Thomas L. Knapp

Tom Knapp is the publisher of Rational Review.

Free State Project
The Libertarian Enterprise
Rational Review Bookstore
Liberty Artworx


Rational Review Home

On the loss of a libertarian institution
A eulogy for Free-Market.Net
by Thomas L. Knapp

I've never placed much stock in the notion that "all good things must come to an end." Unfortunately, it's sometimes true. Free-Market.Net, at least in the form which its readers have come to know and love, is no more.

Over the course of 2002, it became apparent that Free-Market.Net and its parent organization, the Henry Hazlitt Foundation, could not continue to operate as they had before. On December 20th, the foundation's board concluded that they couldn't continue to operate at all. While I did not agree with that decision, I do not consider it unreasonable or hastily undertaken.

In this -- I'm thinking of it as an open letter -- I'd like to share my thoughts about where FMN has been and where it's going.

I've been associated with FMN, in one way or another, since early 1996. Back then, it was called Free-Market.Com; it was later that Chris Whitten, its founder, merged it with the Free Market Society of Chicago to create the non-profit Henry Hazlitt Foundation.

The relationship began when I came up with an "award" program for my own (now long defunct) site, Freedom's Home Page. Each week, I selected an interesting Libertarian site, emailed its author a cheesy graphic, and hoped he'd put it up and send some traffic my way. Chris contacted me. Would I be interested in writing such a feature for Free-Market.Com? He came up with a better graphic and Freedom Page of the Week became a permanent part of the site. Its final installment (perhaps) ran last Thursday.

For several years, I worked with Chris to make FMN the most comprehensive libertarian site on the Internet, sometimes as an unpaid volunteer, sometimes as a part-time paid editor.

In mid-2000, I became a full-time, self-employed writer, editor and jack-of-all-trades. My primary client was FMN; shortly thereafter, Louis James took over the organization's day-to-day operations. I wore several hats there for the following two and a half years: managing editor, director of partner services, feature writer, you name it. I helped create new features like Action of the Week and Freedom Book of the Month.

I was devastated to learn of the board's decision.

And I'd do it all again.

Because of Free-Market.Net, I was able to work with the finest group of libertarians ever assembled, including Steve Trinward, R. Lee Wrights, Mikhail Ramendik, Marti Lucich, Brian Patrick, Bill Dupre, David Klaus, J.D. Tuccille, Mary Lou Seymour, Kevin O'Reilly, Wendy McElroy, Brad Spangler, Eric Johnson, Dave Kirkpatrick, David M. Brown, Stephanie Sailor, Sara Aldrich, Rob Knautz, Eric Johnson, Sunni Maravillosa, Ryan Oprea, Jason Talley, Matthew McBain, and others whose names no doubt elude me at the moment. Topping that list are Chris Whitten and Louis James.

Free-Market.Net made it possible for me to work with 140 -- at last count -- partner organizations, ranging from the large free-market think tanks to the small, but incredibly important, projects of libertarian activists on every continent except Antarctica. More importantly, I had the opportunity to get to know the incredible people behind those organizations and to help put their work in front of more than 100,000 readers every month.

The front page at FMN now features an announcement that operations have been suspended. The foundation is working to find homes for the projects they created. I wish them every success, and hope that I'll soon have the opportunity to take part in whatever rises out of the ashes.

But, make no mistake about it, an era has passed in the freedom movement.

With three other former associates of FMN -- Lee, Steve and Mary Lou -- I'm working to help fill one particular void that these recent events has left. Freedom News Daily went out to more than 8,000 subscribers at its peak, Monday thru Friday, bringing a digest of important news and commentary to an audience that was hungry for it. Rational Review News Digest will continue that tradition, at the very least until and unless FND is reactivated. All four of us would greatly appreciate your support, both moral and financial (it's a considerable effort, and we do need to eat) in this endeavor.

I want to thank all of the people mentioned above and, just as importantly, the readers and supporters who made it possible for Free-Market.Net to exist. Working with and for you has been a high point in my life and career.

Yours in liberty,
Thomas L. Knapp