Sandy Ikeda, writing at The Freeman, offered his thoughts on what a truly free society would look like: how would it be organized? Who would build the roads? Who would pay for them, and how?
His answer? “I don’t know and neither does anyone else.”
And that’s the beauty of it. He says:
I’m a libertarian precisely because I understand why it’s impossible to answer that question any other way. I cannot accurately foretell what specific institutions, mores, and governance structure—let alone art and architecture—a free society would have…Will its cities be monuments to mammon, or green and sustainable, or plain and ascetic? Will communities be small and gated or open and diverse?
These include the existence of tradeoffs in a world of scarce resources and the role of property rights and individual autonomy…
I think we’re on safer ground predicting what we wouldn’t see. You wouldn’t see slavery or legal privilege or power elites. I doubt you would see mass starvation or large-scale war. I’m pretty confident that the legal structure would emerge from the foundations of some form of private property, free association, and non-aggression. But if the question is about the specific legal and social institutions that would emerge in the free society, then almost anyone else’s guess is as good or bad as mine.
Truthfully, I don’t know if roads would even need to be built. Back in 1990 someone might have asked, “Who would build the iPhone?” Of course, in 1990 no one, not even Steve Jobs, would have known the answer to that question. Indeed—and here’s the point—no one could have known back then even to ask the question. That is the creative power of people unleashed by the market process.
Losing sleep pondering over “who will build the roads” or the shape of the libertarian free society indicates at best, I think, a lack of imagination and at worst, a misunderstanding of the significance of liberty.