Libertarianism and Science Fiction

Many leading science fiction and fantasy writers have been libertarians, or at least significantly influenced by libertarian ideas. The late Ray Bradbury, who passed away last week, was one well-known example. In this short article published in Prometheus, the journal of the Libertarian Futurist Society, I try to explain why science fiction is so much more libertarian than any any other literary genre. The article was published last year, but only recently became available online. Here’s a short excerpt:

Libertarianism is better represented in science fiction and fantasy than in any other literary genre. From Robert Heinlein to the present day, libertarian writers have been among the leaders in the field. Even many genre writers who are not self-consciously libertarian have often made use of libertarian themes in their work.

While there is no definitive survey data on the subject, libertarian readers also seem more likely to be attracted to science fiction and fantasy than other genres. Historians of the movement routinely emphasize the role of science fiction works in helping to inspire it….

Why is science fiction so much more libertarian than other genres? The answer matters both to people interested in the genre and students of political ideology….

The combination of receptiveness to radical ideas, technological optimism, skepticism about tradition and valuing of reason over emotion helps explain the relative prevalence of libertarianism in science fiction. No other genre combines all of these attributes, and few have more than one or two.