Why are real life and internet libertarians so different?

My experiences with online libertarians was that they were political radicals basically, and they had more in common with anarchists or communists than right wing conservatives or neocons. Any attempt to stereotype online libertarians in their personal lives would fail miserably, a gay heroin addict in a committed relationship with his Polynesian boyfriend would be just as likely as anything else.

If anything were common threads I’d list atheism or agnosticism, drug use, and a proponent of sexual freedom and a strong believer in civil liberties and free speech.
Most bitterly oppose big business, a lot are entrepreneurs or running their own businesses sometimes unusual in nature.

But it seems real life libertarians according to stereotypes elderly white men committed to creating a christian theocracy in the USA, believing a Kenyan muslim had stolen the office of the presidency. Expect to hear stuff about how taxes on the wealthy are immoral.

So like what gives here? It seems like on this board libertarians means something totally different than what you would think it does going by online discussions elsewhere.

FWIW, my own experience is largely the opposite of yours.

Internet libertarians exhibit far more extreme behavior than the libertarians I have met in person. I’ve never met a “Birther” in person, but have encountered them by the dozen in the Netiverse.

The libertarians I know in person argue for things like a flat tax, the repeal of the 16th amendment, occasionally the repeal of the 17th amendment, legalization of marijuana, reduction of the capital gains tax, etc.

The libertarians I encounter in online discussions argue for eliminating all taxes (“taxation is theft,”) an immediate return to the gold standard, the arrest and conviction of President Obama on war crimes charges, dismantling the Federal Reserve system, and the right of restaurant owners to refuse to provide service to blacks or Jews if that’s the way they feel.

Obviously, I’m simplifying and generalizing terribly, but, all in all, the libertarians I’ve actually met have been VASTLY more moderate than the ones who engage in discussions on open-topic boards like this one.

ETA: actually, I might not be disagreeing as much as it seems. I definitely agree that the two brands of libertarians are very, very different.

I think the breakdown is more between religious and intellectual libertarians. The intellectuals believe that there are actual rules of economics that will make things work out without rules and regulations, whereas the former basically believe that things will work out because of an interventionist God. But in order for that to work, we have to make sure we remain His chosen nation, so even if we don’t have the guv’mint enforcing morality, society still has to enforce God’s laws. To summarize: they don’t believe in the laws of Man, but do believe in the laws of God and the invisible hand of the market is more than a rhetorical abstraction!

You’re probably more likely to meet the Rand-spouting intellectuals on the internet and in cities, but at least in the more rural state I live in the above pretty well summarizes the libertarians I meet IRL. I think depending on what issue you’re talking about, either flavor of libertarian might seem more crazy. The intellectuals are often more extreme about their actual libertarianism, verging on anarchy sometimes, whereas the religious ones obviously have their own unique brand of crazy.

And how is that a Libertarian position? Surely a Libertarian would allow any citizen to become POTUS.

And how is that different from people calling for Bush or Blair or Thatcher or Clinton to be likewise prosecuted and convicted? Seems to me that you’re confusing Republican with Libertarian.

If you really think there are that many of these types…

…then you’ll never figure it (or much of anything else) out. But you (and the rest) will keep thinking that you have I’m sure.

Confirming Biases since 1999

Where are you meeting these people? How much of a sample size are you basing this off of?

I worked on the Ron Paul campaign and attended an event where I got to meet him. As a result, I have met dozens of libertarians, and the only ones who believed Obama was not born in the U.S. were the conspiracy theorists who didn’t like to believe much of anything the government said. These people were the distinct minority of libertarians, and furthermore, they were the type that cruised the internet finding stories to comment on, so I would count them as online libertarians – I just happened to know them in real life.

I cannot think of a single libertarian who was religious enough to infuse it into their political views.

The difference I have found between real life libertarians and online ones is the level of obsession with the philosophy. The ones online look for a captive audience anywhere they can to voice the most extreme views they can.

When I worked on the Ron Paul campaign, we were careful to minimize our online presence and just focus on real life events, because we knew that online libertarians had a reputation for being rather over-the-top and didn’t want to be associated too strongly with them.

Ditto. I’m a libertarian, and all the ones I’ve met IRL are pragmatic and moderate; It’s only online that I see the wackadoos.

And I’ve never met anyone like the OP describes meeting; of course, I’d bet he hasn’t either …

Of course I have never met the second kind, I said stereotype remember? Go read some Ron Paul threads, there was a thread where someone wondered why would a black guy support Paul.

My impression of libertarians is way different as I mentioned, in no way synonymous with neocons or Sarah Palin fans etc. But I’ve never had a chance to see what libertarian gatherings are like in real life. I had the sense libertarians are embarrassed at the tea party etc.

I can’t be the only person who read this as ‘librarians’ and immediately thought ‘because porn isn’t the same as real life’. Can I?

That’s the only reason I opened this thread.

I think you are confusing the religious right cohort of the Tea Party activists with the Libertarian cohort because they are currently often fellow travelers in Tea Party activities. These are two divergent groups that would normally not be sharing space but for their antipathy for the current administration. Libertarians are generally not all that religious, and beyond their shared enemy do not see eye to eye on a substantial number of cultural issues with the religious right.

Interestingly I have observed in casual conversations with both groups that the primary shared characteristic is that both groups are privately, *massively *racist in their cultural attitudes, and I suspect this has more to do with their shared antipathy toward Obama than religious or economic freedom issues.

To be fair, that first cohort is confused about itself, too.

You’re supposed to read this in your Emily Litella voice.

…Never mind

I may have been… I know a handful of die-hard Republicans who self-identify as Libertarians. It’s a strange trend, at least where I hang out.

(How can one possibly be a Libertarian…and also favor mandatory universal service and/or military conscription? Yet I know several people who fall in to this apparent contradiction.)

My experience also is just the Internet libertarians are more hardcore. But that’s the way with everything on the Internet. The people most interested are the ones with the more extreme views.

First of all very few conservative/libertarians of any sort want a theocracy. I can’t believe how many times I’ve encountered something like this-there are a few undoubtedly but they no more significant than leftists who want a violent revolution.

And most of the people you talk about are not Libertarians really-mostly Tea Partiers or in the case of Ron Paul a Paleocon with some Libertarian leanings (regarding marijuana).