Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Sander Hicks: Communism for Punks


Week of Vexing Individuals: Day Three — Green?

From January 25-31, I’ll look at individuals who somehow complicate our ideas about property rights or capitalism — in alphabetical order.

It was an oddly capitalist chain of connections that led me to my Marxist friend, Sander Hicks. Through fellow libertarian Christine Caldwell Ames, who I’d known in college, I met Henry Hazlitt Foundation founder Chris Whitten, who heard at one of the libertarian Junto meetings run by Victor Niederhoffer (about whom more Thursday) about a search for new underlings by ABC’s John Stossel, who hired me and, two years later, Ted Balaker (now of the Reason Foundation), whose fiction-writing friend Katherine Taylor I met at a party hosted by U.S. Term Limits and Laissez-Faire Books founders Andrea and Howard Rich. And Katherine knows literary people, and that includes Marxist publisher and author Sander Hicks, who has now founded two publishing companies and the Vox Pop cafes/performance spaces.

As Michel Evanchik, moderator of the Debates at Lolita Bar said recently, Sander, ironically, “may be the most entrepreneurial person we know.”

And indeed, it was through Sander that I met Michel and yesterday’s Vexing Individual, L.B. Deyo, since I first beheld them when Michel moderated a debate in early 2002 in which L.B. defended globalization against Sander, who was then L.B.’s building super. Ironically for a building super, he was willing, very cautiously, to endorse vandalism (such as that which occurred against Seattle coffee shops and the like during the then-recent 1999 antiglobalization protests there) as an extension of protest. But back then, Sander was hoping for a sort of armed punk revolt against the capitalist establishment (and occasionally singing).

Since then, he’s become not only a cafe-owner, local merchants society member, and Gandhi fan — and thus presumably a bit less sympathetic to violence — but a Green Party activist (interested in subsidizing small businesses instead of big corporations) and, yes, a 9/11 conspiracy theorist. In fact, I see that in his recent national “Inaugurate Yourself” tour, he sought to rally people to reopen investigations not only of 9/11 but of the assassinations of JFK and others.

And that reminds me: years after his Jinx Society debate against L.B., Sander joined us at the successor Debates at Lolita Bar to argue “yes” on the question “Did the Government Know in Advance About 9/11?” (a night during which I even met a woman from the 9/11 Truth sub-faction that believes no planes struck the World Trade Center, only being added in later digitally), and libertarian Thor Halvorssen e-mailed to object to the whole debate, asking what we’d do next, debate whether extraterrestrials are visiting Earth. I thought, y’know, a debate on UFOs isn’t such a bad idea. And so it’s likely we’ll do just that around June 3, assuming the local MUFON director, with whom I’ve now exchanged e-mails, remains interested. Presumably this in no way undermines my own skeptic credentials.

As for Sander, if you don’t catch him at a protest, you can find him doing business at one of the Vox Pop cafes.

No comments: