Why do you think libertarianism has had so many unfriendly people? Same with socialism? Here are some possibilities:

(1) SELECTION EFFECT 1: libertarianism, in virtue of its doctrines, attracts unfriendly people. Though libertarianism has some doctrines that are prima facie friendly (e.g., open borders), it also has some doctrines that are prima facie unfriendly (e.g., eliminate the welfare state). Since lots of people on the left support open borders (or something close enough), whereas few people on the right accept full elimination of the welfare state, libertarianism's distinctiveness lies in its unfriendly doctrines. Since what makes any ideology stand out is what is distinct about it, to the extent that libertarianism's unfriendly doctrines are what make it distinct, it attracts unfriendly people.

(2) SELECTION EFFECT 2: libertarianism, in virtue of its systematicity, attracts autistic people. Though autistic people are not ipso facto unfriendly, they strike many non-autistic people as unfriendly, simply because they're more wedded to logical argumentation and less wedded to (because less able to understand) the social dissimulation you're supposed to adorn your doctrines with.

(3) TREATMENT EFFECT: it's not about who libertarianism attracts, it's about what it does to the people it attracts. Once you become a libertarian, you notice how far the world is from your ideals. This is bothersome; it makes you either despondent or frustrated. This is exacerbated by the fact that so many people hostile to libertarianism seem to think that libertarianism is much more successful than it is. In addition, if you're in an ideological superminority (like you are if you're a libertarian), then you feel pressure to have a theory about why so few people agree with you. The most obvious theories that tend to come to people's minds are: (a) people are just not as smart as I am; (b) people are just not as moral as I am; (c) people are just not as sane as I am. All of these theories tend to make you unfriendly to your interlocutors.

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1) Most libertarians are autists and academics, so they are going to be oddballs.

There are a lot of Mike Judge style "folk libertarians" out there, but they probably wouldn't identify as libertarians. In fact not caring much about politics and ideology is part of their folk libertarianism.

2) Participating in coalition politics actively requires people to be pragmatic and understanding. By forsaking coalition politics libertarians don't pick up these skills.

3) Many libertarians don't just have opinions about role of government, but some specific cultural ideas. They eschew many traditional believes about drugs, sexual relations, family, etc not just at a level of government policy but at a personal level. I think about how in the 2016 election (when they had the chance of a lifetime) the libertarian party had people dancing naked on stage and talking about what kind of pot they all smoked.

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Im pro drug legalization, and have noticed that my ideas goes over far better when i emphasize that i think taking drugs is a bad idea, and that i encourage people to not take drugs, but that humans have their own lifes and responsibilites and that prohibition was a disaster

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I think part of the issue is how the notion of being a libertarian is defined. To be on the left or right is generally about just agreeing with enough of those policies. You can be on the right or left and have quite a few heretic views.

But the difference between a libertarian and someone who is socially liberal and economically deregulatory is basically about consistency. The label libertarian is applied not based on just agreeing on a few big issues or some weighted average but about thinking that a certain principle should dictate how we decide questions of politics.

That kind of adherance to principle is in tension with personality traits we seem to regard as open and friendly. No, it's not logically incompatible but it requires a disposition (what you were saying about autistic) to find logical thinking more important than emotional salience.

A libertarian the kind of person who tends to react by pulling back and asking 'ok but does that emotional reaction really make sense' rather than going with the emotional reaction. That doesn't mean they aren't perfectly nice people over coffee but when they are discussing political matters it necessarily means their first reactions and instincts are to point to cold logical principles not emotional appeals.

That means that in the contexts where their being libertarian is salient they are likely to be seen as less warm and sympathetic.

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Libertarian's have emotional reactions. I think Bryan's Open Borders stance is largely emotional rather than logical.

And that's fine in a way. I think that there are a lot of limits to pure reason that have been articulated by others in depth. I enjoy an emotionally reflective rejection of unjust authority as defined by libertarian emotional priors nine times out of ten.

As I mentioned above, in art I prefer Mike Judge style libertarianism. The first episode of King of the Hill is about Hank getting enraged over a state official trying to interfere with his raising his son. It's an emotional reaction. In other episodes his "enemy" isn't the government at all, its authoritarian cultural trends, callous bosses, beuaracracies, or misguided individuals. Sometimes the enemy is anarchy (think the episode with the overly "fun" parents). Hank sometimes understands these on a logical level, but really seems to get them at an unconscious level. He has a small L libertarian *instinct* that applies to all social and personal forces not just government without descending into paranoia or anarchy (say, Dale).

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Yes, sorry I don't mean to imply they don't. Indeed, I think (well at least for me) the move toward sorta abstraction and principle is an emotional mechanism. It's often a way to feel safe in a subject where those emotions might otherwise overwhelm. But it's interpreted by others as unsympathetic.

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>> I think Bryan's Open Borders stance is largely emotional rather than logical.

Why do you think that? As someone who used to be against open borders (even after reading Michael Huemer) and who did a 180 precisely because of Caplan’s arguments, I strongly disagree.

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In Short:

Open borders = mass immigration of low IQ people = degradation or even degeneration of innovation leading first world societies.

I consider it a low upside / high downside proposition. I suspect it would destroy rather than create trillions of dollars in value.

I view the negative externalities of the low IQ to be very high, especially at scale, far more then Bryan's proposed gains from comparative advantage of their low skill labor.

I think this is obvious and Bryan denies it due to ideological, social, and branding commitments.

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“I think this is obvious” is not an argument. You can certainly argue that Caplan is wrong, but you went further than that by claiming that his position here is emotional rather than logical.

And all this post shows, if anything, is that your position partly relies on a claim you think is “obvious,” when in fact, this claim is profoundly difficult to prove.

Really? The negative externalities of immigration you named are far higher than the positive consequences it would bring? And you can tell this for certain just from thinking about it in your head? How could you possibly do such a thing?

Looks to me like your own anti-immigrant bias is in full display here.

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Your right. I didn't lay out the entire anti-open borders position here with all of my citations. I mean I've laid it out in other comments on this sub stack. And it's been laid out in studies and books by plenty of authors that I've cited in the past. But you're correct, I didn't publish an entire essay in the sub stack comments every single time someone brings the topic up. Nor do I plan to every single time some fresh faced libertarian autist stumbles upon me.

As to the obviousness, its pretty clear to me that low IQ people ruin every place they go to, and that the entire reason the third world is a shithole is because its full of low IQ people. If we become a low IQ country, we will be a shithole too. Places in the first world full of low IQ people (like the ghetto) are shitholes. One has to contort oneself and "live in a beautiful bubble" to ignore such obvious data points.

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Would say that this is pretty true for me: it took me a long time to become interested in libertarianism because it seemed greatly antisocial to me as a youth: ii only got convinced of its merits after extensive research, and several liberterians (i don’t remember which ones) giving large amounts to charity which cobflicted with my preconceptions of them.

My interest in libertarianism also came after my interest in effective altruism, where i learned that prosocial motivations can lead to antisocial outcomes if you dont think everything through. I think i was actually introduced to libertarianism through 80 000 hours interview with bryan caplan, because i knew that EA people were overwhelmingly pro social, and if they invited bryan caplan despite libertarianism seeming antisocial, there must be prosocial elements to bryan Caplan and libertarianism. I think that my ideology changed from there to now being very libertarian with some welfare tendencies, but if i hadnt both known that the human altruism we have can have bad consequences, and if the EA movement didnt have “prosocial capital”, i likely would never have read BC or other libertarian thinkers

I do happen to have autism and adhd , so point 2 is true for me i guess!

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A very obvious thought: shouldn't people just be friendly, not as a means to an end, but as an end in itself?

Faking a persona to pursue an ulterior motive is exhausting. Just being a generally nice person, by contrast, is quite freeing.

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It can be quite freeing, but it can be quite constraining. Just try being nice to people who are saying idiotic things that will imperil your career (i.e., be a right-leaning academic). I can do it, but I don't think I'm usually nice for its own sake (though I often am). Instead, I'm often nice out of conflict-aversion: I don't want to get into fights with people who think that trying to get me fired is an appropriate response to my disagreeing with them about trans issues. Also, the more indispensable I make myself for my department, the more willing they'll be to overlook my problematicity.

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Are these examples from personal experience?

Are you unionised? If so, what does the union think about people trying to get you fired for your opinions?

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No, these examples are not from personal experience. They are products of my paranoia. Probably what would happen if I expressed my views is not that people would try to get me fired, but that they would just get very mad at me and want to have nothing more to do with me.

Now that said, if I expressed my views, I wouldn't be surprised if *students* tried to get me fired, and I wouldn't be surprised if I were forbidden from teaching some classes. But that hasn't happened. But then again, I haven't expressed my Charles Murrayesque views.

I am unionized.

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Whether you decide to keep quiet or decide to speak out, best of luck to you either way. And thank you for sharing something so personal with an Internet stranger who has no right to know.

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Since mormons are mentioned and i happen to be an ex mormon, i thought that i might have some useful insights

So first my background: Im 27 year old swedish guy, and an ex-mormon since 5 years back, for several reasons. I’m culturally very mormon except for being Gay and a bit sexually open. Belief wise, i had a hard time believing the doctrines even as a teen, despite constant attempts from myself to read the book of mormon once a month. I actually have a lot of personal history of depression, anxiety and self doubts around mormonism, in part due to the churchs policys around LGBT issues.

Despite all that, i give the mormonism a thumbs up and endorse it. If someone told me that they had to become a believer in a religion and asked me what religion they should pick, i would recommend the mormon church. I actually still go to church meetings and events, and i try to be a socially constructive member, although i don’t say much about some aspects about my social life.

Honestly, if it wasnt for the fact that the church doesn’t permit same sex marriage withing the church, i would still go along with it all, even though i havn’t had a smidge of belief since i was 18. If they had allowed it, i would just shrug my shoulders on the weird parts.

What gives?

Well, i think it’s because the Mormon church is exceptionally friendly, and prosocial .

(disclaimer: i am just 27, and so have no experience of the church before 2004. I also live in sweden, so my cultural experience may be different than a US ex mormon, though i dont think its too different. keep all of that in mind)

One way they are super friendly:

While the Chuch has anti-LGBT policys internally, externally they have (in my view) historically been far kinder to LGBT people than other religions have. Its only recently that they are Anti-LGBT compared to other religions.

While the church condemns acts of homosexuality, It has also gone to pretty remarkable lengths to either condemn discrimination, or parents throwing out their LGBT kids. While the church has in my eyes had weird and condradictory beliefs on LGBT issues (and a good amount of homophobic beliefs an actions historically, but everyone was basically homophobic back in the day), as far as i can remember, it has always championed being kind and tolerant toward LGBT people, viewing them as people with deep personal challenges rather then just deviants or sinners.

This is saintly patience, given that mormons believe in the importance of heterosexual marriages and the eternal family: imagine that you thought something holy was being transgressed by someone, and your response was “they have issues but are human just like me”. Thats an insane amount of friendliness! So i think its only fair for me to be forgiving back, and recommend anyone curious to look into the church.

Some other ways they are friendly:

Growing up, there was plenty of lessons and emphasis of the importance of advocating the church by being FRIENDLY.

In many of those lessons and discussions, there were frequent mention about how while mormonism beliefs are true and you might be temped to talk indefinitely about it, what ultimately convinces people is being a positive example. We were encouraged to first and foremost be helpful, warm and kindhearted, and forgiving. If someone insulted Mormons at a social meet, we would politely correct them and say that they are being unkind, but we were never to shout back at them and have righteous fury. That was saved for the most extreme circumstances.

A large part of mormonism missionary strategy IS actually to just literally be friendly and helpful (within common sense of course)

Mormon missionaries regularly help church members, and even non believers, out of the philosophy of leaving a good impression. When people notices the friendliness and get interested, that’s when missionaries start talking about church beliefs, jesus christ, and the book of mormon.

Actually, despite me being open about not believing in the church, the missionaries ask me if they can come over and help with gardening, cleaning the house with me, or just being friendly. I don’t even have to ask! Extremely remarkable. Of course i have to be friendly back!

Some final thoughts:

i don’t think ive ever met someone that HATES mormons: while i’ve met plenty of critics, they empasize policy and beliefs, while mentioning that mormons are still a very friendly bunch.

Also, when it comes to Ayn rand: I only started reading Ayn rand a bit 2 years ago, even though i had known about her and objectivism since i was 10 (due to the fountain head being in my familys library)

I actually tried to read her books and read about her when i was a teen, but i was always immediately put of by my impression that she seemed like an extremely unfriendly person, and from that, antisocial in my eyes. I only gave her ideas a shot after being interested in libertarianism for several years and having her recommended several times. And due to her unfriendliness, it was still really hard for me to like her ideas!

If she had just been a normal amount of friendliness, the likelihood of me actually reading her ideas for more than 10 minutes as a teen would have gone up greatly.

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I suspect the unfriendliness is more a product of intellectual philosophers who have high conviction in their ideas, combined with a high conviction in their own intellectual capabilities. Since libertarians tend to have a high proportion of high IQ well educated intellectual philosophers, I suspect that may explain the high percentage of them who are less than friendly, especially when explaining their ideas. Libertarians haven't cornered the market on high IQ individuals, but the philosophy just appears to be unappealing to others. (Charts I've seen with IQ distributions of libertarians are actually barbell distributions, but I suspect the low IQ libertarians may hold to a very different type of libertarianism).

While the world is certainly more classically liberal today than 200 years ago, I suspect libertarianism's failure to capture the imagination of the world stems from three sources: 1. It is counter-intuitive, which means it will tend to appeal only to those with the IQ and personality trait that tends non-conformist; 2. It challenges powerful incumbents and established hierarchies, who use their power block its adoption; 3. it appears on the surface to be uncaring and anti-social, opening up adherents to charges that they are uncaring and anti-social.

Socialism checks one of those three boxes, but otherwise is mostly intuitive and appears superficially to be caring and pro-social. So incumbents prefer to coopt it rather than block it.

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I think you pretty much nail it. Most of the converters to libertarianism I have known did so because they realized their principles of "help people if they need it, but otherwise leave them alone to do their thing" were not really held by the major philosophies/ideologies so much as they were by libertarians. (Most popular ideologies tend towards "help people by making them live the way we think they should" but that's another discussion.) Making that leap requires caring enough about the principles and philosophy side instead of just the practical day to day execution, and a bit of contrariness to point out to yourself and others that the more common philosophies don't really hold to those principles. Both are tendencies that are pretty uncommon.

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My personal experience is that it took me a long time to find liberterterianism correct due to all the factors you mentioned; when i talk about libertererianism i now make explecit mentions of my prosocial reasoning and motivations for thinking its good, and showcase mg altruism and donations/charitable efforts to prove it. This greatly reduces resistance towards liberterianism.

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Libertarian friendliness: like communism, has never been tried! :)

I will say this - I am not a libertarian, rather I am a pretty strongly conservative conservative. But I have been a libertarian in the past, and I still have strong resonance with the philosophy, and it's because of a series of (at least initially) friendly books by Richard Maybury called the "Uncle Eric" books, starting with "Whatever Happened to Penny Candy" and "Whatever Happened to Justice". I would still recommend them today, even though I don't agree with them in some key aspects.

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To make a friend, be a friend. It’s much easier to talk to and perhaps convince a friend than a stranger. Or an “enemy”

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I agree with everything you've written here Bryan.

I think the OP just has a really bad model of how the world works.

If you want to see how friendly libertarianism works I'd look at libertarian art such as done by Mike Judge. It's probably a bit more small L small C then academic libertarianism, but the heart is there.

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Thought provoking ..... If people follow Jesus, a perfect human, we'd have a whole lot less of a need for this rhetoric. Would you mind so much?

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Friendliness worked for me. I called myself conservative, not libertarian, because most of the libertarians I met were deeply immoral and sometimes even absolute nutcases. Furthermore, when I’d ask reasonable questions, the answers would be based on huge untested assumptions. “We can fund defense through voluntary contributions!” “If people could sue polluters, we wouldn’t need any regulations!”

It was only when I started reading people like Caplan and Huemer that I reexamined libertarianism and learned that there was solid data behind it. These thinkers presented arguments in a friendly way. They invited questions and didn’t talk down to the audience. Furthermore, both have written a great deal about morality and how to treat people well.

Another thinker that influenced me was Alex Taberrok. What came through on all his work on Covid was that he cared most of all about saving lives. He was pushing for fast distribution of the vaccines and the data was on his side. The opposing side seemed to have a need to defend the FDA and CDC and not even engage in dialogue on the lives being lost by unnecessary delays. Libertarians showed they were the most humane on the big issue at that time.

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Putting the Quran quote in blockquote was a bit confusing. I'm presuming that's you quoting it?

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I'm going to try to steelman unfriendliness though I agree with Bryans take.

An example of when I wish people were more unfriendly was during COVID. If resistance to COVID policies had been more unfriendly and more violent, it's possible that enforcement would have broken down. I found libertarians, especially of the academic variety, too friendly. The Great Barrington Declaration is nice and all but words weren't enough to change policy.

There are probably other emergencies where this might be the case too.

That said unfriendliness doesn't seem to be a great strategy for achieving positive long run policy goals in non emergencies. Maybe it can achieve short term gains that reverse, and maybe it can achieve destructive policy, but its not very useful for improving things in the long run.

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“being the embodiment of love and friendliness cannot redeem the sheer absurdity and unlikeliness of their stupid dogmas.”

Don’t be too quick to call them stupid, some pretty interesting stuff there.


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