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March 11, 2003

Brown Libertarians?

There was a comment on the message board about the prevelance of brown libertarians. There was a contrast with China. Well-since no one pointed it out explicitly, look at the contrast between China & India (used in the pre-partition context). China is a monoracial (ideologically at least) nation-civilization where organizational unity has been the norm and systematic legalism has a negative historical reputation (Legalism) as opposed to personal rule. India is a multiracial (ideologically via caste and language) civilization where unity has been the exception to the rule, and in the past 1,000 years "unity" has usually been externally imposed (the height of the Dehli Sultanate & the end of the Mughal period under Aurangzeb as well as the British Raj). In India, decentralization and unity via interlinked structures of class, caste and religion that have axiomatic foundations as well as organic histories have a long history because of the lack of a strong state. Libertarians tend to favor "civil society" in lieu of government. In contrast, the central government in China has always been suspicious of civil society-religious orders, clans and secret societies, because it sees them as alternative power-structures that might threaten the central grovernment. Of course, the Chinese look toward their inter-dynastic non-unitary periods as times of chaos so anything that dimishes central power and encourages centrifigal tendecies are viewed through that lens. South Asians are probably less amenable to hegemonic rule by a strong state because that state will tend to be dominated by another ethno-religious group, and they would rather have power delegated to the family or village.

Posted by razib at 03:11 PM




Isn't there also a correlation between "brown" and high-tech employment, and another one between high-tech employment and libertarianism?

Posted by: Jacqueline at March 12, 2003 04:35 PM


brown libertarianism is probably an american phenomena, so you are prolly right. brown people in england tend to be pro-labor, the only libertarians are in the tory party mainstream-wise....

Posted by: razib at March 12, 2003 06:47 PM


I'd tend to concur that the dominant covariance is brown + tech resulting in brown + libertarian. My parents (and many of my parents friends) tend to be Democrats b/c they fear a latent racism in Republican politics.

In the younger crowd, "educated" and "activist" turn into "liberal" which also tends to flow Democrat rather than Libertarian. Tech is the one counter flow

Posted by: vinod at March 12, 2003 09:11 PM


I was going to say this is bunkum razib, but you beat me to it. Indian political parties (and Pakistani and Bangladeshi, and Sri Lankan) are _not_ libertarian. Congress is socialist, the BJP is statist nationalist, and the various other parties are in it to grab the state's patronage powers. I don't think there is a single viable 'libertarian' party in all of South Asia

(Libertarianism is an American phenomenon, mostly)

Outside the USA, the south asian diaspora is leftist-socialist. In BC South Asians vote socialist (NDP)(and have elected a NDP premier -- Ujjal Dosanjh). In Ontario, the NDP is also focussing on this group, but Liberals take a pklurality the votes. In the UK, Labour. Trinidad? Guyana, Fiji? Kenya -- well, Kenya may have some libertarian South Asians, given the wealth of the community.

And that's the real correlation: rich brown techies, like rich techies everywhere, are libertarian oriented. A disproportionate number of South Asian bloggers are techies (like bloggers generally). So if your main experience with South Asians is via the blog-world, you might think that most are libertarian. They ain't.

As for your socio-cultural explanation of the non-existent south Asian libertarianism, I would rather you redirect your considerable talents to a more pressing subcontinental issue --- Why do Browns have such bad body odour? (Is it because they are libertarian?)

Posted by: Ikram Saeed at March 13, 2003 06:44 AM


well, i don't address the body odor question mostly because it's news to me. i happen to be (i guess one of the few) brown with low levels of body odor.... (my friends & g/fs have commented on this)

Posted by: razib at March 13, 2003 11:55 AM


Is it body odour or is it curry and other exotic spices?

Posted by: the alpha male at March 13, 2003 07:49 PM