Archive for January 10th, 2020

For the past two and a half years, Friday columns have generally been light and low-effort for me; many of them are just expanded versions of tweet threads that I felt deserved a more permanent treatment.  Well, last week someone retweeted some of my content from 18 months ago, and I realized it should have that treatment as part of my intermittent series of columns on language.  I’ve written about this in a number of places (two of which I’ve linked below), but never quite this clearly or succinctly.  And so without further ado:

There are 4 separate meanings of “libertarian”:

1) one who opposes authoritarianism
2) a member of a broad movement advocating reduced governmental power
3) a US political party (capitalized)
4) a pejorative used by some “progressives” to mean “anyone I disagree with”

So if you’re in that first category, which many people are, you may be correctly described under (1) while not fitting into (2) or (3).  And (4) is impossible to control, but also no more meaningful than “traitor”, “infidel” or “doodyhead”.  I’m certainly a member of (1); as an anarchist I’m tolerated by (2); I have generally friendly relations with (3); and (4) is meaningless because membership in it is controlled by the whims of the very silly.

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