Lew Rockwell And The Strange Death (Or At Least Suspended Animation) Of Paleolibertarianism
The biggest controversy of Ron Paul`s presidential race was the release of old excerpts from The Ron Paul Letter. During Paul`s congressional races, he had been attacked occasionally for RPL pieces about black crime rates and political attitudes, and he had defended them. But now James Kirchick of The New Republic managed to go through the entire archives and find politically incorrect statements about gay rights, black crime, South Africa, and Martin Luther King Jr.
Paul caved in a sadly conventional manner (in contrast to Obama when the MSM finally reported the news of his ties to Rev. Jeremiah Wright). He denied he wrote or even knew the articles existed in his own newsletter. He denounced them on no uncertain terms, groveling about how much he loved Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr, and how he thought the criminal justice system is racist.
Those in the know claimed former Paul chief of staff and president of the Ludwig von Mises Institute Lew Rockwell was the author of the letters. Rockwell has vigorously denied it. And various writers on his heavily-trafficked LewRockwell.com [LRC] denounced all the “racism” in the Paul letters.
But regardless of whether or not Rockwell actually wrote the offending articles, the fact is that he was once willing to breach all the taboos that the newsletter violated. Unfortunately, however, in the last few years Rockwell and his LewRockwell.com circle have come full circle and embraced much of the leftist agenda that they once bemoaned.
In the process, they have essentially abandoned “paleolibertarianism”, the once-promising intellectual movement that stayed true to libertarian principles while opposing open borders, libertinism, egalitarianism, and political correctness.
I first ran into Lew Rockwell and his mentor Murray Rothbard—who is considered the founder of modern libertarianism— when I volunteered for Pat Buchanan in 1992. I had previously thought of libertarians as just greedy hippies, but I found that Rothbard and Rockwell had all the gripes against most libertarians—whom Rothbard called “left libertarians” or “modal libertarians”—that I did.
In the late 1980s, Rockwell and Rothbard broke with the Establishment of the libertarian movement represented by the Cato Institute and Libertarian Party. With the Cold War over, Pat Buchanan and many conservatives were returning to the isolationist principles of the Old Right. Rockwell and Rothbard aligned themselves with this “paleoconservative” tendency and began to refer to themselves as “paleolibertarians”. The main institutions behind the paleolibertarian movement were the Mises Institute, of which LewRockwell.com was originally a project, and the Center for Libertarian Studies, which published the Rothbard Rockwell Report (RRR.)
The RRR was a cantankerous and marvelously politically incorrect newsletter. It would publish taboo writers like Mike Levin, Sam Francis, and Jared Taylor. Murray Rothbard wrote one of the strongest reviews of The Bell Curve in which he praised other scientific students of race like John R. Baker and Phil Rushton. Most of all, RRR would not hesitate to call out the neoconservatives and the left-libertarians for their left wing views on homosexuality and race.
Lew Rockwell also appeared regularly in the Los Angeles Times, where he would write columns you would rarely see in a big city paper. He vigorously defended the beating of Rodney King and went after vouchers because they would, in effect, allow underclass blacks into private schools, writing
“The initiative also affects good public schools. They will have vouchered students arriving from everywhere to demand entrance. What if a suburb refuses? It cannot. The initiative says it must be open to “children regardless of residence.” The dirty secret of vouchers is that they effectively abolish school districts.” [Big Brother, Thy Name Is Vouchers, Los Angeles Times, August 15, 1992. (Pay archive)
Tragically, Rothbard died at the early age of 68 in 1995. Over the next few years, Rockwell and other paleolibertarians quarreled with the paleoconservatives at the Rockford Institute and Chronicles Magazine over economics—and possibly because of personality clashes—and mostly seceded from their joint forum, the John Randolph Club. But they continued to take the anti-egalitarian right wing line.
The paleolibertarians also were leaders in the fight to oppose Third World immigration—Greg Pavlik wrote in RRR
“these new arrivals from the third world generally vote for statist policies and along ethnic lines; agitate for entrenching affirmative action; benefit from affirmative action at others` expense; back redistribution of all sorts; commit crimes disproportionate to their numbers; and add to the welfare burden disproportionate to their numbers.”[February, 1998]
Then came September 11. Admirably, Lewrockwell.com and antiwar.com were among the few conservative (and even libertarian) outfits to come strongly against the attack on Iraq. Middle America and the institutionalized conservative movement were the most vigorous beaters of the war drum.
It does not take a genius to see that the same neoconservative ideology that transformed conservatism into empire building is also behind open borders—what Steve Sailer calls “invade the world/invite the world.” David Frum`s notorious “Unpatriotic Conservatives“ piece that went after the paleos gave almost as much attention to their supposed racism and xenophobia than their opposition to the War. The Weekly Standard is the most vocally pro-war and open borders “conservative” publication.
But instead of trying to take back Middle America from the neocons, Lew Rockwell appears to have decided the new enemy was “Red State Fascism“—a.k.a. Middle American patriotism, however misguided. Instead of accusing the neoconservatives of transforming conservatism into a universalistic and internationalist war machine, Mises Institute VP Jeff Tucker wrote that the root of the problem was that all conservatives are nationalists. Before long, LRC writers were praising Noam Chomsky and Michael Moore, while endorsing John Kerry for President.
An alliance on foreign policy is one thing. But this leftward slide has applied to other issues.
- When Jeremiah`s Wright`s anti-white and anti-American sermons got attention, the paleolibertarians not only defended his extreme antiwar positions, but also his black paranoia.
According to Justin Raimondo,
“Of course, Wright`s contention that “no black man will ever be considered for president” is refuted by the very fact of Obama`s front-runner status. Perhaps only Hillary Clinton—who recently offered Obama the vice presidency, in spite of the fact that he`s ahead of her by every measure—and a few yahoos out in the sticks are stuck in this old mindset. As for the rest, it`s undeniably true. We do have more black men in prison than in college—way more. Racism is alive and well; driving while black is still a dangerous pastime. This country was founded with a near-fatal flaw in the constitutional order, one that permitted slavery to continue for another hundred years.” [Links are Raimondo`s]
Anthony Gregory complained on Lewrockwell.com that “decrying real racial oppression, especially in the form of imperialism, is sometimes considered `PC`” but that in reality Wright was a victim of conservative political correctness that refused to acknowledge “[t]he Founding Fathers were hypocrites. The US was the aggressor in the Mexican War. The European colonists were horrible to the Indians. Slavery was a great evil. Japanese Internment was a great evil…The criminal justice system is systematically unfair and oppressive.”
- Whereas Rothbard once said that the litmus test
“which can set up a clear dividing line between genuine conservatives and neoconservatives, and between paleolibertarians and what we can now call “left-libertarians”… is where one stands on “Doctor” King”,
- Whereas Rothbard once bemoaned that
“in the case of most left liberals and all neocons, any proposal for any reason to restrict immigration or even to curb the flow of illegals, is automatically and hysterically denounced as racist, fascist, sexist, heterosexist, xenophobic, and the rest of the panoply of smear terms that lie close to hand”,
LRC now publishes pieces from Hispanics that denounce “racism from people like the Minutemen and other self-armed vigilantes” and say that any “attempt by the majority to assimilate us or to only speak English because we`re in someone else`s country” is “only a milder form of racism and xenophobia.”
- Whereas the RRR once said of the Foundation for Economic Education,
“Does the open-borders crusade mark a permanent break from FEE`s roots in the Old Right?…The tying of FEE to the National Council of La Raza line on immigration must be reconsidered, if only in the interests of the organization`s own stated ideals.”
an LRC writer named Ryan McMaken has just defended Reconquista:
`Go back to Boston! Go back to Plymouth Rock, Pilgrims! Get out! We are the future. You are old and tired. Go on. We have beaten you. Leave like beaten rats. You old white people. It is your duty to die… Through love of having children, we are going to take over.`
“The American Conservative Union is shocked —shocked!—that anyone would say such a thing. Of course, you could simply change a few words around and you`d simply get something that could have been uttered by most any 19th century Anglo American —telling Mexicans to get lost, of course. The losers then were the Hispanics. Now, the Anglos are the losers. And they`re losing big time…
“I know the thought of a Hispanic majority, which will surely be a solid majority throughout the American Western states by the end of the century, drives many conservatives (especially of the paleo variety) [Link to VDARE.COM in the original] into apoplexy, but the fact is the Anglos simply don`t have ht resources (namely, the population) to win. Even if the borders were closed, it would still be just a matter of time. The Hispanic population is simply more young and fertile than the quickly aging and childless Anglo one. Plus, history has shown that an old, sterile population bordered by a young, fertile population, will eventually be overwhelmed regardless of what the law books say…
“The fact that California, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, and Utah are even part of the United States is just an accident of history… And overall, the day of Anglo civilization is moving quickly to the grave. They`ll be replaced in Northern Europe, and they`ll be replaced in North America. The Anglos here should at least be happy they`re being outnumbered by Christians and not by Muslims interested in Sharia law. Soon, Anglo-Saxon civilization will be but a footnote in history.”
Anyone who did not get the memo that we need to do a 180 on race and immigration is now denounced or swept under the rug.
- When American Renaissance staffer Jim Lubinskas wrote a piece for Frontpagemag.com proclaiming “The End of Paleoconservatism” that included a mild criticism of the paleos abandonment of racial issues, Justin Raimondo responded by calling Jared Taylor a “pseudo-intellectual,” “neo-Nazi” and “Park Avenue George Lincoln Rockwell.”
- LRC had a few blog posts questioning the legacy of Rosa Parks, but they were promptly deleted after a left libertarian attacked them.
- When LRC found that Bob Wallace wrote, admittedly in simplistic terms, about racial differences in intelligence on a message board unrelated to LRC, his entire archive of over 100 posts disappeared.
- The Mises Institute website has every single article that appeared in the Journal of Libertarian Studies—except for Mike Levin`s preview of his wonderful book Why Race Matters, which appeared in the Fall 1997 issue.
- The LRC archives of Jared Taylor [Archive.org link] and Joe Sobran which used to appear on the site have been deleted.
- LRC carries Pat Buchanan`s columns, but hasn`t run his pieces on interracial crime, genetic differences in intelligence, or immigration.
And, last but not least, LRC used to regularly link to VDARE.COM but hasn`t done so in years—even when Peter Brimelow interviewed Ron Paul, although it could well have helped his presidential candidacy with the patriotic immigration reform movement.
Needless to say, this groveling hasn`t done the paleolibertarians any good. Cato Institute fellow Tom Palmer has a section to his blog called “The Fever Swamp” dedicated to exposing the “racism” and “anti-Semitism” of LRC and Antiwar.com. The usual Establishment libertarian figures didn`t cut them any slack during the Ron Paul Letter fiasco.
Lew Rockwell has said he no longer considers himself a paleolibertarian. But the movement filled a real niche and is not completely dead. For example, Hans Herman Hoppe, who is still engaged with the Mises Institute and LRC, has started an international group “Property and Freedom Society” that holds conferences for the remaining right-wing libertarians and other politically incorrect outcasts such as Richard Lynn, Paul Gottfried, Paul Belien, Tatu Vanhanen, and Peter Brimelow.
LRC, Antiwar.com, and The Mises Institute still do some great work on economics and foreign policy. But we must face the sad fact that they are now completely useless on that National Question. Their opposition to the state has turned to an opposition to the nation.
Tragically, one of the victims of this is Ron Paul himself. Despite a brave campaign, the plain fact is that he did not do as well in the GOP primaries as the paleoconservative insurrectionary Pat Buchanan did in 1992 and 1996. Paul could easily have countered McCain`s military/patriotic appeal by emphasizing how awful McCain is on immigration, which polls showed was an important issue in many primary states. But so completely did Paul fail to do this that McCain repeatedly ran ahead of him among voters who want immigration reduced.
Maybe Paul was spending too much time reading the new, emphatically not improved, LewRockwell.com