Anarchy on the TV

Longtime Hit & Run readers may remember Mateusz Machaj's argument that the '80s action series The A Team was actually anarcho-capitalist propaganda. In a similar spirit, I pass along Darrin Knode's contrarian take on The Andy Griffith Show, in which the author exalts Sheriff Andy Taylor as a symbol of the nightwatchman state. Or perhaps -- despite the man's profession -- a society with no state at all:

Andy Griffith acted like a man. He behaved time and again like a compassionate human being and not as an officer of the state, not as an embodiment of the government, dogma incarnate. No, he was more of a negotiator than a guard or a civil violence figure, a policeman. He tried to settle matters through arbitration and restitution, which often ended in both parties being satisfied or even one admitting his wrongdoing after being reasoned with. He rarely ever arrested anyone who was truly non-violent, and even the violent were treated with a base respect for life.

And for his civil and peaceful behavior, it was he who held the respect of the whole of the community, and as the superior man to the state figure Barney. Andy constantly corrects the mistakes of Barney, who fouls up the absolute simplest of tasks. His incompetence is caused by applying almost childlike bullheadedness and forceful behavior to all scenarios and his need to be everyone's boss.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Usually, I finr these kind of readings to be dubious and self-serving. This one actually seems on the mark, though.

  • ||

    "He rarely ever arrested anyone who was truly non-violent"

    BS. He frequently locked up Emmitt the town drunk.

  • ||

    What about "Gilligan's Island"?
    That was symbolic of our institutions.
    Skipper government.
    Professor intelligencia, academia
    Thurston Howell wall street, finance
    Mrs. Howell high society
    Ginger entertainment, hollywood
    Maryann farmers
    Gilligan everyman.

    One can do a dissertation on the show.
    I am sure some one has written a long article discussing the symbolic facts of the show.

    PS Is every man, as represented by Gilligan, gay? Think about it, between Maryann and Ginger, you get a raging hard on, your best friend, and sometimes you, are the law.
    In a jungle no less, come on, yet Gilligan never even shows desire to either, only worried about pleasing the Skipper. Hmmmmm

  • ||

    I'm assuming Andy didn't have any agency keeping track of his productivity. Why no arrests this month Andy????

  • ||

    "BS. He frequently locked up Emmitt the town drunk."


    It was Otis the Town Drunk. And Otis locked himself up half the time. Otis never got charged with anything or faced any consiquences for being arrested 100s of times. In this day and age, Otis would be in prison for life on a three strikes law. Instead, Andy just locked Otis up so he couldn't hurt himself.

    Barney was the mindless bureaucratic enforcer. Andy was the common sense human being. Sadly, we live in a world of Barneys now.

  • ||

    I'm sorry, how is that particularly contrarian? How else would you view the show? It's a romanticized portrayal of limited government mixed with community standards (but imposed peacefully, with negotiation) that's a romantic, if not philosophical basis of the sort of fusionism between conservatives and libertarians that is mocked or disliked by some, like the liberaltarians, Will Wilkinson, and other urbane libertarians that find the dependence on family and community, however softly employed in Mayberry, to be oppressive even without formal government. The sort of left-libertarians who find a social democratic welfare state preferable and more conducive to freedom than having to be dependent on one's family.

  • ||

    "I'm assuming Andy didn't have any agency keeping track of his productivity. Why no arrests this month Andy????"

    Forget the arrests, no speeding tickets. A real small town would have canned him in a minute for not spending his time nailing out of towners for a transit tax.

  • ||

    That is an excellent point John Thacker. Your point is the reason why I despise cosmotarians so much. In the end, I think Wilkinson would hate Mayberry for no other reason than its disapproval of his leather thong habbit.

  • Warty||

    Forget the arrests, no speeding tickets. A real small town would have canned him in a minute for not spending his time nailing out of towners for a transit tax.

    You must have missed the episode where Andy taught Barney how to make his drug dog falsely alert.

  • EJM||

    I'd like to see Mr. Knode compare Andy Griffith with Barney Miller. (Seriously.)

  • ||

    "Barney was the mindless bureaucratic enforcer. Andy was the common sense human being. Sadly, we live in a world of Barneys now."

    I love you,
    You love me...

  • ||

    "like the liberaltarians, Will Wilkinson, and other urbane libertarians that find the dependence on family and community, however softly employed in Mayberry, to be oppressive even without formal government."

    But doen't it take a village?

  • ||

    Well, John, I would say that Mayberry is not a strictly accurate portrayal of even North Carolinian small towns, though I wish it were. People are free to criticize the inaccuracies and point out hypocrisies. I disagree with their claims that small towns are more oppressive in general, but I don't despise them for that part.

    In any case, the Andy Griffith Show presents a idealized small town and provides a useful case study for anyone trying to understand the appeal and origin of fusionism, or the basis of the culture and politics that characterize the South and inform Ron Paul.

  • a name before submitting the f||

    He tried to settle matters through arbitration and restitution, which often ended in both parties being satisfied or even one admitting his wrongdoing after being reasoned with.



    It's fiction. Where all problems can be solved in under 30 minutes. There is no way to relate such a thing to real life.

  • ||

    Apparently there are no black people in a nightwatchman state, either. This reminds me, I have to finish my groundbreaking paper on "The Dukes of Hazzard as a Feminist Manifesto".

  • ||

    This reminds me, I have to finish my groundbreaking paper on "The Dukes of Hazzard as a Feminist Manifesto".

    Daisy Duke was a feminist of sorts...in short shorts.

    You must have missed the episode where Andy taught Barney how to make his drug dog falsely alert.

    They should remake the show and have Andy beat the shit out of dirty Yankee hippies who come through town with an ounce on them and don't respect his authoritah. David Caruso can be Andy, with Adam Sandler as Barney. Thank you AWESEMO-4000!

  • Tim Cavanaugh||

    What about the episode where Aunt Bea experiences her late-life sexual awakening learns to fly? Wasn't she the 20th hijacker?

  • Brandon||

    Hmmm. The Andy Griffith Show has always been one of the handful of shows on the cable rerun circuit I'll stop and watch when channelsurfing. All this time I thought it was because Barney Fife made me chuckle.

  • ||

    My favorite espisode is when for some reason the jail is too full so Andy brings Otis home to serve time at the house. Aunt Bea puts him to work. It turns out to be the most miserable week in his life. He winds up begging Andy to take him back to jail.

    Otis, along with Barney is the key to the whole show. The town was really quite tolerant of Otis. They never did antying but take reasonable efforts to make sure he didn't hurt himself. They never forced him into rehab or tried to send him to prison. If Otis wanted to drink and lie about town all day, that was okay. But, at the same time, they never encouraged Otis. He wasn't pursuing a viable alternative lifestyle. He wasn't a victim. He was a drunk. And he was so because he chose to be not because he couldn't help himself or had a bad childhood. It was a good middle ground between police nanny state fascism and anarchy.

    The dog that didn't bark of course is race relations. It is totally absent in the show, which makes it a lot easier to have a soft fusion kind of state.

  • ||

    One other thing to point out about the show. It is one of the few shows in history that portrays small town southern whites as anything but raging racist monsters.

  • Fascitis Necrotizante||

    I caught Andy Griffith in A Face in the Crowd recently. Highly recommended.

  • ||

    The dog that didn't bark of course is race relations. It is totally absent in the show, which makes it a lot easier to have a soft fusion kind of state.



    Yes, though a lot of this is from being based on Mt. Airy, in the Appalachian part of the state. It's the part of NC that's traditionally been a libertarian sort of Republican because:

    1) They didn't have any slaves to fight for anyway.
    2) They didn't want to fight a war for those rich Easterners
    3) They didn't like the state government, which was all Democrats, either, and it was, if anything, as oppressive to them as the feds.
    4) They liked their moonshine.

    Also, there just aren't a lot of black people there, at least compared to most Southern towns. (A lot compared to New Hampshire, of course.)

  • ||

    "I caught Andy Griffith in A Face in the Crowd recently. Highly recommended."


    Excellent movie. The guy could really act. But he was a victim of his own success. Once you create a truly iconic character, you are not believable playing anything else no matter how good you are.

  • ||

    But he was a victim of his own success. Once you create a truly iconic character, you are not believable playing anything else no matter how good you are.

    Are you talking about Matlock?

  • ||

    Daisy Duke was a feminist of sorts...in short shorts.

    Hey, if feminists can like it rough, surely they can also wear short shorts.

  • shecky||

    John Thacker is right that there seems little contrarian about that reading of the show.

    But his reading (and jackass John's) of those eevil cosmotarians is about as informed as one of Sylvia Brown's cold readings.

  • ed||

    portrays small town southern whites as anything but raging racist monsters

    That's because the Mayberry we see comes after all the darkies left town
    following the Nigger Sam Incident.*



    *Nigger Sam was the previous town drunk who was lynched after winking at Aunt Bea. He was also Otis's lover, who at the time was a prosperous accountant. The whole sordid episode is covered in Flannery Sledge's brilliant Floyd and Howard: The Dark Side of Mayberry.

  • ||

    "Yes, though a lot of this is from being based on Mt. Airy, in the Appalachian part of the state. It's the part of NC that's traditionally been a libertarian sort of Republican because:"

    That is a good point John. The moutain west in the carolinas is a different world than the low country. One of the reasons why the British were able to have success in the low country (taking both Savanah and Charleston) during the Revolutionary War and got their asses kicked (The Cowpens and King's Mountain) in the Piedmont was because the moutain people refused to fight a war for the Rice Kings in the east. They just couldn't get people to come down out of the hills to defend the coast.

  • ||

    "I caught Andy Griffith in A Face in the Crowd recently. Highly recommended."

    Done in 1957 and it's all about Obama. Mighty prescient.

  • ||

    Addendum:

    It's actually about Arthor Godfrey, but it fits Obama too.

  • Fascitis Necrotizante||

    And certainly Clinton. Seems to have his psychology down fairly precisely.

  • ||

    "And certainly Clinton. Seems to have his psychology down fairly precisely."


    But without the cool name. Was there ever a cooler name than "Lonesome Rhoades"?

  • Jimbo||

    Don't forget the episode "The Tape Recorder"

    Opie and his friend use a tape recorder to capture a robber's confession, and when they try to play it for Andy he emphatically tells them that there is no way he will listen to it.

    Good stuff.

    As for speeding tickets, don't forget the episode in which Barney gets a motorcycle and immediately sets up a speed trap on the edge of town (Checkpoint Chickie?).

    p.s. And I will drop everything to watch any episode with Ernest T. Bass in it.

  • alan||

    The barber that Floyd Lawson was base upon is still in business in Mt Airy, and has been since 1947. I went to the shop one day out of curiosity, I noticed a picture of Lou Ferrigno getting his hair cut, in a pose similar to the classic one of Arnold smoking a doobie. I would have killed to have been there that day.

  • robc||

    In this day and age, Otis would be in prison for life on a three strikes law.

    Apparently John doesnt follow the fark adventures of Henry Earl, Lexington KY's "Otis".

    More than 1000 arrests.

  • alan||

    p.s. And I will drop everything to watch any episode with Ernest T. Bass in it.

    Bass is tolerable in small doses. I really don't care for the dingy looking Darling family though the girl is cute. However, wasn't one of those slack jawed sons in the Darling Band played by Clarence White the late, great guitarist for the Byrds?

  • alan||

    Though the Andy Griffith show was not exactly a barometer of the advances in racial civil rights with the only black actors in the show I can recall being extras standing in line at an army recruitment station, let us not forget the prominent roll of Howard 'the confirmed bachelor' in the later years of the show. In fact, the 'confirmed bachelor' seems to me to have been a common trope of that era.

  • I am so into myself!||

    "p.s. And I will drop everything to watch any episode with Ernest T. Bass in it."

    Fuck Yeah!!! He comes with the Dillards.

  • Some Smartass||

    One other thing to point out about the show. It is one of the few shows in history that portrays small town southern whites as anything but raging racist monsters.

    No need to reiterate-we already said that the show was fiction.

  • alan||

    You are correct IASIM!, that was the Dillards playing the Darlings. The Kentucky Colonels, White's band, appeared twice according to Wikipedia in the Andy Griffith Show (any relation to Peter?).

  • twv||

    Small towns and rural communities are rarely overtly oppressive. But they often have constricted views of what qualifies as a rite of passage, "for the children."

    Where I grew up, there was only one socially acceptable means to achieve "public respect" as a growing lad: sports. Those who did not join a basketball or football team were largely ignored by adults, often contemptuously. This did some damage to some kids.

    But once you are old enough to support yourself through labor, there's not a lot of harassment for differences.

    Oddballs can thrive in small towns, and after a while the small-minded folk begin to count on the oddballs for entertainment, such as it is.

    Much like Mayberry, U.S.A.

  • Robert||

    But he was a victim of his own success. Once you create a truly iconic character, you are not believable playing anything else no matter how good you are.


    Are you talking about Matlock?


    No, I think his role in No Time for Sergeants.

  • Jeffrey T. Guterman||

    There might be a taken for granted assumption here that anarchy means "a society with no state at all." Without clearly defining the term, it is difficult to consider how Andy, in the Andy Griffith Show, might or might not have exemplified an archistic form of governing. Whether other agree or not, I think of anarchy as a state that operates when there is consent of individuals. Now, Andy had to answer to the county who answered to the state who answered to the federal government, the United States of America, a government that was not and is not an anarchy. So, the analogy here of thinking of Sheriif Andy Taylor as operating an Anarchy in Mayberry seems rather silly. He was simply a laid back Sherrif.

  • Jesse Walker||

    John T.: Any description of Mayberry that includes the phase "Much like the theorized and realized anarchist society and anarchistic societies in history" counts as contrarian in my book.

  • Jesse Walker||

    It's interesting, incidentally, that this thread would turn into great big bonfire of the strawmen. No one in the discussion is attacking Mayberry -- but if one of those darned "cosmotarians" showed up, I'm sure he would attack it, by gum!

  • Robert||

    Speaking of established characters, what's interesting is the way Don Knotts had to tone it down from the nut character he'd previously established, because nobody would've believed over an extended period a Barney who was quite that amped up.

  • ||

    My fave episode is the one where Opie kills the mamma bird outside his window.


    the cow-riding otis episode was good as well.

  • ||

    "It's interesting, incidentally, that this thread would turn into great big bonfire of the strawmen. No one in the discussion is attacking Mayberry -- but if one of those darned "cosmotarians" showed up, I'm sure he would attack it, by gum!"


    Not before I beat him up and took his lunch money.

  • Fred||

    In answer to the criticism of how he isn't "anarchist" because he answers to higher ups, there are a number of episodes where state and federal authorities try to tell him what to do and he eventually proves that his way is the right way.

    And while TAGS didn't deal with race issues, his later role in Matlock certainly did.

  • The Angry Optimist||

    that is mocked or disliked by some, like the liberaltarians, Will Wilkinson, and other urbane libertarians that find the dependence on family and community, however softly employed in Mayberry, to be oppressive even without formal government. The sort of left-libertarians who find a social democratic welfare state preferable and more conducive to freedom than having to be dependent on one's family.



    Oh Christ, did anybody actually say this, or do you just have a fictitious hobby-horse in your mind?

    As an "urbane libertarian" (ha ha to real cosmopolites out there), your "stereotype" is just as bigoted and misinformed as you claim "us" to be.

  • alan||

    My fave episode is the one where Opie kills the mamma bird outside his window.

    Funny you mention that episode. A former judge once told me that he gave a speach at a convention of social workers where he described a situation where a father punished his son in the same manner Andy punished Opie (without mentioning the source for his example) in that episode. He asked them if they should as social workers intervene, and alarming number of them raised their hand indicating they would.



  • ||

    "As an "urbane libertarian" (ha ha to real cosmopolites out there), your "stereotype" is just as bigoted and misinformed as you claim "us" to be."


    What exactly is an "urbane libertarian"?

  • ||

    Alan,

    I don't remember that episode. What was the punishment?

  • alan||

    bleh, curse my homonymal disabilities.

    Speach, speech, whatEVAH!

  • alan||

    The part I recall, Andy made Opie listen to the chirps of the chicklets begging for their mother to feed them. There was probably more to the punishment than that, but Chuck emphasized to me the social workers protested of the 'psychological abuse' of Andy's actions.

  • ||

    "I don't remember that episode. What was the punishment?"

    He was charged with raising the birds to maturity and he had to blow Gomer.

  • ||

    "The part I recall, Andy made Opie listen to the chirps of the chicklets begging for their mother to feed them"

    That too, but I'm pretty certain he also had to assume the role of bird parent.

  • ELF||

    "Chuck emphasized to me the social workers protested of the 'psychological abuse' of Andy's actions."

    The kid killed a bird. A living creature. With offspring no less. They should have burned down the Talor home.

  • ||

    Thanks Alan.

  • ||

    No Time For Seargants is excellent.

    Re AJ show I loved Otis's question in jail to other cellmates "Have you ever done any drinking in the eastern part of the state?"

    An excellent show where Southerners are portrayed more than not accurately.

  • ||

    I'm trying to picture Opie regurgitating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for his chicklets, but it's not coming to me.

  • ||

    Chuck emphasized to me the social workers protested of the 'psychological abuse' of Andy's actions.

    Considering the way Ron Howard turned out, they might have a point...

  • Mike Laursen||

    I'm so confused. I'm a cosmotarian, yet I love the Andy Griffith Show for the very reasons stated in the article.

  • ||

    "No Time For Seargants is excellent."

    It is. The scene with Don Knotts as the Air Force phsychiatrist is one of the funniest scenes in a movie ever!!

  • oat willie||

    Too many good posts to count, this thread is full of win.

  • ||

    "I'm so confused. I'm a cosmotarian, yet I love the Andy Griffith Show for the very reasons stated in the article."


    So am I truth be told. But it is just so much fun to kick around the self proclaimed cosmotarians on the Reason staff and among the posters on here, I just can't help myself sometimes.

  • Vomitorium||

    John,

    How does it feel to be named after the only room in the house where people go to poop and pee?

  • Jesse Walker||

    the self proclaimed cosmotarians on the Reason staff

    There are "self-proclaimed" cosmotarians on the Reason staff?

  • ||

    Oh Christ, did anybody actually say this, or do you just have a fictitious hobby-horse in your mind?



    I mentioned one by name. Will Wilkinson has several times on his blog indicated that in his view positive liberty should be an important consideration for libertarians, and that a welfare state can increase positive liberty by reducing one's dependency on family and community. He has repeatedly indicated that he feels that many fellow libertarians underestimate the coercive nature of familial and community ties, even if they are not formal government. He overall praises the idea of Social Security as removing the dependence upon family for support.

  • ||

    See for example Will on cultural freedom and community/cultural standards as a form of coercion.

  • ||

    Will deciding that he's no longer convinced about the differences between negative and positive liberty as he once was.

    Will on why Canadian positive liberties should be treated as a positive by libertarians.

    Will questioning the traditional libertarian definition of coercion. Or as he put it, "Bryan Caplan's summary of Chapter 2 of Murray Rothbard's classic For a New Liberty reminded me of one of the reasons I'm not that kind of libertarian." He argues that coercion via emotional manipulation by family/community is coercion as much as fraud.

  • ||

    Sheesh, TOS, I thought that the idea that left-libertarians generally accepted the modern liberal critique that coercion of family/community can be coercion and deprive one of liberty without government action was fairly well understood, even if not agreed with.

  • Jesse Walker||

    John T.: I think you're caricaturing Will. He has written that family and community ties can be coercive. He has not claimed that family and community ties are innately coercive, nor would I expect him to do so, given that he has lived in a small town in Iowa for the last two years or so and is engaged to be married. So I don't know how you'd justify your use of the phrase "however softly employed in Mayberry." I don't remember the episode where Sheriff Taylor shamed the unwed pregnant girl, or where he looked Opie in the eye and said, "You'd better stuff those wicked thoughts back down inside you and stay in the closet, son."

  • Brandon||

    How do those concerned about it propose family/community 'coercion' be alleviated? Not with government coercion, I hope.

    If my family and friends were suddenly all dead and gone I could imagine feeling a certain sense of liberation, and might find it easier to alter certain aspects of my lifestyle. But their being alive and my feeling restrained is not coercion. It's just a consequence of choosing to maintain relationships with these people. I retain the freedom to sever them.

  • ||

    I maintain superficial relationships with family members just in case I need bone marrow some day.

  • paleo||

    How does it feel to be named after the only room in the house where people go to poop and pee?

    It's OK to pee in the kitchen sink as long as you keep the faucet running for two seconds before and after.

  • ||

    Jesse Walker,

    Now you're just arguing on the basis of mere preferences. Surely once one admits Will's philosophical claims regarding coercion, one has to admit that another person out there who likes small town life less (certainly a description that matches many cosmopolitans, libertarian or no) would find even the moral suasion depicted in the Andy Griffith Show as coercion.

    To me, you get no free lunch by saying that moral suasion in the service of ideals and preferences you like is not coercion, whereas moral suasion in the service of ones you dislike is not. Because surely out there is someone who has different preferences, even if Will does not.

    Furthermore, as I noted, Mayberry is an idealized depiction of a small town. Many cosmopolitan types, again including libertarians especially those of the liberaltarian bent in my experience, would argue that the reality of a small town includes much more of Will's moral coercion. You really have never met those who claim that small towns are suffocating and coercive?

    So I certainly believe that out there there are those who agree with Will's arguments but who have slightly different preferences, and who would argue that even Mayberry has societal coercion, and that in reality small towns are even worse, and worse than large cities where one has the freedom to be anonymous as long as one pays her taxes.

    I would certainly expect some liberaltarians to agree with left-liberals that a social democratic welfare state funded out of taxes is more conducive to positive freedom overall, under Will's arguments and definitions, than a situation where all were dependent on their families, some of whom would be Andy Griffiths, some of whom would be Barney Fifes, and some of whom would be even worse, and the coercion that could bring.

  • SIV||

    Thacker FTW.Extra points for showing your work.

  • ||

    Fred, with all due respect, although Andy challenged higher-ups, he was not an anarchist and his little government in Mayberry was not an anarchy. Andy was being a patriot, laid back, backwards, or whatever you want to call it, but not anarchist.

  • ||

    I'm surprised in a libertarian thread about TAGS, no one has brought up the episode where Andy wants to use eminent domain to claim the property of a man to build a freeway, and the man is eventually caught moonshining thus resolving the issue.

    That episode appears to be a straight F on the libertarian report card.

    Aunt Bee the Crusader

  • Jesse Walker||

    Surely once one admits Will's philosophical claims regarding coercion, one has to admit that another person out there who likes small town life less (certainly a description that matches many cosmopolitans, libertarian or no) would find even the moral suasion depicted in the Andy Griffith Show as coercion.

    To me, you get no free lunch by saying that moral suasion in the service of ideals and preferences you like is not coercion, whereas moral suasion in the service of ones you dislike is not. Because surely out there is someone who has different preferences, even if Will does not.


    First of all, you just moved the goalposts halfway down the field. You originally wrote that "the liberaltarians, Will Wilkinson, and other urbane libertarians...find the dependence on family and community, however softly employed in Mayberry, to be oppressive even without formal government." Later, when someone asked you if anyone had actually said this, you gave Will Wilkinson as your sole example. So you don't get to switch to "another person out there who likes small town life less." Will was your example of someone who opposed even the moral suasion "softly employed in Mayberry." If he doesn't fit the bill, you need to back up and agree that I was right when I said you were caricaturing him.

    Second, you don't get to compress all forms of nonviolent suasion together. The phrase "moral suasion" doesn't appear in the Wilkinson posts that you linked to. The phrases that do appear include "emotional blackmail" and "ferocious social ostracism." Obviously there's a sliding scale here, from physical violence to harsh social pressure to gentler persuasion. As Will put it in one of the posts you linked, coercion is "an extreme among the various forms of psychological manipulation to produce conformity."

    Whatever else might be said about the softer means of manipulation on display in The Andy Griffith Show, they are not "extreme" and, therefore, do not meet Will's definition of "coercion." If someone else draws the line separating coercion from other sorts of pressure at a different point along that scale than Will does, he is, by definition, not making the same "philosophical claims regarding coercion."

    Furthermore, as I noted, Mayberry is an idealized depiction of a small town. Many cosmopolitan types, again including libertarians especially those of the liberaltarian bent in my experience, would argue that the reality of a small town includes much more of Will's moral coercion. You really have never met those who claim that small towns are suffocating and coercive?

    Of course I have. And some of them are libertarians of one sort or another. Hell, the Stirnerist writer Sid Parker -- I haven't met him, but I've read him -- has even argued that "society" is more oppressive than the state.

    But you haven't backed up your claims about Will, let alone your more sweeping statement about "liberaltarians and other urbane libertarians." Instead you've engaged in vague, Shannon Love-style generalizations. You're usually pretty good about backing up your claims with data. I invite you to either provide the data or revise the claims.

  • Jesse Walker||

    Interesting counterexample, Voros. Perhaps even more interesting is that the episode you mention (which I haven't seen) was written by Joss Whedon's grandfather.

  • Mike Laursen||

    There are "self-proclaimed" cosmotarians on the Reason staff?

    So, what are the rules for a valid self-proclamation, anyway? If you've already been declared an X by others, is it too late to self-proclaim that you're an X?

  • Mike Laursen||

    ...a welfare state can increase positive liberty by reducing one's dependency on family and community

    That's just a factual truth. There are certainly individual cases where the welfare state has gotten someone out of a heavily coercive family or community situation. Acknowledging that fact isn't tantamount to advocating a welfare state or thinking that a welfare state isn't fraught with problems of its own.

  • robc||

    Perhaps even more interesting is that the episode you mention (which I haven't seen) was written by Joss Whedon's grandfather.

    Im a fan of most of Joss's work, and no, that isnt even remotely more interesting.

  • robc||

    Mike,

    That's just a factual truth. There are certainly individual cases where the welfare state has gotten someone out of a heavily coercive family or community situation.

  • robc||

    Trying again.

    That isnt so. Switching from a heavily coercive family or community situation to a heavily coercisive welfare state situation isnt an "increase in positive liberty". At best, you can say that in some cases the welfare state doesnt make things worse.

  • Mike Laursen||

    robc, I don't think you followed my statement. I wasn't talking about the aggregate effect. I was talking about the effect of the welfare state in particular, individual cases -- it would be intellectually dishonest to deny that some people aren't better off because of welfare.

  • robc||

    Mike,

    No, you werent talking about the welfare state in particular, individual cases, you were talking about welfare state vs heavily coercive family/community. I dont see how replacing one heavily coercive group with another heavily coercive group can ever be a positive. Neutral at best (and or course, negative in many cases).

  • TWV||

    By the way, the last Andy Griffith Show episode I watched (or, half-watched -- I was reading Francis Amasa Walker's POLITICAL ECONOMY at the same time) had Andy orchestrate an elaborate fraud to get the town band out on a field trip.

    It was funny, but corrosive of standards of excellence, prioritizing an outing for the bumpkins over quality of music or even civic pride.

    Andy did not seem so much a heroic libertarian as a Trickster figure, like Coyote or Loki.

    That is, not an anarchist but an anarch.

  • Mike Laursen||

    No, you werent talking about the welfare state in particular, individual cases, you were talking about welfare state vs heavily coercive family/community.

    If you say so, but you may want to re-read what I wrote. I even used the phrase, "individual cases".

  • wayne||

    "I'm a cosmotarian..."

    OK, all you cosmotarians out there, please explain to me what a cosmotarian is? Seriously, I have no clue.

  • wayne||

    I guess I should have just looked it up... duh!

    I have always thought this was, more or less, the standard definition of Libertaria: socially liberal, fiscally conservative. Absolute freedom, absolute responsibility.

    A cosmopolitan libertarian; a libertarian who holds socially liberal personal opinions about abortion, homosexuality, race, and other social issues. Compare to paleotarian.

    The Libertarian candidate assured the cosmotarians in the audience that she would continue to protect abortion rights even though she opposed public funding of abortions.

  • Mike Laursen||

    "Cosmotarian" has a fuzzy definition. It's use often reveals more about the person labeling somebody else as a cosmotarian than the person being labeled.

  • robc||

    I even used the phrase, "individual cases".

    Yes, but those "individual cases" are still moving from a heavily coercive environment to a welfare state heavily coercive environment.

    No net change.

    I dont think you get the point Im making, it was what you were responding to...not that the welfare state doesnt help an individual in some specific case, but it doesnt lead to an increase in "positive liberty", which was the point of the quote you responded to.

  • robc||

    the standard definition of Libertaria: socially liberal, fiscally conservative

    Fuck that. As Ive said many times before, I am socially libertarian (which isnt even remotely the same as socially liberal) and fiscally libertarian (which isnt even remotely the same as fiscally conservative).

    The "standard" definition is wrong.

  • Sean W. Malone||

    robc,

    You don't see a fundamental difference in coercion absent the threat of physical force and the coercion of the state which is backed by police powers & jail?

  • ||

    And then here we have Will Wilkinson attacking libertarian arguments for decentralized government:

    Just as Republican "libertarian" arguments for decentralized government often aim to protect the tyranny of local prejudice, Democratic "egalitarian" arguments about inequalities in wealth and income too often aim at concentrating political power in the hands of people like Brian Deese.



    I can't see how I can read the argument that decentralizing power to local government aims to protect the tyranny of local prejudice any other way than a contrast to the benign portrayal of localism in the Andy Griffith show. Sure, Will may like the Mayberry as portrayed, but he, as a cosmopolitan libertarian, argues that reality is quite different.

  • ||

    I can't say that I'm very familiar with either the A-Team or the Andy Griffith show (though I have enjoyed a few episodes). However, there is a show that I am currently watching, which is in its 11th year, that carries a very strong anarchistic tone: the anime series One Piece.

    I've been a fan of anime for a while and check out new and old series now and again. A while ago I came across One Piece, a show centered around a 'rubber man', Monkey D. Luffy, who--with the support of his ever increasing band of equally extraordinary crew mates--strives to become the Pirate King.

    When I first started watching the show, it was a little to 'immature' for my tastes, but its popularity in anime circles motivated me to continue watching. Now, I can thoroughly say that this is one of my favorite shows.

    As the series progresses, the bond between Luffy and each new member grows exponentially; one gets a true sense of camaraderie within the group. The characteristics that define the strong relationships within the crew also define what makes this such a great example of anarchistic theater.

    Initially, this show's anarchistic lean comes solely from the theme of the show: piracy. Of course any pirate is going to be against government agencies, living a life free of oppression and responsibilities on the open seas.

    But this show offers much more than the typical pirate fare of a pre-teen show. Unlike the GI Joe's or Transformers from my generation (I'm 26), good and bad guys are not identified by their affiliations. You'll meet pirates, marines (essentially navymen who try to rid the world of pirates), and ordinary citizens who are good, bad, and anywhere in between. There are even pirates that work WITH the government!

    Throughout the series, Luffy's crew quickly and easily befriend new characters, offering to help anyone in need, but consistently recognizing the importance of individual responsibility. Their meddling often leads to their most dangerous encounters, but brings to light the extent to which these characters would go to protect their comrades and their ideals.

    For anyone interested in anime, I highly suggest this series. The relationships are strong and genuine, the story arcs are detailed and exciting, and the somewhat dated animation evolves and grows on you.

    For those looking for a fresh take on a classically anarchistic theme, you will not be disappointed.

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Progressive Puritans: From e-cigs to sex classifieds, the once transgressive left wants to criminalize fun.
  • Port Authoritarians: Chris Christie’s Bridgegate scandal
  • The Menace of Secret Government: Obama’s proposed intelligence reforms don’t safeguard civil liberties

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement