Libertarian Cyber Take-Over? – A Response to Peter James Saalfield’s Article “Is the Internet Making us More Libertarian?”

Ideologically and in practice, perhaps American republican political adviser, Karl Rove, is partially correct in that people have become more independent with access to the information enriching possibilities of the internet, but it is not necessarily converting users into Libertarians as Saafield argues. Rove’s evidence of such a movement truly falls short of the truth when he claims that republicans are more internet savvy than democrats during the campaign process because a Pew analysis said so. In that case, how does Pew explain this contradiction?:

His argument does not get better when he uses the high number of libertarian techies as evidence of the web turning users into libertarians. It would make complete sense that the few thousand techies in Silicon Valley are cyber libertarians (meaning-they believe the web should be a free space for personal expression with no government control or restrictions), but that in no way reflects the transition of political values of the grander population who do not work in information technology. I agree with Saafield that Rove’s statements clearly demonstrate that he misunderstands the magnitude of purpose the web offers, and how it is not a means to an end of the government as we know it, rather it has given citizens the tool to mobilize thoughts and directly influence political matters to make changes. The internet has simply diminished the need for journalists to mediate discussions between citizens and the state, thus the people feel more in control or active in political decisions. So, as Saafield stated that–

To get lost in an argument over whether the Internet has a partisan bias is to miss the point. The potential of digital technology is to give people of all points of view a platform for their views, a place to find community, and a tool to influence the future of the country.

His final point in the article was that the internet may have the potential to unify a population’s political beliefs, and I would take that argument further and say that it has the potential to diminish next generations appeal to tradition (conservatism) all together and continue to further globalize thought towards embracing modernity and social unity. Being a student studying abroad in a very international environment, I find more and more students who have begun losing their religious faith/association (even to the point of atheism) because they have an endless source of diverse information on any subject like religion providing them the power of knowledge and a tool to build a greater sense of individuality. I use this example because my generation sparked a positive trend (among the educated). We are beginning to disassociate ourselves with groups like religion, political parties, even nationality because of globalization influencing the need to break down walls which divide humanity and create friction between rival groups. Citizens now have the power to become stronger individuals with a louder voice, and my concluding hypothesis may seem farfetched, but the more populated the web becomes through the involvement of future generations and the more accessible it is to third world countries, I am positive that an alien invasion is no longer the only possible situation where the world will unify in name of humanity thanks to the growing global public sphere we call the internet.

Saalfield, Peter J. “Is the Internet Making Us More Libertarian?” Is the Internet Making Us More Libertarian? Big Think, 1 Mar. 2012. Web. <http://bigthink.com/think-tank/is-the-internet-making-us-more-libertarian?page=all&gt;.

Owyang, Jeremiah. “Snapshot of Presidential Candidate Social Networking Stats: Nov 3, 2008.” Web Strategy LLC, 3 Nov. 2008. Web. <http://www.web-strategist.com/blog/2008/11/03/snapshot-of-presidential-candidate-social-networking-stats-nov-2-2008/&gt;.

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