..."if libertarianism is so great why don't you see it anywhere?"
It makes me worry that people I thought were serious about thinking about these issues are less serious than I had thought. Disregard the source - I don't particularly like Michael Lind either. In fact don't even read the post and just consider the question. It's an important one.
Either libertarianism is desired by people and just isn't robust (therefore we don't see it around), or few people consider it to be desirable, or ... ? The only other thing I can think of to fill in the "..." is that the few people who do like the idea of libertarianism know better than other people what's a good set of institutions. That doesn't seem plausible to me based on the set of libertarians and non-libertarians I know. And even if it was plausible, the best institutions should not have to rely on a small segment of the population being more insightful than the rest of society, because generally speaking that's not going to be the case. The best institutions curb excesses of government that everyone can agree ought to be curbed and then allow for well structured competition between different people with different ideas about how society ought to work and a healthy decentralization of authority so that different people can try out different ideas in different places and still live under the broader institutional framework.
What else is there as an explanation - maybe I'm missing something?
Anybody that dismisses this question risks sounding like a socialist that doesn't consider the question of socialism decided because all of the less-than-ideal experiments in socialism weren't REALLY what he had in mind. Socialists and libertarians can play that game until the cows come home. So can anyone. No one's precise plans for society ever work out. Ultimately you either have to admit that it just doesn't work out like you thought it would on paper or you rally behind the imperfect version that does work out in practice.
I take the latter option. I'm a classical liberal, a Jeffersonian, a sort of leftish centrist in the modern political spectrum. I don't like exactly how American institutions have played out. There are things I'd change and I'll continue to agitate to change, but overall I'm comfortable pointing to Western social democracies and saying "I like that sort of thing until I come across something I like better and then maybe I'll change my mind". And I can still have my idyllic classical liberal/Jeffersonian/lefty-centrist vision as something to shoot for and not sound like a complete idiot because I can accept the imperfect rendition of my blueprint in real life as something that works but maybe doesn't work exactly perfectly - but it's imperfection I can live with.
The socialists, the libertarians, and the anarchists want to have their cake and eat it too. They want to say that it's meaningless that we've never seen it anywhere. In other words they want to avoid the tough truth that this may very well mean the ideas can't work outside of their own blueprints and treatises. They see imperfect applications and assume they're off the hook when the real point here is that there's never going to be a perfect application of anything so you have to either embrace the imperfect application or accept that your ideas are unworkable. Maybe some day anarchism or socialism or libertarianism will work out OK. That could happen. But in the real world how these ideas are imperfectly practiced matters. Certainly it matters for decisions we are making today, but it's also a nice guide to the future.
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