Freedom is Neither 'Left' nor 'Right'
By Richard Ebeling - July 29, 2014

We live in a time when virtually all political parties and candidates stand for the same fundamental ideological idea: state interventionism and compulsory redistribution. This also applies to the mainstream media. Even many who say they adhere to a "pro-market" view of things in fact turn out to be only more "moderate" advocates of government regulations and welfare-state programs.

This is why political labels have become increasingly meaningless. Back in the 1950s and 1960s it was a common practice in political discussions to refer to people on "the left" as socialists or communists, and to call those on "the right" fascists or Nazis.

The False Distinction Between "Left" and "Right"

American liberals were considered "left-wingers" who were for bigger government and sympathetic to socialism, while conservatives were viewed as "right-wingers" who were "pro-big business" and against the "little guy" and therefore closet fascists.

These distinctions were misplaced and irrelevant because in the reality of twentieth century history both "left-wingers" and "right-wingers" were merely two variations on the same collectivist theme. Both were devoted to government control of social and economic life, with only minor institutional differences between them.

Marxian socialists advocated government nationalization and direct central planning of all production, while Italian fascists and German Nazis were for comprehensive government regulation and planning of all property that remained nominally in private hands.

In addition, Marxists spoke of an international workers' revolution in comparison to fascists and Nazis who talked about nationalist and racial wars. Both socialists and fascists therefore believed that the world was divided into collective groups – social classes, nations, or races – that were inherently and inescapably in conflict with each other. The individual was denied meaning and existence outside of the tribe or social herd.

In our own times, Mussolini- and Hitler-type fascism is long a thing of the past and Soviet-style socialism is now gone as well.

"Left" Liberal Denials of Freedom

What we are left with in American politics are those who call themselves "liberals" (or "progressives") and "conservatives," and who claim to be ideologically very far apart from each other. But are they really so far apart?

On "the left," the liberals say they are for civil liberties and personal freedom, but they continue to advocate ever more government regulation of business, redistribution of wealth and various forms of social engineering to manipulate human relationships and attitudes.

They never explain how personal freedom can be maintained and civil liberties secured if the government imposes a thought police to enforce "politically correct" conduct and language, or if society is divided into racial, ethnic and gender groups, each to be assigned by political power certain "affirmative" favors and privileges at the expense of others.

Nor can individual freedom be guaranteed when government taxes away the wealth of some to redistribute to others deemed more deserving because of ideological influence or political clout. Likewise, liberty has little meaning when government can seize people's property, regulate their business and industry, and interfere with the peaceful and voluntary exchanges that free men and women agree to for their mutual betterment.

"The left" in America still does not get it: freedom is an empty word if private property is not respected and if all human relationships are not based on personal consent.

"Right" Conservative Denials of Freedom

On "the right" in America many conservatives still use the rhetoric of individual freedom and free enterprise, but beneath the surface it is clear that too often this is mere form without content. Many mainstream conservatives have given up all interest and willingness to oppose and abolish the interventionist-welfare state.

They have made their own peace with Big Government. They believe that the wider American public cannot be weaned from political paternalism; so they have set themselves the more "modest" goal of getting control of the political machinery in order, supposedly, to manage the welfare state more "cost-efficiently" and to use it to direct society in "better" and more "virtuous" directions.

Some fifty years ago conservatives used to tell their opponents on the left: "You cannot legislate morality." Better conduct could only come, they would say, through improvements in the individual human hearts of men and women, and through the peaceful possibilities of voluntary association.

Rarely is this heard anymore on the conservative "right." Instead, too many conservatives wish to use the government to socially engineer their fellow Americans in only a different form than their opponents on the left. Conservatives merely vie over control of school boards and educational curricula to see that public – government – school imposes a mindset on the youth of America different than the one the "progressives" would like to successfully implement.

No "Moral Compass" Through Coercion

These conservatives have apparently forgotten that no moral compass, virtuous conduct, or proper sense of community can be fostered through political propaganda or government-school indoctrination. The sources for these virtues are family and friends, and most importantly a moral philosophy of individualism and individual rights, out of which truly ethical conduct can emerge. It only can fully flourish outside of the political process.

In addition, far too many American conservatives see nothing wrong with government interventions, subsidies and regulations as long as they serve their personal business and income interests. Trade restrictions on foreign competition, regulations limiting domestic rivals, tax benefits to assure greater than market-based profits, and lucrative government contracts are all viewed as "the American way" by segments of the conservative political establishment.

Thus, in contemporary America the supposedly liberal "left" and the conservative "right" are really, for the most part, still two variations on the collectivist theme. Both wish to use the power of government to manipulate the social and economic environment.

They differ in their conception of the politically manufactured world they would like to see created, but both of these wings of collectivism share the determination to use government coercion to produce the outcomes they desire.

What the Friend of Freedom Advocates

The true friends of freedom are neither "left" nor "right." Classical liberals and libertarians reject the morality or the ability of politics to either recast human nature or to forcibly create a presumed "better world."

The classical liberal considers the highest political good to be the freedom of the individual. The function of government in a free society is to secure everyone from the predatory conduct of others. The purpose of law and the police is to see that everyone is protected in their life, liberty and honestly acquired property.

The cornerstone of the ethical society is that human relationships should be based on consent and mutual agreement. The free market is the natural arena of liberty, in which all associations are the result of free choice and no one may be forced into being the tool of another person's purpose.

Society is not some giant chessboard, to use a metaphor of Adam Smith's, on which the social engineer moves us about to suit his political pleasure. Rather, the civil society of free men is one in which we form patterns of association with one another as we find them good, desirable and beneficial.

The great political dichotomy, therefore, is between those who advocate force (often and perversely in the name of "good intentions" and "noble causes") and those who value freedom (for the flowering of the individual and the fostering of a just and prosperous society).

For this reason, the cause of liberty continues to transcend the erroneous distinction between "left" and right."

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  • swemson

    The author paints an excellent quick picture of the perfect society when he writes:

    “The classical liberal considers the highest political good to be the freedom of the individual. The function of government in a free society is to secure everyone from the predatory conduct of others. The purpose of law and the police is to see that everyone is protected in their life, liberty and honestly acquired property.

    The cornerstone of the ethical society is that human relationships should be based on consent and mutual agreement. The free market is the natural arena of liberty, in which all associations are the result of free choice and no one may be forced into being the tool of another person’s purpose.”

    Interesting… I never thought of Ayn Rand as a liberal before…..


    • Bruce C

      Do you mean a “classical liberal”?

    • Bill Ross

      “I never thought of Ayn Rand as a liberal before”

      no offense, BUT until you clarify your definitions, you (or anyone) cannot REALLY think:


      know “them” by what they DO. Labels are just meaningless distractions

      …and politics is the “realm of opinion”, vastly expanded by an assault on reason and proven knowledge, especially in the area of social / economic organization.

    • Friend of John Galt

      Ayn Rand actually has more in common with _Classical_ liberals than any other viewpoint. She is often (wrongly) associates with conservatives because her philosophy, Objectivism, focuses on laissez-faire capitalism. (Which the U.S. have never fully practiced, though it was pretty close to it in the late 19th Century.) Modern “Liberals” or progressives do not believe in true laissez-faire capitalism, rather they want a state-regulated capitalism that is actually fascism (though they’ll usually not accept that label as they use it as an epithet). Unfortunately, many conservatives believe in a “safety net” that is simply a “lite version” of the progressive dream-utopia (that we can not ever achieve and is likely to bankrupt us before they give up…).

      Ayn Rand’s philosophy has roots in Aristotelian philosophy, and subsequent philosophers like Hume, Adam Smith, von Mises, and Hayek. She, of course, also studied the philosophers she disagreed with, such as Comte, Marx, Hegel, and Kant.

      A return to a government that resides within the limits of the constitution (as it was first written and before it was shredded by courts and politicians) would be fairly close to the type of government that she felt was required under her philosophy.

      Among the positions held with in Objectivism are atheism, “choice” for abortion, no objections (legally) to the use of drugs of any kind, etc. The “virtues” within Objectivism, however do set it apart from hedonism or any other ‘anything goes’ type of philosophical construct.

      A human is free to use his reason to survive in life, and is free to trade with others. Virtues that are “life affirming” are considered valuable: in practical terms, arguments are made for honesty, fidelity, and other “conservative” or “family values” — but it remains paramount that the individual controls all decisions about themselves and their property. While Rand used the term “selfish” (see her book, The Virtue of Selfishness), I think she used the term to be controversial but it has often been used to mislead (or by those who haven’t read any of her works to mislead others) about the nature of her philosophy. A better description would be “enlightened self-interest” — but that might not have gotten the attention that “selfish” generated.

      Under an enlightened sense of self interest, one would be honest because that would further the relationships needed to trade value for value. … and so on, through the list of various behaviors. Using recreational drugs would be within the realm of choices left to each individual. An objectivist would likely not use recreational drugs or would use them only under limited circumstances, because they are likely to not be “life affirming” in the long run. Issues like abortion (and other medical care) fall within the individuals realm of choices since they directly affect one’s own body and life.

      Laissez-faire capitalism is required, as interference by third parties limits the ability of individuals to “trade” with one another. Courts would be used to enforce contracts freely entered into by the various parties.

      This is about all that can be touched upon in a brief answer….

  • There is ZERO difference between communism, fascism, marxism, nazism, socialism and the root of all of these FEUDALISM. The Euro baking monopolists found and funded Marx, Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Mao and more. The Keynesian economists then split the fascist/nazi groups to be “right wing” to set the margins of “acceptable” thought. Skull and Bones member Henry Luce was placed as editor of Time magazine, and Skull and Bones member, and admitted CIA asset William Buckley was placed as head of National Review. For decades these media puppets set the margins of political mono-tribe. The Hearts publication, New York Enquirer was a test bed for his scandal sheet for decades, but outgrew it’s usefulness. This screed was purchased by a mobster with CIA ties and used to discredit any “conspiracy” theory, making UFOs and CIA assassinations into Enquirer comedy punchlines. With monopoly run print, broadcast and “entertainment” herding, the robber barons were able to successfully guide the sheeple. Humanity has outgrown this Demonic Warlord control model and will soon conduct the needed Crimes Against Humanity trials and executions for these evil players. Every epiphany is permanent, and many are discovering the difference between “left and right” is as simple as “right and wrong”.

    See, “Skull and Bones, the Order at Yale Revealed” by Charlotte Thompson Iserbyt on youtube on this murderous cult.

    • John Newby

      Thanks. I watched that video this morning. Great information. Charlotte Iserbyt’s father was a member of “Skull and Bones” and received a list of all their members going back to 1832. Charlotte gave that list to Anthony Sutton and he was able to uncover a great deal of information about that secret society and the power they wield. They are behind the drugs and drug wars, wars, the right/left control devices, the educational system, and the government. “Skull and Bones” should be called the “Brotherhood of Death.”

      Anthony Sutton’s book, “AMERICA’S SECRET ESTABLISHMENT An Introduction To the Order of Skull & Bones describes how they use the power of hegelian dialectic to rule the masses. http://www.antonysutton.com/

      Sutton writes, “Wonder why we have a “dumbed-down” society? Look no further than the Bonesman troika who imported the Prussian education system into the U.S. in the 19th Century. A political philosophy in direct opposition to the classical liberalism nurtured in 19th Century British and American history. In classical liberalism, the State is always subordinate to the individual. In Hegelian Statism, as we see in Naziism and Marxism, the State is supreme, and the individual exists only to serve the State.”

      The Best Enemies Money Can Buy – An Interview with Professor Antony C. Sutton

  • Bill Ross

    RE: “government regulations and welfare-state programs”

    “they”, “existing by a forcefully extracted percentage” have chosen to pursue the WRONG GOAL / primary variable: “consent of the governed” leading to appeasement of anti-civilization values and a general assault on intelligence and collective survival.

    It is “consent / opposition of the productive” “they” really NEED to pay attention to:


  • Bill Ross

    RE: “The sources for these virtues are…”

    a consequence of personal responsibility / freedom:

    “Everyone personally faces the consequences of their OWN actions, good or bad” (and therefore can learn, adapt to excellence, individually and collectively)

    AKA: justice

    codified / made measurable, controllable, objective by the “rule of law”:


    now, rationalized away by “assistant predators on the politically stacked bench”

    clearly, if we are to survive as other than livestock, we need to provide an “equal and opposite reaction”, by “getting REAL”:


  • A succinct explanation of the false left/right paradigm. What can be summed up as “Right-wing Authoritarian Collectivism” However, I believe the Progressives hijacked not only the concept of “liberal,” but also “left.”

    For the left/right model to have any significant value, it should be understood that the farthest Right possible is Totalitarianism while the farthest Left possible is Anarchy.

    This is reflected in Albert Nock’s statement that…”In principle, there are only two fundamental political viewpoints — Social power and State power. That is, there are two contradictory ends of the political spectrum — freedom and slavery.” Robert Heinlein pointed out basically the same when he said…”The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire.”

  • In the meantime American citizens must bend over and bare it!

    On July 28, 2014, Reason TV released Drug Warriors in New Mexico Go Too Far. Incorporating footage from cameras on the dashboards and lapels of New Mexico law enforcement officers, the program tells the story of Timothy Young, a man who was pulled over in Lordsburg, New Mexico, for a traffic violation in October 2012.


  • bouf

    There is a grand difference between the words Liberty and freedom. I would agree with this whole piece if you substituted Liberty for every instance of the “f”-word in it.