Young Conservatives Vote Against Draft, for Pot


Fifth Estate # 39, October 1-15, 1967

The sphere of politics has gone full-circle with the newly organized Oakland County Chapter of the Young Americans for Freedom.

In the past, YAF has been considered a right-wing, conservative organization. Recently, the Oakland County YAF under the chairmanship of Terry Epton passed resolutions against the draft and against “laws regulating the sale possession and use of marijuana.”

Epton, a former member of Breakthrough, stated other viewpoints normally thought to be in the sphere of left-wing or liberal organizations.

  • He is against the war in Vietnam and for an immediate withdrawal of American forces;
  • He condemns Breakthrough “without reservation,” citing the racism of the group as an outgrowth of the social and legislative establishment of Negro roles;
  • He is against all censorship.

YAFers, Epton said should first be considered “political moralists” whose central and guiding tenet is “anti-coercion of the state. The goal of the ideal government is the freedom of the individual in all realms of activity. The role of “Negative Government” is the “maintenance” of a limited military, a police force and a judicial system,” and its purpose is to insure that one individual does not enforce his will on another.

Morality is closely tied to the coercive power of the state. Hence when a young man is forced to serve in the army against his will, it is morally wrong. Laws prohibiting marijuana or establishing censorship are contrary to the nature of the state and morally unjustified. Any action of the state is unjustified unless it is to stop the coercive force of one person over another.

What ties the YAF to the right-wing is their classical economics. “Oakland County YAF gives its unqualified support to complete laissez-faire capitalism,” and Epton continues, “this specifically means trade with communist countries.”

The young conservative movement or New Right, Epton said, is going in a different direction than the old conservatives. “The best change in the Constitution would be to burn it,” said Epton. The reason for this is twofold. First, the Constitution is not explicit on individual liberty and so condones Negro slavery and finally racism. Secondly, it talks of property right but produces tariffs, thereby ending free trade.

The final and most crucial extension of the logic behind the concept of “anti-coercive power of the state” is how the state should be preserved. Every government, no matter how constituted, from Henry VIII to Robespierre to LBJ, has had to use force to “restore order,” to preserve the system. The government of the new right, once established, depends on the rational character of its future generations.

“This government,” says Epton, “would not have the moral right to stop the people from making any change. The existence of this government relies on its following generations to be as rational as the one that established it.”