Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Reactions to political words

A recent survey of Americans by the Pew Research Center shows that Libertarians have some work to do in defining what they represent.
The chart shows that among those surveyed the reaction to the word Libertarian is not screamingly positive, on the contrary. Yet the terms "States' rights", "Civil liberties" and "Civil rights" have distinctly positive reactions. All of these might be supported to a large degree in the libertarian idea. The disconnect between these terms and the term libertarian seems larger than is warranted, so maybe those ideas are not part of the libertarian sales pitch. They should be.
The article points out that Republicans take a dim view of libertarians, (so much for the term "right-wing" when applied to libertarians) while Democrats are evenly divided and Independents have a much more favourable view (44% positive/32% negative). The term "right-wing" which I just mentioned, would to me, more closely fit "fascist-authoritarian-socialists" who are Republicans, by and large (of course they would disagree).
Libertarians are in desperate need of better marketing strategies or they will be stuck with this negative view.


  1. Libertarians certainly do need better marketing. For one, I view extreme libertarianism as the modern, greedy, slave owner.

    The Libertarian, clutching their cash and deeds, do not necessarily beat their slaves, nor keep them captive but demand the right to expand their privileged position wherever they see fit. Their slaves are free to come and go but, due to their economic disadvantage, have little chance of becoming owners themselves.

    It is not in the self-interest of the Libertarian slave owner to increase wages, provide services or healthcare as the Libertarian with the lowest costs will have the most land and money.

    On moral issues, the Libertarian seems concerned most with rights for a small circle of family and friends reminiscent of hunter/gatherer cultures and not with what I consider a modern global moral awareness.

    The difference between the right-wing Republican and Libertarian, as I see it, is that Republicans want to tell everyone else what to do whereas the Libertarian wants to be allowed to do whatever they want. I wouldn't want to live beside either one.

    I'm reminded of one of my neighbours (probably not a Libertarian) that didn't see a problem with cutting his entire lawn with a weed-whacker instead of a much quieter lawnmower. Fortunately, after a couple months, he found the money to buy a real lawnmower.

  2. Wow, well if that is what you think of libertarians then you are right we do have to do a much better marketing job. I'm flabbergasted.
    I've had a libertarian outlook since well before there was the political term "libertarian". We're talking back in the sixties when there was just the Objectivist (Ayn Rand) philosophy for me. For many of us today that philosophy represents the moral under pinning of libertarianism. I suspect Rand will scare you and many people off as some wacko nut case as many in the media portray her. That is unfortunate and undeserved.

  3. I've heard of Ayn Rand and Objectivism but haven't read her works. I'm vaguely familiar of the arguments and counter-arguments.

    I'm also a big fan of many libertarians such as Penn & Teller and Micheal Shermer. I even share many of the goals of Libertarianism since I want the freedom to make my own decisions. I consider myself centrist on most topics (also a Libertarian trait).

    My largest objection to Libertarianism is the dedication to a duty to self instead of the community at large. Success is measured in money and land (material self-interest) while I see little evidence of placing a value on philanthropy of wealth and knowledge.

  4. You should look at my recent rant and the comments on marriage and family (May 7).
    Its true that Ayn Rand wrote a book called "The Virtue of Selfishness" years ago - but the meaning of "selfish" in Objectivism is much broader that common usage. (btw Penn Jillette calls himself an Objectivist) The meaning is more like the concept of "kin-selection" in biology (another reason I liked Rand). Duty to "self" is duty to family and that extends to the family of man. In libertarian philosophy these "duties" must be voluntary (not coerced). Typically libertarians are pacifists and non-interventionist free traders. "Live and let live" would be a motto. As far as philanthropy, on the contrary those with libertarian views have a huge and positive impact. In Canada, Peter Munk (Barrick Gold) has a strong libertarian streak or Hernando de Soto of Peru has very strong libertarian tendencies. See what he's done to fight poverty: OR
    There are libertarians in all walks of life: