Karl Hess

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To live is to go on a journey; to die is to come back home.
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Karl Hess (1923–1994) was a libertarian and speechwriter for Barry Goldwater.

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The Death of Politics

  • Laissez-faire capitalism, or anarchocapitalism, is simply the economic form of the libertarian ethic. Laissez-faire capitalism encompasses the notion that men should exchange goods and services, without regulation, solely on the basis of value for value. It recognizes charity and communal enterprises as voluntary versions of this same ethic. Such a system would be straight barter, except for the widely felt need for a division of labor in which men, voluntarily, accept value tokens such as cash and credit. Economically, this system is anarchy, and proudly so.
    • Hess, Karl. The Death of Politics, Interview in Playboy, July 1976. Also available in Hess's autobiography, Mostly on the Edge.
  • Given a nation that not enough citizens can be attracted to defend voluntarily, you probably also have a nation that, by definition, isn't really worth defending.

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  • Individualism. Self-reliance. Decentralization. Individual responsibility.
  • Extremism in the pursuit of liberty is no vice. Moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.

Quotes about Hess

  • Theodore H. White tells a remarkable story about Goldwater's chief speechwriter, Karl Hess. Chief speechwriters of losing campaigns usually find a safe berth somewhere in the party machine, but not so Hess. First, he applied for positions with conservative senators and congressmen—the very politicians who had been cheering him on a few months before. Unwanted, he lowered his sights dramatically. Could he perhaps work the elevators in the Senate or the House? Still no luck. The apostle of the free market was reduced to the ranks of the unemployed. He enrolled in a night-school course in welding and eventually found a job working the night shift in a machine shop.