Editor of Libertarian Party News 1986-1990, Barry Goldwater speechwriter
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  • Karl Hess

    Karl Hess (25 May 1923 - 22 April 1994) was an American speechwriter and author. He was also a political philosopher, editor, welder, motorcycle racer, tax resister, atheist and libertarian activist. His career included stints on the Republican right and the New Left before embracing free-market anarchism. Later in life, he summed up his role in the economy by remarking "I am by occupation a free marketer (crafts and ideas, woodworking, welding, and writing)."

    Images

    Karl Hess - The Advocates
    300x232 JPEG, color

    Born

    25 May 1923, Carl Hess III, in Washington, D.C.

    Died

    22 Apr 1994, in Charlottesville, Virginia

    Biography

    Laissez Faire Books
    "Tax protester and gun smuggler Hess (1923-1994) became a successful journalist who made a well-publicized intellectual journey from Goldwater speechwriter to libertarian compatriot of Murray Rothbard. Along the way, he became an exceptionally graceful author, putting fundamental issues about as well as they could be put. "

    Awards Received

    1991 Szasz Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Cause of Civil Liberties, granted by Center for Independent Thought, Thomas S. Szasz Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Cause of Civil Liberties, 1991
    For lifetime achievement

    Associations

    Eris Society
    National Coordinator, Radical Libertarian Alliance

    Roles

    Anarchism in America, Interviewee (three segments)

    Web Pages

    Karl Hess - Libertarianism.org
    Short profile and links to essays, videos and other resources about Hess
    "Karl Hess was a noted speechwriter (for Barry Goldwater among others) and author, and later in his life became known as a tax resister and market anarchist."
    Karl Hess - The Advocates
    Biography, picture and quotes
    "Hess was editor of Libertarian Party NEWS from 1986-1990 and afterward served as editor emeritus. He was the author of more than a dozen books, including In a Cause That Will Triumph (1967), Dear America (1975), Neighborhood Power (1975) and Community Technology (1979). He also wrote Capitalism for Kids and was the subject of a 26-minute documentary entitled 'Karl Hess: Toward Liberty.' The film won two Oscars in 1981, including one for best short documentary."

    Articles

    Book Review: Capitalism For Kids by Karl Hess, by Carl Helstrom, The Freeman, Jul 1988
    Concise review of Capitalism for Kids concluding with "I wish it had been around when I was a kid"
    "Karl Hess has written a book for children and for those who care about children. ... Hess places strong emphases on ethics and entrepreneurship. The capitalistic system is best, he says, because it encourages people to be open to new ideas, to be ready to change, and to be able to make choices which, from an economic perspective, are beneficial for all. ... Hess encourages youngsters to start their own businesses, to plan well, to develop a strong work ethic, and to be ready to answer for mistakes and liabilities."
    Related Topic: Children
    In Memoriam: Karl Hess, by Lynn Scarlett, Reason, Jul 1994
    Short remembrance of Karl and his pursuit for liberty and justice
    "At one time, he served as 1964 Republican presidential candidate Barry Goldwater's speechwriter. Later, he plunged into grass-roots community organizing, interacting with such groups as the Black Panther Party. For Hess, liberty was a lifestyle, not simply a philosophical concept. In the 1970s, he strived to build an economically independent community. He brought to that effort ideas reminiscent of British writer E. F. Schumacher's 'small is beautiful,' experimenting with small-scale, 'backyard' technologies, including solar ovens and windmills."
    Karl Hess: An appreciation, by David F. Nolan, Libertarian Party News, Jun 1994
    Memorial essay
    "I first met Karl Hess in 1979, 12 years after I read his book ... On first meeting Karl, I was a bit awestruck. After all, this was THE Karl Hess, author of Barry Goldwater's famous nomination acceptance speech ... Karl's warmth and gentle, down-to-earth manner soon dissipated my awe, however. Within minutes we were talking like old friends. And it was this quality that made Karl perhaps the best-loved of all figures in the modern libertarian movement."
    Karl Hess: 1923-1994: Karl Hess, often described as the "most beloved libertarian," died April 22. He was 70., by Randy Langhenry, Libertarian Party News, Jun 1994
    Memorial and biographical essay
    "In 1969, Hess wrote an article for Playboy magazine entitled 'The Death of Politics.' In the article, Hess described his own libertarian philosophy. The article, written before the founding of the Libertarian Party, is often credited with having brought about a revival of the libertarian movement."
    Remembering Karl Hess, by Gary M. Galles, Mises Daily, 31 Dec 2003
    Biographical essay, basis of talk given at Karl Hess Club, includes several notable quotes from Hess
    "He is best known for penning 'extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice ... moderation in pursuit of justice is no virtue' as Barry Goldwater's head speech writer ... And while he was involved in the Libertarian Party later, he was never really interested in politics as anything but a venue for airing dissent against the prevailing trends of our time."
    The Death of Politics?, by Edward H. Crane III, Cato Policy Report, Nov 1994
    Explores trends in politics in the U.S. and other countries, particularly those that show voters are unwilling to support the political status quo
    "In late 1969 the late Karl Hess wrote a classic essay on the future of America entitled 'The Death of Politics.' That it was somewhat ahead of its time is evidenced by the fact that it appeared in Playboy rather than a public affairs magazine. Hess, one of the most astute political observers of our time, was convinced that the evidence of the failure of the political approach to solving societal ills had become so overwhelming as to absolutely confirm the theoretical case for civil society over political society."
    Related Topic: Politics
    The measure of a man, by Karl Hess, Jr., Libertarian Party News, Jun 1994
    Remembrances from his son
    "To the left of the diploma is a photograph of Emiliano Zapata. Of the many heroes and heroines of the twentieth century, my father admired Zapata most of all. Emma Goldman and Petr Kroptkin were close seconds, but Zapata was a true democrat, a man of the people, a leader who was not a leader, a common man who rose to uncommon heights, a complex man of simple needs, a loving husband, and a caring neighbor."

    Writings

    Karl Hess: 1923-1994: His Words, Libertarian Party News, Jun 1994
    Selections from "The Death of Politics", Dear America, "The Playboy Interview", "If I Were Running Against Reagan", "Why Me?", "The Most Unforgettable Libertarian I Ever Knew" and "A Fond Farewell"
    "My mother, without ever having heard the term as far as I know, raised me to be a libertarian. ... it has been my libertarian urge, mother-taught, that has kept me reasonably 'sane,' self-esteeming, and secure enough to live my life on my own terms and not on someone else's ideological or managerial leash."
    Related Topic: Anarchism
    The Death of Politics, Playboy, Mar 1969
    Discusses libertarianism, contrasting it with both conservatism and modern liberalism, including specific policy differences
    "... the radical-revolutionary position is a lonely one. It is feared and hated, by both right and left — although both right and left must borrow from it to survive. The radical-revolutionary position is libertarianism ... Libertarianism is rejected by the modern left — which preaches individualism but practices collectivism. Capitalism is rejected by the modern right — which preaches enterprise but practices protectionism."
    The Importance of Tools, Future of Freedom, Apr 1993
    Contrasts scientific and technological discoveries or inventions with political events throughout the history of humankind
    "Perhaps the first great tool of change was the horsecollar or ox yoke. It was the tool which first enabled human beings to use a non-human source for energy. Even the discovery of fire seems pallid beside this. ... Isaac Newton described differential calculus. In some distant future, private space travellers will owe their journeys, in no small part, to Newton and his analysis. ... In America, the Wright brothers’ plane successfully flew. ... That was also the year that Crick, Wilkins, and Watson received their Nobel prize for describing the molecular structure of DNA."
    Related Topics: Politics, Technology

    Interviews

    Interview with Karl Hess, by Karl Hess, A. Lin Neumann, Reason, May 1982
    Topics discussed include the Republican Party, National Review, AEI, Goldwater, Rothbard, anarchism, the Vietnam War, Carter and Reagan, fascism, urban enterprise zones, the environment, and authoritarianism vs. freedom
    "Karl Hess was present at the creation of the New Right: he was a founder of National Review, a Goldwater speech writer in the campaign of 1964, a well-placed employee of the Republican National Committee. Now, having been purged from the party after the Goldwater deluge, and going through a career as a welder, lecturer, technologist, tax resister, and other useful pursuits, Karl finds himself rather comfortably, though not elegantly, ensconced with his partner and wife, Therese, on a small parcel of West Virginia real estate in a self-built home."
    Karl Hess: Presidential Speechwriter Turned Homesteader, by Karl Hess, Anson Mount, Mother Earth News, Jan 1976
    "The Plowboy Interview", shortly after Hess' book Dear America had become a bestseller, questions him about the switch from right wing conservatism to the New Left
    "I don't now believe in the welfare state any more than I once really believed in the warfare state. ... I've changed my mind about the identity of the good guys and the bad guys. The New Left now seems to me to be espousing the causes that the Old Right once stood up for: individual responsibility and self-determination."

    Books Authored

    Capitalism for Kids: Growing Up to Be Your Own Boss, 1987
    Partial contents: Money and You - What Kind of Person Are You? - Capitalism and Other Isms - The Wonderful World of Work - Your Friend, The Computer - The Family That Works Together - Investing Time and Dollars - Are You a Volunteer?
    Related Topics: Capitalism, Children
    Community Technology
        by Karl Hess, Carol Moore (Introduction), 1979
    Relates a five-year experiment in the Adam-Morgan neighborhood of Washington, D.C. where Hess and many others participated to make it as self-sufficient as possible
    Related Topic: Societal Solutions
    Dear America, 1975
    Mostly on the Edge: An Autobiography, 1999
    Partial contents: Overview - Amelia - Mother - Adolescence - The Morgue - Scribbler - Journalist - Big-Time Journalist - Gun Shooter, Gunrunner - Anti-Communist - Businessman - Platform - Goldwater - New Left - True Believer
    Robert LeFevre: Truth is Not a Half-Way Place
        by Carl Watner, Karl Hess (Foreword), 1988
    Related Topic: Robert LeFevre

    Videos


    Karl Hess: Tools to Dismantle the State , Aug 1986
    Talk given at the Third Libertarian International World Convention, Stockholm; starts off by tracing truly important events in human history, then discussing ways in which libertarians can be "filthy stinking rich or creatively poor" and ends with Q&A
    Related Topic: Libertarianism

    Karl Hess compares Emma Goldman and Ayn Rand, Anarchism in America
    Hess describes his experience reading Emma Goldman and how Goldman, "consciously or not, [was] the source of the best in Ayn Rand"
    Related Topic: Ayn Rand

    Karl Hess speaking at UCLA 3/3/1970, 3 Mar 1970
    Wide-ranging talk on the "contemporary political scene"; including the SDS, the State, isolationists, NIxon, Agnew, Vietnam, left and right, anarchism, community, Black Panthers and more
    Related Topic: Politics

    Robert Anton Wilson and Karl Hess: Subversion for Fun and Profit, by Karl Hess, Robert Anton Wilson, Sep 1987
    Wilson and Hess at the Libertarian Party national convention, fielding questions from the audience on numerous topics
    Related Topic: Libertarianism

    Podcasts

    Karl Hess and the Death of Politics, by Jeff Riggenbach, 13 May 2010
    Transcript of the 6 May 2010 "Libertarian Tradition" podcast with a wealth of biographical information
    "Karl Hess was born Carl Hess III in Washington DC, 87 years ago this month — on May 25, 1923, to be exact ... the awakening began in the early 1960s, when he was 40 years old ... it was then that he began reading Ayn Rand. ... When he started writing his autobiography ... he chose to portray himself ... as a lifelong libertarian who had, somewhat ironically, spent most of his life wandering around searching for his true political identity and his true ideological home."
    The Libertarian Tradition: Karl Hess and the Death of Politics, by Jeff Riggenbach, 6 May 2010
    Detailed biography of Hess, beginning with how his parents met and ending with his activities in the late 1980's and early 1990's before his death

    The introductory paragraph uses material from a Wikipedia article, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.