Radical Libertarians often describe themselves as non-interventionists in foreign policy, but they are best described as isolationists. They try to defend their extreme ideology by quoting the works of the late Murray Rothbard, who was the founder of modern libertarianism. He died in 1995 but many isolationists are still promoting his viewpoint and regard him as the George Washington of their movement. Rothbard said he wanted “isolationism as the full expression in foreign affairs.”
It is strange to worship Rothbard who was a proponent of racial separation and advocated a separate state for blacks. He referred to African Americans as a ”parasitic burden” who needed “an endless flow of benefits.”
Rothbard called Martin Luther King a “coercive integrationist,” and said Abraham Lincoln was “one of the major despots of American history.” He supported segregationist Strom Thurmond’s 1948 presidential campaign as well as former KKK leader David Duke’s campaigns for Governor and Senator in the early 1990’s. He referred to Duke as “a right wing populist.”
Rothbard not only praised Duke but cited him as the role model for an effort to bring “rednecks” into the Libertarian movement. He said ”The call of ‘equality’ is a siren song that can only mean the destruction of all that we cherish as being human.”
Rothbard was a Jew who hated Jews. He said American made a grave mistake when it entered World War II. Rothbard blamed many later problems on the fact that the United States participated in the war. He tried to justify Nazi Germany by claiming Hitler’s actions were defensive. He criticized Israel for “aggression against Middle East Arabs,” and said the Jewish State was wrong not to allow Palestinians to return. He referred to the governments of Israel and the United States as terrorists.
Rothbard shunned practically all major leaders of the conservative movement. He was the author of articles such as “Ronald Reagan, Warmonger” (see below link) where he defends the Soviet Union after they shot down a South Korean 747 airliner in 1983. In reaction to the tragedy, Rothbard denounces “the hysteria whipped up by Reagan, the right-wing, and the Establishment media.”
In the 1950’s he said Soviet Premier Khrushchev and U.S. President Eisenhower were on an “equal moral footing” because the actions of both had caused many deaths. In the 1970’s he claimed President Richard Nixon’s economic policies has brought “fascism” to America.
As noted by Tim Starr, Rothbard engaged in rampant victim bashing when it came to totalitarian aggression. He blamed:
Poland for its invasion by the Nazis. Libertarian Chris Tame witnessed Rothbard claim the Holocaust was just propaganda made up to justify WW II after the war. That was the line taken by Rothbard’s favorite historian, Harry Elmer Barnes, who ended up publishing glowing reviews of Holocaust denial books.
He blamed Finland for its 1939 invasion by the Soviets. His fabrications about the Winter War are simply unforgivable, especially as he made that the basis for his misinterpretation of the entire Cold War. There were no ethnic Russians in Finnish Karelia. Rothbard simply made them up to rationalize Stalin’s aggression.
He blamed South Korea for its invasion by North Korea;
He blamed Israel for the Six Day War;
He also sided with the Viet Cong and the Khmer Rouge. Tom Palmer was present in the living room of well known libertarian George Smith the day Saigon fell. Smith is the author of author of “Atheism: The Case Against God.” Rothbard called to celebrate, crowing: “We did it! We won!” He toned down his views in print, saying the great thing about the fall of Saigon and Phnom Penh was that it was “The Death of a State.” His followers recycled that line about the Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon, which has only resulted in more oppression for the Lebanese and more aggression against Israel, of course.
He claimed the IRA tried not to kill civilians. The late Chris Tame (one of the founders of the Libertarian Alliance) was nearly killed by an IRA bombing in London.
He wrote an article rationalizing the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan by saying the country had no strategic value to the United States, and was in the Soviet sphere of interest anyway. This is quite a contrast to the more recent claim America invaded Afghanistan because of its strategic value as an oil pipeline pathway.
In any conflict between a democracy and totalitarians, Rothbard reliably sided with the totalitarians.
Many people are willing to overlook Rothbard’s controversial statements because they claim he was a brilliant economist. He was widely published and his consistent theme was advocating simple and naive solutions, and opposition to practically all government programs. This was explained by David Frum: “What to do about the economy? Simple: eliminate all government programs. Education reform? Eliminate all government. Energy? Eliminate all government. Monetary policy? End the Fed! (Eliminate all government.). . . “Thanks to Ron Paul, young conservatives read End the Fed, focus on Murray Rothbard not Milton Friedman, and obsess over a central bank’s proclivity to lead the nation to war instead of participating meaningfully in the public discourse. Conservatism desperately needs defense from an ideology that labels Friedman a statist. If we can’t muster it, the ideas of Rothbard may come to dominate conservative solutions to the nation’s problems.”
Rothbard is considered the Dean of the Austrian School of Economics, which is at war with the conservative Chicago School of Economics. The Austrian School is crank science, and Rothbard and his libertarian allies reject all of the accepted scientific methods used by mainstream economics. According to Frum, they prefer “to use instead a pre-scientific approach that shuns real-world data and is based purely on logical assumptions. But this is the very method that thousands of religions use when they argue their opposing beliefs, and the fact that the world has thousands of religions proves the fallibility of this approach. Academia has generally ignored the Austrian School, and the only reason it continues to exist is because it is financed by wealthy business donors on the far right. The movement does not exist on its own scholarly merits.”
The following is from “A Critique of the Austrian School of Economics”:
For most of the Austrian School of Economics history, mainstream academia has simply ignored it. Even today, none of its works are on the required reading list at Harvard. Most introductory economics texts don’t even mention the school, and its economists are absent from many encyclopedias or indexes of the century’s great economists. Several of its founding figures struggled to make ends meet, rejected by universities which did not view their work as sound. The movement’s faculty boasts no more than 75 scholars worldwide.
By comparison, there are over 20,000 economists in the American Economics Association alone. Their failure to rise in academia has not been for want of publicity — on the contrary, their leaders have been publishing books for over 120 years. Their dismal showing in academia stems from the fact that they have simply failed to make their case.The general differences between Austrian and mainstream economics can be summarized as follows:
Mainstream economists use the scientific method; Austrians reject it, at least for the study of the economy. Instead, they use a pre-scientific method which deduces truths from a priori knowledge.
Mainstream economists make heavy use of statistics; Austrians claim statistics have very little value, because of their extreme limitations.
Mainstream scientists believe in both objective and subjective truth (that is, absolute truth and personal truth); Austrians believe only in subjective.
Mainstream scientists seek to explain human behavior on many different levels: the gene, the individual, the group and the specie. Austrians believe that all explanations of human behavior can be traced back to the individual.
Mainstream economists often use models that use perfect starting assumptions; Austrians claim not to.
Mainstream economists believe that monopolies can arise from a number of causes; Austrians believe that only government causes monopolies.Mainstream economists believe in fiat money; Austrians believe in the gold standard.
Mainstream economists assert that the mystery of the business cycle is deep and poorly understood; Austrians claim the government causes it.