My friend Tim Barnett, in the wake of his advocacy of sensible drug law reform and championing of the campaign for Civil Unions in NZ, was once invited to some freedom jamboree organised by various bits of the libertarian right in New Zealand.
He spoke at their conference in Rotorua, and dined out a few times on the horrified and disbelieving response he got when he described himself as a Libertarian Socialist.
The general response seemed to be "no such thing! impossible!"
I think it's an interesting term that illuminates quite a few aspects of my own politics.
Probably one of my strongest dislikes in life is the sight of people exercising petty power over others. Whether it is idiotic school prefecs (of which I unfortunately was one), police officers on a thuggish power trip, bosses out of control at work, politicians doing try hard get-tough routines, bullies in social settings -- all of them really turn me off.
In other words, I have a pretty strong anti-authoritarian streak in my character. This is something I am perfectly comfortable with, but which presents some obvious challenges in working in a party like Labour. I support collectivism in theory and in practice, but only when it is done in a democratic and egalitarian way.
It would be dishonest for me to say that Labour always operates this way, and also dishonest not to say that sometimes I have to bite my tongue. That's always the consequence of working together to get things done, of course, and the obsession that the media have with any hint that people don't all think the same thing at all times, in a chillingly, almost Orwellian sense.
(Another time, I'll post on the obsession the media have with presenting political parties as either the Borg / the Hive Mind, or as disunified and chaotic basketcases, when the reality is and always should be of hard debates, contested ideas and objectives, and democratic pluralism.)
All of the above is a long-winded way of getting to this point: my politics is about freedom and liberation. I do not believe in hierarchies or authority, except those based on the consent of those who are subject to it, of their own free will and with their involvement.
That's an element of what might call libertarianism.
It's also one reason I am in the Labour Party. The social democratic project is about freedom. We want to bring about an economy and a society that gives that legs, in a meaningful sense.
It's a nice provocative tag, though, don't you think? Libertarian Socialism?