This blog entry is posted without the premission of the person
with whom I had the conversation, so I do not include the name. It was
a comment made in an email discussion we were having about the
political test mentioned in the blog entry "What is a Libertarian."
However, their point of view is very compelling and educated through
the experiece that I think is most important:
It is my firm belief that if you cannot implement something locally
in a real and meaningful way, it either can't be done, has no meaning
to "real" people, or is a concoction of smoke and mirrors. Likewise, if
something globally is implemented in a local manner, I don't believe
one can dismiss a problem about its local implementation with a
statement like "oh, yeah... those people in that place act that way,
but that's not the *approved* way; we encourage our members to do this
That has no meaning. It boils down to experiment vs. theory,
practice vs. preaching. Say what you mean, and do what you say. Here's
what my friend had to say:
Over the years, I've been drawn to more radical ideas, particularly
libertarianism, "lite" socialism, and Ivan Illich's writings on
anarchy. But I find it's really enlightening to actually spend time
with the *people* who follow the ideas...
My meetings with the libertarian group in [some US city], for
example, really left me cold. I shared their respect for intelligence,
but I wasn't comfortable with their obvious willingness to let dumb
people just take it in the teeth from cradle to grave.
So I veered back toward more planned and buffered visions for
society (socialism, technocracy) for awhile. But that stuff is hard to
swallow, unless you either believe that people will rise to meet
society's expectations (don't count on it), or you're willing to accept
a lot of people cheating the system (welfare cheats, etc).
At the moment, I'm sort of resigned to the latter, so I'm leaning
toward a mild nanny state with reasonable safeguards against
parasitism. My guts are telling me that our alternatives are far more
risky--a tough, win/lose society that will come apart at the seams once
the majority comes to the conclusion that they'll never get the brass
ring through competition.
But I could be wrong. Check out this column by David Brooks.