Why would Libertarians attack Michael Pollan?

There are things I like and things I don't like about Michael Pollan's influential books. On balance, I think there is more to like about them than not. But I certainly don't see Michael Pollan as anti-Libertarian. In fact, I find his writing sympathetic toward Libertarian views. He advocates individuals to make better food choices. And he sees government regulation as a key problem with our food system, not a solution.

Anyway, it just surprised me to see the title "Libertarians Attack Michael Pollan." After reading the article, which is good, I wondered if its title may be a little misleading. It's not so hard to see why a hyperbolic farmer might be a little unhappy with Pollan's writings. While I'm no Libertarian, I also kind of wonder whether most would identify with today's American Enterprise Institute.


  1. This is a nice example of how difficult it is to define "libertarianism". On first glance, Hurst's desire to be left alone to farm as he pleases seems very libertarian. Upon further review, however, a sentence from his conclusion gives away his true motives:

    "But farmers have reasons for their actions, and society should listen to them as we embark upon this reappraisal of our agricultural system." (emphasis added)

    This is more than a desire to be left alone - in fact, I read this as a call to suppress my liberty to speak about farming. Certainly the rest of Hurst's rant sounds that way. Joe Banker and all his city-friends don't know jack about agriculture just because they read Michael Pollan, and they shouldn't be talking to others about what they've read or farmers in general. (Look at the final two sentences of the introduction)

    True libertarianism seeks to expand everyone's liberty, not the liberty of one individual or group at the expense of another. Many people who are associated with modern libertarianism have strayed from these goals, and this is one of the main reasons I try to resist the label despite its strong correlation with my beliefs.

    Found this blog recently and I very much enjoy it - keep up the good work!


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