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Why Are So Many Nerds Libertarians?

AnarchoAl Geeks and Politics (1565 comments)

I know geeks with many different politics. The one thing we have in common is that we all approach the political question from a logical, systems-analysis angle. That's why so many geeks want radical changes in society - we're interested in root causes and want our beliefs to be founded on a set of basic principles, because if those principles are logical then everything we derive from them will be logical too. A mock-scientific approach.

A large section of American geekdom is right-libertarian. This is because (a) certain things about US culture and the US economic setup mean that right-libertarianism looks the most viable option to many people and (b) a strong sense of and desire for liberty and a knowledge of historical tyrannies encourage them to look for a libertarian option - and they come upon the axiom of free individuals forming contracts with each other freely - essentially classical liberalism.

So, why are so many geeks right-libertarian?

  • Geeks tend to like systematic explanations with logical axioms
  • Many geeks are American
  • American culture encourages viewing freedom to trade as an essential freedom
  • Right-libertarianism is an internally-consistent, logically structured social theory

Of course, there are plenty of geeks who are Republicans or Democrats or Greens or Communists or Anarchists in the US too. In Europe we have many social democrats ("liberals"), greens and far-left types.

I'm a geek and a libertarian myself, but I'm a left-libertarian. An "Anarchist Socialist". I think the flaw in right-libertarianism is that contracts are rarely freely entered into. If I have $1m and you have $100, I can easily get you to enter into a $200/week contract - I can bully you in the market through greater control of resources. I think its important to differentiate between personal property and productive capital. My computer should be mine; only I use it. My workplace should be equally mine with my co-workers; we all use that productive capital. My community should be held in common with my neighbours. I see landlords and the bourgeoisie* as parasites, living off our labour.

Of course I'm the same as the rest of the geeks, looking for a consistent system and solid axioms before deciding my political beliefs. In my case, it's a fanatical belief in democracy that has led me to my position - if we wouldn't tolerate a dictatorship, why do we tolerate not being able to elect our bosses? If electing politicians isn't democratic (and it's not), couldn't we place the base of power in mass meetings in workplaces and communities, and federate them?

* As in Marx's class system, which is class division based on power, not wealth (except in that wealth is power)
Proletariat: the class that has to sell its labour to survive
Bourgeoisie: the class that purchases the labour of the proletariat, and does not have to work

more than 7 years ago


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