LP Utah Celebrates 50th with “Be A Pirate,” Adam Kokesh; Tributes to Karl Bray

Saturday, 04 December 2021, the Utah Libertarian Party celebrated the 50th anniversary of the party’s founding with a keynote speech by Adam Kokesh of Adam v The Man, and a heartfelt tribute to Karl Bray, legendary tax protester, early member of (what became) the first Libertarian National Committee, author of Taxation and Tyranny: The Complete Guide To The Tax Rebellion, and first chair of the UTLP.

Karl, after serving time in a federal prison for his various IRS protests and for the (never before prosecuted) “crime” of counterfeiting IRS tax seizure stickers, passed away on 07 May 1978 at the age of only 34.

His gravestone is inscribed: “Karl Bray, The Libertarian Tax Rebel.”

Karl was an active libertarian in Utah for several years prior to the founding of the national party, noted for performance-art-based tax protests, including distributing Karl Bray dollars “worth more than any federal reserve note.”

According to early newsletter reports Karl was present on 11 December 1971 in Colorado Springs at the founding meeting of the national Party.

United States of America, Plaintiff-appellee, v. Karl J. Bray, Defendant-appellant, 546 F.2d 851 (10th Cir. 1976) (available HERE) states, in part:

“Bray’s 1972 federal income tax return . . . was inscribed: “5th Amendment. Go to Hell; do not pass go; do not collect $200 dollars.”

The Utah Libertarian Party was the first affiliate of (what became) the LNC to gain official state “Libertarian Party” designated ballot access status.  In 1974 Karl Bray ran as the Libertarian candidate for US Senate and received over 1,200 votes.

Joe Buchman sharing about Karl Bray, past chair W. Andrew McCullough foreground.  Photo by Kristian Buchman.

Adam Kokesh sought the Libertarian Party’s nomination for President at the 2020 Convention which nomination went to Jo Jorenson.

What follows are exemplar highlights and quotations made during his keynote address:

“I could tell you more COVID jokes, but there is a 99.9 percent change none of you will get them.


There are significant side-effects to the vaccines, and first among them is an inability to admit that you were wrong.

(laughter, applause)

. . .

Pirates . . . were veterans of the wars of the crown who had shipped gold from natives back to Europe, and slaves from Africa to plantations.  You know what pirates did?  They robbed slave ships, freed slaves, and said (expletive deleted) the crown!

(cheers, applause)

How many of you all want to free slaves and say (expletive deleted) the crown?

(cheers, applause)

. . .

The untold story is how the pirates of that time inspired the American Revolution.  But did the American Revolution really overthrow the powers that be?  How much of the powers that be pre-revolution, simply carried on as the new banking powers?  The new war powers?  The same families and dynasties who ruled the old world, made it through the revolution, all the way through to today, but with new slaves, slaves to a fiat currency system.

. . .

How many of you have heard of cointelpro?

(few hands raised)

Every Libertarian should know about the “Counter Intelligence Program.”  It was an FBI program in the 1960s and 1970s to render ineffective the Anti-War and Black-Power movements.  How many of you have seen the recent movie JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH? The only reason we know about cointelpro is a group of activists broke into an FBI field office, stole the documents, mimeographed them, sent them to Congress and the newspapers until it came to Congressional Hearings.  Vietnam Veterans Against the War was targeted by cointelpro.

. . .

Ernie Hancock, one of the great freedom activists from Arizona who a lot of you all know, introduced me to BLACK SAILS.  Pirates without borders.  When you declare yourself a pirate, what does that mean?  It leads to a happier life.

. . .

Rebellion pays more than obedience.  Have the courage of your convictions to act on a calculated risk when you know that stepping away from what is expected of you is going to lead to a happier life.

. . .

How about Disney’s PIRATES OF THE CARRIBEAN, can I quote that?

Jack Sparrow became a pirate because as an employee of the British East India Trading Company, he was moving slaves, refused to do it, and then freed them. THAT is the backstory they wrote out of the Disney version of piracy.  (NOTE: The deleted scene where Jack Sparrow refuses to transport slaves (telling Beckett, “People aren’t cargo, mate”) can be seen HERE.)

. . .

What is the Black Pearl?  Is it wood?  Is it hemp?  Is it canvas?  Is it a hull?  Or maps, and rope, and sails?  No!  What is it?  FREEDOM.  To be able to travel freely, without any authority over you.


. . .

The most Libertarian form of government is actually a Constitutional, Propertarian, Monarchy, where you own the land and say, “I am the King; these are the rules for here.”

By the Way, when I bought my land, I didn’t connect to any existing roads.  So you know what I did, right? I BUILT A ROAD.  It is a quarter of a mile scratch in the dirt, so don’t get too excited, but it is called, “MUH ROAD.”

(laughter, applause)

So homesteading as a vessel for piracy, to say “free slaves” and (expletive deleted) the crown.  What better way?

Stop working for government!  If you are the average taxpaying American, you are working for government for about half the year.  All the fees, fines, taxes, hidden taxes that the average, taxpaying, working American pays – you are working for government half the (expletive deleted) year.


. . .

Every dollar that we can keep out of the hands of the state, is one less dollar that can be used against us.


. . .

We are Libertarians who experience the anxiety and the loneliness that comes with process of stepping out of the herd, before we find our community in organizations like this, thanks to Barry (Short) and the other officers of your state party here.  We are all healing from Statism.  We are all recovering from patterns of historical trauma that we are only now becoming aware of.  There is nothing holding us back anymore except our own excuses, and rationalizations, and whatever else is keeping us in Babylon.

. . .

To say that you are going to free slaves?  Free slaves – starting with yourself.

One of the things I’ve realized is the critical difference between warriors and soldiers.

A warrior is someone who is willing to risk their life to protect those who cannot protect themselves, to do the right thing, to make sacrifices when called upon.

A soldier is someone who signs a piece of paper, puts on a uniform and takes a paycheck to kill for politicians.

What we do as a Libertarian Party is that critical distinction between being a warrior and a soldier.  So I think about the warrior class – to serve humanity in that way.

. . .

We are the pirates of our generation; we are the warriors the world so desperately needs today. We are the Libertarians.



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About Joseph Buchman

Joe is a retired, formerly tenured professor of marketing and finance with an interest in adventure travel, chasing total solar eclipses, and Burning Man. He is a long-time volunteer with the Sundance Film Festival, former Chair of the Utah Libertarian Party and current Chair of the financial Audit Committee of the Libertarian Party. He and Cindy, his wife of over 25 years, have raised four highly successful children, several cats, and have generally failed with every houseplant ever gifted to them.

20 thoughts on “LP Utah Celebrates 50th with “Be A Pirate,” Adam Kokesh; Tributes to Karl Bray

  1. Joseph Buchman Post author

    CALIBER, LP CA, v06, n04, page 1

    Karl Bray, Libertarian Leader, Dies of Cancer

    Karl Bray, libertarian leader, tax rebel, hero, lost his year-long battle with cancer on May 7, 1978. Karl would have been 35 years old in June. He was undergoing therapy in the Bahamas when he went into terminal crisis. He was rushed by air ambulance to a hospital in Miami, where he died several hours later. Funeral services were held May 11 in Provo, Utah.

    Born in Provo in 1943, he attended Western State University College of Law where he obtained his L.L.B. degree. During the 1970’s, Karl became a leading figure in the libertarian tax protest movement. He managed to create so much trouble for the Internal Revenue Service that the IRS responded with myriad harassments and trumped up charges.

    Karl was charged with several federal tax related misdemeanors, with contempt of court, with failure to file income tax statements, with practicing law without a license, and with illegal possession of an IRS seizure sticker. His active avocation of tax resistance led to numerous threats and denunciations, and to more physical harassment. At one time he was held in chains; several times he was held at gun point. ln 1974 Karl was surrounded by 22 armed policemen while his car was searched. The IRS sticker, for possession of which he finally served time in jail, was planted in his home.

    Karl’s career as a tax rebel began in 1969. ln l972 he was one of the founders of the National Libertarian Party. He was also the founder and first chair of the Utah Libertarian Party and a long-time member of the Libertarian Party’s National Executive Committee.

    Karl carried the fight for freedom through the media, lecturing on campuses, speaking on radio and TV, and writing pamphlets and two books, Taxation and Tyranny and the soon to be published Taxes Are Revolting.

    In 1976, when the number of petition signatures required to get Roger MacBride on the ballot in California seemed to be an insurmountable obstacle, Karl joined the petition drive and did enough organizing and convincing to get many libertarians involved in the drive.

    In the 1976 presidential election, California voters cast 60,000 votes for Roger MacBride (roughly one-third of his national total). Without Karl this would not have happened. Perhaps a fitting epitaph would be “Karl Bray made a difference.” All our lives were enhanced because of Karl Bray, and his passing is a great loss to each of us and to the libertarian movement.

  2. Joseph Buchman Post author

    CALIBER, v07, n04, p1, May 1979

    A memorial service for libertarian tax rebel Karl Bray was held on May 12th at the site of the future Karl Bray Memorial Library. The site is located on a 54-acre ranch in the rolling hills of the central California coast, near Cambria. Fourteen Libertarians from as far away as Orange County and San Francisco attended the ceremony.

    Pastor Hank Hohenstein, owner of the ranch, paid a moving tribute to his friend who died one year ago of cancer. He spoke beside a Giant Locust tree that he planted when he heard of Karl’s death. The tree is expected to grow to more than 100 feet and will tower over the library.

    The library is to house Karl’s books, papers and notes, as well as other Libertarian works. It is planned as a place where libertarians can come to study and meditate in a beautiful setting.

    Karl never saw the ranch, only a picture of it. In his last letter to Hank he wrote that he was looking forward to walking with him in those beautiful golden hills

    Hank plans to make the memorial service an annual event.

  3. Joseph Buchman Post author

    This book describes the tactics that patriotic Americans are using to stop the unjust, unconstitutional, and tyrannical practices of the I.R.S. It is the result of over ten years of research into court cases in which conscientious Americans have successfully fought the “robbing hoods of the red ink” who are spending us into bankruptcy – a spending spree which is about to end.

    The book’s major purpose is to inform productive Americans of their constitutional rights and the procedures they can use to uphold and defend their rights. It applies to individuals and companies and is designed to quickly and efficiently educate concerned citizens as to the alternatives open to them in this time of declining personal liberty.

    I am not telling you that you must rebel against tyranny. I am only telling you what I have done and what others are doing in this battle against spendthrift bureaucrats who would turn us into robotic taxpayers in a Socialist nation-state.

    If you choose to resist the collectivist trend existing in the United States today, you can begin to do so by claiming your right to use and dispose of your earned income as you see fit. A successful “tax rebellion” will be a means by which proud, free, and independent Americans will serve notice that they are no longer sanctioning an immoral and irrational socialist government.

    May 1972

  4. Hank Hohenstein

    Karl, is one of those persons who has passed. However, the imprint of his life is one that we periodically recall. For me, I never recall Karl without a sense of overwhelming loss. He was a friend and we talked and schemed and encouraaged each other to be better at what we did. He was fearless and charasmatic, my hunch is the Libertarian party would be more significant had he lived.

    I had the honor of nominating Karl for Vice-President on the McBride ticket for the 1976 Presidential campaign. The response is a story for another time.

    Love, hank

  5. Andy

    “Karl Bray, libertarian leader, tax rebel, hero, lost his year-long battle with cancer on May 7, 1978. Karl would have been 35 years old in June. ”

    Geez, 35 is pretty young to die of cancer. That is pretty tragic.

  6. Andy

    “According to early newsletter reports Karl was present on 11 December 1971 in Colorado Springs at the founding meeting of the national Party.”

    Is there are list somewhere of who all was present at the first Libertarian Party organizing meeting/convention back in 1971?

    I thought they met in David Nolan’s living room, and that he lived in Westminster, Colorado. Westminster is a suburb of Denver.

  7. Joseph Buchman Post author


    The first two meetings; 16 July 1971 and 15 August 1971 were held in David and Susan Nolan’s apartment, on Lowell Avenue in Westminster, CO. Nixon issued Executive Order 11615 during that second meeting.

    On 12 August 1977 astrologers Robert Cole and George Hurd of Santa Cruz, CA produced an “Astrological Analysis” of the LP based on birth location of Colorado Springs, CO, and birth time of 7:00PM 11 December 1971.

  8. Andy

    What??? So there was a convention in Colorado Springs on December 11th of 1971 which is considered to be the official birth of the party?

    Who all was there?

  9. Joseph Buchman Post author

    Not a convention. Meeting to review the returned surveys they had sent out. Choose a name for the Party. Develop a Press Release. Create an interim equivalent to the LNC. Fundraise. Buy advertising. Set a date for a Convention. Missing from this – an understanding of how challenging Ballot Access Laws were in many of the states. D Frank Robinson might have an answer to your question, Andy. As far as I know there were no minutes kept; no roster of attendees. David’s materials from those years were mostly lost after a flood at his mother’s home in Atlanta. . .

  10. Andy

    Joe, could what you described be considered to have been an organizing convention?

    When and where was the first Libertarian National Convention if this was not it?

    Are you telling me there is no list of who all attended these first few Libertarian Party meetings? The people in attendance were the founders of the party. I assume the late, great David Nolan was the primary founder, but who else? Was D. Frank Robinson at any of these meetings?

  11. Bill Hartman

    My wife and I together watched every Black Sails episode as it was originally released. Loved it. And yes, it made the point that they were motivated by freedom and influenced the American Revolution. Also, how English bureaucrats abused their powers. And that most pirates became such to survive, not a desire to steal, but stayed because of the freedom. And in some detail how democracy by contract governed pirate ships and their checks and balances. And that Blacks were treated as equals on pirate ships and that fact interfered with pirates choosing to accept amnesty when offered, as their Black shipmates would be enslaved. And piracy as a mechanism for freeing slaves.

    Cool about Jack rebelling in opposition to slavery. Just like the modern Disney organization to cut that. Walt’s and his early organization seemed at least somewhat positive toward Liberty and the American Revolution. Not so much now.

    Covid jokes were good as well.

  12. Andy

    “Joseph BuchmanPost author
    December 6, 2021 at 15:58
    Andy @ December 6, 2021 at 14:21

    This listing of Libertarian National Conventions does not list who all was at the first Libertarian Party meeting in which the party was created. I have wondered for many years who all was at that meeting besides David Nolan. I think I have heard a few names of who was there before, but I have never seen a complete list of those names. So who all were the actual founders of the party, besides David Nolan?

  13. Douglas W Jones

    Great job Joe and all the people who made this possible. The research on Karl is invaluable–shame that it was almost lost to us who love the Utah LP and value its contribution to liberty. Stay strong and keep fighting. Love will keep us alive.

  14. Joseph Buchman Post author

    Andy @ December 6, 2021 at 14:21 asked: “So who all were the actual founders of the party, besides David Nolan?”

    In a 1984 article

    “(David) Nolan said it all started with five people . . .

    “(David) Nolan, a 27-year-old advertising copywriter.

    “Susan (Nolan), a secretary. . .

    “Dale Nelson, a University of Denver graduate student,

    “Pipp Boyls, a Colorado Springs lawyer,

    “Hue Futch, a Colorado wild mountain man . . .

    On 11 Dec 1971, “the group (of five above expanded to eight when they) met at the Colorado Springs home of

    “Luke Zell, operator of a home furnishings business (with)

    “John James, an architect, and

    “Eric Westling, operator of a mail order business.”

    From: “Give them liberty – and then some” by Billy Bowles, Detroit Free Press, 08 April 1984, page 1B.

  15. Joseph Buchman Post author

    Also this:

    “It was July 17, 1971 – exactly six years prior to the final day of this year’s national convention – that five of us first met in my living room to lay plans for a new political party. . . . After a prolonged pro-and-con discussion, we agreed to put off making any decision, talk to some other people that we knew, and reconvene in a month.

    “Our second meeting was set for August 15. And when we gathered that hot August afternoon, our first order of business was to turn on the TV set and watch Richard Nixon’s historical address to the nation in which he announced the demonetization of the dollar and the imposition of wage-price controls. Needless to say, that galvanized us into action. . . .

    “Throughout the summer and fall of 1971, our Colorado group continued to meet once every three or four weeks, while simultaneously keeping in touch with like-minded individuals around the country and slowly expanding our network of contacts.

    “By December, the Committee had nearly 100 members, and at a meeting on December 11, 1971, our Colorado based “core group” – now expanded to eight members – voted to dissolve the Committee to Organize, and become the Libertarian Party.

    (“A sidelight of minor interest: During the Committee’s brief existence, we surveyed the members on several points, among them the choice of name for the new party. First choice among those offered by the “core group” was New Liberty Party, but there were enough write-ins for Libertarian Party that we held a runoff and Libertarian Party won by a narrow margin.”)

    From: “In the Beginning: A Brief Overview of the LP’s First Years” by Dave Nolan, Turning Point, 6th Annual National LP Convention newsletter, 14-17 July 1977, p4.

  16. Joseph Buchman Post author

    Douglas W Jones @December 6, 2021 at 17:42 wrote, “Great job Joe”

    THANKS DOUG!!! Missed you at the Party’s party.

    Hope you can come visit Cindy and me again sometime soon here in Alpine.

    We should try to get a photo of all the former, living, chairs of the Utah LP sometime soon (maybe even include the current chair too).



  17. Andy

    I am not sure that New Liberty Party would have been a good name, but I have long wondered if Liberty Party would have been a better name than Libertarian Party.

  18. George Whitfield

    Thanks for sharing such wonderful history. Kudos to the Utah Libertarian Party for its celebration of the founding. Adam Kokesh’s speech was interesting and entertaining. Happy 50th Anniversary to the Libertarian Party!

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