by William Irwin
No matter where you fall on the political spectrum, you’ve probably questioned the government at some point. But for Don, the protagonist of the story, questioning is his life.
It all starts with a soda. Don, after being denied a sixty-four-ounce soda due to recent government regulations, begins a journey that starts on a blog page and ends with a dramatic assassination. As tension builds within Don’s community, we see a political revolution begin to emerge highlighted by the reality that most revolutions begin on a small scale. And blossom from the inside of a small local diner. From there the story simmers, heats up, and bubbles over the edge, spilling ramifications everywhere.
Not your typical character-driven plot, this is a story of ideas. However, many of the ideas presented are fascinating, and just like any good high-concept story, are sure to spark questions and debates. Despite the sometimes dry, intellectual tone, it is clear the author has done his research and is not just espousing political nonsense. Much of the conversation taking place in the story is grounded in fact, and the characters do not simply state their opinions but support them with evidence. A scene that I found interesting was a conversation between Lorna and Manny as they were arguing against minimum-wage laws. While you may or may not agree with Manny, his use of statistics and inductive reasoning were definitely impressive. Two of my favorite analogies were the comparison of the welfare state and prostitution and the running in the snow metaphor.
This book is not just for the libertarian although that is the philosophy much of it is based upon. Rather, the presentation of ideas in this story allows anyone—whether you are a raging liberal, an all-out conservative, or somewhere in between—to find something that will make you think or at least look at the world around you a little differently.
This is a worthy read. Do pick this one up and spend some time with Don, Manny, Lorna, and friends. Be ready to think.
Don Jenkins wants a divorce from the United States. He’s tired of a government that can’t balance its budget but thinks it can dictate how much soda he should drink. Combining political intrigue and political theory, Free Dakota explores the new possibilities when Don follows the call of a charismatic diner owner who promises a libertarian paradise on the prairie. After years of struggle they have the votes for a peaceful secession, but the feds say it’s ’til death do us part. Stopping the feds may cost more in integrity than in blood, however, when Don has to decide whether to stay after an assassination changes everything.
William Irwin is Herve A. LeBlanc Distinguished Service Professor and Chair of Philosophy at King’s College, Pennsylvania. Irwin’s latest book is the novel Free Dakota (2016). He is also the author of The Free Market Existentialist: Capitalism without Consumerism (2015). Irwin is best known for having originated the philosophy and popular culture genre of books with Seinfeld and Philosophy (1999), The Simpsons and Philosophy (2001), and The Matrix and Philosophy (2002).