I don’t have a big idea, and I don’t want one. I don’t like big ideas. And I’m not alone. Distaste for grandiose notions is embedded in our language: “What’s the big idea?” “You and your bright ideas.” “Whose idea was this?” “Me and my big ideas.” “Don’t get smart with me.”
When we say our children are “starting to get ideas,” we’re not bragging. It gives us pause to hear our spouse say “I have an idea!” If our boss says it, we panic unless we’re sufficiently quick-witted to spill coffee on the iPad the boss has just used to Google some portentous concept.
This is not anti-intellectualism. This is experience. The 20th century was a test bed for big ideas—fascism, communism, the atomic bomb. Liberty was also a powerful abstraction in the 20th century. But liberty isn’t a big idea. It’s a lot of little ideas about what individuals want to say and do.
Speaking of those “little ideas,” O’Rourke discussed some of them when he chatted with Carolina Journal Radio/CarolinaJournal.tv in 2007 about Adam Smith’s “The Wealth Of Nations.”