Why are there no libertarian countries? If libertarians are correct in claiming that they understand how best to organize a modern society, how is it that not a single country in the world in the early twenty-first century is organized along libertarian lines?
It’s not as though there were a shortage of countries to experiment with libertarianism. There are 193 sovereign state members of the United Nations—195, if you count the Vatican and Palestine, which have been granted observer status by the world organization. If libertarianism was a good idea, wouldn’t at least one country have tried it? Wouldn’t there be at least one country, out of nearly two hundred, with minimal government, free trade, open borders, decriminalized drugs, no welfare state and no public education system?To be clear, I sympathize with the libertarian cause. I want to maximize freedom, but not just for myself. I want to maximize freedom also for my fellow man and, to the extent possible, my fellow non-homo-sapien creatures. But the moment you decide to extend freedom beyond yourself you run headlong into the problem of externalities. If I want the freedom to sleep and my neighbor wants the freedom to crank their stereo up to 11 (or keep a pit bull) then at least one of us will be forced to give up one some of our freedom not by the government, but by the laws of physics.
This is the fundamental problem of libertarians. They are political alchemists, committed to a tacit definition of freedom that is tantamount to perpetual motion. Freedom cannot possibly mean that everyone gets to do whatever the fuck they want. Externalities and conflicts have to be resolved somehow. Government and the rule of law are the best mechanisms mankind has yet been able to come up with to solve this problem. This is not to say that the situation couldn't be improved -- of course it could. But it won't be improved by libertarians sticking their fingers in their ears and hoping the problem will just go away if they ignore it hard enough.