Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Tragedy of the (Unmanaged) Commons

A Libertarian acquaintance insisted that I read The Tragedy of the Commons by Garrett Hardin. I also read Hardin's later comments about his 1974 essay, in which he said:
"Individualism is cherished because it produces freedom, but the gift is conditional: The more the population exceeds the carrying capacity of the environment, the more freedoms must be given up...Yet the slightest attempt to limit this freedom is promptly denounced with cries of Elitism! Big-Brotherism! Despotism! Fascism! and the like. We are slow to mend our ways because ethicists and philosophers of the past generally did not see that numbers matter."
It's obvious that Hardin was a smart guy who grew wiser with age. However, I suggest libertarians pay attention to everything he said, not just the cherry-picked parts that fit libertarian dogma.

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