Forum:Why has no libertarian society ever existed?

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Through out human history why have we never seen a single society embrace free trade, free banking, open borders, privatized education, legalized drugs, low-to-no taxes, no involvement in international organizations, no state funded R&D, and no public works projects?

In theory all these ideas seem good on paper, but in reality they don't work. Why is that?— Unsigned, by: Neo Stalinist / talk / contribs 04:38, 3 December 2014‎ (UTC)

My guess is that it's because they in reality benefit the strong and/or dishonest by letting them steamroll and/or con the rest:
This would probably be particularly true in business and banking. All the experience with free banking shows a truly disruptive cycle of boom and bust which was far more frequent than under "controlled" banking. It turned out that being a dishonest con man was good business and with no one to prevent such types ripping off their customers, the economy was left with two problems, namely that the banking system's boom & bust interfered with the general economy, and that capital was being "sucked out" of the economy in the guise of the proverbial money under the mattress as the individual hedged against bank collapses.
As for education, I really don't see how having (only) private education would make much of a difference, except the lack of regulation would allow for de facto indoctrination con jobs (think Evangelical home schooling on steroids when it comes to peddling garbage) to wrap itself in the mantle of "education". And of course a purely privatised educational system would run the risk of some kids not being guaranteed an education, which would not only be bad for those individuals, but also risk losing potentially highly valuable human resources that could be gainfully employed - which would also go for those getting a garbage pseudo-education, btw.
Open borders? That was actually pretty much the norm prior to WWI. Same with legalised drugs, except you have to go a little further back in history (and that meant also having the proverbial snake oil salesmen either conning, poisoning, or killing their costumers). Again, this tends to favour the unscrupulous willing to prey on the gullible.
Low-to-no taxes sounds fine, if you don't want any of the stuff they pay for (including today's infrastructure which is massively more expensive to maintain than in the days of low-to-no taxes - cf. "no public works systems"). Permit me a cynical (over?)generalisation: The proponents of libertarianism tends to be either young, healthy, or wealthy, or all three at once, which gives a pretty good suggestion why they think libertarianism is a good idea, but also why those who don't have these characteristics are usually quick to spot the flaws. It's why Social Darwinism also seems such a good idea to those who think they are among the "fittest".
No involvement in international organisations would change what, exactly? Considering that IOs pretty much never have much more power than the normative and moral one of finger wagging (which I don't see is incompatible with libertarian ideas), I don't see why libertarians would have a problem with them. Indeed, if we take a libertarian view, but exchange the individual with the state, then the international system is fairly close to a libertarian utopia, since states can almost never be outright forced into anything and because active state consent underpins most IO influence (i.e. IOs have almost exactly the amount of power that the states have delegated to them).
No state funded R&D would likely hamper innovation. Why? Because first of all, I don't think govt. research spending is driving out or misdirecting what would instead have been private research spending. And secondly, because a lot of the spin-offs of govt. funded research have been extremely useful, but probably no private group would have "wasted" the money on what, at the time, would have seemed "unprofitable" research. Basically, private research funding tends to focus inordinately on applied research, which is a short-term perspective, rather than long-term basic research. That is of course not saying that money are never wasted in public research.
Basically the libertarian utopian ideas operation with unrealistic assumptions about people, because it not only ignores the fact that the utopia would simply shift the power over others from institutions to individuals, but also that the rather extreme "methodological individualism", on which this utopia is based, ignores how social relations work and that humans are social animals. ScepticWombat (talk) 07:37, 3 December 2014 (UTC)
On the anti-Libertarian crusade, you turnin into a War on Drugs proponent...--Arisboch (talk) 17:24, 12 May 2015 (UTC)
The glib answer would be because the term "libertarian society" is damn near an oxymoron. From the 50,000 foot level the broad brushstrokes are generally appealing. More personal liberties, low taxes, yada yada yada. But once you leave orbit, and get into the weeds, it pretty much falls apart for anyone who doesn't worship at the Church of the Free Market. --Inquisitor (talk) 10:12, 3 December 2014 (UTC)
The even glibber answer would probably be that hunter-gatherer tribes match all those specific points (kinda) and that those stopped being a thing for a reason. --Yukabacera (talk) 20:20, 7 December 2014 (UTC)
I actually added something along those lines into the article on the Unabomber a few days ago. Short version: the Unabomber wrote a lengthy article about how primitive hunter-gatherer societies were libertarian utopias, and that the advance of technology, by requiring maintenance to keep running that had to be provided through coercion and wage labor, was responsible for the emergence of the Big Bad State. (The article's framed as "debunking myths about the noble savage", but in practice it was largely "debunking left-wing myths about the noble savage" while promoting his own idealized version of hunter-gatherer society.) KevinR1990 (talk) 00:09, 9 December 2014 (UTC)
Depends what you mean by libertarianism. Ask 50 people and you get 50 answers. EmeraldCityWanderer (talk) 01:15, 9 December 2014 (UTC)
They've tried [1]... but it worked out just about as well as you would expect it to. Long story short people got their asses scammed off. Samstr (talk) 21:46, 9 December 2014 (UTC)

We did have an effectively libertarian society during the Gilded Age. None of this FDA nonsense about making sure what you put in your product was actually safe or if what you said is in your product was actually in the product at all, just your "reputation" and the market to self regulate. No OSHA to prevent "unwanted" restrictions on how dangerous your workplace can be. A legal system that wouldn't interfere if you wanted your own currency that your workers were paid in and you controlled (that is, the company store; I loan you 500 Sloppers to buy weekly supplies from my store, oh don't worry you'll make 1000 Sloppers a week. Wait no, I reduced the prices to 5 Sloppers because I'm so nice though you only get 10 per week, but you still owe me 500. HAHA!). Turns out that some regulations really do make products better, and there are quite a few parts of the economy a government simply can do more efficiently for a fraction of the cost than the private sector can. CorruptUser (talk)

The Gilded Age was very imperfectly libertarian, and was fueled in part by protectionist tariffs and made possible largely by natural resources from the conquest of Indian territory.
Humans don't naturally make libertarian societies the way libertarians mean them. Humans have a variety of hard coded subroutines for building human societies. There are routines for language, routines for fairness in exchange, routines for status seeking and hierarchy, routines for social networking. We don't have anything that was meant to process money or markets ruled by supply and demand. None of that was around when the human social psyche evolved. - Smerdis of Tlön, A ⇒ ¬A. 22:04, 29 January 2015 (UTC)
Reading the original post for the fist time I see: "In theory all these ideas seem good on paper, but in reality they don't work. Why is that?"
I kind of think that there are enormous hidden assumptions in "In theory all these ideas seem good on paper ..." which probably explains the "but in reality they don't work" consequence.--Coffee (talk) 20:12, 12 May 2015 (UTC)

Because "libertarian society" is an oxymoron[edit]

Fundamentally, libertarians want the benefits of a society without the costs and imagine capitalism will take care of that for them, through impossibly enlightened self-interest.


For sufficiently sane variations on the libertarian strain, every modern liberal democracy can be argued to meet the definition of a "libertarian society". Huge emphasis on personal freedom is already the norm, and the professed goal of almost every major political party. Well, not UKIP. But whatever. ikanreed You probably didn't deserve that 21:05, 12 May 2015 (UTC)