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Peter Thiel’s Follow-up to the Reaction to His Cato Essay

Carl Shulman pointed me to a follow-up that Peter Thiel posted three months ago about the reaction to his Cato essay. Here it is, titled "Your suffrage isn't in danger. Your other rights are.":

I had hoped my essay on the limits of politics would provoke reactions, and I was not disappointed. But the most intense response has been aimed not at cyberspace, seasteading, or libertarian politics, but at a commonplace statistical observation about voting patterns that is often called the gender gap.

It would be absurd to suggest that women's votes will be taken away or that this would solve the political problems that vex us. While I don't think any class of people should be disenfranchised, I have little hope that voting will make things better.

Voting is not under siege in America, but many other rights are. In America, people are imprisoned for using even very mild drugs, tortured by our own government, and forced to bail out reckless financial companies.

I believe that politics is way too intense. That's why I'm a libertarian. Politics gets people angry, destroys relationships, and polarizes peoples' vision: the world is us versus them; good people versus the other. Politics is about interfering with other people's lives without their consent. That's probably why, in the past, libertarians have made little progress in the political sphere. Thus, I advocate focusing energy elsewhere, onto peaceful projects that some consider utopian.

Seems pretty reasonable to me.

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  1. Look at the recent passing of the homophobic Prop 8 in California. Minority rights should not be contingent on majority opinion.

    Well said. Or in other words, democracy is two wolves and a lamb deciding, by majority vote, what to have for dinner.

    I still think democracy is the best form of social organization that we have found so far, but this does not mean it is a perfect form of social organization. These things should be permanently on the drawing board, and there should not be sacred cows.

  2. Democracy needs the possibility of enclaves with a subset of laws. Some things should be inviolate, like disallowing murder or child pornography – but in terms of narcotics use, personal freedoms, we need an added competition model. Let me and my kind create an enclave in a modern state with its own legal rationales and I garantee citizens will be both happier and more prosperous there. OF COURSE outsiders will scream “socialist ghetto!” or “narcoclave!” or “baby murdering zone!”, but thats freedom and free markets for ya. And it would be far more democratic than the current menu.

    Everyone would be free to leave or come.

    Guess I’ll have to wait till I can settle my own asteroid. I’ll be sure to call the port shipping people home “daletown”.

  3. It was unfortunately not surprising that a number of people chose to read Thiel’s mention of a gender gap in the support for a particular ideology as a call to deprive women of the franchise. That this happened shows how poorly libertarian ideas — ideas, not policies — are understood, despite the frequent use of the word these days.

    Of course, if he had worded it more carefully, it would not have raised a stink.

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