Defending the virtues of liberty, free markets, and civilization... plus some commentary on the passing scene.

Freedom's Fidelity

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Arnold Kling-Thinking and Feeling

Arnold Kling offers some thoughts on, well quite a few things actually. Generally, he weighs in on the different thought processes employed by collectivists versus libertarians and finds that they often talk past each other. Kling also uses this to explain differences in policy outlook on the 'right to healthcare' and why libertarians love the internet. It's nothing particularly profound - if you've read any Thomas Sowell you know all about this as he has practically made the subject his life work - but it is worth emphasizing now and again. Plus anyone who mentions one of my intellectual idols, Friedrich Hayek (twice!), and in the context of the role of information automatically gets a link from me.

The first Hayek mention is Kling quoting Warren Meyer:
"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 hierarchy, 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."

The role of information in an economy is a subject I touch on with some regularity on this blog, as well my senior research paper for my undergrad in economics focused on the rise of electronic markets and how they would change society. I've been meaning to dust off the project and see how many of my predictions have come to be now that 5 years have passed.

"Hayek insisted that socialism and statism were products not of economic forces beyond anyone's control but of erroneous and destructive ideas... collectivist doctrines had captured the imagination of intellectuals. In another essay, "The Intellectuals and Socialism" (1949), Hayek mapped out a broad, long-term strategy for combating this challenge...

Hayek envisioned a movement operating at the level of principles and theory and aloof from electoral and legislative agendas or the immediate controversies of political life. He proposed, in other words, a true war of ideas, one that might appeal to the best and most adventuresome minds of the age but that might take a generation or more to bear fruit."

The Internet lowers the cost of entering a dispute over ideas. Because of the lack of central authority, the Internet is more conducive to a fair contest than to an indoctrination camp. Those of us who lean toward the libertarian side are not afraid of the ideas of the collectivists, only the consequences of those ideas. The collectivists, on the other hand -- particularly those who believe in teaching people to feel rather than to think -- are threatened by ideas, even the judicious, thoughtful speculation of the President of Harvard University.

Perhaps it relates to our logical trust in free markets, but it is apparent that libertarian leaning individuals tend towards the belief that, while the blogosphere is a bit of a free for all with good and bad information. The good, the truth, will eventually bubble up to the top and push out the bad. It may not be the cleanest process, but it is the best. Just about everyone who wants one gets a vocal vote. That's far superior than having the whims of a newspaper editor, or worse a bureaucrat (dressed up as an intellectual) deciding what is good and bad.


                                                                                                                                                                             Meter Weblog Commenting and Trackback by This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?