I think that libertarianism (small 'l' anyway) is the sort of natural instinct of programmers. As a group, I'd say we work hard, believe in an entrepreneurial potential, most of us are in the private sector. We don't have the diversity we could, but we all know that smarts aren't based on your gender or skin color and, as a group, I think we'd like to believe that our profession is a meritocracy. Similarly, a skeptical viewpoint is such a part of our job that I think we tend to be hesitant of imposing our personal faith (either secular or religious) on others. (Even this blog-thread shows a respectful consideration of other viewpoints that I find typical of high tech workers.)

But for me, Big 'L' Libertarianism is as much an unrealistic Utopian vision as Communism. I'm not sure when I saw it -- maybe '96 -- but I heard the Libertarian candidate for President say that the plan was to retire the national debt by a one-time sale of Federally-owned land. He argued that if the Mississippi River was privately owned, the owner wouldn't allow it to be polluted because that would be ruining his investment. My understanding is that this wasn't a sort of “Libertarianism For Dummies,” explanation of the philosophy but the real platform (correct me if I'm wrong). Let's just sweep aside the political and logistical doubts and say that the sale came about. Is there any doubt that the Federal lands would be bought by corporations who would trade long-term stewardship for short-term returns? It seems to me that big “L” Libertarianism requires not a political transformation (something I'd posit as possible, if barely) but a simultaneous economic transformation and, that, I think is Utopian. In other words, I just don't think you can get There from Here.

Darn it.