Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

Why Paleo?

Posted by M. C. on November 13, 2022

“Liberty isn’t enough.”

Tho Bishop

The following was an article by Murray Rothbard, first published in The Rothbard Rockwell Report in May 1990.

The Modal Libertarian

In the January 1990 issue of Liberty Mag, Lew Rockwell published an article, “The Case for Paleo-libertarianism,” that set the libertarian world on its ear. It was the single most talked-about and controversial article in the history of that magazine, and indeed in many years in the libertarian movement. 

The reason is simple: the libertarian world has been sunk, for years now, into torpor at best and advancing decay at worst. It has been marked by a lack of new ideas, of new thoughts or strategies. In the last decade, libertarian ideas have been advancing and permeating throughout the world, but apart from the specialized area of free-market economics, libertarian institutions have been steadily crumbling and falling into total irrelevance in American culture. Instead of meeting the challenge of chronic deterioration and decay, movement leaders have huddled around, hunkered down, and desperately stepped up their host of scams and bunco schemes, precisely like leeches accelerating their vampirism as their host‘s blood gets ever thinner and less nourishing. 

The Modal Libertarian is a moocher, a bunco artist, and often an outright crook.

1989, the year of the glorious revolutionary implosion of communism/socialism in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, has presented us with a totally new world, with new parameters for action. All other ideological groups, conservatives, liberals, and leftists, have, with varying success, understood the necessity of meeting the new reality by rethinking their focus and their strategies. Only libertarians have, as usual, acted as if the real world does not exist, and continued heedlessly to play their bunco games. 

Amidst this pervasive miasma, Lew’s article came as a spark of excitement, a trumpet call announcing that there are big changes in the real world, folks, and that it’s high time we wake up and do some hard thinking about what it all means. For all libertarians not yet brain dead, Lew’s article heralded a new dawn of purposive activity and creative thinking. 

Unfortunately, such is the parlous state to which the movement has sunk that almost none of this excitement was reflected in the many tedious and uncomprehending comments on the article in Liberty: almost all of which were nothing so much as the irritable responses of bears being disturbed from their lengthy slumbers. Indeed, the only intelligent and thoughtful critique of the Rockwell article appeared not in Liberty but by Justin Raimondo in the March issue of the Libertarian Republican Organizer. 

So why paleo? As one of Lew’s critics put it, why do we need another long word to tack on to the first one (libertarianism)? The standard critical summary of the paleo position is that we are setting out to “expel” all non-paleos (variously defined as all non-bourgeois and/or non-religious) from the libertarian movement. This is an absurd characterization of our position, and seems to reflect a severe reading (or thinking) disability. 

In the first place, aside from the Libertarian Party, there is no membership-type organization in the movement from which we could expel anyone. And as for the LP, most of us have left it in body and all of us in spirit. And secondly, how can a small minority (paleos) “expel” a vast majority? 

See the rest here

Be seeing you

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