Thursday, April 16, 2015

Rand Paul's Run for the Presidency and the Coming Attacks on Murray Rothbard

By Robert Wenzel

I want to make a point to those of you that may be new to the libertarian movement and in particular new to the works and thinking of Ron Paul and Murray Rothbard.

Rand Paul's seeking of the Republican presidential nomination is going to result in all sorts of attacks. Many of the attacks will come from  those who fear not Rand, but more principled men such as his father Ron Paul and Murray Rothbard. The attacks against Ron and Rothbard will sometimes be hilarious in their absurdity and occasionally extremely vicious.

The hatred by the neocons of Rand's father causes them to lose touch with reality and attack Rand for his supposed anti-entanglement foreign policy perspective.

This, of course, is absurd. Whereas Ron Paul is a principled believer that the United States should refrain from overseas meddling, Rand has signaled on many occasions that if an interventionist position must be taken to gain the eight year throne, he will be more than happy to oblige.

The neocons, in full fury at Ron, either fail to notice this difference between father and son, or choose to ignore it, all so that they can launch an attack against the non-interventionist perspective that Rand doesn't adhere to in the first place, but that is held by his father. All I can say is let them have their fun with Rand, who won't fight back correctly. The real battle will only begin when Ron Paul releases his foreign policy book.

As for the attacks on Rothbard, they will often come in the form of a charge that Rothbard was a racist. The recent attack on Rand and Rothbard by Ian Millhiser comes close to taking this form. Millhiser incorrectly links Rothbard with Herbert Spencer -type Social Darwinism .He suggests that Rothbard accepted a Spenecrian view that the poor are parasites.

In fact, Rothbard, adamantly objected to Social Darwinism. In a letter (SEE: [A Rothbard]Letter on "Rugged Individualism" by George B. Cuttem in  Rothbard vs the Philosophers by  Roberta A. Modugno Paperback p 50), he wrote:
Rugged individualism, also known as social Darwinism, is inhumane and illogical; itis based on a completely false use of analogy and an absurd theory of ethics. 
There will be more attacks along these lines, some directly promoting the vicious Beltway-based urban legend that Rothbard was a racist.

It should be noted that these attacks come from writers, who are simply unaware of the full extent of Rothbard's writings, or who have maliciously chosen to ignore the truth. Far from being a racist, Rothbard warned, for example, that the conservative (likely CIA funded) National Review should be avoided by libertarians as it developed, among other things, a racist edge.

In the very important Rothbard memo on strategy, Setting the Stage (published in Strictly Confidential), Rothbard writes:
The increasing danger of the “swamping” of the libertarian intellectual—which
itself is inherent when the hard core is not nourished, fostered, and brought together as a nucleus—has been enormously redoubled by the transformation that has been effected in the right wing itself. This transformation, led by the theoreticians of National Review, has transformed the Right from a movement that, at least roughly, believed first of all in individual liberty (and its corollaries: civil liberties domestically, and peace and “isolation” in foreign affairs) into a movement that, on the whole, is opposed to individual liberty—a movement that, in fact, glorifies total war and the suppression of civil liberty; it also glorifies monarchy, imperialism, polite racism, and a unity of Church and State.
The Right having increasingly taken on this tone and complexion, it is all the more vital for the libertarian movement to be dissociated from, rather than allied with, the bulk of the right wing.
In the final analysis, the best antidote to the nonsense that will be written about Rothbard and Ron Paul is to read their writings.

Robert Wenzel is Editor & Publisher at and at Target Liberty. He is also author of The Fed Flunks: My Speech at the New York Federal Reserve Bank. Follow him on twitter:@wenzeleconomics


  1. I am really dreading this election season because the current cadre of neocons are Joseph Goebbels wannabes who are out to eviscerate libertarian intellectuals from America's political memory as they are all that stands in the way of a militarized ethos.

  2. "In a letter (SEE: Letter on "Rugged Individualism" by George B. Cuttem in Rothbard vs the Philosophers by Roberta A. Modugno Paperback p 50), he wrote: Rugged individualism, also known as social Darwinism, is inhumane and illogical; itis based on a completely false use of analogy and an absurd theory of ethics. "

    I'm confused by this sentence, to clarify was Rothbard writing "to" Cuttem and wrote the above quote on Social Darwinism?

    1. The quote is in a letter from Rothbard to the Volker Fund discussing a speech by Cuttem.

  3. Go after Rothbard? That would be great. Every time they say the name, at least one more person will Google "Rothbard" and have his eyes opened.

    I suspect the same thing happened when Tim Russert tried to jam Ron Paul about Lincoln - how many people decided to check again their belief in the Lincoln myth, concluding that it was a lie?

    When you have an ignored truth on your side, (almost) any publicity is good publicity. Bring on the barbs.

  4. Spencer didn't favor letting people die in the streets or anything. He's always taken out of context.

    In Rothbard's short article about South African apartheid, he says that free markets are an excellent cure for racism. So unless we think Rothbard was anti market, he was certainly no racist.

  5. Funny, isn't it, that the neocons attempt to discredit Randy by attacking people whose philosophies have no resemblance to Randy's.

    This whole election season is simply too ridiculous.