Left and Right: The Prospects for Liberty 3

It’s always great to go back and revisit this classic essay by Murray Rothbard that I think offers some of the best analysis of modern ideological history yet devised.

In this work, Rothbard is analyzing the origin and meaning of the terms Left and Right, arguing correctly that “true” conservatism is the defense of the ancient regime against the rise of classical liberalism and the Enlightenment intellectual culture that was the foundation of liberalism, with classical liberalism and its descendants representing the “true” Left. I’m frequently asked by bemused right-wing friends why I consider myself to be a leftist, to which my standard reply is, “Because I am not a monarchist, a feudalist, a medievalist, or a theocrat.”

Rothbard’s interpretation of progressivism, socialism, communism, and fascism are also interesting, and, I think, largely correct in the sense that all of these are at least partial repudiations of the liberal tradition in favor of the retention of elements of the Old Order. Progressivism and socialism were only partial repudiations of liberalism, but fused the liberal legacy with scientism to be imposed by means of the public administration state. Communism and fascism were complete repudiations of the liberal tradition, with their thought rooted in Counter-Enlightenment thinkers like Rousseau and Hegel, even if they accepted certain other aspects of modernity such as science, technology, industrialization, secularization, etc.

I generally concur with Rothbard’s line of thinking on this, except I think his critique of classical liberalism didn’t go far enough. In this piece, Rothbard essentially outlines the classical anarchist interpretation of modernity in everything but name, and embraces proprietarian anarchism rather than syndicalism or anarcho-communism as an economic model.


Revisions and Dissents: Essays Reply

I highly recommend this book for anyone who wants to know what the true intellectual Right actually is. And I say that not just because there is a chapter discussing my own work where Dr. Gottried graciously compares me with Noam Chomsky, William Appleman Williams, C. Wright Mills, and Christopher Lasch. The book is available through Amazon.

Paul Gottfried’s critical engagement with political correctness is well known. The essays in Revisions and Dissents focus on a range of topics in European intellectual and political history, social theory, and the history of modern political movements. With subjects as varied as Robert Nisbet, Whig history, the European Union election of 2014, and Donald Trump, the essays are tied together by their strenuous confrontation with historians and journalists whose claims about the past no longer receive critical scrutiny.

According to Gottfried, successful writers on historical topics take advantage of political orthodoxy and/or widespread ignorance to present questionable platitudes as self-evident historical judgments. New research ceases to be of importance in determining accepted interpretations. What remains decisive, Gottfried maintains, is whether the favored view fits the political and emotional needs of what he calls “verbalizing elites.” In this highly politicized age, Gottfried argues, it is necessary to re-examine these prevalent interpretations of the past. He does so in this engaging volume, which will appeal to general readers interested in political and intellectual history.

Top 10 Ways to Fix the Criminal Justice System Reply

While many of these suggestions may be reasonable as far as modest reforms go, and some of these proposals are actually pretty far reaching, one thing that many “liberal” criminal justice reformers seem to have trouble figuring out is the need for fewer laws in the first place.

By Jessica Henry

Huffington Post

Vladek via Getty Images

It’s that time of year when people are making lists and checking them twice. Here is my action list about ways to fix the criminal justice system, with suggestions for steps we all can take. What would be on your list?



Alt-Right and the Left’s response – Angela Nagle about ‘Kill all Normies’ 1

The Internet is the battleground for the revival of culture wars, says author and journalist Angela Nagle in her recently published book Kill All Normies. In De Balie Nagle chronicles the rise of the alt-right and how the worst of the internet went mainstream. But she doesn’t spare the “politically correct left” for its response. According to the New York Times, Angela Nagles Kill All Normies is “among the best examinations of the origins of the alt-right”. The “alt right”, says Nagle, ranges from neo-reactionary and white separatist movements to geeky subcultures like 4chan, to more mainstream manifestations such as the Trump-supporting gay libertarian Milo Yiannopolous. What characterizes the alt-right and how should the left respond? And how urgent is her story for the identity politics discussion in The Netherlands? Zihni Özdil (Dutch MP for Groenlinks and writer of Nederland, Mijn Vaderland) responds to the book and analyzes the Dutch context.

The Alt-Right: History, Ideology, and the Future of a Fascist Movement Reply

An interesting and generally accurate discussion of the Alt-Right from a far left perspective.

As one who was present at the time of the founding of the Alt-Right, and has remained peripherally associated with the Alt-Right milieu ever since, I have developed my own perspective on the role of the Alt-Right in contemporary politics and what is fueling the Alt-Right. In many ways, the Alt-Right can be compared to the Religious Right of the 1970s and 1980s in the sense of being a reaction against rapid political and cultural change. The Religious Right was a reaction against the Sexual Revolution of the 1960s, and the ongoing secularization of the wider society (for example, the removal of religious instruction from public schools). However, the Religious Right was a much larger, and much more influential movement. It leaders actually got invited to the White House during the Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations.


Too Quickly Forgotten: Communism’s Corpses Reply

Isn’t it interesting that the Antifa just can’t seem to get all that worked up about any of this?

By Doug Bandow

CATO Institute

Among America’s more important actors and singers is Paul Robeson, born a century ago. An impressive talent who struggled against pervasive racism, Robeson would seem to deserve the centennial celebration of his life beginning this month. Unfortunately, he had an ugly side: He was an avowed communist who received the Stalin Peace Prize in 1952.

Anyone can make a mistake, but Robeson knew what he was doing. In 1949, he met in Moscow with his friend, Yiddish author Itzik Feffer, who informed Robeson of the start of Joseph Stalin’s anti-Semitic purges. Robeson told reporters on his return to the United States that “I heard no word about” anti-Semitism. Feffer was later murdered by Stalin.

One wonders how Robeson, who died in 1976, would have responded to the collapse of communism. A few unrepentant communists remain: two dozen fill Sunset Hall, a Los Angeles home for the aged begun by Unitarians. The facility sports a picture of Robeson, a bust of Soviet revolutionary Vladimir Lenin, and books on Marxism, Chinese dictator Mao Zedong and leading Bolshevik Leon Trotsky.

Sunset Hall’s residents spend their time pining for the good ol’ days. At age 8, Glady Foreman, now 90, was labeled a “little socialist” by her father. She predicts that “socialism, crushed to the Earth, will rise again.”

Jacob Darnov, 101, was a messenger for the early Soviet army. He unashamedly proclaims that Lenin is “the greatest politician we ever had in this world.”

Wayne Friedlander, who ran Sunset Hall until recently, says that these people “are the giants,” to whom he, a former member of Students for a Democratic Society, owes an enormous debt. “Giants.”

Yes, giant fools. What else can one call people who promoted, and still defend, the most murderous philosophy in human history?


“Antifa Activists As The Truest Defenders Of Free Speech” a.k.a. “Work Makes You Free” Reply

And the North Koreans are the truest defenders of  “democracy,” no doubt, just like “work makes you free.” I am posting this here in order to provide an illustration of the delusional nonsense that regrettably dominates much of the “far left” anarchist milieu (although this guy is arguably in a league by himself as far as lefto-freaks go). If these characters put as much effort into actually fighting the state as they do into fighting other fringe groups, they might actually have something, just like if the Bloods put as much effort into fighting the ruling class as they do into fighting the Crips, they might also be worth something. (Incidentally, I have said the same thing to many alt-rightists as well, much to their dismay, as many of them have developed an “anti-antifa” cult of their own).

It is clear enough that we need to work towards the development of an anti-state, anti-ruling class, anti-power elite, and anti-imperialist movement that is completely unattached to either the marginal forces of the far Left, or those of the far right, and is instead oriented towards the development of a radical centrism that rejects the far Left and the far Right with as much zeal as it rejects the Democrats and Republicans, and where all sincere anarchists, libertarians, decentralists, anti-authoritarians, and anti-statists are welcome, but whose focus is on “attacking the system” rather than attacking other marginal political tendencies.Image result for stasi

By William Gillis

Center for a Stateless Society

This piece is the first essay in the November 2017 C4SS Mutual Exchange Symposium: “Antifascism, Free Speech and Political Violence.”


President Trump’s Fateful Choice 1

The Trump administration is Republican business as usual, as virtually all serious observers predicted it would be. The great thing about the Trump presidency is not only is Trump generally unpopular outside of his dying right-wing of the WASP middle class “base,” but he is demonstrating that Presidents are simply CEOs of America, Inc., and the state-capitalist oligarchs who serve as the de facto Board of Directors.

By William S. Lind

Traditional Right

President Trump ran as a Republican, but he did not win as a Republican.  He won as a populist.  If he is to be a successful president and win re-election, he needs to make a fateful choice: will he govern as a populist or as a Republican?  If he chooses the latter, he will fail.

Unfortunately, the president seems to be leaning more and more towards governing as a Republican.  The tax reform proposal he recently offered is classic Republican:  it may benefit the middle class indirectly by creating more jobs, but its direct beneficiaries are high-income people.  One simple change would transform it into a populist measure: a high tax rate, say 75%, on earned incomes over $1,000,000 annually (indexed for inflation).  The people who elected Mr. Trump would cheer.

On the vexing problem of health insurance, the president’s latest action, cutting government subsidies to insurance companies to subsidize low income people, may hurt Trump voters.  Many of his supporters have modest incomes. They are not Republicans with money to burn.  The populist answer to health care is Medicare for all, with Medicare’s ability to control prices.  The origin of the health care affordability problem is grossly excessive prices for anything labelled “medical”. Any policy that does not deal with those prices is a band-aid.

In foreign and defense policy, Trump voters do not want more unnecessary wars halfway around the world that kill our kids and waste our money.  That is the populist position: America first.  If we are attacked, we fight, but why should young Americans die in the centuries-old war between Sunni and Shiite Islamics?  Here again, President Trump seems to be governing as a Republican, not a populist.  Continuing the futile war in Afghanistan, re-involving ourselves on the ground in Iraq, putting “advisors” in Syria, spooling up the long-standing and strategically meaningless war of words with North Korea—none of this is populist.  It all comes from the playbook of Republicans such as Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, who cannot stand the thought that there is a quarrel somewhere in the world in which the U.S. is not involved.

I suspect President Trump knows the Republicans have taken over his administration and pushed the populism that elected him to the side.  Unfortunately, he seems not to know what to do about it.  There are sources of ideas and people from which he could assemble a different, populist-conservative agenda and set of advisors.  I write for one of them, The American Conservative magazine.

What the Republicans in and around the White House do not understand, in addition to the bankruptcy of the Republican “we serve the rich” agenda, is that populism is the wave of the future, both here and in Europe and on the Left as well as the Right.  Establishment Republicans and Democrats alike fear populism.  But to a president elected because he was seen as a populist, the populist wave of the future is one he should seek to ride.  If not President Trump then someone else will combine the Trump and Sanders voters into a new, enduring political majority that will shape America’s future agenda.  In the end, it is not President Trump or Senator Sanders who is important.  It is the people who voted for both.


Laci Green interviewed by Dave Rubin: Red Pilling, Sex, and Constructive Dialogue Reply

Laci Green (YouTube Creator) joins Dave Rubin live in studio to discuss social justice warriors, politics and her recent awakening, gender, sex, and more. Subscribe: http://www.youtube.com/subscription_c…

Hans-Hermann Hoppe, Libertarianism and the “Alt-Right” 5

Apparently, Hoppe is still taking the paleo line as far as advancing libertarianism is concerned. I am increasingly skeptical of this idea given that most rightists seem to be tribal-nationalists first and/or cultural traditionalists first, and libertarians at best a distant second (or third, fourth, or not at all). The more popular the alt-right/alt-lite has become the more it has moved away from libertarianism. Of course, I am also increasingly skeptical of the ability of any kind of serious anarchism to emerge from the Left as well given that most left anarchists are leftists first and anarchists second (or third, fourth, or not at all).

Not Quite What Uncle Joe Had in Mind Reply

Someone should do rewrites of these old Communist speeches using modern leftist rhetoric with all kinds of references to transphobia and microagressions. That would be hilarious.

“Party comrades, in our peoples’ struggle against the hegemony of heteronormativity we endured the challenges of infinite microagressions that have been foisted upon us by the forces of reactionary, bourgeoisie patriarchal homophobes. In the struggle of the oppressed gender fluid masses the heavy handedness of masculinity has sought to stand in the way of the path to liberation. The tyrannical slavery that was imposed by the fat phobic ruling class was matched only by the fascist aggression imposed by cultural appropriation…”

Was Karl Marx Right About Anything? Reply

This is an interesting discussion by Tom Woods exploring the similarities and differences between Marxist and Austrian class theory. The basis of the discussion is an article by Hans Hermann Hoppe suggesting that Marx was essentially correct about everything but the labor theory of value. This analysis of Hoppe that Tom is discussing fits well with Murray Rothbard’s essay from the mid-1960s called “Left and Right: Prospects for Liberty” where Rothbard argued that libertarianism is historically to the left of socialism.

How Long Can Americans Go on Hating the President and Each Other? Reply

The money quote, and the main reason why most US political factions are worthless:

“Unfortunately, most Americans do not bat an eye at the worst offenses committed by the presidency, namely the killing of millions in undeclared wars of choice with nations who have never attacked the United States.”

By Tom Mullen

Foundation for Economic Education

Trump Derangement Syndrome rages on, the latest symptoms flaring equally based on causes both legitimate and ridiculous. A key characteristic of the syndrome is its ability to evoke the same outrage over the president retweeting a harmless (and let’s admit it, funny) meme as threatening to destroy an entire nation. The breathless apoplexy over absolutely everything Trump-related, down to the shoes his wife wears while traveling, has desensitized Trump’s supporters to behavior even they should be concerned about.

It is true Trump has inspired new levels of hostility — even for politics — but Americans have been hating the president for this entire century, which is no longer in its infancy. Bush may not have been “literally Hitler,” but he was Hitler nonetheless to the Democrats, just as Obama was “literally Mao” to conservatives. But the proud American tradition of hurling invectives at the president isn’t nearly as ominous as the trend towards violence. Both the right and the left have mobilized armed groups, not just carrying signs but ready for violence. In fact, violent resistance is the far-left Antifa’s stated raison d’etre.


Why the Left Must Confront the Cult of Identity Politics Reply

The money quote: “The bourgeois hijacking of the left is apparently complete.”

By Andrew Doyle


od is dead and identity fills the vacuum.’ So says Riya Zachariassen, a character in Salman Rushdie’s new novel The Golden House, who holds a senior position at the ‘Museum of Identity’. For Riya, this new movement represents a ‘mighty new force in the world, already as powerful as any theology or ideology’. But when later in the novel she grows disillusioned and resigns her post, her former allies turn nasty. ‘So how’d you feel now about white women dressing up as Pocahontas on Halloween?’ they demand. ‘What’s your position on blackface? Are you a SWERF now as well as a TERF? Maybe you aren’t even an RF any more. What are you? Are you anyone?’ Riya has learnt the hard way that for the guardians of identity politics, apostasy is the unpardonable sin.

This may be fiction, but the scenario that Rushdie describes is all too familiar. Like all cults, contemporary identity politics is hostile to any form of dissent. Over the past few years we have seen reputations trashed, distinguished careers unravelled, and often for the slightest of transgressions. The upside of all this is that opposition to identity politics is much more widespread among left-wingers than first it might appear; it is simply that many feel unable openly to criticise the trend for fear of damaging repercussions.


Words That Lie: The New Soviets Reply

By William S. Lind

Traditional Right

All ideologies take certain words that have commonly understood definitions and give them new code word definitions with different meanings for those in the know.  When the ideologues speak, ordinary people get one message while followers of the ideology get another.  In effect, the words so disfigured become lies in themselves.

My favorite example comes from a debate held at Dartmouth College (before my years there) between the Socialist leader Norman Thomas and my favorite Dartmouth professor, J.C. Adams of the History Department.  The topic was, “Does the Soviet Union want peace?”  Norman Thomas made a long and eloquent speech arguing that it does, quoting extensively from the statements by the Soviet Union’s leaders.  Professor Adams demolished him in one sentence.  He opened the official Soviet dictionary and read its definition of peace: “The state of affairs prevailing under socialism”. In other words, when the Soviets said “peace”, they meant “conquest”.  In their mouth, the word “peace” was itself a lie.

Today’s cultural Marxists’ equivalent is the word “tolerance”.  Everyone knows “tolerance” means putting up with things you don’t like or don’t agree with.  But in their mouths it has a different meaning – one created by Frankfurt School member Herbert Marcuse in his essay on “liberating tolerance”.  There, he defines “liberating tolerance” as tolerance for all ideas and movements coming from the Left and intolerance for all ideas and movements coming from the Right.  This is why campus cultural Marxists can call for “tolerance” while physically attacking conservative speakers.  In their mouths, the word “tolerance” is itself a lie.