Tonight the Angel Clark Show on Radio Freedom will feature Donald Meinshausen:
I started as a Goldwater activist when I was 13 and attended Ayn Rand lectures 2 years later. At 19 as a member of Young Americans for Freedom, I submitted the idea of having a panel at a YAF regional convention showing the conservative spectrum. It was composed of these noteworthy people: Henry Paolucci, former Conservative Party candidate for senator as the traditionalist, Frank S Meyer, ex-communist writer for National Review who invented conservatism as a fusion of traditionalism and libertarianism, Jerome Tuccille, an objectivist then, and Karl Hess who in his then recent article “The Death of Politics” in Playboy took the view of libertarianism as being closer to the New Left than conservatism. The contrasting debate made an impression on many and me who became libertarians. Jerry writes about this pivotal panel in his book “It Usually Starts with Ayn Rand”. It was here that I first met Karl and Murray Rothbard who is known as the Karl Marx of Libertarianism. It was here that the leaders of the libertarians of the East and West coasts of YAF first met to plan to organize a libertarian caucus.
Later I met with Karl and his son to form an anarchist caucus within YAF, which we formed to anchor the new libertarians to a consistent position. I helped author a resolution for YAF to support draft resistance. While YAF did support abolition of the draft, draft resistance was especially unpopular with the funders of YAF. YAF was not only a training ground for future conservative leaders it also pushed for YAF to fight the New Left. As well as support the war in Vietnam. These were extremely unpopular positions on campus.
The time of the 60’s were similar to the current crisis; an unpopular war abroad, an unpopular drug war at home, widespread government spying on its citizens, a GOP president mired in scandal who repudiated the conservative ideal of limited government and the ensuing damage economy. The campuses were in turmoil and rallies of 500,000 were mounted to oppose the war in several cities. Add in the civil rights struggles, the rise of rock music, the sexual revolution, the adolescence the baby boomers and the cultural ferment fueled by marijuana and psychedelics and you could understand the crucible of the times that radicalized us.
To be radicalized means to go to the root of your beliefs. Libertarianism at this stage meant opposition to the warfare state as well as the welfare state and opposition to victimless crime laws. As classical liberals, we once lost to the socialists because we did not believe that a radical analysis of the system was necessary. The next stage was the acceptance of civil disobedience as a tactic. This question was dramatically faced at the 1969 YAF convention.
It was going to be an amazing weekend. The 1969 YAF convention and the World Science Fiction Convention were going to be in St. Louis, Missouri. As the anarchist caucus could not arrange to use the hotel facilities we arranged to meet at the Arch. The soaring 600ft. tall arch is part of The Jefferson National Park and is St. Louis most famous landmark. There Karl Hess, the most charismatic figure in the libertarian movement gave a discourse that is remembered to this day. He walked among the crowd of libertarians and conservatives, all of whom were inspired by the words that he wrote for Barry Goldwater. He was characteristically warm, spoke simply and wisely and most important never got angry or talked down to people. His main point was that where government expands, liberty contracts whether it is the welfare state or the warfare state.
After the talk I got another clue of how magickal this beginning was. Everyone was making puns. It was an archive of anarchistic arch-conservatives having over-arching concern for our arch-enemies; the archaic architects of panarchy. Goddess is alive, magick is afoot. If it’s not a foot at least it’s an arch with soul. It is part of a widely held pagan philosophy that puns and coincidences are a sign of magickal presence (pre-sense).
Even the conservatives got into punning. While some libertarians shouted out the slogan “laissez-faire”; the conservatives responded “lazy-fairy”. The first word was probably a comment on easy being a libertarian and how hard it was being a conservative. The second word was likely a reference to the proposed alliance with the New Left and that it was an unnatural act. We responded that it was a civil union even though the conservatives thought it was a same sects marriage. We also had a gesture of one finger upraised (no, not that finger, the forefinger). This finger meant I or individualism and meant we were not afraid of standing up (erect?) for our beliefs. The conservatives said that in order to show the true shade of our beliefs we should show the pinky. This was rather small of them. In this finger food for thought we presaged the digital revolution.
At the convention, libertarians were losing credential battles and being purged from positions due to the machinations of David Keene, who is now head of the American Conservative Union. I knew that our positions were not ever going to be accepted much less adopted within YAF. There was a strong need to show the contrast between libertarians and traditionalists as well as to coalesce our band and strike out on our own. What was needed was ceremonial magick that would incorporate the America’s goddess symbol with the trademark of the radical sixties. Something dramatic needed to happen and I approached David Schumacher, then a Princeton student and now rancher, executive and a member of the Eris Society (Eris is the goddess of discord). I then obtained a Xerox copy of a draft card from Durk Pearson, now a famed researcher and author on life extension and a lighter from Jarrett Wollstein who is still a renowned libertarian pamphleteer. The moment was the defeat of our draft resistance resolution. Now the symbol of YAF is the Torch of Liberty (from our Goddess of the NYC harbor) and then Dave became that symbol by lighting that draft card. The conservatives became outraged and a melee erupted. At that moment, the libertarians realized that we needed to declare our independence from the conservative movement and form our own movement. It is generally accepted that at this exact moment the modern day libertarian movement was born. It is amazing that many libertarians see ceremonial magick as just theatre; it is rather a theatre of the just.
The reason why I did not burn the draft card was that I had pissed off the conservative movement earlier that month by my testimony at the House Internal Security Subcommittee (formerly HUAC). I told the committee that that in the process of investigating Students for a Democratic Society (the main New Left organization of the time) that I had discovered a much more dangerous organization that had destroyed much more property and lives than SDS ever could and that this organization was the United States government. Now the committee was used to handling hostile witnesses before. In fact, radicals were proud of being subpoenaed; they called it subpoenas envy. What really pissed off HUAC was that I was supposed to be a friendly witness.
Yes, I had been spying on SDS during all time I had been organizing libertarians within YAF and the other libertarians knew it. I had decided to become a spy within SDS to learn why SDS had become much more popular than the right. Part of the reason was that they were getting laid more often. After all, if I was going to be a radical for capitalism I had to learn whatever I could about becoming a radical. Giving information to the government, which I later regretted, was a way of covering myself in case I later wished to work within the system.
I had the right costume for the part; granny glasses, long hair, moustache, work shirt and jeans. Instead of the US army surplus field jacket, I wore a West Point tunic jacket that I got from my brother after he graduated from West Point. Some SDSers objected but since I was considered cadre I felt I was entitled. I was called a political transvestite and a multi-party personality. Where did this look come from? Anarchist theorist and Spanish Civil War veteran, Murray Bookchin in his brilliant essay “Listen Marxist” has an interesting theory for this tired attire. Revolutions, like history, tend to copy the one immediately preceding it. The uniform thinking as well as clothing was a faded copy of the union organizing of the 1930’s when the left made its greatest Marx on history. Radical students dress this way today, perhaps because of its recycling message. Murray Bookchin once spoke to an LP convention and his presence on the anarchist left is a mirror image of Murray Rothbard on the libertarian movement. He even thundered against the attacks on Western Civilization while maintaining his radicalism just like Rothbard.
I have a different explanation for my fashion statement. Recently there is a show on TV called “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” where gays fashion men into consumerist metrosexuals. What happened to me was that I got in touch with my inner lesbian, disdaining spending too much money and time on clothing and shaving moving me to slob-urbanism rather than the metrosexualism. It’s all in the jeans. I guess this makes me a male version of the fag hag. On the other hand, costumes or ceremonial garb can be an art form itself.
In establishing my credibility within SDS I created my own SDS chapter, a collection of white hippies who could not get into college elsewhere. Because I organized it, I was elected head of it. It was a racially mixed, radical community college in Newark NJ, a city which during the previous year had suffered major riots. I helped elect the president of our student body who was a black Muslim draft resister. One assistant to the dean actually tried to have me beaten up by Italian working class youths who later told me of his plan. To further illustrate his cravenness, the dean told me that I could not set up a literature table because no rules for allowing this had been set up. He even told me I could not set up a SDS chapter because no national organizations were allowed on campus, so I set up Students for Peace instead.
As an experiment to see how white working class youth would respond to radical arguments, I arrange for the National Lawyers Guild to address my group on campus. It was loud and passionate, definitely something that was not part of the accepted academic style that would allow students to snooze in peace. One fear that these students had was that if the school was closed or if they were kicked out, it would mean that they could be drafted and sent to Vietnam. This college was also a possible entry into the middle class. Since I came from a blue-collar background myself and with my brother a leiutenant in Vietnam, I could sympathize with their plight even if it were exaggerated. Complaints were made from neighboring classroom instructors and I went to the dean and was told that I was to face a disciplinary hearing. I then told the NLG of this fact, they immediately produced a brief as well as legal representation, and we had a meeting with the dean. My law student advocate asked; “Where was the rule that I had supposedly broken?” “Was I entitled to legal representation?” “Was I entitled to a jury of my peers?” You get the idea. The dean blanched, took me aside and told me that he would drop the charges.
Be careful of political experimentation in crazy times. In the autumn of 1968, the SDS and the Panthers decided to have a rally, guerrilla theatre and march to protest the war and the lack of choice in the upcoming elections. I got together with my friends in YAF and we planned a Buckleyesque genteel theatre critique. Boy, did we underestimate the situation. A bunch of the Italian students from my college joined them and they did not like student radicals. During the march a general melee broke out. At one point five of these aforementioned (rather than YAFformentioned) students tried to attack me. A black student who I had just made friends with a few days before pulled out a knife to defend me. Fortunately at this time, my friends in YAF intervened. There is a photo of two groups of students attacking/defending me while I lay on the ground in a fetal position with my mind screaming, “What am I doing?” The police arrested the black student and I went to his trial and the judge was decent enough to drop the in real charges. There are lessons in life that you do not learn in books.
There’s much more involved in Donald’s tale! LISTEN LIVE tonight!