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Posts Tagged ‘Murray Rothbard’

What Would Murray Say About the Coronavirus? – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on March 4, 2020

These draconian quarantine measures are an overkill. The COVID-19 coronavirus, as it is now called, is infecting and killing no more people than what occurs in a common cold/flu season (2.5% death rate among infected individuals). For comparison, the 2017 flu season in the U.S. caused a reported 2 deaths per 100,000.”

Why has a panic developed over this disease? Here we can again learn from Murray. He taught us to follow the money, and in this case, drug manufacturers and developers of vaccines stand to profit if they can frighten enough people.

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2020/03/lew-rockwell/what-would-murray-say-about-the-coronavirus/

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Murray Rothbard died in January 1995, long before this year’s coronavirus scare. But the principles this great thinker taught us can help us answer questions about the coronavirus outbreak which trouble many of us. Would the US government be justified in imposing massive involuntary quarantines, in order to slow down the spread of disease? What about vaccines? If government scientists claim that they have discovered a vaccine for coronavirus, should we take it? If we refuse, can the government force us to do so? These are the sort of problems we can solve if we look to Murray for help.

The fundamental rule for deciding whether anyone, including the government, is justified in using force to make us do something we don’t want to do is the Nonaggression Principle (NAP). As Murray put in in “War, Peace, and the State,” “No one may threaten or commit violence (‘aggress’) against another man’s person or property. Violence may be employed only against the man who commits such violence; that is, only defensively against the aggressive violence of another. In short, no violence may be employed against a nonaggressor.”

You might at first think that you can use the NAP to justify forced quarantines against the coronavirus. Suppose someone had a deadly disease that would always spread to others if he came in contact with them. Probably the person would want to isolate himself and not infect others, but if he refused, wouldn’t the people in danger be justified in isolating him? He is a threat to others, even if he doesn’t intend to harm them.

Thinking about this case can lead us astray, and here is where Murray can help us most. In his great book The Ethics of Liberty, he says, “It is important to insist, however, that the threat of aggression be palpable, immediate, and direct, in short, that it be embodied in the initiation of an overt act. Any remote or indirect criterion—any ‘risk’ or ‘threat’—is simply an excuse for invasive action by the supposed ‘defender’ against the alleged ‘threat.’” Murray hammers home the point later in the book. He says, “Once one can use force against someone because of his ‘risky’ activities, the sky is the limit, and there is virtually no limit to aggression against the rights of others. Once permit someone’s ‘fear’ of the ‘risky’ activities of others to lead to coercive action, then any tyranny becomes justified.”

When we apply what Murray says to the coronavirus situation, we can answer our question about forced quarantines. People are not threatening others with immediate death by contagion. Rather, if you have the disease, you might pass it on to others. Or you might not. What happens if someone gets the disease is also uncertain.

The key fact about the disease is that we know very little about it. We talk about the “coronavirus,” but we don’t know that the disease is caused by a virus. In fact, there is a lot of evidence that it isn’t. Bill Sardi interviewed a renowned expert on infectious diseases, Dr. Lawrence Bronxmeyer. Dr. Bronxmeyer pointed out that “Antibiotics cannot be used for viruses. If a virus, then why aren’t antiviral drugs working but antibiotics are?”

Further, the disease, fortunately, is not the great danger that it is being played up to be. “Fear of the COVID-19 coronavirus may be misplaced. More people are killed by Mycobacterium tuberculosis (1.7 million) in a year than the few who have been infected (~80,000) or have died (less than 2000) of the COVID-19 coronavirus.

It is projected that the “COVID-19 Coronavirus” will peak worldwide in March and then return in a second but lesser peak in September, in accordance with Yang’s Wuhan study from 2004 to 2013, describing the annual TB surges in Wuhan, China.

Saying the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus is inevitable, a CDC (Centers for Disease Control) official advised Americans “brace themselves” and prepare to shut down public schools, avoid going to church, and self-quarantine their families.  These onerous measures are for a virus that has infected just 53 Americans (Feb. 25), mostly among people who traveled recently to China.”

Murray would agree with Sardi, who says about quarantining Americans, “The coronavirus infects and then produces symptoms 3-5 days later (the incubation period).  However, maybe a 2-week quarantine period is not long enough. A recent study says the maximum incubation period is 24 days.  That is a long time to quarantine human populations.

These draconian quarantine measures are an overkill. The COVID-19 coronavirus, as it is now called, is infecting and killing no more people than what occurs in a common cold/flu season (2.5% death rate among infected individuals). For comparison, the 2017 flu season in the U.S. caused a reported 2 deaths per 100,000.”

Why has a panic developed over this disease? Here we can again learn from Murray. He taught us to follow the money, and in this case, drug manufacturers and developers of vaccines stand to profit if they can frighten enough people. We all remember the “swine flu” panic of several years ago. Doctors developed a vaccine to prevent people from getting the alleged disease, and this vaccine killed many people. When Gerald Ford was President, there was also a “swine flu” panic, and you can watch Murray laughing at the panic here.  If he were with us today, he would be laughing at the fearmongers, warning us about the dangers of vaccines, drugs, and quarantines, and reminding us that the main danger we face is the tyrannical and predatory State.

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Rothbard: The Constitution Was a Coup d’État | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on February 14, 2020

When the American spirit was in its youth, the language of America was different: liberty, sir, was then the primary object….But now, sir, the American spirit, assisted by the ropes and chains of consolidation, is about to convert this country into a powerful and mighty empire….Such a government is incompatible with the genius of republicanism.

https://mises.org/wire/rothbard-constitution-was-coup-d%C3%A9tat

[Conceived in Liberty: The New Republic, 1784–1791. By Murray N. Rothbard. Edited by Patrick Newman. Mises Institute, 2019. 332 pages.]

We owe Patrick Newman a great debt for his enterprise and editorial skill in bringing to publication the fifth volume, hitherto thought lost, of Murray Rothbard’s Conceived in Liberty. The details of his rescue of the lost manuscript are indeed dramatic, but rather than recount them here, I should like to concentrate on a theme central to the new book.

It is well known that Rothbard took the American Revolution to be mainly libertarian in its inspiration. The libertarian impulses of the Revolution were betrayed by a centralizing coup d’état. As Rothbard puts it:

Basically, urban merchants and artisans, as well as many slaveholding planters, united in support of a strong nation-state that would use the power of coercion to grant them privileges and subsidies. The subsidies would come at the expense of the average subsistence yeoman farmer who might be expected to oppose such a new nationalism. But against them, to support a new constitution, were the commercial farmers aided by the southern plantation-farmers who also wanted power and regulation for their own benefit. Given the urban support, the split among the farmers, and the support from wealthy educated elites, it is not surprising that the nationalist forces were able to execute their truly amazing political coup d’état which illegally liquidated the Articles of Confederation and replaced it with the Constitution. In short, they were able to destroy the original individualist and decentralized program of the American Revolution. (p. 128)

The theme I should like to concentrate on is this: what happens to the way we understand the Constitution if Rothbard is right that it was a centralizing document? The Anti-Federalists, with whom Rothbard agreed, denounced it for that reason. For example, in Virginia Patrick Henry, one of Rothbard’s heroes, said:

When the American spirit was in its youth, the language of America was different: liberty, sir, was then the primary object….But now, sir, the American spirit, assisted by the ropes and chains of consolidation, is about to convert this country into a powerful and mighty empire….Such a government is incompatible with the genius of republicanism. There will be no checks, no real balances, in this government. What can avail your specious, imaginary balances, your rope-dancing, chain-rattling, ridiculous ideal checks and contrivances? But, sir, we are not feared by foreigners; we do not make nations tremble. Would this constitute happiness, or secure liberty? (p. 262)

With all this as background, we can now consider the theme I’d like to stress. If the Anti-Federalists were right. We cannot say that the Constitution as originally written gave us a limited government that later regimes have ruthlessly and recklessly expanded. In taking this approach, Rothbard set himself firmly against the dominant trend in American conservative thought. He remarks:

The Constitution was unquestionably a high-nationalist document, creating what Madison once referred to as a “high mounted government.” Not only were the essential lines of the nationalistic Virginia Plan Report carried out in the Constitution, but the later changes made were preponderantly in a nationalist direction….While it is true that the general congressional veto over state laws and the vague broad grant of powers in the original Virginia Plan were whittled down to a list of enumerated powers, enough loopholes existed in the enumerated list: the national supremacy clause; the dominance of the federal judiciary; the virtually unlimited power to tax, raise armies and navies, make war, and regulate commerce; the necessary and proper clause; and the powerful general welfare loophole; all allowed the virtually absolute supremacy of the central government. While libertarian restraints were placed on state powers, no bill of rights existed to check the federal government. (p.211)

We can argue that later regimes extended national power beyond what the Constitution contemplated, but if Rothbard is right, the Constitution as written provides ample scope for tyranny.

One of the leading arguments of Constitutional conservatives is that since Congress is granted the power to declare war, military engagements by later presidents that bypass Congress are unconstitutional. (In several reviews, I have argued this way myself.) Rothbard does not agree. He says:

Congress’ proposed broad military powers occasioned much debate. The nationalists tried to narrow Congress’ power to make war into a more concentrated, and therefore a more controllable, form: Pinckney to the Senate only, Butler to the president himself. While these were defeated, Madison cunningly moved to alter congressional power: ‘make war’ became ‘declare war,’ which left a broad, dangerous power for the president, who was grandiosely designated in the draft as the ‘commander in chief’ of the U.S. army and navy, and of all the state militias. For now, the president might make war even if only Congress could formally declare it.” (p. 185)

Rothbard finds similar slippery language in the Tenth Amendment, imagined by some defenders of limited government to be a principal means to thwart efforts by the federal government to centralize power:

This amendment did in truth transform the Constitution from one of supreme national power to a partially mixed polity where the liberal anti-nationalists had a constitutional argument with at least a fighting chance of acceptance. However, Madison had cunningly left out the word “expressly” before the word “delegated,” so the nationalist judges were able to claim that because the word “expressly” was not there, the “delegated” can vaguely accrue through judges’ elastic interpretation of the Constitution….The Tenth Amendment has been intensely reduced, by conventional judiciary construction, to a meaningless tautology. (pp. 302–3)

(Note that Rothbard does not disagree with the nationalist judges’ interpretation.) Rothbard does see some hope of restraining the central government in the “forgotten” Ninth Amendment, but this was not to be invoked in a serious way by the Supreme Court until the 1960s.

Defenders of the Constitution as a bulwark of limited government often invoke the wisdom to be found in the Federalist Papers, but Rothbard views them as deceptive propaganda:

The essays contained in The Federalist were designed not for the ages—not as an explanation of nationalist views—but as a propaganda document to allay the fears and lull the suspicions of the Antifederal forces. Consequently, these field marshals of the Federalist campaign were concerned to make the Constitution look like a mixed concoction of checks-and balances and popular representation, when they really desired, and believed that they had, a political system of overriding national power. What is remarkable is the fact that historians and conservative political theorists have seized upon and canonized these campaign pieces as fountains of quasi-divine political wisdom, as hallowed texts to be revered, even as somehow a vital part of American constitutional law. (pp. 269–70)

James Madison’s argument that a large national republic would better cope with the dangers of factionalism than a small one is often invoked for its profundity, but Rothbard is not impressed:

Madison claimed that the greater diversity of interests over a large area will make it more difficult for a majority of the interests to combine and oppress a minority. It is difficult to see, however, why such a combination should be difficult….But the main fallacy in Madison’s argument is that it is part and parcel of the antidemocratic Federalist doctrine that the danger of despotic government comes, not from the government, but from among the ranks (i.e., the majority) of the public. The fallacy of this by now should be evident. Even if a majority approves an act of tyranny, it almost never initiates or elaborates or executes such action; rather they are almost always passive tools in the hands of the oligarchy of rulers and their allied favorites of the state apparatus. (pp. 270–71)

Rothbard concludes with this verdict on the Constitution:

Overall, it should be evident that the Constitution was a counterrevolutionary reaction to the libertarianism and decentralization embodied in the American Revolution. The Antifederalists, supporting states’ rights and critical of a strong national government, were decisively beaten by the Federalists, who wanted such a polity under the guise of democracy in order to enhance their own interests and institute a British-style mercantilism over the country. Most historians have taken the side of the Federalists because they support a strong national government that has the power to tax and regulate, call forth armies and invade other countries, and cripple the power of the states. The enactment of the Constitution in 1788 drastically changed the course of American history from its natural decentralized and libertarian direction to an omnipresent leviathan that fulfilled all of the Antifederalists’ fears. (p. 312)

There is evidence that Rothbard wrote the manuscript of this book before 1967 (see p. 312, editor’s note 7). But I do not think that he later changed his mind about the Constitution. Those who wish to challenge his brilliant analysis have a difficult task ahead of them.

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Murray Rothbard’s Practical Politics | The American Conservative

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Conservatism: A Vanishing Tradition | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on November 21, 2019

If, for example, you don’t think that Martin Luther King was a “moral saint,” as more than one eminent philosopher has termed him, the Left will not try to show that your arguments for your view are mistaken. It will deny you a forum to express your arguments at all and then try to destroy you personally.

https://mises.org/wire/conservatism-vanishing-tradition?utm_source=Mises+Institute+Subscriptions&utm_campaign=2817c00b24-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_9_21_2018_9_59_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_8b52b2e1c0-2817c00b24-228343965

[The Vanishing Tradition: Perspective on American Conservatism. Edited by Paul Gottfried. Cornell University Press, 2020. 223 + pages.]

Paul Gottfried’s excellent anthology of essays on American conservatives chronicles a key phenomenon of our times. Understanding it is important not only for those, like Gottfried and his contributors, who are traditionalist conservatives, but for anyone concerned with freedom. The phenomenon in question is the takeover of American conservatism by neoconservatives.

Why should this development concern us? In brief, the neocons, interested in their own agenda, have joined with the left in enforcing a public orthodoxy that excludes certain views from discussion. As Gottfried explains: “We might note some of the offenses for which an older Right was read out of the movement by the 1990s. Such presumed enormities included opposing the First Gulf War, supporting Patrick Buchanan’s presidential bid in 1992, and complaining about the influence of the American Israeli lobby. Some of the same people had also been critical of the cultural effects of Third World immigration, the extensions of the Voting Rights Act that would increase the electoral strength of the Left and bring the electoral process almost totally under federal administrative control, and the elevation of Martin Luther King — a controversial figure of the Left in his own time — to iconic status with a national holiday.”

Obviously, those who favor the suppressed positions should be concerned, but others should be as well. The Left, joined by the neocons, not only insists on its agenda but will not allow dissent. If, for example, you don’t think that Martin Luther King was a “moral saint,” as more than one eminent philosopher has termed him, the Left will not try to show that your arguments for your view are mistaken. It will deny you a forum to express your arguments at all and then try to destroy you personally. Even if you admire King or accept other tenets of the public orthodoxy, you should be troubled by the suppression of free speech.

Two of the contributors, Keith Preston and Boyd D. Cathey, discuss in detail one such smear campaign against a dissenter from the Official Truth. This was directed at Mel Bradford, a literary scholar and historian, who criticized Abraham Lincoln. In 1981, Ronald Reagan intended to nominate Bradford to head the National Endowment for the Humanities, and Bradford’s opinions about Lincoln would on the surface seem irrelevant to his fitness for the post. But Lincoln’s role as the savior of the Union and scourge of slavery is a key part of our public orthodoxy. The Left joined forces with the neocons to strike at Bradford. Preston writes: “As a legal scholar, Bradford was an advocate of a ‘strict constructionist’ approach to interpreting the Constitution, his view of the American founding as a conservative revolution, and his defense of the South against what he considered to be the usurpations of state sovereignty by President Lincoln during the Civil War [aroused neocon ire].”

Because he had attacked Lincoln, Bradford had to be denied the nomination. “Among the prominent neoconservatives who expressed opposition to Bradford were Irving Kristol, a former Trotskyite and the coeditor of The Public Interest, who is credited with having coined the term ‘neoconservative.’ The neoconservative movement’s other leading intellectual, Norman Podhoretz, another former leftist and the publisher of Commentary magazine, also expressed opposition to Bradford’s nomination.”

Why are the neocons willing to join forces with the Left? Doing so permits them to advance more effectively their own goals, strong support for Israel and for an interventionist foreign policy. Marjorie Jeffrey gets at the heart of the matter: “In what may be considered one of the founding documents of what became Bush-era neoconservatism, [William] Kristol and [Robert] Kagan wrote in ‘Toward a Neo-Reaganite Foreign Policy’ that instead of either Clinton’s ‘Wilsonian multilateralism’ or Buchanan’s ‘neo-isolationism’, America should seek a policy of ‘benevolent global hegemony.’” Those who opposed this policy were assailed: “Against these efforts [opposing war], David Frum penned his famous ‘Unpatriotic Conservatives’ essay in the pages of National Review, charging antiwar conservatives and libertarians with being anti- American: ‘They have made common cause with the left-wing and Islamist antiwar movements in this country and in Europe. They deny and excuse terror. They espouse a potentially self-fulfilling defeatism. They publicize wild conspiracy theories. And some of them explicitly yearn for the victory of their nation’s enemies.’” As Jeffrey accurately notes, Ron Paul has with characteristic insight brought into question whether an interventionist foreign policy is in America’s interests, and for this he has been vilified.

Preston in his excellent essay makes the same criticism of neocon foreign policy, but he wrongly traces interventionism to the Jacobins: “A former assistant secretary of the Treasury during the Reagan administration, Paul Craig Roberts, has described the foreign policy views of the neoconservatives as emanating from the fanaticism that emerged during the French Revolution, observing ‘there is nothing conservative about neoconservatives. Neocons hide behind ‘conservative’ but they are in fact Jacobins. Jacobins were the 18th century French revolutionaries whose intention to remake Europe in revolutionary France’s image launched the Napoleonic Wars.” A similar critique of the neoconservatives has been offered by the conservative scholar Claes Ryn.” The Jacobins in fact were mainly concerned with internal reform: it was the Gironde that wished to spread the Revolution abroad.

But this minor error pales into insignificance when put beside Preston’s indispensable point, also drawn from Ryn: ”The ongoing project of the neoconservatives has been to purge from the American Right any tendency that is suspected of opposing aggressive military interventionism, the revolutionary spread of ‘democratic capitalism’ on an international level, the geopolitical agenda of Israel’s Likud Party, or the cultural values of urban cosmopolitanism. Meanwhile, the neoconservatives will make common cause with anyone on the left they deem aggressively militarist enough.”

Some of the contributors find an epistemological source that in their opinion accounts at least in part for the errors of the neocons. The neocons favor principles that are universally true, regardless of historical time and circumstance. This contention seems to me mistaken. Isn’t the problem rather that the neocons favor the wrong universal principles? If like Murray Rothbard we support self-ownership, property rights, and peace, we would not fall victim to neocon delusions.

Mention of Rothbard of course brings to mind that he too was the victim of smear campaigns by both Buckley’s National Review and the neocons. As Gottfried remarks: “In some cases, however, those thrown off the bus were subject to at least intermittent abuse intended to justify their fall. This happened in a particularly bizarre way to Murray Rothbard, in the form of an obituary that Buckley inserted into National Review shortly after Rothbard’s death. Here Buckley offered a comparison between Rothbard and cult leader David Koresh. Neither apparently had more than a handful of followers: Rothbard had ‘as many disciples as David Koresh had in his redoubt in Waco.’ ‘Yes, Rothbard believed in freedom; David Koresh believed in God.’ It had not been enough for National Review’s founder to scold Rothbard during his lifetime.”

Fortunately, neither Buckley nor the neocons succeeded in suppressing Rothbard. His teaching continues to guide and inspire us.

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The Power of Self-Ownership | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on November 4, 2019

If you don’t own yourself you are not free.

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As every reader of Murray Rothbard knows, the principle of self-ownership stands at the basis of libertarian thought. Each person is the owner of his or her own body. If we add a principle for homesteading land and natural resources, we can without much trouble get to an anarcho-capitalist society. But even on its own, the self-ownership principle rules out the welfare state. You cannot be compelled to labor for someone else, even if the other person “needs” your labor more than you do.

You would expect Marxists to brush aside self-ownership as bourgeois apologetics, and for most part they do. G.A. Cohen, a Marxist who taught political theory at Oxford University, was an exception. In his book Self-Ownership, Freedom, and Equality (Cambridge University Press, 1995), he says that he finds self-ownership intuitively plausible:

In my experience, leftists who disparage [Robert] Nozick’s essentially unargued affirmation of each person’s right over himself lose confidence in their unqualified denial of the thesis of self-ownership when they are asked to consider who has the right to decide what should happen, for example, to their own eyes. They do not immediately agree that, were eye transplants easy to achieve, it would then be acceptable for the state to conscript potential eye donors into a lottery whose losers must yield an eye to beneficiaries who would otherwise not be one-eyed but blind.” (p. 70)

As Cohen rightly notes, your right to your own body outweighs commonly used socialist principles that mandate redistribution. You are entitled to keep your eyes even if the fact that you have two working eyes is a matter of genetic luck and even if a blind person “needs” an eye more than you do. (You could still see with one eye but he cannot see at all.)

Cohen must now confront a dilemma. He finds self-ownership prima facie plausible. But self-ownership rules out the welfare state, and even worse, is a big step toward a fully free market society. What can he do to escape the dilemma?

Two courses of action suggest themselves. He might admit self-ownership, but deny that it leads to free-market capitalism. Alternatively, he might claim that, in spite of its surface plausibility, self-ownership ought to be rejected. It is the latter tactic that he adopts. He readily acknowledges that self-ownership rules out the welfare state.

Cohen says that the force of self-ownership really derives from something else. We have a strong belief that it is wrong to interfere with the integrity of someone’s body, and this, he thinks, is different from self-ownership. He asks us to imagine that everyone is born with empty eye sockets. The state implants two eyes in everyone at birth, using an eye bank it owns. If someone lost both eyes, wouldn’t we oppose an eye lottery to remove forcibly one eye from a sighted person to help the blind person? But in the example the state owns all the eyes. Cohen concludes that our real objection to an eye lottery in the actual world is not that it violates self-ownership but that people have a right to bodily integrity.

The “suggestion arises that our resistance to a lottery for natural eyes shows not belief in self-ownership but hostility to severe interference in someone’s life. For the state need never vest ownership of the eyes in persons.” (p. 244)

A defender of self-ownership can readily acknowledge that it would be wrong to remove someone’s eyes in Cohen’s science-fiction case. All he needs to preserve his principle is the fact that you own your eyes adds to the moral badness of making you enter the eye lottery. Bodily integrity and self-ownership supplement each other: they do not compete for our allegiance, as Cohen seems to think. The fact that Cohen had to resort to a bizarre example to try to escape self-ownership shows its power. Once you think about it, self-ownership is hard to reject.

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706a7-rothbard2bmurray

Murray Rothbard

 

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Rothbard and War – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on August 26, 2019

First and foremost, war deforms us morally.

War corrupts the culture

War distorts reality itself. 

Be decent. Be human. Do not be deceived by the Joe Bidens, the John McCains, the John Boltons, Hillary Clintons and the whole gang of neocons.

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2019/08/lew-rockwell/rothbard-on-war/

By

This talk was delivered at the Ron Paul Institute’s Conference on Breaking Washington’s Addiction to War.

Murray Rothbard was the creator of the modern libertarian movement and a close friend of both Ron Paul and me. His legacy was a great one, and at the Mises Institute I try every day to live up to his hopes for us.

One issue was the most important to him, of all the many issues that concerned him. This was the issue of war and peace. Because of his support for a peaceful, noninterventionist foreign policy for America, the CIA agent William F. Buckley blacklisted him from National Review and tried, fortunately without success, to silence his voice.

During the 1950’s, Murray worked for the Volker Fund, and in a letter to Ken Templeton in 1959, he complained about the situation:  “I can think of no other magazine which might publish this, though I might fix it up a bit and try one of the leftist-pacifist publications. The thing is that I am getting more and more convinced that the war-peace question is the key to the whole libertarian business, and that we will never get anywhere in this great intellectual counterrevolution (or revolution) unless we can end this . . . cold war-a war for which I believe our tough policy is largely responsible.”

Buckley’s position was that it would be necessary to erect a “totalitarian bureaucracy” within our shores in order to battle communism abroad. The implication was that once the communist menace subsided, this extraordinary effort, domestic and foreign, could likewise diminish.

Since government programs do not have a habit of diminishing but instead seek new justifications when the old ones no longer exist, few of us were surprised when the warfare state, and its right-wing apologists, hummed right along after its initial rationale vanished from history.

As it turns out, by the way, the Soviet threat was grossly exaggerated, as such threats always are. The wickedness of the Soviet regime was never in doubt, but its capabilities and intentions were consistently distorted and overblown.

Despite the dubious foundations on which the hysterical claims behind the alleged “Soviet threat” rested, its existence ossified into one of the unchallengeable orthodoxies of National Review and of the broader conservative movement then being born. When Murray pointed out the silliness of the whole thing, not to mention the counterproductive nature of American military intervention abroad, he quickly became an un-person at National Review, which had published him in its early years.

Well before there was an official “conservative movement,” with its magazines, its crusty orthodoxies, its ineffectual think-tanks (complete with sinecures for ex-politicians) and its craving for respectability, there was a loose, less formal association of writers and intellectuals who opposed Franklin Roosevelt (in both his domestic and foreign policies), a group Murray dubbed the “Old Right.”

There was no party line among these intrepid thinkers because there was nobody to impose one.

Even into the 1950s and the advance of the Cold War, voices of restraint amidst the remnants of the Old Right could still be found. In a 1966 article, Murray points to the right-wing group For America, a political action group whose foreign-policy platform demanded “no conscription” as well as the principle, “Enter no foreign wars unless the safety of the United States is directly threatened.”

Murray likewise pointed to the Jeffersonian novelist Louis Bromfield, who wrote in 1954 that military intervention against the Soviet Union was counterproductive:

One of the great failures of our foreign policy throughout the world arises from the fact that we have permitted ourselves to be identified everywhere with the old, doomed, and rotting colonial-imperialist small European nations which once imposed upon so much of the world the pattern of exploitation and economic and political domination…. None of these rebellious, awakening peoples will…trust us or cooperate in any way so long as we remain identified with the economic colonial system of Europe, which represents, even in its capitalistic pattern, the last remnants of feudalism…. We leave these awakening peoples with no choice but to turn to Russian and communist comfort and promise of Utopia.

Murray likewise made note of a 1953 article by George Morgenstern, editorial writer for the Chicago Tribune, in Human Events (“now become a hack organ for the ‘Conservative Movement,’” Murray lamented in 1966) that deplored the imperialist tradition in American history. Morgenstern ridiculed those who “swoon on very sight of the phrase ‘world leadership,’” and wrote:

An all-pervasive propaganda has established a myth of inevitability in American action: all wars were necessary, all wars were good. The burden of proof rests with those who contend that America is better off, that American security has been enhanced, and that prospects of world peace have been improved by American intervention in four wars in half a century. Intervention began with deceit by McKinley; it ends with deceit by Roosevelt and Truman.

Perhaps we would have a rational foreign policy…if Americans could be brought to realize that the first necessity is the renunciation of the lie as an instrument of foreign policy.

With the advent of National Review, these increasingly isolated voices would be silenced and marginalized. Even the heroic John T. Flynn, whose anti-FDR biography The Roosevelt Myth had reached number two on the New York Times bestseller list, was turned away from National Review when he tried to warn of the dangers of a policy of military interventionism.

Why did Murray oppose war? Here are a few points basic to his thought:…

You will have to see for yourself here…

See through the propaganda. Stop empowering and enriching the state by cheering its wars. Set aside the television talking points. Look at the world anew, without the prejudices of the past, and without favoring your own government’s version of things.

Be decent. Be human. Do not be deceived by the Joe Bidens, the John McCains, the John Boltons, Hillary Clintons and the whole gang of necons. Reject the biggest government program of them all.

Peace builds. War destroys.

Let’s return for a moment to Murray. When he opposed the Vietnam War, he alienated not only National Review, the major right-wing magazine and the most important conservative voice in the country, as well as virtually everyone on the right. He had to write for a small number of newsletter subscribers. By the late 1960s, he told Walter Block there were probably only 25 libertarians in the entire world.

Things are much easier for us today, thanks in large part to Murray’s commitment and Ron Paul’s extraordinary example. There are now millions of people who are resolutely antiwar, and who don’t care which political party the president launching any particular war happens to belong to.

On top of that, it’s encouraging to know that younger people are much less convinced of the need for an interventionist foreign policy. The younger the audience, the less the warmongers’ fact-free exhortations fall on receptive ears.

This in my view is Murray Rothbard’s greatest legacy. It’s up to all of us to help carry it forward.

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EconomicPolicyJournal.com: Murray Rothbard on the Truth about the Origins of the Progressive Movement

Posted by M. C. on May 27, 2019

Fast talker, intense, genius.

https://www.economicpolicyjournal.com/2019/05/murray-rothbard-on-truth-about-origins.html

Murray Rothbard on the Truth about the Origins of the Progressive Movement

RW

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EconomicPolicyJournal.com: Murray Rothbard vs. Donald Trump on Tariffs

Posted by M. C. on May 11, 2019

https://www.economicpolicyjournal.com/2019/05/murray-rothbard-vs-donald-trump-on.html

Murray Rothbard vs. Donald Trump on Tariffs

Murray Rothbard

From Power & Market: Government and the Economy (1977)by Murray Rothbard:

Tariffs and various forms of import quotas prohibit, partially or totally, geographical competition for various products. Domestic firms are granted a quasi monopoly and, generally, a monopoly price. Tariffs injure the consumers within the “protected” area, who are prevented from purchasing from more efficient competitors at a lower price. They also injure the more efficient foreign firms and the consumers of all areas, who are deprived of the advantages of geographic specialization. In a free market, the best resources will tend to be allocated to their most value-productive locations. Blocking interregional trade will force factors to obtain lower remuneration at less efficient and less value-productive tasks…

The arguments for tariffs have one thing in common: they all attempt to prove that the consumers of the protected area are not exploited by the tariff. These attempts are all in vain. There are many arguments. Typical are worries about the continuance of an “unfavorable balance of trade.” But every individual decides on his purchases and therefore determines whether his balance should be “favorable” or “unfavorable”; “unfavorable” is a misleading term because any purchase is the action most favorable for the individual at the time. The same is therefore true for the consolidated balance of a region or a country. There can be no “unfavorable” balance of trade from a region unless the traders so will it, either by selling their gold reserve, or by borrowing from others (the loans being voluntarily granted by creditors).
The absurdity of the protariff arguments can be seen when we carry the idea of a tariff to its logical conclusion—let us say, the case of two individuals, Jones and Smith. This is a valid use of the reductio ad absurdumbecause the same qualitative effects take place when a tariff is levied on a whole nation as when it is levied on one or two people; the difference is merely one of degree.25 Suppose that Jones has a farm, “Jones’ Acres,” and Smith works for him. Having become steeped in protariff ideas, Jones exhorts Smith to “buy Jones’ Acres.” “Keep the money in Jones’ Acres,” “don’t be exploited by the flood of products from the cheap labor of foreigners outside Jones’ Acres,” and similar maxims become the watchword of the two men. To make sure that their aim is accomplished, Jones levies a 1,000-percent tariff on the imports of all goods and services from “abroad,” i.e., from outside the farm. As a result, Jones and Smith see their leisure, or “problems of unemployment,” disappear as they work from dawn to dusk trying to eke out the production of all the goods they desire. Many they cannot raise at all; others they can, given centuries of effort. It is true that they reap the promise of the protectionists: “self-sufficiency,” although the “sufficiency” is bare subsistence instead of a comfortable standard of living. Money is “kept at home,” and they can pay each other very high nominal wages and prices, but the men find that the real value of their wages, in terms of goods, plummets drastically.
Truly we are now back in the situation of the isolated or barter economies of Crusoe and Friday. And that is effectively what the tariff principle amounts to. This principle is an attack on the market, and its logical goal is the self-sufficiency of individual producers; it is a goal that, if realized, would spell poverty for all, and death for most, of the present world population. It would be a regression from civilization to barbarism.

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Ayn Rand’s Political Philosophy | Mises Institute

Posted by M. C. on April 25, 2019

Good article if one is of a philsophical bent.

Me…I have to open my Wikipedia before I start.

https://mises.org/power-market/ayn-rands-political-philosophy

David Gordon

Foundations of a Free Society: Reflections on Ayn Rand’s Political Philosophy. Gregory Salmieri and Robert Mayhew, Eds.  University of Pittsburgh Press. Xi + 460 pages.1

This excellent book mirrors in its choice of contributors the odd relationship between Ayn Rand and libertarianism. On the one hand, her own proposals for the political organization of society are a version of minimal state libertarianism, and her novels and essays have had an enormous impact on many libertarians. On the other hand, she not only denied she was a libertarian but denounced libertarianism in characteristically fierce fashion. The anarchist position of Murray Rothbard especially aroused her opposition.

Many of the contributors to the book are members of the “official” Objectivist organization of philosophers, the Ayn Rand Society, but others, including Matt Zwolinski, Peter Boettke, and Michael Huemer, are not Objectivists. The “official” Objectivists are more inclined than was Rand herself to acknowledge the similarity between her political thought and libertarianism, but, like her, they criticize libertarianism and denounce Rothbard’s anarchism.

In what follows, I shall address the criticisms of Rothbard’s anarchism, as these are likely to be of most interest to readers of mises.org. Before turning to this, though, I should like to examine the more general criticism of libertarianism raised by the Objectivists, as this has considerable philosophical value.

Given the manifest similarity between Rand’s political proposals and minimal state libertarianism, why are Objectivists so critical of libertarianism? One is tempted to ask them, “All right, you don’t like anarchism, but why isn’t support for a minimal state that has no power to tax and for laissez-faire capitalism enough for you? What more do you want?” Their answer is that non-Objectivist libertarianism lacks proper philosophical foundations. In the absence of these foundations, libertarians are unable adequately to support their political conclusions.

As an example, Darryl Wright, a philosophy professor at Harvey Mudd College and a rising star among Objectivist philosophers, criticizes Rothbard for not grounding his non-aggression principle in normative ethics. Although Rothbard accepted an ethics of natural law, he also held that political philosophy was autonomous, and this was his fatal error: “The source of the difficulties with Rothbard’s conception of aggression. . .lies in a particular way of understanding self-ownership, which in turn proceeds from Rothbard’s commitment to what I will call the autonomy of political philosophy. By this I mean the view that political philosophy should be independent of normative ethics—that is, independent of any substantive ethical theory applicable to the whole of one’s life.” (p.107). More generally, Wright says, “Since Rand’s approach to philosophy is holistic, a proper understanding of the[non-initiation of force] principle requires us to see how it grows out of her more fundamental positions in ethics and epistemology. . .” (p.16)…

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Is Tax Reform Libertarian? – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on December 11, 2017

Shuffling the deck without reducing taxes and employing the necessary reduction in the size of government is worthless.

The implication is there will be winners and losers.

This government we are talking about. I do not expect to come out a winner.

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2017/12/laurence-m-vance/what-makes-tax-reform-libertarian/

And if taxation is organized theft, then, as Rothbard also says: “There can be no such thing as “fairness in taxation” since “the concept of a ‘fair tax’ is therefore every bit as absurd as that of ‘fair theft.’” And as Frank Chodorov adds: “There cannot be a good tax nor a just one; every tax rests its case on compulsion.” Read the rest of this entry »

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The Case for Optimism – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on September 4, 2017

Some days it is tough but what else are we to do?

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2017/09/gary-north/the-case-for-optimism-3/

Everything meaningful that’s ever happened in the world, any change, any improvement comes about because of optimism. The pessimists don’t get anything done. They’re naysayers.  Read the rest of this entry »

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