Five Reasons for Optimism about Liberty
I’ve always been an optimist, for three basic reasons:
(1) I’ve always been an optimist.
(2) There is no prize in pessimism: if you bet correctly on the end of the world, how will you collect the bet?
(3) There is significant evidence that optimists move the world in their direction more successfully than pessimists. I suggest Martin Seligman’s Learned Optimism if you care about the details. Of course, pessimists won’t read it and optimists don’t need to read it!
On the more specific issue of the future of the world, my optimism is based on the fact that, while the news is dominated by the feckless and dishonest people who have always tried to run things, the real world consists almost entirely of the mutually beneficial second-by-second voluntary interactions between anonymous people throughout the globe. It is harder to document, but far more significant in the long run.
For a view of recent optimistic trends with which I heartily concur, I recommend Reason Managing Editor Jesse Walker’s “Five Reason For Optimism.” He details the following trends over the past few decades:
1. A surge in nonviolence.
2. The media revolution.
3. The rise of voluntary governance.
4. An explosion of entrepreneurship and wealth.
5. The breakdown of hegemony.
One of the most important conclusions to draw from his article is that we need to look beyond what is happening in the United States to see the remarkable trends in the direction of liberty. Another is that the unipolar world that has caused the US government to become a global bully with contempt for all limits on its power is crumbling, not because of any great awakening by Americans, but because the rest of the world is no longer willing to play along.