The Suicide of the West author explains his anti-Trumpism, evolution on culture-war issues, and growing attraction to libertarianism.
In his new book, Suicide of the West, National Review’s Jonah Goldberg talks of what he calls “the Miracle”—the immense and ongoing increase in human wealth, health, freedom, and longevity ushered in during the Enlightenment and Industrial Revolution.
At turns sounding like Karl Marx, Joseph Schumpeter, and economist Deirdre McCloskey, Goldberg writes, “In a free market, money corrodes caste and class and lubricates social interaction. Capitalism is the most cooperative system ever created for the peaceful improvement of peoples’ lives. It has only a single fatal flaw: It doesn’t feel like it.”
As his book’s title suggests, Goldberg isn’t worried the world is running out of resources. He’s troubled by our unwillingness to defend, support, and improve customs, laws, and institutions that he believes are crucial to human flourishing.
“Decline is a choice,” he writes, not a foregone conclusion. While he lays most of the blame for our current problems on a Romantic left emanating from Rousseau, he doesn’t stint on the responsibility of his own tribe of conservative fear-mongers and reactionaries. Read the rest of this entry »
In the twilight hours of a special election to replace Montana’s lone congressman, Republican hopeful Greg Gianforte reportedly “body slammed” and punched a Guardian reporter after the journalist tried to ferret out an answer about GOP health care plans. In this video Reason TV imagines a world in which other, high profile politicians give into violent impulses when confronted by the press.
Polls opened in Montana less than twenty-four hours after Gianforte’s confrontation with Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs, and his subsequent assault charge. In the event that Mr. Gianforte is elected to Congress there is a reasonable chance he will interact with more journalists in the future, and possibly even have to formulate responses to Republican legislation at some point.
“We’ve gone to a modern [broadcast] system that has a lot of places where stuff can happen without permission,” says Thomas W. Hazlett, who’s the FCC‘s former chief economist, a professor at Clemson University, and author of the new book The Political Spectrum: The Tumultuous Liberation of Wireless Technology, from Herbert Hoover to the Smartphone. “And we have seen that the smartphone revolution and some other great stuff in the wireless space has really burgeoned…That comes from deregulation.”
So-called net neutrality rules are designed to solve a non-existent problem and threaten to restrict consumer choice, Hazlett tells Reason’s Nick Gillespie. “The travesty is there’s already a regulatory scheme [to address anti-competitive behavior]—it’s called antitrust law.”
Greater autonomy and consumer freedom led to the development of cable television, the smartphone revolution, and the modern internet. While we’ve come a long way from the old days of mother-may-I pleading with the FCC to grant licenses for new technology, Hazlett says, “there’s a lot farther to go and there’s a lot of stuff out there that’s being suppressed.”
He points to the history of radio and television. Herbert Hoover and Lyndon Johnson exercised extraordinary control over spectrum allocation, which they used for their own political and financial gain. With liberalization, we now have hundreds of hours of varied television programming as compared to the big three broadcast networks of the ’60s, an abundance of choices in smartphone providers and networks as compared to the Ma Bell monopoly, and more to come. Read the rest of this entry »
Democrats and Republicans are pivoting on issues faster than a bipolar swing dancer on a merry-go-round. Republicans are now big government protectionists. Democrats support free trade and states’ rights. It’s like the two parties switched bodies! It’s almost as if… they were FREAKY-FRIDAYED!
Eugene Volokh has a few things to say about things that aren’t supposed to be said. Volokh, a professor of free speech law at U.C.L.A., has seen books banned, professors censored, and the ordinary expression of students stifled on university campuses across the nation.
Volokh believes free speech and open inquiry, once paramount values of higher education, are increasingly jeopardized by restrictive university speech codes. Instead of formally banning speech, speech codes discourage broad categories of human expression. “Hate speech. Harassment. Micro-aggressions,” Volokh says. “Often they’re not defined. They’re just assumed to be bad, assumed they’re something we need to ban.”
Volokh spoke at Reason Weekend, the annual event held by Reason Foundation.
Rob Pyers was a laid-off grocery bagger who learned to code on YouTube. Now the website he runs, the California Target Book, is shining a light on spending by politicians, their campaigns, and outside groups.
Rob Pyers didn’t set out to bring transparency to establishment politics. In fact, he didn’t even have any programming experience before he built the electronic systems for the California Target Book, a go-to resource for political transparency in the state. He initially came to Los Angeles with aspirations of becoming a screenwriter, but ended up stuck in his day job, bagging groceries. Then Walgreen’s laid him off, and he needed something else to do.
After joining the Target Book, Pyers taught himself how to code, mostly by watching YouTube videos. Two years later, the 41-year-old has built its systems from the ground up, and now runs the website from his cramped West Hollywood one-bedroom. He is often the first to publicize major donations and new candidates, making his Twitter feed invaluable to campaign consultants and journalists alike.
Pyers, who describes himself as “95 lbs of concentrated tech geek,” has become an expert on pulling data from hundreds of voter databases, election filings, and campaign finance disclosures. He’s done all this despite the fact that the state’s main resource for campaign information is an inaccessible hodgepodge of ZIP archives and tables that even the current Secretary of State has called a “Frankenstein monster of outdated code.”
“California’s Cal-Access website is notorious for being just sort of an ungodly, byzantine mess,” says Pyers. “If you have no idea what you’re doing, it’s almost impossible to get any useful information out of.”
The state is currently working on a multi-million dollar upgrade to the site, with an expected rollout in 2019. But while the government builds its new system, the Target Book has already proven its worth. During one 2016 Congressional race, the L.A. Times used Pyers’ data to reveal that candidate Isadore Hall may have misused hundreds of thousands of dollars of campaign cash. Read the rest of this entry »
The Federal Bureau of Investigation has stopped accepting Freedom of Information Act requests by email. The agency wants requesters to use fax, standard mail, or the agency’s online portal to make things on their end more efficient. But, FOIA advocates say this puts a lot of burden on the requester.
Hey millennial FOIA nuts: Time to familiarize yourselves with the concept of a paper jam.
“The goal seems to be ‘creating a lot of extra burden. Everyone is used to emails. It creates a permanent record. It has a time-stamp on it. Everyone knows how to use it’.”
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has stopped accepting Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests by email. The agency wants requesters to use fax, standard mail, or the agency’s online portal, FBI eFOIPA.
The goal seems to be “creating a lot of extra burden,” says Adam Marshall, an attorney with the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. “Everyone is used to emails. It creates a permanent record. It has a time-stamp on it. Everyone knows how to use it.”
The FBI says the move will help the agency expedite its backlog, which was estimated at 2,614 requests in 2015. Agency spokesperson Jillian Stickels told the Daily Caller that using an online portal will automate the processing of requests and “increase efficiency.”
But does the FBI really want to make the process more efficient? And its decision to continue accepting faxes and standard mail seems to only create headaches for requesters, who might run out of toner or have their transmission signal interrupted when someone picks up the line.
“Most mail that goes to a federal agency has to go through a screening process,” says Marshall. “Sometimes they irradiate it to make sure that there isn’t anthrax or other things in it […] So, it can take a long time for your mail to get from you to the FOIA officer who’s going to open it up and read it.” Yet the law says that the agency is required to provide a response to a FOIA request within 20 business days.
A beta version of the online portal required users to provide personal information about themselves and limited requests to one per day. The FBI backed away from these rules in response to public pressure from Muckrock and Senator Ron Wyden (D-Oregon), but the system still imposes a 3,000-character restriction. Also, the FBI says that not all types of requests can be fulfilled through the portal, though which types the agency won’t say.
There are other bureaucratic hurdles: The FBI has multiple computerized filing systems for documents. Typically, if a requester doesn’t specify which records system to search, the Bureau only queries its Central Records System (CRS) and then might fail to locate a document that it actually has on file. Marshall finds these multiple record systems “incredibly confusing” even though understanding them, he says, is part of his job. Read the rest of this entry »
If the federal government were to cut off funding for public broadcasting, the programs that so many of us cherish not only wouldn’t disappear, they would have a better chance of surviving long into the future.
In 1967, President Johnson signed the Public Broadcasting Act, establishing a system of government subsidies that hasn’t changed that much in fifty years. The lion-share of federal money was allocated—not to pay directly for programming—but to go to independent public television and radio stations that were established in every corner of a vast nation. Their main purpose has always been to distribute national content to their local communities. About 70 percent of government funding went directly the local stations in 1967. Fifty years later, that formula hasn’t changed much.
When the Public Broadcasting Act became law, maintaining a network of regional stations was the only way to insure that every American household had access to public television and radio content. Today, this decentralized system isn’t necessary because it’s possible to stream or download NPR or PBS content from anywhere in the world. As audiences moves online, the regional stations supported by the federal government are becoming unnecessary.
It’s not just that these stations have become a waste of taxpayer money—they also present an obstacle to online distribution. The advent of podcasting, for example, was a singular opportunity for NPR to capitalize big on a new way of distributing its rich content. Today, NPR publishes several of the top podcasts, but in a concession to the stations, it forbids show hosts from promoting podcasts on the radio or from even mentioning NPR’s popular smartphone app. Station opposition is also the reason that podcast listeners can’t download episodes of NPR’s two top programs, Morning Edition and All Things Considered.
Recently, some of public radio’s most talented show hosts and producers have gone to work for private podcasting ventures. One reason to leave, says former-NPR reporter Adam Davidson, is that podcasters “have a creative freedom that NPR’s institutional frictions simply can’t allow.”
The fact is that without federal subsidies, the programs themselves could thrive. About 40 percent of funding for public television comes from private contributions (individuals, foundations, and businesses). For public radio, it’s about 60 percent. Read the rest of this entry »
The popular “homesharing” service made it affordable to book a beachfront property in Santa Monica. Then the city intervened.
The Trump administration is working hard to make America great again, by bringing jobs and opportunity back to our shores. Written and Produced by Austin Bragg.
Ever since the election, many Democrats have been desperately wondering how to slam the brakes on the Trump train. Well, one good way to start is by getting to know the conservatives who will be allies in that fight.
Here’s a list of five longtime Republicans liberals may grow to love in the Trump Era.
Reason‘s new editor in chief Katherine Mangu-Ward sat down with former Reason editor and author Virginia Postrel (now a columnist at Bloomberg View) at Reason’s Los Angeles headquarters to talk about the future of the magazine as it nears its 50th anniversary.
“Nick Gillespie—and to some extent Matt Welch—their version of Reason was sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll. Mine is more like sex, drugs, and robots,” says Mangu-Ward.
You may know Mangu-Ward’s work already as Reason’s managing editor or from her insightful cover stories covering everything from defending plastic bags to why your vote doesn’t count.
Approximately 48 minutes.
“The war on alcohol and the war on drugs were symbiotic campaigns,” says Harvard historian Lisa McGirr, author of The War on Alcohol: Prohibition and the Rise of the American State. “Those two campaigns emerged together, [and] they had the same shared…logic. Many of the same individuals were involved in both campaigns.”
Did alcohol prohibition of the 1920s ever really come to an end, or did it just metastasize into something far more destructive and difficult to abolish—what we casually refer to as “the war on drugs?” McGirr argues that our national ban on booze routed around its own repeal via the 21st Amendment. Ultimately, Prohibition transformed into a worldwide campaign against the drug trade
The ties between drug and alcohol prohibition run deep. The Federal Bureau of Narcotics (FBN) was established in 1930, only three years prior to Prohibition’s repeal. The FBN employed many of the same officials as the Federal Bureau of Prohibition. And both shared institutional spaces as independent entities within the U.S. Treasury Department. “In some ways,” observes McGirr, “the war never ended.”
In 2014, after almost 30 years as CEI’s president, Smith became director of the group’s Center for the Advancement of Capitalism, which champions free markets as the best means to create a fair, prosperous, and future-oriented society. Libertarians, says the one-time federal bureaucrat, have always had a difficulty communicating their ideas to a wider public, even to the entrepreneurs and business leaders who radically improve our lives on a daily basis by providing better and better goods and services at lower and lower prices. “We need to re-calibrate our arguments so they reach the people we need to have as allies. That means businessmen.”
Reason‘s Nick Gillespie sat down with Smith to talk about the liberating history of capitalism, the regulatory war on innovation, whether millennials are socialists or capitalists, and the morality of market exchanges. “The market not only creates a web of voluntary economic interactions,” says Smith. “It is the best facilitator for creating the social networks that encompass the modern world.” Read the rest of this entry »
The Free Brazil Movement (Movimento Brasil Livre) was instrumental in the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff. Students for Liberty (Estudantes Pela Liberdade) is larger in Brazil than in any other country. Can Brazil’s surging libertarian movement defeat the left and save the country?
Written, shot, edited, and narrated by Jim Epstein. Post production help from Ian Keyser. Translation services provided by Matheus Pacini and Vanan Services.
Fantastic Dim Bar by Kevin MacLeod is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license; Ghost Processional by Kevin MacLeod is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license; Ignosi by Kevin MacLeod is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license; Over Time by Audionautix is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license; Industrial Music Box by Kevin MacLeod is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license; “After The Week I’ve Had” by Dexter Britain (http://www.dexterbritain.com) Creative Commons. Read the rest of this entry »
We fixed Hillary’s DNC video with a little help from Morgan Freeman.
Produced by Austin Bragg
Reason TV talks with California progressives about what happens when science meets politics.
Zach Weissmueller, Justin Monticello & Joshua Swain report: It’s popular to portray the GOP as the anti-science party and Democrats as the sane, “party of science” alternative. And only 6 percent of scientists identified as Republicans, according to a 2009 Pew Research poll, which seems to be the most recent one on the topic. But the truth is that when science and politics meet, the result often isn’t pretty, regardless of partisan affiliation.
Reason TV asked locals in Venice, California about their thoughts on various scientific policy questions and compared their answers to public opinion poll data. We found that many people favored mandatory labeling of food that contains DNA, the stuff of life contained in just about every morsel of fruit, vegetable, grain, or meat humans consume. Yet a recent survey out of the University of Florida found that 80 percent of respondents favor mandatory DNA labeling, only slightly below the 85 percent that favor labeling of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). While Republicans are divided evenly on the GMO question, Democrats rate them unsafe by a 26-point margin, despite almost 2,000 studies spanning a decade saying otherwise.
Republicans are more skeptical of the theory of evolution, though by a surprisingly slim margin with 39 percent of them rejecting it as compared to 30 percent of Republicans. When it comes to other scientific matters, the waters are even muddier. For instance, Democrats and Republicans believe in the false link between vaccines and autism at roughly equal levels.
And it’s largely liberal Democratic politicians pushing anti-vaping laws, despite public health agencies estimating e-cigarettes to be around 95% safer than conventional tobacco cigarettes and early evidence they help smokers quit. And vaping products don’t contain any tobacco or its resultant tar, yet the FDA still wants to treat them as tobacco products. Read the rest of this entry »
Just in time for the holidays, The Star Wars Libertarian Special features Senate filibusters, border patrol stops, eminent domain, a guest appearance by Edward Snowden, and rarely seen footage from Chewbacca‘s galaxy-trotting documentary series about free-market economics.
The faculty council at Occidental College is considering instituting a system for students to report microaggressions perpetrated against them by faculty members or other students.
Reason TV visited Occidental’s campus to find out what exactly constitutes a microaggression. One Columbia psychology professor defined the term this way: Microaggressions are the everyday verbal, nonverbal, and environmental slights, snubs, or insults, whether intentional or unintentional, which communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative messages to target persons based solely upon their marginalized group membership.
After exploring the limitations of a microaggression reporting system, we discussed broader free speech issues with the students in the wake of a month of campus protests that resulted in the resignations of several faculty members and a university president.
Most of the students defended free speech in principle, if not always in practice. This is consistent with a recent Pew Research Center survey, which found that although 95 percent of Americans agree that people should be allowed to publicly criticize government policies, support erodes when the question turns to offensive speech. While a majority of millennials still believe that the government should protect speech offensive to minorities, a whopping 40 percent believe the government should restric such speech. Read the rest of this entry »
After the chaos of October’s CNBC debate, the newly culled Republican field met last night in Milwaukee to focus on ideas. But were the Fox Business moderators able to get straight answers from the candidates on important issues?
Reason TV sucked out the hot air and drilled down to the substance. Watch the video above for The 3 Best and Worst Moments of the GOP Debate.
Third Best Moment: America Shouldn’t Police the World
Rand Paul finally came out of his debate hibernation to cast a shadow on the GOP’s war hawk faction. The Kentucky senator countered Marco Rubio’s assertions that he is a “committed isolationist” by pointing out that it’s not very conservative to increase government spending on the military, as Rubio wants. True isolationism, according to the Senator, comes from the other candidates’ threats to cut off dialogue with Russia, Iran, or other perceived enemies, a step that Reagan did not take even during the height of the Cold War.
Third Worst Moment: More Bombs and Boots
Aside from Donald Trump, who paid lip service to limited foreign intervention mostly to needle Jeb Bush, the rest of the field launched a barrage of promises to keep the bombs flowing and the boots grounded, no matter the lives lost or the money spent. From creating no-fly zones in Iraq and Syria to arming every militia from Kurdistan to Ukraine, the ideas on parade offered no respite from the arrogance and fear tactics of the past two administrations.
Second Best Moment: Fewer, Simpler Taxes
The Republicans presented plans that generally simplify the tax code and reduce rates. While the extent and nature of the proposals varied, the candidates focused on the way the current complexity of the code favors wealthy, politically connected organizations—which are uniquely able to hire the army of lawyers necessary to wade through it all, and to lobby Congress to insert favorable provisions.
Second Worst Moment: Immigrants Are Taking Our Jobs
Unfortunately, that bit of sanity was balanced out by a fresh round of crazy about immigrants. After Donald Trump’s usual wall schtick, Ted Cruz described immigration as an “economic calamity” for Americans, despite the evidence that immigration increases the standard of living for all. He even suggested that journalists don’t cover this calamity because they don’t face job insecurity or competition from foreign workers.
Best Moment: Big Government Creates Crony Capitalism
The best moment of the night came with the Republicans’ forceful arguments against crony capitalism and the growth in government that fuels it. Citing everything from Obamacare to Solyndra, the candidates pitched an end to government that picks winners and losers, systemically hurting the poor and the vulnerable while helping the rich and the well-connected.
Worst Moment: Leadership Means Abandoning All Reason
Finally, batting cleanup with the worst facepalm of the debate was Ohio governor John Kasich, whose vision of presidential leadership is to abandon all principle and reason during times of crisis. In response to everything from water crises to bank failures, Kasich believes that it is the job of the executive to do something in the heat of the moment, before rational reflection and the better part of human nature emerge to spoil the party. According to Kasich, “Philosophy doesn’t work when you run something.”
Go to https://reason.com/reasontv/2015/11/1… for links, downloadable versions, and more. And don’t forget to subscribe to Reason TV’s YouTube channel for notifications when new material goes live.
[VIDEO] Operation Choke Point Was Meant to Stop Fraud. So Why is the Program Going After Legitimate Business?Posted: September 6, 2015
The Government’s Secret War on Small Business
Banks are sending notices of account closure out to small businesses across the country, to clients they’ve done business with for years, even decades. The reason? They often don’t provide one.
But a growing number of business owners believe they know why they’re being cut off from the financial system. It’s Operation Choke Point, ostensibly an attempt to crack down on fraudulent businesses, but in reality a dragnet that has ensnared innocent entrepreneurs unfairly classified as “high-risk” players.
Earlier this year, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) chairman Martin Gruenberg told Congress that Choke Point was over, but many business owners believe the FDIC and the Department of Justice have passed enforcement duties along to a newly created independent agency: the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), the brainchild of progressive senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.). The CFPB operates under the guidance of the Federal Reserve and doesn’t rely on Congress for funding, which critics say allows it to operate without any meaningful checks on its power.
Reason TV profiled two business owners who believe they’ve been targets of Choke Point and its legacy: a payday lender in Southern California and a hookah seller in North Carolina. Brian Wise of the U.S. Consumer Coalition, an organization that’s been compiling Choke Point stories from across the nation, also appears in the video. Read the rest of this entry »
They’re jealous, he says, they side with rulers, and they don’t understand how markets work.
Nick Gillespie & Todd Krainin “Intellectuals have always disdained commerce” says Whole Foods Market co-founder John Mackey. They “have always sided…with the aristocrats to maintain a society where the businesspeople were kind of kept down.”
More than any other outlet, Whole Foods has reconfigured what and how America eats and the chain’s commitment to high-quality meats, produce, cheeses, and wines is legendary. Since opening his first store in Austin, Texas in 1980, Mackey now oversees operations around the globe and continues to set the pace for what’s expected in organic and sustainably raised and harvested food.
Check out the book “Conscious Capitalism: Liberating the Heroic Spirit of Business” at Amazon.com]
Because of Whole Foods’ trendy customer base and because Mackey is himself a vegan and champions collaboration between management and workers, it’s easy to mistake Mackey for a progressive left-winger. Indeed, an early version of Jonah Goldberg‘s best-selling 2008 book Liberal Fascism even bore the subtitle “The Totalitarian Temptation from Mussolini to Hillary Clinton and The Totalitarian Temptation from Hegel to Whole Foods.”
[See more at Reason.com]
Yet nothing could be further from the truth—and more distorting of the radical vision of capitalism at the heart of Mackey’s thought. A high-profile critic of the minimum wage, Obamacare, and the regulatory state, Mackey believes that free markets are the best way not only to raise living standards but also to explore new ways of building community and creating meaning for individuals and society.
At the same time, he challenges all sorts of libertarian dogma, including the notion that publicly traded companies should always seek to exclusively maximize shareholder value. Conscious Capitalism, the book he co-authored with Rajendra Sisodia, lays out a detailed case for Mackey’s vision of a post-industrial capitalism that addresses spiritual desire as much as physial need. Read the rest of this entry »
Jon Stewart has been a major cultural and political commentator for the past 16 years. He liked to take down the powerful—at least, when his head wasn’t shoved up Uncle Sam’s ass.
As “The Daily Show” host ends his run, reminisce with Reason TV the top five ways Jon Stewart was full of shit.
Approximately 5 minutes. Read the rest of this entry »
“I go back to the Martin O’Malley administration and every one of his goals has been short-term – nothing was ever long-term. And because he had these short-term goals for instant results… he left it wide open for long-term disaster. And that’s what we are experiencing now.”
It seems hard to believe, but months ago, Baltimore’s politicians were confidently predicting a economic revival for the city. But after six Baltimore police officers where involved in the death of 25-year-old African-American Freddie Gray, the city erupted into the worst rioting it’s seen in 50 years.
“In 2005 we had 108,000 arrests in a city of 620,000 residents. How much long-term damage did that do to these neighborhoods in Baltimore, to the families in Baltimore, to all these people that now have an arrest record?”
The crisis has put police brutality in the spotlight, left leaders grasping for answers, and sparked an examination of the roots of the violence.
Franklin, a 34-year veteran of Maryland law enforcement and a former drug warrior, sat down with Reason TV‘s Todd Krainin to explain how the drug war policies of the O’Malley administration helped fuel the riots in Baltimore. Read the rest of this entry »
“I think the ‘conservatarian’ term is not a linguistic trick, it is a substantive attempt to describe a certain coterie on the right,” explains Charles C. W. Cooke, a writer for National Review and author of The Conservatarian Manifesto: Libertarians, Conservatives, and the Fight for the Right’s Future“. “These are the people who say when they are around libertarians they feel conservative, and when they are around conservatives they feel libertarian…(read more)
[Check out Charles C. W. Cooke‘s new book: “The Conservatarian Manifesto: Libertarians, Conservatives, and the Fight for the Right’s Future” at Amazon.com]
Everything’s Awesome and Camille Paglia is Unhappy!
I nearly bypassed this interview, having enjoyed Paglia’s memorable social and cultural critiques over the last 15 years or so, I expected it to be good, but easy to put off for later viewing. Boy was I wrong. A potent, and revealing conversation. Free Range Big Thinkers like Paglia, in culture and media — especially ones who identify as Democrats but talk like libertarians — are few and far between. It makes the rare good ones even more valuable. We’ve not seen Camille’s familiar Madonna-loving, pop-culture-riddled smart commentary as much as we did in the 1990s, at the now-diminished pioneering Salon magazine, where she was a regular. Fast-forward to 2015: Paglia represents a senior figure, as a public intellectual. A long way from those early days at Yale in the 1960s. She’s older, crankier, controversial, and impossible to categorize, but that’s how we like it.
I’d seen other references and links to this new Paglia interview, but it was the Twitter feed of noted media critic Mollie Z. Hemingway than finally got my attention. Yesterday, she’d collected a string of individual excerpts (well chosen clips, too, a few samples below) Thanks to MZH, otherwise I might have missed this. Included here is the hour-long video, and just a fraction of the transcript. If you don’t see anything else this weekend — or this year — don’t miss this. Brilliant work by REASON‘s Nick Gillespie & Todd Krainin. Go get the whole transcript. And tune into Mollie Z. Hemingway’s articles here, and tweets here.
“gender identity has become really almost fascist” —Paglia http://t.co/ZrvHhCGhLs
— Mollie (@MZHemingway) March 20, 2015
Paglia’s counterintuitive defense of reading comments (that I’ve found to be true as well): pic.twitter.com/5trxLOoAIE
— Mollie (@MZHemingway) March 20, 2015
Why grad students are stupider than “southern evangelicals” who dropped out of high school. — Paglia pic.twitter.com/FGMYcfFfWr
— Mollie (@MZHemingway) March 20, 2015
INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPT: This is a rush transcript. Check against video for accuracy.
reason: Let’s talk about the state of contemporary feminism. You have been in a public life or in an intellectual life since the late 1960s, a proud feminist, often reviled by other feminists. Gloria Steinem most famously said you were an anti-feminist and that when you denied that, she said that would be like a Nazi saying they’re not anti-Semitic. You’re mixing it up. What is going on with the state of “professional feminism” in this country. It seems if you look at from, say, the early ’70s, things have gotten better for women. Men are less uptight about gender roles. Women are more in the workforce, they get paid equally, sexual assaults and sexual violence are down. In so many ways, things are going better than ever, and yet from sites like Jezebel or Feministing, all you hear is that things have never been worse.
Paglia: Feminism has gone through many phases. Obviously the woman’s suffrage movement of the 19th century fizzled after women gained the right to vote through the Constitutional amendment in 1920. Then the movement revived in the late 1960s through Betty Freidan co-founding NOW in 1967. Now, I preceded all that. I’m on record with a letter in Newsweek, I was in high school in 1963, where I called for equal rights for American women and so on. I began thinking about gender, researching it, I loved the generation of Amelia Earhart and all those emancipated women of the ’20s and ’30s, and because I had started my process of thought about gender so much earlier, I was out of sync with the women’s movement when it suddenly burst forth.
reason: It became a huge kind of cultural moment in the late 60s—it had been percolating before…
Paglia: It was literally nothing. There was no political activism of any kind from women getting the right to vote in 1920… when Simone de Beauvoir wrote her great magnum opus, The Second Sex, published in the early 1950s, she was thought to be hopelessly retrograde. Nobody could possibly be interested again in gender issues.
reason: You were living in upstate New York. Did you already know what your sexuality was? What was it like to be a woman, a lesbian, in 1963?
Paglia: Well, the 1950s were a highly conformist period. Gender had repolarized after really great gains it seems to me in the ’20s and ’30s, and one must be more sympathetic to the situation of my parents’ generation. They had known nothing but depression and war throughout their entire lives. My father was a paratrooper, when he got out of the army, everyone married, and I’m the baby boom. They wanted normality. They just wanted to live like real people, man and wife in a home. I found the 1950s utterly suffocating. I was a gender nonconforming entity, and I was signaling my rebellion by these transgender Halloween costumes that were absolutely unheard of. I was five, six, seven, eight years old. My parents allowed me to do it because I was so intent on it.
reason: What were you dressing up as?
Paglia: A Roman solider, the matador from Carmen. My best was Napoleon. I was Hamlet from the Classics Comics book. Absolutely no one was doing stuff like this, and I’m happy that this talk about medical sex changes was not in the air, because I would have become obsessed with that and assumed that that was my entire identity and problem, so this is why I’m very concerned about the rush to surgical interventions today. At any rate, I was attracted to men—I dated men—but I just fell in love with women and always have. Yes, there’s absolutely no doubt. I was on the forefront of gay identification. When I arrived at graduate school at Yale 1968-1972, I was the only openly gay person, and I didn’t even have a sex life. To me, it was a badge of militance. And I was the only person doing a dissertation on a sexual topic. It’s hard to believe this now.
reason: What was the topic?
Paglia: Sexual Personae, which was the book finally published in 1990 after being rejected by seven publishers and five agents, and that was unheard of again. I’m delighted I had the sponsorship of Harold Bloom that pushed the topic through the English department, I think possibly that they allowed me to do such a thing on sex was actually kind of amazing.
My clashes with other feminists began immediately. Read the rest of this entry »
Reason TV ventured to Comic-Con International in San Diego to check out the booming culture of cosplay, in which people dress up as their favorite superheroes, literary figures, or fantasy icons. Why do cosplayers dedicate so much time, money, and energy to their alter egos? Its fun, they say, and its a powerful form of self-expression…(read more)