Chris R. Tame, Obituary from The Daily Telegraph, 7th April 2006
CHRIS TAME, who died on March 20 aged 56, was a leading proponent of libertarianism.
In the late 1960s he founded the Libertarian Alliance, which produced more than 800 papers on subjects ranging from obscure points of philosophy to controversial policy proposals on the legalisation of drugs, the privatisation of money and the promotion of mercenaries. The LA, which had begun as a private discussion group, was formally launched in 1979.
The previous year Tame had founded the Alternative Bookshop in Floral Street (subsequently at Langley Court), in Covent Garden. The name was chosen because there were already several Left-wing bookshops in the area; it also referred to the fact that most books then published in Britain on politics, sociology, philosophy and economics had a collectivist slant.
Tame gave the Alternative Bookshop a superficially Left-wing appearance with a section headed Feminism and Anarchism. Visitors often left bemused, having been confronted by a shelf of monographs from the Institute of Economic Affairs denouncing neo-Keynesian economics.
The bookshop opened with a party attended by Kingsley Amis and Paul Johnson, and became the venue for signing sessions by figures such as Milton Friedman and Friedrich Hayek. Tame was its manager until 1985, and the shop closed the following year after it ran out of money.
Ironically for a bookshop championing capitalism, it never made a profit, relying instead on regular subsidies from benefactors. Though Time Out magazine described the shop as "a front for the CIA'', its backers were, in fact, private individuals.
Like Alan Greenspan, Tame was a devotee of the American novelist and philosopher Ayn Rand, whose rugged brand of individualism could be summed up by the title of one of her books, The Virtue of Selfishness. Her work always had pride of place in the shop.
Though involved in his Conservative Association at university, Tame was not a member of the party in later years.
The Conservative Party and the Libertarian Alliance were uneasy allies in the battle against Socialism, and were often embarrassed by one another.
Even the more radical Thatcherite elements in the Young Conservatives and FCS, happy to describe themselves as "libertarian'', would tend to dissociate themselves from the more exotic LA ideas.
For his part, Tame tended to consider the Tories both reactionary and stuffy. He was concerned that any close association with them would result in the ruin of his street credibility with those he wished to convert: young, anti-establishment intellectuals.
Christopher Ronald Tame was born on December 20 1949 and brought up at Godalming, in Surrey, the only child of a printer who had spent the war in the Eighth Army as an escort to Montgomery and had been mentioned in dispatches; Chris's mother, Elsie, was a nurse. He attended the local grammar school, then went up to Hull University, graduating in American Studies. Before founding the Alternative Bookshop he had stints working for the National Association for Freedom (now the Freedom Association). He also worked for the Institute of Economic Affairs.
From 1988 to 1995 he was Director of Forest, the smokers' rights group. He was (despite his early death) a non-smoker and a keep-fit enthusiast; a keen practitioner of martial arts, he would arrive at political seminars on roller-skates. During his many media interviews Tame would stress that he was not encouraging people to smoke, simply defending their freedom to do so.
He could be litigious when his views were misrepresented, in 1992 winning libel damages from LBC Radio after he was accused of "introducing young children to cigarettes and assisting in killing 110,000 people a year''.
Tame's later years were spent modestly in Ramsgate, where he had been compiling a huge Bibliography of Freedom. His enjoyment of science fiction developed into a serious interest in cryogenics. Finding himself short of work, he did temping in London, including, incongruously, a stint with Lambeth Council Press Office.
After being diagnosed with a rare form of bone cancer last year, he continued to write and still regularly sent jokes to his friends by email. He kept up his spirits by listening to Elvis Presley records.
He collected 40,000 books, including a number of rare classical liberal documents, some of which are being donated to the Foundation for Economic Education in New York.
Chris Tame was twice married and divorced.