“Crazy or not-crazy?” was the false dichotomy I proposed to Rachel.

“Definitely crazy,” she resolved straightaway.

So, the verdict is in: we spent last week at a convention for crazy people.

At this convention, the people believed that the structure of society is radically flawed. They may want to start anew, or to comprehensively scale back, but the result is the same: a society almost unthinkably dissimilar from all others that exist.

I’ve refrained from mentioning the name of the event to avoid coloring your opinion. It was the Constitutional Convention and Benjamin Franklin throws a ridiculous afterparty.


Andy is an anthropologist. While out anthropologizing, Andy comes across an island that was previously isolated from the rest of modern humanity. The residents call themselves Zythnars.

Zythnars are miraculously happy and genuinely believe their way of life is the best possible. They have strong shelters, an abundance of food, plenty of leisure and work that is personally fulfilling. No Zythnars complain or desire a different life.

Zythnars also all worship Zythnar Prime, a man that has absolute unquestioned control over their society. The Zythnars ask questions about Andy’s world and find it puzzling. How could people govern themselves without the omniscient knowledge of Zythnar Prime?

Andy is bemused by the Zythnar’s quirkiness, but figures it’s their right to live as they please.


A reduced form of one debate I frequently see between libertarians and non-libertarians goes like this:

L: “Government has no right to tell people what to eat or how to work!”

NL: “Well, without government, the world would be run by corporations that will poison us!”

If your goal is to change minds, arguments like this are a mistake. Why? Because they engage a person’s emotion and identity and thus disengage their rationality. If someone has grown up believing and trusting in social security their whole life, convincing them the system is immoral or flawed means engaging in a discussion where the cognitive scales are tipped against you.

Compare with the Zythnars. Most people would agree with Andy that the Zythnars are weird, but they’d also probably agree they have the right to live as they like. The most intolerant can be surprisingly tolerant when the intolerable is no where near them.

A better argument for marginalized ideologies is one I call the right to experiment, but I think smarter people call it the right to self-determination. It goes something like this:

People-of-marginalized-ideology aren’t idiots or conspiracy nuts. They aren’t insane; they aren’t shills. They are intelligent, thoughtful people who genuinely believe that life would be better they could actualize their ideals. And there are millions of them worldwide. Millions! Unfortunately, our world actively prohibits collections of people from attempting new ways to live.

If you tell someone this, you stand a surprising chance of convincing them whether you’re peddling communism or anarchy.


I’ve lied to you. I wasn’t actually at the Constitutional Convention last week. I was at the Liberty Forum, a convention for libertarians. The rest was true: the people I met desire a world that is radically different and fundamentally incongruent with what exists today.

The Liberty Forum is run by the Free State Project, a group with a unique approach to instituting liberty. Rather than advocating for national change as other liberty foundations would, the Free State Project is attempting to create the smallest possible libertarian community.

Most revolutions fail. Most successful revolutions do more harm than a good. A tiny sliver improve the world forever.

This should make us terrified of revolution but also desire that revolutions happen. Preferably in as small a form as possible and some place far away from where I’m eating this sandwich.

Recognizing the right to experiment solves this problem. It says that when a bunch of people sincerely want to try a new political system we should find a way to accommodate them, regardless of what it is. It appreciates the positive externalities that come from other people conducting societal experiments.

Most societal experiments will fail. But that failure will predominantly impact those who voluntarily chose to be a part of it.

Occasionally, one will hit on a new method or structure that benefits all. Other benefits are possible, too. The mere possibility of start-up government could apply competitive pressure to keep existing governments on track, the way the mere existence of America once brought better practices to Europe. Or perhaps we’ll discover a superior system of governance and our cyborg descendants will laugh at democracy the way we laugh at rule by primogeniture.

Maybe we’ll discover we already live in El Dorado. But at least we’ll know.

Bring on the crazies.