I have been pretty intrigued by Karl Hess for some time, and I can’t say for sure why I feel that way. Maybe it’s the fact that an 8th or 9th grade drop-out who taught himself to become a self-sufficient, and self-accomplished: political philosopher, editor, welder, motorcycle racer, tax resister, atheist, and libertarian activist; or, it’s the fact that I find learning someone’s path to realizing their own individuality interesting. Everyone has their own path to the realization that the government/the State is a destructive,malicious entity….and some never do.
Hess, in his book, Dear America, goes on to pull the curtain back and show the reader the true nature of the centralized, government juggernaut, crony corporatism, the fallacy of the right vs left, and the power of the individual at it’s core and it’s all-encompassing potential for change. Change through self-sufficiency by the individual, free markets, and small community autonomy.
Like most people trying to find an identity or free the conflicts of their own conscience, Hess challenged the status quo:
“While serving as a paid hand for major capitalist interests, I used to cling to the notion that the bigness of the automakers was all good, all sacred, all American. And not once did I bother to think of how that directly contradicted my other notions, as a conservative, about the virtues of controlling your own life, of being self-reliant, and of locating political and economic power close to home and not in remote areas.”
Hess had realized a majority of conservatives and the Republican Party had lost it’s core principles of individualism and traded them for control, authoritarianism and protectionism. As much as Hess tried to fit-in, he became more disgusted and dissatisfied with himself and his involvement in the corporate world where he believed the loss of loyalty to oneself becomes a turning point in a persons life.
“When there is no loyalty to or sense of self, then there is only the superficial loyalty to anyone else”. From there, Hess became part of the New Left and the SDS (Students for a Democratic Society),which espoused the principles of anti-authoritarianism, anti-war and anti-Establishment and a break from the “Old Left” and their focus on labor issues and authoritarianism. Many of the groups in the “New Left” were anarchist groups such as the Diggers and The Up Against the Wall Motherfuckers, which wanted decentralization and direct action.
” In time, he would turn toward the New Left, or to that portion of it which is anti-authoritarian and anarchist; that seemed to be where the numbers were, where the life-style was developing, and where, as he said, “people were making revolution, instead of talking about it.”
I admire these people like Karl Hess now, five or six years ago I never would have given a second thought of how important individuality is to freedom and prosperity, and the knowledge that you own your own destiny, and how detrimental government in any form is to those freedoms. Hess showed how anarchism,free markets, voluntarism, and mutual aid could bring about change more so than any other governmental policy or party ever could promise.
This, as I said before, was part of my path toward decentralization,individualism, self-reliance, and private assistance rather than relying on a centralized bureaucracy with no accountability and rife with abuses of those same individual principles.
Dear America, Wake Up!