My Political Preferences
Like many others, I hardly agree with everything any party does and thinks, so I figure it would be easier to describe my political preferences using the more diffuse term of political ideology. In short, I gather I am about 60% liberal (in the European sense, meaning libertarian to Americans), 35% conservative (in the slightly different Danish sense) and around 5% socialist. Here’s why:
60% liberal (libertarian)
I am thus mostly liberal. Being liberal means believing in the individual, in his or her right to individual freedom and his or her duty of individual responsibility. But while two different strands of liberalism agree that e.g. individual freedom is imperative, they disagree on why. These two strands are the moral liberalism and the pragmatic liberalism. The moral liberalism is the tradition of Locke, the Austrian school, and Rand, amongst others. The pragmatic liberalism is that of free-market economists from Adam Smith to Friedman and onwards. This strand argues for freedom on the basis of utility, in that freedom is necessary for optimum economic growth and prosperity, while the first does so on moral grounds (unsurprisingly). These two traditions are of course not as distinct as I here propose, though I think the distinction is useful. Thus, I lean more towards the pragmatic liberalism, although I still agree with moral liberalism, excepting some of its more extreme ingredients.
I favor limiting government interference in the lives of its citizens especially because of the damaging economic consequences of such interferences. For instance, a tax rate of 70% for the highest educated part of the population is counter-productive. In Denmark, I see lawyers and economists doing manual work on their property – simply because don’t have enough money after tax to hire professionals. Furthermore, these professionals are in the position to charge a great deal because of the scarce supply compared to demand. Free cross-border trade would allow cheaper manual labor to the benefit of society as a whole.
I am also rather socially liberal. This is a central and natural consequence of believing in the freedom of the individual. Thus, I think people should be allowed to do what they want as long as it doesn’t concern (i.e. harm) me. But I am not entirely consistent in this matter, as it involves some very complex moral issues.
Let me start out by saying that I am not conservative in the sense used in American politics (apart from the general belief in limiting government, as per classical American conservatism). As I said above, I am fairly socially liberal, and I am further a strongly-felt atheist. I am not a big fan of moral absolutes (see above on pragmatic liberalism), so things like abortion do not bother me.
My conservatism often takes the shape of a) limits on my liberalism and b) old-fashionedness. With regards to the first, for example, I am not as afraid of “power”, in particular state power, as I know I should be to be a proper liberal. Until I see good evidence of the opposite, I have a fair amount of confidence in for instance our political system. I am not scared of the police. I am not afraid of surveillance or that protective of personal information. All within limits, of course. Although power most probably does corrupt, 1) I don’t think it corrupts that quickly nor that totally, and 2) I believe that the institutions of our society are capable of limiting somewhat the power and corruption. Also, I am more of a realist in international politics than the “true” liberal would be. Thus, I don’t oppose the use of military force merely out of principle.
With regards to the second shape that my conservatism takes, old-fashionedness, my classical example is school policy. I believe in a certain degree of discipline in the school. I believe that schools should primarily teach and improve knowledge, not “develop” their personality and whatnot, whatever that means. As such, I oppose the Danish culture-radicals as I generally oppose the soft, “bleeding heart” humanism prevalent in many sectors.
I am inclined towards being green. This is more or less the only part of me that is socialist, ergo the small percentage. Now, being green isn’t inherently a socialist position, but in the socialists have – in effect – monopolized the green position.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a tree-hugging hippie or anything. I’m more “green” in the sense that I detest exhaust fumes, litter on the streets or woods, etc. These things simply annoy me. You can maybe call this position the individualist green position. But at the same time I, as a relatively enlightened person, am aware of the wider implications and costs of mankind’s massive presence on earth. So things like global warming, wildlife extinctions, and the like, bother me too. Here it also helps that I seem to have greater empathy for animals than humans (probably due to the fact that humans can take care of themselves, or at least should do so). (I let this fact slip in a social context once…I think the reaction was a mixture of shock and nervous amusement. Whatever.)
Again, don’t get me wrong. I don’t advocate green policies whatever the cost. The environment isn’t the only issue in the world today; although its more latent and long-term quality should be taken into account when compared to shorter-term issues.
So there. This account probably isn’t very coherent, which I guess is only partly due to the fact that ideologies and personal preferences are rarely very coherent. This was written mostly off the top of my head, so please bear over with me. This is also a work-in-progress. Besides clearing up and expanding some issues I also intend to add some policy prescriptions of mine at the end of each ideological position.
A last disclaimer is the fact that this is written from the point of view of a Dane living in the more-or-less social democratic state of Denmark. This means, for instance, that I am predominantly liberal compared to the norm around me. I am not entirely sure of which way I would lean in the far more liberal American society, for instance.
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Immaterial paraphernalia of a libertarian. In English and Danish.
Lyrics of the MomentThe Who ~ Won't Be Fooled Again
We'll be fighting in the streets
With our children at our feet
And the morals that they worship will be gone
And the men who spurred us on
Sit in judgment of all wrong
They decide and the shotgun sings the song
I'll tip my hat to the new constitution
Take a bow for the new revolution
Smile and grin at the change all around
Pick up my guitar and play
Just like yesterday
Then I'll get on my knees and pray
We don't get fooled again
The change, it had to come
We knew it all along
We were liberated from the fold, that's all
And the world looks just the same
And history ain't changed
'Cause the banners, they were all flown in the last war
Meet the new boss
Same as the old boss
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