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Today, Free Thoughts host Aaron Powell interviews the Paul Matzko, the host of Libertarianism.org’s new podcast Building Tomorrow.

Aaron Ross Powell
Director and Editor
Trevor Burrus
Research Fellow, Constitutional Studies
Paul Matzko
Tech & Innovation Editor

Paul Matzko is the Tech and Innovation Editor at Lib​er​tar​i​an​ism​.org. He received a PhD in History from Pennsylvania State University in 2016. He has a forthcoming book with Oxford University Press titled The Radio Right, which details the John F. Kennedy administration’s successful efforts to censor Right‐​wing radio broadcasters in the 1960s. He has published articles with Presidential Studies Quarterly and Fides et Historia.

Building Tomorrow Podcast explores the ways technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship enable private individuals to build a free, wealthy, and peaceful world.

Subscribe to Building Tomorrow here!



00:05 Aaron Powell: Hi, this is Aaron, co‐​host of Free Thoughts. Today we’re launching a new podcast, Building Tomorrow, and I’m here with host Paul Matzko.

00:13 Paul Matzko: Thank you, Aaron. I’m excited to start the Building Tomorrow podcast. Now, Aaron, when you decided to launch the Building Tomorrow project, you had in mind a positive vision for the show. What was that positive vision?

00:27 Aaron Powell: This show is part of a broader project that we’re kicking off at Lib​er​tar​i​an​ism​.org which we’re calling also Building Tomorrow. And the idea here is, we talk a lot about public policy and government, and the way that those things can enhance liberty or undercut human liberty, but the story is broader than that, right? There are lots of cool things happening in the world that make the world a freer, happier, more peaceful, wealthier place, that don’t involve directly the government giving us permission to do something or setting up new programs or changing its laws. But instead, individuals, private citizens, through innovation, through entrepreneurship, through technological change, carving out more liberty, enabling us to live freer and better lives. And so I wanted to tell the stories of those people, to tell our audience about those technologies, to give them a sense of how we can make the world better, without waiting for the state or in the face of efforts by the state to the contrary. And so, this podcast is, it’s the flagship of that, to tell that story.

01:55 Paul Matzko: I can feel a very… I suppose, it gets a weight off your chest. As a libertarian, we can complain about things the state is doing, like, once again, government regulators have stymied progress innovation. But it’s easy to get lost in that list of complaints, and so it’s always this negative vision of what we can’t do, rather than imagining, well, what can we do? What can we do without waiting for the state to get out of the way? What could we do if the state was out of the way? The positive vision of possibility is something we really want to focus on here with Building Tomorrow.

02:30 Paul Matzko: What do you think about this, Aaron? Like a kind of an Uber style approach to innovation, right? Where rather than saying, “Look, first, we need to change government regulation of the taxi cab industry”, we’re just gonna start something. We’re just going to start providing ride‐​sharing services, even though they’re illegal. We’re gonna imagine the possibilities. What could happen without waiting for the state to get out of the way? Is that kind of in the vision of what you see for the podcast?

02:57 Aaron Powell: I think very much so. That permissionless innovation has a long history of making the world a better place, making the world a freer place. I mean, the American Revolution was permissionless innovation. And I think tied to that is, as you mentioned, this positive vision, that one of the issues rhetorically, that I think libertarians run into when we’re promoting Libertarianism, when we’re trying to convince people that Libertarianism is a political theory of value, is that what we’re ultimately saying is give people freedom, let people pursue their own ends, and let them do whatever they wanna do, as long as it doesn’t hurt others and the world will become better. The market will create amazing new products and services that people associating freely will come up with innovative solutions to existing problems, that the innovation that all of this enables will take us places that we never could have imagined.

04:05 Aaron Powell: But that never could have imagined is a problem because on the one hand, you’ve got the government, you got the politician who stands up and says, “If you vote for me, I will pass legislation that will give you such and such, that will give you healthcare, that will give you education, that will give you a job.” And then, on the other hand, you have libertarians saying, “Look, if you don’t create that program, if you just stop doing all of this stuff that government’s been doing in these, in what libertarians view as harmful ways, and you give people freedom, then people will take care of that stuff on their own and they’ll come up with even better solutions. But that’s like asking for people to put a lot of faith in something we can’t even really point to.

04:51 Paul Matzko: It’s a bit like Frederic Bastiat’s, the French philosopher from the 18th century, “That which is seen, that which is not seen”. And he’s applying it in a slightly different context, but that’s always the struggle when you come up with this, which is, I can see the state giving me healthcare, bread circuses. I can see the tangible results. It’s not even see it in the literal sense, it’s I can imagine that, I can imagine the mechanism that it’s gonna happen by, versus what we’re trying to say as libertarians is, “Well, you can’t actually even imagine what that will be yet but trust us, cool stuff will happen.” And that requires a leap of imagination. It requires something to say that, “I don’t see how this is gonna work out,” but we’ve seen time and time again, historically, time and time again, we’ve seen really cool stuff come out of those free spaces, where we allow individual liberties, we allow innovation to flourish. But it can be a hard sell to folks who haven’t gotten used to thinking that way.

05:53 Aaron Powell: It can be a hard sell and that’s one of the goals of Building Tomorrow is to try to get across better that it’s not that we are simply saying, “Free people up and this good stuff will happen,” but that this good stuff is happening right now…

06:09 Paul Matzko: It’s happening now, yeah, yeah.

06:10 Aaron Powell: That there’s… Libertarianism is happening all around us. And right now, a lot of the most exciting stuff is in the entrepreneurial space and in the innovation and technology spaces, and so we can… We’re not stuck just saying, “Imagine how things could be” but we can point to and we can talk to people who are actually doing it right now. And so you can see this, it is working, and now imagine what else we could accomplish if we could take this… This same dynamism, this same innovation, and free it up to reach even further.

06:50 Paul Matzko: And it’s worth noting that it’s not like [chuckle] all the people who innovate and come up with new ideas and new applications for ideas are libertarians. Right?

07:01 Aaron Powell: Absolutely.

07:01 Paul Matzko: There’s a chance on the show for us to look at the cool things and talk to people who are doing innovative stuff outside the purview of the state who aren’t libertarian, who come across the political spectrum. And that’s something cool as well. Which is, again, that if in these free spaces, in the place where we allow technological innovative organization to happen spontaneously rather than trying to manage it, centralize it, you’re gonna have people come up with ideas that promote human flourishing that are actually… And can be opposed to each other, because each community… Free individuals will be able to choose to be parts of free communities that organize around principles that make sense to them, that allow… That promote their prosperity, happiness and flourishing, that other communities would not adopt. We’re creating diversity in decentralization, a kind of a techno… A view of… A vision of technology innovation that is… That multiplies across thousands, millions of local communities. And I think that’s actually really exciting, that this is something that doesn’t just benefit capital L, Libertarians, but that we can see benefiting folks from across the political spectrum with lots of different diverse beliefs.

08:21 Aaron Powell: It is exciting. And that is one of the main motivators behind the Building Tomorrow project, both the podcast and the broader suite of content we’ll be adding to Lib​er​tar​i​an​ism​.org, is that the world is already… Because of the men and women doing these kinds of things, it’s already, I think, more exciting and more optimistic than you might think, and it can be so much more in the future. And that’s what this project and that’s what this podcast are really intended to get across and to explore, and to talk about. So that’s what we’re trying to accomplish with Building Tomorrow. And if that sounds as exciting to you as it does to Paul and to me, you can grab the first episode of the Building Tomorrow podcast right now, look for it in iTunes or your favorite podcast client.