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Karl Hess

P.T. reminded me that today is the birthday of the late, great (and sometimes rather quirky) Karl Hess.

She pointed me toward his 1969 Playboy article, “The Death of Politics.” Yeah, bits of it are dated now. But even those parts give an interesting look at the way politics and government never fundamentally change, even as the world shifts around them.

If I have one hero in the ranks of libertarians and market anarchists, it’s Hess. Whatever else the man did, he seriously tried to live by his principles and implement them in the real world.


  1. Ragnar
    Ragnar May 26, 2010 11:58 am

    Thanks for the post, I was not familiar with Karl Hess but after reading the wiki page I found his autobiography plus the 1976 Playboy mentioned on the wiki page… fascinating guy!

  2. Joe
    Joe May 27, 2010 11:16 am

    I’ve heard the name and years ago read the plowboy interview (Mother Earth News.)

    I saw the Wikipedia entry and his Bibliography. Impressive. Obviously a man with a mindset and perception liable to upset the apple kart.

    Surprisingly, his book “A Common Sense Strategy for Survivalism” is NOT generally available. Not on Alibris, ABEbooks, bestbookbuys, Amazon. It’s NO WHERE. Was this because it was not a good book? Or not widely published? (Hard to believe as it does have an ASIN number) Or is this a matter of, dare I say it, er, um, – suppression?

    Hess was a smart dude, of that there is no doubt. One wonders.

  3. Claire
    Claire May 27, 2010 1:36 pm

    Joe, Karl Hess was one smart dude, indeed. As to the missing book … I don’t know what happened to it. Could be it’s so good that all the copies have been snapped up and aren’t being put back on the market. Could be … anything.

    I can say that my first and most frequent acquaintance with Hess came in the form of newsletters. On survivalism (and other matters). And they were darned good. Can’t see Hess writing a poor book on that topic.

    Unfortunately, since Hess doesn’t have big-time promoters (e.g. Lew Rockwell keeping Murray Rothbard’s thinking alive) and since he was more a do-er than a philosopher, I fear he’s slowly being forgotten by people who could otherwise be greatly inspired by him.

    Kudos to you and Ragnar and everybody else who keeps Hess’s life and thoughts alive by reading about him.

  4. Claire
    Claire June 3, 2010 6:05 pm

    🙂 Thanks, Ragnar. I had no idea. My connection here won’t allow much online video watching. I’m going to look around, though, and see if I can find that film someplace else. Excellent find.

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