The Irrepressible Rothbard Essays of Murray N. Rothbard

Edited by Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr.

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And then, the hypocritical liberals, led by my least favorite McLaughlin Grouper Eleanor Clift, mockingly whined: “How can you conservatives who are against government treat culture as a political issue?” Simple. It’s because you liberals have used government massively to take over our culture. Therefore, government has to be used to get itself out. Consider the items:

Victimology: government has been used to create a phony set of “rights” for every designated victim group under the sun, to be used to dominate and exploit the rest of us for the special gain of these cosseted groups. Go down the list: black “rights,” gay “rights,” women’s “rights,” lesbian “rights,” handicapped “rights,” Hispanic (or more P.C., “Latino”) “rights,” “Senior Citizen rights,” and on and on. Hillary Clinton (see below) is a specialist in the special “rights” of another “victim” group: children. On and on the assault grows: and in every case government, technocrats, official “therapists,” and the malignant New Class grant themselves and accredited victim groups ever-increasing power to exploit, dominate, and loot an ever-dwindling group of: middle-aged, white, English-speaking, Christian, and especially heterosexual male parents. Culture war? It was launched decades ago and liberals were almost into the mopping-up stage before the oppressed finally woke up.

Want some more examples of government in culture? The monstrous and swollen public school bureaucracy, ever-widening its grip, inculcating the helpless young charges in its care, not only in statism and the “virtue” of obedience to the state and the dominant elites, but also: infecting them with the culture of nihilism, feel-good hedonism, anti-Christianity, topped off by the distribution of free condoms over the objection of parents. As even President Bush noted it’s a “rum” world where kids can’t pray in school voluntarily, but condoms are distributed coercively by the state. And there are continuing lessons in stamping out hate-thought, with any kid or teacher suspected of hate-thought subjected to compulsory “sensitivity training” and brain-washing “therapy” sessions. Culture separate from government? Don’t make me laugh.

In my many decades of “extremist” political writing, probably the least inherently controversial was my column in the Los Angeles Times, “Hold Back the Hordes for Four More Years” (July 30), in which I reluctantly but firmly advocated Bush over Clinton in November. I had thought it was one of my most innocuous writings. I did not, after all, invent the concept of “the lesser of two evils.” And yet, go figure. It was reprinted in dozens of papers across the country, drawing an unprecedented number of angry letters, some published, more anonymous and written in the usual crayon.

Vituperative? Wow! A “disabled Holocaust survivor” wrote that, as such, he is trained to detect Nazis, and he knows, from this column, that I would have been a top Nazi commandant at a gas chamber. My office at Las Vegas was defaced several times.

Less frenetic was a published letter protesting my attack on “lesbian rights,” and asking rhetorically: would I also object to the term “Jewish rights?” The answer, of course, is Yes. I am against all “rights” for special groups, because these “rights” are simply unjust claims on the pocketbook, on the status, and on the trumped-up guilt feelings of all those not in these specially privileged groups. The only rights I favor are the rights of each individual to his person and property, free of the vicious assaults of phony “rights” creators.

In this view, I am not being original. I am in the “radical Lockean” tradition of the founders of the American Republic, of the Common-wealthmen, of the American Revolutionaries, of the Anti-Federalists, the Jeffersonians, etc. These are the “natural rights” for which the Founding Fathers fought against the statism of the British Empire. And, as Richard Tuck makes clear in his excellent book on Natural Rights Theories, these are the “active natural rights” of St. Thomas Aquinas and the Dominican Order, where each man has dominion over his own person and property free of molestation, as against the “passive rights” or claims-on-everyone-else pushed in the thirteenth century by the Dominicans’ great rivals, the Franciscans. Unfortunately, while the Catholic Church sided with the Dominicans by the fourteenth century, the latter-day “Franciscans” seem to have won out.

Government and Culture: Hillary, who promised to be a virtual co-president before she alienated millions of people, is an expert in the brand-new legal field of “children’s rights.” She is praised as a pathbreaking legal theorist by ultra-leftist Gary Wills in the New York Review of Books. In a Hillarious world, children begin with the presumption of competence, and are encouraged to run their lives without parental control or sometimes even consent: e.g., on such important matters as motherhood and abortion, schooling, cosmetic surgery, treatment of venereal disease, or employment.

In all the welter of talk about “family values” this campaign season, one point is crystal clear: either parents run kids, or the State runs them via its host of New Class lawyers, licensed “therapists,” social workers, counselors, child specialists, and the rest, all in the name of children’s “rights” or “empowerment.” For we know darned well that 12-year-old children going to court to sue their parents are going to be run by shrewd and manipulative lawyers, and the rest of the New Class crew.

The lines are clearly drawn: the defenders of family values are the Buchananites, the Schlaflyites, and the other conservative Republicans who want to preserve, or to recover the traditional two-parent family as it has flourished in the West. Hillary and the army of left-liberals in total control of the Democratic Party and who constitute the intellectual and media elites, aim to pursue the ancient utopian, socialistic dream of destruction of the family, the destruction of private lives, on behalf of the universal State-family.

The model is Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, a novel published in the early 1930s, which caught the left-liberal spirit of our century: children brought up by the State and its army of professional “helpers,” firmly encouraging each kid to engage in hedonism and polymorphously perverse sexual play, kept content by an opiate drug called “soma,” and kept docile and obedient by the State elite. A frightening and perceptive picture – and a lot closer to reality now, sixty years later.

The culture war has to be fought, tooth and nail, inch by inch, yard by yard. We have got to Take the Culture Back, and that’s what the new kulturkampf is all about.

After denouncing Hillary in his speech, Pat Buchanan pointed out that Hillary has “compared marriage as an institution to slavery,” and then he denounced the “Clinton & Clinton agenda” for America: which includes “radical feminism,” abortion on demand, “homosexual rights,” discrimination against religious schools, and the sending of women into combat. Pat commented that this “is not the kind of change America wants. It is not the kind of change America needs.” And, in a thundering conclusion: “it’s not the kind of change we can tolerate in a nation that we still call God’s country.”

That Pat’s speech was correct is demonstrated by the orgy of hate the media promptly heaped upon him – and by their friendly reception to Reagan’s absurdly inappropriate repetition of his standard “Morning in America” optimism. For the whole point of the new cultural war is that it is now far from Morning in America. If anything, the time is more like the old atomic clock drawn by the anti-nuclear war scientists: It’s Five Minutes to Midnight in America. Our backs are to the wall.

And so Pat sounded the trumpet call: “My friends, this election is about much more than who gets what. It is about who we are. It is about what we believe. It is about what we stand for as Americans. There is a religious war going on in our country for the soul of America. It is a cultural war…And in that struggle for the soul of America, Clinton & Clinton are on the other side, and George Bush is on our side.” Yes! Yes!

Pat concluded his great address – this man who has been widely accused of “hating immigrants” – by praising the “brave people of Koreatown.” It is instructive that of all the people at both conventions, Pat Buchanan was the only one to mention one of the defining events of our time, certainly of 1992 and beyond: the L.A. riots. Pat talked about how the youthful federal troops, finally arriving after two days of bloody rioting, “took back the streets of Los Angeles, block by block.” And so, Pat proclaimed, “we must take back our cities, and take back our culture, and take back our country.” Yes, yes, yes!

Furthermore, I, along with other paleos, am convinced that the Old Culture, the culture pervading America from the 1920s through the 1950s, yes the culture of the much-derided Ozzie and Harriet and the Waltons, that that culture was in tune not only with the American spirit but with natural law. And further, that the nihilistic, hedonistic, ultra-feminist, egalitarian, “alternative” culture that has been foisted upon us by left-liberalism is not only not in tune with, but deeply violates the essence of that human nature that developed not only in America before the 1960s, but throughout the Western world and Western civilization.

Since I am convinced that left-liberal, and the now dominant, culture is profoundly anti-human nature, I am convinced that removing the poison, as Mel Bradford put it, and getting government out of the picture, would spark a return to natural law and the Old Culture with much greater speed. If it took the intellectual-media political elites twenty-five years to effect their own Cultural Revolution, then we should be able to lead a successful counter-Revolution in much less time.

But to do so, of course, requires identification of the nature of the problem and of the enemy, and then the willingness of leaders to rise up and provide the call to “arms.”

MEDIA BIAS AND FAKING REALITY

But how will we take back the media? Or rather, how do we insure a level playing field in this vitally important battle of ideas? In many ways, from simple reading or listening to scholarly studies we know that the media, especially the Respectable Media, the respectable press, and national TV, are overwhelmingly left-liberal in ideology. And we know, too, that the media have been, for a long time, biased against conservatives and libertarians and in favor of left-liberalism. (I’m not talking so much of the owners, who range from mildly liberal to mildly conservative but the editors, writers, newsmen, actors, entertainers, comics, etc. – the “cultural elite.”) But, until very recently, and with the exception of the Goldwater campaign, the media – except when they are clearly labeled as columnists, commentators, or Op-Ed writers – sometimes tried to cleave to an ideal of objectivity and fair-mindedness, to provide some kind of balance, so that the public has the tools to make their own judgments and decisions.

That is no longer true. Within the last year, beginning with the Anita Hill confrontation, and then the Rodney King uproar, and now with the media love affair with Clinton and hatred of conservative Republicans – the media have cast aside any pretensions of objectivity. Bias, love of liberals and hatred of their enemies, oozes out of the media at every pore. Take the way the TV and press treated the two conventions. Everything about the Democratic Convention was prettified and glorified to make it seem a love-feast of unity and reasonable “moderation.” Any sour notes were played down or buried by the media.

And then, at the Republican Convention: everything any Republican said was immediately countered, even in headlines, either by some Democrat “refutation,” or by the journalist’s own phony “correction” of the record. No stone was left unturned in this quest. The media made the Republican convention out to be disunited, riven, captured by “right-wing extremists”; when the truth is that conservatives were no more dominant at this convention and on this year’s platform than they have been for a generation and that Ann Stone and her pro-choicers had only pitiful support among the delegates.

Often the public, which has a healthy distrust of the liberal media, can see through the distortions, as it did in persisting in disbelieving the “martyr” Anita Hill. But how can the public see the truth when the media are not only systematically biased but are now engaged in faking reality? A glaring example: the media’s constant replaying of the doctored Rodney King tape, and, with the honorable exceptions of CNN and Court-TV, not allowing us to see and hear the truth, the other side of the story, the non-doctored tape.

The American public, because of this organized mendacity, still believes that Rodney King was an innocent “motorist” beaten because he is black; and therefore it is convinced that the verdict of the jury (who had the opportunity to hear both sides and see everything) must have been a “racist” miscarriage of justice. And when the media all say that the jury trying the police officers were “all white,” how is the public supposed to find out there was one black on the jury as well as a couple of Hispanics? And how is the public to know the truth when the media formed a praetorian guard around the very damaging Gennifer Flowers tape, and brusquely dismissed that tape as “edited” without ever repeating what Clinton and Gennifer said?

So how do we dislodge the biased, faking media? The existence of new cable networks such as CNN, C-SPAN, and Court-TV – the latter two in particular being studiously objective and not getting in the way of the public’s view of reality – has done a lot of good by providing alternatives to the networks. Just as “little” magazines provide some alternatives to the “respectable” newspapers and journals. But they are not enough. More ways must be found to obtain a level playing field, to obtain a chance for truth to break through the Media Curtain.

WOODY ALLEN, MURPHY BROWN,
AND THE ART-FOR-ART’S SAKE SCAM

Arrant liberal hypocrisy pops up every time someone criticizes fiction or art from a traditional-values perspective. The mocking sneers: don’t they know it’s only fiction? As if art, fiction, movies, have no consequences, no role in molding the attitudes and values of the imbibers of that culture! Doesn’t Dan Quayle know that Murphy Brown is “only fiction?” and yet how clear is the line between fiction and “reality,” when the fictional Murphy Brown angrily replies to Dan Quayle in her “fictional” role as TV anchorlady; when real-life left-liberal TV anchorladies happily appear along with “Murphy Brown” on the latter’s show, and when the Emmy Awards are turned into a lengthy round of such obvious Quayle-bashing that even left-liberal Los Angeles Times TV critic Howard Rosenberg was appalled? And when Candice Bergen herself exemplifies the leftist values and the leftist politics of her “fictional” embodiment?

And so: whenever conservatives and traditionalists attack nihilistic, leftist, or obscene art or fiction, liberals smugly trot out the “art-for-art’s-sake” ploy, claiming that only idiots and Philistines don’t realize that art is and should be totally separate from ethics or politics. And yet, the hypocrisy becomes all too glaringly evident whenever leftists don’t like the art in question. Let a script, or a novel, or play, or movie, or artwork, tread on all-too-sensitive liberal toes, and oh the outrage! Then we hear about the necessity to purge the artwork of all possible “racism, sexism, homophobia,” hate thought, or any other in the lengthening thesaurus of political “incorrectness.” What price “art-for-art’s-sake” then?

In point of fact: l’ art pour l’ art has been a scam and a hoax from the very beginning. From the onset of civilization down to the end of the nineteenth century, the idea of art-for-art’s-sake would have been considered absurd, by the critics, the general public, and by the artists themselves. While each art of course has its own aesthetic criteria, these criteria have always been intimately intertwined with ethics, religious values, world views, and even directly with political philosophies held by the artist. Aristotle’s definition of art in the Poetics: depicting man as he can be and should be, is typical of all art and not the eccentric statement of one philosopher.

All artists have had moral messages and moral outlooks entwined in their art. The culmination of human civilization: the art and architecture of the Renaissance, and the art, architecture, and music of the Baroque, were dedicated to the promulgation of a strongly Catholic world-view. The Renaissance was a conscious movement to celebrate and embody Incarnation theology, the view that Jesus Christ was fully human as well as fully divine, in reaction against the then-pervasive medieval heresy that Jesus was only a divine spirit in ghostlike form. Hence the emphasis on three-dimensional representationism, in fidelity to nature, and in particular the Renaissance emphasis on the nude baby Jesus in depictions of the Holy Family.

After the collapse of the Renaissance into the nihilistic and proto-modern art Mannerism of the mid-sixteenth century, the Baroque arose as a conscious expression and embodiment of the spirit of the Catholic Counter-Reformation as laid down in the great Council of Trent: to confront the iconoclastic hatred of religious art and architecture permeating Protestantism, and to create works of art and architecture that celebrate Man, nature, and the beauties of God and the created Universe. To use a current vulgarism, the glorious and magnificent Baroque was a conscious “in-your-face” Catholic answer to Protestantism.

The art-for-art’s sake scam that permeates the modern liberal world-view, was launched by nineteenth-century aesthetes as a camouflage of their own morbid, nihilistic, pessimistic, and violently anti-traditional outlook: the French poets Baudelaire and Rimbaud, the Impressionists, Dadaists, and later the Bloomsbury Set and the literary and art critic Roger Fry. Since they could not get anywhere at the time by openly advocating their nihilistic values and epistemology, or their “alternative life-styles,” they pushed – unfortunately with great success – the “art has its own reasons” rationale.

Indeed, the twentieth-century assault on traditional values and mores proceeded in phases, as if we were confronted by a conscious phased plot. First, the left-liberals preached l’ art pour l’ art in aesthetics, and, as a corollary, in ethics, trumpeted the new view that there is no such thing as revealed or objective ethics, that all ethics are “subjective,” that all of life’s choices are only personal, emotive “preferences.”

After the destruction of a rational or objective ethics was accomplished, the left proceeded to the current Phase II. Having managed to subvert traditional Christian and bourgeois values and mores in the West, by destroying the religious and rational groundwork for those values, the left moved on to their present stance: yes, there is morality, but this “morality” is totally the reverse of the Old Culture: now we find (1) that the “moral” is pure hedonism: “do your own thing,” but also, and contradictorily, (2) that it is self-evidently deeply immoral to engage in all manner of “hate thought,” personal discrimination, judgments of demerit that can be construed as “racist, sexist, homophobic, anti-disabled,” or whatever. (1) and (2) are contradictory if “doing one’s own thing” means becoming a skinhead. In that case, of course, political correctness must trump hedonism.

Apart from PC, the myth has been spread that pushing hedonism is gloriously “non-judgmental,” except, of course, if “doing your own thing” means refusing to join in polymorphous perverse play. If the kids in Brave New World, or in modern, “therapy”-ridden America don’t want to follow the venerable counter-culture motto: “If it Moves, Fondle It,” then of course this shows that the kids are seriously “repressed,” and they are sent off to the monstrous dwarf Dr. Ruth or to some other “therapist” who will straighten the kid out. Not that moral judgments are being made by the therapists and counselors – Heaven forfend! – but that the kids’ behavior is being gently but firmly corrected for the sake of their own alleged “mental health.”

And so, Dan Quayle has a point. Of course, Murphy Brown, along with countless other manifestations of our left-liberal culture, glories not in “single motherhood” – a portmanteau phrase that includes widowhood and divorce – but girls who have kids out of wedlock. Shall we use the term “sluts”? Compassion for pregnant widows and divorcees is one thing; admiration for sluts with kids is quite another. Also, leftists seem to think it is particularly evil for Dan Quayle to criticize Murphy Brown or the Hollywood cultural elite. But why is that?

If it is OK – as clearly it is – for artists, entertainers, writers, etc. to criticize politicians, why isn’t it OK for politicians to criticize back? Why isn’t Dan Quayle free to express his values and critiques? To do his own thing? In fact, Hollywood has been a sewer of left-wing thought and expression since the 1930s (no, not the owners, but the writers, actors, directors, producers). It is high time that the cultural elite be subjected to withering and systematic criticism, scorn, and denunciation.

The outbreak of the Woody-Mia scandal during the week of the Republican Convention was a fortuitous coincidence that highlighted the cultural warfare theme. For decades Woody Allen has been the very embodiment of left-liberal values and expression. Beginning as a very funny comic, Woody’s movies have become increasingly pretentious and fake-philosophic, mouthing nonsense about religion, the meaning of life, and all the rest – all in a manner congenial to the equally pretentious leftist intellectuals that people Manhattan’s Upper East and West Sides, where Woody, Mia, and most of Woody’s fans live, and congregate. Throughout, Woody’s ideology has been implicitly leftist – sometimes explicitly, as in the pro-Communist movie The Front.

But not only that: Woody’s and Mia’s living arrangements constituted a veritable metaphor of what left-liberal “alternative lifestyles” are all about: out-of-wedlock, separate apartments, Mia’s adopting a veritable zoo of multicultural kids, one after the other – all very mod, very trendy, very politically correct. And then, whamo! Woody goes over just about the last line, or, if you want it put that way, the “last frontier” – incest. Well, OK, it’s not legal incest, but it certainly, morally, encompasses what incest is all about: bringing up a kid from early age, as a step-(common law) father, and then taking advantage of her innocent daughterly trust to launch an affair, replete with nude photos.

It has been almost too much for Woody’s fans. You mean “If It Moves, Fondle It” could include incest? Shocking! But after all, why not? If all bets are off, if there are no religious or moral restrictions on behavior, why not Ago with the flow,” why not go with your heart, feelings, gonads, why not Do It? Particularly shocking to Woody’s army of left-liberal fans has been his obtuse refusal to see any moral problem in his behavior. She (Woody’s quasi-step-daughter) “has turned my life around in a positive way.” Well, isn’t that it? Woody’s movie characters – clearly a metaphor for himself – always follow their heart/gonads but only after a lot of kvetching and pseudo-philosophizing; Woody in real life has apparently transcended all that into the purely hedonic.

I am usually not a fan of Dan Quayle or of his control William Kristol, but Kristol was exactly right when asked to comment on the Woody Allen affair: “I’m sure that Woody Allen is a good Democrat.” Yes. And here we are: it’s Woody Allen, “If It Moves, Fondle It,” alternative “families” as any-two-or-more-beings coupling, versus the Traditional, two-parent family, moral principles and restraints, and yes, Ozzie and Harriet, the Cleavers, and the Waltons. The corrupt, rotten New Culture, versus the glorious life-affirming Old. There is our Cultural War, and it has come none too soon, and just in time.

MARIO FLIPS OUT

I used to admire Mario Cuomo, not for his principles or policies, but for his intelligence and wit. No more. Good at dishing it out, Mario can’t take it. His response to the Republican Convention, and to its announcement of Kulturkampf, was to Flip Out. Speaking on Face the Nation on the Sunday after the Houston convention, Mario was a man crazed with hate. He denounced the Bush campaign and the Republicans with the very same invective with which left-liberals have denounced David Duke, Pat Buchanan, and H. Ross Perot.

The Republicans, said Mario, are “Nazis.” Why? Get this: because “the Nazis used the word ‘culture’.” Breathtakingly imbecilic. Is Mario claiming that only Nazis have ever used the word or concept of “culture?” Are all anthropologists, sociologists, literary critics, social observers “Nazis?” Not only that: Mario was too frenzied to remember that the Nazis, if anything, hated the word almost as much as he does. It was a young Nazi novelist, after all, who made the famous remark: “Every time I hear the word ‘culture,’ I reach for my Browning.”

Also Mario claimed that the Republican convention was “racist.” How so? Because a lot of the speakers attacked New York. “Why do they attack New York all the time,” asked Mario, answering his own question with: “Because when you see New York City, you see all those different colors, all that ethnicity, all those poor people.”

Yes, Mario, and you also see a veritable cesspool of crime and mugging and filth and drug addiction and garbage and bums amidst the most socialistic city government in the country. How in the world could anyone criticize New York? Just look around you, Mario. Our once wonderful city has been taken over by scum, with the help of you and your buddies.

Not content with all this, Mario also claimed that the Republican Convention was “anti-Semitic.” What? How do you get that? Because Newt Gingrich attacked Woody Allen, and said that the Democratic family values platform clause was a “Woody Allen plank.” And why would anyone in his right mind criticize Woody Allen these days? Because, opined Mario, Gingrich was attacking “short Jewish guys.” Victimology run rampant! Gee, Mario, as a short Jewish guy myself, I don’t feel that Gingrich was using Woody Allen as a code name to attack me! In fact, Woody Allen is indeed an excellent metaphor for the Democrat Party and for our entire left-liberal dominated culture.

Moreover, Mario claimed the Republican Convention was “anti-Italian.” Huh? He said all over the convention were “T-shirts of Italians as the Mafia.” Wrong, Mario, there were no such T-shirts. There was, however, a satirical movie poster – being sold by one merchant – of a movie, “Slick Willie,” featuring Teddy Kennedy as “the chaperone” and Mario as “the Godfather.” Whatsamatter, can’t take a joke, Mario? If you remember, Mario, it was not a Republican, but your own beloved standard-bearer, Slick Willie, who told Gennifer on that tape that you “act like a member of the Mafia.”

At first, Mario was going to make the New York taxpayers foot the bill for his trip to Washington to make his outrageous and odious comments on Face the Nation, but, after a storm of protest, he finally agreed to pay for it out of his campaign pocket.

Mario’s gutter flipout should have been page one news in every media outlet in the country. And yet, as far as I know, the news appeared in only one place: in an article by Fred Dicker in the lively tabloid, The New York Post (August 24). And that’s it. Apart from that one source, the news media, once again, faked reality by suppressing this item and protecting their own heroes, of whom Mario is a star.

I used to think Mario Cuomo was smart and funny. He’s still smart, I guess, but he’s no longer funny. He’s a national disgrace. Do we want this creep on the Supreme Court? Because that’s who we’ll get if the leftists, left-libertarians, neocons, and short-sighted dog-in-the-manger types have their way, and Slick Willie becomes president.

Bumbling Bush is no great bargain, but to keep undercutting the oresident from now until Election Day means, that whatever your intent, you are objectively pro-Clinton, and that you are helping a future Clinton administration to dig the grave of liberty, of the free market, and of what’s left of traditional American culture.

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