On Friday at 9 pm, I am going to moderate a talk between Walter Block and Sheldon Richman. The topic of discussion is left libertarianism, what that is, and why some people choose that term to describe their political beliefs. If you have a question or an issue you’d like me to bring up, please leave it here. Regardless, you can — I believe — watch the talk her on Friday at 9. So, you know, do that.

  • Earl of Sandwich

    Question for anyone =

    According to the “political compass’…


    …’Left-libertarianism’ is an entire ‘quadrant’

    (….with the entire bottom 50% of the chart reflecting a range of ‘right and left libertarianism’… which I think highlights one of the big problems with this illustration – the assumption that half of all possible political views qualify as something ‘sort of libertarian-ish’)

    However, in the slightly modified (and more thoughtful, in my view) “Nolan Chart”…


    …the axes are basically the same, but the axis labels are clarified as “economic freedom” and “personal freedom”.

    In this latter depiction, Libertarianism (defined as maximal personal AND economic freedom) is not 50% of the total possible political views, but
    rather only a quadrant.

    And “Leftism”… defined as maximal personal freedom, but limited economic freedom… is its opposing quadrant.

    Further refined…if you were to add in subdivisions for whether these respective economic/social views are “principles”, or merely issues you will compromise on as long as they remain on one’s preferred side of the axis… then those quadrants get further divided into small 1/8th sections, even further apart from one another.

    The point i am making via the graphic comparison is to clarify that there is in fact no possible overlap between any principled libertarian view, and any principled “Leftism” – which by definition grants little/no regard whatsoever to economic liberty.

    Further, I would argue that there is no possible restriction of economic liberty that does not necessarily compromise personal liberty as well. (and i believe history has demonstrated this over and over, from feudalism to communism)

    Because economic liberty is the essential, sine qua non which creates opportunity for personal choices. Lack of the former will always inhibit the latter.

    (while the reverse – restricted personal liberty, while allowing wider economic freedoms – is certainly possible and exists in many theocratic societies)

    How do you reconcile the idea that *any* form of principled Libertarianism can co-exist with economic Leftism, given the Nolan framework…
    which strongly suggests otherwise – that they are mutually incompatible?

    • Lucy Steigerwald

      I will steal that question part at the end and ask! And credit the Earl of Sandwich.

      Thanks for asking!