Behind every great fortune there is a crime.

— Honoré de Balzac, 1799-1850


Garry Reed's picture

Interview: A big freakin' libertarian's Big Freakin' Book

Tom Knapp's blog bio identifies him this way: "Thomas L. Knapp, aka KN@PPSTER, is Senior News Analyst at the Center for a Stateless Society, letters editor at Antiwar.com and publisher of Rational Review News Digest. He lives in Gainesville, Florida." Now he's produced Kn@ppster's Big Freakin' Book of Stuff.

Libertarian News Examiner has long known The Kn@ppster as Publisher of Freedom News Daily on the ISIL website. Since libertarians who don't know Tom must necessarily be newbies this exclusive interview is especially for them.

What were your criteria for including/excluding articles in your book?

Really, there were only four: I had to be able to find the stuff; it had to strike me as interesting; it mostly had to be political; and I started to get worried when the book's length approached 100,000 words and at that point I started getting more selective.

What else should we know about you that isn't included in your blog bio?

My first real involvement in libertarian politics was called the Constitution Party, but it wasn't the "conservative" organization that uses that name now. It was a libertarian political party started by Hollywood producer Aaron Russo ("The Rose," "Trading Places," "Teachers," etc.). The Constitution Party fell apart within a year, but by that time several people I'd come into contact with, including libertarian icon L. Neil Smith and Missouri Libertarian Party executive director Bill Johnson had talked me into throwing in with the LP. I've been with the LP on and off ever since. I spent a year exploring the possibility of promoting libertarianism within the Democratic Party. I started the Boston Tea Party in 2006. I quit electoral politics from 2010-2014.

I've been incredibly fortunate to work for Free-Market.Net, Antiwar.com, the Center for a Stateless Society and a lot of other publications and organizations over the years. But of course my big labor of love for coming up on 12 years now is Rational Review News Digest.

Who or what brought you to libertarianism philosophically?

When I was a kid, I was something of a "liberal." I was a member of Greenpeace. At the same time, my (then) father-in-law had been preaching conservatism to me and I started thinking of myself as a conservative. But I also started reading Ayn Rand's works and by 1993 or so I was really thinking of myself as a libertarian. I think the big switching point for me was finding a copy of Liberty magazine at a newsstand and reading it. Theonly author I remember from that issue was Wendy McElroy, whom I'm now privileged to call "friend." And I was also greatly flattered to become friends with Liberty publisher RW Bradford. Liberty was the publication that made me say with finality "yeah, I'm not a conservative any more."

Who or what brought you to libertarian activism?

I was becoming a libertarian right about the time the World Wide Web was becoming accessible and affordable, so that time period happened to sync up in terms of "Tom Knapp writes libertarian stuff."

I started my first web site in late 1994 or early 1995. I called it "Freedom's Home Page." Part of my marketing strategy was to select another libertarian web site each week, designate it the "Freedom Site of the Week," and send its owner a cheesy graphic to display. About two months into doing that, I picked Free-Market.Net as my "Freedom Site of the Week." Chris Whitten wrote back to me and asked if I'd be interested in doing a "Freedom Home Page of the Week" feature for THEM. I eventually rose to the position of managing editor at Free-Market.Net, and at that point I became a full-time libertarian activist and haven't looked back since.

Anything else you want to add?

Just that I'm grateful to all the friends I've made in the movement over the years, including The Libertarian Examiner, for the chance to work with you.

Learn how to get the book at The Libertarian Alliance Blog.

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