Just For One Day


New at Reason: As I have the Reason "Sexiest Man Alive" competition pretty much locked up, our 35th Anniversary issue dazzles you with 35 people who have helped make the world a freer, more dynamic or just goofier place. Reason's 35 Heroes of Freedom—gotta catch 'em all!

NEXT: Talking Heads

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  1. Hooray for Jane Jacobs!

    Havel, but not Lech Walesa? How bobo of you – don’t want those thick necked brutes knocking over lamps.

    Goldwater “bridged the tradition of Western individualism with the then-barely-glimpsed future of Sunbelt anti-governmentism” and made sure to do so in a way that went down smooth for southern “traditionalists.”

    Clarence Thomas, whose federalist strict constructionism would let Texas kick in people’s doors for being gay. Combined with Goldwater, it might be time to recalibrate the Freedom-meter.

  2. I like the list as a whole though Clarence Thomas is a bit dodgy — while there are many usual suspects who should be on the list like Nelson Mandela, Havel — thanks for including Old Bull Lee (william burroughs) he started me on my libertarian path when I read Naked Lunch when I was 14 — haven’t been the same since 😉

  3. Would have like to see Tim Leary or better yet Ken Kesey on there. I’m sure they didn’t always vote the same way as me, but they definitely made the world a groovier place.

  4. Kudos on including Evan Williams — very wise.
    Kudos for including Barry Goldwater — very respectful.
    Kudos for including Maggie Thatcher — very classy.

    Boo for not including Ronald Reagan — very forgetful (you know, that whole demise of the USSR, etc).

    Boo for including Madonna and Dennis Rodman — very lame. VERY lame.

  5. Kudos for including Madonna and Rodman, thereby tweaking the social conservatives big-time.

  6. Kudos for including Madonna and Rodman, thereby tweaking the social conservatives big-time.

    Muhamed Ali may have been a better choice considering Rodman didn’t even stay the full 15 minutes before disappearing — hurrah for Madonna though her music sucks I agree with her inclusion…

  7. Where is Eric Blair aka George Orwell?

  8. Good list, but Madonna’s got to go. You’re not a friend of freedom merely because you made crappy, highly sexualized music videos more acceptable. Sometimes smashing cultural norms is not a good thing.

  9. Orwell had been dead for almost 20 years in 1968.

    And while Nelson Mandela is a nice choice, it also would have been nice to acknowledge that his recent career has not been too friendly to freedom.

    Clarence Thomas is a provocative choice, but I kinda like it. He’s turning out to be the libertarianish conservative that I thought Scalia would have been.

  10. rodman, navratilova, flynt, madonna? come on.

    I know he’s not really popular around these parts but Murray Rothbard should have been on there.

  11. and ludwig von mises lived until 1973…so i guess he could qualify as well

  12. I believe the Tiananmen square guy didn’t die, so he isn’t really a martyr. I prefer the term “holder of gigantic titanium balls”.

  13. No, matt — libertarianism should be about culture and commerce and real people going about their lives, not just politics.

  14. Libertarians will never get a smidge of credibility in the mainstream until we stop deifying every wingnut who goes against the moral grain.

    Opposition to government imposed moral standards shouldn’t necessarily become an endorsement of the behaviour that contradicts said standards. Just because it shouldn’t be illegal doesn’t mean that it should be applauded.

    That’s why libertarians are so easily dimissed as a bunch nuts who want more pot, porn and prostitution, when really all we want is more liberty.

  15. As a matter of fact I DO want more pot, porn and prostitution. You got a problem with that?

  16. Russ-

    I’ll agree that we should try to avoid putting druids and smurfs front-and-center on the LP ticket, and maybe a certain writer at Reason should put a little less emphasis on drugs.


    Social tolerance and cultural liberalism is one of the things that distinguishes libertarians from hard-core conservatives. No taxes and no gun control, but also a laissez-faire attitude toward culture. That cultural attitude attracts some people (e.g. me) who would otherwise view libertarians as just a bunch of right-wingers.

    I guess the key is to emphasize the fact that we’re tolerant rather than some of the things we tolerate. But balance, as is always the case, is a tricky thing in life. (Sigh)

  17. Why don’t you do a sexiest dead people one… Marginalizing the passed-on is typical coming from such a “freedom loving” magazine as Reason.com

  18. the article says about Heinlein: “The author of compelling science fiction with individualist themes was the entry point for millions of readers into rabid, late-night arguments about rights, responsibilities, the state, and really alternative sexual practices. If you don?t grok Starship Troopers, Stranger in a Strange Land, The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, and Time Enough for Love, you just plain can?t grok anything.”

    Yeah. Sci-fi, and especially Heinlein, recued me from arch-conservative, religious wacko parents, and did so at an early age.

    You can have my “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress” when you pry it….

  19. Nelson Mandela was a terrorist before he was imprisoned and afterward became the president of a country teetering between fascism and communism and did nothing about it. The end of apartheid replaced white fascism with black communism. Whoopie.

    Madonna’s no hero of freedom, she just became popular because she did what any unattractive woman with no talent did: sold her body. Well so what? Is J-Lo to be included in the next 35 years because of the green dress with no front?

    If John Ashcroft and Tricky Dick make it for inadvertently starting a freedom movement, Mikhail Gorbachev absolutely should make it for glasnost and perestroika, which opened up the Soviet Union so much that it couldn’t be closed again.

    And “To get rich is glorious” Deng Xiaoping didn’t make the list after beginning reforms that are and will include a fourth of the world’s population in global capitalism?

    – Josh

  20. joe,

    The federal government isn’t supposed to “let” the states do anything–any more than it “lets” England or France exercise certain powers. Delegation of powers works in the other direction. Aside from those powers they have delegated to the federal government, the states are as independent of the U.S. government as is England or France.

    So whatever benighted policies the state of Texas carries out are something to shake your head and cluck over, the same way you would the policies of any other backward sovereignty you can’t do anything about.

  21. Gene Roddenberry
    Jerry Brown
    Werner von Braun
    Jerry Garcia and company
    The guy who set up the SAT

  22. Fine, Kevin, declare Thomas one of your “35 Heroes of Federalism.” Then again, maybe we should look at the California cannibus growers’ cases.

    This list is about freedom. If Clarence Thomas had his way, more people would be in steel, plexiglass, and concrete tombs, for the “crime” of being gay.

  23. Does Madonna get to be an “important cultural force” for making the best deals while selling something Utterly derivative? It seems odd that the “lite” version of anything should make a list.

  24. I gotta second Rick. How can you include Goldwater, who achieved exactly nothing but inspired a movement, but not include the man who actually achieved things at that movement’s head?

    And I am horribly embarrassed that I misspelled cannabis.

  25. What about me?

  26. The most important Goldwater/Reagan distinction, I think, is this: the former never became president, and thus never got a chance to disappoint us by failing to put all that limited-government rhetoric into practice. Goldwater was also much more of a civil libertarian than Reagan — who, you may recall, declared war on drugs. (Though if that’s your standard, Thatcher doesn’t belong on the list either.) (And maybe she doesn’t.)

  27. as little as i like madonna’s music – which is somewhere between abba and the beatles on my suck-o-meter – she was most certainly an important cultural force.

    cultural mavericks are *much* more important than political crusaders in the u.s., because the cultural changes they help bring about affect so many more people than the republocratic mess we have in d.c. and those are changes which cannot be put back into the bottle, for better or for worse, and i for one welcome anything which helps annihilate traditional understandings of what constitutes “family values.”

    let’s get it eschaton!

  28. Gotta have Reagan on the list. The fruition of his life long pursuit of communism’s demise was, at minimum, hastened by that pursuit. See: “Reagan’s War”. Also, to go along with Reagan, we should have George Lukas. He projected the story line of the heroic struggle against centralized power into the Sci-Fi film genre. His “Evil Empire” was reflected back from real politic when Reagan used the term as a moniker to tag the Soviet Union and then art bounced the theme back, yet again, when Lukas returned the favor with the scene of the Empire statue being pulled down at the end of, “Return of the Jedi”, in the manner of the famous toppling of Lenin’s statue.

  29. What about Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak? The Apple computer got the personal computer revolution going for the multitudes and led to so many groovy choices, including blogs!

    And we should have Justin Raimondo. His Antiwar.com educates hundreds of thousands about the ongoing tragedies of a hyper-interventionist foreign policy . It is the most frequented libertarian site on the web.

  30. Errr…George *Lucas*

  31. Oh, yeah, we’ve got plenty of objections and suggestions (many pretty similar to what’s been posted here) that we’ll be running in the March ish. And FWIW, I think it helps to think of the list as a variety-pack sampler, not necessarily a “top-35” list. We could’ve easily enough filled the 35 with economists, political theorists, and movement figures (e.g. Mises, Nozick, Crane/Boaz, to pick some obvious ones) but I think it probably would’ve been less interesting. Though, BaBar, I think I did suggest Tim Learyn when we were mulling over these.

  32. Murray Rothbard, Ludwig von Mises, and Robert Nozick are all easily in the top ten advocates of libertarian ideas who were alive post 1968 and none of them managed to make a list with 35 people on it; that’s a damn shame.

  33. madonna gets to be a cultural force for (being one of many) forcing more explicit sexuality into the market, which has translated into weaker social and religious influence in the realm of personal sexuality. no more, no less. many more people have been affected by madonna’s rack than rand’s flights of fancy or thatcher’s policies, obviously.

  34. Murray Rothbard, Ludwig von Mises, and Robert Nozick are all easily in the top ten advocates of libertarian ideas who were alive post 1968 and none of them managed to make a list with 35 people on it; that’s a damn shame.

    Julian said this already, but it bears repeating: It’s not the top 35 heroes of freedom. A list filled with usual suspects would be pretty boring.

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