by Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr.
by Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr.
"This is the movement we have chosen."
Those are the immortal words of Ralph Raico to Murray Rothbard, uttered sometime in the 1970s after observing some insane antics by libertarians. The line, paraphrased from The Godfather, implies a weariness with the nonsense but underscores the need for a fighting spirit to stay in the game, even in light of the wackiness all around.
Back then, people talked about it as a movement. I'm not sure it qualifies as one anymore, and that's probably a good thing. The public impulse to forge a theoretical apparatus in support of human liberty is broad, diffuse, and specialized. And yet people still care about the big issues, the sort that Murray Rothbard addressed in founding the modern movement.
Rothbard also liked periodicals that addressed every aspect of the movement. He founded scholarly journals and also popular newsletters. He started the trend with Left and Right. He wrote for Reason. He founded the Libertarian Forum. In fact, he wrote for just about every libertarian-minded periodical to come and go, from the Individualist to the Libertarian Review.
But can a libertarian periodical really survive, really stay useful, in the online age, in which libertarian commentary appears on hundreds of thousands of blogs, a time when libertarian websites multiply without end, when libertarian commentary is available in a million different places instantly?
The burden of proof is on the print publication, that's for sure. But you know what? One publication does do it. It is Liberty Magazine. This is the one hard-copy publication with a libertarian bent that I would recommend you get. You can also buy it on newsstands.
It has an inauspicious look about it, printed almost as if it were samizdat, which is a great way of keeping alive the sheer radicalism of libertarianism. The content is excellent and fresh.
I'm looking at the new issue now. George H. Smith offers a thoughtful and challenging piece on libertarian war theory that investigates the theories of Rothbard and Rand, and even goes into depth on the question of just war. Bruce Ramsey has a great report on the status of the Ron Paul movement. It is "far from finished," he says, and points out that this movement is, hands down, the most important in 100 years in terms of the public profile of libertarian ideas.
The editor Stephen Cox reflects on the life and legacy of William F. Buckley, Jr. I don't quite agree with his positive assessment, but the article is artful and thoughtful, and takes seriously the critique offered by Murray Rothbard.
This issue also publishes excellent reviews of books and films, and some trenchant editorial comments on events of the day. You know how it is when you get a print publication in the mail and it just sits there unread for weeks? Not so with this one. It's more than likely that you will read this magazine cover to cover, and back again. Why? Because it addresses the issues you want to read about with a thoughtful, radical, and independent perspective.
It was a brilliant stroke when William Bradford founded this journal 25 years ago. Seeing the need for an independent libertarian publication, Rothbard wrote for it for years. Bradford went off the rails for a while, but may he rest in peace. Now Cox has undertaken the work of editing, and he is doing a splendid job.
Anyone involved in the "movement" knows that we have two great problems today as libertarians, one old and one rather new. The first problem is the state, and it dwarfs all others.
The second problem is that the libertarian movement today is dominated by a kind of opinion cartel. If you read the sites and publications from the well-funded outfits, the movement comes across like an echo chamber. The prose is toothless and the analytics very thin. You only need to know this: they have not only failed to support the Ron Paul movement; they organized to smash it using smears and invective. These people decided long ago that if they can't control the movement, they would kill it. Recently they have taken the latter course.
This is the reason that libertarianism can't really be called a movement, and it's a good thing too. One man tried to buy it, control it, and turn it towards anti-intellectualism for a political purpose. If you think of one thing that libertarians are not, it is subservient. So the ideas march onward, delightfully free of manipulation by elites.
Liberty is the embodiment of this fighting spirit. It has independence. It has integrity. It is written and edited on a human scale, without the feel of propaganda. This magazine will remind you of why you fell in love with ideas, and libertarian ideas in particular.
You can subscribe for one year for $29.50 or two years for $56. The best way is to call 800-854-6991.
May 2, 2008
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