Saturday, March 27, 2010

Selfish geeks -- or Jeffersonian idealists?

While searching for other articles about the Californian Ideology I cam across this wonderful piece from Salon called "Smashing the State: The Strange Rise of Libertarianism." Although the article is thirteen years old, it still retains its relevancy.

I especially liked the discussion about Barbrook and Cameron's shortcomings in their analysis of the Californian Ideology. The author offers alternative explanations for libertarianism's appeal such as:
"Above all, libertarianism appeals to the children of the '60s (and their children) because it embodies one of that era's most treacherous seductions: the idea that the personal is political. Libertarianism elevates a psychological state -- an ineffable feeling of constraint, a dream of pure freedom or perhaps merely an anger at having to pay taxes -- into a politics that transcends politics. Like so many '60s credos, it aims at authenticity: the abstract, one-size-fits-all moral judgments of government feel like bad faith to those who crave immediacy. Cutting through the compromises and mediations of shared power, libertarianism promises a world without restraints, a universe in which the individual ego can expand without limit. A universe, in short, oddly like the Internet, where all too many posters, secure and increasingly maniacal in their solitary cubicles, manifest all of the social grace of a creep who stares insolently at you while picking his nose behind a rolled-up car window. As Borsook suggests, there is something adolescent about this thought process: Those who have taken their lumps in life and moved on -- i.e. adults -- are less likely to blame society, or government, or the state, or the bossa nova, for problems that are eternal."
He also points to our discussion about the fantasy of the free market and ties this in with libertarianism's futurological aspects:
"Its appeal also depends on a quality that is simultaneously its greatest strength and greatest weakness: its disembodied nature. No libertarian state, after all, has ever existed in the world. (America, incessantly denounced by libertarians as a Great Satan of regulation, is, ironically but not surprisingly, much closer to being that free state than any other developed nation.) This gives libertarianism a futuristic allure that resonates with high-tech visionaries -- but it also raises suspicions that the whole thing is a pipe dream, a vaporous, almost psychotically elaborate "system" that resembles an elaborate science fiction alternate universe, or that plan labored on by Swift's Lagadan "projector" for extracting sunbeams out of cucumbers."

1 comment:

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.