Many libertarians and their critics sit around imagining how things will work in the paradise of liberty, then arguing about who is right. No one can draw up the plan for the free society, even if it’s not a centralized plan. So, while we may enjoy such discussions, and such discussions may give us ideas to work on, ultimately they don’t mean much.
Can we write a plan for enabling spontaneous order to discover utopia? Can we imagine a process that helps us discover what works and what doesn’t, similar to the way the market allocates resources?
Perhaps we can see how to take the first big step, because it is mostly negative. We have to find a way to get ordinary people to tolerate our experiments, to stop preventing us from discovering new ways of cooperating. We can’t plan utopia, but I imagine my proto-utopia as a world where many nation-states have their own Hong Kong: a refuge for dissenters, visionaries, and social experimenters, tolerated by the powerful, imitated by the creative.
Social experiments will fuel the rocket aimed at the free society. We don’t know where to find our destination, so we have to search for it. Many experiments will fail, many must fail, just as many businesses fail. Those few who succeed will guide the rest of us.
Our goal challenges us to build the rocket. We can seek a way to try new things, outside the crush of the status quo. We can experiment if we convince those who disbelieve our possibilities and cling to the old ways that it is not worth their time to stop us. How do we do that?
How have we done it so far? I have difficulty trying to argue the average person into accepting the philosophy of liberty. Asking them instead to tolerate an experiment seems easier. Think of the progress we have already enjoyed. The web, bitcoin, etc. have convinced people of things that they would have laughed at 20 years ago. Many freedom-based ideas have slipped into our culture almost without discussion. How long will young people, accustomed to do-ocracy, social networking, free software and open platforms, tolerate obsolete social institutions? Why should they want to prevent our explorations, even if they hesitate to join in?
That journey gives purpose to this blog. It shall describe the false starts, dead ends, and sudden breakthroughs. It will celebrate the successes and learn from the failures. Maybe I should have chosen a compass for my metaphor, instead of a roadmap. We can’t know where we’re going, or exactly how to get there. But the right direction is clear. That way!