I just finished reading The Future and Its Enemies. A great, great book. It was my first real introduction to the ideal of libertarianism in any sort of scholarly form (not including Give Me a Break, a more "pop-culture" type of work). I must say, I'm hooked.
One of the interesting side affects of immersing myself in all this "libertarian" idealeology is the revelation that maybe socialism isn't the solution to all of the worlds woes. In an article by Michael Strong, A Million Paths to Peace, Strong proposes one of the biggest curses of the 20th century was a lack of idealism in any area other than extreme liberalism. He proposes that since most idealists came from the far left, most young people came to liberalism as their ideology of choice (I guess that includes me). He goes on to say:
We don't know how effective activists could have been at promoting global economic integration, nor do we know exactly how much western intellectuals' support strengthened communism. But it is certainly plausible that if the chattering classes had believed in "peace through economic freedom" as passionately as they believed in communism and socialism the 20th century would have been profoundly different. Instead of a fifty-year long Cold War that was largely fought as hot wars in the developing world, we might have had a discredited and shrinking communist movement far earlier than 1990. It is likely that hundreds of millions of people would be alive, and billions of people would better off today, had the chattering classes remained classical liberals throughout the 20th century.
What kind of difference would a market-driven economy have created? That's the message of The Future and Its Enemies. That's the message of Flow. That's the message of the future.
Amazing how a little political thinking can completely stretch and change my view of the world. Having an open mind is so much fun!