Rothbard was the founder of the libertarian movement, a radical free marketeer who came of age in the era of collectivism and fought all his life for individualism and laissez-faire against An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. This is the first biography of one of the most interesting and controversial social theorists of our time. The more time you spend with Austrian economists or libertarian intellectuals, the more you realize that Murray Rothbard's influence has been underestimated.
No, his name is not a household word but his influence is felt in another way: Whether that means adopting his paradigmatic approach to political economy, elaborating on a feature of his system, or attempting a refutation, once read, Rothbard seems inescapable. New Rothbardians are appearing by the day, and not just in this country but throughout the world. Whether in public life or academia, his star is continually on the rise. These pages have documented the way in which his influence was already increasing, and dramatically so, ten years after his death.
With more of his books coming into mainstream circulation see his History of Thought , Power and Market , and For a New Liberty , it is also a good time to revisit Justin Raimondo's spirited and compelling biography of Rothbard: Enemy of the State , which came out on the fifth anniversary of his passing. This neglected book reconstructs postwar intellectual history with attention to Rothbard's contribution. The author himself was a player in many of Rothbard's post ideological struggles so the reader can enjoy a box seat at some of the most exciting debates of the period.
Rothbard's principles were, of course, consistent from the time he first put pen to paper, and they made him a lightning rod for controversy and the standard by which all pro-liberty thought is measured to this day. But it was often the application of the principles, as much as the principles themselves, that earned him passionate detractors and defenders. His enemies were also driven crazy by his unfailing good humor: Rothbard was the architect of the body of thought known around the world as libertarianism.
This radically anti-state political philosophy unites free-market economics, a no-exceptions attachment to private property rights, a profound concern for human liberty, and a love of peace with the conclusion that society should be completely free to develop absent any interference from the state, which can and should be eliminated. Rothbard worked his entire life to shore up this ideological apparatus — in economic theory, historical studies, political ethics, cultural criticism, and movement organizing.
As Raimondo says, no biography can be complete without coming to terms with the simultaneous occurrence of all these professional contributions — a tough job when you are dealing with a legacy that includes 25 books and tens of thousands of articles. This is an outstanding account of his life that valiantly struggles to treat them all between two covers, though in the end even Raimondo too must specialize, in this case on Rothbard the cultural-political commentator and organizer.
But this was not Rothbard's way. He never remained aloof from the passing scene: I've seen page private memos from Murray written weeks before elections evaluating candidates in even the smallest House races. It was in his application that he instructed us, not only in the ideals we should seek, but also in the all-important area of how we might go about achieving them, and do so without compromising ideals.
In , for example, Rothbard at the age of 28 was very concerned about what was happening to the American Right as it had existed between the wars. The old isolationist, classical-liberal, anti-New Deal forces were being shoved aside in favor of a new breed of Cold Warriors agitating to use the state against Russia, our ally in war only a few years earlier. How could conservatives champion small government and also call for vastly expanded nuclear weapons and a US global empire?
He kept asking the question but wasn't getting satisfactory answers. Barely beginning his career as an economist and public intellectual, he flew into the opposition mode. Nuclear weapons should be dismantled. Not one dime should be spent building the US empire. As for the "captive nations" problem, Rothbard suggested that the US free its own: Hawaii, Alaska, and Puerto Rico!
The election of pitted Dwight Eisenhower against Adlai Stevenson, both of whom offered statist domestic policies sound familiar? But Stevenson was against conscription and less pro-war, and thus garnered Rothbard's support, the moral priority being the prevention of another massacre of young men. Rothbard even worked the phones from the Stevenson campaign headquarters in Manhattan. His turn against the Republicans got him tossed off the Faith and Freedom masthead, led him to appeal leftward for allies, and sparked a lifelong opposition to William Buckley and the mainstream of the conservative movement.
Very little changed throughout his life. Rothbard was radically in favor of free markets and radically opposed to war, a wholly consistent opponent of the welfare-warfare state. But in the intellectual-political history of —, there was no place for such a person. Official opinion required philosophical inconsistency, and the segmentation of intellectual camps followed the same course. So Rothbard often had to make political decisions by weighing the foreign-policy question against a candidate's domestic program. Let's fast-forward 40 years, for example, to the presidential elections of the s.
Pat Buchanan challenged George Bush for the Republican nomination, saying that Bush had made two unforgivable errors: Did Rothbard cheer Buchanan? So long as he adhered to principle. But Buchanan lost the nomination, and refused to pursue a third-party option. Rothbard then turned to Perot as the candidate worth rooting for, and on the same grounds: Perot blasted Bush's war and his taxes.
Then Perot suddenly pulled out. That left Bush and Clinton, whose foreign policy was no different from Bush's but whose domestic policy was worse. Rothbard then rooted for Bush against Clinton.
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His very controversial column appeared in the Los Angeles Times , and it garnered more hate mail than Rothbard had ever received in his life. Many libertarians not famous for strategic acumen or catching the subtleties of such matters were shocked by his non-interest in the Libertarian Party nominee.
But by that time, Rothbard was convinced that the LP was running a presidential campaign in name only, that it was a clique devoted not to real political education but to organizational maintenance. Had Rothbard become a Republican? Had he become a Buchananite?
Take a look at his piece, reprinted in The Irrepressible Rothbard , in which he predicts that in Pat would concentrate on protectionism to the exclusion of every other important subject. He was getting trapped into "becoming just another variety of 'Lane Kirkland Republican'. But it foreshadowed the fall of yet another promising political force. The point that few people could fully grasp about Rothbard was his complete independence of mind. He had one party to which he was unfailingly loyal: All institutions, candidates, and intellectuals were measured by their adherence to that standard and their ability to promote it.
He was always eager to prevent the greater evil in the course of advancing human liberty. Indeed, Rothbard was a tough-as-nails strategist and thinker, one who was breathtakingly creative as an intellectual force but refused blind devotion to conventional wisdom or any institution or individual that promoted it. Such a man is bound to make enemies. Hardly a day goes by when I don't run across some wild misunderstanding of his life and work, some outrageous calumny spread by those who know he can no longer answer them, some baseless theory claiming to be an extension of Rothbardian ethics, or, worse, a wildly distorted presentation of history that misrepresents Rothbard's role in some political affair.
It's usually best to not pay attention to these trivialists. As Raimondo points out, "he was a giant among pygmies, too large to be consumed by the struggle with his errant followers.
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And yet, a main virtue of this book is precisely that it debunks a room-full of myths about the man, and it does so not with conjecture, but with primary documentation. Let's consider a few. Raimondo produces letters and articles from his earliest writings showing that he had mapped out most of his life's work.
That goes for his attachment to Austro-free-market theory, his anarcho-capitalism, his devotion to natural rights, his love of the Old Right political paradigm, his optimistic outlook for liberty, his hatred of war, his essential Americanism, and even his reactionary cultural outlook. The ideas were all developed throughout the course of his life, but the seeds seemed to be there from the beginning. The attacks were too. Ralph Lord Roy's book Apostles of Discord blasted some early Rothbard articles as dangerously supporting "unregulated laissez-faire capitalism.
He learned, he developed, he elaborated, but he never made a fundamental shift. By the mids, Rothbard was estranged from the conservative movement.
An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard - Justin Raimondo - Google Книги
Detecting libertarian elements in the nascent student rebellion, he, Leonard Liggio, and George Resch founded Left and Right: A Journal of Libertarian Thought in and went trolling for antistatists among opponents of the Vietnam War. Although there was some cross-fertilization between left and right during the late s as recently discussed in Rebecca E.
University of California Press, ] , libertarianism attracted the bulk of its adherents from the right. The s were a time of heightened activity for Rothbard. He responded in with For a New Liberty , which remains today his most popular book.
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During that decade, he also produced a four-volume history of colonial America, Conceived in Liberty ; began work on a natural-rights defense of liberty, Ethics of Liberty eventually published in ; edited the Journal of Libertarian Studies; wrote chapters for numerous other publications; and still managed to find time for political journalism!
All this activity gave Rothbard a high profile in the fledgling libertarian political movement.
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When the Committee to Organize a Libertarian Party canvassed its members in about their preferences regarding a presidential candidate, Rothbard ranked first, followed by Alan Greenspan! Rothbard declined, skeptical that a third party could mount a credible campaign against statism. By , he had changed his mind for at least three reasons: Keynesianism had produced stagflation.
Looking at the disarray, Rothbard predicted that libertarians were on the road to victory. Even though the Libertarian presidential candidate, Roger MacBride, received just 0. He broke with Crane and the Koch-funded Cato Institute and struck out to reclaim the movement. He and his supporters gained control in the convention, but even Raimondo admits that the victory was not worth much because more than half the talent and virtually all the money had left the party p.