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Wally Conger

Sunni: Hi Wally! It’s good to catch up with you at last. How are you doing?

Wally: Sunni, it’s in the low 70s, sunny and clear. There’s a light ocean breeze out here on my patio, whistling through neighboring eucalyptus trees. I’ve got a glass of Guinness at hand and I just fired up a dark Honduran Maduro. It can’t get much better right now.

Sunni: [laughing] Sounds pretty idyllic. And I guess I can confess that I’ve got a new, summery concoction to sip on too—bourbon and lemonade. I appreciate you taking some time out of your schedule to talk with me. What would you like to say by way of introduction?

Wally: Hmm. How about: Beware, here there be monsters? [laughs]

Sunni: [laughing] What kind of monster? Godzilla, Dracula, the little worm that drilled into Chekov’s brain?

Wally: You forgot Cthulhu. [laughs]

Sunni: [laughs] I forgot a lot of ’em! I noticed your Blogger profile lists your industry as “marketing.” Care to provide any more information about that?

Wally: My business is marketing. I’m a self-employed marketing consultant and coach to small businesses. And I write direct sales copy. You know, junk mail.

Sunni: Junk mail?! I gotta confess, all this surprises me. It just doesn’t seem to fit with the other pieces I have of a mental model of you, those being primarily “agorist” and “radical left-libertarian”. Counter-economics and marketing. [pauses] Am I missing something, or is it busy in your head? [laughs]

Wally: Keep in mind we agorists are revolutionary market anarchists. Even in a non-coercive, under-the-radar, voluntary, underground free market—a big component of the counter economy—there’s always competition for goods and services. Sam Konkin said that in the counter economy, even revolutionary strategists and tacticians sell their services and are only as good as their last sale. So first-rate marketing is crucial for entrepreneurial black marketeers. Heck, Sunni, every radical libertarian left propagandist is a marketer of ideas, right?

Sunni: Well, sure. Anybody who communicates with another person is a marketer of ideas, at some level, wouldn’t you agree?

Wally: Of course. But we purveyors of agitprop may have more at stake than most—like our lives and sacred honor. [chuckles]

Sunni: Touché, Wally. And I suppose I should’ve made it clearer to you that I don’t grok the libertarian left very well, and I’m hoping you’ll help change that by the time we’re through talking today.

Wally: The pressure’s on! [laughing] I may have to break out the scotch shortly.

Sunni: Oooh! You really know how to make me regret we couldn’t do this in person! But you live in California, and I’m out here in corn country. Speaking of California, it’s a state not known for a pro-freedom culture. I’d think it’s depressing, and difficult, living in a beautiful place that’s slowly sinking under the bureaucrats and envirocrats.

Wally: I’m a California native and old enough to remember the late ’60s: the Summer of Love, the Fillmore West, Jefferson Airplane, free love, free dope, free music. California was the friggin’ home of pro-freedom culture back then. And I’ve been in this movement of ours long enough to recall when this was literally Libertarian Ground Zero. Bob LeFevre’s Rampart College was here. The California Libertarian Alliance was a big deal. Kerry Thornley, El Rey, and The Innovator were all out here. Skye D’Aureous and Natalee Hall were collating and distributing Libertarian Connection in Los Angeles. Lowell Ponte was hosting what I think was the first libertarian radio talk program ever on KPFK-FM. I saw Murray Rothbard share the stage with Karl Hess, Dr. Thomas Szasz, the great left anarchist Paul Goodman, and Carl Oglesby of SDS at a two-day Left-Right Festival of Mind Liberation at USC when I was just 16. Of course, Konkin and his posse migrated from the East to West Coast back then, too. Now those were the days.

Sunni: Wow.

Wally: But you’re right. California’s becoming a statist sinkhole. It’s depressing. And annoying. For 35 years, I never wore a seatbelt in my car, and no one but my mother ever bugged me about it. Then, two years ago, CHP introduced a “click it or ticket” campaign and issued me two seatbelt tickets in seven weeks. [pause] I see little retail businesses open around here and then shut their doors in just a few months, stifled by endless licensing and regulation. Taxes are high—on everything. We’re more and more monitored, folded, and spindled. [sighs] There’s a high price on life in paradise.

The Price of Liberty: Commentary on news and issues of interest to freedom-lovers