"Two Kinds of Libertarianism, Calhounian and Heinleinian"
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Author:  RobertPearson [ Thu Dec 12, 2013 11:44 am ]
Post subject:  "Two Kinds of Libertarianism, Calhounian and Heinleinian"

Interesting piece. You'll need to read the whole thing to grok what he's driving at, but a couple of tidbits:

Heinlein was a huge proponent of space, but another theme, immortality, was also important in his work. One of his characters, the aptly named Lazarus Long, who has been around for 2000 years and counting, appears in no fewer than six Heinlein novels.

Today, the immortalist spirit of Heinlein is visible all over Silicon Valley. One expression is The Singularity, the concept of a kind of techno-rapture, in which computers and humans—at least some humans—become as one. The Singularity has long been championed by Ray Kurzweil, the prolific science visionary; Kurzweil now works at Google.


Indeed, the gulf between the Calhounians and the Heinleinians seems to be growing wider. The issue of healthcare illustrates the width of that gulf. The Calhounians, of course, adamantly oppose Obamacare. To someone with an ordinary income, the dislocations of Obamacare are huge indeed; a few thousand dollars in extra costs is a big deal. By contrast, to someone with an extraordinary income—the top tier of the Heinleinians—the cost of health insurance is no big deal.

Instead, the Heinleinians are looking to solve a completely different problem; they don't worry about health finance, they worry about health itself. The richest of the Heinleinians have plenty of money; what they need is a cure for cancer, autoimmune disease, or whatever else it is that runs through their family. Illness is the real enemy to such people; the cost of disease is just a detail. (Come to think of it, illness is the real enemy of all of us.)

Of course, the less-wealthy Heinleinians—and that’s most of them—do have to worry about mere healthcare costs; it’s not altogether obvious to them that the Republicans have a better healthcare plan, or any sort of healthcare plan.

To sum up: The Calhounians are libertarians, for the most part, at their own particular level. And the Heinleinians, too, are libertarians, for the most part, at their particular level. The problem is that the levels are much different. And in the meantime, of course, the Heinleinians are infusing the Democrats, not the Republicans, with superior campaign technology.

Author:  PeterScott [ Fri Dec 13, 2013 6:40 am ]
Post subject:  Re: "Two Kinds of Libertarianism, Calhounian and Heinleinian

It's an interesting and insightful article. I think there are two groups as the author describes, although I don't know that they are rightly termed Libertarian. I think he characterizes the distinction well, but the labels are more convenient than accurate. I don't know anything about Calhoun, but Heinlein is not so easily pigeonholed. What he thought about the role of government was a moving target throughout his life, and the political systems he depicted in the second half of his oeuvre did not show government playing any significant role in shaping human destiny, unlike the public-private partnerships favored by the Silicon Valley technocrats.

Author:  RobertPearson [ Fri Dec 13, 2013 9:54 am ]
Post subject:  Re: "Two Kinds of Libertarianism, Calhounian and Heinleinian

I'm also wondering how many of the "Heinleinians" have read Heinlein or are consciously or unconsciously acting out his future scenario(s).

Author:  PeterScott [ Fri Dec 13, 2013 12:13 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: "Two Kinds of Libertarianism, Calhounian and Heinleinian

Well I'm thinking the author coined the term more as a convenience for crafting a nifty article than any inherent association. It's not a distinction I've seen drawn anywhere else and I don't think it would have occurred to many people. Although one exception might be... the Centennial attendees who saw the Space Track melded with the traditional sciffy fandom. Suddenly two worlds collided and realized they had the same father. There's a scholarly article in there waiting to come out (paging Dr. James).

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