Libertarianism and Cyberlibertarianism

Libertarianism is a simple idea: freedom is good and government is bad. The word “libertarian” originally meant communist and anarchist activists in 19th- century France. The American right-wing variant starts at fairly normal people who want less bureaucracy and regulation and consider lower taxes more important than social spending. The seriously ideological ones go rather further

  • g., anarcho-capitalism, the belief in the supremacy of property rights and the complete elimination of the state.

American-style  libertarians  abound  on  the  Internet.  Computer  programmers

are highly susceptible to the just world fallacy (that their economic good fortune is the product of virtue rather than circumstance) and the fallacy of transferable expertise (that being competent in one field means they’re competent in others). Silicon Valley has always been a cross of the hippie counterculture and Ayn Rand-based libertarianism (this cross being termed the “Californian ideology”).

“Cyberlibertarianism” is the academic term for the early Internet strain of this ideology. Technological expertise is presumed to trump all other forms of expertise, e.g., economics or finance, let alone softer sciences. “I don’t understand it, but it must be simple” is the order of the day.

The implicit promise of cyberlibertarianism was the dot-com era promise that you could make it big from a startup company’s Initial Public Offering: build something new and useful, suddenly get rich from it. The explicit promise of Bitcoin is that you can get in early and get rich – without even building an enterprise that’s useful to someone.

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