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Declaration of a Peaceful Revolution

Life, Liberty, and M*A*S*H

Thomas A. Firey

An earlier version of this essay appeared on Liberty Fund’s Library of Economics and Liberty.

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When the TV series M*A*S*H debuted 50 years ago, on September 17, 1972, it was a bad time to launch an anti‐​war, anti‐​establishment dark comedy. The world nearly missed out on what “Hawkeye” Pierce, “Hot Lips” Houlihan, and the rest of the 4077th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital would demonstrate for 11 seasons about the value of the individual, the importance of civil liberties, and the dangers of government.

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America’s mood was on the rebound after the 1960s: Operation Linebacker was pushing back the North Vietnamese forces with few U.S. casualties. The economy was booming, growing 5.25 percent in 1972 and 5.6 percent in 1973, while inflation fell to about 3.25 percent from nearly 6 percent two years earlier. Prosperity and military success produced strong approval numbers for President Richard Nixon, who would be reelected in November with more than 60 percent of the popular vote and winning 49 states.

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All that good news was bad for the early weeks of the impertinent if not subversive M*A*S*H. The pilot finished 45th in the week’s ratings, a miserable showing in the three‐​network era. Subsequent episodes dropped into the 50s, raising the specter of cancellation.

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But national moods can change quickly when the news changes. Three months before M*A*S*H debuted, the Washington Post reported that five men had been arrested in connection with a break‐​in at the Democratic National Committee headquarters. As the show’s first two seasons played out, Watergate mushroomed from an offbeat news item into a full‐​blown scandal. Halfway through the first season, a humbled United States signed the Paris Peace Accords, ending its involvement in Vietnam; the last U.S. troops left the country on March 29, 1973, four days after M*A*S*H’s season‐​one finale. That fall, with the show’s second season underway, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries cut oil production in retaliation for western nations’ support of Israel. The resulting energy crisis sent the U.S. stock market reeling and the economy into recession. Inflation surged, topping 11 percent in 1974, introducing a new word into the American lexicon: “stagflation.” Finally, on August 9, 1974—a month before M*A*S*H’s season‐​three premiere—a disgraced Nixon resigned the presidency.

Those events may have helped Americans embrace the sitcom that treated the inhumanity of war and the inanity of government with a cathartic mix of laughter and tugged heartstrings. M*A*S*H’s ratings rose in the final weeks of its first season as more viewers began following the exploits of the fictional 4077th, located near the front lines of the Korean War. That prefaced regular top‐​10 finishes for the rest of the show’s 11‐​year run. M*A*S*H’s cast, crew, and writers would carry off a slew of Emmys and Golden Globes over the next decade. The series finale is television legend; even current Super Bowls struggle to top the nearly 106 million viewers who watched “Goodbye, Farewell and Amen” on February 28, 1983. Following the program’s end, its decommissioned sets, costumes, and props became a wildly popular exhibit at the Smithsonian Institution. Today, M*A*S*H continues to draw audiences in syndication.

What made it so successful? Public reaction to Vietnam and Watergate may explain its first few years, but M*A*S*H was a ratings juggernaut from its second season to its end, despite the departure of most of its original cast, change in show runners, and turnover of writers. Even the series’ shift from situation comedy to dramedy (often heavy on drama) did not weaken its audience.

An academic thesis argues that the show’s success came in part from its following changing public values and outlooks as the United States moved from the leftish libertinism of the early 1970s, to the malaise‐​induced nihilism of the late ‘70s, to the conservative Reagan Revolution of the early 1980s. Yet, libertarians and other classical liberals—who often find political similarities where others see left–right differences—may perceive something else: throughout its run, M*A*S*H consistently promoted the principles of classical liberalism that were central to the nation’s founding.

M*A*S*H has long been described as a “liberal” show. Several of its cast members are vocal supporters of political causes on the left side of the U.S. political spectrum, and critics (and even some fans) of the series criticize it for being too “lefty” in its later seasons. But this is not the liberalism I mean. Classical liberalism acknowledges that government has an important role to play in addressing truly public problems, but individual liberty and private, consensual relationships are of paramount importance. Classical liberalism is wary of government power, appreciates the incentives and benefits of private interaction and the marketplace, and defends civil liberties. As such, liberalism properly understood encompassed a broad swath of the American political spectrum in the latter part of the 20th century, from American Civil Liberties Union members, to Jimmy Carter/​Bill Clinton centrists, to Ronald Reagan’s small‐​government conservatives.

To be clear, M*A*S*H’s chief protagonist, surgeon Benjamin Franklin “Hawkeye” Pierce (played by Alan Alda), did not leaf through The Road to Serfdom along with his beloved nudie magazines. But he and his comrades embraced and advocated principles and institutions that classical liberals hold dear, as did many Americans (including both Democrats and Republicans) of that era. And today, amidst a surge in illiberalism in both the United States and abroad, the show offers liberals both comic relief and hope.

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From Anti‐​Authority to Government‐​Wary

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The TV series evolved from a fictionalized war memoir, MASH: A Novel about Three Army Doctors. The book was written by Korean War Army surgeon H. Richard Hornberger Jr. with help from sportswriter and one‐​time war correspondent W.C. Heinz and published under the pen name “Richard Hooker” in 1968. It was made into a 1970 movie, M*A*S*H, directed by Robert Altman and starring Donald Sutherland, Elliott Gould, and Robert Duvall. Hornberger was a conservative Republican with hawkish leanings and his book is frat‐​boy crude, funny, and largely untainted by the ugliness of war, though honest about the grim nature of “meatball surgery” at a field hospital. The 1970 movie is just as crude and funnier and captures the grisliness of war and the madness of those who love it. Hornberger liked the movie despite its lefty politics, a testament to a time when personal judgments were not always made through a red–blue political lens. Altman wasn’t a fan of the book. Both Hornberger and Altman hated the TV series.

One theme common to all three versions of M*A*S*H is the comedic skewering of authority. Hornberger’s book makes clear his opinion that his conscripted, jokester doctors are superior to the military figures and protocols that try to control them. Altman’s movie luxuriates in contempt for authority. The TV series pokes plenty of fun at overpuffed authority figures, from hypocritical flag‐​waver Maj. Frank Burns (Larry Linville), to unhinged Maj. Gen. Bartford Hamilton Steele (Harry Morgan, who was later recast as the very‐​different Col. Sherman Potter), to sadistic Col. Sam Flagg (Edward Winter), to a parade of officers willing to trade troops’ lives for ground, glory, and promotion.

But where Hornberger’s skewering is limited to career military and Altman’s to the military generally, TV’s M*A*S*H has plenty of skepticism for government broadly. The show is not outright anti‐​government, and neither are proper classical liberals because government is important for accomplishing certain public goals. But classical liberals know, and M*A*S*H regularly shows, that there is plenty to criticize in what government does—or, more specifically, what many of the politicians and bureaucrats who animate it do.

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Government failures often happen when it extends its reach beyond truly public problems, meddling in people’s private affairs. But failures also happen when government stays in its proper sphere, such as the conduct of foreign policy and war. From the crooked U.S. senators mentioned in “For the Good of the Outfit” (season 2) and “The Winchester Tapes” (s. 6), to the congressional investigator for the House Un‐​American Activities Committee in “Are You Now, Margaret?” (s. 8), to Hawkeye’s irreverent letters and telegrams to President Harry Truman in “Dr. Pierce and Mr. Hyde” (s. 2), “The Interview” (s. 3), and “Give ‘Em Hell, Hawkeye” (s. 10), the show depicts how foolish, hubristic, dangerous, hypocritical, uncaring, and dishonest government officials can be.

For instance, in “For the Good of the Outfit,” Hawkeye discovers that U.S. artillery erroneously leveled the nearby village of Tai‐​Dong. The Army refuses to admit responsibility, burying Hawkeye’s formal report on the shelling and then blocking him from going public with the news. Incensed, Hawkeye vents to the 4077’s commander at the time, Lt. Col. Henry Blake (McLean Stevenson):

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In “Depressing News” (s. 9), the unit receives an erroneous, enormous shipment of tongue depressors. Hawkeye realizes the shipment reflects the U.S. government’s preparation for the war to last for years, bitterly concluding, “We wouldn’t have this supply if [the Army] didn’t think there’d be a demand.” So, he embarks on a symbolic crafting project, getting the attention of company clerk Max Klinger (Jamie Farr):

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Klinger writes about Hawkeye’s project for the camp newspaper, a copy of which finds its way to Army headquarters. Not understanding the meaning of the “monument,” HQ dispatches a public relations officer and cameraman to the 4077, believing Hawkeye’s creation would be “great for enlistment.” But as the cameraman snaps a picture of the monument, Hawkeye and Klinger explode it. When the befuddled information officer asks why, Hawkeye explains: “Senseless destruction—that’s what it’s all about. Get the picture?”

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Anti‐​War

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Though Hornberger’s book avoids judgment on war, both the film and TV series are unapologetically anti‐​war. The series regularly shows war’s miseries, tugging at the heartstrings but not breaking them, respecting viewers but not overwhelming them.

In “Follies of the Living—Concerns of the Dead” (s. 10), Hawkeye and fellow surgeons B.J. Hunnicutt (Mike Farrell) and Charles Emerson Winchester III (David Ogden Stiers) try to numb themselves to the horrors of war with moonshine. They begin toasting what they want to anesthetize:

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The greatest horror of war, death, becomes personal in one of the series’ first ratings successes, the episode “Sometimes You Hear the Bullet” (s. 1). Hawkeye is visited by childhood friend Tommy Gillis (James T. Callahan), who has volunteered for the infantry to gather material for a book he’s writing. Later, a wounded Gillis is brought to the 4077, where he dies on Hawkeye’s operating table. Afterward, a tearful Hawkeye is consoled by Blake:

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The series’ pivotal episode, “Abyssinia, Henry” (s. 3), concludes with news that Blake, on his way home after an honorable discharge, was killed when his plane was shot down over the Sea of Japan. When it aired, the story shocked viewers, prompting an avalanche of angry letters to the network. But as show co‐​runner Gene Reynolds explained, “We didn’t want Henry Blake going back to Bloomington, Illinois and going back to the country club and the brown and white shoes, because a lot of guys didn’t get back to Bloomington.”

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Death‐​centered episodes are among the series’ best. In “Old Soldiers” (s. 8), the 4077’s subsequent commander, the venerable Colonel Potter, reminisces tenderly about his now‐​deceased comrades from World War I. “Follies of the Living—Concerns of the Dead” depicts a deceased soldier’s soul lingering at the 4077, observing the big and small tribulations of the staff. In “Give and Take” (s. 11), an American G.I. and a North Korean soldier who the G.I. wounded are both treated at the 4077 and become friendly, only for the North Korean to succumb to his wounds. “Who Knew?” (s. 11) shows Hawkeye, sobered by the death of a unit nurse, finding the courage to express his love for his unit colleagues. In “Death Takes a Holiday” (s. 9), Hawkeye, B.J., and head nurse Margaret Houlihan (Loretta Swit) try to extend the life of a brain‐​dead soldier brought in on Christmas Day, hoping to not ruin future Christmases for his children. When the G.I. dies before the day is out, Margaret reflects: “Never fails to astonish me: you’re alive, you’re dead. No drums. No flashing lights. No fanfare. You’re just dead.” And in “The Life You Save” (s. 9), a philosophical Charles compares his profession’s limited abilities to those of the 4077’s company mechanic, Sgt. Luther Rizzo (G.W. Bailey):

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Also among the series’ best episodes are those portraying the war’s wretched effects on the Korean people, few of whom cared—or even knew—about the ideologies and geopolitics of the Cold War. In “In Love and War” (s. 6), Hawkeye falls for a cultured, upper‐​class Korean woman who uses her wealth to care for civilians dislocated by the fighting. The relationship ends when she takes the people in her care south, away from the conflict. In “B.J. Papa San” (s. 7), B.J. devotes himself to a Korean family impoverished by the war. Just as he is about to reunite them with a long‐​missing son, he discovers that they have fled south. And in “The Interview” (s. 4), Walter “Radar” O’Reilly (Gary Burghoff), Klinger’s predecessor as company clerk, is asked by war correspondent Clete Roberts (playing himself) about the plight of the Korean peasants:

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Several episodes focus on war‐​orphaned children. In “The Kids” (s. 4) and “Old Soldiers,” orphans visit the 4077 for checkups, touching hearts and boosting morale. “Yessir, That’s Our Baby” (s. 8) has Hawkeye, B.J., and Charles finding an abandoned Amerasian baby and battling the xenophobia of Korean society and the nativism of America to secure the girl’s future. And in “Death Takes a Holiday,” Charles learns just how desperate the lives of the orphans are after he confronts orphanage master Choi Sung Ho (Keye Luke) for selling the gourmet chocolates that Winchester had left the children as a gift, in accordance with a family tradition:

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Just as moving are episodes in which members of the 4077 deal with their own terror in war. In “The Interview,” Hawkeye describes how sometimes, when he’s lying on his cot at night, he finds it shaking—not because of artillery, but because his heart is racing. “Heal Thyself” (s. 8) shows visiting surgeon Steve Newsome (Edward Hermann), who had performed valiantly under fire inside the Pusan Perimeter during the desperate early months of the war, succumbing to post‐​traumatic stress and fleeing the 4077’s operating room. In “Dreams” (s. 8), members of the cast suffer nightmares of how the war has changed their lives. The same device is used in “Hawk’s Nightmare” (s. 5): Hawkeye sleepwalks and experiences nightmares of childhood friends suffering horrific deaths. Exhausted and fearing for his sanity, he turns to recurring character Sidney Freedman (Allan Arbus), a psychiatrist, for help:

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Anti‐​Draft

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When M*A*S*H debuted, the U.S. armed forces still filled out their ranks with conscripts. The peacetime draft began in 1948, following the expiration of World War II conscription, and included a special “doctor’s draft” for medical personnel. Selective service was vital to staffing the U.S. military in both the Korean and Vietnam wars and was particularly despised by Vietnam protesters. Partway through M*A*S*H’s first season, the Pentagon announced that it would shift to an all‐​volunteer force, with the last compulsory inductions occurring before that TV season ended.

Among government practices, conscription is one of the most disturbing. People of a particular demographic group—able-bodied young men—are taken from their private lives and forced to work and live under strict government direction, at great risk to life and limb. The draft is regularly derided on M*A*S*H; as Hawkeye explains about his draft board in “Yankee Doodle Doctor” (s. 1), “When they came for me, I was hiding, trying to puncture my eardrum with an ice pick.”

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No element of the show better represents opposition to the draft than the character Klinger. The show’s first seven seasons depict his many schemes to get out of the Army: trying to hang‐​glide out of Korea (“The Trial of Henry Blake,” s. 2), preparing to raft across the Pacific to California (“Dear Peggy,” s. 4), threatening to immolate himself (“The Most Unforgettable Characters,” s. 5), attempting to eat a jeep (“38 Across,” s. 5), acting as though he’s back home in Toledo (“The Young and the Restless,” s. 7). In “Mail Call” (s. 2), he tells Blake that he needs a hardship discharge because his father is near death. Blake then flips through Klinger’s file:

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Klinger’s longest‐​running scheme is cross‐​dressing in the hope of earning a “Section 8” psychiatric discharge. Among the outfits from 20th Century Fox’s wardrobe shop that Farr wore (sometimes while puffing a stogie) were a Cleopatra costume previously worn by Ginger Rogers (“April Fools,” s. 8) and a woolen coat of Betty Grable’s (“Major Ego,” s. 7), as well as reproductions of Dorothy’s pinafore dress from the Wizard of Oz and a Scarlett O’Hara gown from Gone With the Wind (“Major Ego,” s. 7). Perhaps the most glorious was the flare‐​torched Statue of Liberty outfit he donned for Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s visit to the 4077 (“Big Mac,” s. 3).

Klinger usually provides comic relief, but in “War of Nerves” (s. 6) he delivers a powerful condemnation of the draft. Confiding in Sidney, who previously knocked down several of Klinger’s Section 8 schemes, he says he really worries that he’s going crazy because of his extreme attempts to get out of the Army. Sidney asks Klinger why he wants out:

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Pro‐​Market

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Conscription not only steals young men from their private lives and puts them in harm’s way, it also steals their labor. Though M*A*S*H’s draftees receive Army pay, their wages likely are well below what they would earn back home—let alone what they would demand for performing medical duties in a combat zone for months on end. That stolen labor features in two episodes, “Payday” (s. 3) and “Back Pay” (s. 8), in which Hawkeye tries to get the Army to compensate him fairly for his work. It does no such thing, of course, but Hawkeye gets a measure of justice.

Labor is not the only good that M*A*S*H depicts the virtues of voluntary exchange. Many episodes show Radar and Klinger making back‐​channel deals (often violating “the regulations”) to get the unit much‐​needed supplies and unit members much‐​wanted personal items. Hawkeye and others swing similar deals for items they want, even going so far as to trade on the black market.

Those voluntary exchanges are often contrasted with the bizarre and often miserable results of the command‐​and‐​control “Army way.” For instance, in “The Incubator” (s. 2), Hawkeye and surgeon “Trapper” John McIntyre (Wayne Rogers) follow procedure to order an incubator for diagnosing infections. Quartermaster rejects their request, informing them such a device would be “a luxury,” but notes they can get a pizza oven for unit movie nights. (“Just use the standard S‑1798 [form] and write in ‘pizza’ where it says ‘machine gun.’”) As they continue trying to work the system for the needed hardware, their experiences offer a fine example of public choice theory, the idea that government officials and employees are as self‐​interested as private‐​sector workers: Hawkeye and Trapper repeatedly encounter supply officers who want to know what’s in it for them if they provide the machine. The doctors explain all this to a general who asks if they’ve followed proper procedure for their request:

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Ultimately, Radar wheels‐​and‐​deals for a unit.

There are other examples of exchange the Army way. In “Give ’Em Hell, Hawkeye” (s. 10), the 4077 is informed it can have a much‐​needed hot water heater—if its members first beautify the camp to impress visiting dignitaries. In “The Life You Save,” unit chaplain Fr. Francis Mulcahy (William Christopher) explains Army thinking to Hawkeye after Hawkeye succeeds Mulcahy as mess officer and discovers the unit is missing food trays for which Hawkeye is now responsible:

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At the end of the episode, Margaret replaces Hawkeye as mess officer, and he and Klinger trick her into thinking that all trays are present and accounted for

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M*A*S*H respects entrepreneurship. As noted above, Radar and Klinger swing deals for desired goods. They both also try their hands at get‐​rich schemes, some of which are hare‐​brained, but others are clever—such as Klinger’s wanting to produce and sell early versions of the Hula‐​hoop and Frisbee (“Who Knew?”). Hawkeye and B.J. invent a vascular clamp and contract with a Korean craftsman to produce it (“Patent 4077,” s. 6). Koreans are portrayed as entrepreneurs, from craftsmen who sell their handiwork at the 4077 (“Dear Mildred” [s. 4], “Exorcism” [s. 5], “Patent 4077”), to domestic workers providing laundry and housekeeping services, to the recurring character Rosie (usually played by Eileen Saki), the proprietress of the off‐​base saloon.

Private property is also respected. Though the series regularly promotes an ethic of sharing (and delivers comic retribution upon those who violate it), property is not commandeered by the unit’s commander. Colonel Potter, who succeeds Blake, relies on suasion to have Klinger give his dresses to a group of prostitutes in exchange for using their brothel as an operating room (“Bug Out,” s. 5). Charles agrees to share his newspapers from home with the camp—after he finishes reading them (“Communication Breakdown,” s. 10). And, of course, the most famous property on the show is the surgeons’ still, and woe unto those who violate it. The only instance I can think of where property rights are infringed by command is when Potter orders Hawkeye and B.J. to get rid of their trouble‐​causing portable bathtub, so they trade it for strawberry ice cream (“None Like It Hot,” s. 7).

It should be noted that though economic freedom is respected in the show, there is often “persuasion”—sometimes heavy-handed—against some economic activities. In “Souvenirs” (s. 5), a chopper pilot is pushed to stop buying dangerous war souvenirs from Korean children. In “Change Day” (s. 6), Hawkeye and B.J. refuse to help Charles profit from a shady arbitrage scheme on the local peasants when the Army changes military script. And in “Private Finance” (s. 8), Charles and B.J. use a false diagnosis to temporarily stop a patient from pressure‐​selling investment products to other patients. But in each of those cases, transactions are obstructed out of an ethic of caring (about children, Korean peasants, and convalescing patients) and are blocked through arm‐​twisting rather than by command.

Likewise, acts of charity are strongly encouraged but not ordered. For instance, in “Dear Sis” (s. 7), Charles is free to decline to donate to the unit’s Christmastime orphans fund. However, after Father Mulcahy secretly arranges for Charles’s family to send him a beloved childhood item as a comfort for homesickness, he has a Scrooge‐​like change of heart:

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In this way, M*A*S*H offers a resolution to a fundamental dilemma for classical liberals: how to balance an ethic of caring for others with respect for peoples’ property, values, and choices. The solution is to do so through persuasion and personal example, not force.

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Other Civil Liberties

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M*A*S*H’s respect for civil liberties goes beyond people’s right to property and exchange. Freedom of speech and the press are lionized for protecting against government abuse (“For the Good of the Outfit,” “Are You Now, Margaret,” “Tell It to the Marines” [s. 9]), censorship is condemned and lampooned (“For the Good of the Outfit,” “The Moon Is Not Blue” [s. 11]), and religious freedom is revered (“Ping Pong” [s. 5], “A Holy Mess” [s. 10]).

Throughout the show’s run, bigotry is condemned. Racism is ridiculed (“L.I.P.” [s. 2], “The General Flipped at Dawn,” “Yessir, That’s Our Baby,” “Bottle Fatigue” [s. 8], “The Tooth Shall Set You Free” [ s. 10]), and immigration is championed (“L.I.P.,” “Tell It to the Marines”).

In “Dear Dad … Three” (s. 2), a wounded white soldier, Sgt. Condon (Mills Watson), tells the doctors to make sure he gets the “right color” blood. Hawkeye and Trapper decide to teach him a lesson, sneaking into the recovery room at night to dab the sleeping soldier’s skin with tincture of iodine. Worried that his darkening skin indicates he has indeed been given the wrong blood, Condon confronts the doctors:

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At the end of the episode, a wiser Condon thanks the surgeons “for giving me a lot to think about” and respectfully salutes nurse Ginger Bayliss (Odessa Cleveland), an African American.

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Sexism and sexual harassment are likewise treated with derision (“What’s Up, Doc?” “Hot Lips Is Back in Town” [s. 7], “Nurse Doctor” [s. 8]). In “Inga” (s. 7), Hawkeye—a notorious womanizer in the series’ early seasons—is agog over a visiting woman surgeon (Mariette Hartley) until she shows him up in the operating room. Later, Margaret takes him to task for his limited view of women:

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M*A*S*H also respects the rights of homosexuals (“George,” s. 2) and the disabled (“Dear Uncle Abdul” [s. 8], “Run for the Money” [s. 11]). In “Morale Victory” (s. 8), Charles—a lover of chamber music—tries to help an injured soldier, David Sheridan (James Stephens), accept a permanent loss of dexterity in one hand even though Sheridan is a concert pianist. Charles introduces him to compositions written for one hand, explaining that the injury does not diminish who he is or his talent (and nicely illustrating the economic principle of comparative advantage):

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Classical liberals respect individual liberty because they appreciate the value—and even marvel at the wonder—of the individual. (In contrast, the illiberal Frank Burns believes that “individuality’s fine, as long as we all do it together” [“George”].) This wonder is expressed in “Hawkeye” (s. 4), in which the title character suffers a concussion while away from camp and seeks help from a Korean family. Despite the language barrier, he keeps talking to stay awake, falling into philosophizing. He speaks in wonder of human anatomy, but ultimately talks of the wonder that is the person:

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Weary Determination

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M*A*S*H seems out of step with today’s politics. In the America of the 1970s and ’80s and on through the end of the 20th century, both the Democratic and Republican parties were liberal in the classical sense, believing in the value of the individual, the importance of civil liberties, and the benefits of the market. The parties did differ—vigorously—on where to draw certain lines: how big should the welfare state be and what should be required of beneficiaries, how muscular should foreign policy be, what tax rates should be. But those differences fit within a liberal philosophy. It’s no wonder that M*A*S*H found plenty of fans on both sides of that era’s red–blue divide.

Today, the show might not find a similar audience. Parts of the American political spectrum have embraced illiberalism, demanding that speech and the press be constrained, denigrating religious differences, reanimating old bigotries, obstructing immigration, and clamping down on markets and private exchange.

For classical liberals, today’s politics are disturbing and exhausting. We feel a bit like the members of the 4077, who were tired of war, troubled by the horrors they witnessed, and yearning for the peaceful lives they led before Korea. But they rallied when they needed to. When the choppers and ambulances arrived laden with casualties, the 4077 carried out their duties. And when morale sagged, they found ways to boost it, often with a gag at the expense of some illiberal hypocrite, fool, or sadist who sorely deserved it.

Maybe classical liberals in the 21st century can likewise rally in the face of today’s grim times and at the expense of illiberals who deserve it. And, concerning this so‐​far‐​illiberal century, maybe we can be reassured by Colonel Potter’s words to an orphan in “Old Soldiers”: “You’re off to a kind of a rough start, but I bet you’ve got some glorious times ahead of you.”

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