Between the Lines

Confessions of a Libertarian Activist

I’ve been a libertarian activist since the age of 16 or so—long before the term libertarian became known and widely used by the general public.  Indeed, when I announced my conversion to parents, friends, and associates I distinctly recall a number of them saying something to the effect of “Gee, I didn’t know the librarians had their own party!”

Well, we didn’t have a political party or, indeed, much of an organization, at least not in any substantial sense: We were just a bunch of kids with mimeograph machines (yes, it was that long ago), and our main means of communication was publishing what would today be called fanzines—and, of course, letter-writing (another lost art).  The names of these publications are fated to be lost to history.  Commentary on Liberty (put out by David F. Nolan and Don Ernsberger, of Philadelphia Young Americans for Freedom) was our very own New York Times, where news of “the movement” and various opinion pieces on strategy and tactics were eagerly debated, but there were many others: The Innovator (a “retreatist” zine, which advocated “dropping out” of “statist society,” long before Tim Leary popularized the hippie slogan “Turn on, tune in, drop out”), and various journals devoted to endless reiterations of the philosophy of novelist Ayn Rand, including...

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