Libertarians are in danger of forgetting a hero. In his lifetime, he had been the star of an Oscar-winning film, a writer whose best works appeared in Playboy, an outlaw who legally could hold no money, a children’s book author, a motorcycle enthusiast, and the most important member of the Republican Party. He was not a clean-cut, bow-tied, impeccably groomed academic. Instead, he was a hippy farmer and welder with a scraggly beard and thick wire-frame glasses.
The hero was Karl Hess.
Today, Liberty.me is proud to present never-before-seen footage of this iconoclastic freedom fighter. Recorded on VHS and 8MM tapes in 1987, the series captures Hess at his finest. A consummate idealist, he began as a speechwriter for Barry Goldwater before losing all faith in politics. His 1968 article “The End of Politics” was the beginning of what we know as modern libertarianism. His sympathies with the victims of police power and his anti-war outlook drove him to the New Left. His very close relationship with Murray Rothbard throughout the 1960s and 1970s left an indelible mark on both. Hess still has so much to teach us today about how liberty is not a policy or platform–it’s a life to live.
In the first of these five videos, Karl Hess (1923-1994) discusses the practical advancement of one’s own liberty. While he is quick to note the benefits of a political movement, Hess recognizes that an individual commitment to liberty is key. He recognizes the tension that libertarianism faces between the anti-political and Party activists, a divide that certainly persists today. …