Us vs. Them vs. Libertarians

I’m puzzled by the continuing dominance of the “left vs. right” mode of political thinking. Neither left nor right in the current senses, the libertarian position is so natural and intuitive to me that I have trouble understanding why most people think in left vs. right terms and insist on categorizing others in those same terms.

However, it makes sense if these are not consistent political ideologies but very broad group identities. David Friedman has mentioned this theme several times (and the one I found first was this one). When there is already an “us vs. them” system it’s only confusing and frustrating to have to add another category. Especially if that category is “sometimes us, sometimes them”, which leads all too quickly to “functionally them” and then to dismissal without investigating.

I don’t know a great way to combat this tendency except to point out where libertarians are better on some position than the alleged defenders of that position in the Team Blue vs. Team Red spectrum. Better on low taxes than Republicans. Better on war than Democrats. Etc. When there are enough of us making these points, perhaps the larger teams will have to admit that they don’t really care that much about said issues—they just like being part of those teams.


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