The Road to Liberty
A brief history of the modern libertarian movement
Where to begin with a chronicle of the modern libertarian movement? Libertarian thought, after all, has strands going back for centuries—to Aristotle and Lucretius, at the very least.
Our own American Revolution was rooted in libertarian ideals. Its leaders envisioned a society "conceived in liberty" and predicated on the concept that all men are endowed with "certain unalienable rights"—including life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Somewhere along the way in the two centuries since that revolution, those ideals were betrayed. Almost as soon as the new republic was launched, the process of erosion began. And by the middle of the 20th century, the libertarian vision had largely been abandoned, swept aside by the rising tide of statism during the years of the Depression, World War II, and the following Cold War era.
Fortunately, there were a few brave souls who stood firm during those years. The names H.L. Mencken, Albert Jay Nock, Frank Chodorov, Garet Garrett, Rose Wilder Lane, Vivien Kellems, and John T. Flynn come to mind. Yet if we must pick a single event marking the beginning of the present-day drive for human liberty, it would probably have to be the publication of Friedrich Hayek's stinging indictment of totalitarianism. The Road to Serfdom. That classic treatise, published in 1944, concluded with these words: "If in the first attempt to create a world of free men we have failed, we must try again. The guiding principle that a policy of freedom for the individual is the only truly progressive policy remains as true today as it was in the nineteenth century."
In The Road to Serfdom, Hayek threw down the gauntlet and challenged all the world's slavemasters and would-be slavemasters. And only now, a third of a century later, is that challenge reaching its climax—for in its early years, it moved with disappointing slowness.
The kickoff of the new offensive was the establishment in 1946 of Leonard Read's Foundation for Economic Education. Through its seminars and publications, FEE began the arduous task of spreading the ideas of liberty to a populace steeped in the rhetoric of the New Deal and wartime nationalism. The results were of incalculable import. During the next 20 years, countless thousands would be converted to a profreedom viewpoint by reading the Freeman.
In 1948, FEE was joined in its efforts by Willis Stone's National Committee for Economic Freedom (later to become the Liberty Amendment Committee). The approaches taken by the two organizations were complementary. FEE concentrated exclusively on education, while Stone's group vigorously promoted a constitutional amendment to bar the government from citizens' economic activities and to repeal the federal income tax.
(In retrospect, the Liberty Amendment crusade assumes an odd significance. For while he never even came close to getting the amendment ratified, Stone managed to get resolutions of endorsement from seven state legislatures, and, in the process, reached millions of people with his abolitionist message. In the 1950's and 1960's, the Liberty Amendment Committee provided a "home base" for many proto-libertarians, including Roger Mac-Bride and myself.)
The early fifties did not provide an auspicious climate for the spread of libertarian ideas. The American left was intent on maintaining and expanding the programs of the New Deal, while the right was obsessed with the threat of World Communism.
This was the era that saw the Soviet Union of mass-murderer Stalin attain the capability to launch a nuclear holocaust, even while the United States was locked in a war with the Communists in Korea. Civil Defense was the order of the day, and civil liberties, as well as economic freedoms, were given short shrift. Joseph McCarthy rose to prominence by exploiting the fears of a nation that had seen one madman narrowly prevented from world conquest; the threat of a repeat performance seemed all too real. Anyone who challenged the Divine Right of the US government to do whatever it proclaimed necessary was ridiculed as a crank or accused of treason.
In 1955 the hawkish "New Conservatives," led by McCarthy apologist William F. Buckley, Jr., launched the publication that was to serve as the flagship of the American right for the next 20 years—National Review. In its early days, NR made a token effort to enlist the support of libertarian and classical liberal spokesmen, but the areas of philosophical disagreement proved too great. For despite lip service to free enterprise, the National Review crowd was motivated first and foremost by anti-Communist fervor and a devotion to moral codes derived from religious dogma. In any conflict between these values and the undiluted principles of individual liberty, liberty came out the loser.
LAYING THE GROUND
Fortunately, there were other developments under way. 1956 saw the establishment of Robert LeFevre's Freedom School in Colorado Springs. LeFevre had been active in a religious cult called the "I AM" movement in the 1940's and brought with him considerable promotional expertise. The Freedom School was never to attain the degree of success enjoyed by "I AM," but over the next decade, LeFevre initiated thousands of Americans into his own anarchopacifist variety of libertarian belief. (In the late 1960's, the Freedom School was dissolved. A successor institution, Rampart College, had a several-year existence on the West Coast.)
Far more important in the sequence of events leading up to the present-day libertarian movement was the 1957 publication of Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged. Despite critical disdain, Atlas became an immediate bestseller, and its sales have continued unabated since its first release. In this sprawling, 1,168-page novel, the Russian-born author set forth a coherent philosophy of rational self-interest that seized the imaginations of thousands of young people and produced the first sizable contingent of unabashed procapitalist militants in over 30 years.
Rand's scathing attacks on mysticism, altruism, and collectivism found their greatest acceptance on college campuses. By the early 1960's, there were Randist groups at most universities, and socialist-leaning professors suddenly faced an increasing minority of students who were both willing and able to challenge the prevailing social-democratic assumptions.
In 1962, Rand began publishing the Objectivist Newsletter (later simply the Objectivist) and launched the Nathaniel Branden Institute (NBI) to further the dissemination of her Objectivist philosophy in greater depth. Publications ranging from the Saturday Evening Post to Cosmopolitan and Playboy ran feature articles on Rand and her following, and it became increasingly evident that a new social force was in the making. (Proof that the libertarian movement owes much of its impetus to Objectivist teachings showed up in 1972, when respondents to a "movement survey" named Rand and Branden as the two individuals who had most influenced their thinking. Ludwig von Mises, Murray Rothbard, and Henry Hazlitt were the three closest runners-up.)
By 1963, the Objectivist "new wave" began moving into the realm of political action. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Rand-oriented college students joined the Young Americans for Freedom—while thousands more, along with many past college age, became involved in the presidential campaign of Sen. Barry Goldwater.
THE HARD CORE
The Goldwater campaign was an exciting time. It brought together a large number of profreedom people and gave them their first taste of political activism. After, and despite, Goldwater's resounding defeat, many of them wanted to remain politically active. The vehicle frequently chosen was William Buckley's Young Americans for Freedom, YAF had served as the youth arm of the Goldwater campaign, and numerous Objectivist-oriented college students joined the organization during the years 1963-67.
They soon found, however, that their "extreme" views placed them at odds with the more traditionally oriented conservatives ("trads") who made up the bulk of YAF's membership. Still, it seemed there was nowhere else to go at the time, so the phalanx of young libertarian conservatives—as many called themselves—worked within the YAF framework. Slowly, they built up a network of contacts while continuing to promote their "radical" views.
One proto-libertarian contact-building effort within YAF was the Liberty Amendment Committee National Youth Council, which I set up in early 1965 under the auspices of Bill Stone's Liberty Amendment Committee. The LACNYC served as a focal point for the "hard core" in YAF—the real government-haters. Its membership was never very large; its mailing list, barely over 500 at peak. But that 500 included virtually every libertarian and semilibertarian in YAF—which was to prove quite important in time.
Even while the new advocates of capitalism and freedom were getting their feet wet in political activity via YAF and the Goldwater campaign, they were also venturing into publishing. The years 1964-65 saw the debut of several Objectivist-oriented and proto-libertarian publications, including Left & Right, Freedom's Way, and Innovator. Most of these were shortlived, but every time one died off, another seemed to spring up in its place.
By 1966, the Vietnam War had supplanted domestic issues as the main element in America's political debates, and the strains between conservatives and libertarians were increasing. Libertarian YAF members found themselves in an uncomfortable position. National YAF was vigorously supporting an undeclared war where the regime we were defending seemed little better than its Communist enemies, and young people were being conscripted to go off and risk their lives in this dubious battle. LBJ imposed a surtax on the income tax to finance the war. The libertarians found it very hard to go along.
On campus the New Left began raising its often-ugly head, but when YAF chapters helped block the antiwar demonstrators' access to university buildings, libertarians found themselves, strangely, manning the barricades to defend government property. The cracks were widening.
Another bone of contention between libertarians and conservatives was so- called morals legislation. Conservatives were livid at the increasing use of marijuana and greater sexual freedom; libertarians favored a laissez-faire policy in these areas, as well as in economic matters.
The growing gap between conservatives and libertarians was revealed by their respective reactions to the publication in 1966 of Robert Heinlein's The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress. This story of a future libertarian revolt on the Moon was an instant hit with libertarians, who now found themselves sharing a culture hero with the hippie movement, which venerated Heinlein for his earlier Stranger in a Strange Land. Conservatives found the book disturbing, as it was, well, so revolutionary in tone.
And so, when libertarians and neo-Objectivists began to gain control of local YAF chapters—and even whole state organizations—in 1966 and 1967, the conservatives at the top began to crack down. Quite plainly, their attitude was, "It's OK for you guys to be fellow travelers, but you gotta stay in the back of the bus, and leave the driving to us."
The libertarians weren't buying it. At the 1967 YAF convention in Pittsburgh, the conflict burst into the open at the national level.
In the elections to be held in Pittsburgh, the National Office's choice for chairman was one J. Alan MacKay of Massachusetts, a hard-line traditionalist. His only challenger was John Sainsbury of New York, an amiable but weak-kneed fellow who was inclined toward peaceful coexistence with libertarians and proportional representation on the National Board. At a meeting in New York shortly before the convention, Sainsbury agreed to put two or three libertarians on his eight-man slate of candidates for the National Board and also agreed to support a resolution putting YAF on record as endorsing the Liberty Amendment. In return, the libertarians and LAC members agreed to support Sainsbury against MacKay.
At the convention, the National Office pulled out all the stops to crush the Sainsbury-libertarian alliance. They refused to seat duly appointed committee members, registered bogus delegates who promised to vote trad, and stifled debate on the floor. Sainsbury and his "unity slate" went down to crashing defeat. The Liberty Amendment resolution, and other libertarian-leaning resolutions including one calling for decriminalization of marijuana, were killed in committee. In fact, except for one thing, the convention was a complete disaster.
That one glimmer of light was the establishment of a Libertarian Caucus. At a meeting called by Dave Walter and Don Ernsberger, a number of libertarians and neo-Objectivists agreed to keep in touch after the convention; there was talk of working further within YAF to "liberate" the organization and of starting "our own organization" as well. Some 88 people put their names on a sign-in sheet, and a few weeks later a copy of that list was sent to everyone who had signed up.
After the convention, things simmered down for a while. In the summer of 1968, I received a mailing from Jarret Wollstein; apparently, it went to all who had signed up for the Libertarian Caucus the year before. Jarret announced his intention of forming a new, specifically libertarian organization and asked for support. I wrote back and, after visiting him in October, gave him my mailing list of 500-plus names from the then-just-dissolved LAC Youth Council. Using this list, along with the Libertarian Caucus list and others, Jarret launched the Society for Rational Individualism (SRI).
1968 was a significant year in other ways, as well. REASON magazine also began its existence that year. And, of course, there was the Rand-Branden breakup. (The rift within Objectivist ranks went even further back, though. Jarret Wollstein's attempt to spread the Objectivist word through a lecture series had been officially denounced from within Rand's inner circle; and several admirers of Rand, including John Hospers and Tibor Machan, had for various reasons been blackballed.)
Some of the more zealous Objectivists suffered great traumas over the parting of the ways between Ayn Rand and Nathaniel Branden. Most of the "new intellectuals" took it in stride, however. Many of the active thinkers of the movement went "independent" and became quite productive on the intellectual front. Branden moved from New York to California and set up a book service, Academic Associates, and no great harm was done.
Perhaps the most significant effect of the Rand-Branden split was that it broke the near-stranglehold that Objectivism had thus far held on the emerging libertarian movement. Freed from the cloistered environment of Objectivist study groups, the new movement began exploring other profreedom thinkers in far greater earnest. Attention was paid to the writings of such 19th-century figures as Lysander Spooner, Benjamin Tucker, Josiah Warren, and Max Stimer. And the ideas of the 20th century's greatest anarchocapitalist theorist, Murray Rothbard, finally started getting deserved recognition.
1969, ST. LOUIS
In 1969, Rothbard began publishing the Libertarian Forum, hot on the heels of the recently launched REASON and Wollstein's Individualist (called the Rational Individualist for its first few issues). All of a sudden the new movement had, not one, but three significant publications. As the first year of the Nixon era wore on, libertarians stepped up the pace of their activities, SRI chapters sprang up around the country, while members of the Libertarian Caucus began preparing for the next national YAF convention, to be held in St. Louis in September 1969.
Two weeks before the start of that fateful convention, Murray Rothbard published an "open letter" in the Libertarian Forum. Entitled "Listen, YAF," Rothbard's letter urged true proponents of freedom to abandon the conservative organization, to "get out, form your own organization, and breathe the clean air of freedom." "Why don't you leave now," Rothbard exhorted, "and let the F in YAF stand for what it has secretly stood for all along—fascism?" And whether or not his accusation was justified, that is precisely what happened. The St. Louis convention marked the point of no return in the divergence between conservative and libertarian politics.
The Libertarian Caucus members arrived in St. Louis determined to turn YAF into a more libertarian-oriented organization. Among their demands were changes in the group's statement of principles (substituting the phrase "Young Americans for Freedom" for the existing "young conservatives" in the preamble and adding "domestic statism" after the words "international communism" in the section describing the menaces to liberty that YAF was fighting—hardly ultraradical demands!); elimination of appointed board members; and the institution of a requirement that no state chairman could be dismissed without a two-thirds vote of the National Board. In addition, they planned to introduce several libertarian resolutions, similar to those defeated in Pittsburgh two years earlier.
They fared no better than they had in '67. National YAF was having none of it, and by mid-convention, relations between the trads and the libertarians had deteriorated into open hostility. The final straw came when one libertarian burned his draft card, denouncing the draft as "Selective Slavery." The trads were outraged.
When it became evident that YAF would remain "forever trad," a sizable contingent of libertarians walked out of the convention, staging a "March to the Arch." Underneath the 600-foot-high stainless steel Gateway to the West, they declared their independence from YAF and pledged to form the new organization Rothbard had called for. The new movement, conceived in Pittsburgh two years earlier, was born!
ON THE UPSWING
Events moved rapidly in the months following the schism in St. Louis. The Libertarian Caucus merged into SRI to form the Society for Individual Liberty (SIL). In October there was a libertarian conference in New York, featuring Murray Rothbard and Goldwater-speechwriter-turned-anarchist Karl Hess. The following month saw another conference on the West Coast, under the auspices of Rampart College. And in early 1970, nearly 600 libertarians turned out for a "Left-Right Festival of Mind Liberation" held at the University of Southern California; this attendance record was not to be surpassed for more than six years, with the LP convention in Washington, DC.
Perhaps the greatest significance of the festival was that it marked the first major coming together of activists from both the New Left and the New Right of the 1960's. Even while YAF had been undergoing the traumas of the libertarian-conservative split on the right, an analogous process had were disenchanted with the 1970, a sizable number of New Leftists become disenchanted with the stale Marxist panaceas championed by their comrades and were looking for an alternative. They found it in libertarianism, and one of the first to make the transition was Carl Oglesby, founder of the Students for a Democratic Society. Oglesby spoke at the festival and was well received. A left-oriented group, the Radical Libertarian Alliance, began making converts. The "rightist orientation of the movement was rapidly changing.
There were, of course, significant differences in some of the views held by radical and conservative libertarians. Those with a right-wing background saw the State as an instrument of coerced social-welfare programs, while those from the left saw it as a cat's-paw for the big corporations. Right-wing libertarians were inclined toward a minimal-government society, while the leftists leaned toward anarchism. And these differences remain a point of contention with the debates aired in the various magazines and journals and at meetings and conferences. All were in agreement, however, on one key point: the State is our greatest enemy!
Libertarian conferences blossomed throughout the spring and summer of 1970. (At one of them, Robert Nozick made his appearance, declaring his libertarianism but criticizing Objectivism.) Radical libertarian Sam Konkin began publishing Laissez Faire, which later evolved into New Libertarian Notes and then into New Libertarian Weekly. Murray Rothbard's Power and Market was released by the Institute for Humane Studies, (IHS, via publications, conferences, and fellowships, has been a steady supporter of scholarship within libertarian ranks.)
The first major project of the new libertarian movement was the Census Resistance effort launched by SIL. The federal government had decreed that all Americans must answer numerous questions about their personal lives as part of the 1970 census survey, and SIL led the effort to make compliance voluntary. This drive was not successful, but it generated considerable publicity for the burgeoning movement. By year's end, write-ups began appearing in major "mainstream" publications—Nation's Business, Newsweek, and the National Observer.
Early in 1971 the New York Times carried two pieces on the new movement—one in its Sunday magazine and one on the Op-Ed page. National Review countered with an indignant blast, denouncing the Times for dignifying the libertarians with such attention. It was obvious that Buckley & Co. were not pleased to see a challenge to their status as "the" opposition to the liberal orthodoxy.
Meanwhile, the libertarian movement continued to gather steam on the intellectual front. In January 1971, the Individualist published my article "Classifying and Analyzing Politico-Economic Systems," which rapidly became a widely quoted and reprinted piece. The article's unique contribution was a two-axis "map" showing the relative ideological positions of liberalism, conservatism, libertarianism, and totalitarianism. For the first time, libertarians could quickly and graphically illustrate what made their philosophy different from all others. Of even greater import was the publication of John Hospers' Libertarianism, the most comprehensive—and comprehensible—treatise on libertarian ideas ever released.
But 1971 is best remembered for the debut of three new libertarian organizations.
One was the New Right Coalition, a Boston-based group located between SIL and YAF on the ideological spectrum; NRC lasted only two years but set new standards for quality in the material that they issued.
The second group was the National Committee to Legalize Gold. Almost single-handedly, it was responsible for the drive that resulted in the repeal of the Roosevelt-era legislation depriving Americans of the right to own the yellow metal, NCLG was hard-core libertarian in its orientation, and the eventual relegalization of gold ownership in America was a triumph for libertarian political activism.
STARTING THE PARTY
The third major libertarian organization to appear in 1971 was, of course, the Libertarian Party. Conceived in Colorado that summer in reaction to Nixon's imposition of wage-price controls and demonetization of the dollar, the LP was officially launched on December 11, 1971. In the years since, the party has grown to become the mainspring of the movement.
Its beginnings were humble—five people gathered in the living room of a small duplex, determined to create a political vehicle for all Americans who are consistently profreedom in their beliefs. By December, nearly 100 like-minded individuals around the country had been enlisted in the new venture. To get the party off the ground, it was necessary to change the minds of many people—for example, neo-Objectivists—who doubted the wisdom of a separate party or even of direct political activism. The rapidly growing REASON saw an issue to be discussed. In January 1972 REASON ran an editorial (reprinted in one of the first flyers sent out by the party) endorsing pluralistic efforts in behalf of securing liberty. In May, an article "The Idea of a Libertarian Party" appeared.
The LP grew rapidly in its first months—to 250 by the time of its first press conference in late January, and to nearly 900 by June of 1972, when the first LP convention was held in Denver. At the first convention, the fledgling party adopted a Statement of Principles (modified very slightly at its third convention in Dallas in 1974) that is widely accepted as the best, most succinct statement of libertarian beliefs ever drafted. And the man who created that statement—John Hospers—was chosen as the LP's first presidential candidate. Hospers' remarks on the occasion, as well as the Statement of Principles, were reprinted in REASON's September 1972 special issue, "Libertarian Politics and Issues," which also saw the first of REASON's Libertarian Party Correspondent reports.
During the five months between the LP convention and election day, Dr. Hospers and his running mate, Tonie Nathan, crisscrossed the country, carrying the libertarian message to the public. With a late start, the Hospers-Nathan ticket was on the ballot in only two states—Colorado and Washington—and as a result, the vote total received in that election was small: about 5,000, counting write-ins.
Nonetheless, the campaign was worthwhile. In the process of campaigning, Hospers and Nathan received over a hundred radio and TV interviews and countless thousands of column-inches of newspaper coverage. An estimated 10 million people were exposed to libertarian ideas, and LP membership more than doubled, to about 2,000.
The greatest payoff, however, came six weeks after the election. On December 18, 1972—one year and one week after the party's founding—a Republican elector from Virginia cast his electoral college vote for Hospers and Nathan, as a protest against the policies of Richard Nixon. That elector, of course, was Roger MacBride, and by his action he single-handedly, overnight, doubled public awareness of the LP. It was a glorious climax to a vintage year in the history of the libertarian movement.
The following year, 1973, brought more exciting developments. That spring, SIL inaugurated its annual Tax Protest Day activities, and public awareness of libertarianism was given another boost. The military draft expired on June 30, partly as the result of libertarian lobbying efforts. The LP held its second annual convention in Cleveland. Marshall Bruce Evoy launched the Libertarian Party of Canada. And the American LP flexed its fast-growing muscles in the New York mayorality race, with a good-sized slate of candidates led by the attractive and articulate Fran Youngstein for mayor. She ended up receiving nearly 9,000 votes—a hair short of the number tallied by all four other "minor" candidates combined!
While all this was going on, the LP continued to grow apace, passing SIL as the largest libertarian activist group. In November, Penthouse magazine carried a major feature article, "Zero Government: Anarchy on the Right." Nathaniel Branden's Academic Associates went out of business but was replaced by Bob Kephart's Books for Libertarians and by Laissez Faire Books in New York. (Branden, throughout this time, lent active support to LP efforts, often speaking before libertarian groups and party conventions.)
In the publishing field, the period , 1971-73 saw newsletters and magazines come and go at a dizzying pace. Some lasted only an issue or two, while others hung on for a year or more. Among the entries were such colorfully named publications as A Is A, Outlook, Protos, Sol III, the Fire Bringer, New Banner, and Zeitgeist. It was a time of overextension, and one of the wipe-outs was Jarret Wollstein's Individualist, a perennial victim of financial mismanagement; fortunately REASON was able to fill the void and provide SIL members with a regularly issued, high-quality publication.
1974 was a year of troubles for the libertarian movement. The extreme radical wing of the movement, led by Sam Konkin of New York, saw its influence waning and was determined to stage a major battle at the LP convention in Dallas that June. Konkin formed an alliance with Eric Scott Royce of Virginia, who had stated his intention to run for the party chairmanship, and announced that a horde of radicals would descend on Dallas and either take over the party or destroy it. Throughout the spring, Konkin's New Libertarian Notes carried a series of blasts at the "partyarchy"—his term for the LP National leadership—and predicted a massive confrontation. The "radical caucus" proved to be a paper tiger, however. Royce received only 19 percent of the vote for chairman, and it was evident that the LP was now the leading force in the movement.
And yet, the LP did not do as well as it had hoped in 1974. Scores of congressional and local candidates entered the fray, but usually to little avail. Vote totals were almost universally far short of overoptimistic expectations. The lesson was clear: don't expect too much, too soon.
1974 brought good news, as well, however. For the first time, an American president was forced to resign from office, and public faith in government reached a healthy low point. Australian libertarians launched the Workers Party in that country. And on December 31, 1974, it became legal for the first time in a generation for Americans to own gold.
The next two years saw libertarian fortunes rising again. No sooner were the '74 elections over than libertarians began preparing for '76—and the results were impressive. Nearly 500 participants showed up for the LP nominating convention in New York in 1975—a substantial increase from the 300 present in Dallas.
Roger MacBride handily won the presidential nomination on the first ballot but immediately ran into difficulties over the choice of a running mate. Convention rules allowed the presidential candidate to veto any prospective running mate, and when it became evident after the first ballot that the VP nomination was likely to go to tax resister Jim Trotter, MacBride exercised his veto option, arguing that the news media would "crucify" the LP if it nominated a lawbreaker—however unjust the law in question. Delegate reaction was hostile, but a hasty recess allowed tempers to cool, and the following day Dave Bergland of California was chosen as MacBride's running mate.
The campaign that followed was the largest and most successful project ever undertaken by the libertarian movement. The MacBride-Bergland ticket achieved ballot status in 32 states—more than any other ticket except the Republican and Democrat. By election day, the LP had achieved recognition as the nation's leading third party. Media coverage was spotty on the national level but excellent on a local basis; by the end of 1976, most Americans were at least dimly aware of libertarianism and what it stands for.
One measure of the campaign's success was the final vote total—some 183,187 votes, or nearly 40 times the 1972 figure. Nationwide, MacBride and Bergland outpolled all other third-party candidates, achieving their best results in Alaska, where they garnered approximately six percent of the presidential vote.
In 1977, the movement continued to maintain its momentum. Libertarian Review (the successor to Books for Libertarians) emerged as a professionally produced libertarian publication. Over 1,000 people turned out for the sixth annual LP convention, held in San Francisco. Speakers included such well-known public figures as Eugene McCarthy and Timothy Leary, plus foreign-policy authority Earl Ravenal, COYOTE leader Margo St. James, and Russian exile Julia Boski.
As we move on to 1978, there is no doubt that the events set in motion by Hayek's 1944 challenge are still rolling. The LP now has approximately 10,000 members. REASON's circulation is approaching 20,000. And a multitude of libertarian-oriented issue groups, including the Association of Libertarian Feminists, the Association for Rational Environmental Alternates, and libertarian legal and medical associations, are fast making headway.
The tide of statism is still running strong, to be sure. There is no doubt that we still face serious challenges. But it now appears increasingly likely that we will indeed achieve "freedom in our time."
With a history of leadership in conservative organizations, in 1971 Mr. Nolan set up the Committee to Organize a Libertarian Party. He then became temporary national chairman of the Libertarian Party and served on Its national Executive Committee through 1976.