Listen, YAF

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Young Americans for Freedom booted
Ron Paul from its advisory board because he questions the military
empire. Said the YAF national director, Jordan
: "Rep. Paul is clearly off his meds and must be
purged from public office. YAF is starting the process by removing
him from our national advisory board. Good riddance and he won’t
be missed." Murray Rothbard had YAF’s number more than 40
years ago. This was first
published in the August
15, 1969

This open
letter is addressed to the libertarians attending the YAF national
convention in St. Louis this Labor Day weekend. Notice I said
the 1ibertarians in YAF; I have nothing to say to the so-called
“traditionalists” (a misnomer, by the way, for we libertarians
have our traditions too, and they are glorious ones. It
all depends on which traditions: the libertarian ones of
Paine and Price, of Cobden and Thoreau, or the authoritarian ones
of Torquemada and Burke and Metternich.) Let us leave the authoritarians
to their Edmund Burkes and their Crowns of St. Something-or-other.
We have more serious matters to discuss.

In the famous
words of Jimmy Durante: “Have ya ever had the feelin’ that ya
wanted to go, and yet ya had the feelin’ that ya wanted to stay?”
This letter is a plea that you use the occasion of the public
forum of the YAF convention to go, to split, to leave the conservative
movement where it belongs: in the hands of the St. Something-or-others,
and where it is going to stay regardless of what action you take.
Leave the house of your false friends, for they are your enemies.

For years
you have taken your political advice and much of your line from
assorted “exes”: ex-Communists, ex-Trots, ex-Maoists, ex-fellow-travellers.
I have never been any of these. I grew up a right-winger, and
became more intensely a libertarian rightist as I grew older.
How come I am an exile from the Right-wing, while the conservative
movement is being run by a gaggle of ex-Communists and monarchists?
What kind of a conservative movement is this? This kind: one that
you have no business being in. I got out of the Right-wing not
because I ceased believing in liberty, but because being a libertarian
above all, I came to see that the Right-wing specialized in cloaking
its authoritarian and neo-fascist policies in the honeyed words
of libertarian rhetoric. They need you for their libertarian cover;
stop providing it for them!

You can see
for yourselves that you have nothing in common with the frank
theocrats, the worshippers of monarchy, the hawkers after a New
Inquisition, the Bozells and the Wilhelmsens. Yet you continue
in harness with them. Why? Because of the siren songs of the so-called
“fusionists” — the Meyers and Buckleys and Evanses — who claim
to be integrating and synthesizing the best of “tradition” and
liberty. And even if you don’t quite believe in the synthesis,
the existence of these “centrists” as the leaders of the Right
gives you the false sense of security that you can join a united
front under their aegis. It is for that very reason that the fusionists,
those misleaders, are the most dangerous of all — much more so
than the frank and open worshippers of the Crown of St. Wenceslas.

note what the fusionists are saying behind their seemingly libertarian
rhetoric. The only liberty they are willing to grant is a liberty
within “tradition," within “order," in other
words a weak and puny false imitation of liberty within a framework
dictated by the State apparatus. Let us consider the typically
YAFite-fusionist position on various critical issues. Surely,
you might say, the fusionists are in favor of a free-market economy.
But are they indeed? The fusionists, for example, favor the outlawry
of marijuana and other drugs — after some hemming and hawing,
of course, and much hogwash about “community responsibility,"
values and the ontological order — but outlawry just the same.
Every time some kid is busted for pot-smoking you can pin much
of the responsibility on the Conservative Movement and its fusionist-Buckleyite

So what kind
of a free market position is one that favors the outlawry of marijuana?
Where is the private property right to grow, purchase, exchange,
and use? Alright, so you know the Right-wing is very bad on questions
of compulsory morality. But what about the hundreds of billions
of dollars siphoned off from the producers and taxpayers to build
up the power of the State’s overkill military machine?

And what
of the state monopoly military-industrial complex that the system
has spawned? What kind of a free market is that? Recently,
National Review emitted its typical patrician scorn against
leftist carpers who dared to criticize the space moondoggle. 
$24 billion of taxpayers’ money of precious resources that could
have been used on earth, have been poured into the purely and
totally collectivistic moondoggle program. And now our Conservative
Hero, Vice-President Agnew, wants us to proceed on to Mars, at
Lord knows what multiple of the cost. This is a free-market? Poor
Bastiat and Cobden must be turning over in their graves!

What has
YAF, in its action programs, ever done on behalf of the
free market? Its only action related to the free market has been
to oppose it, to call for embargoes on Polish hams and
other products from Eastern Europe. What kind of a free-market
program is that?

YAF, the
fusionists, and the Right-wing generally, have led the parade,
in happy tandem with their supposed enemies the liberals, in supporting
the Cold War and various hot wars against Communist movements
abroad. This global crusading against the heathen is a total reversal
of the Old “isolationist” Right-wing of my youth, the Right-wing
that scorned foreign intervention and “globaloney," and attacked
these adventures as statist imperialism while the Nation and
the New Republic and other liberals were berating these
Rightists as tools of the Kremlin.

But now your
Right-wing leaders embrace every socialist, every leftist with
a 100% ADA voting record, every Sidney Hook and Paul Douglas and
Thomas Dodd, just so long as they stand ready to incinerate the
world rather than suffer one Communist to live. What kind of a
libertarian policy, what kind even of “fusionist” policy is it
that justifies the slaughter of tens of thousands of American
soldiers, of hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese peasants, for
the sake of bringing Christianity to the heathen by sword and
brimstone? I can understand why the authoritarians applaud all
this, they who would like nothing more than the return of Cotton
Mather or Torquemada. But what are you doing supporting

Surely every
libertarian supports civil liberties, the corollary and complement
of private property rights and the free-market economy. Where
does the Right-wing stand on civil liberties? You know all too
well. Communists, of course, have to be slaughtered or rounded
up in detention camps. Being “agents of the Devil," they
are no longer human and therefore have no rights. Is that it?

But it is
not only on the Communist question where the conservatives are
despots; don’t think this is just one flaw in their armor. For
in recent years, American politics has instructively begun to
focus on very crucial issues — on the nature of the State and
on State coercion itself. Thus, the cops. The cops, with their
monopoly of coercion and their overwhelming superiority of arms,
tend to brutalize, club, and torture confessions from people who
are either innocent or have not been proven guilty. What has been
the attitude of the Right-wing, and your fusionist leaders, toward
this systematic brutality, or toward the libertarian decisions
of the Warren Court that have put up protections for the individual
rights of the accused? You know very well. They hate the Warren
Court almost as much as they do Reds, for “coddling criminals,"
and the cry goes up everywhere for all power to the police. What
can be more profoundly statist, despotic, and anti-libertarian
than that?

When Mayor
Daley’s cops clubbed and gassed their way through Chicago last
year against unarmed demonstrators, the only libertarian reaction
was to revile Daley and the cops and to support the rights of
the demonstrators. But your fusionist leaders loved and applauded
Daley, with his “manly will to govern," and the brutality
unleashed by his cop goons. And take the massacre at People’s
Park at Berkeley this year, when one unarmed bystander was killed,
and hundreds wounded, and thousands gassed by the armed constabulary
for the crime of trying to remain in a park which they had built
with their own hands on a state-owned muddy lot. Yet your “fusionists”
denounced People’s Park and hailed Reagan and the cops.

And then
there is the draft — that obnoxious system of slavery and forced
murder. There is nothing anyone even remotely calling himself
a libertarian can say about the draft except that it is slavery
and that it must be combatted. And yet how namby-pamby YAF has
been on the draft, how ambiguous and tangled the fusionist leaders
become when they approach the subject? Even those who reject the
draft do so only apologetically, and only on the grounds that
we could have a more efficient army if it were volunteer. But
the real issue is moral. The issue is not to build up a more efficient
group of hired killers for the U. S. government; the issue is
to oppose slavery as an absolute moral evil. And this no fusionist
or Rightist has even considered doing. And even those who reject
the draft as inefficient love the army itself, with its hierarchical
despotism, its aggressive violence, its unthinking obedience.
What sort of “libertarians” are these?

And what
of the nation’s educational system in which so many of you have
been enmeshed? For years, I heard your fusionist leaders condemn
in toto, the American educational system as coercive
and statist, and, when in their cups and heedless of their political
status, even call for abolition of the public school system. Fine!
So what happens when, in the last few years, we have seen a dedicated
and determined movement to smash this system — to return control
to the parents, as in Ocean Hill-Brownsville in Brooklyn, and
take it from the entrenched educationists — or, as with SDS and
the colleges, to overthrow the educational rule of the government
and the military-industrial complex?

the fusionists have hailed and come to the support of these educational
opposition movements? But instead, they have called on the cops
to suppress them.

Here is surely
an acid test of the fusionists’ alleged love of liberty. Liberty
goes by the board as soon as their precious “order” is threatened,
and “order” means, simply, State dictation and State-controlled
property. Is that what libertarians are to end up doing — fronting
for despots and apologists for “law 'n' order”? Our stand should
be on the other side — with the people, with the citizenry, and
against the State and its hired goon squads. And yet YAF’s central
theme this year is its boasting about inventing tactics to call
in the judges, call in the cops, to suppress SDS opposition —
opposition to what? To the State’s gigantic factory for
brainwashing? What are you doing on the barricades defending
the State’s indoctrination centers?

It’s pretty
clear, or should be by now, what they’re doing there, the
fusionists. They’re right where they belong, doing their job —
the job of apologists for the State using libertarian rhetoric
as their cloak. And since, in recent years, they have snuggled
close to Power, these apologetics have become more and more blatant.
Fifteen, twenty years ago, the “libertarian-conservatives” used
to hail Thoreau and the idea of civil disobedience against unjust
laws. But now, now that civil disobedience has become an actual
living movement, Thoreau is only heard on the New Left, while
the Right, even the “libertarian” or fusionist Right, talk only
of law-n-order, suppression and the bayonet, defense of State
power by any and all means necessary.

You don’t
belong with these deceivers on the political make. I plead with
you to leave YAF now, for you should know by now that there is
no hope of your ever capturing it. It is as dictatorial, as oligarchic,
as close to fascism in structure as is so much of the content
of YAF’s program.

is no way that you can overthrow the Jones-Teague clique, for
this clique is entrenched in power. And behind this clique lie
the fusionist gurus: the Buckleys, and Rushers, and Meyers. And
behind them lie the real power in YAF — the moneybags, the wealthy
business men who finance and therefore run the organization, the
same moneybags who reacted hard a few years ago when some of your
leaders decided to take a strong stand against the draft.

When YAF
was founded, on the Buckley estate at Sharon, Connecticut, there
was heavy sentiment among the founders against the title, because,
they said, “freedom is a left-wing word.” But the “fusionists”
won out, and freedom was included in the title. In retrospect,
it is clear that this was a shame, because all that happened was
that the precious word “freedom” came to be used as an Orwellian
cloak for its very opposite. Why don’t you leave now, and let
the “F” in YAF stand then for what it has secretly stood for all
along — “fascism”?

Why don’t
you get out, form your own organization, breathe the clean air
of freedom, and then take your stand, proudly and squarely, not
with the despotism of the power elite and the government of the
United States, but with the rising movement in opposition to that
government? Then you will be libertarians indeed, in act as well
as in theory. What hangover, what remnant of devotion to the monster
State, is holding you back? Come join us, come realize that to
break once and for all with statism is to break once and for all
with the Right-wing. We stand ready to welcome you.

N. Rothbard
(1926–1995) was dean of the Austrian
School, founder of modern libertarianism, and chief academic
officer of the Mises Institute.
He was also editor — with Lew Rockwell — of The
Rothbard-Rockwell Report
, and appointed Lew as his
literary executor. See
his books.

Best of Murray Rothbard

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