2012: The Year of Rothbard

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While the year 2012 may be remembered for many things, to me it will be fondly remembered as the Year of Rothbard. Murray N. Rothbard died nearly 18 years ago, but this past year was witness to an amazing resurgence of Rothbardian thinking, intellectual influence and, most critical to any true Rothbardian, meaningful action. Google his name and you will find nearly 61,000 related links. Rothbard's books continue to sell in the thousands annually and can be found on Amazon and other online sellers, often in updated editions published by the Mises Institute. LRC regularly reprises Rothbard's essays on subjects which are as fresh and relevant as when they were first written.

Why in particular was 2012 the Year of Rothbard? First and foremost it was the powerful and amazing follow up Ron Paul GOP presidential primary campaign, which built and expanded upon his earlier 2008 effort. It was the Presidential Primary Campaign That Could, smashing old dogmas and tired political cant with Truth Spoken to Power. Ron and Murray were old friends and had a mutual admiration society going back to the 1960s, even before Paul considered entering politics. Ron Paul's economics, historical perspective and political philosophy was and is largely Rothbardian (as well as Misean and Austrian, Rothbard's own intellectual school). Ron Paul's politics can be described as constitutional Rothbardianism.

Rothbard was an anarchist and founder (and later Godfather) of the contemporary market anarchist wing of political economics. But he was no narrow minded anarchist scold or cult of personality dogmatist. He always loved watching politics and was immensely interested in the nuts and bolts of campaigns, elections and the use of politics for deeper forms of intellectual education. Rothbard publicly praised and supported Ron Paul's political career from the outset and remained an unstinting lifelong supporter throughout Ron's principled "maverick" career. Rothbard, like Paul, cared little about political labels or parties per se. He cared about meaningful action and the process of education and intellectual change. Ron Paul acknowledges that his political career was an intellectual, educational odyssey aimed at educating minds, not merely passing bits and pieces of largely meaningless statist legislation.

Paul's 2012 Republican primary battle racked up millions of votes from GOP voters who probably never heard of Murray Rothbard, but nonetheless voted for the only Rothbardian on their ballots. Paul courageously spoke out against the statist Republican orthodoxy which was faithfully parroted by all of the other Republican presidential contenders. Most of these now forgotten candidates were ginned up by Establishment media as stealth Ron Paul killers, only to flame out or embarrass themselves out of contention when exposed to public scrutiny. Bachman, Pawlenty, Perry, Santorum, Huntsman, Gingrich? Throw in eventual winner Romney and you have a cast of intellectual midgets who rival the Seven Dwarves for dopiness.

Paul's recent GOP presidential primary campaigns were made possible and successful by the Internet. Its unfettered and unfiltered ability to spread libertarian ideas bypassed traditional political censorship. Paul was the only Republican cheered wildly in huge campus rallies attended by young voters and newly energized middle class voters who recognized truth when they heard it. This was an astonishing vindication of Rothbardian political strategy, who had long championed the working middle class as the main engine of libertarian progress. Paul's campaign was the explosion of Rothbardian ideas spread directly by means of blogs, websites, YouTube videos and related social media postings.

Ron Paul's attacks on Empire and its finance arm, the Federal Reserve, struck deep chords with Web savvy audiences and resonated to loud choruses of "End the War, End the Fed" by thousands of youthful followers at campaign events. This is what Rothbard hath wrought in 2012!

The billion dollar defeat of the GOP establishment in November of 2012 left the Republican Party in tatters, its intellectual and moral decay all too obvious. Only the Rothbardian inspired Tea Party influence remains intact, though weakened by its own intellectual contradictions. Yet the Paulian movement grows, with tens of thousands of young eyes opened, able to see the Establishment political system for what it truly is: rotten to the core, propped up only by a constant stream of lies.

Ron Paul kicked open the door to radical new political-intellectual thinking. Groups like the Mises Institute and others, hundreds of websites, led by LRC, continue to churn out Rothbard-Misean analysis on a daily basis to feed this new dynamic. Ron Paul related and other political groups continue this fight in the electoral arena. This flood of libertarian truth and energy can't and won't be stopped.

And for longtime friends and admirers of Rothbard, the year 2012 ended up with the proverbial cherry on top of the ice cream cone. That moment came with news of the ouster of one Edward Crane, longtime boss of the Cato Institute. He and the libertarian billionaire Koch brothers (Charles and David) were the infamous Cato shareholders who forced Rothbard out of Cato in the early 80s via treachery and betrayal of principle. The worm finally turned on Boss Crane in the summer of 2012 however, when the mostly hands-off Kochs decided they wanted change at the top of Cato. Despite demands for loyalty oaths from Cato employees by Boss Crane and a concerted Beltway PR effort to paint himself as a Koch victim, Crane was summarily booted out with little real fuss. Friends of Murray could hear his famous cackle laugh ringing in their ears over this news.

This long overdue payback for Crane had the added bonus of painting the Koch duo as heavy-handed rightwing donor villains in the eyes of the DC-NYC liberal intelligencia. Murray went three-for-three on the Cato leadership coup. Sweet!

While 2012 didn't end with some kind of Rothbardian libertarian utopia blooming, Murray was never a utopian to begin with. He was — as he often reminded us — simply a long run optimist. For all the friends and admirers of Rothbard 2012 gave us much to be optimistic about. Out with the old rubbish — with a good kick in the pants for good measure. In with the fresh new ideas and insights of liberty. Let us hope there are many more such Rothbardian years in store for us in the future.

Mike Holmes [send him mail] is a practicing CPA in the Houston area.

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