Libertarian Cyber-Utopianism and Global Digital Networks
Global digital networking has become the basis for renewed utopianism. Stories of and ‘from’ cyberspace tell of digital networking transporting users to a radically new and agreeable world, a realm beyond the physically embodied geographical coordinates and restrictions of offline life, where one’s needs and desires can be fully realized.1 Cyber-utopianism does not generally offer detailed societal blueprints, as in classical utopian writing. Rather, it provides loose visions of the good life online. These visions are of cyberspace as a place of global interaction free from dominating powers, enabling the realization of full human being. The specific content of these visions varies substantially, particularly due to the marked differences in political tradition being drawn upon, which range from conservative to anarchist. Here I focus upon libertarian cyber-utopianism, exemplified by 1990s ‘Silicon Valley’ Internet enthusiasm and more recently in some ‘Web 2.0’ rhetoric. This ‘discourse’ is important to investigate because it has gained significant influence in digital communications writing and policy. More generally, examining libertarian cyber-utopianism provides another means by which to explore utopian thought.
KeywordsCritical Perspective Individual Liberty Digital Networking Utopian Vision Positive Liberty
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