Friday, April 10, 2015

When rightists fall out

This is a post I wrote back in 2008 but wound up not posting. But I'm posting it know, with minor edits, because it gives some perspective on the "libertarian" position of which Rand Paul is currently the most prominent.

The reporting on the 2008 Ron Paul campaign kicked up a lot of information on the "libertarian" right.

The Libertarian Party split in 1988, after Paul's Presidential run on their ticket. The wing of the movement reflected by the Cato Institute and Reason magazine focuses on business deregulation but presents a friendly, personal-liberties face. Although since even that wing is generally opposed to anti-discrimination laws, their actual commitment to individuals' freedom from invidious discrimination is more than questionable. The Cato crowd also tends toward isolationist foreign policy.

The other wing centered around the Von Mises Institute, that wing probably best know to critics of the Cheney-Bush foreign policy through the Web site. Prominent leaders in that wing of the movement were longtime Paul staffer and business associate Lew Rockwell and Old Right isolationist Murray Rothbard.

This article by Julian Sanchez and David Weigel, Who Wrote Ron Paul's Newsletters? Reason 01/16/08, gives their version of the split and an account of how the Rockwell-Rothbard "paleoconservatives", as they called themselves, begin pandering hard to racists and nativists. Sanchez and Weigel describe their strategy this way:

The [Ron Paul] newsletters' obsession with blacks and gays was of a piece with a conscious political strategy adopted at that same time by Lew Rockwell and Murray Rothbard. After breaking with the Libertarian Party following the 1988 presidential election, Rockwell and Rothbard formed a schismatic "paleolibertarian" movement, which rejected what they saw as the social libertinism and leftist tendencies of mainstream libertarians. In 1990, they launched the Rothbard-Rockwell Report, where they crafted a plan they hoped would midwife a broad new "paleo" coalition.

Rockwell explained the thrust of the idea in a 1990 Liberty essay entitled "The Case for Paleo-Libertarianism." To Rockwell, the LP was a "party of the stoned," a halfway house for libertines that had to be "de-loused." To grow, the movement had to embrace older conservative values. "State-enforced segregation," Rockwell wrote, "was wrong, but so is State-enforced integration. State-enforced segregation was not wrong because separateness is wrong, however. Wishing to associate with members of one's own race, nationality, religion, class, sex, or even political party is a natural and normal human impulse."

The most detailed description of the strategy came in an essay Rothbard wrote for the January 1992 Rothbard-Rockwell Report, titled "Right-Wing Populism: A Strategy for the Paleo Movement." Lamenting that mainstream intellectuals and opinion leaders were too invested in the status quo to be brought around to a libertarian view, Rothbard pointed to David Duke and Joseph McCarthy as models for an "Outreach to the Rednecks," which would fashion a broad libertarian/paleoconservative coalition by targeting the disaffected working and middle classes. (Duke, a former Klansman, was discussed in strikingly similar terms in a 1990 Ron Paul Political Report.) These groups could be mobilized to oppose an expansive state, Rothbard posited, by exposing an "unholy alliance of 'corporate liberal' Big Business and media elites, who, through big government, have privileged and caused to rise up a parasitic Underclass, who, among them all, are looting and oppressing the bulk of the middle and working classes in America." (my emphasis)
See also, The Reckoning Over Ron Paul by Jamie Kirchick New Republic blog 01/15/08.'s Justin Raimondo, an adherent of the Rockwell-Rothbard school of "libertarianism", has written on his version of Old Right isolationist history at the online magazine Taki's Top Drawer:

The Real American Right: Part I 01/08/08

The Real American Right: Part II 01/09/08

The Real American Right: Part III 01/10/08

In the same publication, he defends the leading theorist of "national socialism" in the United States in the 1930s and 1940s: The Subversion of Lawrence Dennis 09/26/07

No comments: