Karl Hess: Toward Liberty

It’s amazing what you can find on Google Video. This is the Academy Award-winning (yes, really) documentary about Karl Hess, who was one of the founding editors of National Review and a key Goldwater speechwriter — and who later became a New Leftist and an outspoken (as well as tax-resisting) libertarian. A very interesting figure, though I can’t say I’m impressed with the film, which won the 1981 Academy Award for best short documentary.

I think I’ve described Hess in the past as a “crunchy libertarian.” You’ll see why in the documentary:

For good measure, here’s a link to Hess’s best-known essay, “The Death of Politics.”


4 thoughts on “Karl Hess: Toward Liberty

  1. dylan waco March 22, 2008 / 8:28 pm


    We were just discussing this in the car and how it was impossible to find. Thanks Dan!


  2. Berin Szoka March 30, 2008 / 3:31 am

    How weird to see someone who groks Bastiat’s “Broken Window Fallacy” (the false benefits of the car accident, in this case) so well going to such fanatical extremes in defense of autarky–the absence of exchange!

  3. Daniel McCarthy March 30, 2008 / 3:35 am

    Yeah, Hess had some significant flaws in his understanding. A few years before this (if I’m getting the time-line right) he had a debate with Jeffrey Hart about the merits of the division of labor. Toward the end of his life — the story is included in his postumously-published autobiography, Mostly on the Edge — Hess realized he’d been wrong and apologized to Hart.

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