Slippery pseudopath....

I am being persecuted again!

That mean Hesiod guy keeps calling me a pseudo-libertarian, and now, a phony! What's more, he says I keep whining about it -- and pathetically at that!

And, lame phony that I am, all I can do now is whine about it some more.

I am not particularly hung up over whether I am a libertarian or not, but as I said in my comment, my curiosity will not let me leave this alone.

Much as I hate labels, sometimes it is helpful to be able to clue people in (at least in the general sense) about your political philosophy. The reason I call myself a libertarian is not because I am trying to "be" a libertarian. I hate all "isms" and refuse to limit myself by stating that everything I think or say can be looked up and measured with reference to any political philosophy or ideology. It's just that of all the terms floating around out there, "libertarian" comes closer to approximating my general way of thinking than the more generally accepted terms like "liberal" or "conservative."

And every time I take one of those "smallest political quiz" type tests, I get results like this:


I don't think I am alone in being "liberal" on social issues and "conservative" on economic issues. However, if I call myself a "conservative" I find myself denounced as not a "real" conservative by those who see themselves as the true and righteous upholders of that word.

Ditto for "liberal."

There are people who claim to be arbiters of "libertarian" truth and righteousness who as a standard tactic of winning arguments, will say that anyone who does not agree with them is not a "real" "libertarian."

Obviously the easy thing to do would be to simply concede the point and state that I am not a libertarian. The problem with that is what to do about people (both liberal and conservative) who call me a libertarian because I don't agree with them!

So what does that make me?

A man without a label?

Is not having a label necessarily a bad thing?

I have taken several political compass tests which all put me solidly in the libertarian camp. Is it "phony" to point that out?

This reminds me of the whole "gay" deal. I use that label too. After all, I can't call myself a heterosexual because the true and righteous heterosexuals would scream that anyone who's had long-term relationships with lovers of his own sex is not a heterosexual. Yet if I call myself homosexual, I run into trouble sometimes when I admit to attraction to members of the opposite sex -- or when I disagree with people who think that if you are a homosexual you have to be a socialist because the gay movement is part of the left and since the right hates you then you have to embrace socialism. (Tough to follow, but that's the way activists think; see my previous post about Michelangelo Signorile's attacks on Andrew Sullivan and others.)

Likewise, "bisexuals" are said not to exist. They are also "phony." (Never mind what Freud and others have said about bisexuality being a universal human condition!) The word "bisexual" means even more trouble. And endless quibbling. With the gay equivalent of Libertarian Ideological Enforcers (who believe all bisexuals are homosexual) and with self-appointed heterosexual spokespeople (who also believe all bisexuals are homosexual). (See my previous post in which I attempted to grapple with this, with limited success.)

Therefore, I call myself "gay" because it is a handle which is easy to relate to, and something which is often used as a personal attack by those who hate homosexuals. If I were to attempt to to hide or deny my homosexual feelings, people who learned about them (both pro or anti-homosexual) would try to shame me: one side by saying that I am in the closet, and the other by saying I should be ashamed either way. Because I have no sexual shame at all, it is easy for me to acknowledge these feelings, and thus face attempted shaming -- by the anti-homosexual crowd -- for the homosexuality. They have no business shaming anyone for this. Gay activists may accuse me of not being sufficiently "gay" for their tastes, but it's rather tough to be accused of being closeted about that which you freely admit. (Windows for closets?) So, "gay" is an easy default sort of label for me. I lost twenty friends, including three lovers, and there's also an element of respect for them involved in this.

I can't be pseudo-gay, can I? Maybe I can; this stuff all depends on which ax the accuser happens to be grinding.

In any case, I don't see why I have to hold myself accountable to anyone for my sexuality, or be told what I should think because of what I might f*ck.

Why should politics be any different?

Anyway, I stand accused of ideological impurity! And to an ideology to which I never subscribed!

For someone wholly opposed to ideologues and ideological purity, I should be flattered.

Still, it's all a no-win -- and a slippery, icy, path.


That photograph was just taken in front of my house. It is a path.

But doesn't it look more like a frozen river?

UPDATE: Another fascinating post by Frederick Turner explores the emergence of a new split in American politics: communitarianism versus libertarianism. Turner elaborates:

....perhaps we could say that in the intellectual absence of the left, an inherent rift in the right is becoming the new locus of debate, and the remnants of the left are having to choose one side or the other.
I am inclined to agree with Mr. Turner. But this only worsens my plight! For I know that I am not a communitarian! (Via Glenn Reynolds.)

ANOTHER TIDBIT: Dave Tepper notes that except for a little thing called slavery, the Confederacy was libertarian....

MORE: This thoughtful discussion (via Glenn Reynolds) of "Balkanization" in the blogosphere provides much food for thought, not so much on the debate over "what is a libertarian?" -- but on the wisdom of associating solely with those who agree with you. I continue to adhere to a policy of linking even to blogs whose philosophy repels me. So today, I even placed a link to Hesiod, despite what I consider his less-than-laudable ad hominem approach.

Don't get me wrong here; I am not a practitioner of turn-the-other-cheek. Nor is my policy one of "insult me and get a link!" It's just that on right-to-disagree matters, I am a bit of an extremist.

(Possibly even a nut.)

posted by Eric on 02.06.04 at 04:37 PM


That is an extremely interesting spectrum. I ended up as 90% on Personal, 80% on Economic. I've taken that quiz many times and always end up around there, in the upper left side of that spectrum. If they had guns in there, I'd be more to the right.

Another excellent essay on why you think for yourself and speak your mind, which is why I read you. Thank you.

Steven Malcolm Anderson   ·  February 7, 2004 5:31 PM

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