Liberty.Me: Trying to Create a "Culture of Praxis" in a Word-Filled Libertarian Movement
Those wanting to keep up on the latest in communication, practice, and argument in the "liberty movement" writ large might want to check out the new-ish site Liberty.Me, the latest brainchild of hyperoptimistic liberty lover Jeffrey Tucker. (See here for an older Reason.TV segment on Tucker. To me, Tucker will always be the man who taught me that shaving cream was a lie, saving me double-digits in Barbasol bills over the years.)
I chatted with Tucker about what he's trying to accomplish on the site a couple of weeks back by phone. "The Internet is our frontier, exactly like the west was in 18th century," Tucker says. "There's always migration to free spaces as old spaces are corrupted by government." So he wanted to create a "community-based one- or two-way or one-million-way conversation, a living arrangement for people who love liberty of all sorts."
The costs of creating this sort of "multiblogging multisite" have finally fallen to within the domain of the possible, Tucker says, so he saw an entrepreneurial space that's more limited in its ideological scope but wider in its uses than most current social spaces on the internet where libertarians might be trying to communicate.
It's what Tucker calls a "hybrid" model, subscription-based but with "more free content than most. This is outreach on one hand, an attempt to get ideas of liberty into the mainstream, but on the other hand there is a huge private space where everybody has skin in the game, differences between public kinds of engagement and private are really the difference between a dinner party and a day in the park" and he hopes to create a space where communication will be both more open and less negative and trollish with "a core civility to engagement that comes with ownership. Everyone has a mutual interest in enhancing the value of overall communication" on the site, like a self-selected subdivision for publication and engagement in the vast wild Internet.
Though it is ultimately a website where people post words and images, in essence, Tucker hopes it becomes an engine of "a culture of praxis" in the libertarian movement, "so we are focused on doing liberty, not just theorizing about it. An attempt to take it to stage two of building real institutions. To my mind this is how liberty is being won in the world; not through big public protests—politics has amounted to so little" but to "innovate, get creative, find ways around the system, find a flaw in the system and exploit it to make your life freer." This is why he's a big promoter of "Bitcoin and Uber and AirBnB.
"I feel like a beautiful model for liberty minded activism is to empower people in their own lives, work on making their own lives freer…rather than narrowly limiting the scope of imagination to attacking the system that is."
It's a combination of an old Karl Hess "living liberty" vision and some Richard Cornuelle "we have to show the world how a libertarian polity would work" ideas and its worth applauding. Available on the site, amongst many interesting discussion boards and personally produced content, and sets of "Liberty Guides" on practical matters ranging from Bitcoin to dealing with police, from gun purchasing to rhetoric, from job hunting to peer-to-peer lending to "digital couponing." It has an interesting groovy counterculture feel that tries to root itself not just in talking—as interesting as talking is—but to life-as-lived.
Tucker says they were at 3,000 paid users a couple of weeks ago, a virtual "city that is both public and also brilliantly private in actual mechanics and operations."
Check it out yourself to see if it's worth your time. 30-day free trials are available for the pay parts.
"Everything I've ever done has taught me three things are amazing in the world," Tucker says. "Commerce, technology, and crowdsourced information. Those are three things I think are the driving force of history. What I tried to do with Liberty.me is put all three in one piece of digital real estate."