At the Karl Hess Club on Monday, August 17, 2009, Chuck McGlawn argued that libertarians should reclaim the term “Right” as an important step in defending freedom.
Although I use “left” and “right” as he defines it for certain issues (which U.S. political party started more wars?), I wouldn’t call Rush Limbaugh’s support of the Patriot Act’s domestic wiretaps and waterboarding torture “left” just because those activities increase The State’s power.
You can listen to his presentation and answers to audience questions here.
MP3 (1 hour 19 min.)
It’s a peculiar definition to say “left” always means statism when Lenin (used as the anchor by Chuck for this weird usage) complained about anarchists being “infantile” and too left wing. That’s the subject matter of “Left Wing Communism” that McGlawn refers to repeatedly, according to the description at Marxism.org, it’s “Lenin’s 1920 pamphlet against ultra-leftism and anarchism.”
I disagree with Ayn Rand’s peculiar definition of “altruism,” but I accept most of her premises and analysis, except I’m the ultimate heretic for rejecting her Objectivist statism and intellectual property position.
Robert LeFevre’s pacifism goes too far for me, but his attempt to defend it is heroic and informative. LeFevre’s Fundamentals of Liberty book is well worth reading as is his autobiography, A Way To Be Free.
SEK3, Von Mises, and Rothbard each have positions I don’t support, like Mises on the military draft, for example. SEK3 thought native Americans who fought with the British lost the right to their property for that offense. But he was also against the American Empire and the War on Terror so you figure that out. But he loved the Chad Mitchell Trio’s song about the left, reds, the right, and how if “mommie is a commie then you’ve got to turn her in.”
So cheer up, Chuck. You’re in good company.
Dictionaries pay attention to popular usage of words when publishing their definitions. I guess we libertarians (of all factions, Party member or anti-Party. Anti-capitalist, pro-free-market, or both.) are within striking distance of being popular. What with the financial collapse and Ron Paul, maybe we’ve got 2 percent of the public with us now instead of the usual 1 percent. But if people start agreeing with me in great numbers I’ll get worried.
If by some miracle we could control the language of the political spectrum, I’d suggest using “up” for freedom (as in free floating, like in a balloon, in space or heaven) and “down” for the hellish nightmare of tyranny and statism. This is in accord with the so-called Nolan chart already used by the L.P.
Chuck McGlawn’s presentation is well organized, but seemed at times like that Star Trek episode where Kirk is ranting about the Constitution. I like T.J. (Hooker and Thomas Jefferson) just fine, but Jefferson didn’t invent freedom. That concept goes back aways, to Samuel in The Holy Bible or Lao Tzu’s writing of the Tao in China. (David Boaz’s The Libertarian Reader covers the history to modern times.)
Chuck McGlawn listens to Mises podcasts instead of talk radio these days, and seemed familiar with Roderick Long’s Murray Rothbard memorial lecture, “Rothbard’s “Left and Right”: Forty Years Later,” which you can listen to there. Direct link to mp3 file. That talk also deals with libertarian alliances with the Left and Right.