Thursday, July 12, 2012

Bill Kauffman and the Front Porch Republic

A rabbit trail

     Following rabbit trails can get you into briar patches, as Br'er Fox knows.  Or it can get you into the world of Watership Down, where you can make the acquaintance of Hazel, Bigwig, Fiver, and the rest.

     My internet rabbit trail du jour begins at Lew Rockwell's website.   There I pick up on an article about the (misbegotten) drug war.

     Author, Bill Kauffman.  I don't recognize the name.  He starts his article talking about having drinks with a friend recently out of jail.  (Good; he doesn't spend all his time in church, fellowshipping with the righteous.)

     Soon he moves on to Nelson Rockefeller and his role in expanding the (New York) state's power in the drug-war and the brutality of the prison-industrial-complex.  (And the drug-war and the prison-industrial-complex are precisely two sides of the same coin, with Caesar's head on both sides.  Render unto Rockefeller the things that are Rockefeller's.)

     The article ends with the story about Mother Jones and her intercession with President Taft on behalf of labor radicals, told in an entertaining way.

     Okay, great article.  Who is Bill Kauffman?  I check out Wikipedia, and, sure enough, there he is!  Okay, let's quickly run down to political beliefs.  Libertarian leanings; check.  Culturally conservative and isolationist; check.  Critic of development; check.  Writes approvingly of distributism and agrarianism; double check.

     Dang!  the list keeps going on!  Catholic Worker, Old Right, Jeffersonian, Green, Vermont Republic secessionist . . . check, check, check, check, check . . . why haven't I heard of this guy before??

     I get to the bottom.  There is a link to Bill Kauffman's speech at Rally for the Republic.  Rally for the Republic?  Ron Paul's great gig in Minneapolis, 2008, opposite the Republican convention?

     I was there!  Along with my fellow road-trippers Ryan, Sarah, and Chris.  We heard this guy in person; I'd just forgotten his name, among the many great folks who spoke at that rally.  I click on the video link and sure enough, I remember the speech.

     Okay, backtrack.  I look for his website.  It pops up as Front Porch Republic.  I check out his list of articles.  There's one on Ray Bradbury, one on Mary Surratt, the ballad of Ed Abbey. . . . (Hey, castiron! Here's a great reading list.)  This is beginning to look real good.

     Okay, let's check out the stable of authors who contribute to the website.  I recognize a couple of them right away.  Allan Carlson, the guy from Hillsdale College who talked about Karl Polanyi.  And Kentucky's own Mary Berry Smith.  I'll have to get acquainted with the rest.

     No briar patch at the end of this rabbit trail.  It led to a great spot right by the Front Porch.

*       *       *

     I think you will enjoy your visit to Front Porch Republic.  And a quick look at YouTube will show you several videos of Bill Kauffman, talking about localism and human-scale thinking.  He's so literate and friendly, he makes me think of a younger, upstate-New-York-version of Wendell Berry.  So the next question would be, does he write poetry and great short stories??

     If you check out his stuff, you might drop back by here and leave a comment.


  1. "America First!: Its History, Politics, and Culture (1995), a history of American populist, isolationist, and anti-imperialist thought; With Good Intentions?: Reflections on the Myth of Progress in America (1998), a collection of (often approving) profiles of the opponents of school consolidation, child labor laws, a standing army, women's suffrage, and the Interstate Highway System, as well as the proponents of homesteading as a means of battling the Great Depression; Dispatches from the Muckdog Gazette: A Mostly Affectionate Account of a Small Town’s Fight to Survive (2003), the story of Batavia and its decline; Look Homeward America: In Search of Reactionary Radicals and Front-Porch Anarchists (2006), a meditation on American political, literary, and artistic figures whose values he admires; and Ain't My America: The Long, Noble History of Anti-War Conservatism and Middle American Anti-Imperialism (2008)."

    Oh wow! Looks like I got to get more books for my "must-read" pile!!

  2. So many good books and articles to read . . .

    while sitting on your own front porch!