Yes, yes, The Baffler’s The Forgotten Man is a hit piece on Rothbard – working hard to link him to fascists (bizarre!) and to Trump (with some success) but I’m going to pick out some useful quotes, nevertheless.
In The New Yorker’s piece on Mike Enoch, the founder of the “Daily Shoah” podcast, Enoch notes that his path to the alt-right began with reading Rothbard.
Yes, this is bizarre. As fascism is all about “the government-business partnership”, it’s simply delusional to tag Rothbard – an intense libertarian – as a fascist.
(As opposed to, say, the entire Established Order, which is nothing more than government-business partnerships… without the cool uniforms. Tweedledee-Tweedledum elections, coupled with the beyond-the-law Administrative State, go over with the Western intelligentsia far more easier than loud-mouthed dictators anyways.)
On the other hand, if by ‘fascist’ the author actually wants to say ‘anti-Semitic’… it’s possible. But the cognitive dissonance is on the part of today’s Daily Shoah types, not with Rothbard. After all, without a massive state (…or standing armies *nod to John Calvin*…), you aren’t going to have a holocaust.
(Yes, Rothbard was smart enough to figure out the end-state of his train of thought.)
He wrote near the end of his life in a short memoir for Chronicles: “I grew up in a communist culture; the middle-class Jews in New York whom I lived among, whether family, friends, or neighbors, were either communists or fellow-travelers in the communist orbit. I had two sets of Communist Party uncles and aunts, on both sides of the family.” He took his father’s side in the frequent debates and Rothbard recalls being “eleven or twelve” when he upset a family gathering by asking, “What’s wrong with Franco, anyway?”
Dangerous men tend to be troublemakers when young.
And for the record, Franco was definitely less murderous and destructive than a Communist dictator would be. Not that I would recommend following Franco’s footsteps, as the Spanish Catholic Church was far weaker after supporting his rule than it was before.
(In contrast, the Philippine Catholic Church came out rather stronger after opposing Marco’s rule… and the Polish Catholic Church, after opposing the Communists.
A definite pointer for Christian Churches in liberal, secularist societies, I say!
It’s far wiser for Christian laymen (…and the few gutsy pastors that remain…) to fight the New Order every step of the way. Lay the foundation now, to gain the victory later.)
Given the middle name Newton by his scientist father, he followed his namesake’s axiomatic lodestar, believing that by starting with a limited set of simple, clear rules you could rationally derive everything else in reality. But, in some ways, he was more like a character out of his mother’s beloved Dostoevsky novels: clever, voluble, possessed of a malicious wit, gregarious and generous to new friends at first, but then prone to bitter quarrels and falling outs, nurturing deep, obsessive grievances and resentments, willing to go to extremes to follow the consequences of a putatively consistent intellectual system of his own making, gleefully contrarian to the point of perversity, and above all, single-mindedly willing the destruction of the established order.
“…single-mindedly willing the destruction of the established order.”
Now, seeing that we currently live in the Society of the Beast, every Christian in the West (…and indeed, throughout the world: but those who know more are held to greater account…) should definitely be as committed to the peaceful, relentless, and utter destruction of the Established Order as the early Christians were.
You know… with the same comprehensiveness single-mindedness that they (and, for that matter, any secular order) demonstrates their hostility to you and yours, Christian.
This is God’s world, not Satan’s.
But – just as the core of life is religious, not political – bringing about a just political order should not be the fundamental point of Christians. Living a just and righteous live personally comes first; then leading strong, godly families; then building a righteous culture locally, among your neighbours and in your town and county. Only at the end of the process do you worry about state, provincial, and national governments.
His review of Manhattan provides a striking revelation of his own self-conception:
The great satirists, from Swift to Chesterton to Mencken—and now to Woody Allen—have always and necessarily been cultural conservatives and reactionaries . . . By transmuting his rage and the sadness of nostalgia into the bracing and liberating joy of wit and laughter, the satirist not only liberates his own psyche: he can have momentous social effect, until—as in the height and the wonder of reading Swift or Mencken or in watching Manhattan—it almost seems that the walls of Jericho can indeed come a-tumblin’ down, and that one lone man can change the culture. And in many ways he can and has.
Looking to a rose-coloured past is a common flaw among conservatives.
Christians are not to look to recreate a past which, after all, were infested with the rotten foundations that directly led to today’s demonic cultures. The Kingdom of God is to be built today, to – step by step, as directed by the Holy Spirit – create a world that’s fit for Jesus to return to, to prepare His holy bride to a state as close to perfection as Spirit-guided men can shape.
The past is dead, and we are not to live there. Instead, let’s learn form the past, but live in the present, to shape the future into a form that is more compliant, more perfect, as God in the Bible defines it.
This [Misean] notion—that “human beings do things, for one reason or another”—never struck Rothbard, it seems, as too simple or unenlightening.
This is the deepest criticism the author has for Mises? I would be far happier if he has pointed something false or incomplete, instead of being ‘insufficiently complex’.
But the priesthood – religious and secular – always preferred to have their truths complex and difficult to understand: it’s good for job security, after all.
Rothbard’s McCarthyism was idiosyncratic: he mostly liked that it was directed at the Federal bureaucracies, because he hated the very existence of those institutions. He did not find himself at home with the New Right rallying around William F. Buckley’s National Review: he objected on principle to any and all foreign interventionism; and besides, he thought the New Deal consensus at home was a far greater and more important enemy than communist regimes abroad.
Amen, and amen.
What Rothbard thought the libertarian movement needed to copy from Leninism were professional cadres of dedicated ideologues to organize cells and spread the faith.
That one is a non-starter, as we can see all around us. Hardened Christian Reconstructionists have enough problems actually getting people to live the religion they claim to follow (or to definitely reject it: the spineless Christian is a good deal more repulsive than the hardened atheist, so far as I am concerned.)
Now, after noting Rothbard’s racism – common enough for white men born in 1926, liberal and conservative alike – we get to an interesting point:
Here what Rothbard meant when he talks about non-aggression and self-defense is made plain: the ideological rampart of the post-welfare order against egalitarian attacks would have to be scientifically dressed up racism, defending the “property rights” of the rightful masters, sorted to the top by the ineluctable logic of the market. At this point his appeal to the alt-right shouldn’t be much of a mystery.
If you made it or bought it, it’s yours, white or black. And to own something means, by definition, to decide who can use it and who can’t.
I don’t support racial criteria in deciding who should use your property… but frankly, it’s your property. YOU decide who uses it, not I.
That being said… it would be
pleasant just and righteous to have the property rights of Black Americans respected as well: “One God, One Law.” Respect the other guy’s stuff, and it’s more likely that your stuff will be let alone, as well.
But that is not the situation today.
As for the injustice that is done to Black Americans today – and I’m mainly thinking about police issues, as well as the devastation of the 2007 housing bust on those blacks steered to destructive loans – there must be some sort of payment for damages incurred, as suggested by McDurmond here
From Reconstruction all the way up until the Civil Rights era, “freed” blacks were subjected to a variety of segregation laws, not to mention extralegal action and violence, that all had the effect of the routinization of exploitation, oppression, degradation, and the perpetual denial of a particular, clear justice that was both due and promised.
There is no biblical argument against that. You could make all kinds of arguments that amount to an appeal to some kind of statute of limitations; but this is not a statute of limitations issue. God has no statute of limitations for social sin and injustice. This is precisely the type of injustice for which God stores up his wrath over four generations (Canaanites) or four hundred years (Israel). This is the kind of issue for which candlesticks get removed and nations stricken down Deuteronomy 28-style.
I say we should instead start planning a comprehensive, conservative biblical program of healing race relations, not even shying from considering reparations on the table. It will involve many issues, like criminal justice reform, what repentance in this area looks like, how, in fact, the issue actually gets resolved so that it is resolved, etc. [emphasis now added].
For White American Christians to succeed, they need to deliver on the justice that God expects them to deliver. Or at least, get started on the road to deliver actual, Biblical justice, as Joel McDurmon has wisely begun. Freedom from the shackles of old debts is a prerequisite to new growth and a new, better destiny.
(Black American Christians have their own problems… and the faster there is a reasonable, just, and enduring resolution to conflict between White and Black American Christians, the faster blacks can forget about what white people think, and address those internal issues that are quietly destroying them. After all, it still remains true that more blacks are killed by blacks on any basis you care to measure since, say, the 1960s, than blacks killed by whites.
God sees all sins, and hates all forms of shedding innocent blood, not just the sins and the bloodshed done by the other guy…)
Now, to return to the article from the Baffler:
As commonly happens when you aim for, and miss, the sublime, Rothbard’s vision ends up desolate and despairing. He based his economic theory on the striving individual, but failing to deliver a paean to the noble soul bravely facing down conformity and cultural decline, his imagination instead reveals a world of petty grievance leavened with grand pretensions; a mixture of self-pity and spite.
Perhaps… perhaps not. With the article, you can see the reviews of a hostile reviewer, but those who support Rothbard will speak up soon enough.
But say this for Rothbard: even when he seemed at the very margins of American political life, he never quit. “I am sure,” Keynes wrote, “that the power of vested interest is vastly exaggerated compared with the gradual encroachment of ideas.” Today, Rothbard’s ideas aren’t merely encroaching; they’re on the march.
I don’t see Rothbard’s idea, supposedly “on the march”, actually changing much: even Trump is quite likely to be a one-termer than anything else.
Perhaps Rothbard’s vision have more real influence after the Great Default, and the delegitimization of the current Establishment. But in truth, I expect a host of competing ideas and ideologues fighting and fragmenting after the end of the current Established Order, with Rothbardism merely being one of the contenders.