have completely lost touch with reality". Basically, in each case they've taken a few loudmouths who are out on the philosophic extremes, and who have turned reasonable philosophy into religion, and defined them as being the norm for "the other side".

It's an annoying redefinition of both words, and I'm cranky at both sides for playing such semantic-warfare games. But I also recognize that the word "Libertarian" has become as polluted with connotative rubbish as "Liberal" has, salting the earth under the word.

So what the hell *do* I call myself? The left went and renamed themselves "Progressives", to get around the destruction of the word "Liberal". What does a centrist with Libertarian philosophical leanings call himself, without painting a giant "Yes, I'm a Loony" target on himself?

(Yes, yes -- I am well familiar with the diatribe about labels and why we shouldn't need them. Fact is, words are useful: that's why we have them. Unfortunately, this one seems to be pretty thoroughly destroyed by now...)
Tags: politics

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