REASON Profile: Alan Reynolds


As resident libertarian on the editorial staff of NATIONAL REVIEW, Alan Reynolds admits he's in a ticklish position, but he feels that it's easier to convert (or subvert) an existing establishment than to start from scratch. "I think libertarians need to become less concerned with subtle refinements of doctrine, and reassuring exercises in breast-beating, and more concerned with strategy. Specifically, we must take the offensive in gaining access to media and campus forums. We must constantly be on guard against reducing thought processes to a recitation of slogans, and must retain the humility and tolerance necessary to open communication. Anyone who wants to dismantle or decentralize any aspect of government should be welcomed as a provisional ally and potential convert."

Thirty-one year old Reynolds first became exposed to free-market thought in his late teens: as a student at Santa Monica College it was his policy to seek books that contradicted assigned texts and so he finally stumbled upon authors such as Hayek, Eastman and Hazlitt. Later, at U.C.L.A. (where he worked his way through school by living above the California Animal Hospital and singing with a rock band) he was deeply influenced toward a "Chicago School" viewpoint by Sam Peltzman and Karl Brunner. He married his senior year and had two children "to avoid the draft"—his anger at conscription resulted in a brief polemic which was later revised for Society for Individual Liberty's COMMENTARY ON LIBERTY in 1970.

From 1965 to 1970 his interest in libertarian ideology lay dormant while he pursued a management career with J.C. Penney Co. in Sacramento and continued his studies at Sacramento State College. His first major article was published in REASON [July 1971] and his second, "The Case Against Wage and Price Controls," was a cover feature for NATIONAL REVIEW—these led to his being hired as Bill Buckley's assistant and NATIONAL REVIEW's associate editor in charge of economics. He has also written for THE ALTERNATIVE, THE NEW GUARD, and THE NEW YORK TIMES, and his article attacking McGovern's arithmetic was listed by TIME as among the "outstanding journalistic contributions" of the 1972 presidential campaign.