"I've been flirting with no longer calling myself a libertarian. If I do, it's mostly because I share a similar general world view. But, I don't see any broad difference between liberals and libertarians. Libertarians are liberals that disagree on specific issues (how to maximize "liberty;" how to maximize social well being; how to maximize the standard of living of the worst off; et cetera). That is, they disagree on the specific direction of change. But, at the same time, both agree that there ought to be change, and that this change ought to benefit as broad a group of people as possible."As a lot of you probably know I don't really think of myself as a "liberal" either, but there's a lot to like in that gang. It's often a self-definition of convenience. Russ and Arnold were talking about libertarians, conservatives, and liberals. In that set I most feel like I'm a "liberal". But from drones to gun control and certain economic issues I'm not really a liberal. Some people say I come across as a libertarian but I think they're just mistaking the common ground that a lot of classical liberals share and that economists are just more likely to pipe up about. I agree with Jonathan that the underlying goals of a lot of these groups are very similar and derive from classical liberal goals. The specific answers have just diverged over time (hell they were divergent a couple hundred years ago too).
Faction - to use an older term for this sort of naming - is useful and dangerous. Let me modify the founders' thinking on this. Faction is useful in that it reduces transaction costs by providing organization around a common denominator. It is dangerous in that it restricts free thinking. I think that's why I resist calling myself anything because I want to think differently about things without feeling like I have to keep the disagreements to a minimum. I want to be able to muse on a State of the Union address and realize "you know what, I really wouldn't mind at all seeing the federal minimum wage struck down". There's something about being unspoken for that lets you pursue your thoughts where they lead you. The same goes with drones. It wasn't an issue several years ago. Because I feel relatively unattached I've felt fine thinking it through and coming to the conclusions that I come to. I'm sort of liberal - if you need to slot me somewhere that's not the end of the world or anything. But there's no real attachment.
I encourage Jonathan to just drop the label (unless someone is interested in labeling - then he can also feel free to take up libertarianism as a "ya, that's as good a label as any" sort of label). There's something about consciously being unattached that's liberating.
Jonathan continues by criticizing my discussion of modern conservatives (see link). I'll grant that I wasn't entirely satisfied with that but the civilization vs. barbarism didn't sound right either. His proposal - "exclusivity" - is an interesting one.