Re: Re: FAQ: (was guns and guns and guns and guns)
Thu, 3 Jun 1999 11:43:47 -0700

My problem with the libertarian debate is that I think many people are using too strict a definition of the word. The essential component of libertarianism, as I see it, is its voluntary nature. It is the absence of coercion which defines the relationships that we should support.

However, some people seem to have a misconception where they see a libertarian society as a paranoid version of Galt's Gulch, with every relationship governed by money, with every member going armed.

It is entirely possible to have a libertarian society where there is no individual property, all items are shared, and some community mechanism is used to allocate resources. It is entirely possible to have a libertarian communism. All that is necessary is that it be voluntary.

It is entirely possible to have a libertarian society where gun ownership is not permitted, where no one goes openly armed, in which guns are rare and only owned by criminals. Again, all that is necessary that this be a voluntary arrangement. Just as you might not be able to bring your guns into a restaurant if the proprietor refuses, so you may not be able to enter a voluntary community which has similar policies.

There is no coercion in these situations. There are legitimate issues of practicality which will depend on circumstances, including the size of the community and how it is organized in other respects, as Billy Brown has emphasized in our discussion. But it is *not* a moral issue.

Ideally, in the future we will have more choices about how to live our lives, not fewer. Extropianism means an increase in diversity, in dynamism, in exploring opportunities. I don't want to see a future where every community is the same, the cultural equivalent of Burger King and McDonalds on every corner. A global monoculture, even if it is one where the rules and policies are agreeable to me, would be lacking in the crucial element of diversity. This would be entropy, not extropy.

Ideally, we will have a future where Joe Dees, Mike Lorrey, Mark Grant, and other participants in the guns debate will *all* be able to find communities which they find acceptable. Whether these are space stations or underwater colonies or uploaded virtual communities or basement universes, I hope that future technology will give us room to try many possible ways of interacting with others. Some will fail, some will succeed, and hopefully they will all be richer for the diversity.