A Modest Proposal to Ban the 'Far Right'

A Modest Proposal to Ban the 'Far Right'
AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite
A Modest Proposal to Ban the 'Far Right'
AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite
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To be clear, we don’t suggest banning people on the conservative side of the ideological spectrum – or the liberal side, for that matter. We say it’s time to ban pejoratives like “far right” and “far left” because they don’t adequately describe what what we – or most people – really think. As firm believers in freedom of speech and press, we must add that we don’t actually propose a ban on any offensive terms. Rather, we think readers should view simplistic and derogatory descriptors like “far right” as evidence that writers who use such language are pandering to their readers’ lowest common denominator.

 Let’s start with our own core principles. We advocate for personal liberty, economic freedom, and a limited, constitutional government. Our reward for these views is the occasional “far right” label, which has us wondering why an ideology meant to free people to live as they wish is branded with the same term that’s used for neo-Nazis and some of the most anti-freedom authoritarians to ever walk the earth.

Much the same, we look on the tendency among some on the right to attach “People’s Republic” to certain blue states as similarly obtuse. More than half the world’s venture capital finds its way to promising entrepreneurs in California, Massachusetts, and New York alone. They’re clearly doing something right.

These labels add fuel to the fires of our current polarized politics.

 Who could possibly object to personal liberty? We believe it’s none of our – or the government’s – business what you believe, what happens in your bedroom, whom you marry, or for that matter, whether you’re married at all. In our perfect world, the state would have no role whatsoever in something as personal as marriage in the first place, as was largely the case before the income tax was introduced in 1913.

 Personal decisions are just that. The individual choices you make don’t affect us, and typically won’t even offend us. But even if they did, it’s not the government’s job to shield us from what we deem offensive. If we’re bothered, we’ll look the other way.

We feel the same way about the rights of entertainers and artists to offend. While many loudly wear their progressive politics on their sleeves, we value their freedom to entertain – and hurl insults – without fear that the perpetually offended will muzzle them. Sadly, too many of them are the perpetually offended. As a direct result, the “progressive” entertainment community now seems to walk on eggshells, while applauding the PC police, as they aim to decide what views and words are acceptable.

How very dangerous, and yes, anti-entertainment. Art and culture are in so many ways about risk-taking, putting oneself out there, as it were, pushing the proverbial envelope at times, and yes, sometimes causing audience members to squirm, smirk, gasp and frown.

 The right to fail, whether on stage or in business, is particularly important to our freedom and, perhaps surprisingly, our prosperity. The U.S. has been a hotbed of innovation and wealth creation throughout its history. This is not because every new business succeeds. Quite the contrary. World-changing innovation flourishes here precisely because the majority of businesses fail. Failure is the path to achievement because it provides the crucial information that visionaries need to acquire on their path to success.

While entertainers need a stage, entrepreneurs need capital. They can’t innovate without it. That’s why we’re so eager to aggressively shrink the federal tax burden. As leaders of both parties debate how to reallocate the wealth produced by the American people, freedom shrinks and progress slows. We’d rather see Congress tax much less, so that wildly talented Americans of all ideological stripes have the resources to innovate more.

At the same time, we’re decidedly not anti-government. We’re against an ever-expanding federal government in our lives. On this point, the Constitution is clear. It severely limits what happens in Washington so that people can choose the size and scope of government based on the city or state they live in. One of us recently moved from California to Florida, making exactly this sort of choice.

In a more rational world, those who prefer expansive government might relocate to New York or Massachusetts, while those who think the government should do less might put down in roots in Texas or Tennessee. A delegation of policymaking in favor of local choice, whereby we don't burden others with our often costly worldview, would help fix what’s so plainly wrong. 

Ironically, the term libertarian comes from the same base as liberal, not conservative. Over most of the nation’s history, advocacy for personal and economic freedom, and for limited government, was described as “classical liberalism.”

 In that case no bans are needed. Call us whatever you like, including "far right," so long as we’re free to have a policy vision that differs from yours, and vice versa.

Rob Arnott is chairman Research Affiliates.

John Tamny is editor of RealClearMarkets and director of the Center for Economic Freedom at FreedomWorks.

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