Cyberselfish Essay

This essay has a total of 1313 words and 6 pages.


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 building guidelines, "Obviously, he had never heard of
the tragedy of the commons, where one sheep too many consuming more than its share of
common resources, destroys the whole; nor had he thought much about what participating in
a community means." Thomas Jefferson, along with many of the founding fathers, would be
considered a libertarian by today's standards ("That government is best which governs
least"). Although the United States is not a libertarian country by far (one has yet to
exist), the US's economic policies make it the most capitalistic, and therefore,
libertarian country in the world. Regulations are implemented with good intentions, but
they often have unintended consequences. For example, minimum wage laws cause unemployment
among the very people they are made to help. In a meeting with another successful
technologist, Borsook was aghast when the woman commented that the US's economy is in good
shape and how she received so many job applicants who had advanced degrees and employment
histories of authority and responsibility. Borsook writes that both her sister and
ex-boyfriend (who both hold prestigious degrees) can only find mediocre jobs because they
are not in the "right" profession of technology. It is a sign, however, that the economy
is in good shape because as more families become more affluent, more people are able to
obtain higher education, thus making the job markets (including all white-collar jobs)
highly competitive.

Borsook then goes on to make debatable assumptions on techno-libertarians' abilities and
personalities. She claims they know nothing but technology, and communicate better with
email than verbally. Libertarians also are unable to pick up "cues, commonplaces, and
patterns of being that civilians use to communicate, connect, and operate in groups."
Techno-libertarians may have a relatively low ability to identify with other people, but
that is mostly because they are not like most people. Just because social situations may
be draining and energy consuming for an introverted hacker, does not mean they have
anti-social tendencies. Besides having no sense of social systems, Borsook stereotypes
even further by saying libertarians have never heard of The Magic Mountain or its Nobel
laureate author, Thomas Mann. But it seems Borsook knows little of what she's talking
about since, Milton Friedman, George Stigler, Ronald Coase, Gary Becker, and James
Buchanan are all Nobel laureate libertarian economists because she goes on to write that
libertarians "haven't acquaintance with history, politics, and economics." It is amazing
then, that Alan Greenspan, chairman of the Federal Reserve, is a libertarian and disciple
of Ayn Rand who was , if not the most, one of the most hardcore libertarians (although she
denounced the party in favor of her own ‘Objectivism'). Perhaps the most ridiculous
point Borsook pulls out of thin air is that libertarians believe that blue-collar workers
are "superfluous," but as with most of her supporting 'evidence,' there is no source of
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