In my latest piece for The Weekly Standard, I review David Boaz’s book The Libertarian Mind, which, though brilliant and well written, unintentionally reveals why libertarianism does not command broader support:
Arguing that libertarianism has become increasingly popular, Boaz cites the declining support for central economic planning. He does not acknowledge (or, perhaps, does not realize) that socialism has pivoted from economics to culture. Most radical leftists these days don’t care about nationalizing heavy industry; they are concerned mainly with putting traditional Western culture through a kind of Maoist struggle session. Since the libertarian theory of freedom is highly rationalist, based on axioms and syllogisms, its proponents are at a disadvantage against such irrational and illogical attacks.
That’s why culture, often deftly avoided by free market thinkers, is so important to sustaining political liberty. Libertarians ignore just how much their philosophy derives from (and depends on) Western culture; thus they ignore how shifts in that culture affect the reception and survival of libertarian ideas. They tend to think that since libertarianism is logical and internally consistent, everyone will eventually accept it—a very Whiggish, and very dangerous, belief.
In my last post, on the Ashley Madison hack, I wrote:
It’s amazing to me that anyone could have paid to use Ashley Madison for more than a few weeks. If I had to guess, I’d say that at least 90% of the male users of the site never consummated any kind of relationship with anyone else. How could they? The ratio of male to (real) female users was probably something like 100 to 1.
I thought I might have been exaggerating when I wrote that, but as John McAfee has observed:
Annalee Newitz, in a recent Gizmodo article, did an outstanding analysis of the Ashley Madison membership profiles and concluded that fewer than 12,000 women were actually using the site. My own analysis concluded that the number was fewer than 1,400 women. Even using Annalee’s more conservative estimate, that means that there was one femail [sic] member for each 3,000 male members — a 3,000:1 ratio. Using my numbers, the ratio of men to women would be 20,000:1. It would be nearly impossible for the average male member to hook up with a woman using either ratio.
20,000:1 — So imagine a nice afternoon at a crowded sports stadium. You are one of 20,000 men in the stadium’s bleachers. There’s one cute girl in the whole place and she’s sitting in the front row. All eyes are on her. Good luck.