E16 -

This episode features an excerpt from Subversion for Fun and Profit, a wide‐​ranging discussion between Karl Hess and Robert Anton Wilson.


Karl Hess was a noted speechwriter (for Barry Goldwater among others) and author, and later in his life became known as a tax resister and market anarchist.

Dr. Robert Anton Wilson was the author (along with Robert Shea) of the popular Illuminatus! trilogy, which won the Prometheus Hall of Fame award for science fiction in 1986. His other books have found great acclaim as well, many of them achieving “cult classic” status. Wilson has been described at various times throughout his life as a novelist, philosopher, psychologist, essayist, editor, playwright, poet, futurist, civil libertarian and agnostic mystic.

This episode features an excerpt from Subversion for Fun and Profit, with Karl Hess and Robert Anton Wilson. Hess and Wilson are icons of libertarianism and radical individualist thinking in the 1960s and 1970s.

Karl Hess was an influential figure among high‐​level Republicans in the early 1960s. As a speechwriter for the GOP, Hess has been credited as the author of Barry Goldwater’s most iconic line, “Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice; moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.” Over time, Hess became more radical and his close associations with the both the GOP and broader white collar society strained and ultimately dissolved. Hess became an anarchist.

Robert Anton Wilson, is best known for co‐​authoring the popular Illuminatus! Trilogy published in 1975. Wilson and his co‐​author, Robert Shea, had been editors at Playboy magazine and began cataloging the letters they’d receive describing various conspiracies of governments and secret societies. Wilson has been described as “maybe” a futurist, author, lecturer, stand‐​up comic, guerrilla ontologist, psychedelic magician, outer head of the Illuminati, quantum psychologist, Taoist sage and Discordian pope.

The wide‐​ranging discussion presented here took place at the 1987 nominating convention of the Libertarian Party.

Written by Caleb O. Brown and produced by Mark McDaniel.