Friday, September 08, 2006

A Libertarian Future?

Many Libertarians must certainly feel rather frustrated, as we watch our own government continually expand and confront a populace that seems to be so deeply indoctrinated with an unecessarily favorable view towards government in general. Indeed, in many recent debates I've had with people, I can't help but feel, as H.L. Mencken once noted, that most people simply do not seem to understand or desire liberty. No matter how hard I try, I cannot seem to get many people to even understand the inherent threat that governmental power poses.

We are often told that we are all theory without any practical application to "the real world" (*sigh*). When addressing the left, the libertarian is met with a total economic ignorance, and when addressing the right we are met with total "social" (I hate the use of the term) ignorance. The unfortunate result is that libertarians become overtly pessemistic. And while our pessemism over the present is entirely justified, we must take heed to an insight of Murray Rothbard - that we must remain optimistic towards the future. For as soon as we become overt pessimists towards the future, we begin the drift towards conservatism, away from liberty.

While it may appear that liberty will never win, that statism seems to inherently grow around us, this is mistaken. It may seem like blind faith, but I still believe that liberty will eventually win. The question is a matter of how and when. The question is what strategy we should be using. Obviously, the strategy now being taken up by the official Libertarian Party (selling out the principles in the name of appealing to the median voter) is not going to lead to liberty.

Isolating ourselves in a cocoon is not the answer either. And while it may appear attractive, things such as "The Free State Project" do not seem practical in the grand scheme of things (why should it require me to move to New Hampshire to achieve liberty?). The federal government doesn't appear to be shrinking anytime soon. Seems depressing? Seems hopeless? Note that all of this is the present, not the future.

The thought has occured to me many times that perhaps some unclaimed island is out there that can be made into a Libertarian society, by means of a Robinson Crusoe-like endeavor. But even then - that is thinking too small. For even if a small Libertarian island society established itself, it would be a tiny dot in a world full of intrusive governments, and would inevitably have to deal with those governments in some way or another - and the rest of humanity would still not have liberty.

It may seem like a strange thing to say, but there is one single, seemingly trivial political issue that may possibly lead to our "libertopia" - that issue is space exploration. And here I come to my seemingly insane notion: Perhaps the privatization of space exploration is the key to a libertarian future. Liberty indeed will win - but perhaps not on the planet Earth. Confining ourselves to Earth is thinking much too short-sightedly. We aren't looking far enough into the future. If space exploration is allowed to flourish freely, it is concievable that terraforming and the discovery of inhabitable worlds will become a reality (the latter already has).

And the establishment of human society on such worlds presents not only the possibility of isolation from the tyrannies of Earth, but a fresh start for humanity. Even if an over-reaching Earth government insisted on controlling such new worlds, it is natural that the people of such worlds would seek independance (hell, if one country naturally doesn't want another one in its internal affairs, imagine the same thing between entire planets). And they would overthrow their oppressors. And they would seek to contrast their society from that of the Earthen past. And if the example of the Earthen past is statism - then the outerworlders would seek its polar opposite - libertarianism.

I have been reading lots of science fiction, particularly Robert Heinline (a wonderfully radical libertarian writter - it shows in all of his works in one way or another) and Isaac Asimov. In fact, I've been reading the books of these two authors at the rate of a couple of books per week. Am I insane to be recieving inspiration from science fiction, "the mere fantasies of nerds"? Perhaps. Perhaps not. Many of our technological and social achievements were once mere fiction until the right individuals at the right times made them into realities.

I do not have a chrystal ball. I am not a visionary. I am not a prophet. Hell, I don't even believe in a god. But I can tell you something - liberty will win. And space exploration may very well be the key. Call me crazy. Call me a blind optimist. Call me a nerd who's been taking other people's fantasies far too seriously. But liberty will win. And when it does, the natural path of man will have been fulfilled. And if my agnostic skepticism towards life after death is wrong, I will look down on everyone from "heaven" and I will burst with joy.

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