Is it hopelessly populist of me to say that I think we could use a lot more of this — defiant, lawbreaking moonshine-makers — and a lot fewer regulators and central economic planners?
And don’t get me wrong — I’m not knocking material prosperity when I praise this guy’s backwoods lifestyle. On the contrary, I think his attitude does more to increase wealth than does the bean-counting of the regulators, and that’s a good thing. In addition, though, as Brian Doherty once observed, having a population full of ornery drunks, as America did to a much greater extent two centuries ago than it does today, may be the easiest route to keeping us ungovernable and thus free.
To get back to economic prosperity for a moment, though: I often wonder how much freer we’d be today if not for the unfortunate fact that the creative types got it into their heads sometime around the early twentieth century that material wealth is at odds with, rather than conducive to, creativity and intellectual activity.
I notice that the episodic play Penny Dreadful, which ends this coming weekend, appears to borrow from the Grant Morrison comic book The Invisibles the idea that the flapper vibe of the early twentieth century is tied via time travel and a sense of imminent cultural transformation to the year 2012, which some of the mystics, hippies, and apocalyptics of our day have decided to treat as the next epochal turning point (per ancient Mayan propechy, blah blah blah).
Mystical nonsense aside, though, economic optimism tends to encourage not just money-making but other beneficial forms of culture-making as well. (Does anyone really think the current financial climate is as conducive to optimism and creativity as, say, the end of the Cold War or the days of the dotcom boom?)
So, if you want to put a spring in your step, poets, abolish the Fed (source of our boom-and-bust business cycles), privatize currency production, deregulate, un-tax, shut down the government leaving only a residuum of privately-enforced property law, and watch the human race and its arts flourish like never before.
That may sound as nutty as the propechies of a flapper-era spiritualist to some, but tough — my patience has run out, and I’m no longer interested in any philosophy’s gradualist half-measures leading nowhere.