The Watering Hole, Saturday, July 13, 2013 – Not All Libertarians Are Alike

Before I begin I must say that this post would not have been possible without the aid of a great website called The Political Compass. I intend to quote directly from their website both to promote the website itself and to help educate all of us (including myself.) I hope they don’t mind.

From the website:

There’s abundant evidence for the need of it. The old one-dimensional categories of ‘right’ and ‘left’, established for the seating arrangement of the French National Assembly of 1789, are overly simplistic for today’s complex political landscape. For example, who are the ‘conservatives’ in today’s Russia? Are they the unreconstructed Stalinists, or the reformers who have adopted the right-wing views of conservatives like Margaret Thatcher?

On the standard left-right scale, how do you distinguish leftists like Stalin and Gandhi? It’s not sufficient to say that Stalin was simply more left than Gandhi. There are fundamental political differences between them that the old categories on their own can’t explain. Similarly, we generally describe social reactionaries as ‘right-wingers’, yet that leaves left-wing reactionaries like Robert Mugabe and Pol Pot off the hook.

Senator Randal Howard “Rand” Paul has been in the news lately because he hired someone who once made a living as a despicable character to work for him to be his director of new media. Senator Paul defended the hiring of Jack Hunter, saying that whether or not Hunter expressed white supremacist views in the past doesn’t matter because he himself (Paul) has never seen Hunter express any of those views. This is pretty weak because turning a blind eye to someone’s past is not something a United States Senator, who is, after all, a Public Servant, should do. Yes, what The Southern Avenger did was legal and constitutionally protected free speech, but that doesn’t mean you should reward him by giving him a job as an aide to a Senator. “The senator said he believed Hunter is ‘incredibly talented’ even if he doesn’t agree with things his aide wrote or said while working as a radio talk show host.” Tell us, Senator, were there equally qualified people out there who didn’t make public appearances wearing a mask emblazoned with the Confederate Flag (the flag of the army that killed more U.S. soldiers than all other armies combined), and who doesn’t think John Wilkes Booth’s heart was in the right place, or who whine and complain that white people can’t freely express themselves (I don’t want to link to Hunter’s site, but you can find it from some of the other links)? Why hire this guy? Senator Paul and Jack Hunter both say he doesn’t express views like that anymore, but that’s as far as anybody knows. Hunter also claims to be embarrassed by some of his past statements, which he also claims actually contradicted his true feelings. Yeah, people often say stuff like that when their past racist views are exposed. It doesn’t mean it was morally okay to publicly express those views, especially since you were doing it to make a buck. I mean, really, how long can you go around saying things you really don’t believe? In Hunter’s case it was more than a decade. And before he quit that gig to work for the Senator last year, he help co-write a book for Paul. The Senator wants us all to think that Hunter’s “act” was something from his youth. Hunter is 39 years old.

In addition to all of that, I’m sure you’ve heard about the Senator’s views on the Civil Rights Act. The Senator claims he abhors racism, but somehow feels it’s okay for a private establishment, even if it is open to the public, should not be legally barred from practicing discrimination based on race. No, Senator. If you abhor racism, then you cannot be okay with other people practicing it. And if you don’t bar it legally, they will do it. Look how long it took for states to start changing their voting laws to make it harder for non-whites to vote once the Supreme Court (in its infinite stupidity) struck down part of the Voting Rights Act.

Which brings me back to the point of this post- not all Libertarians are alike. Senator Paul and his Director of New Media are conservative libertarians. People like Nelson Mandela and Mohandas K. Gandhi are liberal libertarians. When you take the test at Political Compass, you are given a score that tells you where you rank on the liberal/conservative scale (-10 to +10) as well as on the libertarian/authoritarian scale (-10 to +10).

Back to the Political Compass:

In the introduction, we explained the inadequacies of the traditional left-right line.


If we recognise that this is essentially an economic line it’s fine, as far as it goes. We can show, for example, Stalin, Mao Tse Tung and Pol Pot, with their commitment to a totally controlled economy, on the hard left. Socialists like Mahatma Gandhi and Robert Mugabe would occupy a less extreme leftist position. Margaret Thatcher would be well over to the right, but further right still would be someone like that ultimate free marketeer, General Pinochet.

That deals with economics, but the social dimension is also important in politics. That’s the one that the mere left-right scale doesn’t adequately address. So we’ve added one, ranging in positions from extreme authoritarian to extreme libertarian.


Both an economic dimension and a social dimension are important factors for a proper political analysis. By adding the social dimension you can show that Stalin was an authoritarian leftist (ie the state is more important than the individual) and that Gandhi, believing in the supreme value of each individual, is a liberal leftist. While the former involves state-imposed arbitrary collectivism in the extreme top left, on the extreme bottom left is voluntary collectivism at regional level, with no state involved. Hundreds of such anarchist communities exisited (sic) in Spain during the civil war period

You can also put Pinochet, who was prepared to sanction mass killing for the sake of the free market, on the far right as well as in a hardcore authoritarian position. On the non-socialist side you can distinguish someone like Milton Friedman, who is anti-state for fiscal rather than social reasons, from Hitler, who wanted to make the state stronger, even if he wiped out half of humanity in the process.

The chart also makes clear that, despite popular perceptions, the opposite of fascism is not communism but anarchism (ie liberal socialism), and that the opposite of communism ( i.e. an entirely state-planned economy) is neo-liberalism (i.e. extreme deregulated economy)


The usual understanding of anarchism as a left wing ideology does not take into account the neo-liberal “anarchism” championed by the likes of Ayn Rand, Milton Friedman and America’s Libertarian Party, which couples social Darwinian right-wing economics with liberal positions on most social issues. Often their libertarian impulses stop short of opposition to strong law and order positions, and are more economic in substance (ie no taxes) so they are not as extremely libertarian as they are extremely right wing. On the other hand, the classical libertarian collectivism of anarcho-syndicalism ( libertarian socialism) belongs in the bottom left hand corner.

In our home page we demolished the myth that authoritarianism is necessarily “right wing”, with the examples of Robert Mugabe, Pol Pot and Stalin. Similarly Hitler, on an economic scale, was not an extreme right-winger. His economic policies were broadly Keynesian, and to the left of some of today’s Labour parties. If you could get Hitler and Stalin to sit down together and avoid economics, the two diehard authoritarians would find plenty of common ground.

Here’s where my scores ended up:
Economic Left/Right: -7.75
Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -7.85

So, as you can see, I’m a Libertarian, but a Liberal one, not a Conservative one like Senator Paul or his co-author, The Southern Avenger, Jack Hunter. But what about other people? Here’s where it gets interesting. (Okay, that’s a tacit admission that it may not have been particularly interesting up to this point.) Many of us on the left have complained not simply that President Barack Obama is not as liberal as we had hoped he would be, but that he’s no better than Mitt Romney would have been. Technically this is not accurate, for Romney is more conservative and authoritarian than Obama (despite his talk about “freedom”), but only slightly so. Check where Political Compass rated the presidential candidates in the 2012 election. Romney’s scores appear to be about a +7/+6.5 while Obama’s are only a slightly better (in this author’s opinion) +6/+6. As you can see, nowhere near being either Liberal or Libertarian. If you think that’s bad, check out where the European Union countries fall. All of them are in the Conservative/Authoritarian quadrant.

This is our daily open thread. Feel free to discuss RW Libertarians or any other topic you wish to discuss.

110 thoughts on “The Watering Hole, Saturday, July 13, 2013 – Not All Libertarians Are Alike

    • Rep. Dr. Cox is based in reality! How refreshing.
      It’s unfortunate he can’t talk common sense to the rocks that purport to be human and only have the ‘best interest’ of women when they vote to enslave when it comes to reproductive rights.

  1. I scored -9.5 and -6.15 — quite a bit further southwest than even Gandhi, looks like.

    Wonder if, say, Rand Paul and Paul Ryan would be further ‘northeast’ than Hitler? Wouldn’t surprise me at all

    • The absolute questions are easy because I either strongly agree or disagree. It’s the wishy-washy, “sometimes”, “usually” kind of questions that make me think how much I agree or disagree with them, and that tends to vary each time i take the test (which does change every so often, though how often I’m unsure.)

      For example, one question I got was “Military action that defies international law is sometimes justified.” I ended up strongly disagreeing with that because I realized leaving any room for doubt could lead to justifications of the military action in Iraq and Afghanistan. But, on the other hand, sometime (just sometimes) the one in the minority is right and the majority wrong. In the end I decided that we’re all on this planet together and we have to get along with each other, so when the International Community decides we should all not do something, we shouldn’t do it (especially if we sign treaties saying we agree.)

      • We seem to think a lot alike. I also ‘strongly disagreed’ with that military action statement. I thought it was an atrocity when Dubya did it in (to?) Iraq, and nothing has changed. Of course, I’d strongly support a global decision to make war of any kind in any place forever illegal on all grounds, but won’t hold my breath in anticipation.

  2. I’ve just been informed that I picked up two more followers on my blog, bringing my total to 50. Most of those (by far the vast majority) came after I started whoring my posts on The Twitter. 🙂

  3. Economic Left/Right: -8.00
    Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -7.08

    The questions may change but the values don’t.

  4. On NPR yesterday they had a sound bite from an obviously older white woman in Texas, who of course is anti-abortion (never call it pro-choice), and she had this eyerolling, hyperbolic statement about abortion: “We’re killing off the next generation.”

  5. Economic Left/Right: -8.25
    Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -7.69

    I admit I’m creeped out by most pornography. I haven’t seen much, maybe I’ve not been exposed to good porn.

  6. Opinion: As A Former Rail Engineer, I Need To Speak Out

    I used to work for one of Montreal Maine & Atlantic Railway’s predecessor companies, Iron Road Railways, as well as two other railroads in Colorado and New England. I have been a freight conductor, yardmaster and locomotive engineer — and I need to speak out.

    In my view, what happened in Lac-Mégantic is linked to the continent-wide, 30-year erosion of rules, procedures, equipment and infrastructure in the rail industry, and a culture of corporate acquisition by non-railroad interests that has led to deferred maintenance and deep cost cutting.

    This ‘culture of corporate acquisition by non-railroad interests’ wouldn’t be connected to the Bain Capital method of buying a company, shifting all the debt of the acquisition to the acquired company, then cutting all costs and neglecting maintenance until the acquiring company is in the black, would it?

    • Several years ago I was watching an old William Powell movie at a friends house. When the TV station went to a commercial I made a comment about the car that was in the scene and my friend didn’t see the car but commented on the clothes William Powell was wearing, It was a lesson in how people can see different things in, well in everything in life. The artist above obviously saw things we didn’t/couldn’t see in the Skittles’ packaging and beverage label.

      You may never have an “artistic” eye to create that type of picture but you have a lot of talent in your ability to express your thoughts with language just as compelling as that picture.

  7. I think the jury erred, but I don’t know what information they were allowed to hear. I’d have called it negligent homicide (which I think equates to manslaughter) based on my limited knowledge. Sometimes the law and the rules of evidence sort of suck (witness my son’s ex having the meth lab in my rental house nolle pros’ed). In any event, I don’t understand how George became a hero to the RWNJs. He killed when I believe he could have avoided it.

  8. While George Zimmerman’s lawyers are taking a victory lap news conference being covered by MSNBC, the program being preempted on that station is “Lockup.”

  9. Also, the verdict does not negate the fact that his family had to push to have this heard in court. Anyone who kills another should be required to answer before the community for his actions. I also plan to never let my own brown child never leave our home.

      • I hope so. Yet then we’ll hear that his folks are just looking for money even though any mother should realize they’re looking for justice.

      • Even gun-humpers will eventually get tired of paying legal fees for Zimmerman, so I hope he has lots of bootstraps.

        Killing Trayvon Martin will follow him the rest of his life. At least he has a life.

    • Unfortunately Florida is quite happy with their backward state.
      The murderers are set free. Sharia law in the guise of ‘christian love’ in order to take away women’s rights…
      They won’t be doing away with the Repugnant party anytime soon.

      Truly shameful FL is part of the U.S.

  10. I cannot find the words, other than profanities, to describe the level of insanity our society has drawn itself downward. This verdict makes no sense, except that the “stand your ground law” shields the vigilante, the aggressor, the one who made it all happen, the murderer, to walk free.
    Fearful? Pissed off? Shoot the one that sets off your pathology, and walk free, and have a million others, just as fearful, applaud your choices.

    • Let the wrongful death lawsuits begin.

      George Zimmerman thinks he can return to “normal life,” but he’s in for a rude awakening. At least he can take comfort in his ability to experience awakenings — unlike Trayvon Martin.

  11. Listening to Melissa Harris-Perry and Joy Ann Reed on MSNBC is breaking my heart.

    Black parents in this country have just had fear struck into their hearts, and hold their children closer tonight, knowing they can’t protect their children 24 hours a day.

    But White Privilege guarantees that my sons can walk the streets with burglar tools hanging from their belts, and nothing would happen to them.

    • Damn, I detest Geraldo. A piss-poor excuse for a human being.
      I can’t watch a/o listen to any of those pieces of used chewing gum (absolutely good for nothing).

  12. I feel like I just slept through the storm of the century.

    A quick scan of the internets led me to this, which pretty much says it all about Florida injustice.

    Fla. Mom Gets 20 Years For Firing Warning Shots

    A Florida woman who fired warning shots against her allegedly abusive husband has been sentenced to 20 years in prison.

    Marissa Alexander of Jacksonville had said the state’s “Stand Your Ground” law should apply to her because she was defending herself against her allegedly abusive husband when she fired warning shots inside her home in August 2010. She told police it was to escape a brutal beating by her husband, against whom she had already taken out a protective order.

    • …whom she had already taken out a protective order.

      That, right there, should have been enough to let her use the ‘Zimmerman get out of jail free’ card.

      • According to the Zimmerman verdict, she’d be acquitted and free now if she had shot him and killed him.
        The prosecution also wouldn’t be able to use it against her that she left the safety of the home to retrieve the gun, since without it he could still have kicked in the door and gotten to her. She had to be holding the gun to feel protected, and the NRA would have backed her up on that.

  13. Everyone needs to stand their ground against Zimmerman. If I saw him coming into my store, I’d feel threatened that he was going to chase me down and shoot me.

    The verdict is disgusting.

  14. Finni –

    “Glee” star Cory Monteith found dead in hotel room in Vancouver. The hotel was the Pacific Rim. Srsly.

    But why couldn’t it have been Justin Bieber?

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