A Menagerie of Outspoken Opinions on Science, World Politics, and Geek Culture

Monday, August 16, 2004

The Right Words ... and Monday Links, Too

I've developed a case of The Waffles regarding the terms with which I describe myself politically. I swear I haven't been hanging out with John Kerry; my inability to pick the right words to correctly denote my political affiliation is rooted in my own ethics, not a desire to be non-controversial. I know very well what I believe, but how do I express that to other people without sitting them down for a 20-minute conversation?

In the political vernacular I am a social liberal, fiscal conservative, foreign-policy hawk ... but here at The Zoo we know that "liberal" is now an economic term, not a social one. Furthermore, I'm not so much a "hawk" as I am a foreign-policy "realist"; I support the war because Islamism - fueled by the many failures of Arabian tribalism - has declared war on us. But I'd be the first to beat a few of our swords into plow shares if the Islamists gave up their ambition to destroy the west and subjugate us all to their blood-soaked theology. I support the idea of fighting not because I like fighting, but because they have clearly chosen to fight us and any response on our part besides total commitment to victory would be suicidaly insane.

I've called myself a libertarian, but that's a poor description. I'm not a laissez-faire capitalist nor do I believe in a purely defensive military, which are two central Libertarian positions. I've called myself a fiscally conservative Democrat or a socially liberal Republican - either term fits well - but I no longer belong to either of those parties. Recently I've been using the term "minarchist", and I really am one, but the word doesn't tell you anything except that I like the idea of limiting government. Most Republicans are minarchists, for example, but I'm no Republican; there is just too much that "minarchist" doesn't tell you.

So I spent some time researching all this yesterday, and I've decided I'm going to go with Classical Liberal as my short answer. It is the "most right" (as opposed to the other terms which could only manage "least wrong"). I don't like that the word Liberal is in there at all - it conjures entirely the wrong image - but I'll have to trust new readers and folks I get into political discussions with to be smart enough to deduce that the Classical descriptor denotes something different from what Howard Dean and Michael Moore believe in. My quasi-profile on the sidebar has been updated with a link that defines Classical Liberalism, so those with an interest please take a look.

And okay, a Monday link:

It looks like Moxie is going on hiatus, but I encourage my readers to continue visiting her blog. Her archives are full of great writing and even better photography. I'll admit that I don't always get all of her references and jokes; that is partly because our politics are somewhat different and we live on opposite sides of the country, but also partly because she's a lot smarter than me. For instance, I can't really tell if this break from blogging is because she has a great guy who's taking up all of her time or because the great guy has (foolishly!) heartstomped her and she needs a break. In either case The Zoo wishes Mox all the best and hopes she gets back to her blog someday soon.