Editor’s Note: The following is a collection of four articles by Samuel Konkin III (SEK3), which were published in the Southern Libertarian Review from January-June 1975. This post will serve as a link-back for an article I will write regarding the above title—there’s not a whole lot to go off of, but nonetheless, I believe there are some observations to be made. Specific dates and attribution will be at the end of each article. Laissez-faire.
So now it’s Abaco.
From the earliest days of Ayn Rand’s influence over the Libertarian Movement, frustrated activists have given up on their efforts to reform or revolt against the American State to seek the promised Gulch.
In the early 1960’s, a group composed primarily of engineers and technologists worked on a plan to construct an island nation on a shallow land base of the North Sea. Preform agreed on a tiny, nominal government, a free port status which would thrive on free trade between Britain, Norway, and Denmark. Individuals who had been into education and political action (the LIBERAL INNOVATOR, leafletting the Cow Palace GOP convention) gave up and published PREFORM-INFORM backing the escapees.
Then the British seized the pirate radio stations operating outside their territorial waters. Oil was discovered in the North Sea, and Britain, Denmark, and Norway promptly carved up the sea bed. The Preform crowd either Browned out or went into escapist trips such as becoming nomads, troglodytes, or wilderness dwellers. They sought “invulnerability to coercion”—or vonu—and PREFORM-INFORM became Vonulife. Recently it sputtered to a halt, and the paranoia freaks drifted back to civilization.
Then came Operation Atlantis. Again the anarchist ocean bed was the site, and a platform-island was to be constructed in the Caribbean. A group gathered in Saguerties, N.Y., took over a motel, and built a boat. Again they published a newsletter, and started a commodities operation (real goods bank) called ATCOPS which took silver deposits. They even began their own money system, the Deca (10 grams of silver).
The boat sank, and prospective sites were nationalized, but they still are plugging away in Saguerties.
Then came Michael Oliver and his New Country project, which eventually decided on a Pacific coral reef named Minerva. Perhaps the goddess of wisdom drove the men involved mad for their hubris. As soon as concrete plans were formed, Oliver split with the rest. A hardy individualist who actually went to the reef to photograph it and lay claim by homesteading was burned by organizers when he returned, and the ship that arrived in N.Y. to carry a load of anarcho-immigrants never sailed. It just sat in dock and leaked. The comical King of Tonga then laid claim to Minerva and was supported by the less funny states of Fiji and Indonesia.
Now it appears that the Bahamian secessionists of Abaco are interested in American backing and are even willing to listen politely to John Hospers. But their aims are to set up a state of their own. The Bahamian state has deported Hospers as a dangerous Subversive and seem ready to act to keep their citizenry enshackled.
Can It Work?
The villain in all these plays has been the State—always ready to move against the opening of a free society anywhere. But sometimes, dear Brutus, we must not look to the stars but to ourselves. Why hasn’t the State’s intervention been assumed from the beginning? After all, these were libertarians leading and organizing these plans. Was it not the very frustration with the State’s omnipresence that lead them to desperate measures? Why should they believe that the very institution willing to follow them home, into their pockets and bedrooms, would suddenly go “hands-off” because they crossed some imaginary line on a globe?
Ayn Rand’s shrugging Atlases at least faced a crumbling state, one which was becoming too weak and incompetent to find and destroy their embryonic free society. It is self-consistently obvious that if those who make the statist society work abandon it and devote their efforts to a free society, the State will fall and the free area will function.
But without these people and conditions? A is A, but suppose you don’t have A? Ayn herself has never backed a single new country group, to her credit. My conclusion is that if the promised land seekers continue to pursue their Zion despite a dismal record in practice due to demonstrated errors in theory, they don’t need Rand, Rothbard, or, for that matter, Konkin or Royce. Szasz and Branden may offer more concrete assistance.
As for me, anarchy begins at home.
Southern Libertarian Review
Volume 1 Number 7 / January, 1975
Pages 1, 7
Carrots And Sticks
Reading over past columns for SLR, Your Friendly Neighborhood Anarcho-columnist notices that they have been uniformly negative. Now YFNA is not at all that sort of person who is gnawed upon by a general hatred. So let the brickbats flit out of this dark corner, carrying the corpses of the deviationists they struck, and let a few kudos be distributed.
Since SLR is East-Coast-oriented, let me start by bringing to your attention some Western libertarians who have been all-too-neglected. Robert M. LeFevre, for example, shines in the anarchofirmament with Murray Rothbard, but not, alas, with the same magnitude in this longitude. LeFevre has an excellent journal (LEFEVRE’S JOURNAL, of course) which is free of both deviationism and big words like “deviationism.”
It could be passed on to your reactionary parents and read with enjoyment by them, but gives a thrill to this wild-eyed bombthrower as well. The only thing I disagree with the estimable grand old man of Western libertarianism on is his pacifism, which, when compared to the Partyphilia of some other mentors of our Movement, is like comparing a cold to cancer. And if your libertarianism is objectivist-based, watch it. He will mess with your mind without you even noticing before it’s too late and you may be too far gone! (LJ, Box 2353, Orange, Calif. 92669, contribution of $10 suggested)
Even-handed Lloyd Licher could be credited with single-handedly keeping the Calif. libertarians in alliance since the Browning out of the great Dana Rohrabacher. Lloyd runs the Libertarian Supper Club of Los Angeles; and every month, the Movement gathers at the Taix Restaurant to recharge their intellectual batteries with another speaker (and fill their anarchobellies while they are at it). If you want to meet a lot of libertarians in L.A. quick when you visit or move there, write ahead of time to Lloyd and send a couple of bucks so he can mail you his newsletter and let you know when next they gather well in advance. (Libtn. Sup. Club of L.A. Newse letter, Lloyd Licher, 12536 Woodbine St., L.A., Calif. 90066, $1.50/year until the postal rates go up again)
Dare I forget John Yench? John 15 a reporter for the ANAHEIM BULLETIN, a mild-mannered to boot. Ah, but when he slips into a telephone booth, out comes…another Free Enterprise Forum (libertarian conference, to which he kindly invited me last year, to speak, etc.) and maybe another issue of CHRISTIAN LAISSEZ FAIRE! What? “Christian”? Yes, and hard-core anarchoagorist, too. Did he ever check his premises, you ask? Yes, and he found a big cross over them every Sunday. I find John indispensible as a contact with a whole body of people outside the decadent, unbelieving East and a healthy antidote to the Conservative Christian quasilibertarian Foundation for Economic Education. (CHRISTIAN LAISSEZ FAIRE, Box 772, Anaheim, Calif. 92805. About $2 per year, last I heard)
Seymour (Sy) Leon is a hard-core activist who is also a real live entrepreneur. Sy has taken LeFevre’s old Rampart College and turned it into a profit-making Operation. He has been advance man for Harry Browne, spreading the message to those on whom it will do the most good. He is the instigator and chief honcho of the League of Non-Voters and has received publicity for the Libertarian Movement with next-to-no-investment and no vote-chasing that the Partyarchs would eat their hearts out for. He has so integrated theory and practice (or should I say preaching and profit) to make me eat my heart out. (Seymour Leon, Box 11407, Santa Ana, Calif. 92711)
Christopher Bates is somebody I just had to like. He got YFNA to autograph every copy of NEW LIBERTARIAN NOTES he had in his collection. Chris is also from the Commonwealth (Britain in his case), and a fan. Of perhaps more import to the reader, Chris was in the thick of the San Diego Ten (or eleven, I lost count) Tax Rebellion Case. And he won. And he could be deported at any time (like me, for example) without trial or any other of those statist’s lulls of security. Chris is like a lot of other “immigrants” I know, who had this dream of finding a land full of heroes and Good Guys and, when they found them scarce, became them to fulfill their dreams.
Although gone the way of all-too-many anarchomarriages, that of Sy and Riqui Leon has been the biggest boon to the Calif. Movement for several years. Riqui was the Dolly Madison of the Movement, throwing parties every so often at their Orange County house. Recently she has been prominent in defending Women’s Lib from a libertarian perspective against Arch-Chauvinists such as Murray Rothbard. Riqui has also played den mother to many a libertarian growing up a bit slow.
Before I leave Southern Calif., let me not slight anyone, but simply affirm that there are many libertarians I know well enough to exalt but who have not the general fame for their less persistent endeavors (generally due to working for a living, an affliction found rarely on the E. Coast). And there are others of fame that do not enjoy my personal knowledge, such as Joe Galambos, Natallee Hall and Skye D’Aureous, El Rayo and Naomi Gatherer, and Lou Rollins, whose good and worthy efforts will someday earn them a more adept chronicler.
Let us move up the Coast to the neglected Northwest and stop briefly in Oregon. In Portland you will be utterly unable to find, since he is a confirmed recluse, someone of libertarian bent who cares little enough for “The Movement” *bow, scrape*. In fact, he is the fellow who taught me to write in asterisks like this *praise, praise* and set a revolution in style and literature throughout Science Fiction fandom with his SCIENCE FICTION REVIEW. Richard E. Geis is passing through his middle age, but remains young of heart and Spry of brain, and will probably unfailingly put out some sort of fanzine that will make me drop all my activities and labours when perusing my mailbox and finding him. And have me seek some nice corner complete with couch to curl up and read. So his reviews are infallible in telling you who to read and who not to, though granted, only for form and style. But if Dick is cavalier towards content, his unflinching eye will observe for you who’s saying it well for us and them, and who is botching it. And as his famous “Alter Ego” revealed in WORLDS OF IF, he is a lover of “Romantic” fiction, that which is written for you and not for the literary critic and his set. (SCIENCE FICTION REVIEW, P.0. Box 11408, Portland, Ore. 97211. $4/year)
Still further north, in the Washington area, we find lurking one Joseph Michael Sharp, Mike to his anarcho-friends. Besides trying to get Libertarian Alliances going on Washington campuses, and keeping campus papers hopping with columns, Mike tried lighting torches for Ludwig von Mises, even putting out an issue or two or WERTFREI, a journal of praxeology. When last heard from, Mike was Browning, but I assume not for long. He is being persuaded to grace the pages of NLN with reports from that Dark Area of our communications, and perhaps he will be seen in SLR.
Before we leave the West Coast, let us not forget to cast an aloha over the waves. Although the PACIFIC LIBERTARIAN is gone, Jerrold D. Dickson and his FREE has the Movement in Hawaii relatively pure and lively. Jerry is also a fan, and is building a libertarian alliance of some sort, not scorning our New Libertarians. Hawaii has always been a hotbed of activism, with a libertarian radio station being driven off the air and libertarians being busted in a Census Resistance case, the only such bust from the great Census Resistence organized by SIL in 1970. I’m sure it’s a great comfort to Jerry that I expect him to follow in their footsteps, but perhaps he will tread with greater care. (FREE, Box 2776, Honolulu, Haw. 96803. $5/yr.)
So, says the faithful reader, the West Coast and the East Coast are filled with the great and the good. What a pity that the Middle of the Continent has such a dearth of wise and true! Hah, replies YFNA. Just wait until the next issue.
Southern Libertarian Review
Volume 1 Number 9 / March 18, 1975
Pages 2, 9
Libertarian Strategy (1)
In six years the Libertarian Movement has learned a lot of lessons. While libertarian theory continues to evolve and grow, the basic ideology of 1969 remains valid. In fact, libertarian theory has reacted to the stimulation of the swings and jolts from conflicting strategies.
So that we are not condemned to relive it, let’s review our history. As of December, 1968, libertarian strategy was directed either toward influence of the conservatives or conversion of the independents. It was wholly educational or retreatist. Robert LeFevre’s Rampart College, Leonard Read’s FEE, Joe Galambos’ FEI, Nathaniel Branden’s NBI, F. A. Harper’s IHS, and Frank Chodorov’s ISI were all educational institutes. The VonuLifers, Atlantis group, and Oliverites were seeking escape. Except for the LIBERAL INNOVATOR’s leafletting of the Cow Palace in 1964, no libertarians were involved in a political campaign except as deviationist individuals. Many supported Nixon in 1968, but they were clearly of conservative leanings.
The very victory of Nixon and sell-out of libertarian-conservative modest goals soured these “campaigning individualists.” The rise of activist organizing as an alternative to political campaigning and the seeming possibility of New Left revolution attracted the campaigners to a plausible alternative. Libertarians organized a caucus within YAF with results we all know. In December 1968, Rothbard and his small group of radical libertarians—Block, Tuccille, Childs. et al.—moved to bring libertarianism into SDS and the New Left. The Radical Libertarian Alliance was formed.
In 1969 the right-coalition tactic exploded in St. Louis. But within a month the New Left-alliance tactic also shattered in New York. To both the Libertarian Caucus and RLA leaders’ surprise, the result was the formation Of independent Libertarian Alliances across the country, with the RLA and SIL central organizations becoming just “tendencies.” SIL adapted, becoming a clearing house to the more scattered locals. RLA turned briefly from a revolutionary group to a political campaign group in late 1971, and the Citizens for a Restructured Republic promptly died on the campaign trail of 1972.
Graduation from universities began to decay the campus-based libertarian alliances from 1970-72, and the LA’s began to replant themselves in the straight communities. Eventually they would exhibit themselves as Supper Clubs. Libertarian Churches, or just meetings (e.g.: Gary Greenberg’s NYLA). These were sound roots being set, but hardly the spectacular, “shake-the-world” activities of the 1969-71 period.
More escapism offered itself (Minerva, Abaco) and the educators kept educating. Many libertarians pursued more valuable long-range activities, combining their business or professional careers with libertarian advocacy: running businesses on agoric bases, pursuing journalism, academic research, and even television and radio (Lowell Ponte, Ron Kimberling).
Many libertarians also turned inward with incessant psychology sessions and in-group self-criticism. This was the Movement as reflected in 1972 in, say, NEW LIBERTARIAN NOTES, and which could be pieced together from RAP, LIBERTARIAN FORUM, REASON, ACADEMIC ASSOCIATES LETTER, VONULIFE, FREEMAN, SIL NEWS, PACIFIC LIBERTARIAN, and many local newsletters.
But in December of 1971, the political campaign heresy arose again. To put it mildly, Your Friendly Neighborhood Anarcho-columnist was hardly an impartial observer of this weed in our garden. But even then it seemed Obvious to me from where it drew its appeal. First, the need for a public “mass movement” visibility of many libertarians who were otherwise quite sound on doctrine. And, second, there were a lot of newcomers who had not “learned their lesson” in 1968 and were confused enough to believe that freedom can be imposed, i.e., “voted in.”
The Libertarian Party should have collapsed as fast as the CRR, since its popular vote was so far below the number of eligible libertarians as to show its rejection and then some.
While it was obvious in N.Y. and Calif., the libertarians in the rest of the country were too scattered to realize their true strength (about 100,000, according to the lists of the time, with less than 10,000 voting for Hospers). Also, the electoral fast shuffle of Roger MacBride diverted attention from the overwhelming rejection of the LP.
Other libertarians campaigned for Nixon (believe it or not), McGovern, Schmitz, and Spock; and I have even heard of one or two who voted for Linda Jenness (Trotskyite). Most libertarians didn’t vote, and Sy Leon’s League of Non-Voters got excellent coverage on and off.
1973 was the year of the LP. The most viable Opposition seemed to be a radical faction within the LP, though again this was misleading. The radical caucus (RC) was firmly rooted in the anti-political libertarian tradition, and nurtured by all the Movement outside the Party—from LeFevrians to Brownians, and even a token Galombosian!
As soon as a real live political campaign occurred in 1973, disillusionment began and the rc’s ranks began to swell. Many partyites simply dropped out immediately. The re broke away at the state and national LP conventions of 1974. By Spring of 1975 only the smallest state parties on the E. Coast had not suffered a large split, some “splits” involving nearly the entire party. Significantly, those who bolted were often the top activists, newsletter editors, and theoreticians.
The long, painstaking construction of a free society via a Counter-Economy cannot be short-cut then. But, it may yet be argued, is there no way to harness this deep-seated drive to campaign publicly, and to draw in the new recruits that the Goldwater/YAF and McGovern campaigns did? Is there no such thing as a “pure” campaign which can get all the benefits of the LP electioneering, but avoid the deadly problems of monopoly organization, power-tripping, and, ultimately, being Judas Goat for the State?
Obviously, there is Nobody we could run.
(next month: Counter-Campaign ’76)
Southern Libertarian Review
Volume 1 Number 11 / May 18, 1975
Pages 3, 8
Last issue Your Friendly Neighborhood Anarchocolumnist (YFNA) sketched the last six years of the Movement’s history again, this time focusing on strategy. The failure of all tactics used until now, with the exception of the somewhat arduous Counter-Economic approach (hard work and all that) was noted, and the Party heresy was pointed out as the most blatant failure. But also noted was the drive for exhibition on the part of many libertarians, a desire for visibility in a Public Campaign. Really, about the only positive thing the Party ever claimed for itself was that it attracted people by public campaigning (a false claim, by the way—the Party has yet to convert one person that I know of, usually getting its memberships from old LAers, NBIers, and reader-converts).
Let’s look at some of the problems involved in a political campaign. First, the Party must be a monopoly with individuals subjecting themselves to compromise or outright sell-out to unite behind a candidate. Why? To get him a chance of winning. Why? To take office, of course.
Which brings us to the next problem. A libertarian in office is another politician with power to oppress us. Either he has the power and refrains from using it (threatens us) or uses it (coerces us). Nobody can be trusted with that, clearly.
And who could we all agree on without sacrificing our principles? Behind whom could students of Murray Rothbard, Robert LeFevre, Ayn Rand, Leonard Read, Joseph Galambos, Karl Hess, Robert A. Heinlein, El Rayo, Natallee Hall, and Harry Browne unite? Nobody.
Finally, what candidate can libertarians even draw from our ranks with enough popular appeal to bring large numbers into his campaign that we could then use all our libertarian wiles on to radicalize? Nobody again.
Look at the 1974 election for Republicans, Democrats, American Independents, and Peace & Freedomers. 62% (5 out of 8, figure counters) voted for Nobody. Clearly, she is the most popular candidate, the favourite for 1976.
Who? Why, Nobody, of course.
Look at her advantages! (I cannot refer to Nobody as her, actually, since it is not true that Nobody is female; but it is also false that Nobody is male. So as courtesy to feminists, I use the feminine. After all, who cares if Nobody is offended?)
Nobody would give up her power if elected. Nobody is free from being a focus for factional strife. Nobody already commands large support from the people. (Witness NLA’s brief Vote for Nobody campaign and Sy Leon’s previous League of Non-Voters activities for instruction in great publicity at next to no cost.)
Considering the seriousness of the Office of the President, Nobody would stand for a whimsical, witty campaign to woo the wary.
Nobody would fail to seduce the new converts into Statism. And Nobody would fail to have yet another “cult of personality” spring around her. Blacks and rednecks, feminists and male chauvinists, the poor and the wealthy, the fannish and the sercon, ex-liberals and ex-conservatives could all identify at once with Nobody. Who else can make that claim?
And, speaking of the campaign, I can see it now. “Nobody in Congress was against Taxes in ’76. Vote for Nobody!” (Great around April 15.) “Nobody can represent your interests in government. Nobody for President!” “Nobody deserves to live off your hard-earned tax money. Nobody’s our Man!” (Or woman, person, sentient, thing…)
And remember, dear reader, Nobody can hold more than one office in the U.S. Nobody for Congress! Nobody for Senate! Nobody for mayor! Nobody for governor! Nobody for dog-catcher…whoops, almost forgot about the limited governmentalists.
Before I get carried away (yeah!) with the whimsy, such a campaign is kicking off this year in several stages. On July 4, Counter-campaign ’76 will be announced to the libertarian movement. Want a franchise in your area? After all, even if we have a State Committee in your area, you could always set up a Congressional District Committee, county committee, assembly district committee, or whatever. There’s plenty for everyone. All the National Committee asks is that if you re-publish our ads in publications we haven’t covered (or put our your own handbills), split the take with us 50-50. Otherwise we will send you a “letter of authorization” for you to show to local statists with no hassle.
Get fast, fast relief from political anxiety. Nobody can’t sell out! Countercampaign ’76 may even have a National Nominating Convention in 1976. Best place would be in Kansas City the week before Labour Day. Some 10,000 SF fen are expected to be at the Hotel Muehlebach to hear the Worldcon guest of honor—Robert Heinlein. Libertarians and sympathizers will be highly concentrated there anyway.
“Mr. Chairperson, the State of Virginia unanimously nominates Nobody for President!” Cheers, balloons, kick lines. (Feminists may have male kick lines, if they wish. Nobody won’t mind.)
Naturally, delegate credentials will be sold, blatantly. (Sounds like the regular conventions to me—Ed.) After all, Nobody is free from corruption. And this being the era of Watergate, nobody is free from scandal and smear!
There you are, hard-core person. The problem I posed at the beginning of this column is solved. After all, I could not just carp and criticize without having a positive plan of action. Nobody would expect that from me! And remember, you can vote for Nobody in the convenience of your own home. (Send your name and address to the editor of this publication if you are interested in either campaigning for Nobody or/and wish to be a delegate.)
Southern Libertarian Review
Volume 1 Number 12 / June, 1975
Pages 10, 11
End Note: I was able to dig up some of the propaganda used in the CounterCampaign ’76. For your delectation: