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Why Are So Many Nerds Libertarians? 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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Why Are So Many Nerds Libertarians?

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  • source? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by j00r0m4nc3r ( 959816 ) on Sunday September 02, 2007 @08:04AM (#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? (Score:5, Funny)

      by Yoozer ( 1055188 ) on Sunday September 02, 2007 @08:09AM (#20439871) Homepage
      "Remember kids, "data" is not the plural form of "anecdote".
    • Re:source? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by bscott ( 460706 ) on Sunday September 02, 2007 @08:16AM (#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? (Score:4, Informative)

      by sien ( 35268 ) on Sunday September 02, 2007 @08:18AM (#20439941) Homepage
      The recent slashdot poll [] is one source, albeit dubious.
      • by SerpentMage ( 13390 ) <ChristianHGross&yahoo,ca> on Sunday September 02, 2007 @09:14AM (#20440371)
        When I hear people like Bill Maher profess that they are libertarians I shutter. I even doubt that most slashdot readers understand the term.

        Check out and do the quiz and see what your leanings really are.

        Remember a libertarian would not harp on Microsoft, would not have guns laws restricting the use of bazookas, and would not restrict people from following creationism. Libertarian means to live and let live, and most importantly it means for people to be idiots!

        So I think I doubt that most people are libertarians....
        • by singularity ( 2031 ) * <> on Sunday September 02, 2007 @10:35AM (#20441113) Homepage Journal
          Remember a libertarian would not harp on Microsoft, would not have guns laws restricting the use of bazookas, and would not restrict people from following creationism. Libertarian means to live and let live, and most importantly it means for people to be idiots!

          Yes, and every Republican is anti-abortion. Every Democrat is pro-choice.

          Well, not exactly.

          Suppose you agree with every part of the Libertarian party platform [] except for one part? You are suggesting that person is not a libertarian? What, exactly, are they?

            (for the purpose of this argument we are going to ignore the differences between "libertarianism" and "the Libertarian Party", since your argument does not really cover the differences)

          One only needs glance at the differing platforms of Sen. Obama and Sen. Clinton to realize there are always differences of opinions in a political party.

          I consider myself a libertarian. I have minor issues with the capital-L Libertarian Party, but not enough that I do not support them fully. I do believe in some gun-control, however. I believe it is best done (and correctly done) through a Constitutional amendment.

          As far as Microsoft goes - I feel one of the responsibilities of the federal government is to prevent monopolies from abusing the market. The government should stay out of capitalism until there is a failure of capitalism (i.e. a monopoly). As a good libertarian, I feel that the government SHOULD investigate Microsoft, and take actions to prevent them from using their monopoly to unfairly control the market.

          I also have never seen any Libertarian saying that people should be prevented from following Creationism, but that it should not be taught in schools as "science". A libertarian is going to see that the Constitution provides for a separation of Church and State, and therefore a government entity (public schools) should not be teaching faith in a specific Christian ideology. Followers of Creationism are free to continue to believe what they want, are free to gather outside of schools.

          Oh, and the quiz you link to? Here is one of the questions:
          The only social responsibility of a company should be to deliver a profit to its shareholders.

          This is a horribly worded question. Apple's stock dipped a bit due to Greenpeace's (poorly done) criticism of Apple's environmental policy. I would say that this is an economic factor that a corporation should pay attention to. The company also needs to pay attention to the fact that more consumers are buying based on environmentally friendlier products. This drives profits. But the question is worded such that this should be ignored.

          As others have mentioned in response, the questions are sometimes poorly worded, and there is not a "Do not care" answer, which seems almost critical to a Libertarian at times. What do I care about nationalistic movements, for example?

          Another question: The rich are too highly taxed.
          This question gives no perspective or comparison. Too highly taxed compared to poor people? Compared to middle-income? Or just in general do I think that the rich should not be taxed at all?
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by LGagnon ( 762015 )
        It's worth noting that 41% are on the left (liberals, socialists, communists, and anarchists) according to that poll. Libertarians, like in real life, are still just a small crowd without enough backing to hold significant power.
    • Re:source? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by melonman ( 608440 ) on Sunday September 02, 2007 @08:23AM (#20439965) Journal

      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: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by PixelSlut ( 620954 )

        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 tha

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by melonman ( 608440 )

          When individual rights are lost, you can't really word that as a gain for society. It's a loss for society.

          Sometimes you can, sometimes you can't. Emprisonment is about loss of individual rights, but most of us think that society is justified in emprisoning at least some people, and that society as a whole benefits from having some people out of circulation.

    • Re:source? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by ahfoo ( 223186 ) on Sunday September 02, 2007 @09:16AM (#20440393) Journal
      Right, and he seems to be suggesting that Libertarians are leftists. This another enormous assumption. I tend to think that libertarianism is the greatest thing that ever happened to the Republicans because it makes a lot of people who have liberal social values like not caring what drugs people take on the weekends or how others have sex feel that somehow their views are better expressed by the Republicans than the Democrats. I agree the twin parties both suck at this point and that the Democrats hardly seem like an alternative, but I know people who clearly have liberal social values and take drugs and have kinky sex lives who, due to their faith in libertarianism, actually vote Republican because they think it is closer to this libertarian ideal that they have in their minds.

              From my observations, I have an answer to the question of why there are so many Libertarians in tech. My observation may be an oversimplification, but oversimplification is the crux of the issue as I see it. From the Libertarians that I have spoken with there seems to be a common thread of wanting to break things down into fundamental principles and having faith that there really are fundamental phenomena such as market forces that can control society for the best if they are allowed to operate unfettered. To me, this is just an absurd and ignorant proposition, but it's not surprising that you see people in tech get so hung up on this because it mirrors the rules that govern technology and especially computers and most particularly computer hardware.

              When you get right down to it, there's no question that what makes machine computing possible is the simplification of the input: that is the conversion from decimal to binary. Without the concept of binary numeracy, computing is simply too complicated. If you are willing to accept the premise that you can build everything else up from a binary number system including the letters of the alphabet and even arrays representing graphics and wave forms to represent sounds and scale it all up into extremely high definition representations of the analog world then you can easily delude yourself into the thought process that everything must be based upon similar fundamental principles and that the only way to govern behavior and society is to identify and rely upon those principles.

              As seductive as this is to people, it's really closed minded and ignorant of how we got to where we are today in terms of technology and society in general. The eighteenth century French mathematicians who laid the mathematical foundations for what would become digital signal processing such as Fourier were the models upon which the concept of communists were founded. Marx was totally in awe of these intellectuals who demonstrated the intellectual courage to overturn the simplistic ideas of paternalist monarchy which is really where the libertarians are closer to in their worship of imaginary gods like the invisible hand.
    • Re:source? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by sg3000 ( 87992 ) * <> on Sunday September 02, 2007 @09:27AM (#20440485)
      > Can you cite your source for this data? Or are you just assuming this because some of your friends are libertarians?

      Agreed. And I'm sure if anyone else disagrees with the author's assumption, we'll get to find out the question about how many moderators are libertarians.

      I think it's a combination of a number of factors:

      1. There is a relatively larger sampling of people willing to talk about being Libertarians, whereas other people aren't necessarily as vocal about their political party membership or whether or not they've adopted a term to conceptualize their political philosophy. Apparent over-representation isn't uncommon where you have a small group of vocal fanatical people.

      2. People heavily involved in technology are probably less knowledgeable (nor even interested) in public policy and politics. For those people, Libertarianism provides a certain simplicity without nuance which can be appealing. In this way, Libertarianism is like Communism: fine in theory, but not attractive in practice.

      3. People heavily involved in technology are younger with less experience: exactly the type of people who would find appeal in an economic/political movement characterized by simple messages (but with untested policy). In other words, bumper stickers that reinforce ideology are more interesting than policy analysis.

      As for point #3, here's an old example. A couple of years ago on Slashdot, there was a discussion about 911 services []. A presumed libertarian said that we ought to privatize 911 services and not provide it to everyone who can't pay (and let charity help the rest). I was getting my MBA at the time, and we had just covered heavy fixed cost models that illustrate textbook-perfect examples of situations where regulation is more economic beneficial to all parties than a voluntary purchase model. So I wrote a response []. The result was very similar to the other times I've had a discussion with a Libertarian.

      In that thread, I used a simplified example with hard numbers to show economically that the regulation case actually benefitted everyone (even if you excluded any altruism). What was interesting is that over the course of the thread, the Libertarians who responded did not do any quantitative analysis at all; they responded with simplistic slogans instead. They threw out a couple of half-baked ideas: tiered services model or vouchers for poor people (both easy to say, but with no hard details). For good measure, They sprinkled a few slogans: "There's absolutely no reason that the government needs to supply a monopoly service" and "An argument based on cost is 'bee reasoning'" and similar sentiments.
      • Re:source? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by demachina ( 71715 ) on Sunday September 02, 2007 @12:53PM (#20442693)
        "People heavily involved in technology are younger with less experience: exactly the type of people who would find appeal in an economic/political movement characterized by simple messages"

        Most of your post is just silly. I drank Republican, Democrat and Socialist kool-aid at various times when I was young and naive. It was only as I got older and have seen the practical consequences of both the political systems I'd lived in and the ones in other parts of the world that I've embraced a more Libertarian view on the world. Mind you I'm not talking about the over the top Libertarianism of its fanatics to which I could see your post applying.

        My brand of Libertarianism arises from the simple fact politicians and their benefactors are self serving. The laws they pass are almost never for the common good. They are designed to pick winners and losers using money they tax out of my pocket, and the winners are always their friends, and the losers their enemies. When Democrats are in they tax the rich and hand out money to the poor, who happen to vote for them. Republicans are in they cut taxes...on the rich...give their business friends big subsidies and screw over working people every chance they get. Neither party does a good job for the middle class. Real socialism sounds nice on paper, but it fails when it hits the flaws in human nature. People who just want to work hard and get ahead are completely screwed under Socialism. It is a system for party members and bureaucrats on one hand and freeloaders on the other. Some good things happen under Socialism but in my book it is a huge net loss of a system.

        At least in my case Libertarianism isn't due to inexperience, its due to experience and interaction with all the misguided things politicians have done over my lifetime. Its left me at a place I mostly want my government to be a tiny fraction of its current size and to tax me at a small fraction of its current rates. I would be a lot happier saving for my own retirement instead of government doing it for me, and if you don't save for it you suffer. That's life.

        I am completely OK with paying modest taxes to pay for a defensive military, but the U.S. military is anything but that. It is a completely excessive offensive force which is constantly meddling outside the U.S. when it shouldn't. I'm fine with paying taxes for fire and police service. Police are useful when they stop people from hurting each other. They are completely out of bounds when they enforce laws regulating personal behavior that hurts no one else. Government serves a useful purpose when it builds roads, and I am glad to pay a use tax on gasoline or diesel for that. I am fine with things like antitrust, FDA and consumer safety agencies as long as they don't go overboard punishing business, or end up in the pockets of business like they are today. The fact is greedy people trying to make money are predators, they will hurt other people and it is an appropriate role for government to stop people from hurting each other. If I'm not hurting anyone else though....leave me alone.

        Universal health care would be nice but you give people something for free and they abuse it, then it costs everyone a fortune, and it sucks the life out of an economy. It would be good to have universal catastrophic health insurance and a medical system that encourages people to get basic preventive care but that is hard to do in practice.

        This leaves about 90% of the government we have today that I think is completely inappropriate and counterproductive. You could wipe most of it off the books and the world would just be a better place.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      Write-up: Why do so many nerds seem to lean toward the Libertarian end of the spectrum?

      j00r0m4nc3r: Can you cite your source for this data? Or are you just assuming this because some of your friends are libertarians?

      Yes, please. I would love to see the source(s) for this data as well, but for different reasons. I'm primarily interested in seeing the procedures, metrics, and previous test results for the scientific test for nerdulence.



  • by heinousjay ( 683506 ) on Sunday September 02, 2007 @08:05AM (#20439841) Journal
    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.
    • by realdodgeman ( 1113225 ) on Sunday September 02, 2007 @08:19AM (#20439947) Homepage
      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.
      • by Colin Smith ( 2679 ) on Sunday September 02, 2007 @08:33AM (#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.

      • by BlueParrot ( 965239 ) on Sunday September 02, 2007 @09:52AM (#20440679)
        BULLSHIT!. I've lived in Oslo for the last 10 years or so, and let me give a bit more accurate explanation of the situation:

        a)Norway's economy is mostly based on Oil revenue, a lot of which has been mismanaged so that billions have been lost.
        b)Until recently there was a liberal right-wing coalition in charge and things worked fairly well.
        c)After the last election, where the social-democrats, borderline communist left-wingers, and greens came to power, a number of problems have arisen. To mention a few examples:

        Because the government introduced a max-price on private daycare centres in an effort to stop richer families from getting better service many private daycare centres have closed down or gone bankrupt resulting in a shortage of places all across Oslo. Economists predicted this years ago, but the government found their ideology more important than economic theory.

        The government has been taken to the European court of human rights after they banned schools independent from the government from opening unless they had religious connections. Meanwhile educational results continue to plummet.

        All over the country hospitals are heavily understaffed, resulting in Nurses and doctors being overworked and eventually being forced to register as sick as a result. 60-100 hours per week of working shifts is not uncommon. This is obviously a problem which amplifies itself.

        Unemployment is high, and many find it difficult to get a job.

        You know, Norway is in many ways VERY similar to the US. There are lots of problems, but "Norway is the best country in the world" is a truthiness which the people swallow with hook,line and sinker because the state sponsored media tells them so. Problems are the fault of "capitalists" despite the fact that even the right-wing parties in Norway want a welfare state, and while you are not a "terrorist" unless you support Israel, try saying it isn't all Israel's fault and sit back and wait until you're branded "capitalist" , "zionist", "racist" , "republican" or similar.

        My impression of how things work over here is that you put on your Nike T-shirt, go get your lunch at Burger King, and then you harp on about how Americans are fat hamburger consuming morons and how all US politic sucks while Norway is the best country in the world. Then you go out and vote for a government which finds it acceptable to prohibit alternative education systems.

        Yea, I'm no fan of the US, but Norway isn't exactly a heaven on earth either.
      • by terjeber ( 856226 ) on Sunday September 02, 2007 @10:12AM (#20440839)

        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

        Hahahahahahaha... that gave me a good laugh. I didn't think there were people in Norway reading Slashdot that actually believes that chit. Oh well, I guess all nerds are not smart.

        Now, before we get going on this, I was born in Norway, I lived in Norway for the first 30 years of my life, and I finally ran away. Couldn't take it any more. There is no country in the world where people are more full of them selves for absolutely no reason whatsoever (not talking about the Bergen population only, or at all in fact). I now live in the US, where people are not close to that full of them selves, not even in Texas, but there are other shortcomings. Some of which Americans share with Norwegians. More below.

        Now, let's work on a myth. "Norway is the best country in the world to live in". It isn't. Never was. Not even close. The main reason Norway is awarded this title is that it has a very nice social system that encompasses everyone. This social system is financed by virtue of a lottery jackpot Norway hit in the late 1960s, oil in the North Sea. Since Norway won the lottery, more than half of the population has worked for the central or local government. Standards of living are generally high-ish in all of the country. People do not suffer. Other than that, there isn't all that much good about Norway. It is a beautiful place to visit though. If you can afford it, I'd recommend it. My family is there and my soccer team is there, but I am glad I am not. If you measure on more than social welfare, Norway doesn't come close to being "one of the really good places in the world to live" even.

        Nobody in Norway excels. The only area where excellence is allowed is in sports. The Norwegian "constitution" is a law called The Jante Law []. In the rest of Scandinavia, this is what you call sarcasm, in Norway this law is more important than the real constitution. Anyone who tries to excel outside of sports is shot down immediately and ridiculed in all kinds of ways. Serious business men are made into fools by the media, while a mentally ret@rded "princess" [] is given all kinds of support.

        Norway isn't the best country in the world to live in by any standards other than social welfare. This isn't, and will never be, the only measure of "best" in any way. It is just quantifiable, and it is therefore measured. The sad thing is that when a population that hardly travels beyond the borders of Mallorca (Spain for the uninitiated) are told they live in "the best country in the world", they actually believe it. In the western world, I think the only population that travels less outside of their own heads is the American population. In fact, Americans and Norwegians are limited in their views of the world in a way that is so similar it is scary. Sadly most Norwegians think that they are better than Americans in this regard too, they are not. A Norwegian is "well traveled" if he goes to southern Spain, Greece or Italy once every three years. This is about as "traveled" as a Texan who takes a vacation in Florida or California.

        Now, the socialism that is so important to the Norwegian population actually works. Believe it or not. It is probably a good thing for a mediocracy (as opposed to a meritocracy). It also only works because Norway, as I said, won the lottery in the late 1960s. Struck oil as we say, but literally. For years Norway didn't do anything with this oil, British and US companies extracted it, and they were taxed heavily. This taxation made it possible to build a social system that protects the mediocre and cradles it. It has been protected and nourished to the level where it is now the ultimate goal. Meidiocracy (tm). Socialism rewards mediocrity. Norway is a so

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by jbengt ( 874751 )
          "Norway isn't the best country in the world to live in by any standards other than social welfare."
          well, . . ok . . .
      • by smchris ( 464899 ) on Sunday September 02, 2007 @10:18AM (#20440903)
        No, socialism _is_ communism. Ronald Reagan said so and every American under 40 was taught that from infancy and is incapable of believing anything else. A solution has not been put in place to deal with the degenerates who would try to weaken zie Homeland by trying to make people believe otherwise.

        Seriously (also) I think computer science students, college or tech school, didn't have a lot of time for liberal arts so they are sometimes uneducated trades persons. In truth, I don't have a lot of respect for libertarians. I call them "anti-hippies". The same unswerving naive belief -- in their case it's just blind belief in the free market and the invisible hand of capitalism instead of peace and love.

        I was reading Introducing Machiavelli the other week and the point was made that every politician quotes the Prince, but how many quote the mature Discourses? The one that says the good of the state is primary -- think infrastructure, levees and high taxes. The one that says no groups of people should become so rich and powerful as to become a disruption to the state's good -- again think high _progressive_ taxes. Really, in every dominant doctrine and myth in Western society since the revolt of Lucifer community strength and welfare has been the primary goal, not isolated individualism. The fact the the U.S. is currently aberrant is a symptom of disease, not strength.

      • by terjeber ( 856226 ) on Sunday September 02, 2007 @10:23AM (#20440953)

        USA is going towards a capitalistic extreme, witch can become just as bad as the communism they hate so much.

        Oh, and this one. Yes. A lot of Norwegians think this is true. I think a lot of Europeans think this is true. Under some governments it is truer, under others it is not. Under the current government it is so far from the truth it makes me sick. The current president is closer to Joseph Stalin than he is to any capitalist thinker ever born.

        What Norwegians forgets is something very important. A more capitalist society has made this world a very nice place indeed. The number of people starving to death relative to the world population dropped by more than 50%, closer to 75% from 1980 to 2000. This drop came as the result of a more open, more capitalistic world economy. Day by day the world is moving to a situation where starvation as a systemic problem is non-existing. The UN thinks starvation as a major world problem will be gone some time before 2030. Maybe long before. The main problem is Africa, and Africa is starving because of socialism, not in spite of it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      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
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Jesrad ( 716567 )
      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.
  • by sane? ( 179855 ) on Sunday September 02, 2007 @08:06AM (#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?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 02, 2007 @08:06AM (#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?
    • The fundamental concept of it is simple, and easily understood, but the the effects of it are complex, profound and clearly difficult to understand.

      Lets take a flock of birds as an example. The flock itself is a complex, dynamic and extremely confusing system but the rules which govern that behaviour are very simple. []

      It's a similar principle with libertarianism, the result is emergent behaviour. The difference between socialists, conservatives and libertarians is that socialist
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by N-icMa ( 1149777 )
      I can attest that libertarians (or ultra-liberals as we tend to call them where I live) are considered only a few pennies short of insane, but I can easily understand why they are prevalent in the American (USA) society.

      First of all there is a historic precedent of ridiculing the left wing. During the Cold War so much anti-socialistic propaganda was spewed out in America, that the word has clear negative association. Calling national healthcare "socialized-medicine" is a good example of how anything non-pri
      • by Colin Smith ( 2679 ) on Sunday September 02, 2007 @10:46AM (#20441245)

        I can attest that libertarians (or ultra-liberals as we tend to call them where I live) are considered only a few pennies short of insane, but I can easily understand why they are prevalent in the American (USA) society.
        Actually. Libertarianism is very similar to classical liberalism. Most of those who call themselves liberal today are in fact social democrats, not liberal at all.

        "To put it succinctly, the libertarian believes in the freedom of individuals to pursue their lives as they see fit, as long as they cause no harm to others, with minimal governmental interference."

        Quoted from : tm
  • by User 956 ( 568564 ) on Sunday September 02, 2007 @08:07AM (#20439855) Homepage
    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.
  • by Televiper2000 ( 1145415 ) on Sunday September 02, 2007 @08:09AM (#20439869)
    But, are they really libertarian or do they just use the word?
  • by goldspider ( 445116 ) <> on Sunday September 02, 2007 @08:17AM (#20439925) Homepage
    If you see political ideologies as a one-dimensional spectrum, you aren't paying enough attention. Educate yourself. []
  • Pampered weenies! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 02, 2007 @08:18AM (#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?

  • All about freedom (Score:5, Insightful)

    by E++99 ( 880734 ) on Sunday September 02, 2007 @08:22AM (#20439957) Homepage
    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.
  • by Jesrad ( 716567 ) on Sunday September 02, 2007 @08:28AM (#20440003) Journal
    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 [], 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.
  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna ( 970587 ) on Sunday September 02, 2007 @08:29AM (#20440021) Journal
    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 (Score:4, Interesting)

    by AnarchoAl ( 987558 ) <anarchoal AT yahoo DOT co DOT uk> on Sunday September 02, 2007 @08:31AM (#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

  • by G3ckoG33k ( 647276 ) on Sunday September 02, 2007 @08:42AM (#20440135)
    What about us libertines? Don't we have a place in this scheme too?
  • by flajann ( 658201 ) <fred.mitchell@g m x .de> on Sunday September 02, 2007 @08:56AM (#20440247) Homepage Journal
    My definition of "libertarianism" stands from a firm principle of "live and let live". That is, everyone is free to do what they want as long as they are not doing any direct harm to others against their will.

    I put in the phrase "direct harm" because it is all to easy to declare anything you want as an "indirect harm" without any justification. When I say "direct harm", there has to be actual clearly identifiable victims of that harm, and also clear, identifiable harm. Alas, much of what in politics and the law today that is declared "harm" isn't really.

    So, in essence, unless you see me actually doing something that is clearly harming someone else, you are to leave me alone. And I, of course, will do likewise.

    I have lost count of how many times in my own life, for instance, someone has phoned the police on me simply because they *thought* I was dangerous, regardless of the fact that I had not done anything wrong nor had any intentions of doing so. And that has caused much damage -- much harm -- to me and my family, and yet no one learns from this. Police still encourages the public to phone everything in at the drop of a hat. Then they go out and harass innocent individuals, doing harm to them.

    If I were libertarian-leaning before, such experiences have firmly pushed me into that camp.

  • They don't (Score:3, Informative)

    by DynaSoar ( 714234 ) on Sunday September 02, 2007 @09:15AM (#20440381) Journal
    "Why do so many nerds seem to lean toward the Libertarian end of the spectrum?"

    Very few of anyone, nerds or not, lean towards the Libertarian end of the spectrum. This may be due to most people catching onto the inherent contradiction in thinking that (a) many people think like they do and (b) many people ought to think like they do. A CATO article about the 2004 and 2006 elections makes lots of noise about numbers like 10% and 20% for all kinds of reasons they seem to enjoy, before finally admitting a Rassmusen poll showed the real numbers to be about 2%. If the numbers varied as widely as CATO claimed for the various reasons given, the error bar would be so large as to make it all meaningless. I think this is the case.

    The CATO article even tried to claim Jon Stewart for their own: "In a revealing exchange, Jon Stewart recently hosted neoconservative Bill Kristol of the Weekly Standard on the Daily Show, often considered the de facto television news program for younger viewers. Kristol called Stewart an "Upper West Side liberal." To which Stewart quickly responded, "No, I'm a downtown libertarian."

    I am reminded of Jon Stewart's commercial of a few years back, talking about people getting their news from The Daily Show. He ended the commercial by yelling "DON'T DO THAT. WE MAKE IT UP." He's a comedian. His show is on Comedy Central. File this as an example under the "they think people think like they do" part of the problem, along with CATO's over-confidence in badly done statistics.

    I suspect another error in thinking, that of "if you criticize, you must disagree" has kicked in by now. Nothing I've said indicates my own political position. I've found many Libertarians to be particularly susceptible to this problem despite their claim to individualism in thinking. It makes Libertarianism look for all the world like a dogma of open mindedness. Still, that's way more fun than the dogma of narrow mindedness most others seem to fall into.

  • by evilviper ( 135110 ) on Sunday September 02, 2007 @10:29AM (#20441037) Journal
    It's not that there are a lot of libertarian nerds, it's just that the libertarians shout the loudest and, well, most dense, as they ignore all rational arguments that might discredit their views.

    You're probably right about the affluence argument though, a disproportionate number seem to be the "I got mine" crowd, who know that they will be on the top of the pyramid, benefiting rather than suffering from the vast inequality that libertarianism will cause.
  • The truth... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by topham ( 32406 ) on Sunday September 02, 2007 @10:32AM (#20441091) Homepage
    The truth is; and this goes for a wide-spectrum of political beliefs although I think it has a bias to the left...

    Everybody thinks everybody else is just like themselves. They think that because they wouldn't choose to interfere with other peoples lives that people won't choose to interfere with theirs.

    Then you get the far-right; the people who know that people will try to screw with their lives. They know this, because thats what they do. Of course, they also believe everyone else is just like them too. They tend to get paranoid when people aren't screwing with them.

  • by bytesex ( 112972 ) on Sunday September 02, 2007 @10:52AM (#20441305) Homepage
    Because so many nerds are oblivious to society, and libertarianism is a very oblivious political philosophy. It starts off with assuming anarchy, and then replaces any occurence of 'violence' with 'money'. Never mind that a libertarian society would inherit an old system in which people already have, or don't have a lot of money. Never mind that people would like to be able to _trust_ certain institutions a tad beyond 'I've paid them'. Never mind that people expect all sorts of emotional things from leaders that money won't ever be able to buy.

    But it can work for you, if you're insular, unemotional, marketable and oblivious, but take any of these characteristics away from a person and libertarianism starts to fall apart for them. And that's the majority of society I'm talking about. It might not seem that way on slashdot, but it is.

If all else fails, immortality can always be assured by spectacular error. -- John Kenneth Galbraith