Free Minds & Free Markets



Charles Barr concludes his favorable review of Carrie [February] stating, "Director De Palma is innovative in his purposeful use of slow motion and other special effects. The pacing is carefully timed and the camera work is extraordinary. Lawrence Cohen's screenplay, from Stephen King's novel, deftly primes the audience for the movie's dizzying, hair-raising climax."

He should have added, "The only sympathetic characters in the movie are murdered during Carrie's vengeful orgy, several others dying undeservedly. Thereafter, the movie appears to have no point save mystic terror over justice. Unfortunately, the boredom this realization engenders among rational members of the audience terminates in a cheap climactic scene that reveals the movie's true purpose: terror for its own sake."

Brian Wright
Royal Oak, MI


I look forward to the day when the libertarian movement is so vigilant that statements like the following in REASON [February] cannot appear in a respected libertarian publication without immediate and vigorous challenge. The paragraph is in your centerfold, and happens to be authored by Dr. John Hospers:

One fact can hardly be controversial: that running for political office, and assuming such office if one wins, is the quickest way of getting libertarian ideas known to millions—not at any great level of profundity, of course, but then neither do those who voted in the present mixed economy have convictions of any great degree of profundity. To the extent that libertarianism is known in the United States today, it is almost entirely because libertarians have formed a political party whose members ran for office and had their ideas publicized in newspapers, magazines, radio, and television.

The "fact" is indeed not "controversial;" it is abject nonsense. I have yet to see any significant label retention from those exposed to Libertarian Party commercials during campaigns; most Americans automatically blank out minor parties. As an alternative,may I suggest that I have had good results in associating persons of accomplishment with libertarianism: Robert Heinlein, Ayn Rand, Thomas Szasz, Poul Anderson, Sy Leon (known for his anti-vote campaign), Lowell Ponte, Edith Efron, Nathaniel Branden, and those no longer with us but still well- known such as Mencken, Orwell, Nock, Tucker, Shaw (in his anarchist period), and many others. (Imagine, if when Johnny Carson tore up that traffic ticket on his show, he had given our battle cry of "Laissez Faire!" what that would have done for the Movement publicity compared to two "presidential" campaigns by the LP.)

Furthermore, I must in all justice reply to Dr. Hospers in kind in his second point: To the extent that libertarianism is known in North America today, it is almost entirely because of the tireless work of a few educators, activists, and persons of prominence not afraid to be associated with a small, militant, and unpopular movement: Murray Rothbard, Robert LeFevre, Andrew J. Galambos, Leonard Read, Ludwig von Mises, Don Ernsberger, Dana Rohrabacher, Isabel Patterson, Rose Wilder Lane, Baldy Harper, all the persons of accomplishment I named earlier, many local activists reaching 10 or 20 or 30 people at a time with meetings, demonstrations, events being seriously covered in local papers on a recurring basis, and of course others I could not begin to name in full.

The "Libertarian" Party, as I have said elsewhere and seen confirmed over and over again, has only one claim to success in public relations: associating the label "libertarian" with "running for political office"—which many, if not most, libertarians would consider the basest smear…

Perhaps I need look forward to the day no longer; here's the challenge and today's the day.

Samuel Edward Konkin III
Editor, New Libertarian Weekly


I am sure that you will receive many vigorous comments on Dr. Hospers' article. I will leave to more qualified pens the criticism of his political antinomies on Social Security and so on. I can agree with what seems to be his basic position: that the poor and helpless should not be cut loose from their present supports until the safety net of the free economy has been placed beneath them. I am more concerned with the 1964-ish wishful thinking displayed by so many LP supporters.

My major objection to the Libertarian Party has been its emphasis on national-level politics. This is both a tactical and strategic error. Tactical, because no party can succeed without strong roots in local government. Strategic, because the LP needs more contact with voters and less intellectual incest and media-stroking. The idea that a highly publicized—and highly expensive—presidential campaign will "educate the voters in libertarian ideas" shows an astounding naivete. Even if the entire electorate would read and understand Human Action, the response would surely be: "So what? I'm not giving up my subsidy!" One might as well try to "educate" hogs to leave the trough at feeding time and go root for themselves (without using force, mind you!). Nor is it productive to tell people that they aren't really happy living in the security of the welfare state—that they are merely "internalizing their subjugation." A process of education is indeed needed, but it is more moral than intellectual education—and thus the harder, as people will admit ignorance more readily than guilt.

The LP should ignore national contests and concentrate its limited resources on local politics. This would give its personnel more experience with serious politicking. Furthermore, small but tangible successes could be scored immediately. In contests for local office the LP candidate could be innovative without frightening the voters. (And let's face it—the American public is not yet ready for Murray Rothbard as Secretary of Defense.) We must recognize that it will be a long time—perhaps a generation—before the LP can be effective on a national level. To hasten the day—and to gain maximal influence in the meantime—the LP must start at the bottom and work its way up.

Ronald E. Merrill
Rochester Institute of Technology


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