Highlights in bold type selected by James Craig Green
(see my full text blog in link below)
The Death of Politics by Karl Hess (full version)
The radical and revolutionary answer that a libertarian, laissez-faire position makes to that question is not quite anarchy. The libertarian, laissez-faire movement is, actually, if embarrassingly for some, a civil-rights movement. But it is antipolitical, in that it builds diversified power to be protected against government, even to dispense with government to a major degree, rather than seeking power to protect government or to perform any special social purpose.
In short, there is no evidence whatever that modern conservatives subscribe to the "your-life-is-your-own" philosophy upon which libertarianism is founded. An interesting illustration that conservatism not only disagrees with libertarianism but is downright hostile to it is that the most widely known libertarian author of the day, Miss Ayn Rand, ranks only a bit below, or slightly to the side of, Leonid Brezhnev as an object of diatribe in National Review. Specifically, it seems, she is reviled on the Right because she is an atheist, daring to take exception to the National Review notion that man's basically evil nature (stemming from original sin) means he must be held in check by a strong and authoritarian social order...
At another warlike level, it is the choice of aggression, against politically perpetuated environment more than against men, that marks the racial strife in America today. Conservatives, in one of their favorite lapses of logic — states' rights — nourished modern American racism by supporting laws, particularly in Southern states, that gave the state the power to force businessmen to build segregated facilities. (Many businessmen, to be sure, wanted to be "forced," thus giving their racism the seal of state approval.)...
Ultimately, this must mean that politics denies the rational nature of man. Ultimately, it means that politics is just another form of residual magic in our culture — a belief that somehow things come from nothing; that things may be given to some without first taking them from others; that all the tools of man's survival are his by accident or divine right and not by pure and simple inventiveness and work.
Politics has always been the institutionalized and established way in which some men have exercised the power to live off the output of other men. But even in a world made docile to these demands, men do not need to live by devouring other men.
Politics does devour men. A laissez-faire world would liberate men. And it is in that sort of liberation that the most profound revolution of all may be just beginning to stir. It will not happen overnight, just as the lamps of rationalism were not quickly lighted and have not yet burned brightly. But it will happen — because it must happen. Man can survive in an inclement universe only through the use of his mind. His thumbs, his nails, his muscles, and his mysticism will not be enough to keep him alive without it.
Karl Hess (1923–1994) was an American national-level speechwriter and author. His career included stints on the Republican Right and the New Left before he became a libertarian anarchist. The documentary film Karl Hess: Toward Liberty won the Academy Award for best short documentary in 1981. See Karl Hess's article archives.