Name Calling

Dan Morgan accuses Glenn Reynolds of being a conservative.

I can’t agree with Dan on this one, if only because by his lights I’m one, too. After giving the matter a little thought and a large cocktail, I’d like to propose a new two-part political labeling system.


What do you call someone whose politics are far to the left, but who wants to achieve his goals through free elections? In today’s parlance, that guy is a liberal.

But what’s the label for someone with the same goals, but through violent means? You might call him a radical, but radical isn’t descriptive enough. Sure, it means someone who wants radical change – but in which direction?

Yes, “reactionary” is what some people call right-wing radicals, but that label is no good, either. A Libertarian could be considered a reactionary, if you forget about slavery and women’s’ rights. Then again, not even Pat Buchanan has (yet) called for taking the vote away from women or putting black people in chains.

Our terms don’t work. I’d call them outdated, but that might get me labeled a reactionary. Or a radical. Or something. Also, I’m not sure our lingo was ever, ah, indated.


What we need are a hyphenated labels, indicating both direction and means.

Take me for example. Individually, each of my political values is more libertarian than not. But as I wrote two weeks ago, I’d rather lose on the issues than corrupt the Constitution. What does that make me? A libertarian-conservative. Libertarian goals, conservative temperament. I’d wager that Glenn would wear the same label, maybe even happily.

So. We need five labels to cover beliefs:


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