Does Web 2.0 Signal A Political Shift?

    October 22, 2007
    WebProNews Staff

All philosophies are prisons. That statement in itself is a philosophy and an irony. I bring it up only because Rich Karlgaard did on his blog, relating how (by mostly guessing) that the seemingly oxymoronic "left-libertarian" is making headway in Silicon Valley, and therefore in society.

Does Web 2.0 Signal A Political Shift?
Does Web 2.0 Signal A Political Shift?

Silicon Valley, where world-changing things happen almost daily.

I say all philosophies are prisons because ascribing to an ism means you exclude other isms, and therefore are susceptible to being a close-minded ideologue.

This is why I call myself a utilitarianist with libertarian tendencies. Utilitarianism utilizes what works from many philosophies, so long as those tenets advance the greater good. Libertarianism says keep the government out of it, if possible.

What that basically means (to me) is that government programs and laws may be acceptable, even necessary, so long as they aren’t liberty-infringing* and the negative consequences don’t outweigh the positive.

This philosophy makes what you do in the safety and privacy of your own home your business while allowing for (in my opinion) government programs like welfare or even healthcare (the good done by them outweighs the bad), while also keeping the reigns on the ever-encroaching and powerful corporatist movement.

It also means you put dangerous people in jail and let the not-dangerous ones out. Utiliatarianists would not agree with laws passed to protect people from inflicting self-harm, and both utilitarianists and libertarians agree that laws protecting the people where they can’t protect themselves are necessary.

Perhaps that’s what Karlgaard means by "left-libertarian," for that might be a way I would describe myself, because saying I ascribe to John Stuart Mill’s brand of utilitarianism and Thomas Paine’s libertarian philosophy as a buffer comes across as complicated, and it is.

Karlgaard writes:

Indeed, the entire Web 2.0/Wikipedia/Craigslist model of self-organizing communities has, underneath it, a kind of left-libertarian Zeitgeist.

Fans of Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert and South Park would easily identify with left-libertarians. You can’t deny that left-libertarianism is a growing trend among adults under 40.

And, to add to that, if you haven’t heard of Libertarian Republican Congressman Ron Paul (he’s running for President, in case you didn’t know), then you haven’t been following, where Ron Paul supporters gather en masse to raise awareness.

If you hadn’t heard of Ron Paul, then you probably watch too much TV. The traditional media is sticking with the traditional runners – the dichotomous, diaphanous status-quo pundits dividing the nation’s ideals sharply in two and, lately, pitting two sides against each other as though enemies within.

"Neocon" and "liberal," as labels, have escalated nearly to the level of racial slurs, and come with as much vitriol and finger-pointing.
So it shouldn’t be surprising that after decades of nonsense, the younger demographic, especially the early-adopters with an unprecedented mass of information at their fingertips, look at the society their Boomer parents created and balk.

Indeed the forward thinkers are in Silicon Valley (a few of us here in Kentucky, too :-D), left-libertarians they are, and look up to unconventional thinkers like the Colberts and Stewarts of the world as their modern-day Aristotles (maybe Erasmus is a better example?). The system they mock is an easy target because of its ridiculousness, and is deserving of all the heat it gets.

Web 2.0 has offered the unconventional thought-leaders a new and breathtakingly democratic platform. Expect the same generation (even amid concerns their real-life demeanors will mirror their online butchering of language and etiquette) that developed YouTube, blogs, and to view this world differently from their stodgy, divisive predecessors.  

*All laws, by their very nature, are liberty infringing. Thomas Paine notes, therefore, that only those laws that protect the public should be desirable.