About This Blog

Ludwig von Mises (1881-1973) was the greatest economist of my time. His greatest works can be accessed here at no charge.

Mises believed that property, freedom and peace are and should be the hallmarks of a satisfying and prosperous society. I agree. Mises proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that the prospect for general and individual prosperity is maximized, indeed, is only possible, if the principle of private property reigns supreme. What's yours is yours. What's mine is mine. When the line between yours and mine is smudged, the door to conflict opens. Without freedom (individual liberty of action) the principle of private property is neutered and the free market, which is the child of property and freedom and the mother of prosperity and satisfaction, cannot exist. Peace is the goal of a prosperous and satisfying society of free individuals, not peace which is purchased by submission to the enemies of property and freedom, but peace which results from the unyielding defense of these principles against all who challenge them.

In this blog I measure American society against the metrics of property, freedom and peace.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Ron Paul And Anarchism, PART III

I have a simple question for all honest and discriminating readers:
Who wrote and published the following paragraph on June 15, 2000?
But for a true American individualist, most don't pass the test. Labor Day is out. Don't you hate those NPR tributes to union thugs? So is Memorial Day, which celebrates a Union victory over the seceding South. So is Veterans Day, increasingly a propaganda parade on behalf of a federal bureaucracy. And there are plenty of others not worth even noticing including Presidents Day (I'm anti-president) and MLK Day (a "hate whitey" day, in the parlance of David Horowitz). [emphasis added]
The answer is: the same person who wrote and published this on April 13, 2000:
In contrast, the framers envisioned a society protected by state-level militias. The national defense would be put together only when U.S. soil was directly threatened, and the expenses would be a drop in the bucket... ...If the U.S. had a constitutional system of defense today, we would start with a 90 percent cut in the budget and go from there. Trust no man who says he favors the Constitution and also advocates current levels of spending, much less any new military spending. If we care about the future of American liberty, we should advocate putting the U.S. military machine on cinder blocks. [emphasis added]
And the same person who said this in a speech in Washington in 1996:
The presidency must be destroyed. It is the primary evil we face, and the cause of nearly all our woes. [emphasis added]
And the same person who wrote and published this on March 6, 2008:
I can see only one possible justification for having a president of the United States: to preside over the dismantling of the federal government.
And the same person who wrote and published this on August 29, 2008:
What is the alternative? It is pure liberty, a word that is used only as a slogan in public affairs these days. By liberty, I mean only one kind: a life without badgering from the state. There is nothing on God's green earth that the state can do better than we can as individuals and communities and voluntary associations. What I mean by liberty is no more or less than firing the state as the administrator of society. [emphasis added]
And the same man who wrote and published this on September 27, 2011:
However, in the end, what is really needed is a fundamental rethinking of the notion that the state rather than private markets must monopolize the provision of justice and security. This is the fatal conceit. No power granted to the state goes un-abused. This power, among all possible powers, might be the most important one to take away from the state.
And this on December 31, 2008:
Why would any society permit such a gang [government] to enjoy an unchallenged legal privilege? Here is where ideology comes into play. The reality of the state is that it is a looting and killing machine. So why do so many people cheer for its expansion? Indeed, why do we tolerate its existence at all?
And, finally, this on September 15, 2001, four days after the terrorist destruction of the Twin Towers:
It was the US foreign policy of unyielding empire that incited these attacks in the first place. It's hard to say when the turning point was. It might have been 1990, when the US gave tacit approval to Iraq to invade Kuwait and then bombed Iraq back into the stone age for doing so. It might have been the war on Serbia, or the bombs in Sudan, or the destruction of the Chinese embassy, or any number of other foreign adventures. [emphasis added]
If you listen to mainstream media, these quotes sound like something Ron Paul has written! But no. The man who wrote and published and said these things is Lew Rockwell, Paul's longtime friend and political adviser. The man who, reportedly, wrote and edited the infamous Ron Paul newsletters of 25 years ago. Here's what Wikipedia has to say about Rockwell's relationship with Paul and his newsletters:
Rockwell served as Ron Paul's congressional chief of staff from 1978 to 1982.[4][5] He has maintained a working relationship with Paul over the years, as a contributing editor to "The Ron Paul Investment Letter";[6] as a consultant to Paul's 1988 Libertarian Party campaign for President of the United States;[7] and as vice-chair of the exploratory committee for Paul's spirited run for the 1992 Republican Party nomination for president.[8]

In 2008, libertarian publication Reason published stories discussing several racially charged articles that appeared in Ron Paul newsletters c. 1989-1994. One Reason piece asserted that "a half-dozen longtime libertarian activists—including some still close to Paul" had identified Rockwell as the "chief ghostwriter" of the newsletters. According to Reason, Rockwell denied responsibility for the disputed material and called the accusations "hysterical smears aimed at political enemies."[9] The issue arose again during the 2012 Ron Paul presidential campaign with publications like the The Atlantic and the New York Times detailing Rockwell's possible involvement.[10][11]
Llewellyn Harrison "Lew" Rockwell, Jr. is the Chairman of the Board of the Ludwig von Mises Institute, which he founded in 1982. The banner of the Ludwig von Mises Institute is: "Advancing the concept of liberty in the tradition of the Austrian School." Rockwell also founded the website called LewRockwell.com. That site describes itself as follows:
The daily news and opinion site LewRockwell.com was founded in 1999 by anarcho-capitalists Lew Rockwell [send him mail] and Burt Blumert to help carry on the anti-war, anti-state, pro-market work of Murray N. Rothbard.
Clearly Lew Rockwell is an unabashed anarchist. He has no use for "government" or the "state" in any way, shape or form. He is not shy in defense of his point of view. He is an iconoclast and, if the quotes above are any indication, he is proud of it.

Now, let me be perfectly clear. I disagree with much of what Lew Rockwell says and writes. I disagree with many of the articles published at LewRockwell.com and at the Ludwig von Mises Institute, mainly as they relate to anarchism and its corollaries. On the other hand, I've visited these sites fairly often. LewRockwell.com is an excellent source of out-of-the-mainstream insights. The Ludwig von Mises Institute is the gold standard of Austrian economic study. I admire Lew Rockwell's work in furthering Austrian economic theory and making the writings of Ludwig von Mises readily available to all who want to read them. I've given the website a plug in the banner of my own blog. However, as I mentioned in my response to a commenter here with regard to my last post, I detest anarchist theory and all it implies, whether free market or otherwise. I believe its premise is flawed and its logic is in error.

If I had to describe my own political philosophy it would be classical liberalism in the tradition of Ludwig von Mises as described by Mises in his book "Liberalism: In The Classic Tradition." (To claim anarcho-capitalism is in the tradition of Mises is a stretch worthy of Plastic Man.) I believe in private property and freedom. Consequently, I believe Lew Rockwell has the right to write and publish whatever he wants in his own, privately-owned outlets. I am not anti-state or anti-war, when "state" and "war" are properly defined and justified. My problem with Rockwell is his close-minded prostylization of a theoretical contradiction: anarcho-capitalism.

Here is Rockwell being interviewed by an obvious, anarchistic sycophant:

About 13 minutes 40 seconds into the video Rockwell says:
We don't have to stick on the present path. We can change things. People have changed things in the past. It's happened before and we better do it this time. ...You know you mention anarchism. When I first started this movement, to be an anarchist was ultra-controversial even within the libertarians. I mean it was considered something dangerous and off-the-wall. ...Today young people are all anarchists. ...The limited government thing which actually has no arguments for it.... [emphasis added]
Obviously, Lew Rockwell is convinced beyond argument that anarchism not only can exist but should exist, and he is convincing others of the same thing. When Rockwell suggests in the video above that "we can change things...and we better do it this time," the young anarchist interviewer sighs: "Yeah, I don't want to live on this planet if we don't do something." Perhaps this is the kind of feedback that convinces Rockwell that anarchism as a practical political philosophy and that it is no longer considered "ultra-controversial" or "off-the-wall." 

Well, this may be true among the young people who frequent LewRockwell.com or maybe even the Ludwig von Mises Institute, but does Rockwell honestly believe it is true in mainstream America? Does he really believe that all young people in America are anarchists? 
Rockwell can believe such things if he wants, but does anyone truly believe his anarchism will pass the smell test in the Republican mainstream? Apparently he does, because he feels no compunction at all about offering advice to Ron Paul and his campaign. 

And so I ask the $64,000 question: What is Lew Rockwell, the avowed anarchist, doing offering political advice to Ron Paul? And, why does Ron Paul care to listen when he is, apparently, already being politically tarred and feathered by Rockwell's off the wall rhetoric?

I don't know who wrote Ron Paul's infamous newsletters. Frankly, if I had to speculate, I would say Paul ran his newsletters the way Rockwell runs his own website. Of LewRockwell.com Wikipedia says:
The website has sometimes provided a forum for fringe and heterodox science; the site has published critics of the 2009 swine flu vaccination and advocates of AIDS denialism.[10] However, the columns are deliberately idiosyncratic and therefore disclaimed as not necessarily representing Rockwell.[2]
Perhaps, Paul's newsletters were merely a dry run for Rockwell's website. I don't know. Does anyone disagree that Rockwell seems the likely author of Paul's "idiosyncratic" newsletter? I have searched but have never found a news article or a video in which Ron Paul is directly quoted as describing Martin Luther King Day as a "'hate whitey' day." Yet, there it is plain as day at the top of this post. Rockwell used these words in 2000 in his own column at his own website. Is it a stretch to believe he wrote them 10 or 15 years earlier in Paul's newsletter?

Honestly, I don't really care who wrote Paul's newsletters. But the mainstream media does. And mainstream American voters do. This is my point!

Words have consequences. In a Presidential campaign words can make a disaster of a candidate's credibility. Why does Paul continue to court disaster?

Paul has said he didn't write his newsletters, but why not simply name the author who did? Surely, he knows who did. If Rockwell wrote Paul's newsletter, why doesn't Rockwell fess up in the interest of furthering Paul's campaign?

Why does all this matter? Because Ron Paul's association with Lew Rockwell has probably already earned him the reputation of being a nut job. Because a continued association risks doing further damage to Paul's campaign. 

For example, I don't know if Ron Paul has ever been asked point blank whether or not he is an anarcho-capitalist, or whether or not he believes in the political and social theory of anarcho-capitalism, or whether or not his ultimate goal in running for President is to completely dismantle the federal government, or to put the US military up on blocks, or to abolish the Presidency, or to privatize the provision of justice and security in this country. 

I don't know if Paul has ever been asked if he believes the US government is actually a looting and killing machine that is capable of doing nothing on God's green earth that can't be done by individuals in voluntary association and, if he does believe the US government is evil by definition, why he is trying so hard to become the head of the US government.

I do not know if Ron Paul has ever been asked these questions, but I would not be surprised if he were asked them sometime before now and the end of his campaign.

In 2008 Barack Obama said he worshiped week after week in the church of Rev. Jeremiah Wright and that Rev. Wright was a good friend of his. When asked if he was aware of Wright's bombastic "God damn America" sermonizing, which was well out of the mainstream of the middle American experience, Obama lamely answered that he must not have attended church on those particular days. If the mainstream media hadn't covered Obama's butt during that controversy, Obama would have suffered irreparable damage to his campaign.

Does anyone believe the mainstream media has Ron Paul's backside in this campaign? 

On December 27, 2011 the New York Times published an editorial dismissing Ron Paul as a serious candidate. The editorial began:
Ron Paul long ago disqualified himself for the presidency by peddling claptrap proposals like abolishing the Federal Reserve, returning to the gold standard, cutting a third of the federal budget and all foreign aid and opposing the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Now, making things worse, he has failed to convincingly repudiate racist remarks that were published under his name for years — or the enthusiastic support he is getting from racist groups.

Mr. Paul, a Republican congressman from Texas who is doing particularly well in Iowa’s precaucus polls, published several newsletters in the ’80s and ’90s with names like the Ron Paul Survival Report and the Ron Paul Political Report. The newsletters interspersed libertarian political and investment commentary with racial bigotry, anti-Semitism and far-right paranoia...

...Mr. Paul has never given a full and detailed accounting of who wrote the newsletters and what his role was in overseeing their publication. It’s especially important that he do so immediately. Those writings have certainly not been forgotten by white supremacist and militia groups that are promoting his candidacy in Iowa and in New Hampshire.
Lew Rockwell is preaching to us (and is, perhaps, advising Ron Paul) that dismantling the federal government would be a good idea. But the New York Times can't even buy into the idea of cutting foreign aid! Rockwell wants to abolish the Presidency. The New York Times can't handle abolishing the Fed! Rockwell claims the concept of anarchism is no longer considered off the wall or controversial because people know that government is simply a looting and killing machine. Yet, the New York Times considers the tamest and most elementary tenet of Austrian economics -- sound money -- just another "claptrap" proposal! 

Mr. Paul, I can defend your "claptrap." Please don't put me in the position of defending Rockwell's!


theCL said...

Newsletters, newsletters, newsletters ... Until someone can come up with something more than this, which is at best, mere circumstantial evidence, it's ridiculous to carry on about it. Look, that language was common in mainstream opinion in those days, common on television too. And I'd argue significantly more mild than the infamous Willie Horton ad.

The American Spectator's (not a friendly zone to Paul) Jeremy Lott explained exactly why Paul's answers about the newsletters are true.

In your first Lew Rockwell quote, who did Lew attribute the words "hate whitey day" to? David Horowitz. So it's a little dishonest for you to attribute them to Rockwell, no?

You say you have "a huge problem with the anarcho-capitalist argument," but what, specifically, is your argument against it? Personally, I'd start my argument in a broader sense, perhaps by refuting the Joseph Sobran article I linked to in the comments the other day. Dig into Rothbard and Hoppe later (I highly suggest reading them first, start with Hoppe's "Democracy, the God that Failed" then move onto Rothbard's "For a New Liberty").

What, exactly, is crazy or wrong about any of the Rockwell quotes you've provided above? I mean jeez o peet, we live in a country founded by people who waged war against their own government. For crying out loud, are we all Tories now?

If Rockwell scares you, I fear you'd have a heart attack reading my blog. I hate the state. I hate it like Sam Adams hated the state of King George III.

Back to the question you asked me the other day ...

Ron Paul is a constitutionalist - a minarchist - not an anarcho-capitalist. Paul believes the constitution can, and should be, followed. Anarcho-capitalists share with many other libertarians, and even some conservatives, that the constitution is of no authority. You can't trust a state to govern itself. And American history proves this to be true.

Don't think so? Today's US president wields powers more vast than King George III himself could have imagined. The US federal government is the biggest, most intrusive, most expensive and expansionary state the world as ever known.

And yes, it is evil. Only evil would feel-up my 5'2", 100 lbs. soaking wet, 69-year old mother at the airport. When America used to be free, that government agent would have received a good old fashioned ass whuppin'. Not anymore. When did we learn to love the state?

theCL said...


I don't argue for the sake of arguing. I argue in search of truth.

I like a lot of what you do here, I put you on my blogroll, but in this particular instance, I think you're greatly misguided. So I argue in hopes of developing a better understanding.

Sherman Broder said...

CL, I apologize for not noticing your comments immediately. (I'm new a this blog stuff.)

Re: "hate whitey day..." I was trying to point out that Rockwell used the quote in print, not necessarily trying to attribute the quote to him. If this wasn't clear, then I misspoke.

Re: the Lew Rockwell quotes specifically. I'm trying to put these quotes in the context of a mainstream political run at the Presidency. I actually agree with some of his quotes in an intellectual or rhetorical sense, but I don't think the mainstream electorate is ready for them. They will wind up hurting Paul's campaign, IMHO.

Re: Government power abuse today. Yes, I agree with you that government has way too much power. I wouldn't say more than King George the III. He and his American representatives were brutal way beyond today's standards.

The only thing I fear about Lew Rockwell is his anarchist philosophy. I think a philosophy that undercuts any possibility of government being good or consensual, undercuts any possibility of compromise or middle ground. What is left? In my opinion violence, maybe not in the minds of all, but in the minds of some and that is enough for trouble we don't want.

However, this is not why I oppose anarchist theory. I oppose anarchism because I think it is a theoretical contradiction. I'll post something soon explaining my position and you can tell me where my reasoning is in error.

Thanks for linking my blog to yours. I like reading your blog, understanding your opposition to government. I assure you, we probably agree on virtually everything but anarchy... However, that's a big "but" with a lot of implications.