Libertarian History/Philosophy

Is True Detective the Most Libertarian Show on TV?

The corruption on display is bigger than Frank, Cesere, Velcoro, or any single individual and is thus uncontainable.



I have no idea where the plot of True Detective is headed—or even what it's about so far. But I like what I see, as I explain in a new Daily Beast column:

Is there any TV show more flat-out libertarian than Season Two of True Detective? For that matter, is there any TV network airing more flat-out libertarian agitprop than HBO? There you find hour after hour of spectacular, balls-out displays of the inherent incompetence, greed, and corruption of government—especially when it joins forces with crony capitalists.

Don't get me wrong. Like many—probably most—fans of True Detective, I admit that I've got no real understanding of the plot so far. Yes, I'm interested in finding out exactly who burned out the eyes of crooked city manager and sex fiend Ben Caspere. But as a professional libertarian (gag), I'm mostly just digging the general atmospherics, which are as thick with government pollution as they are with SoCal smog.

I also have kind words for The Brink, which shares Sunday nights with True Detective and is the foreign-policy equivalent of Veep.

It's wrong to suggest that popular culture dictates or even heavily influences popular opinion rather than reflects it. In this, it's a lot like politics—it's not something that is imposed on us but rather emanates from us. You don't need to go full Hegel to realize that times change and attitudes with them. Never in lockstep or unanimously, of course, but surely it's no coincidence that after decades of major fuck-ups and dissemblings by politicians (from Vietnam to Watergate to the Church Commission to Iran-Contra to the Clinton impeachment to WMDs and torture to the Snowden revelations), trust in government is not so high. And that our popular art forms would and should be exploring what that all means.

If Sunday nights on HBO have become skeptical of centralized power, especially political power, and attempts to control people's lives and property, well, that's because we're in something of a libertarian moment (hell, even John Oliver is ragging on stadium deals, like the past 45 years of Reason magazine).

And in a world where leading Democrats such as Hillary Clinton want to strangle the sharing economy, keep fighting the drug war, and bring Edward Snowden to trial, and Republicans such as Donald Trump want to build walls on the Southern border, force employers to adopt intrusive worker-certification programs, and drop yet more bombs overseas, you don't have to be Vince Vaughn to want join the conversation about just how far you trust the government to do what's right.

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