A few weeks ago, in an interview about blogging, I was asked "why are there so many libertarian bloggers?" My answer didn't make the final cut for the article, but I thought it was worth repeating here**:
First, I am tempted to answer with a variation of the argument that the left uses to justify why so many academics
are liberal "“ ie, that we bloggers are all smarter and therefore libertarians. I will eschew that one though, because I think the real reason is that libertarians have never had a really good outlet for our opinions and it is a relief to have a channel to be able to express our views without distortion.
Part of this is because there are few good organized outlets for libertarians. In the past, libertarians could perhaps find a voice in one of the two major parties, but that tends to just end in frustration as about the 50% of what either party espouses is inconsistent with a true respect for individual liberties. At the same time, the formal libertarian party has often been a joke, fielding some pretty bizarre candidates with some pretty niche priorities.
However, a major part of the problem is that libertarianism resists organization. Libertarianism tends to be a big tent that attracts everything from anarcho-capitalists to Cheech-and-chong-esque hempfest organizers to Larry-Flint style pornographers. For this reason, libertarianism defies efforts to brand it, which is a critical shortcoming since the two major political parties nowadays are much closer to brands than ideologically consistent philosophical alternatives.
Libertarians revel in differences and being different. Almost by definition, none of us have the same message, or even believe that we all should have the same message. Many of us are suspicious of top-down organization in and of itself. Blogging is therefore tailor made for us "“ many diverse bottom-up messages rather than one official top-down one.
Finally, since libertarianism is really about celebrating dynamism and going in a thousand different directions as each individual chooses, in some sense the Internet and blogging are not only useful tools for us libertarians, but in and of themselves are inherently libertarian vehicles. Certainly libertarian hero F. A. Hayek would recognize the chaos of the Internet and the blogosphere immediately. For a good libertarian, chaos is beautiful, and certainly the blogosphere qualifies as chaotic. The Internet today is perhaps the single most libertarian institution on the planet. It is utterly without heirarchy, being essentially just one layer deep and a billion URL's wide. Even those who try to impose order, such as Google, do so with no mandate beyond their utility to individual users.
When people are uncomfortable with the blog phenomenon, they tend to be the same people who are
uncomfortable with anything chaotic. I have written several times, particularly here and here, that people across the political spectrum, from left to right, are united by an innate fear of and need to control chaos. Conservatives don't like the chaos of themes and messages found in movies and media. Liberals insist on a unified public education system with unified messaging rather than the chaos of school choice and home schooling. Socialists hate the chaos and uncertainty of the job market, and long for guaranteed jobs and pensions. Technocrats hate the chaos of the market, and seek to impose standardization. Everyone in the established media hates blogs, which threaten to upset the comfortable order of how-we-have-always-done-things.
** Which just demonstrates another reason why we all blog- no editors! There is a saying that a lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client. It may well be that we bloggers are in the process of proving a parallel adage about being our own editors.