I’ve just finished P. J. O’Rourke’s How The Hell Did This Happen?
The ‘this’ of the title being either that dyed-in-the-wool Libertarian Republican, O’Rourke, voted for Hillary Clinton, or that
Donald Trump is now President—take your pick. It’s an entertaining read—O’Rourke really knows how to put the boot in, and there’s a plethora of lack lustre 2016 Presidential candidates at whom to take aim. In the midst of all the abuse though I couldn’t help but wince every now and then at the insults he levels at Clinton. Whilst all the attacks are deeply personal, for example Chris Christie’s ample waistline gets a good fatty-boombah bollocking, there is a distinct distaste for women
(particularly old women) behind just about everything he says about Hillary. Perhaps, it’s just that there’s only one of her, as is often the case in politics, so the female-specific abuse isn’t diluted by being directed at a stack of candidates. The other thing I am eternally bewildered by is the ‘Libertarian’ stance. O’Rourke’s solution to the ‘elites’ and ‘big government’—the idealised ‘individual’, who would never take part in a populist mob, who understands the value of individual dignity, individual freedom and individual responsibility, seems about as pie-in-the-sky ‘hippie’ claptrap as Bernie Sanders’ old-fashioned 60s socialism O’Rourke so mercilessly mocks. And in spruiking it, O’Rourke comes across as elite as his elite readers (all book readers are of the elite these days). As I was puzzling over this I stumbled across Mark Greif’s collection of essays, Against Everything
, and found his essay, Gut-Level Legislation, or, Redistribution
a very interesting discussion of how to bridge the obscene poverty/absurd wealth divide. It’s a libertarian socialism I could happily participate in. Winton