From: Robin Hanson (
Date: Tue Dec 05 2000 - 12:38:02 MST

Chris Russo wrote:
>Because people are really really really stupid. ... I don't expect a
>plurality of voters to appreciate the logical simplicity and
>consistency of the Libertarian position as we do.

Dan Fabulich wrote:
>... a libertarian society will... require a moral revolution.
>... there are people who want to control you (in certain ways) much
>more than you want to have control over yourself. ... The revealed
>preferences of most of the entire population in this area has to change.
>People have to want their own freedoms more than anyone else wants to
>take them away. We all have to believe that this is morally right. ...
>... people would reveal their preferences for polycentric law or a
>minimalist government if they wanted it. But they don't want it.
>Until they want a libertarian society, they'll never get it.

These are the two most common positions I've observed among
intellectually mature libertarians. Libertarian claims are taken to
either be statements of fact or of value. If they are statements of
value, then it appears that most people just don't share those values,
and so a "moral revolution" is required to give people the "right" values.

If they are statements of fact, and if current libertarians have been
convinced by being presented with clear evidence in their favor, then
the fact that most other people, even very smart ones, are not
convinced when they are presented with such evidence, suggests a vast
conspiracy of strong stupidity.

I think that there are large differences in value at play here, and
think the prospects of a moral revolution in the libertarian direction
anytime soon to be small, and similar in magnitude to prospects of
moral revolutions in opposite directions.

I also think that there are differences about facts at play here, but
that the evidence is subtle and difficult to communicate, and hence
doesn't actually explain very much of the reason why some people become
libertarian. And there is, alas, also vast stupidity out there.

Robin Hanson
Asst. Prof. Economics, George Mason University
MSN 1D3, Carow Hall, Fairfax VA 22030-4444
703-993-2326 FAX: 703-993-2323

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