Table the Label

Lately I’ve been feeling like progressives have become so entrenched in their own conceptual frameworks that we’re splitting hairs and engaging in name-calling instead of constructively addressing the big picture.  This is not to say we can’t disagree; but the abuse of the confusing term “neoliberal” is not helping, considering very few liberals actually subscribe to market fundamentalism. And it’s complicated: Austerity, for example, is a neoliberal economic approach that was (thankfully) not embraced by the Obama administration. It should go without saying that the term “neoliberal” has nothing to do with political “liberalism” – but sadly it does seem to need saying.

On a similar note, I use the term “socialist” in this cartoon because I see it thrown around a lot, but Scandinavian countries don’t actually have socialist economies; “social democracy” is a more accurate way to describe those governments.

This earlier blog post has more thoughts on how we’re prone to labeling ourselves in unhelpful ways.


  • Rubicon

    I found that, while my views really haven’t changed over time, the label for them has. Oh, they’ve been tempered by age and experience, but still pretty much the same. I believe that while public works and institutions have value, in principle, people should still be at liberty to make decisions of their own, even if doing so assumes some risk to themselves, so long as they do not tangibly harm or interfere with others. And that the public institutions be held to stricter account than just voting every 2 years (and further, if people can’t be assed to do that, it’s probably wiser to do without).

    So, that means that in the 80′s I was a liberal, in the 90′s I was a leftist, in the 00′s I was a radical and I’ve been sliding into Left-Libertarian since the 10′s began.

Jen Sorensen is a nationally-published political cartoonist. She is a 2017 Pulitzer Finalist and recipient of the 2014 Herblock Prize and a 2013 Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award.