A Radical in Washington


Like the late Karl Hess, John McClaughry is a libertarian-leaning writer whose concerns sometimes dovetail with the ideas of the anti-authoritarian left: He has written supportively about self-managed workplaces, neighborhood empowerment, alternative currencies, and decentralized technology.

But while Hess famously shifted from the Goldwater right to the revolutionary New Left, McClaughry started his career among the "moderate" Republicans that Barry Goldwater opposed, and he never left the GOP. Instead he attempted to advance his decentralist ideas in the corridors of power. McClaughry didn't win many victories, but he did accumulate a lot of stories. He shares some especially entertaining tales in Promoting Civil Society Among the Heathen: A Memoir (Institute for Liberty and Community).

McClaughry's efforts might not have made the country more libertarian. But his frustrating experiences made him more libertarian: By the end of his account, the old moderate is a hardened anti-statist.