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Thursday, May 12, 2005

The libertarian internet

Warren Meyer writes in Coyote Blog:
[S]ince 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 FA 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 URLs wide. Even those who try to impose order, such as Google, do so with no mandate beyond their utility to individual users.

Some would argue that there is a kind of informal hierarchy in the blogosphere, as superstar bloggers who command high traffic have more influence and power than your regular I-brushed-my-teeth-today Joe. But one of the reasons I love the blogosphere is that it is entirely meritocratic: the bloggers who provide the most value for their readers get the highest traffic, and are the most influential. And this "hierarchy" is not set in stone, but is sustained or subverted only by merit, which is as it should be in the real world, and so rarely is. Thus, an outstanding blogger without the means to market himself can virally earn himself a readership of tens of thousands, while an established blogger who takes it easy can lose his perch in no time. It's an ideal free market in the real world.

In his excellent post, Meyer goes on to write about why so many people, regardless of political affiliation, are wary of blogs – because they "are uncomfortable with anything chaotic". He elaborates:
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.

Libertarians, of course, are not too fazed by the prospect of chaos. (Link via fellow libertarian blogger, Kunal Sawardekar.)
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