I probably should not do it to myself, but sometimes I can not help but wonder how a large group of seemingly intelligent people can be so wrong about so much. Charlie Stross has written about what might even be somewhat legitimate concerns about Amazon but as ever with him there is an infuriating wrongness floating on the surface and the comments amplify it.
But there is much to learn here about misconceptions about libertarians. Let me start with Charlie’s characterisation.
I’m not going to lecture you about Jeff Bezos either, although I do want to note that he came out of a hedge fund and he’s ostensibly a libertarian; these aspects of his background make me uneasy, because in my experience they tend to be found in conjunction with a social-darwinist ideology that has no time for social justice, compassion, or charity.
I am a libertarian. I notice that people suffer less when they are richer. I notice that greater freedom leads to greater wealth. My views are formed precisely out of a desire to see greater wellbeing and happiness in the world and this has been translated in the mind of someone who is ostensibly not a moron into a survival of the fittest race to discard those inferior to me to starvation and disease for my own personal benefit.
I need a new advertising agency.
I need to start being explicit about the end goals and work back from there, and always remind people about the goal at every opportunity. It needs to be the first and last thing I say in any debate with a non-libertarian: the aim is to reduce suffering. Now: how do we do that?
Then there is comment 100:
Perhaps you could point to a working libertarian utopia so I could understand how such a wonderful system works? Otherwise, it’s no more meaningful than those who complain that they problem with communism is it hasn’t been tried properly…
It has not been tried but one can notice without much effort that the places that look more like libertarian utopias, that is to say they have more freedom and smaller governments, tend to be richer than those that look less like libertarian utopias. Richer meaning that there is less starvation and suffering, let us not forget.
In comment 128 Charlie makes the closest thing yet to an interesting point when he accuses us of having a “fundamentally broken model of human behaviour”. It is a shame he does not say how the model is broken. The biggest problem I can think of with human nature is the tendency in many humans to want a leader or to want to boss others around. It really would be nice if these people could find each other without involving me. Which brings us to comment 473:
The thing is, libertarians really don’t just want to be left alone. You want to impose a libertarian society on us even though the overwhelming majority has made it abundantly clear that they have absolutely no desire for such a change.
If you want to go off on your own and build a libertarian country, go with our blessing. But leave us in peace. If you want to stay, accept that we do not want a libertarian society and let the matter drop.
Oh how much I would love to. Perhaps Jeff Bezos will finally succeed. Until then, good luck getting the International Community to allow it. With that option removed it is probably not worth pointing out to this commenter exactly who is imposing what upon whom. What is really going on is that this person thinks that a more libertarian society would lead to more starvation and disease and of course he does not want that imposed upon him. It is the same marketing problem again.