Sunday, December 29, 2013

On the Origins of Libertarians

Funny comment buried under a post about BitCoin that I thought I'd share.

One commenter writes:

I think this will boil down to what the primary terror was for each person in their formative years. If you grow up with weak and ineffectual government, you want someone to come in and protect you from the bandits and corporations that are abusing you. If you grow up with strong government, you may see them as the problem and want the free market to come in and save you.

Another responds:

And if you grow up in your parent's basement, then you are shaped by an environment where the fundamental constraints on what you want to do are shaped neither by scarcity nor malignance, but _by genuine good intent_. Your relatives probably don't wan't you to spend all day smoking pot and playing video games; in some cases they will over-estimate just how much of a bad thing that is. And even if they _are_ right, it's not like anyone facing such hectoring is going to admit it. 
Pretty much every libertarian position can be understood in that frame of restrictive but benevolent authority being the root of all 'real' problems. It's a rare parent who literally tortures their kids, so torture is, at best, not a 'real' issue, not a priority. But many make them do stuff for their health, so mandatory health insurance is a big deal. Pretty much no parents kill their child with drones, many read their diaries. And so on. 
So to libertarians, Bitcoin is like wages from a fast food job as opposed to an allowance; lets you buy what you want without someone else having a veto. Only money that doesn't judge you can be considered entirely yours...

So here we see a grand unified theory of the formation of the Libertarian mindset with surprisingly strong predictive power, when compared to typical views of where the most problematic intrusions on liberty are.  Parental nagging may or may not be the best explanation, but the Libertarians I've met certainly haven't been victims of government oppression.

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