Starting back in the late 1960s early 1970s, when the modern libertarian movement was really starting to get underway, a libertarian perspective on the left-right political spectrum and how libertarians fit into it, began to take hold. And indeed it caught on quite generally among political observers. It goes something like this; conservatives favor economic liberty and oppose personal liberties while liberals oppose economic liberty and support personal liberties. Libertarians, on the other hand, favor both economic and personal liberty.  I think this world view made a lot of sense in the late 1960s and 1970s when the motto of the political and cultural left was “do your own thing.” But clearly in 2012 this view, particularly with respect to the left, no longer holds. Indeed the modern left no longer supports personal liberty as a general proposition and on many issues the modern right does.

The 21st Century left has totally abandoned personal liberty as a guiding principle (one can debate whether, except for a a decade or two it ever held such a principle). In the 21st Century whenever we think of new restrictions on personal liberty we think of the left. Restrictions on the amount of sugar, salt, and fat that can be in our food or the size cup our sodas can be served in all come from the left. As do restrictions on the kind of light bulbs we can light our homes with, the kinds cars we can drive,  or the amount of water we can have in our toilet bowls. Most recently the left has put in place restrictions on how we are peacefully allowed to practice our religion  and on our freedom to purchase health insurance (under Obamacare we no longer have a right to purchase health insurance as such a right would necessarily  imply the right to refuse to make such purchases. We have moved from having right to purchase health insurance to having a state imposed obligation.) I am sure that the reader could easily add to this list.

On the other hand conservatives, while still generally supporting drug laws and laws restricting pornography  and prostitution (the left seems not to have any coherent position on these issues at all)  almost universally and on principal oppose this new wave of restrictions on personal freedom.

The point is that libertarians need to rethink their view of the left as being allies on issues of personal liberty and the right being the enemy. This world view no longer holds.