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John Locke, Original Hipster.

Thank you for publishing Nick Gillespie's piece on my book Counterculture Through the Ages ("John Locke, Original Hipster," March). I always felt the book's narration of sometimes admittedly flimsy connections between various cultural epochs and movements that held similar concepts and spirits hinged on the chapter about the Enlightenment, and Gillespie precisely nailed my intentions.

I would, however, like to correct one misapprehension. Gillespie says I have apparent sympathies for eco-terrorists. To my mind, eco-terrorists are the people who burn down housing developments they don't like, or threaten violence against workers at companies that do animal testing, or send mail bombs to mid-level technoserfs and college professors. I hate them. This shouldn't require any explanation.

Gillespie is referring to a segment in the final chapter about the anti-authoritarian branch of the environmentalist movement that, in my opinion, had to be acknowledged as a counterculture within the context of the book. While I have big problems with the neo-Luddite purist tendencies of this movement (and I ridicule them for their purism in the book), I do admire the way the eco-anarchists organize themselves by consensus, without authority or hierarchy.

I also share some views with this "new hip left." Where some readers of reason may see a free market, I see much more of a corporate oligarchy. Also, I think we may be muddling towards a less coercive, more decentralized future largely because of the collaborative skills and gift economy sensibilities that we are developing online through the open source movement, file sharing, and the like.

Here, market interests use excessive intellectual property rights as defined and enforced by state power and the legal system to maintain stasis while those less concerned with market values produce revolutionary change within a libertarian (nonstatist) context.

While I generally try not to over-identify with any wing in a fast-moving vehicle, I suspect that the libertarian future (if any) leans a bit to the left--toward networked voluntary collaboration on a grand scale.

Ken Goffman (a.k.a. R.U. Sirius)

Mill Valley, CA
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Title Annotation:Letters
Author:Goffman, Ken
Article Type:Letter to the Editor
Date:Jun 1, 2005
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