Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Skull Behind the Libertarian Mask

So, you're tucked up nicely in your gated bedroom community with your security guard and your private fire department, all supported by your Cayman Islands investment fund and your Cook Islands asset protection trust?  Feeling pretty good about yourself, right?

Yeah, right.  Piker.  You kick the whole thing up a notch if you moved off to Paul Romer's new charter city,   arising, if not exactly ex nihilo, then pretty much ex deserto as a free-market paradise along the north coast of Honduras. It'll all be on offer soon for "a core of people who share certain new norms" which seem to include low taxes and, uh, we'll get back to you on that. Or if this sounds just a bit too Jim Jones, you might want to join Buck Rogers on the proposed "seastead," a wholly manufactured floating city (don't call it an oil platform) a-gleam in the developers' eye for the Northern Pacific, where it ought to be able to enjoy all the blessings of freedom as long as the landlubbers keep sending the food and water.

Maybe the easiest way to get a grip on this new model is to remember what life was like when you demanded that your mom give you total control over your Own Room, complete with surround sound and 3-D gaming system, but not without access to communal breakfast cereal and air conditioning--"you" being perhaps the 15-year-old you, if not the 32-year-old who figured that after all the vicissitudes of life, still the bedroom at mom's looked like the best deal of all.

One thing you won't have to worry too much about, at least until you master the "new norms" part is anything as messy as democracy.  Indeed, one of the more refreshing wrinkles in the "new communities" movement is the degree to which it has given "libertarians" the comfort zone to rip off the mask and acknowledge that yes, well, this democracy stuff never really did make a lot of sense anyway.

I feel their pain.  It certainly is of the frustrations about living in, say, New York or San Francisco or London or--hell, even of Hong Kong or Singapore--that you have to put up with all of those refractory people who keep having ideas and intentions and purposes of their own.    How nice if you could just put all that behind you and settle down among your own (reserving,  of course, visiting privileges with the shoreside universities, restaurants, theatre strips and all else that makes life bearable between transactions).

But coming closer to home--maybe I just haven't been paying attention, but does anyone ever ask Ron Paul about this kind of thing?  It has always seemed to me that inside any good libertarian there is an authoritarian smiling out.  Would Paul agree with the more advanced proponents of the new utopianism that democracy is, after all, some kind of transitional necessity, best left behind at the earliest convenient opportunity?  If so, just exactly how does he hope to realize his vision, and on what terms, and when?   

1 comment:

Ebenezer Scrooge said...

It's even worse than our genial host sez. The experiment has been tried, a bit to the south. Or at least the part of the experiment that its proponents are willing to admit to.

Costa Rica is a rule-of-law democracy, friendly to foreign investment. It's been this way since 1948, IIRC. It has also been poor, on a pretty consistent basis.

The difference between Costa Rica and these utopias? Authoritarianism, I guess.