Karl Hess: Presidential Speechwriter Turned Homesteader

A Plowboy Interview with Karl Hess, Presidential speechwriter turned homesteader, former supporter of the Military-Industrial Complex, who now doesn't pay taxes and barters for what he and his wife can't grow or make for themselves.


| January/February 1976



Karl Hess, presidential speechwriter turned homesteader.

Karl Hess, presidential speechwriter turned homesteader.

Photo by the MOTHER EARTH NEWS staff

The Plowboy Interview spotlights Karl Hess, Presidential speechwriter turned homesteader, who doesn't pay taxes and barters for what he needs.

Karl Hess: Presidential Speechwriter Turned Homesteader

It was so easy back then — during the 1950's and early 60's — to be a Right Thinking Citizen of the United States. Easy because we all knew who wore the White Hats (yeaaa!) and who wore the Black Ones (boooo!).

"Capitalism" — which we naively defined as equal parts free enterprise, democracy, and the Winning of the West — was Good. "Communism" — which was anything associated with Russia or Red China — was Bad.

And "they" wanted to get "us". And, despite the fact that God was on our side, they'd do it too if we didn't somehow "keep ahead" : (The day-and-night fear of Right Thinking Americans throughout the 50's and early 60's was that the United States would fall behind in some nebulous, unspecified contest and quickly suffer a very concrete — though undefined — fate: "The communists will just come in here and take over.")

And so "progress" — which was already as American as mom, flag, and apple pie — became our secret weapon. Our be-all, end-all. ("Your future is great in a growing America.")

"New" and "improved" were Good while "conservation" and "little old bird-watchers in tennis shoes" were Bad ("Your future is Great in a growing America.")





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