Age & Guile Beat Youth, Innocence, & a Bad Haircut

Throughout our own lives, we commit what we understand later to be required mistakes, in order to advance in wisdom, grace, and empathy. People should have the liberty to be potentially foolish, for without that, there can be no incentives from which to learn and to grow. While experience is truly the best teacher, the scars incurred can be used to shorten the learning curve for others.



People who are without any sense of direction also exhibit a sort of powerlessness over their own lives. So they turn to such things like shallow fashion trends, loud screeching music, and linguistically twisted terminology in the aimless pursuit of self-identity. All the ’60s ever did was demonstrate what happened when you combined government oppression with spoiled brats, which is to say, a cacophony of utter hell.

I particularly enjoyed the author’s speech at the opening of the Cato Institute’s new headquarters in the District of Criminals back in 1993. He jokes that libertarians believe in nothing, other than non-harmful laissez-faire behavior:


“This is because we believe in freedom. Freedom – what this country was established upon, what the Constitution was written to defend, what the Civil War was fought to perfect.”


Is this freedom compatible with the existence of the State? O’Rourke comments:


“You know, if government were a product, selling it would be illegal. Government is a health hazard. Governments have killed many more people than cigarettes or unbuckled seat belts ever have. Government contains impure ingredients – as anybody who’s looked at Congress can tell you.”


If that is the case, then what is the point of having a freedom-oriented think tank? O’Rourke explicates this beautifully by stating:


“So we are here tonight in a kind of antimatter protest – an unpolitical undemonstration by deeply uncommitted inactivists. We are part of a huge invisible picket line that circles the White House twenty-four hours a day. We are participants in an enormous nonmarch on Washington – millions and millions of Americans not descending upon the nation’s capital in order to demand nothing from the United States government. To demand nothing, that is, except the one thing which no government in history has been able to do – leave us alone.”


I couldn’t have said it any better stylistically reminiscent of the Discordian tradition.

Even his article addressed to idealistic young folks about the “virtues” of the Republican Party was laced with “anti-government” rhetorical satire. P.J. explains:


“I spit on domination and control. And the greater the power, the more my abomination. Which brings me to the subject of government. Great, hulking, greasy, obese, gobbling, omnivorous, ever-aggrandizing, fat-witted government – I am not its friend. In Washington, the Republicans are (in their wing-tip-hobbled, suspender-entangled, Old Spice-befogged way) trying to destroy big government. The Republicans I like. The destruction I adore.”


Admittedly, O’Rourke is a Republican Party partisan, but at least he’s openly enthusiastic about it, all the while not sanctioning corporatism. Having read several of his previous books, I think he probably understands The Left-Right Paradigm even better than I do; unfortunately, his (phony?) support for a faction of the Establishment might confuse people who aren’t knowledgeable enough about our current situation in order to appreciate his humour, which I think he was trying to tell about in his own way. At least he tries to make up for it when he says:


“Think of what big governments have gotten up to in this century: not one but two world wars, the gulag, the holocaust, aerial bombing of civilian population centers, the Berlin Wall, nuclear explosions, the post office. A wicked individual might want these, but he wouldn’t have the cash or connections to get them. A villainous corporation could afford them but has to market the products. The Vietnam draft would be a tough sell for even the most fiendish businessman. ‘Get shot! Get killed! Get diseases from foreign women who despise you in their hearts!’ And never mind the thirty-two cent postage stamp.”


Have you read political satire this thick anytime recently?

P.J. O’Rourke’s Age and Guile Beat Youth, Innocence, and a Bad Haircut is a great tome that demonstrates the natural maturation of who is probably the most renowned libertarian satirist of our time. Perhaps it was best that P.J. originally started out as a quasi-socialistic hippie drugged out of his mind; but then again, who knows? Maybe Adam Kokesh was right that smoking DMT is libertarian.

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