History

1969 SDS Mole Learns of an Even More Dangerous Organization: The U.S. Government

|

A great bit of libertariana is reproduced at Mises.org: longtime libertarian activist Don Meinshausen, who in the late 1960s served as a House Internal Security Committee spy on Students for a Democratic Society, wrote this statement to the Committee about a real threat to American liberty: the American government. Excerpt:

Today I am to be the House Internal Security Committee's major witness to testify on the workings of a "dangerous organization": the Students for a Democratic Society. During my membership in SDS, I learned of a much more dangerous organization, which has seized and destroyed more lives and property than SDS ever could. I am speaking of the United States government. Under the guise of relief and urban renewal, the government has destroyed the black people's pride and any chance to form a stable community. In the cause of the defense of freedom, it has aided tyrants in Greece, Spain, and Vietnam — and has exploited and oppressed people at home and abroad.

I did not receive my ideas from Marx, nor did some that I met in SDS receive their ideas from Marx but, rather, from the revolutionary American tradition of liberty as expressed by Jefferson, Daniel Webster, Thoreau, Josiah Warren, Benjamin Tucker, Lysander Spooner, Twain, and others.

Five years ago, I worked for the election of Barry Goldwater for president. That work and working for a student insurrection are not contradictory. Both seek to return power to the people….

I am against conscription, the war, the taxation which is bankrupting our people, and against laws governing consensual moral behavior. I am not alone in such views, and there are many in SDS and in YAF (a right-wing organization to which Mr. Ashbrook and Mr. Watson [members of the Committee] are advisors) who agree with me. Both of these organizations, and not SDS alone, suffer from authoritarian leadership. If these authoritarians ever reached power they might be worse than our present power holders, but, with both liberals and conservatives, labor and big business, the military and the state today maintaining power for their interests, there seems to be little choice.

Much, much more on libertarian movement history, including Meinshausen's role in a draft card burning at a Young Americans for Freedom convention in 1969 that helped split off a self-consciously libertarian countermovement to the conservatives, in my book Radicals for Capitalism: A Freewheeling History of the Modern American Libertarian Movement.