The uses of libertarianism

Here are some things libertarians might spend their time on.

  1. Affect policy. Persuade. It doesn't matter whether libertarianism is "true" or not as long as you prefer freedom to slavery. Make your dreams come true. Persuasion might take the form of convincing people to become libertarians by getting the message out, or convincing the powers that be that libertarian policies are better than the alternatives.
  2. Understand. Predict. Libertarianism can be a part of a larger project of understanding the world we live in. People who want to clear away their delusions and face reality may decide that libertarian ways of looking at the world are superior to alternative ways of looking at the world (e.g. Marxism). Libertarianism on this view is not merely a preferece, but is or recognizes truths which are obscured by alternative ideologies. Example.
  3. Be prepared. Profit. Escape. Understanding the world is all well and good but if you improve your own life through your superior understanding of the way the world works, so much the better. Recognize, anticipate, and escape the hungry malice of wolves in sheep's clothing.
  4. Be virtuous. Save your soul. Be guiltless. You don't want to be a bad person. You want to be on the side of the angels. Libertarian ethics will provide you with guidance.
  5. Pose. Improve your social standing. Brand yourself a libertarian and work to improve the brand. Denounce others, even other libertarians if association with them threatens your social standing.
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Pose. Improve your social

Pose. Improve your social standing. Brand yourself a libertarian and work to improve the brand. Denounce others, even other libertarians if association with them threatens your social standing.

Micha ?


Micha wears his ambition on his sleeve, but I think that pretty much everyone works to improve his social standing. Robin Hanson has a nice post on this.

High school students are easily engaged to elect class presidents, even though they have little idea what if any policies a class president might influence. Instead such elections are usually described as "popularity contests." That is, theses elections are about which school social factions are to have higher social status. If a jock wins, jocks have higher status. If your girlfriend's brother wins, you have higher status, etc. And the fact that you have a vote says that others should take you into account when forming coalitions - you are somebody.

Civics teachers talk as if politics is about policy, that politics is our system for choosing policies to deal with common problems. But as Tyler Cowen suggests, real politics seems to be more about who will be our leaders, and what coalitions will rise or fall in status as a result. Election media coverage focuses on characterizing the candidates themselves - their personalities, styles, friends, beliefs, etc. You might say this is because character is a cheap clue to the policies candidates would adopt, but I don't buy it.

Even though we libertarians are much more deeply focused on policy than is the general population, I don't think we're really all that different.

That was one of my favorite

That was one of my favorite Hanson posts too.

I'm bumping this thread to the main page.

Politics isn't about ideology. It's about joining a team

The title of the comment is a quote from Slate via Ilya Somin at Volokh just today.

There seems to be a bit of a convergence lately on the topic.


It's election season.


Teach. Encourage others to understand libertarianism and pursue all these goals.


Yeah, that's another one.

6. Alienate friends &

6. Alienate friends & family.

Package insert

I'm writing up the "Indications and Usage" section. I think your item is a better fit for the "Contraindications" or "Precautions/Interactions" or "Adverse Reactions" section - maybe all three.

Hum I was joking. While I

Hum I was joking.

While I don't like alienating people, I find offending random people very pleasurable.

7. Offending random people


File that under off-label use.