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Libertarianism: Could it be any nerdier?

December 3rd, 2009 at 12:50 am

People don't vote for geeks... or do they? No, no they don't.

Far, far, far from from the fantasy of libertarians as gun totting survivalists, brazen cads in the form of Alan B’Stard or the pristine and prodigious builders of railroads, engines and buildings lies the reality: Libertarians are mostly rebellious geeks.

How do I know that? Well, the clue is in the incredibly skewed gender balance in favour of men (many of whom seem to be IT professionals) and the copious amount of reading that seems to be required. There’s libertarian support groups, libertarian political parties, and of course libertarian blogs – but the hierarchy is remarkable – the more outspoken and naughty you are the more accolades, plaudits and readers you get.

The only conclusion to draw is that the time of the evil dork may well be here. They run the frickin’ internet and they’re going to use their advantage on the internet to affect change in the real world. Well, that’s the plan.

Look, it’s not a criticism. I’m a nerd myself – I stayed behind at work a few days ago so I could build a robot out of the office Lego Mindstorms kit, so I ain’t throwing stones here.

But here’s the problem: If libertarianism is going to escape the political blogosphere (which is itself one mighty orgasm of geeky self-pleasure) it needs to be something that non-geeks can relate to.

So Chris Mounsey’s election to leader of the Libertarian Party is fantastic news for fellow “evil nerds”, but can Chris reach out to a more broad audience? Chris runs the infamous and fantastically sweary Devil’s Kitchen blog, and because he’s one of the naughtiest geeks (second only to the incredibly, incredibly naughty Guido Fawkes) he’s right at the top of the evil dork hierarchy.

Perhaps it’s too early for the Libertarian Party to be worried about reaching a more mainstream audience, but it’s got to be one of the biggest and most pressing matters on that party’s to-do list. Winning elections demands it, and winning power demands winning elections..

But see, all joking aside, the Evil Dorks are still onto something. You have to be outside of the mainstream to be able to see what other people don’t, and sometimes you need to go beyond what is classed as a ‘normal life’ to discover where the boundaries and barriers really are. If you never look up from the X-Factor you’re not going to notice anything wrong at all.

Sadly political change doesn’t come from a small hardcore niche of political obsessives though – at least, it doesn’t end there. It starts there (and you can argue that the internet has made that easier) – but movements either go mainstream or they remain in the shadows like mental state socialist and communist groups of old.

So the challenge for Chris – and all libertarians – is to find a way to communicate a libertarian message to non-geeks, to ‘normal’ people. I know I’m stumped on this, and have been for some time – but still doesn’t change the fact it needs doing.

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