"Writing for Goldwater and being a member of SDS at the same time was very interesting"


Much better than an Oscar for Al Gore: an Oscar for Karl Hess. The anarcho-libertarian writer starred in the documentary Karl Hess: Toward Liberty, which won an Academy Award in 1981. I suppose it helped that Hess was an environmentalist too—the picture spends at least as much time exploring his interest in appropriate technology as it does expounding his views about government.

Now it's on YouTube. Part one is here. Part two is here. Part three is here.

Side note: I last saw this movie in college, when one of the local film societies put it on a double bill with Anarchism in America. Looks like that one's online too. If I had the time, I'd try to find the scene where the filmmakers ask Ed Clark, then running for president on the Libertarian ticket, whether he's an anarchist. I've never seen a politician struggle so desperately to dodge a question.

[Via Freedom's Phoenix.]

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  1. All kinds of people today call themselves “libertarians,” especially something calling itself the New Right, which consists of hippies, except that they’re anarchists instead of collectivists. But of course, anarchists are collectivists. Capitalism is the one system that requires absolute objective law, yet they want to combine capitalism and anarchism. That is worse than anything the New Left has proposed. It’s a mockery of philosophy and ideology. They sling slogans and try to ride on two bandwagons. They want to be hippies, but don’t want to preach collectivism, because those jobs are already taken. But anarchism is a logical outgrowth of the anti-intellectual side of collectivism. I could deal with a Marxist with a greater chance of reaching some kind of understanding, and with much greater respect. The anarchist is the scum of the intellectual world of the left, which has given them up. So the right picks up another leftist discard. That’s the Libertarian movement.

    Ayn Rand

  2. Rnad was misinformed. Most of the “anarchists” I knew back in 1970 were also students of Objectivism. Sure, some were hippies but many wore suits and ties. Then there was the SIL leader who wore a black jumpsuit with a gold dollar sign on a chain.

  3. I think Ayn Rand never got over Murray Rothbard
    1) rejecting of her suggestion that he divorce his wife
    2) making fun of her for demanding that he do so.

  4. “1) rejecting of her suggestion that he divorce his wife”

    why would rothbard divorce his wife? (i’m not up on the 70s back and forth between the two)

    i’m sure the answer is really something, though.

  5. also, cool links, jesse.

  6. The headline made me think of Don Meinshausen for an instant, but then I thought, he never wrote for Goldwater, until the slow dawn arrived.

  7. The headline made me think of Don Meinshausen for an instant, but then I thought, he never wrote for Goldwater, until the slow dawn arrived.

    A year or two ago Don sent me a great videotape of Hess and Robert Anton Wilson smoking pot and reminiscing on stage at the Libertarian Party’s 1987 convention. Someone should put that on YouTube.

  8. If I had the time, I’d try to find the scene where the filmmakers ask Ed Clark, then running for president on the Libertarian ticket, whether he’s an anarchist.

    I’m in the middle of enjoying watching Anarchism in America (thanks for the link!) and thought I would help- it’s at 37:28 or so.

    Clark doesn’t really bumble in my view. It takes a second for him to figure out if the interviewer means anarchist in the political-theory sense or the popular-image-bomb-thrower sense. Then he clearly states that libertarians believe in a much smaller government but “I think as a political movement libertarians don’t envision no government as an immediate alternative.”

  9. Thanks for the pointer, Elvis. I think Clark’s comments are trickier than that. There was a strong anarchist contingent in the LP at the time — and there still is today, but back then people like Murray Rothbard were strong forces in the party and played a major role in writing its platform. The way I read the interview, Clark didn’t want to offend them (or lie), but he also didn’t want to be haunted by a clip of him saying “Libertarianism and philosophical anarchism have a lot in common, and there are a number of self-described anarchists in my party.” Because that isn’t the sort of thing that “serious” presidential candidates say.

    I think Clark understands from the beginning that the interviewer doesn’t mean bomb-throwers. But rather than address the issue head-on, he carefully begins his sentence “If you mean by anarchy destruction and violence…” and then disclaims any connection to that sort of anarchism. When the interviewer says no, not that kind of anarchy, Clark offers another carefully phrased sentence that says the party doesn’t see statelessness as an “immediate” alternative. Which, again, isn’t what the interviewer asked.

  10. IIRC, from various articles in Liberty and the works of the invaluable Jerome Tuccille, Murray the R was married to a lady who was a Christian believer. No matter how many Perfectly Logical Arguments against the existence of Ghu The Collective presented her with, she retained her faith. Obviously, a person who could read Ms. Rand’s arguments against religion and not be convinced was either mentally deficient or morally sick, and no fit helpmeet for a thinker like Rothbard!

    For some inexplicable reason, Murray said, like the fellow in the Geritol commercial, “My wife. I think I’ll keep her.” Seems that he loved her, and stuff.


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