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LIBERTARIAN SCREENWRITERS DISCUSS SCI-FI, ELECTION 2000, AND 9/11

by Hank Willow, staff reporter  [March 20, 2002]

 

 

 

[HollywoodInvestigator.com]  The Karl Hess Club, convening monthly in Marie Callender's in Marina del Rey, has become the hot spot for Tinseltown's libertarian scribes.

And shockingly -- the KHC is open to the public!

Founded by Samuel E. Konkin III as a libertarian sci-fi literary salon in 1994, the club's name honors Karl Hess, the late Goldwater speechwriter ("Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice; moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.") who later supported the Black Panthers and the Libertarian Party.

The KHC's monthly guest speakers extend beyond libertarians, having included Christian homeschoolers, neo-pagans for group marriage, hemp activists, NRA reps, Marxist publishers, porn stars, Objectivists, and tax avoidance  lawyers. And while regular attendees come from many fields, libertarian scribes arrive in abundance, including:
 

* J. Neil Schulman, scripter for the New Twilight Zone (Profile in Silver) and author of The Frame of the Century (suggesting OJ's innocence),

* Brad Linaweaver (Sliders: The Classic Episodes, Moon of Ice),

* Victor Koman (The Jehovah Contract -- under option to Hollywood),

* John DeChancie (Other States of Being, Witchblade: Talons),

* "Anarchist" playwright Ben Pleasants, and

* Thomas M. Sipos (Vampire Nation)


While KHC regulars mostly regard themselves as libertarian, they also reflect the movement's factions. And because many libertarians oppose the Libertarian Party, in October 2000 a KHC panel debated the question: Who should libertarians support in the election?

LP Region 62 rep Robert Weber spoke for LP candidate Harry Browne. Linaweaver argued that the strongest libertarian message would be sent by voting for Pat Buchanan, because he was who the establishment most feared. A representative from the Republican Liberty Caucus said that since it would be either Bush or Gore, libertarians should support Bush.

Konkin, a self-described "Free Market Leftist" made the intellectual case for not voting: "It achieves nothing and endorses the state." The KHC had tried, but failed, to find a Green rep to offer a libertarian case for Ralph Nader. No invite was extended to the Gore camp. No one spoke for L. Neil Smith, a libertarian sci-fi author (The Wardove) who was the LP presidential candidate in Arizona. (Due to a factional split, Browne only ran on the other 49 state LPs.)

After 9/11, splits within the libertarian movement widened, largely between a peace faction (Harry Browne, Lew Rockwell, Libertarians for Peace, AntiWar) that currently dominates the libertarian establishment, and a war faction evident in grassroots weblogs (Libertarian Samizdata). Leonard Peikoff, dean of the "Objectivist movment" (founded by the late Ayn Rand, and often confused with libertarians), also advocates war.

The Libertarian Party itself has staked a moderate position "calling for a measured response," to the dismay of Libertarians for Peace. Another libertarian call for moderation -- in mideast matters -- was issued by Anti-State.

To date, the KHC has hosted two debates on the same question: What is the appropriate libertarian response to 9/11?

Taking the "purist" position, Konkin believes that wars can only exist between states, therefore 9/11 was not an act of war.  It was an attack by individuals, who, although they died in the attack, were primarily to blame. States remain, as always, a fiction. 9/11 does not change that. It does not justify the US government killing innocent foreign individuals merely because they happen to live in an area of the world circumscribed by imaginary political lines on a map. States have no validity, thus 9/11 is not an attack by "them" against "us."

Konkin also observed that the Taliban asked the US to present evidence against Osama bin Laden in an international court, but the US refused. He believes this is because the US was never interested in bringing any terrorists to justice, but was instead seeking an excuse to replace the Taliban with a regime that would allow the US to build a Caspian oil pipeline to Russia.

Schulman disagreed that "9/11 changes nothing." On the contrary, he believes that when a few ordinary men using cheap off-the-shelf tools can cause such vast destruction, history has experienced a shift in geopolitical "paradigms" such that traditional political analyses based on nation-states are obsolete.

Schulman said that a "war on terror" is both necessary and moral, partially because, whatever the past wrongs in US interventionist foreign policy, he sees no present alternative that would protect innocent civilians. This is because: (1) the terrorists were not deterred by criminal prosecutions for their previous 1993 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, (2) because they do not follow the Geneva convention which requires them to wear uniforms identifying what army they belong to, and (3) because they do not distinguish between state/military and civilian/commercial targets.

Still, Schulman opposes nation-building as an appropriate libertarian response. Whenever the US must enter a foreign nation to neutralize terrorists, it should first seek the cooperation of the local government. Only if cooperation is refused should the US enter by force -- and even then with no more force than necessary to protect American lives and neutralize the terrorists. The US should also strive to minimize harm to innocent civilians, and troops must be withdrawn as soon as the terrorist threat is eliminated. Domestically, the "war on terror" must not lead to the persecution of ethnic and religious minorities, nor to the violation of anyone's civil liberties.

A longtime gun rights advocate (Stopping Power: Why 70 Million Americans Own Guns), Schulman suggested that airline passengers be allowed to carry guns.  Had this been the case, the 9/11 terrorists could easily have been overpowered.  At worst, the planes would have crashed -- but before hitting their targets.

Linaweaver agreed that minority rights must be protected, and praised George Bush for -- immediately following 9/11 -- assuring Muslim and Arab-Americans that they are not the enemy.  Linaweaver termed Bush's response that of "a true libertarian president," and contrasted Bush's acts with FDR's internment of Japanese-Americans.

 

 

Unlike Schulman, who supported the war with grim resignation, Linaweaver enthusiastically endorsed both the war, and the "empire." Citing A Republic, Not an Empire, Linaweaver said that Buchanan was right, but had lost. Our Constitutional liberties long ago eroded, the US has long been an empire. "As long as we already have the bad parts of an empire, it's about time we had the good parts! If America is going to be an empire, then let's be an empire!"

Citing Israel's attack on the USS Liberty, Linaweaver said that no true empire tolerates abuse -- from friends or enemies. It's time America called the shots in the Mideast, and in its own interests, rather than allowing itself to be bullied by all sides.

Linaweaver praised the war in Afghanistan, and suggested that Iraq and Saudi Arabia may justifiably follow. "There are bad wars and good wars, and after 9/11, this war is one of the most historically just wars I can think of."

Outside the KHC, Konkin represents other libertarian groups. In yet another 9/11 debate (sponsored by LP Region 63), Konkin spoke for his Movement of the Libertarian Left when he criticized Bush's Patriot Act as a violation of civil liberties. In that debate, Jewish Defense League leader Irv Rubin praised the Patriot Act, and enthused over the war. (Rubin had previously joined the LP, but by then had allowed his membership to lapse.) Seated between Konkin and Rubin, the LP rep noted this was the first time he was the "moderate" in any debate. (The LP has since called for the repeal of the Patriot Act.)

Ironically, weeks later, the FBI arrested Rubin in a bomb plot, making Rubin the first American to be charged under the Patriot Act.

Adding further irony, Konkin fully supports Rubin.  In an exclusive statement issued to the Hollywood Investigator, Konkin stated: "I think Irv Rubin, though guilty of a lot, was set up by a police infiltrator. Classic '60's COINTELPRO tactics."

Konkin adds that his New Libertarian magazine is "'The Journal of Record of the Libertarian Movement Since 1970' and, for a time in the 1980s, second largest in circulation after Reason."

As with the larger libertarian movement, the regulars at the KHC are divided over the war.  Some take a "purist" anti-war, anti-state position. Others are more moderate, nervously supporting limited surgical strikes against identifiable terrorists. Still others see a clash of civilizations, the West under attack by what Christopher Hitchens terms "Islamo-fascism" and which justifies a sweeping "imperial" response.

KHC regulars Schulman, Linaweaver, and Koman are all past winners of the Prometheus Award, established by the Libertarian Futurist Society to honor science fiction that celebrates freedom over the statism found in mainstream sci-fi (e.g., the fascism of Star Trek).

The KHC convenes every third Monday at Marie Callender's in Marina del Rey on Lincoln Blvd., just off the 90 Fwy. Meetings from 7-10 pm.  Admission is $20, which includes a full course all-you-can-eat dinner (alcohol excluded).

 

Since this report was written, the KHC has twice moved. Its current location into at KarlHessClub.org. Also, Samuel E. Konkin III died in 2004.

Hank Willow is a Los Angeles based tabloid reporter who investigates Hollywood scams and Tinseltown's occult underbelly. Read about his adventures in tabloid journalism in Hollywood Witches.

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