A year and a half ago, I wrote, Fedoras, Libertarians, and Russell Edson. It was about my love of hats of all kinds and how libertarians had ruined the fedora because it had become a “talisman of a certain strain of man-babyish libertarian white guy.” I figured that this had to do with Sam Spade and The Maltese Falcon — a way of feeling hip, even as you are pushing a philosophy of the power elite. (Also: it’s a bit misogynistic given the femme fatale — dangerous woman — core of so many of those movies.)
But I wrote something at the time, “I’m not up for a pointless fight.” But I’m beginning to think that maybe I am now, “This will not stand, this aggression against hats and poetry and all that is good.” And a big part of it is that I no longer think the libertarians have grabbed the fedora because of Sam Spade. I think they’ve grabbed it because of Guy Fawkes. And that is actually kind of hilarious because, you know, Guy Fawkes didn’t wear a fedora. Based upon the pictures of the time, Guy Fawkes wore what we loosely call a pilgrim hat: wide brim, conical shaped, with a flat top.
It comes as no surprise that libertarians would get this wrong. They get most things wrongs. Libertarians are the quintessential subgeniuses. Just ask them about the minimum wage and you will see. They aren’t clueless. They understand some of the issues related to it. But they almost never take another step to understanding it more than in the most narrow, theoretical (cut off from reality) form. So it isn’t surprising at all that they would look at the ridiculously varied hat environment from the last several hundred years and pick one at random.
(As an aside: why do people glorify Guy Fawkes? I understand that England was not a good place for Catholics in the early 17th century. But the man was a terrorist. The Gunpowder Plot sought to kill the protestant king and House of Lords and replace it with a Catholic queen. Fawkes and his allies just wanted a change of ownership. And given what the previous Catholic queen had done to protestants, it wouldn’t have been pretty. So how is Guy Fawkes a symbol of freedom?!)
Now, if libertarians were more knowledgeable, I would be fine with them co-opting the fedora. In truth, it is far too flashy a hat. It began its life as a woman’s hat. And women do look great in them. It tends to make men look like dandies — and in a bad way. If libertarians had even half a clue, they might mistake the fedora for the Homburg — at least a more masculine hat, although one I really don’t like because it is hard to make fit correctly. The real problem comes with the pork pie hat or the trilby. But this is the world of hats to most libertarians:
It doesn’t help that hat manufacturers have taken to calling any hat with a brim a fedora. But you know: I don’t much care. To me, what is annoying bout the libertarian obsession with the fedora is that it is all about style. For me, all hats are about temperature regulation. My favorite hat is a pork pie — but not a normal one — not the kind you see on The Brothers Bloom or Breaking Bad. It’s pointy. It’s kind of a cross between a pork pie and a trilby with a really thin brim. But for most people, it’s just a fedora because they don’t know any better.
For the last year, I’ve been wearing only baseball caps. But I’ve decided to go back to my beaten up pork pie hat. And the libertarians can run around in their two hundred dollar Stetson fedoras. Because here’s the thing: man-babyish libertarian white guys look particularly silly in fedoras, but they would still look (and act) like man-babyish libertarian white guys even without them.