Brad Linaweaver: Profile of a Hollywood libertarian
By Thomas M. Sipos
Brad Linaweaver was a libertarian science fiction writer, best known for his alternative history novel, Moon of Ice. I first met him in the early 1990s, at the Karl Hess Club in Los Angeles, which we both frequented. I formally interviewed him in 2007.
Linaweaver was proud that he always found room to plug liberty in his sci-fi and horror tales, influencing teenagers who don't read political blogs or opinion journals. "I've been getting libertarian messages into everything for a quarter of a century," he told me. "Dafydd ab Hugh and I did four [tie-in] novels for Pocket Books in the 1990s based on the Doom video game. We worked in a lot of libertarian messages. When the Marines are on their way to Mars in one of the books, they're passing around a copy of Bureaucracy by Ludwig von Mises. I don't know how many 14 or 15-year-old boys reading Doom noticed that we were promoting Mises, but we were."
Linaweaver's libertarian messages are more explicit in his original novels. In the Prometheus Award-winning Moon of Ice, the Nazis' kooky paganism takes full bloom after Hitler defeats Stalin and the U.S. defeats Japan, ending World War II in a draw. And in Anarquia, co-written with J. Kent Hastings, Falangists and Communists are both defeated by Anarchists in the Spanish Civil War.
Linaweaver enjoys story credits on several films, such as Jack-O, The Brain Leeches, The Low Budget Time Machine, and Her Morbid Desires (part of The Boneyard Collection). He was honest that these were mostly grade Z affairs, but they hold some entertainment value. Jack-O in particular features a funny Republican couple, who are avid fans of a Rush Limbaugh type TV talk show host.
"My involvement with movies has been mostly low-budget, exploitation stuff where ideology is not that relevant," said Linaweaver. "When you're writing science fiction for a New York publisher, you actually achieve something when you slip in a libertarian idea. But with independent, exploitation, low-budget Hollywood, there's already an anti-authoritarian attitude. That culture is by nature fairly libertarian. There's less need to be a propagandist."
As a straight political pundit, Linaweaver has written for National Review and been praised by no less than Ronald Reagan. "I've been friends with William F. Buckley for many years. He's endorsed two of my books. Regarding Reagan, in late 1976 he did a radio broadcast about one of the first articles I ever sold to a national market. A piece called 'The Wish' that appeared in New Guard, the magazine of Young Americans for Freedom. Reagan was saying, 'Brad Linaweaver, how right he is!' "
This particular broadcast is reprinted in Stories in His Own Hand: The Everyday Wisdom of Ronald Reagan.
Linaweaver is glad he didn't learn of Reagan's praise until decades after the fact. "I never would have had my career in Hollywood. I might not have written for Famous Monsters of Filmland, Cult Movies, or Filmfax, nor worked on Attack of the 60 Foot Centerfold. I might not have done the Sliders novels, or worked with Richard Hatch on Battlestar Galactica novels. I might have been a boring political hack in Washington, trying to capitalize on the Reagan endorsement to be a political speechwriter. I'd be a worse libertarian than I am today."
What kind of libertarian was Linaweaver? As he explained it, "I was never an anarchist. I'm an Old Right conservative who became a libertarian in the early 1970s when I realized the conservatism I believed in was dying under Richard Nixon. I've always been a limited government minarchist trying to return to what the Founding Fathers had in mind.
"I became a fellow traveler of Reagan when he became president because Reagan had one goal that was in line with both my Old Right conservatism and my minarchist libertarianism. That goal was the end of the Soviet Union. And Reagan succeeded. That is a great achievement. Every libertarian, including anarchists, should celebrate Reagan's victory over the Soviet Union.
"But after Reagan, the Republican Party went to hell in a handbasket. The idea that I would have anything in common with the 'conservatism' of George W. Bush is obscene. Richard Nixon is John Galt out of Atlas Shrugged compared to Bush -- and that's even with Nixon doing wage and price controls. The Republican Party has fallen so low, there's not much lower it can go.
"I'm embarrassed that I temporarily supported the Bush war in Iraq. I was misled. I had no idea I was supporting a utopian experiment. I've spent my whole life opposing utopian experiments. Now we have the American military trying to achieve some kind of utopian democracy in Iraq. That drives me crazy. I've always been fundamentally an isolationist. I want a small government. You cannot have a small government and run the planet. It is impossible."
In his 2006 essay collection, Post-Nationalism: George Bush as President of the World, Linaweaver elaborates on his foreign policy views. "A handful of neoconservatives have killed off everything I still cared about in the Republican Party. I predict the Democrats will be in total control after the '08 election. There'll be a Democrat president in the White House, whereupon I will expand Post-Nationalism into a larger book. My working title is Elephant's Graveyard: How Neoconservatives Destroyed the Republican Party."
Linaweaver was correct about '08, but he never did expand upon his book. After his parents died, he moved out of his West Hollywood apartment to the house in Florida that he'd inherited. I last saw him and J. Neil Schulman at a Los Angeles gathering in April 2017. Both men had become enthusiastic Trump supporters. Linaweaver died on August 29, 2019, three days short of his 67th birthday.
Thomas M. Sipos writes satirical novels and film criticism. His website is CommunistVampires.com.