I am working on another chapter of my current book, one that starts with the letter I wrote Edith Efron back in 1978, responding to an article of hers in Reason. Her article is webbed and I have now reread it, forty some years later. One thing that struck me again was this passage:
I suspect that a critical turning point in the evolution of this movement occurred when the proponents of a constitional republic, who by definition advocate a nation-state, agreed to suspend their endless quarrel with the anarchists, on the grounds that one should not split the forces of a small pro-liberty movement. After all, the argument went, one could wait a few hundred years to debate the issue of whether the government should be merely microscopic, or downright non-existent. All, presumably, could agree on the necessity to diminish its powers. It sounded like a plausible agreement. But it wasn't. For the constitutional republicans it was a very serious error. Already traumatized by the Objectivist debacle, which had severely undercut their self-confidence, they actually had agreed to abandon a series of important areas of political thought-above all they had abandoned the affirmative aspects of their position—the value of nation, the necessity of a national culture, the value of a government, the need to defend the country, and the need for a radical reformer to formulate a political position which integrates his proposals for change with his desires to preserve ... The constitutional republicans were struck dumb. They became paralyzed, mute, and stupid. The plain fact is that repression addles the brain.
By agreement with the anarchists, no examination of the affirmative aspects of the nation-state or of the unifying abstractions of the nation's pluralistic culture, was allowed. Over the years, in fact, the taboo became so intense, that ugly invective broke out whenever an individual presumed to explore these areas. The invective, of course, came from the anarchists, whose sole position on nation and state is negative—and who had lost nothing whatever by the agreement.
I was an active libertarian throughout the relevant period, and cannot remember what Efron describes ever happening. As a Harvard undergraduate I attended meetings of Radicals for Capitalism, the campus Objectivist group, argued with its members, and was eventually asked to stop coming because they did not like having to defend their views against my arguments. As a member of YAF and the token libertarian columnist on The New Guard I argued with everyone from traditionalists through fellow libertarians. When, at a libertarian event, I gave a critical talk on Anarchy, State and Utopia with Nozick in the audience, the interaction was friendly. The agreement as I understood it was that anarchists and minarchists were all libertarians and could work together, not that either side was forbidden to argue its position.
I am guessing that some of my readers were also part of the libertarian movement in the sixties and seventies, the period Efron is describing. My question for you is whether your memory supports her description of the history or mine.
One possible mistake I made in the letter was to identify the anarchists Efron was attacking with Murray Rothbard. She mentions Rothbard early on in an anecdote about the failure of an early attempt of his to interact with people on the left but not thereafter, despite the fact that, throughout the period, he was the most prominent figure in the libertarian anarchist movement. That may be because, having initiated the attempt to ally with the left in 1965 he had abandoned it by 1970, eight years before Efron wrote her article. That makes her identification of "the anarchists" with the people she is criticizing a bit odd — presumably most of them were Rothbardians who had followed him into the left but not out of it.
When I have the whole chapter done I may put it up here for comments, but at the moment I am just curious as to the difference between her account and my memory.