Why Be Social Libertarian?

I’m a social libertarian. I support a flat percentage tax and a small state. Generally, I think laws should be simplified as much as possible and that state intervention in the economy hampers innovation. I do support redistribution to keep people from extreme poverty, but generally, I think redistribution is harmful for a lot of reasons (creates a class that lives off others, communicates to people that they can’t take care of themselves, democracy is unable to keep redistribution benefits to a low level but graduates towards bigger and bigger redistribution, etc.).

The things that I dislike the most about my own camp is that:

(1) they tend to ignore market failures (i.e. careless about the environment)
(2) they tend to underestimate the complexity of society and think that they can just instigate major reforms from one day to the other
(3) they tend to be culture-blind and over-emphasize economics. E.g. in Europe, a lot of libertarians thought that Muslims would just integrate seamlessly because it was in their own economic interest to do so. However, that has not happened: Muslims have retained their culture and religion and are causing a lot of trouble here. Just in Denmark, a Palestinian male is almost 50% more likely to be a convicted criminal than a native Dane of the same socioeconomic status.

In general, the problem with politics is that our stone age brains have evolved to cooperate in minor groups of ~20 people. In such a setting, if somebody free rides, everyone will know about it, and they can stop supporting that person’s parasitical free riding. Sharing and socializing things works better in such small settings, but it works really badly in larger settings like a modern mass society where free riders can disappear in the crowd, or even band together to demand increased benefits (thereby increasing the amount of time that other people will have to work).

So in politics most people just use their intuitions which tells them that sharing and socializing is good and privatization and profits are bad. But the way I see it, politics is as much an education as any other field that has to do with modern society. Several big philosophers have been socialists in their youths (e.g. Popper) but then moved towards classical liberalism as they started studying how society really works.