Posts tagged Lew Rockwell

Re: The Koch Plotters Plot a Meeting

What makes you think that the Kochs have “a bizarre anti-Ludwig von Mises bias.” They’ve funded Misesian economic research (especially at GMU) for decades. It’s certainly true that they have a very bitter conflict with the Ludwig von Mises Institute. But not because of some mysterious beef they have with Ludwig von Mises (who was by then several years dead).

Rather, what happened is that, the year before the VMI was founded, the Kochs and Ed Crane had an extremely bitter conflict with Rothbard, who until then had been a founding member of the Cato Institute, and the main person writing their position papers. Rothbard was fired from Cato in 1981. Rothbard certainly did not “leave” Cato in order to “stick with Lew”; he was thrown out of Cato against his will (he maintained illegally — he had “shares” in Cato that the Kochs simply confiscated — but decided not to fight it in court), and Lew set up the VMI in 1982, after Rothbard was gone from Cato, largely in order to provide a new harbor for Murray and his ideas. The Kochs got pissed off about it because they were pissed off at Rothbard, and because the Institute was founded as a direct challenge to Cato’s approach to libertarian advocacy. Not, particularly, because the Institute was named after Ludwig von Mises.

You can read all about the whole sorry story in Brian Doherty’s Radicals for Capitalism (Chapter 7-8), or (for Rothbard’s side of the story specifically), in Rothbard’s “It Usually Ends With Ed Crane.”

Re: Howard Zinn R.I.P.


Well, don’t look so surprised. It’s not exactly unusual for Lew Rockwell to say kind things about anti-war revisionist historians, including those on the populist Left. He’ll typically say kind things about almost anyone who he thinks is on the right side of the war issue.

Re: Progress of the Revolution

Characterizing something as a “rant” may seem like a handy rhetorical way of waving it off without actually engaging with its argumentative structure. But that’s really uncharitable and not especially productive of reasoned discussion.

I think that LRC is more of a mixed bag than Aster does (not because I disagree with her particularly about the criticisms she lodges against some of the content and authors that appear there, but rather because I think that it’s important to keep in mind how many different authors post there, and that they are not all marching in lockstep, either in general or on the issues Aster has in mind). But be that as it may, the kind of responses she’s gotten from Tracy Saboe and Anon73 are just silly.

If the high readership ranking of LRC is being specifically mentioned as a sign of progress, and one believes that the high readership ranking of LRC is not a sign of progress, then it makes sense to reply with criticism specific to LRC, in order to show that its being widely read is not as good a development as was originally suggested. Replying to that criticism with “If you don’t like it, go start your own” is just a non sequitur. Aster was giving counter-evidence in reply to a particular claim that had already been made; this is just a change of subject.

Replying to her argument with “at least they’re attacking the State,” on the other hand, is like a cartoon of thoughtless “shoulder-to-shoulder” Popular Front rhetoric. At least Stalin was fighting Hitler. (And vice versa.) But, really, so what?

If you think that Aster’s comments are unfair to LRC or, you can try replying to that, but these kind of remarks, passed off as replies, don’t really even rise to the level of successfully replying.

Re: Smearbund Funnies

Have I been inducted into the Beltwaytarian Illuminati without having heard about it? If so, I eagerly await my imminent influx of cocktail party invites and Kochtopus cash.


The declarations of states are not reflective of their citizens …

No, but they are reflective of the opinions of the state governments at the time that those state governments determined to secede.

Of course, many if not most people in many southern states at the time felt differently. For starters, many if not most people in many southern states at the time were black slaves.

The white southerners who fought as common soldiers often had very different views of the import and justification for the war than those held by their governments. But of course it was their governments, and not they, who made the political and military decisions that we’re discussing here.

Charles H.,

I agree with you that any honest review of what the secessionists said (especially what they said at the time of the secession debate, rather than when they wrote their memoirs in the 1870s) would very quickly reveal that the perpetuation and expansion of race slavery was absolutely central to the Confederate cause. However, it would be an ignoratio elenchi to follow that evidence with the conclusion that ending or limiting race slavery must have been absolutely essential to the Union cause.

When people claim that the Southern states had the “right” to secede, what they mean is that a minority– adult white male landowners– had the right to decide for everyone else what form of government they would live under, and whether their basic human rights would be recognized.

I’m sure that when many people claim that, that is indeed what they mean, but I don’t think it’s at all fair to impute that meaning to most of the writers at or the Ludwig von Mises Institute.

Whatever faults they may have (and some of them have a lot), most of the people in question are anarchists, who believe that no government whatever, state, federal, or other, has any legitimate right to compel anyone’s allegiance. Their point about the right of secession is that adult white male Southern landowners had a right to determine for themselves (and themselves alone) what form of government, if any, they should live under, a right which any principled and honest believer in the principle of government by consent would have to concede they do have. The obvious and hideous atrocity of southern race slavery hardly justifies military invasion and bayonet-point Unionism; what it justifies is the (Garrisonian) strategy of embracing peaceful disunion, and then supporting southern slaves in their efforts to secede from the from the illegitimate government created by their quasi-secessionist slave-drivers.

If you’re not already familiar with it, I’d like to recommend J.R. Hummel’s excellent book, Emancipating Slaves, Enslaving Free Men, which ably defends the Garrisonian-disunionist position and presents a much more accurate and sophisticated libertarian analysis of the war than the stuff churned out by, for example, Tom DiLorenzo or Tom Woods.


I think the issues at hand are a bit more complex than cultural affinities. When I see Yankees like Tom DiLorenzo running around affecting a fondness for the ol’ Moonlight-and-Magnolias, I just find it ridiculous. But when I see them actively distorting history for polemical purposes, in order to whitewash rabid slave-driving statists like John C. Calhoun, Robert E. Lee, or Jefferson Davis (cf. for example 1, 2, 2, 3, etc., not to mention DiLorenzo’s periodic attempts to portray Lysander Spooner, the author of the Plan for the Abolition of Slavery and a conspirator in an abortive attempt to rescue John Brown from the gallows, as an advocate for “peaceful” gradualist emancipation, I think there is something deeper and nastier at work that needs to be exposed and confronted.

Of course, those people who, in the name of “moderation” or “compromise” or politesse, attempt to water down or dissemble about libertarian principles on hard cases, or who try to marginalize radical libertarians for simply for making uncomfortably libertarian points — a group that intersects with, but certainly does not exhaust and certainly is not limited to — the staff at Cato and Reason deserves nothing but contempt for that kind of hand-wringing opportunism. But I don’t think it’s true that that’s the only reason that the Paulitarians and the VMI/LRC crew draw the kind of flak that they draw from within libertarian circles, or even from the Cato and Reason crowds specifically.