George Will reviews The Declaration of Independents: How Libertarian Politics Can Fix What’s Wrong with America by Nick Gillespie and Matt Welch. They argue that, what with our new technology and all, libertarianism will inevitably become the dominant political and economic ideology:
“Confirmation bias” is the propensity to believe news that confirms our beliefs. Gillespie and Welch say that “existence bias” disposes us to believe that things that exist always will. The authors say that the most ossified, sclerotic sectors of American life — politics and government — are about to be blown up by new capabilities, especially the Internet, and the public’s wholesome impatience that is encouraged by them.
“Think of any customer experience that has made you wince or kick the cat. What jumps to mind? Waiting in multiple lines at the Department of Motor Vehicles. Observing the bureaucratic sloth and lowest-common-denominator performance of public schools, especially in big cities. Getting ritually humiliated going through airport security. Trying desperately to understand your doctor bills. Navigating the permitting process at your local city hall. Wasting a day at home while the gas man fails to show up. Whatever you come up with, chances are good that the culprit is either a direct government monopoly (as in the providers of K-12 education) or a heavily regulated industry or utility where the government is the largest player (as in health care).” . . .
A generation that has grown up with the Internet “has essentially been raised libertarian,” swimming in markets, which are choices among competing alternatives.
And the left weeps. Preaching what has been called nostalgianomics, liberals mourn the passing of the days when there was one phone company, three car companies, three television networks, and an airline cartel, and big labor and big business were cozy with big government.
I tend to be suspicious of claims that the triumph of a certain ideology is inevitable. The communists tried that. But it does seem like libertarianism will have a shot, once it disentangles itself from the other parties. Democrats tend to be libertarian when it comes to moral issues, but traditionalist big government advocates when it comes to economics. Republicans tend to be libertarian when it comes to economics but traditionalists when it comes to moral issues. A winning ticket in this culture would probably be libertarian when it comes to government, economics AND morality. Not that I’m for that. I’m waiting for a political movement to be traditional in government (that is, one with strength and authority but that knows its limits, like the traditional conservatives were always working for), economics (some attention to national interests) AND morality. But I wouldn’t count on that being ascendant any time soon.
I know some of you are libertarians, but Christian libertarians. Does your Christianity keep you from believing in the progress towards a utopia that this book seems to herald?
If the book is right, what would a libertarian society and political order look like? And what problems would it introduce?