I’ve been thinking about the meanings of words, for about 100 years now (I was born on 4th August 1914 as you all know.)
While “libertarian” means “some sort of “/*.-arian” [star.dot.-arian – remember DOS anyone?] who is kind of in favour of individual liberty (that is to say; about choosing this or that course of action and so on, within any agreed legal framework that acknowledges that power), we are now where we are, in a hegemonic climate that’s deeply deeply hostile to any form of nonconformity with the prevailing and “agreed” terms of public discourse. “Anarchists” of the leftoNazi (the only kind of Nazi) persuasion are however tolerated positively and actively, because they are exactly the opposite of what they say. They are “social”, in fact. (See/google “Enoch Powell” + “social” + “word” + “opposite meaning” .)
I have decided that one reason why “libertarians”, such as we here, have got absolutely nowhere in the last 40 years, during which time we should have creamed the World, is that our word for ourselves is an “intellectual” one, and means nothing positive – and indeed has potentially negative connotations – to nearly all people, which is to say about 7 billion. There are perhaps 250,000 people on this planet who actually know what it means in reality, and most of them are opposed academics (Nazis), leftoidNazi journos, or career-politicoNazis. This is not a good place to begin from, to get where we want to go.
We should retake the word “LIBERAL”. Here I promote a comment from Ian B, as follows:-
I entirely agree with David about taking back “liberal”, though I am not actually sure that we have actually lost it. The Americans have lost the word, but we are not Americans. I have increasingly swapped to just using “liberal”, for instance in Telegraph comment threads and other blog discussions, since “our” usage of the word is very easy to explain and defend when people dispute it, and it often causes amusing consternation among establishment illiberals. Besides all else, “libertarian” seems woefully anachronistic when talking about historical figures like John Locke or JS Mill. I think we should all just get used to “liberal”, and particularly ensure that we don’t qualify it with “classical”, it makes us sound like we’re referring to Ancient Greece. Besides all else, because it is a useful adjective- “I have a liberal view on [X]”. If you want to really upset a progressive feminist, by the way, call her an ultra-conservative. It sets them reeling.
So, what should we call our opponents? Lost Leonardo worries about “puritan”, and it did bother me, and I cast around for something else, but it has grown on me. It may not be useful in every situation, but it is useful in many. It has several advantages; firstly by discussing a struggle between liberal and puritan values, it sets us in a broad historical cultural narrative (which I at least believe is historically justified). Secondly, it is a word that people already know. You see it commonly used. Thirdly, it is perjorative; it was coined as a negative term (by non-Puritans) and has never lost that negative connotation. It implies a joyless negativity and a zealotry therein; and we can bark it out as quickly as the old Commies used to bark “fascist” as an instant putdown without having to spend ten minutes explaining what we mean (unlike Cultural Marxist, or the delightful but not commonplace GramscoFabiaNazi). And fourthly, it puts the average young “progressive”- who likes to pretend they are a hip-swingin’ liberal radical- on the defensive.
But whether or not people like the Puritan Hypothesis, I am very much of the view that the best word we can use for ourselves is “liberal”.
And another one:-
Back on the general culture point, if we need anything it’s liberal (did you see what I did there?) film makers. Currently, the default Hollywood dystopia is one in which the future is controlled by Evil Corporations who impoverish and oppress everyone; invariably economically incoherent since they never explain who, if everyone is a pauper living in shanty towns, actually buys the corporations’ products. A similar astonishing example was the recent Lego Movie, whose evil villain was called “Lord Business”; a movie made to sell the, um, products of a, er, big corporation.
If we need anything, it’s movies that depict the future tyranny as a politically correct Hell of oppressive regulations. I have myself an outline for such a story, which depicts a society at the endpoint of Feminism. But that’s the problem I suppose; even if my script were any good, who would dare produce it?
Ian’s point is that if we start using the word “LIBERAL” liberally, in conversations with Nazis in which we can say we are “liberals” who are in favour of more freedom, then we can get really _up their noses on live radio and television, and enrage the effing bastards.
Even Labour-voting kneejerk morons in Bootle, Barnsley, Bradford, Bolton, Bedwas, understand that when a panellist goes “postal” on live media and the screams and shouts, it means that he/she has actually lost the debate.
(WE ought also actually to not use the specific word LIBERTY, for it sounds like “LIBERTINE” (very very bad), and also we ought not to say “LIBERTARIAN” (incomprehensible, or if not, then bad because unexplained and we haven’t time) – we should use “freedom”, which everyone, even Labour-voting-morons on “estates” understands).
When the BBC calls Sean Gabb and then is forced to announce him as the “Director of the Liberal Alliance”, and he says about things “Well, you know, I do take a quite liberal view about Gay Marriage” and so forth, they will be enraged, but won’t be able to lift a finger. It’s because they are thieves and stole words.