Thursday, July 27, 2006

How libertarian are you?

Libertarianism is pretty much the same as European classical liberalism: the separate term was coined to differentiate it from the left-wing meaning of the word ‘liberal’ in the United States. If you’re interested in finding out how ‘pure’ or ‘hardcore’ your libertarianism is then take this test, or, if you’re pressed for time, this one. On the other hand, if you just want a general indication of where you stand in an Australian context, take the Palmer quiz instead.

When I took the ‘purity’ quiz last year I scored 57, probably because I resisted the questions supporting cuts in military budgets or propagating the withdrawal of a global American military empire. So the test leaves no room for complexities. My score makes me...‘a medium-core libertarian, probably self-consciously so. Your friends probably encourage you to quit talking about your views so much.’

But since then I’ve learnt a thing or two about the non-aggression principle, anti-trust laws and free banking. Thus, when I took it again last week, I scored 67. Hmmm.

One question (‘Is bombing civilians in an enemy country morally equivalent to murder?’) is phrased in such a way that it’s almost impossible to legitimately choose from the two options. Unless you like eating babies.

Another - ‘Should we abolish public schools and universities?’ - doesn't leave a choice. What if you want to stop universities being reliant on the public purse but keep public schools?

Not to mention “Is it morally permissible to exercise ‘vigilante justice,’ even against government leaders?” Well, as the question is asking for a moral - or value - judgement rather than a legal one, I guess it depends on the circumstances. However, I certainly wouldn’t advocate the type of vigilante justice depicted in the movie Summer of Sam.

P.S. If there are any communists reading this blog please do set aside a few minutes for the purity test and post your result here.


At July 27, 2006 7:14 pm, Blogger skepticlawyer said...

Well, I came out with a 59, and stumbled over many of the same questions as you. I also spent a lot of time guessing what my position would be if I lived in the US - there were some very specifically American questions in there.

At July 27, 2006 7:28 pm, Blogger skepticlawyer said...

I'm sorry, the Palmer quiz is busted. It just tried to turn me into a One Nation voter based on my attitude to gun laws.

I had right/centre-right views on everything except 'traditional values', where it stuck me waaay out to the left on the basis of my attitude to drugs (legalize it) abortion (ditto) and euthanasia (ditto).

Does this happen to every libertarian who takes one of these poxy tests, I wonder?

At July 27, 2006 8:14 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Palmer quiz has me voting for the Liberal Party (81.2%) with the Nationals and One Nation close behind. What I expected, so I can't complain. I'm yet to be convinced of the libertarian position on personal firearms ownership, so I suppose that partly explains it.

At July 27, 2006 8:32 pm, Blogger skepticlawyer said...

Admittedly ONP were only ahead of the Libs by a whisker, but the agrarian socialists who populate the National Party weren't far behind, either. Scary.

At July 27, 2006 10:29 pm, Anonymous mikey said...

And I thought I had at least a little bit in common with you guys...

At this rate, and if they don't die a sad political death, i might even sign up with the Dem's. (88%) the test rightly notes that I will cheer any eventual demise of ON. Its absolutely on the money, right down to a slight preference for the libs over the Nats.

Family First is interesting. Sukrit, did you ever get anywhere with the LDP & Peoples party thing? I'm attracted to both but esp the latter.

I did the other test a while back and scored about 27 though i think i was overly generous to the libertarian pov on a few questions.

At July 28, 2006 7:05 am, Blogger skepticlawyer said...

I suspect - in my case - that my views on gun laws acted as a trigger that meant the test automatically dumped me in the ONP camp.

My views on other things are just too non-standard to fit anywhere in the Australian political spectrum. I do tend to agree with most of what I see on the LDP website.

Maybe I should join;)

And Mikey, I suspect we'd line up on the 'traditional values' stuff. The quiz parked me a long way out to the left on that axis.

At July 28, 2006 2:57 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You must mean the article I was going to write on LDP and People Power for farrago. I didn't get time to write a proper journalistic piece so I wrote an opinion instead. As the socialists are currently in power at the student union, the editor wanted me to make changes I wasn't prepared to make so I ended up shelving it.

LDP is a great alternative to the mainstream parties, unforunately most of the people involved have no time to give it the attention it needs to get somewhere.

At July 28, 2006 5:03 pm, Blogger skepticlawyer said...

That's a good piece, Sukrit. I wish you'd given it a run over here when Farrago put the kybosh on it.

At July 28, 2006 6:27 pm, Anonymous mikey said...

I skimmed it a bit, cos im in a hurry (a fairly novel experience for me) but there's a bunch of interesting points in there.

For the meantime, riddle me this. Is it fair to say the Howard government has followed its neoliberal instinct further on the international front than the domestic?

If you're ever wondering where I am coming from it might be that the Peoples power platform will offer some concrete policy based clues. at least I hope they will.

And Sl, yr right; we do line up on the personal values - they call me left. Everywhere else im centre left, which offends the radical in me, but satisfy the anti-binarist in me (just in case that word means anything.)

What changes did the editor want Sukrit?

At July 29, 2006 9:59 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"What changes did the editor want Sukrit?"

Among other things, I was advised to word in a more 'holistic' view of things, including the part where I write about abolishing minimum wages. The editor also seemed to think I didn't address the arguments against having a flat tax (it's regressive, yada yada) but did the fact that the 30-30 tax proposal has a tax-free threshold of $30,000 go unnoticed?

Anyway, the point of my article was not to justify particular policy positions. There are other people who have done that far better than me. The point was to call for a more bipartisan approach to policy formulation, i.e. take the 'liberal' from the current policies of all sides of politics. So in short, to rework my article in a way that satisfied farrago was not worth my while.

I admit this might sound like sour grapes, but I always thought the role of the editor was not to challenge your particular arguments as much as to suggest ways of improving their presentation?

Anyhoo, I just can't wait till student unions start feeling the pinch from VSU next year. It'll be interesting to see if such editorial decisions survive in a more competitive environment. :-)

At August 01, 2006 8:41 pm, Anonymous Sam Ward said...

Sukrit, the LDP quiz that myself and John Humphreys designed is also available again, on the LDP website.

At August 02, 2006 3:05 pm, Blogger skepticlawyer said...

Thanks Sam. I clicked on it a few times only to get the 'blog temporarily closed due to spam' message.

At August 02, 2006 11:27 pm, Anonymous Sam Ward said...

The old domain is gone. My new blog is at, and the quiz is located at

At August 03, 2006 7:00 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

skepticalawyer ... the gun question is waited the same as the other 49 questions. If you answered in favour of guns, it also helped your national party vote.

I agree that the test doesn't give a compelling answer for libertarians. But then I think that reflects mainstream politics, where none of the parties engage a serious liberterian agenda.


At August 03, 2006 9:46 am, Blogger skepticlawyer said...

Cheers Bryan. I wasn't having a go at you, just that I wound up parked somewhere that felt very strange!

At August 03, 2006 9:47 am, Blogger skepticlawyer said...

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