I recently met a young man who calls himself a socialist, but he's really a libertarian. I'll explain.
What he means by “socialism” is more co-ops, and greater cooperation in general. He does not mean central control. Indeed, if the citizenry of one state wants to opt-out of a program, he says the other states have no right to stop them. He also does not mean we have an obligation to help others. Indeed, he doesn’t believe in paying for something he probably isn’t ever going to use just so others can use more.
He also calls himself an anarchist, but with one caveat: he says he is a “practical anarchist.” He recognizes the need for government to exist to protect us from invasion and generally mitigate forces, which if unleashed, would leave us less free in the end. What he means by anarchist is: he doesn’t believe the government should regulate any of our personal behavior that does not directly harm another.
When I relayed the story of my encounter to a friend of mine, he told me to tell him that he wasn’t a socialist anarchist, but instead a libertarian. It seems there’s already a name for what he is.
I bring this story up because with all the hullaballoo over the Tea Partiers calling Obama a socialist, and the Democrats accusing the Tea Partiers of using the term to scaremonger, it is forgotten that we aren’t always talking about the same things. We are too quick to judge people. It would have been easy for me to have dismissed this guy as hopeless or started arguing with him, accusing him of supporting central control of the economy – and perhaps even a police state, but then I would probably never have learned what this guy was about, and I would not have this story to share.
Afterthought: I met a girl a few years ago who claimed to be a communist. By communism, she meant more cooperation and sharing and less competition and materialism, not a totalitarian government that refuses to recognize property rights. I was very relieved.
Hi, I'm Dan. I like chocolate, hiking, and politics.