If you look at the evolution of the political landscape over the last few decades, you’ll notice some things just don’t seem to add up.
Not that long ago, populism was at the heartland of left-wing ideology. Occupy Wall Street, fighting ‘big pharma’ and ending the military-industrial complex were the biggest political and social movements of the 2010s – all of them were considered left-wing.
Now even the slightest criticism of Pfizer will have you labelled a ‘RWNJ’ and shadow banned on most social media networks.
But something changed, or has it?
The reality is that nothing has changed, you have just been viewing the political landscape from the wrong direction. Left versus right; conservative versus progressive; Labor versus Liberal. These are meaningless terms and wasted battles. What exactly does it mean to be left-wing in modern society? What exactly are conservatives conserving? And what values do either the Labor or Liberal parties stand for, exactly?
We have been programed to view politics through a false dichotomy of ‘left’ and ‘right’, yet very few can accurately define those terms. Fascism is often considered as the extremity of the right-wing, yet many right-wingers would consider small governments and free markets integral to right-wing ideology. This plainly cannot gel with fascism.
SHIFT YOUR PERSPECTIVE
Instead of viewing politics through a left-right dichotomy, let’s add another axis: libertarian versus authoritarian. While some may be familiar with the political compass consisting of authoritarian-left, authoritarian-right, libertarian-left and libertarian-right, this too does not quite cut it.
The extremities of each quadrant are simply not possible. How could you sit in the extreme bottom right-hand corner? Drug-law reform and extreme right-wing ideology is a circle that cannot be squared. The same applies to all corners. Instead, let us rotate the compass 45 degrees and change some titles.
NOT ANOTHER LIBERTARIAN PURITY TEST
Now this makes sense: to fully pursue liberty, you must trade your conservative or liberal tenets. This does not mean you cannot sit somewhere between conservative and libertarian. However, it does mean you cannot simultaneously be a radical libertarian and an extreme conservative.
I am not saying all of this to prove just how libertarian I am and prohibit libertarian-leaning people from unifying under the banner of liberty, precisely the opposite. We must know the true battleplanes in order to know where our friends and enemies are coming from.
WE HAVE FRIENDS ON THE LEFT
There seems to be a growing narrative that libertarianism is a right-wing ideology. I detest this narrative. It is plainly untrue. I, myself, came to libertarianism from the left. Growing up, the concept of criminalising victimless crimes never made sense to me. So, naturally, I considered myself to be left-wing.
When I was old enough to realise the importance of the economy, I applied the same philosophy: people should be free to direct their capital however they see fit, so long as they are not hurting anyone else, with minimal government interference. If we should not govern people based on subjective morals, then we should not be looting and pillaging people’s resources via taxation.
As it turns out, I was not left-wing.
So where have all the left-libertarians been hiding for the past three years?
During the height of COVID restrictions, governments heavily interfered with markets: shuttering businesses, slashing interest rates, employing quantitative easing and deploying abundant welfare. Yet we did not see a more egalitarian outcome, as many on the (authoritarian) left so often claim.
In fact, instead of wealth inequality easing, we saw the largest redistribution of wealth from the poorest to the richest people. Rich, laptop-elites with large property and share portfolios saw their net worth skyrocket, while middle- and working-class people were given scraps and are currently seeing their purchasing power plummet.
So where were all the socialists decrying this?
‘The left’ was long ago infiltrated and annexed by authoritarians. Socialists are not true socialists; progressives are not truly progressive; and liberals are far from liberal. ‘The left’ wants nothing more than government to grow and dissidents to be quashed – a far cry from the socialism of decades gone. There are countless examples of left-wing castaways who are now often called ‘right-wing’ or even ‘far-right.’
Joe Rogan is a man who campaigned with a self-described democratic socialist, Bernie Sanders. He is now considered far-right. Russell Brand, who publicly advocated for socialism, has been exiled from his left-wing home since he started criticising the COVID response. Even self-avowed British socialist Jeremy Corbyn expressed some criticism of vaccine mandates. Somehow, he managed to escape much of the backlash.
The libertarian-left hasn’t been hiding for the past three years, they have been un-personed. Castaway from their ideological home and called ‘far-right extremists’ – just like the rest of us.
They are not our enemies; they are our friends.
It is incumbent upon us to welcome them under the tree of liberty.
WE HAVE ENEMIES ON THE RIGHT
We are nearing the peak of woke leftism’s cultural hegemony. But as all pendulums swing, it will come back the other way – and hard. Despite my veneer of youth, I am old enough to remember the days of conservatives demanding an end to Marilyn Manson and ‘violent’ videogames. It may seem foreign to some, but the right-wing can just as easily prosecute free speech and advocate censorship.
The trappings of a return to morality-based governance are already there. It is not a stretch to see how the pendulum returns to hard-line drug laws and a ‘war against degeneracy.’ It is imperative we do not allow this to happen.
While the political right does seem to be largely on the correct side of the culture war (for now), it is important we do not simply add to the choir of conservative voices.
Provide nuance and always advocate the values of liberty.
There is plenty of room under the tree.
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While always avidly following politics and culture, James Hol was not politically active until the overreaction to COVID. In a matter of months, James gained invaluable insight into all levels of government, being heavily involved in Federal, state and local election campaigns.