Roy Childs on anarchism
by Ronald N. Neff, concluded

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Part six: conclusion

The thanks of an ungrateful people

I have been discussing only one aspect of the life and work of Roy Childs, and it would be easy for an impartial reader to conclude that over the years my regard for him deteriorated to something just short of contempt and our friendship to estrangement. Nothing could be farther from the truth. If I have given that impression, it is only because I have been discussing an issue on which, in the end, Roy and I were in sharp disagreement. Instead of recounting his many accomplishments in other areas and instead of wearying the reader with many anecdotes that would illustrate the intellectual joy Roy could inspire in his friends, let my sense of his importance and value to the modern libertarian movement and the loss his death signifies be conveyed by means of this cautionary tale.

In 1988, the editors of Liberty magazine published the results of a poll that had been conducted among libertarians. One of the questions asked readers to rate the influence of a number of thinkers; they made it clear that they were not asking whether the readers agreed with those thinkers, but only how important those thinkers had been in the development of their own thinking with regard to social and political issues.

On a list of 27, the name "Roy Childs" did not appear. Were the editors blind to his contributions to the movement and the shape he gave it? I contrast his omission from the list not only with his own writings but with the books he promoted by his reviews and with the books that were published because of his endorsement of them to a publisher, and I remain speechless. (If they are not professional historians, virtually everything most libertarians from the period know about revisionist history can be traced through Roy Childs.)

But worse is this. Readers sent in write-ins, and only nine of those write-ins were named by two or more readers. Roy's name is absent from those nine as well. Which means that if he received any mention at all, it was by only one, lone libertarian.

Roy deserved much better than that from the libertarian movement. To paraphrase the Epistle to the Hebrews, he stands with one or two other giants "of whom this movement was not worthy."

My thanks to Carl Watner of The Voluntaryist, who supplied copies of some of the early writings of Roy Childs.

July 3, 2003

To "The Epistemological Basis of Anarchism."

Posted 2003 by WTM Enterprises.
© 2003 by Ronald N. Neff. All rights reserved by author.

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