Due to LewRockwell.com, I’ve had the immense honour and pleasure
of being involved with a really sharp group of conservatives and
libertarian students at Washington University in St. Louis. Since
LRC has figured heavily in our campus activism, I thought LRC readers
might be interested to hear about the impact of LewRockwell.com
at one major private university.
First of all, even though I’ve been working on a Master’s degree
at Washington University, it was through LRC that I became involved
with all this. I was on the campus more back when I received my
bachelor’s in Engineering in 1991. Now, as an older student with
a ten year career in my field behind me and a lot already keeping
me busy, I had mostly been in the habit of just coming to campus
for my classes and not looking for involvement in that bizarre twilight
zone world of political correctness and hedonism we call “campus
life”. But then Dan McCarthy had an article published on LRC (see
archive), and the description of him at the end mentioned that
he was a student at Washington University. So I just e-mailed him
and suggested that it would be nice to meet a like-minded fellow
going to the same University. We arranged lunch together and, Dan
being the savvy organizer of men he is, by the end of the meal he
had talked me into writing (for free) an article for the conservative
student paper he co-founded, The Washington Witness.
It’s about a year since that lunch and I’ve had a regular column
in every issue since… Still for free, of course. I use my column
to discuss many of the issues that are raised regularly on LRC.
Two recent articles, for example, were much inspired by Hans-Hermann
of democracy. My articles were titled “Liberty vs. Democracy”
and “Democracy vs. Peace”. One of my articles ended up coming to
Lew’s attention without me even submitting it to him and was published
on LRC as “The
Wrong Response”, and then picked up from LRC by Pravda!
At least two of the speakers we’ve brought to campus are regularly
featured on LRC: Humberto
Fontova and Paul
Gottfried . (By the way, Paul Gottfried is speaking this Wednesday,
February 13th at 4pm in January 110 if you’re in the area.) Another
speaker, Don Livingston, we know from an event at the Mises Institute
which is headed by Lew Rockwell. These events, often with rather
politically incorrect themes, have gotten great audiences through
some great work on the part of the students in promoting the events.
One that particularly thrilled me was Don Livingston’s talk on secession.
One of our posters had the Dalai Lama next to General Robert E.
Lee and the caption “Secessionists and Heroes”. The event was well
attended. Professor Livingston gave a calm, well-informed lecture
on secession from a political philosophy perspective. What amazed
me is that I don’t think a single person got up and left (usually
quite common at a student event). I’m seeing that there is a hunger
for well-reasoned, radical thinking on the campuses if they can
only find out about it.
Another great event organized by the conservative students was a
panel debate on the war on terrorism. Though a bit nervous, I agreed
to represent the paleo anti-war position. I was paired with a leftist
professor against a Randian professor and a neo-conservative student
on the pro-war side. Because of my involvement with this, my picture
ended up on the front page of the student left-wing paper which
is something I definitely never expected to happen. Again, the event
was well attended and conducted in a thoroughly professional manner.
The audience had probing questions and left in a thoughtful mood.
I did my best to emphasize that, though paired with a socialist,
I saw my anti-war position as entirely consistent with being a theologically
conservative Christian (theologically liberal anti-war people are
a dime a dozen) and a fan of capitalism. In putting forward a conservative
anti-war position I was representing the bulk of our conservative
activist students who are heavily influenced by Murray Rothbard,
in particular his book For
A New Liberty. Though nervous going into my first debate
I left excited and ready to go at it again next chance I get.
One more thing related to the Mises Institute is that those of us
who have been to some of their great events are encouraging more
Washington University students to take advantage of these great
opportunities to interact directly with scholars LRC readers already
know and love like Paul Gottfried, Hans-Hermann Hoppe, Ralph Raico,
David Gordon, Joseph Stromberg and, of course, Lew Rockwell himself.
The big event of the year for undergrads is the week long Mises
University late in the summer. There are a couple week long
seminars for graduate students as well. We’re even planning to take
quite a few students to the upcoming Austrian
Scholars Conference so they can be exposed to cutting edge Austro-libertarian
scholarship. (We’ll be having one Wash. U. economics student, Art
Carden, presenting a paper at the conference this year.) It’s a
12 hour drive for us to get to Auburn, Alabama but it is more than
worth it when we see how radicalized and energized students are
after attending one of these events.
Because we’re scholars and not just activists, Dan McCarthy has
had a smaller group of us in a reading group. The book we’re on
right now is After
Liberalism by Paul Gottfried. We’ve purposely arranged it
so that we’ll have completed our own reading and discussion of his
book in time for him to be at our campus so that we can arrange
a smaller get-together with him after his big lecture to discuss
his book. Similarly, when Humberto Fontova was at our campus we
took advantage of his time to get with him in a smaller group and
ask him questions about his view on the Cuban revolution.
Do you have similar stories to tell about paleo-libertarian activism
at your campus? E-mail me and tell me about it. If you don’t, why
not? We don’t have any special magic. Are you wondering how we got
funding to bring in these speakers? How we had the chutzpah to invite
intimidatingly brilliant scholars like Paul Gottfried? Perhaps you
feel overwhelmed at the thought of publishing a campus paper or
getting people to come to hear a controversial speaker. I’d like
to answer your questions or direct you to the other students who
can tell you more specifics about how we made these things happen.
Maybe if there’s enough stories and questions, I’ll put together
a follow-up article so that we can learn from each other. Let’s
have two, three, many Washington Universities!
W. Carson [send him mail]
as a software engineer, studies Political Economy at the graduate
level at Washington University and works with inner city children
in St. Louis through a ministry of his church. See his reviews of
Films on Liberty.