Murray Rothbard was Right on Libertarian Strategy

Murray Rothbard was one of the few modern libertarian or anarchist thinkers to give any serious thought to strategic questions. Not coincidentally, the growing libertarian movement of the present day is to a large degree the result of Rothbard’s visionary thinking in the area of strategy. In the early 90s, while the neolibertarian corporate apologists around groups like the CATO Institute were brown nosing the Republicans and other libertarians were similarly brown nosing the cultural Left, Rothbard and his circle recognized that a serious libertarian movement would have to be populist in nature, and not one that was oriented towards either the elites (like CATO) or towards the cultural far fringes and hard left (like the left-libertarians). Hence, the “paleo strategy” of Rothbard, Rockwell, and Raimondo. It was the paleo strategy (i.e. a fusion of libertarian anti-statism, right-wing populism, and neo-isolationist foreign policy views) that became the foundation for the Ron Paul campaigns, which were the spark for the growth of libertarian movement over the past five or six years. To be sure, the growing libertarian movement has veered off into multiple directions, right, left, and center, but its overall growth positively correlates with the (relative) popularity of Ron Paul as a public figure.

By Robert Wenzel

Economic Policy Journal

I have been seeing a lot of negative commentary recently, advanced by the usual suspects, on the strategy that Murray Rothbard called for in advancing the libertarian cause. Some of these commentators have, clearly, not even read Rothbard on strategy.  They certainly have no understanding of how Rothbard viewed alliances. I urge anyone interested in the topic to read the Rothbard memo What Is To Be Done?, which can be found in the collection of Rothbard written private Volker Fund memos, compiled by David Gordon and published as Strictly Confidential.

The popularity of the end the Fed movement and growing interest in libertarianism can be traced to the advancements made by Ron Paul in getting a principled libertarian message out. Dr. Paul’s success, if studied carefully, can be seen to be the result of  his closely following the Rothbard outlined strategy. It is followed in an even more disciplined manner by the top libertarian web site,

Those bitching about Rothbard strategy can’t come close to the influence that Dr. Paul and LRC have had.

What we need is more following the strategic guidelines outlined by Rothbard, that is always focusing on principle first and never caving on principle. The one way to think about anti-Rothbardians, on the other hand, is their philosophy is: “well let’s cave a little on principle here, and a little there.” This, lol, is somehow supposed to get us all the way to liberty. They also tend to focus on politics first, where as I think Rothbard viewed it as a game, not to be taken too seriously. When one is attacking Rothbard’s political alliances, one is not getting the essence of Rothbard and is taking politics much too seriously.

I have little doubt that Rothbard fully agreed with  H.L. Mencken:

A national political campaign is better than the best circus ever heard of, with a mass baptism and a couple of hangings thrown in.

Categories: Strategy

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