Am I left or right?

on 11 October 2012
Although I don't write nearly enough, one of the reasons that I do is to track my opinions and perspectives over time. I like to think that I am very progressive in the way that I think. If my thoughts are in line with reality, then most of my beliefs will change--evolve--as I age.

I came across a post on Quora that asks about the political leanings of The Economist. I'm including the best answer, which was written by the organization's digital editor below because I think it does a better job of explaining my current beliefs than anything I could put down in words. 

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 ofagricultural subsidies 
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.
In France, a "liberal" is a right-winger keen on free markets; in the US, a "liberal" is a left-winger keen on letting people make their own personal choices. The Economist is liberal in both these senses.
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. So, is The Economist left or right? The answer is yes and no. 
 I may have a different opinion on gun control, but I haven't put any real thought into the matter.