Sunday, January 20, 2008

Libertarian Infighting

Ron Paul's reprehensible newsletters have re-ignited the old infighting among libertarians. And in case you're unfamiliar with who's who in these warring camps, the Nation's Christopher Hayes provides a primer:

In 1981 American libertarianism's founding father, Murray Rothbard, had a falling out with Cato leaders over their weak-kneed conception of libertarianism as "low tax liberalism." After being kicked off the board of the organization he had helped found, Rothbard, a Jewish, Bronx-born economist who'd studied with Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises, helped found the Mises Institute in Auburn, Alabama. The institute became the intellectual center for what Rothbard protégé Lew Rockwell termed "paleolibertarianism," a worldview rooted squarely in the populist Old Right tradition. Paleolibertarians tend to be culturally conservative (attracting, on the edges, a fair share of Confederacy nostalgists and white supremacists), zealously against imperial foreign policy and the Federal Reserve. "Ron Paul has shown that the core of the state is the Pentagon and the Federal Reserve," says Rockwell, who was Paul's congressional chief of staff from 1978 to 1982.

The division between paleolibertarians, centered around the Mises Institute, and cosmopolitan libertarians, centered around Cato, is also a case of "culture clash," according to Justin Raimondo, editorial director of and prominent member of the Mises set. "There's the populist wing of the libertarian movement, and then there's the Washington crowd that's still trying to sell libertarianism, or their version of it, to elites. These people want to go along and get along. As long as they can abort their babies and sodomize each other and take as many drugs as they want to, they are happy. They don't care who is being killed in Iraq and how many Iraqis are dying. That's their hierarchy of values."