One argument I’ve often heard against libertarianism goes something like this: “we’ve never seen a libertarian government in actual practice, so there’s no way to know if it would even work”. Well, I think I may have an answer (and a big one at that!)
My answer? Well, to understand my answer we first have to lay some groundwork. Traditionally, libertarianism has been all about the individual and the relationship of the individual to the government. But, libertarian concepts also apply as we go up the ladder of the various levels of government. A county government’s relationships to its constituent cities can be libertarian, for instance, if the county gives the cities freedom to do as they choose. Likewise, a state government can be libertarian in its relationship to counties, and the federal government in its relationship to the states. So libertarian principles apply - not only to the individual - but also wherever there is the possibility for one group to have authority over another.
Which brings me to my answer: the world government. But wait, you say, there is no world government! Well that’s kinda the point. Because there is no central government for the entire world (though some are pushing for one) the world essentially runs on libertarian principles between the constituent nations. Now some would say that "no government = anarchy", but that’s not really what we have. There are several “one-world” organizations like the U.N., the W.T.O., etc., but these organization’s power is derived solely from the willingness of the participating nations. In other words they are like private, voluntary organizations that take the place of a strong central government – just like libertarians advocate for. If enough nations decide to ignore a U.N. or a W.T.O. “order”, and if there are a few powerful nations among the dissenters, the order goes unheeded.
So the world basically runs on libertarian principles –chief among them, the principle of a market driven society: If a nation gets along well with other nations and produces things other nations want, their status as a nation goes up – if they don’t get along or are unproductive, their status diminishes. These are libertarian concepts – only “the individual” (the cornerstone of libertarian philosophy) is replaced by “the nation”. Yet we can see working in the macro what could also work in the micro. In the world, nations have to form coalitions; they have to come to agreements and sign treaties, they have to learn to work together without a behemoth centralized government forcing them to do so.
That, my friends, is libertarianism.