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Why Are So Many Nerds Libertarians?

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the out-of-left-field dept.

Politics 1565

BrendanMcGrail writes "Why do so many nerds seem to lean toward the Libertarian end of the spectrum? As a leftist, I know there are many people who share my ideological views, but have very little in common with me in terms of profession and non-work interests. Is the community's political bent directly tied to our higher than average economic success?"

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Because we all know (1, Insightful)

2.7182 (819680) | more than 7 years ago | (#20439823)

that creativity is not a group project. It is about the individual.

Re:Because we all know (1)

dwhite21787 (166571) | more than 7 years ago | (#20439903)

Atlas Shrugged - 'nuff said.

Re:Because we all know (2, Insightful)

Knuckles (8964) | more than 7 years ago | (#20440025)

Atlas Shrugged is literature, and bad at that.

Re:Because we all know (2)

Knuckles (8964) | more than 7 years ago | (#20440007)

that creativity is not a group project. It is about the individual.

Yeah, that's why everyone uses something called "teams". An many musicians work in "bands".

Re:Because we all know (3, Informative)

2.7182 (819680) | more than 7 years ago | (#20440033)

And that's why "teams" are so inefficient. And bands are science. They primeval sexual rituals.

Look, you want to understand quantum field theory, then no child left behind ain't gonna work for you. It's not about making sure everyone feels like a winner.

Teams and Bands Need Leaders (1)

tjstork (137384) | more than 7 years ago | (#20440049)

The Beatles were a band, but the bulk of the songs were written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, and all of the greatest songs were written by individually by any one of them. Teams are good for collaborating on ways to go where one person has already decided that you will go, but are not good at coming up with solutions to problems.

Re:Teams and Bands Need Leaders (1)

Knuckles (8964) | more than 7 years ago | (#20440149)

And just as often, the special chemistry between the people in a band is lost when they break up, and neither individual ever reaches the same heights again. Look at McCartney.

Re:Because we all know (1, Insightful)

2.7182 (819680) | more than 7 years ago | (#20440091)

And that's why "teams" are so inefficient. (Read "the mythical man month"). And bands are not science. They primeval sexual rituals.

Look, you want to understand quantum field theory, then no child left behind ain't gonna work for you. It's just you and the equations, baby. It's not about making sure everyone feels like a winner.

source? (5, Insightful)

j00r0m4nc3r (959816) | more than 7 years ago | (#20439825)

Why do so many nerds seem to lean toward the Libertarian end of the spectrum?

Can you cite your source for this data? Or are you just assuming this because some of your friends are libertarians?

Re:source? (5, Funny)

Yoozer (1055188) | more than 7 years ago | (#20439871)

"Remember kids, "data" is not the plural form of "anecdote".

Re:source? (1)

heinousjay (683506) | more than 7 years ago | (#20439895)

The phrase "so many" is not exactly a rigorous statistical assertion demanding backing, you know.

Re:source? (3, Interesting)

bscott (460706) | more than 7 years ago | (#20439913)

> Or are you just assuming this because some of your friends are libertarians?

Agreed - I know more than my share of libertarians but none of them are techies by any stretch of the term (most of them aren't even especially sane). I've met a number of apolitical techies, but otherwise, in my limited experience, they fall into one of the two usual categories.

Then again, it's fair to say that Microsoft can be seen as something of a political entity in the tech world, and there are those who happily live within its warm embrace and others who reject everything associated with the Beast of Redmond, with vigor and dedication. Offhand I don't find it hard to see parallels between the mindsets of the "get Microsoft off our backs" camp (well-represented amongst Slashdot readership) and the political movement that rejects bloated, intrusive, overbearing government...

So yeah, if you're sick of Microsoft then maybe you're a techno-Lib?

Re:source? (3, Informative)

sien (35268) | more than 7 years ago | (#20439941)

The recent slashdot poll [slashdot.org] is one source, albeit dubious.

Re:source? (3, Insightful)

melonman (608440) | more than 7 years ago | (#20439965)

Can you cite your source for this data?

The way "Your rights online" is one of the busiest /. categories, the way half the stories have little or nothing to do with IT, and the way articles are almost always spun in terms of "What individual rights will be lost?" rather than "What might society as a whole gain?", for example?

Having said that, I haven't seen any survey data, and I suspect that the population of nerds is closer to the centre of the bell curve than those who make the most noise.

Re:source? (2, Insightful)

PixelSlut (620954) | more than 7 years ago | (#20440103)

The way "Your rights online" is one of the busiest /. categories, the way half the stories have little or nothing to do with IT, and the way articles are almost always spun in terms of "What individual rights will be lost?" rather than "What might society as a whole gain?", for example?

When individual rights are lost, you can't really word that as a gain for society. It's a loss for society. As the people lose rights, the government gains power over them. The rulers are the only ones who benefit from that.

Re:source? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20439967)

I've gotten into enough arguments on /. to know there are plenty of conservatives and neo-conservatives around. I sometimes wonder what they are doing here, but they often get modded up so they seem to be doing fine. Must be the few other conservatives save up their mod points for the cause.

Re:source? (2, Informative)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 7 years ago | (#20439979)

Well, not a real poll, but close enough. [slashdot.org] The vast majority of geeks that I know profess to be registered libertarians (including myself).

I am guessing the reason for more libertarians amongst the geek is due to a higher then average IQ. It has probably been observed how how corrupt the parties become. Nazism started off in socialism name, but really was a far right-wing party (called fascism in Italy). "Communist" countries has never been communistic. Red china and USSR were pure totalitarianisms with command economies. Even now, red china remains totalitaianstic but with a capitalism mixed in. EU is a weak federal gov, with a libertarian bent, while nearly all the underling nations are very socialistic. And in America, we are heading towards a totalitarian. I know that many will argue against this. The republicans will run around and mod this down and say that our spying is needed to preserve our bill of rights and our deficit to balance the budget, and of course, the occuptation of Iraq to preserve peace. Likewise the dems will say that republicans are to blame and will then back W's request to stay in Iraq, all MORE spying, and then balance the budget by increasing spending (to their credit, they are trying to increase taxs to offset that; i.e. same deficit, not increased).

The simple fact is that I LIKED the idea of communism, but it will NEVER work. Man (not mankind) is still to barbaric and will strive to dominate over each other. The original bill of rights need to be expanded, and our constitution to be changed slightly. In particular, we need to punish more of our leaders who do illegal actions. For example, Nixon, Reagan, Clinton and now W. ALL BELONG in prison. Nixon for the cover-up, reagan for many things but just the Iran-COntra and october surprise are enough, Clinton for perjury(though I believe that we should never have asked him about that; but he did perjure himself), and W, well, just his illegal spying should be enough (but there are PLENTY of other illegal actions from him). The only real choice that we have is Libertarianism.

Citation (0)

2.7182 (819680) | more than 7 years ago | (#20440009)

Recent slashdot poll, if you can believe that.

Because they're smarter. (n/t) (1, Insightful)

The Iso (1088207) | more than 7 years ago | (#20439829)

Because they're smarter. (n/t)

Re:Because they're smarter. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20439977)

If you put "(n/t)" in the title of your post, to signify that the post itself contains no text, it's pretty stupid to turn around and put text in the post.

Now, I imagine you did that because Slashdot gets uppity about empty posts. But it makes you look like a cockfool to say in the title that the post has no text, only to give the post text. And what's worse, the text you put in the post, where there's not supposed to be any text, uses "(n/t)" to indicate that the preceding text doesn't exist, when it clearly does.

Maybe this sort of shit flies over at the GameFAQs forums where you and your semi-retarded ilk roost. But here at Slashdot, you'd damn well better provide a title for your post, and you'd damn well better provide some text (or a goatse link, your choice).

It's more complex than that (2, Insightful)

NoPantsJim (1149003) | more than 7 years ago | (#20440081)

I think it goes beyond just being smarter. All of my nerd friends and me, besides being smart, are very analytical. We really analyze situations and are usually not swayed by cheap simple tactics the mainstream politicians use. Phrases like "We're fighting them over there so we don't have to fight them here" just make us think "Well fuck, I'm pretty sure it's more complicated than that." We understand political issues beyond just the talking point sound bytes, which is why we see it's complete BS from both sides of the aisle right now. Libertarian is the only choice in my mind.

Re:Because they're smarter. (n/t) (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 7 years ago | (#20440165)

I'm pretty sure that's not it. I mean, look at sites like slashdot, digg, reddit, they are just as bad as youtube or dailyKos or whatever.

I'm pretty sure the early comment that said something about the assumption being a big one is about right.

Isn't it obvious? (1)

lewscroo (695355) | more than 7 years ago | (#20439833)

Because nerds just have to be right.

Why ask why? (1)

phaggood (690955) | more than 7 years ago | (#20439837)

.. because we spend so much time reading tech manuals that instead of really getting to know the candidates we form our political leanings by the ratings of the party's ads on youtube.

Re:Why ask why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20439863)

Real nerds don't like youtube

Re:Why ask why? (1)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 7 years ago | (#20439905)

Actually real nerds play youtube videos in their ascii-art-rendered X-session.

Re:Why ask why? (5, Insightful)

smallfries (601545) | more than 7 years ago | (#20439899)

Why does he ask? Let me tidy up his submission a litte:

Dear Slashdot,
We haven't had a really good flamefest for ages. As all flames end up in political arguments, and all political arguments end up being about Libertarians. Can we just cut out the middle man and get to the good stuff?

Yours expectantly,
A troll who got a story through firehose

The same reason so many are socialists (5, Insightful)

heinousjay (683506) | more than 7 years ago | (#20439841)

Nerds are unrealistic when it comes to how human beings actually work. They seem to have some vision of people that is way closer to ideal than actually exists. What's more, most nerds I talk to recognize this even in themselves, yet persist in the delusion.

Re:The same reason so many are socialists (5, Interesting)

realdodgeman (1113225) | more than 7 years ago | (#20439947)

Socialism does actually work. It is just the Americans who think that all socialism is communism who are wrong. In Norway we have a socialistic government, and we are currently rated as the best country in the world to live in. Also, socialistic health care has been proven many times to be the best.

In fact, most political ideas work, if they are not put to their extremes. USA is going towards a capitalistic extreme, witch can become just as bad as the communism they hate so much.

Re:The same reason so many are socialists (1, Insightful)

heinousjay (683506) | more than 7 years ago | (#20439969)

You have a tiny, homogenous population who spent most of their history under absolute rule. It's not exactly a parallel to the US.

Aside from that, I can point out a nice big failed socialist state if you'd like. We can go tit for tat on this til the end of time.

Also, being rated as the best country to live in is a fairly suspect determination. It relies on the opinion of the interpreter of the data more than the data.

Also also, why jump right into bashing the US? Are you that insecure?

Re:The same reason so many are socialists (1)

realdodgeman (1113225) | more than 7 years ago | (#20440061)

Norway is a tiny country, yes. But there are other examples also, like France. I am not insecure, I just want to point out that the US is going in the wrong direction. The economy is failing, they are losing in Iraq, and they have lost many liberties (The patriot act, anyone?).

I would recommend having a look here [wikipedia.org] . Very interesting read.

I don't really want to bash the US, I just want to point out that they are on their way down. Most US citizens are in denial, but it is true. Just watch sicko, and apply Moore's discoveries to most parts of their society...

Re:The same reason so many are socialists (3, Informative)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 7 years ago | (#20440053)

There's a difference between socialism and social democrats. Your typical socialists would have everything nationalised, under the control of politicians. Typical social democrats will see that it makes sense to nationalise a few things here or there but leave the rest pretty much alone.

There are no socialist governments left in Europe.

 

Re:The same reason so many are socialists (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20440037)

I disagree with your generalizations. Geek libertarians are the ones who fight against expanded anti-terrorism powers because they recognize humans aren't perfect and the system can be heavily abused. They also fight against privacy issues with handing your identity to a salesperson, government official, etc. Why? Because they recognize the world is NOT an ideal place and therefore the potential for abuse/misuse of personal information is an unwanted risk. They build safeguards and redundancies into visions and try to remove single-points-of-failure.

To a geek, politics is very similar to the operation of their networks and systems. A lot of the theory behind managing a computer network (load balancing, redundancy, backups, security, etc) apply directly to their political ideas as well.

And instead of striving for mediocrity, they tend to strive for 'idealism' (while knowing that this point doesn't exist). What is the problem with this outlook on life?

Re:The same reason so many are socialists (1)

heinousjay (683506) | more than 7 years ago | (#20440065)

To respond with a handy cliche, even a stopped clock is right twice a day.

Re:The same reason so many are socialists (2, Insightful)

Jesrad (716567) | more than 7 years ago | (#20440123)

Nerds are unrealistic when it comes to how human beings actually work.

All the nerds I know that are also libertarians (that's a majority of them) do quite the opposite: if you can provide them with a fact that shows people really do not act liek they think they would, it shakes their belief immediately and they struggle to integrate that new fact in their understanding of people.

One could even say that "fact" is a holy word for them.

LIBERTARIAN (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20439843)

I think it's just a case of us geeks being keenly aware of privacy issues surrounding the use and abuse of technology to invade other peoples' rights. I'm a libertarian, too.

Democracy is a wonderful thing... (5, Insightful)

sane? (179855) | more than 7 years ago | (#20439845)

Because they see the average level of intelligence shown by those around them and don't want any of that lot deciding things for them?

Since when are libertarians left wing? (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20439847)

Here in Europe they would be considered right wing nut jobs, certainly not left wing.

As to why they are so popular among geeks? Are they? Or are they simply a very vocal minority, owing to the fact that they have prescribed to a simple ideology that gives them the illusion to have easy answers even to complex problems?

that's quite a leading question. (5, Interesting)

User 956 (568564) | more than 7 years ago | (#20439855)

As a leftist, I know there are many people who share my ideological views ... Is the community's political bent directly tied to our higher than average economic success?

First off, I don't agree that Libertarianism is "leftist" per-se. Secondly, I don't think income has anything to do with it. Constitutionalism/Libertarianism is simply a very logical conclusion, if one is of the opinion that the United States constitution is a very good document for the foundation of government. Given that "nerds" (as you call them) have an affinity for logic, I don't see why the two are such an unusual fit.

Re:that's quite a leading question. (3, Informative)

Anomolous Cowturd (190524) | more than 7 years ago | (#20439933)

Bingo. Libertarian is the opposite of authoritarian... not right or left. Libertarians can see that everything big government touches turns to shit. That's why they're libertarians.

Re:that's quite a leading question. (4, Insightful)

heinousjay (683506) | more than 7 years ago | (#20439939)

There wasn't even an implication that libertarianism is leftist, to me. As I read it, the submitter is a leftist who is confused about the perceived popularity of libertarianism, not a libertarian.

The slashdot inquisition (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20440017)

Amongst our weapons.... Amongst our weaponry...are such elements as libertarianism, nice red uniforms, and almost fanatical devotion to missing the point through intentionally poor reading comprehension.

Re:that's quite a leading question. (1)

User 956 (568564) | more than 7 years ago | (#20440159)

As I read it, the submitter is a leftist who is confused about the perceived popularity of libertarianism, not a libertarian.

if that's the case, then why use the inclusive pronoun "our"?

Re:that's quite a leading question. (2, Insightful)

vrmlguy (120854) | more than 7 years ago | (#20439999)

I think that you need to re-read the question. The OP seemed to be saying that he is, himself, a leftist who has noticed that his leftist friends are rarely nerds and his nerd friends are usually libertarians. As for myself, I'm old enough to have watched Armstrong step onto the moon on live television [youtube.com] . I'm pretty sure that I was a libertarian well before I achieved any economic success, which I attribute to an early exposure to the works of Robert A. Heinlein [heinleinsociety.org] .

Re:that's quite a leading question. (1)

Pentagram (40862) | more than 7 years ago | (#20440005)

First off, I don't agree that Libertarianism is "leftist" per-se.

Indeed. It's perfectly possible to be leftist and libertarian. Rather than left v. right as a political spectrum, I much prefer the dual axes that the politicalcompass.org [politicalcompass.org] advocates: authoritarianism v. libertarianism and economic left v/ right.

Re:that's quite a leading question. (1)

Your.Master (1088569) | more than 7 years ago | (#20440063)

My interpretation of the comment is that he is not a libertarian, is a leftist, and does not see libertarian as (necessarily) leftist. I would also argue that if you can go around saying "given that you hold opinion X, Y is a logical conclusion", I expect you can find an appropriate X for any given political affinity Y, and replace your argument. With all of that said, I'm not sure there really are a lot of libertarians in the "nerd" field. Maybe there are, but most of my nerd friends identify quite Liberal (in a generic sense), and the few that aren't are quite Conservative or utterly apathetic. I do anecdotally find, however, that Slashdot is unusually full of libertarians, and to a lesser extent many of the forums I frequent on the Internet. This could, in part, be because I live in Canada and the perspective on what is liberal, conservative, libertarian, etc. is a little different from the more-dominant American perspective of many of these sites. Back to logic, I think income levels are a very logical hypothesis -- the unstated assumption is that people tend to like systems that work out well for themselves, and low-tax low-interference libertarianism is (in a relative sense, not an absolute sense) biased toward people who have above-average incomes and who have managed to make good life decisions on their own (which also leads to higher incomes) -- where the liberals might want to give a social safety net for the people who make a horrible mistake and would otherwise ruin their life, and the conservatives might want to make "moral" laws preventing people from sliding into bad choices in the first place. These are just as examples, I know neither of those things are universal left or right viewpoints, I just wanted a quick point with a positive spin from both sides, which is hard when I don't agree with either viewpoint, but I recognize that logical, intelligent people do support these ideologies. I'm not sure that it holds true, though. For one thing, many nerds on slashdot are still going through school and not really making money yet, although they might have good reason to suspect they will sometime soon. I'd be interested to hear other hypotheses than "because of high income" and ones that basically boil down to "because libertarianism is the right answer and nerds are smart so they pick the right answer".

Re:that's quite a leading question. (4, Insightful)

happyemoticon (543015) | more than 7 years ago | (#20440101)

I think you're misunderstanding the original post (which is easy; it's not very clearly written). Rephrasing:

Most tech nerds I know are libertarians. Most of my fellow socialists/communists whom I know are hipsters and artists and hippies and drama dorks, and have no technical background. Why is this the case?

To respond to the original article, I don't think it's necessarily related to money either. Regardless of politics, all of the engineers I knew in college were pretty hard-nosed and independent. You're going to wash out if you're not. And if you're an independent, hard worker, you're more likely to think that others should be too.

Truly libertarian though? (3, Insightful)

Televiper2000 (1145415) | more than 7 years ago | (#20439869)

But, are they really libertarian or do they just use the word?

Re:Truly libertarian though? (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 7 years ago | (#20440129)

What's a "true" libertarian?

 

Because they're antisocial American idiots (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20439879)

Note this is purely an American problem. Geeks and nerds from other countries turn into lefties, not Thatcher's little free-marketeerians. People outside of America have no idea who Ayn Rand is, and tend to think that 99% of America (excepting San Francisco and Boston) are rabid right-wing capitalists.

Nerds are often psychologically isolated and have grown up without any sense of community or personal involvement. They already reject other people, rejecting any cohesive form of government is just the next step. They felt they were better than anyone else when they were young and (rightly) detested the very broken American public school system. However, because they are actually idiots, and incapable of seeing further than their own nose, they think smashing it all up is the key.

How anyone can think the private sector is a panacea is beyond me. Look at the fucked-up American medical system for a simple example. Look at how Canada and Sweden regularly top the standard-of-living charts despite having much smaller GDPs than America.

Re:Because they're antisocial American idiots (1)

Knuckles (8964) | more than 7 years ago | (#20440111)

Right on, AC.

Re:Because they're antisocial American idiots (0, Flamebait)

wmelnick (411371) | more than 7 years ago | (#20440151)

I guess that the fucked-up american medical system is the reason that so many canadians and europeans come here to get the procedures done that they can't have done in their own country, because if they waited on those ridiculously long lists they would be dead before they got the treatment they need.

Don't believe movies made by fat self-hating assholes for your only view of the system that brings in all of the best doctors in the world and gets all of the research done for the cures that you want to get from your useless socialist system.

Nerds (2, Interesting)

Kenji DRE (1020807) | more than 7 years ago | (#20439883)

Because we nerds are the more knowledgeable bunch and don't like to be told what to do. We want to do things our way, and hence we tend to lean toward the libetarian view.

sure are (2, Insightful)

hebertrich (472331) | more than 7 years ago | (#20439885)

Heck .. both the dems and the gop are screwing us
big time.anyways .. less laws , more freedom and
a better attitude is what we all need .. not more
government intervention in what i want to do with
my life.

Libertarians and F/OSS (1)

tacocat (527354) | more than 7 years ago | (#20439891)

Well, there seems to be a very high correlation between "geeks" and the developers of F/OSS. Considering the fact that FOSS is a libertarian form of software development I think it's a natural progression from hobby/career interests and politics.

How many people in care giving professions (nurse, teacher) are democratic

How many people in top tier of corporations are republican

I see nothing that ties this to economic status. In fact I see a lot of Libertarian & developers who have very low incomes.

I'm curious if the Democratic or Republican party comes in second in the F/OSS community. I'll guess it's Republican because we probably don't care much for the welfare philosophy more than anything else. If we did, we would all use Windows and never ask questions about it because we would be so grateful that Bill Gates is keeping us from thinking too hard (or much). But if computers aren't your interest, then you probably don't what to think too much about it.

Re: RNC and DNC (2, Interesting)

NReitzel (77941) | more than 7 years ago | (#20440083)

I don't think it's germane to talk about either the RNC or DNC has having anything whatsoever to do with ideology. Both groups are about power, and ideology is just one of the tools that they use to extort votes from their adherents.

In my not-so-humble opinion, both groups are fully corrept and the United States could benefit greatly if we gave them swords (or suicide vests) and let them kill each other off. They are the modern-day national equivalent of the Bloods and Crips, and have nothing whatever to offer actual Americans.

In part, I tend towards Libertarianism, just because I've become so disillusioned with the corporate political process. For the past sixty years, our American system of government has become polluted by merchantilism and the oligarchy of megacorporations. Because of the way that our statutory systems permits literal interpretation of the rule sets (laws), the groups with the most lawyers have become adept at avoiding the intent of laws, and using the literal verbage of the law to commit immoral acts -- read Marx, of the few things he was right about, this corporate corruption leads the list.

Don't misunderstand my comments - corporations are not evil, per se, but because of the management structure and the lack of moral accountability brought on by a statutory legal system, boards of directors of otherwise perfectly reasonable people can corporately make decisions that lead to companies like Altria (Phillip-Morris) and Exxon (as in Valdez). Capitalism only works for the group when it is heavily encumbered against social crimes.

First understand what you're talking about (0, Troll)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 7 years ago | (#20439893)

Why do so many nerds seem to lean toward the Libertarian end of the spectrum? As a leftist, I know [blah]

If you're a "leftist", you're not a libertarian. Left-leaning people generally believe the state should force people to help one another despite mankind's natural egotistic tendencies, through taxes. Libertarians believe they should be free to do whatever they want provided everybody else is free as well. Not exactly the same thing eh?

Re:First understand what you're talking about (1)

realdodgeman (1113225) | more than 7 years ago | (#20440001)

You can have a bit of both. Socialistic rule of state, but freedom for every individual as well. Socialistic rule does not mean police state...

Re:First understand what you're talking about (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20440047)

Left-leaning people generally believe the state should force people to help one another despite mankind's natural egotistic tendencies, through taxes. Libertarians believe they should be free to do whatever they want provided everybody else is free as well.
Hell yeah, the fastest way to understand what you're talking about is to make huge sweeping generalizations.

Besides, I thought he said he's leftist and his friends are libertarian (even though they share some views) but whatever...

Re:First understand what you're talking about (1)

Knuckles (8964) | more than 7 years ago | (#20440059)

You should maybe tried to read contemporary leftist theory before making a fool of yourself in public.

Re:First understand what you're talking about (0)

Xtifr (1323) | more than 7 years ago | (#20440087)

> If you're a "leftist", you're not a libertarian.

False. Socialist Libertarianism is a political philosophy that dates back to the 1850s or so, and has many branches.

> Left-leaning people generally believe the state should force people to help one another

Utter and complete falsehood. Much of the left wants to get rid of the state entirely. You should really learn something about a topic before you pontificate, rather than merely regurgitating the propaganda spewed by the talking heads on your TV set.

logic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20439909)

I think at it's basic route the average citizen lets their emotion appeal to their decision making process. This in turn lets governments and the media easily control them.. through fear and propoganda. I think the reason why nerds are libertarians is because they are less susceptible to such hogwash like sacrificing your security for liberty because they are more logical?

Transference (1)

PetraData (1135825) | more than 7 years ago | (#20439917)

They transfer their need to tinker with electronics and technology to political institutions and society. Instead of becoming a criminal, they yearn for a legal and socially acceptable method to tinker as much as possible with reality without also being hacked by other people, that being libertarianism.

Logic is the beginning of wisdom, not the end, Lt. (1, Interesting)

rpillala (583965) | more than 7 years ago | (#20439921)

It's because they haven't read A People's History of the United States. All the same kind of posturing, politicking, coordinated oppression, all that has been going on forever and ever. The Constitution, while clearly laid out and functional, was into that shit up to its neck. At least read the story of the Whiskey rebellion.

Re:Logic is the beginning of wisdom, not the end, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20440039)

Indeed, nothing says "oppression" like low taxation and minimal government power.

More than just "left" and "right" (4, Informative)

goldspider (445116) | more than 7 years ago | (#20439925)

If you see political ideologies as a one-dimensional spectrum, you aren't paying enough attention. Educate yourself. [theadvocates.org]

Don't understand the original post. (1)

msevior (145103) | more than 7 years ago | (#20439931)

The original post starts: As a leftist..., I think of a leftist as someone who believes in a benevolent government that taxes the wealthy to provide benefits to the have-nots. This equates to Big Government.

To me, a libertarian is someone who wants as little government involvement in their life as possible. This equates to Small Government.

So is the original poster, as a leftist, is disagreement with the majority of /.'ers?

Re:Don't understand the original post. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20440015)

Dude-guy is saying that he doesn't meet very many other nerds that are ALSO leftists, because they're libertarians *instead*. Gahh!

Re:Don't understand the original post. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20440045)

ironically, currently the wealthiest are taxed the least.. through capital gains they actually pay less of a percentage than other lower class people. By your logic then if big government is taxing the wealthy to give to the poorer... what is taxing the poorer more than the wealthy? Small? extra big?

Re:Don't understand the original post. (1)

Knuckles (8964) | more than 7 years ago | (#20440139)

I think of a leftist as someone who believes in a benevolent government that taxes the wealthy to provide benefits to the have-nots. This equates to Big Government.

Then you are thinking wrong, or at least much too simplistic. You know, there is actually contemporary leftist theory out there to read, why not try it instead of being stuck in a world view that fits your grandparents' time? E.g., Empire [harvard.edu] . PDF, txt and html versions here [angelfire.com] .

Pampered weenies! (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20439935)

Not to generalize (but to generalize...), nerds tend to be from middle and upper middle class backgrounds. They're usually intellectual workers, been to college and university, and so... how much experience do they actually have with the brutality of the world as it is for most people?

For me, (economic) libertarians seem out of touch with the way the world really is. Nerds tend to have brains and tend to be well-educated and as such, tend to do well, economically. It's very easy to forget not everyone has that natural advantage (as least with intellect) and that not everyone might react the same way as you.

Libertarianism sounds great until you actually realize a few things: property isn't the centre of human life, human nature isn't built around the adorational worship of negative rights and that a lot of people are just plain exploitative of people less well off than them and less intelligent; and to say, "oh, too bad, it's your fault, we're realizing our potential and you have right to hold us down!" isn't just wrong, but cold-hearted ... and is that the libertarian paradise you want to live in, really?

There are no libertarians in foxholes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20439937)

There seems to be a tendency to confuse luck with economic determinism. Plus being introverted correlates to being less community oriented.

It's not obvious? (1)

dapho (939695) | more than 7 years ago | (#20439955)

Because they care about being in control of their own lives...

All about freedom (5, Insightful)

E++99 (880734) | more than 7 years ago | (#20439957)

Nerds are particularly sensitive to individual liberty, because they tend to want to think and act in ways that deviate from the norm -- that is, break new ground and innovate, whether scientifically, technologically, or philosophically. So they are very aware that if society is to dictate some small number of acceptable ways of thinking or acting, then their ways, being unique, will not be among the acceptable ones. Therefore a libertarian society is the only type in which they are free to innovate.

Not True... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20439961)

I know plenty of nerds, and none of them work in any form of library...

Your glasses please, I won't be here all night.

Programmers think through the impact of changes (1)

vincecate (741268) | more than 7 years ago | (#20439963)

A computer programmer is used to simulating a computer executing his code in his head. He thinks, if I change this then its going to do this. So when it comes to government policy, he does the same thing. He can't help but see the impact of price controls, wage controls, not letting companies fire employees, etc. If you can really think through to the results of many government policy ideas, you realize that Libertarianism makes the most sense. Also, I converted to Objectivism when I was 12 years old, before I had money.

Libertarianism? (1)

Lucius Drake (1100175) | more than 7 years ago | (#20439973)

I already don't like having assumptions made about my beliefs just because I hold one or two in common with one side of the political spectrum. Maybe it is inevitable, but I don't have to like it. While I can agree, in concept, with the right to have personal freedoms that certainly doesn't mean that I am a libertarian, nor that I hold many beliefs in common with the ideology. ...and yet I have been told (not asked, not assumed, but TOLD) that I must therefore be a libertarian. No sir, I didn't like it.

Re:Libertarianism? (2, Insightful)

bdsd76 (857888) | more than 7 years ago | (#20440093)

i think it says much about the two mainstream parties in U.S. politics when upon stating that you value the right to individual freedom, people assume that you don't identify with either of them...

I'm not sure we are (1)

HangingChad (677530) | more than 7 years ago | (#20439975)

Is the community's political bent directly tied to our higher than average economic success?

I don't really think so...this is just my impression. I'd agree the majority of the /. crowd is in the upper range of middle class, with maybe a few in the fabulously wealthy .com entrepreneur class and a few at the other end of the scale living in their mom's basement.

I'd be willing to wager a guess that this group is more comfortable with a libertarian philosophy because, in general, they're more comfortable in a chaotic environment like the internet than an economic explanation. Most of you seem pretty capable of taking care of yourself and solving problems without government intervention. That is somewhat at odds with the wider population, depending where you live.

Freedom? (1)

archatheist (316491) | more than 7 years ago | (#20439985)

If it is true that nerds tend to be libertarians or that libertarians tend to be nerds (which seems more likely) then I would guess the reason is that both groups just want to be free to pursue their interests without government interference. For most libertarians I know that's the point of departure. For nerds... well, they just don't suffer fools very well. Government is just people, and seldom of the nerd kind, it seems.

I would humbly submit that (1) people who read Slashdot probably have varied interests, and economics and politics are probably two of those. Since (2) economists tend to be libertarian in their views, and since (3) much of the carefully-argued political theory comes to us by way of Rawls and Nozick and the like, treating these fields as essentially technical fields may encourage a libertarian view.

Of course you must bear in mind that this is Slashdot, the nerd / libertarian Nexus of the Universe. On other sites YMMV.

It's because we see what we are (1)

himanshuarora (881139) | more than 7 years ago | (#20439995)

Believe me or not. Whatever your way of thinking is, you'll always find someone who thinks the same way. And you always try to match your behavior with the other person to the maximum and see how similar they are. So, if you see many nerd-leftist around you because you yourself are. Try to find some nerd who is a not a good person and ask him how does he feel about the nerds.

Correlation, not causation (5, Interesting)

Jesrad (716567) | more than 7 years ago | (#20440003)

It's not that being a nerd makes one a libertarian, or that being a libertarian magically transforms one into a nerd (though I hear it can do wonders to your, err, self-confidence).

There is a common cause to this politicial leaning and that way of life called "the nerd way". One hint is that the overwhelming majority (75% approximately) of all the libertarians I know are categorised in the "*NT*" part of the MBTI [wikipedia.org] , meaning they are all Thinking rather than Feeling, and iNtuitive rather than Sensing. For example INTJ is the archetype of nerd.

That makes them more inclined to think about theory and complex problems, than what their colleague thinks of their look or how a given principle will make them feel about themselves. When you apply this to politics, that means they'll be looking at society, economics, justice, right and law with a mind that is non-pragmatic but dedicated to finding the actual truth. They will often develop complete theoretical structures for explaining their choices, because they are easily swayed by a convincing, rational argument, however obscure ; and not by a popular soundbite or appeals to emotion.

Libertarianism is one such political interpretation: it leaves little to no place to emotional reaction, does not call upon popularity, and instead builds on the strictest rational analysis (it's not a secret that Ayn Rand was obsessed with acting as rationnally as possible, to the point of obsession) and "heavy" theoretical considerations about "what actually is justice", "how economy actually works", etc.

Re:Correlation, not causation (0, Flamebait)

Dan Hayes (212400) | more than 7 years ago | (#20440079)

While at the same time ignoring human nature and the fact that people aren't rational actors motivated solely to maximise profit.

Re:Correlation, not causation (1)

NoTiG (1150921) | more than 7 years ago | (#20440127)

Nice one... exactly what I tried to say but better. Propaganda appeals to those who think emotionally... and propaganda controls the masses

Re:Correlation, not causation (1)

flajann (658201) | more than 7 years ago | (#20440143)

While this may be a more or less accurate assessment, I do note a bit of bias in your discussion. In it you mention "...with a mind that is non-pragmatic but dedicated to finding the actual truth." Is that a bit self-contradictory? Is not finding the actual truth pragmatic? When one has the actual truth, one can then proceed to the pragmatic solution, no?

And as far as appeal to emotions, is one more likely to solve the complex problems of our world via emotional appeals and sound-bites? Or might one find better solutions rooted in sound rational analysis and observation than something that just "sounds good?"

I always thought that whole MBTI thing was just a convenient way to poo-poo rational thought as "just another way of thinking", as though solving problems though emotions could possibly be as successful as solving problems though sound rationality and careful observation. Indeed, I have heard quite a few "liberal-minded" individual say almost as much.

1. correlation != causation, 2.Correlation !proved (2, Insightful)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 7 years ago | (#20440021)

1. First you have not proved or shown any data to the claims that nerdier people are more economically successful or for the claim that they tend to be libertarians.

2. Even if there is a correlation, it does not prove causation. Nerdiness, wealth and libertarian beliefs... which is the cause and which is the effect?

3. You use the terminology left (and right by default). These labels are inadequate to describe the political beliefs of a person. Traditionally Left stands for lots of liberties in the social arena and mostly restrictions on economic activities. Not necessarily unreasonable restrictions, but restrictions nonetheless. And Right stands for lots of liberties for corporate and economic activities, but severe restrictions on social liberties, again not necessarily all unreasonable. A true libertarian will stand for freedoms and liberties in both the corporate/fiscal arena as well as social arena. And a true libertarian will also stand for rights as well as responsibilities on the exercise of the liberties. There are very few true libertarians. Sometimes libertarianism appears to be an ideal that will never be practical. Please don't say, if everyone becomes a true lib, because a practical working system should work even if all parts of the society does not believe or agree with the principle. A libertarian can not impose even libertarianism on an unwilling population. S it is tougher than you probably imagine.

Geeks and Politics (4, Interesting)

AnarchoAl (987558) | more than 7 years ago | (#20440031)

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

Money = Republican (1)

loafing_oaf (1054200) | more than 7 years ago | (#20440051)

Well, I doubt that the correlation is due to "higher-than-average economic success." With the exception of entertainers, the wealthy generally like to protect their profitability, and that means voting the business-friendly Republican line. If I had my own business and stockpiles of cash, I would probably switch to the right myself.

nerds vs. bullies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20440055)

nerds are libertarians because government is just a bully delivery vector.

Rigid Perfectionists... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20440069)

With a poor grasp of human nature. 'Nuff said.

meta response (1)

andr0meda (167375) | more than 7 years ago | (#20440077)

a) introduce doubt to the reasoning behind your statement

b) give counter examples, prefferably non-personal

c) allude to the "bigger" dilemma

d) introduce certainty that whatever the bigger dilemma is, your statement is quite irrelevant.

e) solve the big dilemma in one line.

Left or right? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20440085)

I came to my political position by combining what I like best about both major parties. I agree with the Left's ideas of social responsibility and with the Right's ideas of a smaller government and a balanced budget. I consider myself a Libertarian b/c that title seems to be broad enough to accept my views.

These days, I generally vote Democrat. Neither party is trustworthy, but the Republicans have apparently abandoned the the ideas which attracted me in the first place.

Well. You either decide what to do yourself (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 7 years ago | (#20440099)

Or are told what to do by someone else.

You know your own agenda and motives. You only have someone else's word about theirs.
 

With nerds, as far constitutionality goes... (1)

tmscott (745120) | more than 7 years ago | (#20440105)

...we RTFM?

Why wouldn't they be? (1)

Realistic_Dragon (655151) | more than 7 years ago | (#20440115)

It's a mistake to think of libertarianism as a right wing concept. It *can* be right wing (and that is who the name is currently associated with) but there are also left wing libertarians.

How much of an ass do you have to be to argue against individual freedom, at least as an ideal?

Most of the people here are smart enough to realise that ideals are something you work towards, not a binary condition. So, in a word where established authority seems to be committed to totalitarianism (not a huge surprise) why wouldn't even fairly moderate people want a shift towards individual freedom as a priority?

So, if you look at the political compass [politicalcompass.org] putting a large number of geeks in the bottom half is as expected.

More interesting is the *other* spectrum - left (social welfare) vs right (opportunity to win or lose).Note that this is *not* communism vs capitalism - it is communism or capitalism to the extent that is compatible with personal freedom - neither mega state nor mega corp should be allowed to run your life or know everything about you. There seems to be a much bigger range of opinion here.

Personally I fall somewhere in the middle. People should be free, and the role of the government is to regulate effectively to maintain that freedom without forcing anyone below a certain (low) standard of living. However I would gladly vote for *anyone* on the libertarian side of the line, despite left or right ideology, because pretty much every candidate in recent history has been in favour of totalitarianism - at least once they get into power.

Many? Really? (1)

thetagger (1057066) | more than 7 years ago | (#20440117)

I know more stalinist nerds than libertarians. And that's not to say that there are many stalinist nerds - maybe the question should be rephrased as "why does such a small group make so much noise on the Internet?"

And if you're not sure whether you are... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20440133)

...try the political compass [politicalcompass.org] to find out your left/ right and authoritarian/ libertarian tendencies.

FWIW, I'd disagree that most nerds here in the UK are libertarians. I think that many have a feeling of intellectual superiority over the rest of society, leading to an authoritarian sense that they know what's best for other people.

What about us libertines? (3, Funny)

G3ckoG33k (647276) | more than 7 years ago | (#20440135)

What about us libertines? Don't we have a place in this scheme too?

Let the masturbation begin (1)

OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) | more than 7 years ago | (#20440141)

Because that's the only kind of posts you'll find in this story.

Besides, most geeks are only interested in the label libertarian. Just look at the posts on slashdot : they are not at all liberal when it comes to letting other people do something they don't like.

Not at all.

Misreading the OP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20440161)

The OP is not saying that libertarianism and leftism are the same thing. The OP is asking how come all the other leftists he meets are generally *not* geeks, and all the other geeks (otherwise similar to him) tend to be libertarians rather than leftists.

It's probably path-dependent: a combination of what science fiction people read as teens, and what part of the country you live in. Pretty much any ideology can work for geeks, anyway:

Libertarianism: this system sucks. I'm going to go write my own, and if you want to get a copy from me, that's cool. If not, write your own. If you can't, you're a moron, but as long as you stay out of my way, that's cool, too.

Conservativism: this system works fine. If you can prove to me that there's really a bug (I doubt it), and it's really important (unlikely), I'll fix it. Meanwhile, don't touch anything - I can tell you're going to break it.

Leftism: this system sucks. We're deleting it tonight. Tomorrow we will begin designing and coding an ideal replacement, which everybody will use instead. Meanwhile, we're forming a committee to figure out how to help you through the transition process.

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