The modern mainstream libertarian fails to recognise three basic pillars of freedom in the modern world, which incongruously puts her in opposition to a regime representing the highest degree of freedom ever attained:
The three corner points of the libertarian triangle of oblivion are
- robust conditions of freedom,
- the egalitarian demos, and
- the invisible hand of politics.
Robust Conditions of Freedom
(1) The libertarian does not understand that liberty depends on a number of robust conditions, rather than a set of perfect conditions; as long as these robust conditions are operative, many different permutations of restrictions on personal freedom may be enforced without destroying or endangering a free society. Civil society is not jeopardised by a mandate requiring motorcyclists to wear helmets, notwithstanding the question of whether such a mandate is wise or the best solution to the problem at hand.
Those conscious of freedom have no end of good points to make that are likely to prevent nonsensical decisions and detriment, but many of these considerations may be ignored at the end of the day, while freedom is still not anywhere near being abrogated.
A good description of the robust conditions of freedom is found in the Oakeshott-quote in A Culture of Freedom - Oakeshott on Liberty (1/3).
(2) The libertarian does not understand that an egalitarian demos is the very model of the public on which the idea of personal freedom rests. A free person is one that is allowed to develop and canvass her own preferred ideas as to how the public is to be defined and regulated. Within the inalienable fence of robust conditions of freedom a host of very different notions of what is conducive to the common weal will develop in a free society.
The Invisible Hand of Politics
(3) The libertarian does not understand that in order for unrestricted pluralism - a fundamental requirement of freedom's egalitarian demos - to prevail without destroying the robust conditions of freedom, we need all sorts of (designed and evolved) rituals and other mechanisms that ensure mutual reassurance, violence prevention and ultimately effective trust among the participants in the political competition of a free society.
By "effective trust" I mean, that even though we may be highly indignant about our political opponents, we will (effectively) trust them not to kill us or do other intolerably severe harm to us, and vice versa. (I know an American couple who think I am a racist simply because they put me in the Republican box, but I am sure they will never stab me for that reason. In fact, even though many of their political views are utterly revolting to me, we are on genuinely friendly terms when we meet as we occasionally do in a certain restaurant. I feel, this "effective trust" is a marvel of institutional evolution, and it is the fruit of the invisible hand in politics. We do not see how we are led to effectively trust one another as if guided by an invisible hand.
Precisely because in a pluralistic, i.e. in a free society we are given a high degree of autonomy and thus the ability to work out, advertise, and pursue our own ideas and plans, unanimity is likely to be scarce in many vital ways. A rational consensus is hard to attain on many decisive issues, so we need transrational layers of public exchange that allow us to signal and practice tolerance, productive tit-for-tat, long run give-and-take. Our political institutions and practices have secondary, unintended benign consequences as analogous to those of the invisible hand in the economic sphere that the libertarian rightly keeps praising.
Just as it is frustrating to talk to people who do not comprehend the invisible hand of the market, it is vexing to notice that the libertarian is incapable of looking for spontaneous order and the invisible hand in politics.
Grotesquely, the libertarian opposes the best form of feasible freedom ever attained.
Averse to "voice" (the expression of the political intent of free citizens) and "public choices" (publicly ratified action binding on the community), the libertarian tends to discount or be oblivious to what democratic messages tell us about libertarianism, namely that it has little appeal to the modern demos, who is hardly inclined to
- democracy - the very substratum of liberty -,
- the need to take collective decisions, and
- the many ways in which government can be used to act in the common interest.