Ep. 0011: DHP Hero: Karl Hess
From time to time, I’m going to cover some people I see as Heroes and Villains. These will be individuals whom I find very intriguing (and therefore think/hope you’ll find them intriguing as well), either in a good or bad way.
In the case of Heroes, I think it’s important to mention that I don’t believe in fawning hero-worship type stuff. I also think that “hero worship” can be very dangerous, because it can prevent you from being your own hero. It’s very easy (I know because I’ve been there) to start deifying your ‘heroes’ (I don’t think it’s a coincidence that many people use the word ‘idol’ in this context), and in so doing feel that you are not and never could be their equal, let alone their better, when the reality is that you can equal or better almost anyone in almost any regard, provided you have the will to put in the work in whatever field it is that you want to be a hero.
Nonetheless and all that said, I think it’s important to have some positive examples of individuals whom you admire for some reason(s). History is so replete with villains that every now and then you have to stop and smell the roses, by which I mean read or listen or learn about a Good Guy or Gal.
Our first Dangerous History Podcast Hero that we’ll cover is Karl Hess (1923-1994), who I think is a strong contender for a real-life Most Interesting Man in the World.
Join Prof CJ as he discusses:
- Karl’s early childhood, and how his mother put him on the path to being an autodidact
- His early success as a writer and entry into politics, including work as a speechwriter and platform writer for the Republican Party
- His involvement with the ill-fated 1964 presidential campaign of Barry Goldwater, and how Karl left the GOP in its aftermath
- Karl’s involvement with the New Left and Counterculture, and his ultimate embrace of libertarianism and anarchism, during which time he wrote an influential essay entitled “The Death of Politics” and became a tax protestor, hounded for the rest of his life by the IRS
- His involvement in the early phases of what today we think of as the prepper/self-sufficiency movement, including his relocation to a self-made home in rural West Virginia
- Karl’s love of tools, including guns
- Some parting thoughts from Prof CJ on Karl, including Karl’s DIY ethic, and his embodiment of three of Prof CJ’s ideals: the Autodidact, the Polymath, and the Renaissance Man
Prof CJ’s Picks (buy via these links to help support the show)
- Karl’s famous 1969 essay, “The Death of Politics”
- An excerpt featuring Karl from the 1983 documentary (which is definitely worth watching in its entirety) Anarchism in America
- A playlist of segments from the 1981 short documentary Karl Hess: Toward Liberty (not sure if/where the full film can be found, but I think these clips cover most of it, as the full film is supposedly under 1/2 hour long.) BTW, clip #6 is in my opinion the best — it’s where Hess talks the most about alternative technology & liberty, and also sounds the most Zen/Taoist.