Paulina Borsook's Cyberselfish

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In her article, "Cyberselfish," Paulina Borsook makes the argument that techo-libertarians are psychopathic nerds--"violently lacking in compassion," as well as any knowledge of history or politics. They are simple ingrates: Although they "are the inheritors of the greatest governmental subsidy of technology the planet has ever seen," they take the fact for granted, like "privileged, spoiled teenagers everywhere." Libertarianism attracts them, in Borsook's view, out of economic self-interest and a desire to take revenge on a society that failed to respect them. Libertarianism is simply the right fit for a cruel, youth-dominated culture that believes in its own economic immunity. Borsook is correct in describing the "cyberculture" as implicitly libertarian. Where she goes wrong is in her presumption that gifted, Ubermenschen hackers desire to track down and lynch the weak. Networks are not built to eradicate ordinary people – they are made to empower them. The first mistake Borsook makes is letting her own liberal political agenda get in the way of a fairly written argument. Throughout the article, Borsook wrongly equates libertarianism with anarchism: "they (the libertarians) decry regulation, and are ragingly anti-government." Anarchism is an extremely radical subgroup of libertarianism, not to be confused with left-wing anarchists; the majority of libertarians, and certainly those holding political office, are moderates who follow Charles Murray and David Boaz, both of whom call for a limited government rather than outright abolition, and allowing the notion of the public good. Murray is willing to allow a government forty percent the size of our current one. Borsook again errs when she criticizes libertarianism's stance on economic matters. The Republican Party shares many of its beliefs on economics with libertarianism, just as the Democratic Party shares many of its personal beliefs with libertarianism. However, only the conservative economic aspects of libertarianism are criticized, although the GOP’s decades long attack on Big Government (which is based on libertarian precepts) is never mentioned. Referring to a successful "Silicon Valley guy," Borsook writes in exasperation when she learned that the man was against buildi... ... middle of paper ... ...o "internalize" the externalities. If property rights were clearly defined, people serving their private interests will end up serving the public good, once again, by use of the 'invisible hand.' Libertarian environmentalists point out that what is owned by everybody is cared for by nobody. A good example is the air and water quality of formerly Communist Eastern Europe and relatively free Western Europe. Western Europe is environmentally cleaner than Eastern Europe in almost every way. Borsook’s liberal politicizing would lead you to think she would be empathetic to diversity. However, if she really did celebrate variety, I am sure she wouldn’t cast techno-libertarians as a menace to society. Not to be belligerent, but if techno-libertarians consisted mainly of some assorted affirmative action group or another, Borsook would probably praise them. The prejudice Borsook holds against techno-libertarians is grounded in what all discriminations are: fear. What is more profound than the fear of new technology and the fear of open market is the underlying fear of freedom—of what would happen if the former ideas of right and wrong were disbanded.

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