Sillicon Politics

Following on from my previous post: I recently watched a Sillicon Valley documentary on SBS called The Hidden Face of Sillicon Valley and it got me thinking about the political position of Sillicon Valley executives.

(On a side note: I wouldn’t recommend the documentary. It felt like a montage of failed attempts to get in contact with Sillicon startups, with the documentary then trying to insinuate something dodgy was going on from the fact that they were being ignored by Facebook, Twitter, Google, etc.)

Sillicon Valley CEOs like Mark Zuckerberg are advocates for marriage equality and other socially progressive ideals. This places them left with regards to the dimension of social and political equality.

In terms of the degree of government control (another dimension of political belief), Sillicon CEOs are more likely to be right-of-centre. A good example would be Airbnb and Uber, they will pretty much infiltrate a city first and then become incredibly combative when regulators step in. They also tend to be more aggressive defenders of free speech.

A friend of mine said this generally aligns with their commercial interest. Sillicon start-ups cater to customers with socially progressive views (in general), but their wealth is best left outside of government control.


Libertarians vs Liberal

What’s a Libertarian? And is it different to being a Liberal?

I used the word Libertarian once, and someone thought I was referring to right-wing conservatives. But if Libertarian just means one who wants to protect liberty then how can that be exclusively attributed to either side of the political spectrum?

Some people might think protecting liberty means less intervention by government. Others might think protecting liberty requires government to step in and regulate banks, markets, welfare and so on so that everyone is equally empowered and has the same access to opportunities.

A while ago I came across a new variation of the term – a latte-sipping Libertarian. Rather than referring to right-wing conservatives, it refers to socially left-leaning intellectuals.

Which sounds very much like the wikipedia entry for ‘Liberal elite’:

…a pejorative term used to describe politically left-leaning people, whose education had traditionally opened the doors to affluence. It is commonly used with the implication that the people who claim to support the rights of the working class are themselves members of the upper class, or upper middle class, and are therefore out of touch with the real needs of the people they claim to support and protect.

Personally I find it more useful to think of being liberal as a multi-dimensional concept. You can be liberal on several fronts – the degree of government control, the degree of social and political equality, and the degree of economic freedom.

Someone who is a liberal with regards to government control likes little government intervention. Government should be small, with most services privatised.

A liberal in terms of social and political equality means someone who wants equal social and political rights for people of different races, genders, sexual preferences and so on.

In terms of economic freedom, a liberal likes free market. This dimension might alternatively be conceptualised as a subset of government control.

A democratic socialist for example might be liberal in terms of social and political equality, but less so on government regulation and intervention, and perhaps also economic freedom.

A conservative might be liberal in terms of being anti-government and pro free markets, but not liberal with regards to social and political equality.