Monday, April 1, 2019

The Lost Fifth Volume of "Conceived in Liberty:

Joshua Bennett  of Patriots Lament emails:
Hello Robert, I was wondering what your thoughts are on this exciting news from Lew and the Mises Institute? Having read CiL multiple times, I can’t wait to read the final volume.
RW response:

Yes, it is great news. More Rothbard is always exciting. I can't wait. And a special shut out to Patrick Newman for making this happen.

From Lew's announcement:
Conceived in Liberty was supposed to be a five-volume work, ending with the adoption of the Constitution. And, indeed, Murray wrote the fifth volume, the most revisionist of all. He did it in longhand on legal yellow pads, and used a dictating machine a friend had given him. His wife Joey would use the recording to type the manuscript.

I know that sort of machine, since my father had one. As you spoke into the microphone, it would inscribe clear plastic discs with your recorded words. Murray dictated the entire book, but when he finished it over many days, all the discs were gibberish.

Even experts couldn’t fix the disaster, so Murray — frustrated — put his huge handwritten manuscript aside, to take up other projects. He intended to get back to the fifth volume, but died before he could do so.

Murray left all his papers and books to the Mises Institute, honoring me as his literary executor. But I was never able to decipher his handwriting; not even Joey could do so, nor others I consulted. I hated the situation, but saw no way out of it. Then the young professor and Rothbardian Patrick Newman came upon the manuscript while he was doing other work in the Mises Institute archives, and astoundingly, he was able, with great difficulty, to read Murray’s handwriting.

So you can imagine the celebration that ensued. We were all thrilled with the book. It is compelling, radical, original, brilliant. It revivifies the first four volumes of Conceived in Liberty, and is a delight to read, with a great introduction by Patrick, who also edited Murray’s hitherto unpublished book, The Progressive Era. As you can imagine, we’re very proud of our former student. I can almost hear Murray exclaiming, “Attaboy, Patrick!”

The fifth volume, entitled The New Republic, 1784–1791, charts the course from the freeing of the 13 states from British mercantilism to their shackling with a new American form of it.

For Murray sees the Constitution, not as a document enshrining liberty, but as the charter of a new, powerful, centralized government designed by Madison, Hamilton, and their cohorts in a coup at Philadelphia.

The centralizers convinced the Continental Congress to wage a traditional, centrally planned, hugely expensive war, rather than a volunteer, libertarian guerrilla action. This ensured many evils, from paper money inflation to high taxes, from conscription to price controls and seizure of goods. Ironically, it was the guerrilla leaders who actually won the war, and not General Washington, as Murray demonstrates.

Even the post-war Articles of Confederation mixed centralizing provisions with libertarian ones. The centralizers dishonestly dubbed themselves “Federalists,” and their libertarian opponents “Antifederalists.”

They proved to be effective propagandists in lying to the people of the 13 states, and intimidating their leaders. Eventually the Constitution was ratified by 12 states, with only little Rhode Island refusing. So the central government threatened a trade war, and Rhode Island succumbed.

The Antifederalists, a minority, became strict constructionists to fight for freedom under the Constitution. But virtually all their predictions about future power grabs came true.

To get the Constitution passed, however, the opponents were able to demand a Bill of Rights. But the wily Madison made them as weak as possible, ignoring the stronger protections that the opponents wanted.

The fight for freedom continues to this day, of course, despite our giant warfare, welfare, and police state. As the fifth volume, like the rest of Conceived in Liberty, makes clear, we have an extraordinary American heritage. Heroes, known and unknown, are our inspiration. Villains, too, we must know about.

The fifth volume completes Murray’s great work, lost for decades, yet as relevant as the day he finished it. Regular American historians, ignorant of non-Keynesian economics and biased by statism, are a bane.

1 comment:

  1. Wow! I've studied the first 4 but this is great! Can't wait to delve!!!!