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Justin Amash: Unclear on the concept(s) or just unclear

Last week, Independent Political Report ran a piece about former Michigan Congresscritter Justin Amash's announcement that he was removing himself from consideration for the 2024 Libertarian Party presidential nod. (Some people tried to push him for that in 2020, shortly after he announced he was no longer a Republican, but he demurred on grounds that might help Trump. Why he thought it would help Trump instead of Biden, I don't know.)

Anyway, in response to a mix of his first paragraph talking about right-Libertarianism and his last graf talking about how the Libertarian Party needs to be "Libertarian-lite," I commented:

Innnteresting, starting with his comments on where he aligns within today’s LP factions or branches, while, at the end, he seems to fully endorse “Libertarian-lite,” as in Gary Johnson. Just a bit self-contradictory?

To which, X (a recent anonymous commenter on another blog post here) said:

Perhaps SG is having difficulty grasping this because he equates right libertarianism with extremist posturing. Actually, libertarianism is not intrinsically left or right, so left and right leaning libertarianism is a separate scale from pragmatism vs extreme posturing. Amash unsurprisingly reveals that he’s a right leaning pragmatist within the LP internal debates. That’s exactly where I expected him to be.

To which I replied:

X, it’s not incumbent on me to mind-read Amash if he doesn’t make himself clearer, especially vis-a-vis Libertarian issues of the last couple of years on certain social issues. One could also argue, with small “l” vs capital “L” and the US an outlier in general, that whatever the term might mean, there’s a diff between right-libertarianism and right-Libertarianism. Or that, in the US, right-libertarianism may not be the same as right-libertarianism abroad.

And, this post is follow-up to that.

If I were to try to mind-read Amash, I’d venture that he was trying to distinguish right-libertarians from paleo-libertarians, to use normal political science labels and groupings.

Second, I’ll charitably assume X doesn't think that left-libertarians are a significant portion of the Libertarian Party and ditto for Amash. Left-libertarianism *outside the US* is generally still a non-capitalist, if not even somewhat anti-capitalist, stance. And, it's not even close to a significant portion of small-l libertarianism in the US, "libertarian Greens" of 2020 trying to nominate Jesse the Body Ventura via a back door aside. 

To tie this back to Amash, as an ex-Republican (and per one other commenter on the IPR piece, not a very active Libertarian from 2020 on), he should know that, speaking beyond an LP-only audience, given people who know him as a former Republican, to distinguish carefully.

That said, per point two, per standard political science, yes, libertarianism has a “right” and a “left.” Many Europeans who would be classified as "libertarian" are left-libertarian; even those who are right-libertarian aren't like US libertarians in general, whether LP libertarians or not. In fact, most European libertarians either laugh or sneer at the US version of the political philosophy. (Wikipedia also has a piece on "libertarian socialism," a label I once considered trying to use to describe myself, but, because of US libertarianism, and then the "libertarian Greens" reflecting US libertarianism more than European, I abandoned. Per more recent thought, and reflecting European ideas, "liberal socialism" would fit me somewhat better, but still not perfectly. I may not want to "abolish" capitalism, and I may not be "anti-capitalist," but I do want to be "post-capitalist." Maybe I'm about halfway between the two, but I digress.)

Per point one, paleo-libertarians are clearly socially rightist.

You’re not the first person to say “neither right nor left” or something similar, and I’ve heard that for more than a decade. Nice marketing slogan. But, for marketing slogans to actually sell, they have to be believed by the recipient. And, that slogan has never been believed in these quarters, and for good reason, as listed above.

This post first appeared on SocraticGadfly, please read the originial post: here

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Justin Amash: Unclear on the concept(s) or just unclear


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