Libertarian Nations

Have any nations flourished with a libertarian form of government for a period of time?

Not “flourished”, no.

There was a period during the Spanish Civil War where (leftist) Anarchists controlled a large area - it did fine in terms of gov’t, but the war was lost, and Spain ended up with 40 years of right-wing totalitarianism.

As for American-style right-wing “Libertarianism” - that’s pretty much a modern idea, it’s never been tried because anyone who isn’t a right-wing ideologue can see it’s no different from small-a anarchy; the kind where the people with the guns make the rules. So, you know, Somalia is the closest thing you’ll find: a place where there is no central gov’t and nobody pays taxes.

I agree, Somalia would be the poster boy. Not very pretty.

Another vote for Somalia.

Keep in mind that there is an inherent antipathy towards libertarianism as a philosophy here. So you’re going to get a lot of folks that want to point at Somalia.

In reality, Somalia isn’t a good example either, as there was (and still is) a backbone of religous exremism that permeates the area, as well as a fundamental disregard for personal freedoms amongst the power brokers.

Sadly, in the times we live in, we probably won’t ever see an actual Libertarian nation-state come to be. I am not really sure if I’m for or against it, but it’s an interesting idea.

The problem comes with that fundamental respect of human rights. Warlords in Somalia don’t have it, and have no interest in it. They are a version of a kleptocracy, and have no interest in the idea that other human beings have an inherent right to not be harassed, robbed, raped or killed on a whim.

While the Libertarian ideal, as near as I can figure out, is much more “live and let live”. As long as you’re not harming me, all is well. And I’m not going to go out of my way to harm you (which is where the Somalian Warlord parallel falls apart) so we should be fine.

Of course, I could be over simplifying.

Yeah, leftists love to slander libertarianism by pointing to Somalia. Somalia is a country with little to no rule of law. There are no property rights save what can be had by force. That is not a libertarian society. In a libertarian society the primary function of law is the enforcement and preservation of property rights.

But hey, keep stroking that chicken.

Remember, comrades, true libertarianism has never been tried!

It depends if by “libertarian”, you mean the Ayn Rand type, the Milton Friedman type or the John Stuart Mill type.

The closest any place has come to a strict night watchman State where the State limits itself to regalian functions is Hong Kong. It still isn’t quite what Ayn Rand would have liked, but Milton Friedman of John Stuart Mill might broadly approve.

The reason that nations govern the way they govern is because it works for the people in power. And powerful people like rules–they need to know the boundaries so that they know where to cross the line when they want to, and plan for the future. And despite what you hear, people like boundaries, rules and regulations. Libertarianism, from what I understand, has no boundaries, no rules, no regulations. “Live and let live” is not a system of government–it is just anarchy. And such a Libertarian nation will quickly be taken over by a country that is under no such illusions.

I think libertarianism is naive and at times idiotic, but it shouldn’t be confused with anarchism. And no, there’s been no purposeful and lasting attempt at it that I know of.

Not sure if Hong Kong would really qualify, since it’s basically a small nation state run by government fiat combined with strong cartels and an unholy alliance with property developers. HK consistently touts itself as being quite the capitalistic country but the reality begs to differ.

I think the point is that some of us believe that something like Somalia would likely be the ultimate end result of a truly Libertarian state. The point being that a truly Libertarian state would devolve into survival of the fittest and rule by those willing to be the most ruthless which, in the case of Somalia are religious extremists.

Unfortunately, I think that might also be true in the U.S.

At least that was my thinking when I mentioned Somalia.

Alaska from 1867 to about 1900 had no government to speak of and no legal territorial status. Public opposition to Seward’s purchase was such that Congress had no interest in spending any money on the place nor giving it any official recognition. The only semblance of official status was a vague designation as a “Naval District” and practically the only thing the Navy did was to occasionally patrol the coastal waters to check for smuggling and illicit fishing or sealing.

There was no legal vehicle to organize local government units, although a few towns made an effort to establish provisional municipal governments. Such social control as existed at all was by a few missions run by various religious denominations, by a couple of large trading companies that controled commerce, and a few powerful individuals who exerted control with guns and hired thugs.

It didn’t work out too well. A pure anarchist/libertarian/Darwinian utopia, survival of the strongest (or at least the most brutal). A lot of the greed and corruption that held sway then seems to still be at work there.

Please explain why Somalia is an example of a nation with a libertarian form of government. Thanking you in advance.

Your understanding doesn’t go very far. If you want to post in a thread about libertarianism, maybe you should read up on it a little bit first.

Moving thread from IMHO to Great Debates.

If by libertarianism one means laissez faire capitalism, that did prevail in the United States and Great Britain during the nineteenth century. It was rejected by the voters because of the human cost.

OK, now that I’ve vented my spleen, here’s an actual response to the OP: there probably isn’t one, and it doesn’t really matter.

Libertarianism, and capitalism, and socialism, and communism, and whateverism, are basically just ideas on ways to run a society. Ask about whether any country has ever adopted a pure form of any of those ideas and you’ll get arguments about the answer. But just because no country has ever tried pure whateverism doesn’t mean that whateverism is a “bad idea” or “unworkable” or anything negative–it could be a perfectly fine theory, and its ideas could be adapted to work very well for a particular society.

For some reason members of this board like to level the charge of “being an ideologue” against libeertarians, but everyone has ideas about what they think makes society better. And many times it is very difficult if not impossible to get clear answers on how those ideas have or would work out in practice. So the only option is to argue the merits of the idea itself.

Even after the Commies took it over?!

See my post #12 above.