Our Roy Childs table of contents


Editor's note


Our little show here at TLD has been running since 1996 — 1994, if you include the print version — but, ladies and gentlemen, this is the main event.

Roy Childs's "Epistemological Basis of Anarchism" is the only article I've ever read that made me regret I was an anarchist. The reason for that is that I would have derived immense pleasure from being converted by Roy's argument. As it happened, before a copy of the article fell into our hands (in 1970, I believe) Ronn Neff and I had already worked our way from Ayn Rand's "night-watchman" state to free-market anarchism. Our intellectual expedition moved out along several paths, but one of them was similar to the one laid out by Roy. More than three decades later I vividly recall my own feeling of liberation when I understood and accepted, at last, two things: first, that a man's knowledge of what is True, or Right, or Just depends in no way on the endorsement of that knowledge by political authority; and, second, that the rightfulness of his acting on that knowledge depends in no way on such authority.

Stated so baldly, those principles may sound obvious to all but the most determined totalitarian; it is only when one begins working out their implications that their radicalism emerges fully. In light of that radicalism, and in the presence of our adversaries, we must make sure of our ground; and that is why Roy's article is indispensable. Using the pre-existing premises of Objectivism, Roy proceeds relentlessly to overthrow the Objectivist politics; and in so doing he builds a firm foundation for the most subversive conclusions in the entire world of politics.


Ronn Neff's contribution to our "main event" is an impressive work of scholarship all by itself, giving us a context in which to better understand Roy's achievements not only in "Epistemological Basis" but also in Roy's other anarchist works. Ronn shows us Roy's struggles, as well, and the struggles of others to grasp his achievements or refute them. Readers may find most fascinating — and certainly they will find most poignant — those parts of Ronn's essay dealing with Roy's abandonment of anarchism, the ultimate failure of anarchism within the freedom movement, and the extinguishing of the reputation of a giant mind.

In perfect accord with the darkness that defeated Roy and that is smothering us, "Epistemological Basis" has never before been published. But I am told that once a text is posted to the Internet, it will survive as long as the Net survives. I hope that these postings today to the site for The Last Ditch will light an eternal flame, dedicated to the memory of Roy A. Childs, Jr., and dedicated to illuminating once more the treasures he gave us.


"Epistemological Basis" as it appears here has not been edited in the usual manner. We sought to preserve the text in as pure and original a form as was practical. We made a few spelling, punctuation, and grammatical corrections "silently," and added a few words or phrases in brackets in the interests of clarity. In a passage on the final page, after "These attributes are," Roy uses serial numbers in brackets. Our note calls appear in brackets, too; so in hopes of minimizing confusion, I have changed Roy's original brackets to "crinkly" brackets. I have retained Roy's original style of capitalization in his title, though it differs from the TLD style.

I extend our profound thanks to the Hoover Institution Archives, Elena S. Danielson, Ph.D., archivist, for permission to post Roy's article.

Nicholas Strakon
Editor-in-chief, The Last Ditch
July 3, 2003


To Preface: "Roy Childs on anarchism" by Ronn Neff.

To "The Epistemological Basis of Anarchism" by R.A. Childs, Jr.

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