“College: Incubator of the Nanny State” – A Discussion with Nick Gillespie of Reason

Back when he was promoting his book, The Declaration of Independents: How Libertarian Politics Can Fix What’s Wrong With America, Nick Gillespie, Editor in Chief of Reason.TV and Reason.com, sat down for an interview with me. He discussed the state of Free Speech on campus and how the current collegiate climate–instead of preparing students to become critically thinking adults–has become the “incubator of the nanny state.”

It’s to the eternal shame, I think, of higher education in America that it no longer celebrates itself as a place where anything can happen, anything can be discussed, anything can be taught.  And instead, it’s all about a kind of rigid and grim enforcement of the status quo or of superior knowledge that extends to how people should live and how people should think. 

  1. Crow

    Greg: Thanks for posting this, and FIRE is doing important work.

    A quick comment on Gillespie’s thoughts: while I think his view of the 60′s generation of the professoriate is a bit too romantic, he is quite right to note the way that over the past few generations the university has become more hostile to open inquiry.

    But what’s particularly revealing about the level of understanding Gillespie has of the problem occurs about 2:30 in when, after correctly noting the decline of free inquiry and the change taking place, he confesses (I paraphrase): “I don’t know why that happened.”

    Gillespie doesn’t know why that happened because, I suggest, he’s unaware of the crisis of modern liberalism more generally (I use the term liberalism here to denote the entire tradition from, say, Hobbes to Rawls, of which libertarianism itself is a part), or, at the very least, he only grasps part of it.

    It’s the same reason that he thinks that merely the ideas of Friedman and Hayek (who are important) are sufficient solutions to that crisis.

    Because he fails to correctly diagnose the disease, he proscribes a weak treatment.