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Galambosianism

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Galambosianism is an early precursor to libertarian philosophy promoted by an aerospace engineer named Andrew J. Galambos (1924-1997) during the 1960s. He gave a series of for-pay classes starting with "V-50", "The Theory of Volition". Unlike other precursors to libertarianism (such as the ideas of Ayn Rand, Robert LeFevre, Albert Jay Nock, and Ludwig von Mises), Galambos' ideas have largely been thrown in the dustbin of history by his fellow libertarians.

Galambos called himself a liberal, but in reality was philosophically somewhat closer to anarcho-capitalism. One of the core ideas of his philosophy, and the main sticking point preventing broader acceptance of it, was his belief in absolute intellectual property rights, meaning the inventor or originator of an idea should have absolute, lifelong heritable control over that idea and all the profits derived from it. His term for this was "primary property rights." Needless to say, had Galambos lived today, he would view the modern internet, with such things as wikis, the GNU license, free software and peer-to-peer file sharing, as an unacceptable affront to a free society.

Probably has nothing to do with garmonbozia (David Lynch for pain and sorrow).

Galambos according to Jerome Tuccille[edit]

Other libertarians quickly found Galambosians to be obstinate cranks. Reportedly, Andrew Galambos and Ayn Rand once met and within five minutes each had declared the other insane. Also reportedly, Galambos would keep a jar or coffee can next to him when speaking in public, into which he would drop a nickel or dime any time he mentioned the name of another person, or mentioned an idea or phrase attributed to another person, to symbolize he was paying "royalties" to them for his use of their intellectual property. He went so far as to drop a nickel in "royalties" to the long-dead Thomas Paine every time he used the word "liberty", on the mistaken belief that the word was invented by Paine. Also reportedly, he was born Joseph Andrew Galambos, Jr. but legally changed his name to Andrew Joseph Galambos so he wouldn't infringe on his father's intellectual property rights. Jerome Tuccille's humorous history of the early libertarians, It Usually Begins With Ayn Rand, includes several such anecdotes of interactions with the Galambosians.[1]

Galambosians themselves were not allowed to discuss any of Galambos' ideas with others. This, you see, would be a violation of Andrew Galambos' intellectual property rights. Any attempt to discuss Galambos or his ideas with a follower would get a response of silence, an answer like "yes I'm a Galambosian, but I'm not allowed to say what that means", or the question "have you taken V-50?"

Other views[edit]

His absurdist take on intellectual property rights aside, his other views fell clearly within the mainstream of libertarian thought. He believed laissez-faire capitalism was the vehicle for societal progress, and that capitalists should proudly call themselves liberals and progressives, to reclaim the terms from their modern use to describe socialism. He rejected conservatism, believing that because conservatism means keeping things as they are, a conservative in the 20th century meant supporting regulation and the welfare state. He also distinguished between government and "the State" - the latter, "an instrument of coercion"[2]; while a true government to him "sells products or services whose function it is to protect property".[3]

Today[edit]

This long-forgotten obscure strain of libertarian thought has found new interest thanks (why else?) to the Internet. If you must, the V-50 lectures can now be purchased on CD-ROM narrated by Galambos associate Jay Snelson in 1977 for the special price of $99.95[4], or a transcript of Galambos himself giving the V-50 lectures in 1969 has been published as the book Sic Itur Ad Astra, at the low low price of $125.00, although this book is already out of print[5]. A short compilation of his pamphlets has been published as Thrust for Freedom.

  • Caution: if you try selling your used copy of Thrust for Freedom on Amazon.com or eBay, it is almost inevitable that a Galambosian will contact you to chastise you for violating Galambos' primary property rights by selling one of his books on the used market. Of course, you can always answer with tongue in cheek that you dropped a nickel into a royalty jar for the deceased Galambos when you sold one of his books used. That should shut them up.

Mostly, though, his theories are discussed in the context of discussions of intellectual property rights and Digital Rights Management, usually by opponents who view it as a modern-day realization of Galambosianism.[6][7][8]

Needless to say, a wiki article discussing Galambosianism should not be allowed in a free society, but it is okay only if you drop a nickel in the jar after reading this article.

Further weird connections[edit]

Harry Browne, the 1996 and 2000 Libertarian Party candidate for President, was a close associate of Galambos a few decades earlier.[9]

According to Brian Doherty in his book Radicals for Capitalism[10], the survivalist movement had its origins among followers and/or graduates of Galambos' lectures in southern California, via magazines like Innovator (1964-1969) and Inflation Survival Letter, along with the gold bugs of the 1970s. Among these Galambosian proto-survivalists was Harry Browne, who promoted storing food and precious metals and buying rural land as a hedge against currency collapse and hyperinflation.

Way really far out there weird connections[edit]

Innovator's editor was briefly Kerry Thornley, who was not only also the author of the Principia Discordia, but also Lee Harvey Oswald's best friend in the Marines when they were in the same unit in 1959.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. Tuccile, Jerome, It Usually Begins With Ayn Rand, San Francisco: Fox & Wilkes, p. 70. It should be noted that Tuccille's book is a humorous spoof of libertarians written by someone who was himself a soon-to-be-disgruntled-ex-libertarian, and his portrayal of Galambos, as well as Karl Hess, Ayn Rand, and several others, is probably not accurate or at least focuses solely on their most eccentric aspects.
  2. Oops! I just quoted from him directly. *Drops nickel in coffee can*
  3. *Drops another nickel in can*
  4. http://www.v-50.com/buy-now
  5. http://www.tuspco.com/mail_order_form.html
  6. Galambos and Other Nuts, by Stephan Kinsella. Says a lot that even AAA-grade wingnuts like those as Mises flak him
  7. http://acb.dreamwidth.org/2005/06/20/?style=light
  8. http://dev.null.org/blog/tags/galambosianism
  9. Andrew Galambos, the Unknown Libertarian
  10. Doherty, Brian, Radicals for Capitalism: A Freewheeling History of the Modern American Libertarian Movement, p. 325