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Larry Hagman, the Peace and Freedom Party, and… er… Murray Rothbard… November 24, 2012

Posted by WorldbyStorm in US Politics.

Reading about the passing of Larry Hagman at the age of 81 the obituaries reminded me that he had been involved in a number of political themed films, from Primary Colors to Nixon (though he was also at an early stage in Beware! The Blob, so make of that what one will. Indeed I was unsurprised to read the following:

In his later years, Hagman became an advocate for organ transplants and an anti-smoking campaigner. He also was devoted to solar energy, telling the New York Times he had a $750,000 solar panel system at his Ojai estate, and made a commercial in which he portrayed a JR Ewing who had forsaken oil for solar power. He was a longtime member of the Peace and Freedom Party, a minor leftist organisation in California.

Hagman was famously radical and outspoken on political matters – and socially liberal too. And given that he is said to have been a member of P&F since the late 1960s that makes sense too. Peace and Freedom is a most interesting and admirable organisation in and of itself having a genesis in the New Left and 1960s and fought the good fight subsequently. As its wiki page notes it is nationally organised but appears strongest in California and only this year nominated Roseanne Barr and Cindy Sheehan as its Presidential ticket.

Anyhow, on a tangent of sorts, reading up again this morning on P&F what was this that I discovered but that Murray Rothbard joined the New York section of the organisation with a group of right libertarians in the late 1960s. Now I’d long been aware that Rothbard, and others, had as part of efforts between the New Left and libertarians to find some sort of accommodation on the back of common activism over and against the Vietnam War and on campus sought to foster close links, but this close?

The idea of Rothbard and his libertarians and various and sundry Marxists co-habiting in a single formation is a fantastic one – quite literally fantastic – but it happened, at least for a while, before it failed.

As to Hagman, it’s remarkable how his career stretched across television, ‘I Dream of Jeannie’ and ‘Dallas’ and then onto film. At some points one could argue he became a pervasive presence, particularly during the Dallas years, perhaps indicative of how hegemonic television could be at a time of a restricted number of channels and in a pre-internet period.

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1. Jan B. Tucker - November 25, 2012

Some of the history of Larry Hagman’s PFP affiliation

WorldbyStorm - November 25, 2012

Interesting post JBT. Thanks for the link.

ejh - November 26, 2012

Ray Bradbury was a member?

Jan B. Tucker - November 26, 2012

He registered to get us on the ballot. Eventually, he went back to the Democratic Party, apparently to vote in the primaries.

2. Wendy Lyon - November 26, 2012

I’m registered PFP in California, though I didn’t vote for them this year because of the candidate. Regrettably I have to point out the utter meaninglessness of describing them as “strongest” there. “Not totally non-existent” is probably the kindest way of describing their California presence, as opposed to their presence just about everywhere else.

WorldbyStorm - November 26, 2012

Well, you know me, always trying to put the best face on matters leftist. But you’re right.

BTW, I’m very interested in what particularly was your critique of their candidate(s) and did you think there was a better alternative at the time?

Wendy Lyon - November 26, 2012

I don’t like celebrity candidates as a rule. Would consider making an exception for someone who might actually help build the left as a viable alternative to the two-party system but I didn’t think she was that candidate. She also went on a transphobic Twitter rant about a week before the election, but I’d sent in my absentee ballot by then anyway (I voted Trot, god help me).

Mark P - November 26, 2012

Which Trot?

Wendy Lyon - November 26, 2012

Stephen Durham. Freedom Socialist.

Mark P - November 26, 2012

An interesting little outfit, the FSP. Quite possibly the Marxist party with the loudest commitment to feminism. They have also produced some theoretical material on racism which is well worth reading.

Mark P - November 26, 2012

I will admit that I was half hoping you’d voted for some really out their sectarian fruitcake!

Wendy Lyon - November 26, 2012


Bryan K - November 27, 2012

FSP and the CWI in the US, despite different politics, are able to work well together, particularly in electoral campaigns. They endorsed our local candidate in Seattle (Kshama Sawant, who got more votes for local office than all the socialist Presidential candidates combined). We endorsed a local candidate of theirs in like 2006 or something. Richard Fraser’s writings on racism are brilliant. PFP called together the left about a year ago to build alliances and unite behind a single Presidential candidate. Many groups rejected (including FSP) for sectarian reasons IMO.

WorldbyStorm - November 27, 2012

Re celebrity candidates, I wouldn’t disagree at all. Bit of a carcrash there, speaking of which I’d missed the transphobic rant but it was entirely out of order.

Jan B. Tucker - November 26, 2012

Wendy, have we met? Your name sounds really familiar. Were you a delegate to the LA Co Federation of Labor when I used to represent the Newspaper Guild there?

Wendy Lyon - November 26, 2012

No, there’s a Wendy Lyons in the LA SWP, that’s probably who you’re thinking of.

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