Mark Skousen

Should We Label Opponents “Leftists” or “Rightists”?!

“He who controls the labels wins!” — Larry Abraham

I failed to convince the full crowd of libertarians at the Soho Forum; Gene Epstein’s stinging litany of criticisms of Adam Smith seemed to carry the day.

But one comment I made seemed to resonate with many in the audience. When Mr. Epstein called Harvard economist and Nobel Prize winner Amartya Sen a “left winger,” I objected to this form of character assassination. In today’s divided world, journalists and media are quick to label someone as a “leftist” or “right wing extremist” in an effort to demonize them and their position. It is especially prevalent on Fox News, MSNBC and on the front page of the New York Times.

I object to such political pigeon-holing and smear tactics. If we are truly individualists, why don’t we treat every person as an individual who has opinions that may differ from others.

Take Amartya Sen, for example. Sure, he may have views that are not libertarian, but then again, he has written extensively on the economics of famines, and has argued that there has never been a serious famine in a country — even an impoverished one — with a democratic government and a free press. That sounds pretty libertarian to me.

Click here to read the rest of the article, “Should We Label Opponents “Leftists” or “Rightists”?!


Sign Up