Virginia Postrel Discusses Modern Libertarianism

The former Reason magazine editor at Atlantic writer discusses the Libertarian ethos.
  • Transcript


Question: What are you best known for?

Transcript:Well for me, one of the things that’s best known about me is that I spent 10 years of my life as the editor of Reason magazine,which is the leading libertarian magazine. And there’s sort of two ways to be a libertarian. There’s sort of . . . One is to be always looking for how shocking you can be, and how sort of outré and different you can be. And there are a lot of people that really enjoy that. That’s not me. I have friends who are like that and they’re great people, brilliant and principled, but that’s not me. My way of saying, you know, taking this somewhat out of the mainstream political philosophy, although it’s well within the sort of mainstream of western liberal thought, is to say how can we start from where we are and move forward? I’m an incrementalist, sort of a reformist rather than a revolutionary. And I also want to communicate to people starting from the values that they hold and say, to me it’s not about syllogism. It’s about sort of making a better world. And I think we generally agree on what is the better world. We just disagree on maybe how to get there. So that’s part of it, and a lot of it has to do with mainstream. I was also . . . Before I was at Reason, I was a mainstream . . . I was a member of the mainstream media. I was a reporter at the Wall Street Journal and a writer for Inc. magazine. I was a business journalist, and I brought the tools that you learn in that realm about story telling, and reporting, and being factually accurate, and all those sorts of things into the world of opinion journalism. And didn’t say like there’s a different standard for opinion journalism. So that’s another way that being sort of mainstream, but also different, has been a big part of my life. And I’m a divergent . . . how can I put this? I think differently from other people. That’s my sort of competitive advantage I guess as a writer. I don’t quite understand it. To me the things that I see are, if not obvious, they are certainly things that, after I’ve thought about them for a while, they’re obvious; but people find them interesting. So that’s good for me.