Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Rothbard: Don't Consider Gingrich as Part of the Libertarian Revolution

By Murray Rothbard
Friday, December 30, 1994 ; Page A17

E. J. Dionne is wrong in identifying the Republican elites, in particular the Gingrich faction, with the libertarian revolution {op-ed, Dec. 6} . The truth is that since we have been stuck with a two-party system, any electoral revolution against big government had to be expressed through a Republican victory. So it is certainly true that Newt Gingrich and his faction, as well as Robert Dole, have ridden to power on the libertarian wave.

But to speak, as Mr. Dionne does, of "the rise of libertarians as a key party constituency and the centrality of libertarian ideas to many of the party's new leaders" is going a bit too far.

As Ralph Nader -- no libertarian -- pointed out, it took less than a month for Gingrich, Rep. Dick Armey and the others to betray the new revolution by collaborating with President Clinton and a discredited Congress to push through the World Trade Organization, which institutionalizes government management of world trade, complete with punitive sanctions and fines.

Anti-interventionism (smeared as "isolationism") is at the heart of the Old Right, as Dionne mentions, and it is also the source of the libertarian split from the conservative mainstream during the Cold War. Yet, now that the Soviet Union and the Cold War are happily dead and gone, the Republican and Democratic elites continue in lockstep to favor pushing other countries around for their own alleged good, while imposing vast burdens on the American taxpayer. Gingrich and Dole, in fact, criticize Mr. Clinton's foreign policy for not being interventionist enough.

What could be a clearer example of the rift between the Gingrich-Dole-Armey Republican elites and the mass of the American public? The American people couldn't care less about Bosnia or Somalia or Haiti; they resist government-made multinational trade cartels, and they oppose foreign aid. Yet the Republican "conservatives" are at least as enthusiastic as Democratic liberals about these programs.

The same is true on the domestic front. The libertarian Old Right was born in opposition to Franklin D. Roosevelt and his New Deal. Yet Gingrich has repeatedly emphasized his devotion to FDR ("the greatest figure of the 20th century"), to his statist political program ("the truth is we would have voted for much of it"), and to his legacy ("He did bring us out of the Depression"). Accepting as truth the most damaging anti-capitalist cliche of the century, Gingrich reveals his ignorance of history as well as of economics.

Gingrich's support of the libertarian revolution is, so far, only lip service

Read the rest here.

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