14 May 2016

Why Are So Many Techies Lefties?

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Techie

Ulysses768 speculates on why his fellow millennial tech workers are so commonly left-wing politically.

I know there appears to be an easy answer for this question, demographics. Of course they are liberal, you may say. Their workers are mostly young and urban. They reside in Northern California, Boston, and New York. How could they be anything but liberal?

That is true, but they also consist of engineers and highly skilled immigrants. They are people who have worked hard and are well compensated. While many of their peers were “studying” sociology and women’s studies they were taking computer science and engineering courses. What they learned was rooted in logic and the physical world, not rehashed Marxism and utopian fantasies.

When I was growing up in Massachusetts, it made sense that my teachers were predominantly leftist. They belonged to a union and their pay was determined by how well they could scare the town into approving ever increasing school budgets and not by how well they did their jobs. I recall a great anticipation of reaching the working world where market forces would determine success and thus people would see the inherent benefits of individual liberty and classical liberal values.

Since graduating college I’ve been a naval officer, nuclear engineer, software engineer at an older tech company, and now one that is based in the Bay Area. Until now most of my fellow employees have appeared right of center, thus confirming my expectations. That’s not to say it isn’t a great place to work, it most certainly is. However, I am at a total loss to explain its culture or the cultures of other companies of its ilk.

I have a few theories, but I am not very confident in any of them. My definition of “new tech companies” are those that have been created or risen to prominence in the last 15 years, such as Twitter or Facebook.

The people are the same but the companies are more authoritarian. Motivated by a very competitive job market and empowered by financial success, these companies seek to engage with their employees at a new level. They encourage their employees to basically live at work, breaking down the professional and personal divide. This fosters an environment not unlike a university. Everyone must be careful not to offend and the needs of all must be accommodated at the expense of the few. The cultures of victimhood and blind acceptance find fertile soil, and people who disagree learn to keep quiet.

Newer tech companies are more software- and web-based than their predecessors. Therefore aesthetically pleasing design is more important to the success of their products. Therefore more creatives are required and creatives trend left of center.

College indoctrination has become so successful that it has bled into the hard sciences and engineering spaces. My fellow employees seem more liberal because they actually are more liberal.

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8 Feedbacks on "Why Are So Many Techies Lefties?"

Steve Gregg

Having worked in IT for years, my theory of why IT workers tend to be liberal is simple. Programmers program solutions for small problems every day. It naturally follows that programmers think that the big problems of the world should be programmed by really smart guys just like them. Therefore, socialism. They see things narrowly, through their job, and generalize that view to the world. They don’t understand that programming does not scale up.



John

Thanks for posting that, I wouldn’t have seen it otherwise. But don’t you think you’re bumping right up against the fair use aspect? I mean, I clicked “read the whole thing” and found the only part of the article you didn’t reproduce was the first paragraph!



T. Shaw

Thanks for setting me straight.

I had thought it was because they are generally losers and nerds who misspent their formative years being bullied. So, they naturally want to screw us.



Maggie's Farm

Monday morning links

Dung Beetles sentences to ponder Why Are So Many Techies Lefties? The Greatest Documentary – The World at War, a 1973 series, remains an essential primer on history’s deadliest conflict. VDH: The myth of progress Human nature stays constant



the gold digger

the big problems of the world should be programmed by really smart guys just like them. Therefore, socialism.

I would qualify that system as elitism. Americans are criticized for being anti-intellectual – they’re not. They’re anti-elitist and don’t think that self-appointed smart people should be making the decisions for everyone else.



Assistant Village Idiot

I see the sense of all of this, but would add in Charles Murray’s Belmont/Fishtown difference. Many of them have lived in elite peer groups most of their lives. They may have some disdain for their classmates engaged in easier pursuits, but nothing like the alienation they feel from everyone else, who they understand even less. Relatedly, they are disproportionately secular Jews, liberal in culture, and readers of sci-fi, which has morphed from libertarian/speculative/modern in its viewpoint to something much more PC over the years. Techies are often social libertarians. In other populations, libertarians reluctantly side with conservatives, and that’s what we are used to. But they aren’t so much free-marketers. In this group, they side with liberals, also reluctantly at times.



Thalpy

In fact, they are illiberal. Often their limited social interaction occurs when someone reminds them to put away their instrument of habituation and get back to work or class. Others? What are they?



Frisco Scooter Trash

I think there are more non-lefties than it appears but they learn to stay below the horizon or they’ll be constantly challenged or maligned in a smear campaigns.

I got to the point I kind of dreaded going to work the day after a mass shooting anywhere in the world, for example. I also got very good at defending my political position but it was still endless.



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