The Irrepressible Rothbard
Essays of Murray N. Rothbard
Edited by Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr.
THE NOVEMBER REVOLUTION AND ITS BETRAYAL
On the November election and its aftermath, there's wonderful news
and there's terrible news. The wonderful news, of course, is that
the great right-wing grass roots revolution against Big Government,
a revolution we at Triple R had been heralding since last
summer, struck the Democrat Party in November everywhere it could,
and swept it out of power. The terrible news is that it took less
than twenty-four hours for that revolution to be grievously betrayed.
From his own perspective, Ralph Nader put it very well: that most
Congressional revolutions are betrayed no sooner than the following
January, whereas this one was sold down the river in December. Nader
was speaking, of course, about the most glaring example of that
betrayal: Dole, Gingrich, Armey and the rest of the new Republican
leadership leaping to collaborate with the hated and repudiated
Clinton to bring back the discredited lameduck Democrat Congress
to ram Gatt down the throats of the American people.
Bringing back the defeated Foley, Sasser, and the rest of the gang
was a direct slap in the face by the Republican elites of the very
voters who had just put them into power. In England, there is a
custom at meetings for the rank-and-file of organizations to shout
"Shame!" and "Resign!" when their leaders do something particularly
odious. There should have been such an outcry from every rooftop
in America at this act of treachery by the quisling Gingriches and
Why couldn't the Republicans wait a few weeks for their own Congress?
The argument that the new Gatt-WTC was supposed to begin this January
is absurd; most countries haven't even ratified Gatt yet. The real
reason is that the unconstitutional "fast track" provision expired
at the end of 1994; in that rule, which applied only to trade agreements
like Nafta and Gatt, Congress agreed to tie its own hands, and eliminate
all possible voting on amendments, so that Congress could only vote
"yes" or "no" on an agreement handed to it by the president. But
couldn't Gatt then have been "amended to death"? Yes, and that's
the whole point. Just like any other important measure, including
the annual budget. That's what representative republican government,
in contrast to dictatorship and its stooge parliaments, is supposed
to be all about.
The news of the betrayal of the revolution is appalling but unfortunately
not surprising. And Gatt is only the most immediate and evident
example of the looming across-the-board treachery. Both parties,
the Republican as well as the Democrat, have long been run by an
effectively bipartisan Big Government elite that is strongly opposed
to the interests and the values, economic, moral, cultural, and
religious, of the vast majority of the American people. This bipartisan
elite is in the minority, but it has managed to control public policy
for a half-century because it is strong in wealth (important sectors
of Big Business and high-finance summed up in the old phrases
"Rockefeller Republican" and "Eastern Establishment") and in the
opinion-moulding classes and institutions: e.g., writers, technocrats,
policy wonks, planners, and bureaucrats. A combination of vast wealth
and numbers of writer-intellectuals means that the respectable and
influential big media the press and television endorse
and push for the statist, Big Government cause.
A quick rundown of the crucial issues that helped ignite and propel
the November revolution, and where all elites, including the new
Republican Party leaders, strongly oppose the public will:
Open Borders: Everyone agrees that the public wants to crack
down on illegal immigrants and restrict immigration per se;
the elites say no.
Foreign Aid: Everyone also agrees that the American people
are against foreign aid, especially now that the Cold War is dead
and gone. But all the Republicrat elite are hysterically opposed
to any whittling down of foreign aid.
Foreign Intervention: Now that the Cold War is over, why
does the United States have to intervene everywhere; why do we have
to push every other country around for its own alleged good, and
at vast expense to the American taxpayer? Everyone agrees that the
American public couldn't care less about the fate of Bosnia, or
Rwanda, or Somalia, or Haiti. And yet the only criticism the Doles
and Gingriches are leveling at Clinton's foreign policy is that
he is not slaughtering enough Serbs.
Welfare: The American people want to abolish welfare altogether.
The Gingrich-Armey "reform" only wants to add expensive government-financed
orphanages to Clinton's own phony welfare reform. The key point
to look at is that all of these so-called reforms would add
to the taxpayer financing of welfare, not sharply reduce or abolish
Victimological Regulations: The American people want to
get rid of affirmative action, all sorts of "civil rights," and
other victimological special privileges that oppress the majority
of Americans, injure the consumers and cripple businesses. The Gingrichian
response? Zero. The elites want to keep the current system, and
at most only tinker with it around the edges.
Gun Control: A crucial spark for the November Revolution
was the intensifying tyranny of gun control. The current Republican
response? Virtually zero. The bipartisan ruling elite loves gun
control, and the Gingrichians only oppose it in rhetoric, not in
deeds. Has any Republican leader called for repeal of the Brady
Deficits and Government Spending: The liberal Democrats
may be hypocritical about deficits, but they have a point. The supply-side
alibi, except for such comparatively minor areas as capital-gains
taxes, is clearly wrong. Deficits are bad, as the public
realizes, and to cut them requires extensive, far-reaching slashes
in government spending. And that means real cuts, not
phony "cuts" in rate of government growth, cuts in projected future
government expenses, or "caps." And it also means big cuts in federal
government functions, as well as abolition of entire departments
and agencies. The public demands such action. But there have been
no budget cuts proposed in any Gingrichian program, and no
mention of abolishing the Departments of Education and Energy, let
alone other agencies.
Instead, all we are offered is the Gingrichian balanced-budget
amendment which not only slows the reform process to a crawl of
many years through the amendment procedure, but is also an unenforceable
hoax and a sham. Why can't Gingrich and Dole avoid this posturing
and simply present their own balanced budget this winter
as an alternative to Clinton's? Because they too favor Big Government
and centralized power in Washington, D.C., that's why.
Money: Any serious people's revolution would do something
to curb or abolish the inflationary government-banker cartel, the
Federal Reserve. The American people are far more opposed to the
Fed than are the Republican elites, who virtually worship the Fed
and whoever its chairman happens to be. The people not only distrust
and dislike the Fed, they also believe correctly that the only genuine
money is gold. Why does no Republican leader call for return to
the gold standard, a truly free-market money?
There is an acid test that every leader can apply for himself for
the next two years, about the Republicans in Congress, be they the
Doles or the Gingriches. At each stage forget the rhetoric and ask
yourself: what did they do? Did the Republicans, did the
conservative Republicans, singly or together actually reduce,
substantially and sharply, the scope and impact of Big Government?
Did they roll back really roll back the power
of Washington, D.C., over your lives and your property?
I should emphasize that I don't believe that all is hopeless, or
that we might as well retire to some island. On the contrary, the
good news is not only that the mass of the public have become fierce
opponents of government intrusion and enemies of Leviathan; the
good news is also that some of the freshmen Congressmen and Senators,
especially in the House, are dedicated, fiery right-wing populist
conservatives and libertarians, who are true embodiments of the
November Revolution. They are beholden to their principles and to
their constituents, not to the perks and power that might be handed
out by Newt Gingrich and his cohorts. Many of them only became Republican
candidates because the party elite had no idea that they would win.
There are many hardcore paleos in Congress, and other sympathizers
who are open to persuasion, either by conviction or because they
realize that this is what their constituents demand. One of the
leading Republicans in the Senate, for example, was converted against
Gatt by reading the Mises Institute's sparkling booklet, The
WTO Reader. Such impact can be multiplied many-fold.
Of the many worthy freshmen in the House, two can be singled out.
One is Jack Metcalf, a new representative from Washington State.
I have met Jack several times. A former State Senator, Metcalf is
a veteran paleo-libertarian activist, an Old Rightist champion of
the Tenth Amendment and strict constitutional government, a knowledgeable
advocate of the free-market gold standard, and an implacable foe
of the income tax and of the Federal Reserve. A promising young
newcomer to the House is the Texan Steve Stockman, who, with very
little money, toppled the powerful liberal Judiciary Committee Chairman
Jack Brooks. Stockman, who featured a poster "FIGHT CRIME, SHOOT
BACK," stressed three magnificent themes in his campaign: (l) an
accountant, he has dedicated himself to the abolition of the dread
Internal Revenue Service; (2) he hammered away at Brooks's sellout
to the gun-control forces in voting for the ban on "assault" weapons;
and (3) he played on TV, over and over again, spots of the Janet
Reno-BATF holocaust of the Branch Davidians at Waco, interspersed
with Rep. Brooks's cruel pronouncement: "those people got what they
deserved." No Jack, you got what you deserved on November
The important thing now is for the mass of the public not
to be lulled, not to think that the war is over, now that
Gingrich has been elected, and that we all might as well go home.
On the contrary, the first battle has been won, but many others
remain in this glorious but protracted struggle. The next vital
step is to keep alert, study the continuing record of this Congress,
and to keep putting the pressure on the Republican party and its
elites. In short, to help the paleo-type populists in the House
and Senate, the militant backbenchers and their sympathizers, to
assist them in putting pressure on the reluctant elites of their
own party. Keep their feet to the fire; never let up. And let us
all remind the new Masters of the Universe, in their arrogance,
that what the people have given them, the people can and will take
away. They have two years to put up, to shape up, or be shipped
out. And if a threat of a viable third party, whether Perotvian
or some other, begins to loom large for '96, so much the better.
If Slick Willie and his rotten collectivists gang are doomed, as
it certainly appears, great. It couldn't have happened to a more
deserving crew. But the Republicans should be constantly put on
notice that, if they don't get with the Revolution, they will soon
follow Slick Willie into the ashcan of history.