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The Early 1960s: From Right to Left

Tags History of the Austrian School of EconomicsPhilosophy and MethodologyPolitical Theory

12/06/2007Murray N. Rothbard

[This article is excerpted from chapter 13 of The Betrayal of the American Right, now available in the bookstore.]

My total break with National Review and the right wing, my final emotional divorce from thinking of myself as a right-winger or an ally of the Right, came around 1960. The break was precipitated by Khrushchev's visit to the United States in late 1959. During the torpid Eisenhower years of the late 1950s, when foreign affairs were in a frozen deadlock and when the American Left had all but disappeared, it was easy not to put the peace issue at the forefront of one's consciousness. But the Khrushchev visit was, for me, an exciting and welcome sign of a possible detente, of a break in the Cold War dike, of a significant move toward ending the Cold War and achieving peaceful coexistence. Hence I enthusiastically favored the visit; but at the same time National Review became hysterical at the very same possibility, and in conjunction with the still-secret John Birch Society, tried desperately to whip up public sentiment to disrupt the visit.

The New Rightist clamor continued in opposition to the summit conference of early 1960, which I had hoped would build on the good will of the preceding Khrushchev visit. I was particularly incensed at the demagogic argument used by National Review that we must not Shake the Hand of the Bloody Butcher of the Ukraine (Khrushchev); in a tart exchange of letters with Buckley, I pointed out that National Review had always revered Winston Churchill, and was proud to Shake His Hand, even though Churchill was responsible for far more slaughter (in World Wars I and II) than Khrushchev had ever been. It was not an argument calculated to endear me to National Review: libertarianism was threatening to expand from discussion of fire departments to war and peace!

By this time the New York libertarian movement had been virtually reduced to two: Leonard Liggio and myself; and I was even more isolated than when the decade had begun, for now the entire right wing had been captured from within by its former enemy: war and global intervention.

The old Circle Bastiat had disappeared of attrition, as some members left town for graduate school and others surrendered to the blandishments of the New Right. And whatever libertarians remained in isolated pockets throughout the country were too benumbed to offer any resistance whatever to the New Right tide.

It was time to act; and politically, my total break with the Right came with the Stevenson movement of 1960. In 1956 I had been for Stevenson over Eisenhower, but only partly for his superior peace position; another reason was to try to depose the Republican "Left" so as to allow the Old Right to recapture the party. Emotionally, I was then still a right-winger who yearned for a rightist third party. But now the third-party lure was dead; the Right was massively Goldwaterite. And besides, Stevenson's courageous stand on the U-2 incident — his outrage that Eisenhower had wrecked the summit conference by refusing to make not only a routine, but a morally required apology for the U-2 spy incursion over Russia — made me a Stevensonian. Politically, I had ceased being a right-winger. I had determined that the crucial issue was peace or war; and that on that question the only viable political movement was the "left" wing of the Democratic Party. By consistently following an antiwar and isolationist star, I had shifted — or rather been shifted — from right-wing Republican to left-wing Democrat.

It was, of course, a mighty emotional wrench for "right-wing libertarians" to make; and as far as I know, there were only three of us who leaped over the wall to emotional left-wing Democracy: myself, Leonard Liggio, and former Circle member Ronald Hamowy, who had gone on to graduate school at the University of Chicago.

I was not politically active in the drive for the Stevenson nomination, but a strange concatenation of events was to thrust me into a prominent role among Stevensonians in New York. After Kennedy was able to scotch the Stevenson drive for the nomination at the Democratic convention, I saw a tiny ad in the New York Post for a Stevenson Pledge movement: an attempt by particularly embittered Stevensonians to try to force Kennedy to pledge that he would make Adlai secretary of state. On going to the meeting, which included the eventually famous campaign manager Dave Garth, I suddenly found myself a leader in a new political organization: the League of Stevensonian Democrats (LSD), headed by the charismatic John R. Kuesell, who was soon to become prominent in the Reform Democratic movement in New York.1

We held out for a Stevenson pledge as long as we could; and then, when not forthcoming, we took our stand firmly for Kennedy against Richard Nixon, a political figure whom I had always reviled as (a) a Republican "leftist," (b) an opportunist, and (c) a warmonger, if not, however, as consistent and dedicated a warmonger as the New Right.2

An amusing incident symbolized my political shift from Right to Left, while continuing to advance libertarianism. Wearing my extreme right-wing hat, I published a letter in the Wall Street Journal urging genuine conservatives not to vote for Richard Nixon, so as to allow conservatives to regain control of the Republican Party. When Kuesell saw the letter, he reasonably concluded that I was some sort of right-wing spy in the LSD, and was set to expel me from the organization. Coming in to see him, I was prepared to give him an hour lecture on libertarianism, on my hegira from Right to Left, and so on.

As it happened, I was only able to get a few words out of my mouth. "You see," I began, "I'm a … 'libertarian'." Kuesell, always quick on the mark, immediately cut in. "Say no more," he said, "I'm a libertarian, too." He immediately showed me a pamphlet he had written in high school, Quo Warranto?, challenging government on their right to interfere with people's lives and property. Since the word and concept of libertarian were scarcely household words, especially in that era, I was utterly astonished. From then on, Kuesell and I worked in happy tandem in the LSD until it withered away after the start of the Kennedy administration. This experience confirmed my view that left-wing Democracy rather than right-wing Republicanism was now the natural field for libertarian allies.

As one of the theoreticians of the League of Stevensonian Democrats, I became head of its National and International Affairs Committee, and as such managed to write and push through a platform for the League that was totally libertarian, since I concentrated on civil liberties and opposition to war and conscription.

Meanwhile, libertarianism itself was essentially isolated and "underground." Harry Elmer Barnes could publish his call for revisionism of all world wars, including the Cold War, only in the pages of the obscure left-pacifist magazine Liberation during 1958 and 1959; on the basis of this I struck up a correspondence and friendship with Barnes that lasted to the end of his life.

In Chicago, former Circle Bastiat members Ron Hamowy and Ralph Raico helped found a new student quarterly, New Individualist Review, in early 1961, which quickly became the outstanding theoretical journal in the student conservative moment; however, its whole modus operandi was a commitment to the now-outmoded conservative-libertarian alliance. Hence it could not serve as a libertarian organ, especially in the crucial realm of foreign policy.

Ron Hamowy, however, managed to publish in NIR a blistering critique of the New Right, of National Review, its conservatism and its warmongering, in a debate with Bill Buckley. Hamowy, for the first time in print, pinpointed the betrayal of the Old Right at the hands of Buckley and National Review. Hamowy summed up his critique of National Review doctrines:

They may be summed up as: (1) a belligerent foreign policy likely to result in war; (2) a suppression of civil liberties at home; (3) a devotion to imperialism and to a polite form of white supremacy; (4) a tendency towards the union of Church and State; (5) the conviction that the community is superior to the individual and that historic tradition is a far better guide than reason; and (6) a rather lukewarm support of the free economy. They wish, in gist, to substitute one group of masters (themselves) for another. They do not desire so much to limit the State as to control it. One would tend to describe this devotion to a hierarchical, warlike statism and this fundamental opposition to human reason and individual liberty as a species of corporativism suggestive of Mussolini or Franco, but let us be content with calling it "old-time conservatism," the conservatism not of the heroic band of libertarians who founded the anti–New Deal Right, but the traditional conservatism that has always been the enemy of true liberalism, the conservatism of Pharonic Egypt, of Medieval Europe, of Metternich and the Tsar, of James II, and the Inquisition; and Louis XVI, of the rack, the thumbscrew, the whip, and the firing squad. I, for one, do not very much mind that a philosophy which has for centuries dedicated itself to trampling upon the rights of the individual and glorifying the State should have its old name back.3

Buckley, in characteristic fashion, replied by stressing the primacy of the alleged Soviet threat, and sneered at the libertarian "tablet-keepers": "There is room in any society," Buckley wrote,

for those whose only concern is tablet-keeping; but let them realize that it is only because of the conservatives' disposition to sacrifice in order to withstand the enemy, that they are able to enjoy their monasticism, and pursue their busy little seminars on whether or not to demunicipalize the garbage collectors.4

Equally characteristically, Buckley concluded by accusing Hamowy (incorrectly, if that matters) of being a member of the Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy (SANE). (One Buckleyite wag wrote at the time: "I hear that Ron Hamowy is in-SANE.")5 In his sparkling rebuttal, Hamowy declared:

It might appear ungrateful of me, but I must decline to thank Mr. Buckley for saving my life. It is, further, my belief that if his viewpoint prevails and that if he persists in his unsolicited aid the result will almost certainly be my death (and that of tens of millions of others) in nuclear war or my imminent imprisonment as an "un-American."6

Because of the libertarian-conservative foreign policy split on New Individualist Review, however, the editors agreed among themselves, as a result of the furor surrounding the Hamowy-Buckley debate, that nevermore would any statement whatever on foreign policy be published in the magazine. There was thus still no publishing outlet for an isolationist-libertarian position.

In early 1962, my last ties were cut with anything that might be construed as the organized right wing. The William Volker Fund, with which I had been associated for over a decade, and which had quietly but effectively served as the preeminent encourager and promoter of conservative and libertarian scholarship, suddenly and literally collapsed, and moved toward virtual dissolution. One of the formerly libertarian members of the Volker Fund staff, Dr. Ivan R. Bierly, had become a fundamentalist Calvinist convinced of the need for an elite Calvinist dictatorship, which would run the country, stamp out pornography, and prepare America for the (literal) Armageddon, which was supposedly due to arrive in a generation. Bierly managed to convince Harold Luhnow, the head of the fund, that he was surrounded on his staff by a nefarious atheist-anarchist-pacifist conspiracy. As a result, the president dissolved the fund one day in a fit of pique.7

The collapse of the William Volker Fund had even more fateful and grievous consequences than appeared on the surface. According to the terms of its charter, the fund was supposed to be eventually self-liquidating, and so in the winter of 1961–62, the Volker Fund decided to take its $17 million of assets and to liquidate by transferring them to a new organization, the Institute for Humane Studies (IHS), a scholarly libertarian think tank to be headed by Baldy Harper. For the first time, then, a libertarian research organization would be endowed, and would not have to expend its energies scrambling for funds. When Mr. Luhnow had his sudden change of heart before the decision was made final, and closed the fund down, IHS, with Harper at the helm, was suddenly out on the street as a pure and lovable libertarian research organization devoid of funding. For the rest of his life, Baldy Harper struggled on as head of IHS.

Isolated as we were in New York, and having broken with the Right, Leonard Liggio and I had plenty of time to re-examine our basic premises, especially in relation to where we really fit on the ideological spectrum. The lead was taken by Liggio, a brilliant young historian with a remarkably encyclopedic knowledge of history, European and American. Actually, Leonard had always been more astute than I vis-à-vis National Review. When the first issue of NR appeared, featuring an article by the notorious "Senator from Formosa," William F. Knowland, Liggio resolved to have nothing to do with the magazine.8

In the first place, we began to rethink the origins of the Cold War that we had opposed for so long; we read the monumental work of D.F. Fleming, The Cold War and its Origins, and the seminal books of the founder of New Left historiography, William Appleman Williams, The Tragedy of American Diplomacy (1959) and The Contours of American History (1961). And we concluded that our older isolationism had suffered from a fatal weakness: the implicit acceptance of the basic Cold War premise that there was a Russian "threat," that Stalin had been partly responsible for the Cold War by engaging in aggressive expansion in Europe and Asia, and that Roosevelt had engaged in an evil "sellout" at Yalta. We concluded that all this was a tissue of myth; that on the contrary Russia had not expanded aggressively at all, its only "expansion" having been the inevitable and desirable result of rolling back the German invasion. That, indeed, the United States (with the aid of Britain) was solely responsible for the Cold War, in a continuing harassment and aggression against a Soviet Union whose foreign policy had been almost pathetic in its yearning for peace with the West at virtually any price.

We began to realize that, even in Eastern Europe, Stalin had not imposed Communist regimes until the United States had been pressing it there and had launched the Cold War for several years. We also began to see that, far from Roosevelt "selling out" to Stalin at Yalta and the other wartime conferences,9 that the "sellout" was the other way around: as Stalin, in the vain hope of seeking peace with an implacably aggressive and imperialistic United States, repeatedly sold out the world Communist movement: scuttling the Communists of Greece in a sellout deal with Churchill; preventing the Communist partisans of Italy and France from taking power at the end of the war; and trying his mightiest to scuttle the Communist movements of Yugoslavia and China. In the latter cases, Stalin tried to force Tito and Mao into coalition regimes under their enemies; and it was only the fact that they had come to power by their own arms and not in the wake of the Soviet Army that permitted them to take over by telling Stalin to go to hell.

In short, we had come to the conclusion that the most astute analysis of the events of World War II and of the Communist movement was that of the Trotskyites; far from expanding vigorously in Europe and Asia, Stalin, devoted only to the national security of the Soviet Union, had tried his best to scuttle the world Communist movements in a vain attempt to appease the American aggressor. That Stalin had wanted only national security and the absence of anti-Soviet regimes on his borders was shown by the contrasting developments in Poland and Finland; in Poland, aggressive anti-Sovietism had forced Stalin to take full control; in Finland, in contrast, there had emerged the great statesman Paasikivi, who pushed a policy of conservative agrarianism at home and peace and friendship with the Soviet Union in foreign affairs; at which point Stalin was perfectly content to leave Finland at peace and to withdraw the Soviet army.

In contrast to the uniformly peaceful and victimized policies of the Soviet Union, we saw the United States using World War II to replace and go beyond Great Britain as the world's great imperial power; stationing its troops everywhere, presuming to control and dominate nations and governments throughout the world. For years, the United States tried also to roll back Soviet power in Eastern Europe; and its foreign policy was particularly devoted to suppressing revolutionary and pro-Communist movements in every country in the underdeveloped world. We saw too that the Soviet Union had always pushed for disarmament, and that it was the United States that resisted it, particularly in the menacing mass-slaughter weapons of the nuclear age.

There was no Russian "threat"; the threat to the peace of the world, in Europe, in Asia, and throughout the globe was the United States Leviathan. For years, conservatives and libertarians had argued about the "external" (Russian) and the "internal" (Washington) threats to individual liberty, with libertarians and isolationists focusing on the latter and conservatives on the former. But now we — Leonard and I — were truly liberated; the scales had fallen from our eyes; and we saw that the "external threat," too, emanated from Washington, DC.

Leonard and I were now "left-wing Democrats" indeed on foreign policy. But still more: we were chafing at the bit. Why was SANE ever so careful not to discuss imperialism? Why did it clearly favor the United States over the Soviet Union? We were now not only looking for an isolationist movement; we were looking for an anti-imperialist movement, a movement that zeroed in on the American Empire as the great threat to the peace, and therefore to the liberty, of the world. That movement did not yet exist.

In addition to our re-evaluation of the origins and nature of the Cold War, we engaged in a thorough reassessment of the whole "left-right" ideological spectrum in historical perspective. For it was clear to us that the European Throne-and-Altar Conservatism that had captured the right wing was statism in a virulent and despotic form; and yet only an imbecile could possibly call these people "leftists."

But this meant that our old simple paradigm of the "left Communist/total government … right/no government" continuum, with liberals on the left of center and conservatives on the right of center, had been totally incorrect. We had therefore been misled in our basic view of the spectrum and in our whole conception of ourselves as natural "extreme rightists." There must have been a fatal flaw in the analysis. Plunging back into history, we concentrated on the reality that in the 18th and 19th centuries, laissez-faire liberals, radicals, and revolutionaries constituted the "extreme Left" while our ancient foes, the conservatives, the Throne-and-Altar worshippers, constituted the right-wing enemy.

Leonard Liggio then came up with the following profound analysis of the historical process, which I adopted.

First, and dominant in history, was the Old Order, the ancien régime, the regime of caste and frozen status, of exploitation by a war-making, feudal or despotic ruling class, using the church and the priesthood to dupe the masses into accepting its rule. This was pure statism; and this was the "right wing." Then, in 17th- and 18th-century Western Europe, a liberal and radical opposition movement arose, our old heroes, who championed a popular revolutionary movement on behalf of rationalism, individual liberty, minimal government, free markets and free trade, international peace, and separation of Church and State — and in opposition to Throne and Altar, to monarchy, the ruling class, theocracy, and war. These — "our people" — were the Left, and the purer their libertarian vision the more "extreme" a Left they were.

So far, so good, and our analysis was not yet so different from before; but what of socialism, that movement born in the 19th century which we had always reviled as the "extreme Left"? Where did that fit in? Liggio analyzed socialism as a confused middle-of-the road movement, influenced historically by both the libertarian and individualist Left and by the conservative-statist Right.

From the individualist Left the socialists took the goals of freedom: the withering away of the State, the replacement of the governing of men by the administration of things (a concept coined by the early 19th-century French laissez-faire libertarians Charles Comte and Charles Dunoyer), opposition to the ruling class and the search for its overthrow, the desire to establish international peace, an advanced industrial economy and a high standard of living for the mass of the people.

From the conservative Right the socialists adopted the means to attempt to achieve these goals: collectivism, state planning, community control of the individual. But this put socialism in the middle of the ideological spectrum. It also meant that socialism was an unstable, self-contradictory doctrine bound to fly apart rapidly in the inner contradiction between its means and its ends. And in this belief we were bolstered by the old demonstration of my mentor Ludwig von Mises that socialist central planning simply cannot operate an advanced industrial economy.

The socialist movement had, historically, also suffered ideologically and organizationally from a similar inner contradiction: with social democrats, from Engels to Kautsky to Sidney Hook, shifting inexorably rightward into accepting and strengthening the state apparatus and becoming "left" apologists for the Corporate State, while other socialists, such as Bakunin and Kropotkin, shifted leftward toward the individualist, libertarian pole.

It was clear, too, that the Communist Party in America had taken, in domestic affairs, the same "rightward" path — hence the similarity which the "extreme" red-baiters had long discerned between Communists and liberals. In fact, the shift of so many ex-Communists from the Left to the conservative Right now seemed to be not very much of a shift at all; for they had been pro–Big Government in the 1930s and "Twentieth Century American" patriots in the 1940s, and now they were still patriots and statists.

From our new analysis of the spectrum we derived several important corollaries. One was the fact that alliance between libertarians and conservatism appeared, at the very least, to be no more "natural" than the older alliance during the 1900s and 1920s between libertarians and socialists. Alliances now seemed to depend on the given historical context.10

Second, the older intense fear of Marxian socialism seemed inordinate; for conservatives had long ignored Mises's demonstration of the inevitable breakup of socialist planning, and had acted as if once a country had gone socialist, then that was the end, that the country was doomed and the process irreversible. But if ours — and Mises's — analysis was right, then socialism should fall apart before too many years had elapsed, and much more rapidly than the Old Order, which had had the capacity to last unchanged for centuries.

Sure enough, by the early 1960s we already had seen the inspiring development of Yugoslavia, which after its break from Stalin had evolved rapidly away from socialism and central planning and in the direction of the free market, a course which the rest of Eastern Europe and even Soviet Russia were already beginning to emulate. And yet in contrast, we saw to our chagrin that even the most economic-minded of the New Right were so caught up in their hysterical anti-Communism that they refused to greet or even acknowledge the breakup of socialism in Eastern Europe.

This blind spot was obviously connected with the conservatives' long-time refusal to acknowledge the corollary breakup of the international Stalinist monolith within the Communist movement; for both of these insights would have weakened greatly the Right's characteristic campaign of hysteria against the supposedly invincible and ever-expanding Communist world — an expansion that could, in its eyes, be checked only by nuclear war.

Our analysis was greatly bolstered, moreover, by our becoming familiar with the work of domestic revisionism of an exciting group of historians who had studied under William Appleman Williams at the University of Wisconsin. Williams himself, in The Contours of American History, Williams's students who founded Studies on the Left in 1959, and particularly the work of Williams's student Gabriel Kolko in his monumental Triumph of Conservatism (1963), changed our view of the 20th-century American past, and hence of the genesis and nature of the current American system. From them we learned that all of us believers in the free market had erred in believing that somehow, down deep, Big Businessmen were really in favor of laissez-faire, and that their deviations from it, obviously clear and notorious in recent years, were either "sellouts" of principle to expedience or the result of brainwashing and infusing of guilt into these businessmen by liberal intellectuals.

This is the general view on the Right; in the remarkable phrase of Ayn Rand, Big Business is "America's most persecuted minority." Persecuted minority, indeed!

To be sure, there were charges aplenty against Big Business and its intimate connections with Big Government in the old McCormick Chicago Tribune and especially in the writings of Albert Jay Nock; but it took the Williams-Kolko analysis, and particularly the detailed investigation by Kolko, to portray the true anatomy and physiology of the America scene. As Kolko pointed out, all the various measures of federal regulation and welfare statism, beginning in the Progressive period, that Left and Right alike have always believed to be a mass movement against Big Business, are not only backed to the hilt by Big Business at the present time, but were originated by it for the very purpose of shifting from a free market to a cartelized economy. Under the guise of regulations "against monopoly" and "for the public welfare," Big Business has succeeded in granting itself cartels and privileges through the use of government.

As for the liberal intellectuals, their role has been to serve as "corporate liberals," as weavers of sophisticated apologies to inform the masses that the rulers of the American corporate state are ruling on behalf of the "common good" and the "general welfare." The role of the corporate liberal intellectual in justifying the ways of the modern State to man is precisely equivalent to the function of the priest in the Oriental despotisms who convinced the masses that their emperor was all-wise and divine.

Liggio and I also focused anew on the crucial problem of the underdeveloped countries. We came to realize that the revolutions in the Third World were not only in behalf of national independence against imperialism but also, and conjointly, against feudal land monopolists in behalf of the just ownership of their land by the long-oppressed peasantry. Genuine believers in justice and in private property, we concluded, should favor the expropriation of the stolen and conquered lands of Asia and Latin America by the peasants who, on any sort of libertarian theory, were and still are their proper and just owners.

And yet, tragically, only the Communists have supported peasant movements; American or native "free enterprisers," when they did not ignore the crucial land problem altogether, invariably and tragically came down on the side of the oppressive landlords in the name of "private property." But the "private" property of these monopoly landlords is "private" only by virtue of state conquest, theft, and land grants; and any genuine believer in the rights of private property must then side with the drive of the peasants to get their land back. The peasants of the world are not socialists or communists; instinctively, they are individualists and libertarians, consumed with a perfectly understandable passion to reclaim the right to own their own lands. The Zapata revolution in Mexico and the Reies Tijerina movement in the Southwest, are only the most clear-cut examples of the profoundly libertarian struggle of peasants to defend or reclaim their just property titles from loot and conquest at the hands of the central government.11

Isolated and alone, Leonard Liggio and I nevertheless set out on what seemed to be a superhuman threefold task: to advance the minuscule and scattered libertarian, anarcho-capitalist movement; to convert these libertarians at least to a solidly isolationist position; and finally, to try also to convert them to our newfound anti-imperialist and "left" or "left-right" perspective.

On the libertarian front, there was one bright ray of hope: pacifist-individualist anarchist (who calls himself an "autarchist") Robert LeFevre had established a Freedom School in the Colorado Rockies in 1956, to supply intensive two-week summer courses on the freedom philosophy. LeFevre had previously worked in New York for Merwin K. Hart's National Economic Council, rising to vice-president, and then, in 1954, had moved out to Colorado Springs to be editorial page editor for R.C. Hoiles's anarcho-capitalist daily Colorado Springs Gazette-Telegraph. Over the years, since 1956, LeFevre had built a remarkable record of converting a great many people, and especially young people, to the libertarian creed. And so, slowly, throughout the country, a growing libertarian cadre, graduates of the Freedom School, were emerging. As a dedicated pacifist, LeFevre was of course opposed to the war drive of the New Right, and said so in a 1964 leaflet, Those Who Protest.

With the help of a base of Freedom School graduates, we were able to rebuild a small circle in New York, this time dedicated to the "left-right" analysis. There was Edward C. Facey, Robert J. Smith, who had been influenced by the Volker Fund and the Freedom School, and Alan Milchman, whom we had managed to convert from his post as head of Brooklyn College YAF. And then there was the "first generation" of the libertarian youth movement at the University of Kansas, headed by Bob Gaskins and David Jackman. Gaskins and Jackman had been anarchists, but politically they had been "right-wing" laissez-fairists and they edited a magazine called The Standard. When Gaskins and Jackman moved to New York in late 1962 we were able to convert them to our perspective, and the result was an all-peace issue of The Standard, April 1963, which included antiwar reprints from Chodorov, Mises, and others, and an article of my own, "War, Peace, and the State," which greatly expanded and more firmly grounded my old Faith and Freedom derivation of isolationism and anti-imperialism from libertarian theory.

In the winter of 1963–64, LeFevre organized a winter-and-spring long "Phrontistery" at Colorado to pave the way for transforming Freedom School into a Rampart College. To the Phrontistery flocked some of the nation's leading young libertarians, including Smith, Gaskins, Jackman, Peter Blake, and Mike Helm, many of whom formed for the first time in public an aggressive "Rothbardian" block that stunned the visiting conservative and laissez-faire dignitaries who had been invited to teach there.

For the first time in public some of the group also unfurled the "black-and-gold flag," the colors of which we had all decided best represented anarcho-capitalism: black as the classic color of anarchism and gold as the color of capitalism and hard money.

Meanwhile, on the larger political scene, things grew more dismal as the National Review game plan finally succeeded, and Barry Goldwater won the Republican nomination. I personally grew frantic; at long last, the fingers of my old National Review associates were getting close to the nuclear button, and I knew, I knew to my very marrow that they were aching to push it. I felt that I had to do something to warn the public about the menace of nuclear war that Goldwaterism presented; I felt like a Paul Revere come to warn everyone about the threat of global war that these people were about to loose upon the world.

Second, I tried to hive off some conservative and libertarian votes from Goldwater by recalling to them their long-forgotten libertarian heritage. In contrast to many "fair-play minded" liberals, I was not at all horrified at the famous Democratic TV spot showing a little girl picking flowers while a Goldwaterite nuclear explosion loomed to annihilate her. On the contrary, I rejoiced at what I believed to be, at last, a zeroing in on the true dimensions of the Goldwaterite menace.

I could, however, play only a very small direct role in the stop-Goldwater crusade. The Standard was now defunct, and so the most I could do was to write in the Southern California anarcho-Randian newsletter, The Innovator, warning the readers of Goldwaterite war and fascism (which can be defined, after all, as global war, anti-Communist crusading, suppression of civil liberties, and corporate statism disguised in free-market rhetoric — which delineated the New Right). I succeeded, however, only in alienating the stunned readership.12

I also addressed a group of veteran disciples of Frank Chodorov — the "Fragments" group — just before the election, denouncing Goldwaterism, and unaccountably found myself engaged in a lengthy defense of the foreign policies of Communist China as being pacific and nonaggressive — for wasn't there at least a "Chinese menace"? The only result of my endeavors was to have half the audience brandishing their canes in my direction and shouting, "We haven't voted in thirty years, but by God we're going out next Tuesday and voting for Barry Goldwater." My only success was in greatly weakening the Goldwaterite enthusiasm of the Queens College libertarian movement, headed by Larry Moss and Dave Glauberman. Looking around also for some periodical, any periodical, in which to publish a critique of the transformation of the American Right from Old to New, from isolation to global war, I could find only the obscure Catholic quarterly Continuum.13 For the Left was still defunct in America.


From Wikipedia:

Daisy, sometimes known as Daisy Girl or Peace Little Girl, is an infamous campaign television advertisement. Though aired only once (by the campaign), during a September 7, 1964, telecast of David and Bathsheba on The NBC Monday Movie, it was a factor in Lyndon B. Johnson's defeat of Barry Goldwater in the 1964 presidential election and an important turning point in political and advertising history. Its creator was Tony Schwartz of Doyle Dane Bernbach. It remains one of the most controversial political advertisements ever made.


  • 1. Coincidentally, one of the leaders of the league, economist Art Carol, has in recent years become a laissez-faire libertarian, and now leads the libertarian movement at the University of Hawaii.
  • 2. On Nixon, there was a division in National Review; the more pragmatic and opportunistic types, such as Buckley, Rusher, and Burnham, were ardently for Nixon once the nomination was secured; but the more principled types, such as Meyer and Bozell, were always reluctant.
  • 3. Ronald Hamowy, "'National Review': Criticism and Reply," New Individualist Review 1, no. 3 (November 1961): 6–7.
  • 4. William F. Buckley, Jr., "Three Drafts of an Answer to Mr. Hamowy," ibid., p. 9.
  • 5. Actually, I attended one meeting of SANE around this time, in my search for a left-peace movement, and refused to join, rejecting it for its moderation, its concentration on such important but superficial issues as nuclear testing, and its egregious red-baiting. It was clear to me that SANE was not really opposed to the Cold War and certainly not to American imperialism. By this time, of course, I had given up even voluntary red-baiting; for if the Communists are opposed to nuclear weapons and atomic war, then why not join with them and anyone else in opposing these evils? Since the New Right favored these measures, wasn't it more of an enemy than the Communists?
  • 6. Hamowy, "'National Review': Criticism and Reply."
  • 7. There was a fitful attempt to revive the Volker Fund on the new ideological basis, but apparently the president began to be repelled or frightened by the new tendency, and the fund ceased all activity. Because of publishing commitments, the splendid Volker Fund book series at Van Nostrand continued to be published into 1964.
  • 8. The Knowland tie-in presumably reflected the pervasive influence of Alfred Kohlberg, China lobbyist and a close friend of the magazine.
  • 9. The situation at Yalta involved East European territory that was not ours to control; we of course did not condone the monstrous agreement to ship anti-Communist POWs held by the Germans back to the Soviet bloc against their will, or endorse the mass expulsion of Germans from Poland or Czechoslovakia.
  • 10. The relevant spectrum will, of course, differ in accordance with the critical issues that may be at stake in different historical situations. Thus, while near each other on the ideological spectrum on the issue of statism and centralized government, the individualist is at opposite poles from the left-wing Bakunin-Kropotkin anarchist on such an issue as egalitarianism and private property.
  • 11. For a definitive history of the Zapata revolution, incidentally making clear its libertarian goals, see John Womack, Jr., Zapata and the Mexican Revolution (New York: Knopf, 1969).
  • 12. Among the rightists, again it was doughty Felix Morley who, virtually alone and unheeded, denounced the Goldwater movement in no uncertain terms as akin to the early days of the Nazi movement, as he had observed it in Germany.
  • 13. Murray N. Rothbard, "The Transformation of the American Right,"PDF Continuum 2 (Summer 1964): 220–31.

Murray N. Rothbard

Murray N. Rothbard made major contributions to economics, history, political philosophy, and legal theory. He combined Austrian economics with a fervent commitment to individual liberty.

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