Steve G.

Texas Libertarians Make Austin American Statesman Front Page: Entire World’s Smallest Political Quiz Re-printed

In Libertarian on July 29, 2008 at 2:54 am
Pat Dixon

Pat Dixon

The Libertarian Party of Texas and Chair Pat Dixon made the front page above the fold of Austin’s major daily, the Austin American Statesman.

Libertarians want to be kingmakers in legislative races
The Libertarian Party of Texas is not ready to be king, but it expects to be kingmakers — or spoilers, depending upon your point of view — in the state’s most competitive races.

By Laylan Copelin
AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF

While the online edition includes a link to the Advocate’s for Self-Government’s World’s Smallest Political Quiz, a 5″ x 6″ version of the quiz was included on page eight of the front section of the print edition.  According to their website, the Statesman has a paid circulation of about 180,000 daily.

My hunch is that the article was triggered by this press release: Texas Libertarian Party sees big jump in contributions

  1. […] Last Free Voice for the initial information on this […]

  2. Does the World’s Smallest Political Quiz accurately detect libertarians?

    Come on, purists. The WSPQ says I am a libertarian, and ya’ll know I am not. I certainly disagree with the LP membership oath. We’re talking millions of false positives caused by this quiz. If Ronald Reagan were alive to take this quiz, he would score libertarian. I think Bob Barr would have scored libertarian according to this quiz even while he was still a Republican in Congress.

    I have yet to hear a purist complain about the quiz and its false positives. I have seen purists use the quiz.

    You want to know how the LP got taken over by moderates? It was the Quiz!! Years of recruiting LP members using a definition that allowed for moderation had an effect. It affected me as well. Whereas I joined the LP with the oath-based definition in my callow youth, I stayed in after I moderated because the LP was hawking a definition that still included the likes of me.

    Strike the root! Go after the quiz.

    Or quit whining. Take your pick.

  3. Does the World’s Smallest Political Quiz accurately detect libertarians?

    No. This is better, but takes longer.

    http://www.bcaplan.com/cgi-bin/purity.cgi


    Come on, purists. The WSPQ says I am a libertarian, and ya’ll know I am not. I certainly disagree with the LP membership oath. We’re talking millions of false positives caused by this quiz.

    It says you are libertarian leaning, which you are. They are two different things.


    If Ronald Reagan were alive to take this quiz, he would score libertarian. I think Bob Barr would have scored libertarian according to this quiz even while he was still a Republican in Congress.

    I think they would have scored as conservatives. Why do you think they would have scored as libertarians?


    I have yet to hear a purist complain about the quiz and its false positives. I have seen purists use the quiz.

    We use it to identify people who lean libertarian, with the hope that additional thought, reading and discussion will turn them into ideological libertarians. It often works that way (for example, it did with me) but there are exceptions – for instance, you.

    What we object to is not so much the quiz as the idea that the quiz alone is adequate internal education, and everything else is cargo cult politickin’.


    You want to know how the LP got taken over by moderates? It was the Quiz!!

    Au contraire. I think it was better organization on the reform side, and lack of organization on ours.


    Years of recruiting LP members using a definition that allowed for moderation had an effect. It affected me as well. Whereas I joined the LP with the oath-based definition in my callow youth, I stayed in after I moderated because the LP was hawking a definition that still included the likes of me.

    There is where things may not have been made clear. The quiz is not an identifier of libertarians so much as an identifier of people who are likely to be open to libertarian ideals.

    If I get a laptop, I might switch to some other outreach tool, like the Philosophy of Liberty video from ISIL.

    and other things of that nature. (Check the archives here for a few examples).

  4. The quiz does NOT say “libertarian leaning.” It says “libertarian.” I have NEVER heard an activist at an LP outreach booth say, “Did you know you are libertarian-leaning?” after they end up in the “libertarian” area of the Nolan Chart based on WSPQ. I have heard “Did you know that you are a libertarian?”

    As for Reagan, he pretty much pegged out the economic questions (based on his speeches, vs. what he got past congress). On social issues he was a definite disagree on drugs, and I gave him a D on the sex laws issue. Reagan did not push censorship to my knowledge,* worked hard to ensure a voluntary military and made no move towards a national ID card. 3 out of 5 he would score libertarian on the current version of the quiz.

    *OK, he did crack down on leftist radicals who were interfering with the California University system’s ability to do its job.

    BTW, I am currently reading Edmund Morris’ bio of Reagan. Reagan was extremely liberal in his younger days — what would be called a “progressive” today. He didn’t turn to the right until he saw how dirty the communists fought to take over liberal organizations. Seeing socialism in action in Britain while making movies there was another factor.

  5. Reagan did not push censorship to my knowledge

    Meese Commission?

  6. Milsted, you’re a whiny-puss.

  7. Pauli, I stand corrected.

    Wes, as long as you treat potential LP members the same way you treat me, keep up the bad work.

  8. Paulie, with an e.

    And Wes is doing an awesome job. See the articles about the progress of the Texas LP here and at IPR.

    When you are ready to move the Jubilee Party, or whatever, beyond the realm of theory, give me a call.

    I’m of the belief that we need a variety of strategies working simultaneously, and for all I know yours might work great – but we’ll never know one way or the other until and unless it is actually tested in the real world.

  9. The quiz does NOT say “libertarian leaning.” It says “libertarian.” I have NEVER heard an activist at an LP outreach booth say, “Did you know you are libertarian-leaning?” after they end up in the “libertarian” area of the Nolan Chart based on WSPQ. I have heard “Did you know that you are a libertarian?”

    Carl, I daresay you know the idea here perfectly well: to get someone interested in libertarian ideas long enough to actually pay attention.

    Later, we hope that they either A) see their way clear to becoming ideological libertarians, or that B) they decide that ideological libertarianism is not necessarily for them, but is still closer to them than the other parties, so they would offer some level of support, or C) go away, at least having learned something, and perhaps come back later when they become more libertarian – or not come back if they don’t.

    The idea is not for them to say “well, you told us we are libertarians too, so now we will change the definition of libertarian to say we are and you (actual ideological libertarians) are not!”

    And, yes, I’m open to the idea that the quiz may be too broad a net, and that more filters have to be applied. In sales, there’s a pitch and a takeaway. The quiz is a pitch; there are others, such as the penny jars (government too big, too little or just right), etc. What’s lacking may have been an adequate takeaway.

  10. Paulie,

    Thanks for laying out your view so explicitly. Please define what you mean by an “ideological libertarian”? Please specify what the “correct” libertarian positions are, who codified those positions, and what authority did they have to codify those views and opinions? If you can, please indicate whether those positions are timeless, or whether they can ever be challenged? Again, who has standing to challenge them, if so?

    Sorry if these come off as if I Question Authority, but I’m a libertarian, so I do.

  11. Please define what you mean by an “ideological libertarian”?

    Please specify what the “correct” libertarian positions are, who codified those positions, and what authority did they have to codify those views and opinions?

    That’s an interesting question. It seems to me to be an evolving branch of natural rights philosophy, although mountains of empirical evidence show that it tends to produce the best real world results. Many people have attempted to “codify” libertarian positions, but I see it more as Einstein (I think) said of science and the universe: the more I know, the more I know that I don’t know.

    If you can, please indicate whether those positions are timeless, or whether they can ever be challenged? Again, who has standing to challenge them, if so?

    I think the principle is timeless, but there are still a lot of philosophical problems: abortion, proportionality of retaliatory force, what amount of labor must be mixed with
    what amount of land to establish property rights, conflicting property claims, etc., etc. The messy reality of a transition from existing policies introduces many more issues. Anyone can question anything any time, but I don’t think those who reject the non-initiation of force principle completely are ideological libertarians – although they can certainly be libertarian leaning.


    Sorry if these come off as if I Question Authority, but I’m a libertarian, so I do.

    Awesome! Me too.

    And, yes, I have much to learn.

  12. Grrrrr.

    Looks like we can’t post youtube clips in the comments anymore. Anyone know where in the settings to fix that?

  13. Test. How about pictures?

  14. OK, this sucks. How do I fix it?

  15. Paulie,

    Sounds like you’re suggesting a taxonomy something like this:

    1) NAP absolutists (those who believe all libertarian positions ARE codified and correct with metaphysical certitude)
    2) NAP absolutists with flexibility on the margins, which it sounds like you are.
    3) NAP relativists, which is my view as a theoretical asymptotic anarchist/applied lessarchist
    4) Others, such as as various shades of minarchists: constititutionalists, Randians, Friedmanites, etc.

  16. #1 seems to me to be an unreasonable position. At least some Randians would be in this category, btw. Adopting an ideal, such as the Golden Rule or NAP, does not mean everything all of a sudden falls in place. How does NAP address the issue of the death penalty? How about animal rights/animal cruelty? If humans colonize the moon, can Smith gaze upon the whole moon and declare it his own personal property, can he only claim the plot of moonscape he can personally husband, or some point in between? There are lots of other issues like that.

  17. Paulie,

    Yes, some Randian absolutists are that way, in a sense. Her thinking got so out of control that she specified Rachmonoff and Vermeer as the “objectively” superior composer and painter. Of course, on politics, Randians tend to be minarchists, so, if I have it right, there’s absolutes and then there’s ABSOLUTES, I guess.

    Her protege, Rothbard, carried a lot of that sort of thinking forward, claiming various positions as absolutely correct. He seemed — IMO — to mix up theory with application, claiming an imperative to hold high the banner of various extreme positions, claiming it was “principled” to state, for ex., that fetuses are “parasites.” And, of course, pooh poohing anything he considered a half measure.

    I’d personally be ecstatic if government could be cut in half, but, then, I’m a glass half full sort.

  18. I think it is a mistake to characterise Rothbard as a Rand protege. Nathaniel Branden, sure. Rothbard wrote a very witty play to lampoon the inner circle.

    My mother falls on the line between libertarian and left liberal. 80 on the personal issues, 50 on the economic. She’s not a libertarian. She’s left liberal. She was a “premature anti-Stalinist” to quote from her FBI file, in the 1940s.

    Yes, Carl is not sufficiently libertarian. No, 70/70 isn’t good enough.

    Yes, the Advocates get to write the questions and draw the picture. No, I don’t have to agree with where they choose to blur the lines.

    The Nolan Chart, like the Pournelle chart, is not perfect. It is a projection into 2-space what is inherently a multi-dimensional political space. If you want to point out that either chart is superior to the one-dimensional political spectrum, fine. The Model T was superior to the horse and buggy, but that doesn’t make it a supersonic jet.

    Personally, I would be delighted if the entire government at federal, state, county, regional, and municipal levels simply got into line with the constitutional limits on power and full and complete protection for every scintilla of the Bill of Rights for all people at all times. It would not be freedom, it would not be a society of self government, but it would be a good start.

  19. JD: …70/70 isn’t good enough. Yes, the Advocates get to write the questions and draw the picture. No, I don’t have to agree with where they choose to blur the lines.

    Me: It seems to me progress is being made here! Of course anyone doesn’t “have to agree,” nor does anyone “have to support” a candidate on any line, or another person’s views.

    What makes no sense to me is the dualistic penchant for attempting to create a series of pass/fail litmus tests, as if there is ONE platonic ideal to somehow measure just how libertarian another is.

    I disagree with Rand and Rothbard that a proper characterization of fetuses is that they are parasites. If that’s the case, then we are all former parasites, yes? Do I fail this litmus test? Importantly, should I care?

    This quest for a formula is a fool’s errand when it comes to political opinion. Building up a house-of-cards construct is a colossal waste of time.

    All in my opinion, of course.

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