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Nick Gillespie’s Excellent Adventure

Posted By On August 25, 2005 @ 3:48 am In Uncategorized | Comments Disabled

Last year I wrote an essay for Brainwash attacking Reason magazine for purveying a libertarianism that “is not a philosophy suitable for adults.” I stand by my arguments, but the subject has continued to nag me: in particular, the suspicion that I’d somehow missed the point. It occurs to me now that I’d forgotten what McLuhan warned so strongly against and condemned what I’d failed to understand.

Specifically, this: modern libertarianism – or Gilliespieism, after Reason‘s editor, Nick Gillespie – is not a philosophy. Neither is it a set of truths or values or an ideology or even a worldview. It is a style. Thus it is foolish to attack Gillespieism for its lack of moral and intellectual seriousness. That’s not Nick Gillespie’s “bag,” as he might say. If They complain that under Gillespie’s leadership Reason is far more interested in celebrating conspicuous consumption and personal license than in attacking America’s evolution into global hegemon and devolution into national security state, so much the better. F*ck ‘em if they can’t take a joke. And the (postmodern) joke is this: Gillespieism is a self-referential private language accessible only to PLU: People Like Us.

It is not just that Nick Gillespie has “inject[ed Reason magazine] with a pop-culture sensibility”; he has transformed libertarianism into nothing more than a hip sensibility. Now it is the essence of hipness that it decomposes under examination –”If you have to ask, you’ll never know.” But if Postrelism – after Gillespie’s predecessor at Reason, Virginia Postrel – can be boiled down to one sentence, after Emile Coué: "Every day in every way we are getting better and better," then Gillespieism can be boiled down to one word, after Bill and Ted:

Ted: Dude.

Nick Gillespie’s Excellent Adventure

Posted By On August 25, 2005 @ 12:51 am In Uncategorized | No Comments

Last year I wrote an essay for Brainwash attacking Reason magazine for purveying a libertarianism that “is not a philosophy suitable for adults.” I stand by my arguments, but the subject has continued to nag me: in particular, the suspicion that I’d somehow missed the point. It occurs to me now that I’d forgotten what McLuhan warned so strongly against and condemned what I’d failed to understand.

Specifically, this: modern libertarianism – or Gilliespieism, after Reason‘s editor, Nick Gillespie – is not a philosophy. Neither is it a set of truths or values or an ideology or even a worldview. It is a style. Thus it is foolish to attack Gillespieism for its lack of moral and intellectual seriousness. That’s not Nick Gillespie’s “bag,” as he might say. If They complain that under Gillespie’s leadership Reason is far more interested in celebrating conspicuous consumption and personal license than in attacking America’s evolution into global hegemon and devolution into national security state, so much the better. F*ck ‘em if they can’t take a joke. And the (postmodern) joke is this: Gillespieism is a self-referential private language accessible only to PLU: People Like Us.

It is not just that Nick Gillespie has “inject[ed Reason magazine] with a pop-culture sensibility”; he has transformed libertarianism into nothing more than a hip sensibility. Now it is the essence of hipness that it decomposes under examination –”If you have to ask, you’ll never know.” But if Postrelism – after Gillespie’s predecessor at Reason, Virginia Postrel – can be boiled down to one sentence, after Emile Coué: "Every day in every way we are getting better and better," then Gillespieism can be boiled down to one word, after Bill and Ted:

Ted: Dude.


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