Mises Wire

Justin Raimondo, RIP

As we mourn the death of the great anti-war activist Justin Raimondo, one can obtain a better understanding of him by looking at his intellectual pedigree. Here, one figure stands out: the great Austrian economist and libertarian theorist Murray Rothbard. Raimondo for many years worked closely with Rothbard as a libertarian activist. He has chronicled their activities in his outstanding biography of Rothbard, Enemy of the State .

Rothbard takes the principal enemy of liberty to be a powerful state, and war has been the chief means by which the state expands and consolidates its power Accordingly, he supports a noninterventionist foreign policy: only when threatened with attack should a nation go to war. Rothbard contends that the Old Right, the American conservative movement that opposed the New Deal, favored this course of action.

This was precisely the program Justin Raimondo put into practice when he founded the indispensable website antiwar.com. He opposed all wars, realizing with Randolph Bourne that “war is the health of the state.” To do this required great courage. Supporters of war usually claim to be fighting for human rights. I will always remember John McCain’s response when told of a conflict he was unfamiliar with: “Which side are the freedom fighters?” It did not matter to him what the conflict was: there were always “freedom fighters.”

In opposing this monstrous program, Justin had to ask uncomfortable questions: Were the “freedom fighters” what they claimed to be? Were the regimes they targeted always guilty of the faults attributed to them? Justin, a gifted researcher as well as writer, often dissented from the propaganda verdicts promoted by American warmongers.

If you once met Justin, you would never forget him. His infectious enthusiasm would win you over immediately. Like his mentor Murray Rothbard, he was an enemy of the state; and like Rothbard, he was magnificent in his scornful laugh directed at the Leviathan state. He always saw things his own way. I didn’t always agree with him, but I always respected his integrity.

I was not alone in recognizing Justin’s ability and character. Burt Blumert, one of the greatest personalities of the modern libertarian movement, was the indispensable man behind the scenes supporting antiwar.com, just as he was a key figure in the Mises Institute, the Center for Libertarian Studies, and LewRockwell.com. Burt was the founder of Camino Coins and a principal figure in the hard money community. Burt and Justin collaborated in their support of that great opponent of a bellicose foreign policy, Pat Buchanan. Justin delivered the nominating speech for Pat in his presidential campaign for the Reform Party in 2000.

In his struggle against war, Justin did not hesitate to take on pseudo-libertarians whose devotion to what Rothbard called “‘power and pelf” greatly exceeded their supposed commitment to liberty. When the Koch brothers turned against Murray Rothbard and tried to destroy the Mises Institute, which I founded in 1982, Justin assailed them.

Small wonder that these guardians of the Beltway continue to denounce Justin. One such person, whom Justin disliked, had the gall to say after Justin’s death that Justin had “toxic” ideas. Evidently Justin’s preference for Trump over Hillary Clinton was too much for him. I can hear Justin’s derisive laugh in response to this nonsense.

Justin defied the pieties of the Left in another area as well. Although he was an early champion of freedom for homosexuals, he never subscribed to the “gay rights” agenda and its efforts to undermine the traditional family. Here, as always, Justin went his own way, in proud independence from what Ibsen calls the “compact majority.”

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