It appears I am The Economist

by Stephen Tall on October 11, 2012

Via Popbitch (ahem), I stumbled across this post, Is The Economist left or right?, in which the newspaper’s digital editor Tom Standage answers the question thusly:

The Economist is not inherently left-wing or right-wing; its political philosophy is rooted in 19th-century Classical Liberalism of the John Stuart Mill variety. Essentially we are fans of Free Markets (The Economist was founded to oppose the Corn Laws) and individual choice. So we favour, for example, a small state and the abolition of agricultural subsidies (right-wing fiscally liberal positions); but we also support gay marriage and the legalisation of drugs (left-wing socially liberal positions).

Generalising hugely,
* Right-wing parties tend to be fiscally liberal but socially conservative; they think it’s OK for companies to do what they like but want to intervene in people’s private lives.
* Left-wing parties tend to be keener on individual choice in private affairs but think they know better when it comes to spending people’s money (via taxation) or regulating the market.

Which is of course why liberals are neither right-wing nor left-wing, however much the media likes to perpetuate the myth you must be one or the other.

In theory our position might be characterised as libertarian, but that term also has baggage: unlike many American libertarians, The Economist is in favour of gun control, for example, on the liberal ground that your freedom to do what you want (own lots of guns) ends where my freedom to do what I want (not being shot) begins.


The conclusion:

So, is The Economist left or right? The answer is yes and no.

Fair do’s, though for myself I much prefer the simpler response: neither, I’m a liberal.