Group 1: Libertarians
Libertarians are people who don’t want rulers and don’t want other people to have control over them or responsibility for them. They want to be independent and responsible for themselves.
It follows that they don’t want to be other people’s rulers; they don’t want control over, or responsibility for, other people. They think other people should be independent and responsible for themselves.
They want to live and let live. Because of that, they do not try to force their belief and way of life onto others.
They are a minority.
Group 2: Non-libertarians
Everyone else (collectivists, but most of them would not self-identify as collectivists) does want rulers and does want other people to have some control over them and responsibility for them. They want to be dependent and share some responsibility for themselves.
It follows that they do want to be other people’s rulers; they do want control over other people and shared responsibility for other people. They think other people should be dependent and share responsibility for themselves.
They want others to live like them. Because of that, they try to force their belief and way of life onto others (most of them are not consciously aware of any of that).
They are a majority.
Liberty will not win that contest
In the above scenario, liberty with its minority of non-forceful people, will not win against collectivism with its majority of forceful people. Collectivism will win with large and expanding government, social “services”, welfare, taxation, restrictive laws, central planning, et cetera. That’s why we have all those things.
A minority libertarian society will not be libertarian.
Most people want collectivism, not liberty
You may wonder if enough people could come around to libertarianism to make them a majority. This will not happen in our lifetime and probably never on a large scale over a long time.
Groups of people tend toward collectivism, this is proven by history and society as it is today. Most people who feel oppressed by tyrannical rulers do not want to have any rulers, they want to replace the tyrants with different rulers who are kinder to them.
Most people who are unhappy with how their government is using its power, do not seek to reduce the power of government, they seek to make the government use that power in a way they like.
Consider our greatest historical and contemporary symbols of freedom fighting against oppressive rulers.
Braveheart, William Wallace, “They may take our lives, but they will never take our freedom!” Scottish independence fighters did not fight for individual liberty, they fought to live under Scottish rulers rather than English rulers.
Nelson Mandela and the freedom movement he led did not struggle for minimal government, they struggled to replace a big apartheid government with a big non-apartheid government.
There are many psychological and evolutionary reasons why most people want collectivism, not individual liberty. People don’t want full and sole responsibility for themselves, they don’t want to be one mistake or one stroke of bad luck away from falling into poverty with no safety net. That concern extends to other people they care about.
What they fear would in fact not be the case in a libertarian society. There would be charities, insurance, mutual aid groups, et cetera to prevent it. But people fear that it would be the case.
There are also moochers who like that a more collectivist society gives them a better chance to extract value from other people without providing value themselves.
This type of collectivism was better suited to the way people have been organized for the vast majority of human history; tribal groups of around 100 people who all know each other. The same logic does not work as well when expanded to nation-states made up of millions of otherwise disconnected people.
Anyway, a majority of people will not become libertarians. How else could a libertarian society come about?
Try to create a libertarian society
The only alternative is to make a new society out of most libertarians, only allow mostly libertarians to enter, and indoctrinate most children born into this society to libertarian beliefs and way of life (I will refer to this society as Liberland).
The way people on earth are currently organized this could only be done as a nation-state with a government. Otherwise, it would be prevented by the government of whatever nation-state it was in.
Many libertarians do not believe nation-states with governments should even exist! Creating and maintaining Liberland would be, in some ways, anti-libertarian.
Libertarians believe it’s fine if someone moves next door to them who does not share their beliefs and way of life, no problem. But it would be an existential problem for Liberland. If most of your neighbours are non-libertarian, they will destroy Liberland and you will be back to a collectivist society.
Liberland may be an impossible contradiction because its creation and maintenance would require libertarians to force their beliefs and way of life onto others. For example, by not allowing some non-libertarians to live where they want to live.
Still, most libertarians would be willing to compromise on this if Liberland was practically possible. It’s not, there is nowhere to put it. There is no unclaimed uninhabited territory and there is no- nation-state state who will relinquish sovereignty to allow for Liberland.
Communist societies can launch while libertarian societies can’t
Communist societies have been able to form in conditions where libertarian societies have not for 2 main reasons
- Communists are more willing than libertarians to use violence to bring about the society they want.
- Communism seems more appealing than libertarianism to the majority of the population.
So we have a situation where communist societies can start but not succeed while libertarian societies could succeed, but can’t start.
The best option left: Good democracies
Given most people are non-libertarians if you want to live in an open, inclusive society made up of a wide range of diverse people, that anyone can be a part of, then it will not be a libertarian society. If you want to live in a normal place with normal people you have to accept collectivism.
Non-libertarian societies can take many forms; communism, democracy, dictatorship, feudalism, monarchy, and the list goes on.
Of all possible non-libertarian societies, a good meritocratic democracy with limited government and low taxes is probably as good as it is going to get for libertarians.
Given a libertarian society is impossible for now, libertarians living in democracies may already be living close to the best type of society practically possible.
The best chance libertarians have of improving their lives and the lives of those they care about are by trying to make their democracy more meritocratic with a more limited government and lower taxes.
The good news for libertarians
Societies are not binary 100% libertarian or 100% collectivist. Try to focus on and expand the more libertarian aspects of society as it is.
It makes no sense to be angry at non-libertarians who deny everyone liberty. There are reasons most people are like that, it’s not their fault, they are the normal ones.
The combined efforts of libertarians and non-libertarians to improve our rulers is part of what has led to the most prosperous world with the highest quality of life that has ever existed; right here right now.
It’s perfectly possible to have a successful, prosperous and happy life as a frustrated libertarian in a good democracy.