There are more than a few reasons to ask "why" that you need to understand, Simon. Its not just an invitation to clarify, though it certainly is. Its also a way of getting through the groupthink and get the silent libertarians among us to demonstrate that we aren't accurately describing their beliefs; or alternatively to fail on that account and demonstrate that our bias is wholly rational. And yes, I do think the latter is more likely: I admit my bais based on experience *, but that doesn't mean I'm unfair. Looking through this thread I count multiple people who state they have moderate libertarian tendencies or who think that it at least looks good on paper. That's hardly a hostile environment to dialogue. So if it is in fact a perception of hostility that is keeping the libertarians among us silent, that's as bad for dialogue as groupthink on our part. No?
This thread has been kept safe for "you're not accurately describing the belief system" in part by deliberate effort, which is part of my point- it takes
deliberate effort to do that in N&P, because the ratio of active N&P posters skews strongly in favor of people who dismiss libertarianism out of hand to the point where 'libertarian' becomes an insult independent of what the person in question is actually saying.
That doesn't stop some of the genuine caricature-libertarians from showing up, mind... but the actions of caricature-libertarians on N&P often serve only to reinforce the bias and create an difficult position for anyone who calls themself a libertarian without being an utter shit.
Which is what concerns me- this is not
an especially safe environment to explain what non-shit forms of libertarianism look like, any more than the Ron Paul mailing list is a good place to explain how social democracy works. Whether social democracy is better than libertarianism or not is beside the point; this is about group dynamics, not about the content of the arguments.
And I think that needs to be addressed on a more permanent basis than "look at this thread we're fine in here." Recall the recent outbreak of threads that all started with something vaguely related to US politics and turned into closely parallel Marx-based denunciations of the US (glares at Stas).
It's something we really
need to watch.
* Point of fact, I actually know someone in real life who has social libertarian tendencies who was once on the Ron Paul mailing list for a time. Then he got banned from their community and labeled a troll. Why? He asked the wrong question (it should be noted that his economics recognizes Marxist criticisms of capitalism as valid). Now, this thread appears to indicate that Ron Paul fans aren't the most intelligent bunch, but it does tell me that bias works both ways.
Of course it does- and the Ron Paul mailing list is not necessarily the best place to cross-check what 'libertarianism' is, because it's a self-caricaturizing extreme version of the social theory.
My point is that N&P's intellectual climate is such that the range of 'socially accepted' political views is actually rather narrow. We have seen so many threads devolve into the same relatively short list of people saying the same things in denunciation of the same things that it's really quite hard to deny this with a straight face, in my opinion.
Granted that everyone involved believes that the excluded views are wrong
, and can make cogent arguments to justify that belief. It still lends itself to tunnel vision and sloppy thinking, because people are human and it's quite possible to let bias in favor of a self-consistent and basically sane set of beliefs blind you to details.
So yes, I still
think this is a poor place to go for a sole source on libertarianism. Places which are thoroughly devoted to promoting a set of ideas they call 'libertarian' would be at least as bad, if not worse; every
person should get at least one set of second opinions before deciding they know everything important about a subject.