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Opening Arguments

A Libertarian Era?

Despite the fact that we're witnessing the biggest federal power grab of modern times, some people think we're on the verge of a new Libertarian Era of freedom:

Understanding the Libertarian Moment is fundamental to understanding the 21st century. Power—economic, cultural, political—will accrue to those people who recognize that it's over for existing power centers. The command economy, the command culture, and the command polity have all been replaced by a different model—that of a consultant, a docent, a fixer, a friend. The individuals and groups that will flourish in the Libertarian Moment will be those who open things up, not shut them down.

[. . .]

 The era of the blockbuster and the bestseller has been replaced with something new and wonderful: a world in which individuals are free to express themselves by tapping into millions of different book titles at Amazon, tens of thousands of different songs at Rhapsody, and dozens of different beers at even the least-provisioned supermarket (at least those that aren't banned outright from selling alcohol). Smart retailers realize that the key to the future is to give the customer more choices, not to act as a chokepoint. In a similar way, social networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook do not structure interaction as much as provide a not-so-temporary autonomous zone to facilitate it. Individual users tailor the experience to their own desires rather than submit to a central authority. The inhabitants of such a world are instinctively soft libertarians, resisting or flouting most nanny-state interference, at least on issues that affect their favorite activities. When it comes to online commerce, at least, both producers and consumers scream bloody murder every time 20th century politicians attempt to levy taxes or restrictions on goods and services.

This is a long article that makes some insightful observations, but, overall, I think it's mostly wishful thinking. For every decentralizing impulse there are 10 new schemes by the bureaucrats and moralizers to impose their will on the rest of us. And, contrary to what I believed for a long time, freedom is not a universal yearning. People first want to be free, yes, but then they want to be secure, then taken care of, so the natural tendency is toward more organization, not less.


William Larsen
Thu, 12/04/2008 - 6:05pm

I would like to believe the libertarian era is coming, but I have serious doubts. For one thing, most of the voting populace does not read or seek out candidates positions. They throw mail away, hang up on automated phone messages, walk away while the TV add is playing (most negative, few positions stated) and basically do not care.

What is amazing is most people I speak with (democrat or republican) have libertarian views. The main problem is libertarian has a negative conotation.

You can speak to people one on one, but with over 400,000 potential voters, you cannot possibly speak to everyone. A libertarian candidate cannot rely on the media to be fair in reporting so what do we do?

Until voters actually get off their fannies, research the positions and vote based on positions instead of party, the libertarians are far from being a force reckon with.