Jim Pinkerton reviews Nick Gillespie and Matt Welch’s new book, The Declaration of Independents in the new issue of TAC (not yet online), and he finds that their thesis relies heavily on exuberant optimism:
But in their pell-mell urgency to declare that this is “the libertarian moment,” the authors have no time to slow down for subtlety—they have an entire theory of optimistic history to cram into less than 250 pages. Expounding what might be called neo-Whiggism, as an homage to Herbert Butterfield’s 1931 Whig Interpretation of History, Gillespie and Welch unspool a cheery survey of human history inexorably chugging toward Liberty Station: “there is a learning curve here, one that human beings have been struggling with for 40 years, 400 years, 4000 years.” and the result of all this progress will be a “futuretastic world of nearly infinite individual choice, specialization, and autonomy”—but, of course, we first must get the government out of the way.
It is probably one of the most enduring flaws in this optimistic vision that its adherents believe that people desire “nearly infinite individual choice, specialization, and autonomy.” For the most part, human beings have created and organized their cultures along entirely different lines, because maximizing choice and autonomy is not what encourages human flourishing.
Update: Pinkerton’s review is online.