The libertarian mindset has a foothold in left, right and the centre of political thought. As such it is not just the preserve of what is colloquially known as the Popularism of the Republican party (in the US) and Neo-liberal Conservative politics (here in the UK). It is however more substantively expressed at the centre of the political spectrum.
At the centre of political thought and action we have zero-sum libertarianism. It’s ambition is to provide the broadest freedoms and liberty to as many people as is practically possible. Freedom from and freedom to are adjusted to confer a balanced outcome for equality. This expression of libertarianism is compassionate, inclusive and aims to be broad in terms of numbers so as to create a balance of positive against negative freedoms. Here we see the greatest gains in libertarian outcomes.
On the right of the political spectrum we have negative-sum libertarianism which often expresses a rather egocentric, misogynistic and sometimes perverse interpretation of what being a libertarian is all about. Here the word negative is used to indicate the narrowness of the gainers. Being libertarian here is at its extreme aligned in lock step with specific issues and is unit based in that the focus is on me. Each libertarian expects to be the lottery winner. For example:
- Being a Nationalist Christian is comfortably expressing notions like, I believe in the sanctity of life (liberty for the unborn) up to the point of birth and then executions are fair game (non-liberty in terms of the sanctity for life).
- I believe in an individuals liberty to carry a firearm and if someone gets killed then my freedom is preserved. This is very illiberal for the person being killed of course.
- I believe in the liberty of the individual to a fault even if that creates an authoritarian leadership whose aim is to take away that very personal freedom.
- Make American Great Again which is vacuous and without substance is the call from the political right. The tenuous implication here is that America being great means that the citizens are reaping the rewards of liberty, which of course is fanciful at best and delusional at worst. However, Make AmericanS (note the S) Great Again is full of libertarian potential and value. The former implies the few and the latter demands the broadest adoption of liberty for the many.
These right leaning expressions of liberty are personal, focused on me / myself, have no real societal dimension and can be contradictory given one persons freedom can often amount to another’s dungeon. This is the cult of the individual to lord it over the rest and is a recipe for an illiberal society. Liberty for the few at the expense of the many is more precisely the goal here.
Then there is positive-sum libertarianism which is more easily aligned with the political left and wokeism. This is also single issue based such as:
LBGTQ+ or BAME which again castes the minority as the chattering class in a position where they can punch above there weight. The minority enjoy more liberty to impose outcomes on society than the majority. Again here there is an imbalance in liberties due to an overshoot by way of good moral intentions. This maybe a necessary prerequisite for positive social change but that overshoot must be corrected when the battle is won.
The political centre need to reclaim the noble word liberty as their mantra or rallying call as they are better placed to provide more liberty with real substance to more of its citizenry.