The American Right is the New Target of Washington's "War on Terror"

The American Right is the New Target of Washington's "War on Terror"

04/28/2021Tho Bishop

Listen to the Audio Mises Wire version of this article.

The security walls around the US Capitol may be removed, but the federal response to the January 6 protests has only just begun. The Democrats in Washington are determined to treat the incident as on par with the events of September 11, which may explain a troubling report about the potential use of the famed No Fly List.

Yesterday Nick Fuentes, a right-wing social media pundit who attended the January 6 protests in the capital, alleged that he has been placed on the federal no-fly list, preventing him from traveling to Florida for a political rally. While Mr. Fuentes shared on social media audio of an airline employee suggesting that his flying restriction did come from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), later that night Tucker Carlson informed his audience that his staff could neither confirm nor deny the report. While critics pointed to previous social media posts which documented his being removed from a plane for failing to comply with mask policies, Fuentes has noted that he had no problem flying to Washington in January.

It is unclear whether federal authorities will be in any rush to clarify the situation, but there is no reason not to assume that federal authorities would attempt to use this war on terror tool against political opponents. From its inception, what originally began as sixteen names federal authorities had connected to potential future terrorist attacks quickly grew to over 1 million. As is the case with other surveillance tools handed over to the deep state, there is very little oversight or due process involved in how federal authorities handle potential “terrorist threats.”

Since January there has been a concerted effort by Democrat leaders, former deep state officials, and America’s most despicable neoconservatives to push the Biden administration to utilize the power of the federal government against the supporters of Donald Trump. While the incidents at the Capitol on January 6 are used to justify these calls, the weaponization of federal power against political opponents goes back almost as long as the federal government itself. In more recent years, President Biden’s previous service in the White House saw a Democrat administration that used both the IRS and Department of Homeland Security to target conservatives.

Another reason to expect escalation from the Biden administration against vocal figures like Fuentes is the unique critique of the current regime from the right. The majority of Republican voters do not simply oppose President Biden due to politics, but flatly reject his democratic legitimacy.

As Murray Rothbard explained, it is precisely this sort of attack that the state fears most:

The increasing use of scientific jargon has permitted the State's intellectuals to weave obscurantist apologia for State rule that would have only met with derision by the populace of a simpler age. A robber who justified his theft by saying that he really helped his victims, by his spending giving a boost to retail trade, would find few converts; but when this theory is clothed in Keynesian equations and impressive references to the "multiplier effect," it unfortunately carries more conviction. And so the assault on common sense proceeds, each age performing the task in its own ways.

Thus, ideological support being vital to the State, it must unceasingly try to impress the public with its "legitimacy," to distinguish its activities from those of mere brigands….

The gravest crimes in the State's lexicon are almost invariably not invasions of private person or property, but dangers to its own contentment, for example, treason, desertion of a soldier to the enemy, failure to register for the draft, subversion and subversive conspiracy, assassination of rulers and such economic crimes against the State as counterfeiting its money or evasion of its income tax. Or compare the degree of zeal devoted to pursuing the man who assaults a policeman, with the attention that the State pays to the assault of an ordinary citizen. Yet, curiously, the State's openly assigned priority to its own defense against the public strikes few people as inconsistent with its presumed raison d'être.

This perspective explains the disproportionate treatment that mostly peaceful protesters at the Capitol in January have received in contrast to those arrested during riots in American cities throughout the past year. The state will always treat those who seriously threaten its perceived legitimacy with greater zeal than those guilty of simply destroying the livelihoods of its citizens.

This also highlights the self-defeating nature of the modern American conservative movement.

For decades now, the same political party that often gives lip service to “federalism” has often been the party directly responsible for the growth of federal power. As noted earlier, it took exactly one administration before the Department of Homeland Security, created by the Bush administration, began to target the very voters who elected him to office. It was just two election cycles before the PATRIOT Act was used to target a Republican presidential campaign.

The biggest question that now lies in American politics is whether conservatives are capable of learning from these examples. If the American right is capable of fully absorbing the reality that the greatest threat to their lives, liberty, and prosperity lies domestically—and not abroad—perhaps there is potential for a political rollback of the American empire.

If not, American conservatives will come to understand how little constitutional rights truly mean in the face of a hostile state.

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Have We Kicked the Can to the End of the Road?

06/09/2022Liam Cosgrove

With “recession“ dominating economic headlines these days, many have forgotten the K-shaped versus V-shaped recovery debate of late 2020. 

Still riding the high of stimulus checks and PPP loans, nearly all market pundits concurred that we were largely out of the woods of financial turmoil. Their disagreement lied in whether the rebound would take place in the real economy (V-shaped) or solely in asset prices (K-shaped), leaving Main Street behind.

While 2021 saw euphoric asset valuations and even a precipitous decline in unemployment, it now appears that both camps may have been incorrect. With roaring inflation, an ominous negative GDP print, and the S&P nearing a bear market, Peter Atwater, an expert who focuses on investor confidence, believes we are on the cusp of a financial crisis on both Main Street and Wall Street.

To illustrate how this might play out, Atwater highlights the common practice by which the wealthy borrow against their asset holdings at historically low rates to fund expenditures. Rising rates and quantitative tightening have the potential to not only increase interest fees, but also lower the value of the pledged collateral, potentially triggering margin calls for the upper echelon of society. 

Atwater points out that personal loan volumes (mortgages, margin debt, etc.) have increased to a greater degree than those of credit card loans. This is a sign that Wall Street may be more levered, thus more vulnerable to monetary tightening, than Main Street. Whereas the Main Street, many of whom are not asset owners, might actually welcome a decline in asset prices, especially in real estate. Instead, the Average Joe’s main concerns today are food and gas prices.

These realities give insight into the policy path central bankers may choose, who are in a difficult position as they attempt to quell inflation with pressure from Wall Street who have gotten used to lofty asset prices. 

Will the Fed sacrifice Wall Street to protect Main Street? Atwater isn’t sure that it’s that simple. 

He believes there is one key point central bankers seem to be ignoring: potential business failures. With over 30% of the companies in the pre-pandemic Russell 2000 being zombies (i.e. companies with revenues barely sufficient to service their debts), it’s hard to see how raising interest payments will not initiate a wave of bankruptcies and accompanied layoffs.

Therefore, even if the Federal Reserve elects to help the little guy by taking on inflation, the pain may instead be felt in the jobs market.

For all the details on Peter’s insights, listen to his full interview with Wealtion, hosted by Stephanie Pomboy, 

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The Theme of Failure

06/07/2022Robert Aro

Last week Biden sat down with Powell in a rare, but not uncommon, meeting between the Commander-in-chief and the head of America’s central bank.

Per Whitehouse transcript, Biden says:

It starts with a simple proposition: Respect the Fed and respect the Fed’s independence, which I have done and will continue to do.

The problem is that the Fed’s independence was compromised a long time ago. Both the Fed and Congress worked together during the pandemic to incorporate new companies for the purpose of skirting legislation, forming inflationary lending programs, as well as direct stimulus programs, spending trillions of dollars in the last two years.

The primary reason prices have drastically risen, or the dollar weakened, is due to the expansion of the money supply created by these programs, exacerbated by forcing businesses across the country to shut down. Of course, they will never rightfully acknowledge the current inflation problem being the result of government and central bank intervention.

After the proposition, he talks about the plan on tackling inflation:

Chair Powell and other leaders of the Fed have noted, at this moment, they have a laser-focus on addressing inflation, just like I am. 

Since both Biden and Powell fail to understand the nature of inflation, they create narratives for the public, hence sometimes inflation is caused by Putin, sometimes it's bottlenecks, and sometimes just a transitory phenomenon. We can't believe they have a “laser-focus on addressing inflation” now considering they’ve never shown this before. The public hears narratives and finger pointing rather than credible discussion over why our currency is debasing.

In time, each new narrative is proven false. Just this week on CNN, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen admitted:

I think I was wrong then about the path that inflation would take.

Consider the gross negligence perpetrated by one of the most decorated economists of our generation when Janet Yellen weaved a tale about “transitory inflation,” which really did turn out to be just a story more than economic theory.

The theme of failure continues. It’s important for the public to realize how central planning an economy ends; and it always ends the same, with mistakes, errors, oversight, falling behind the curve, et cetera, et cetera. When their follies, or worse, flat out lies are eventually exposed, the burden of failures by the planners falls on society to pay the cost.

It’s important to understand the system as a whole, how it’s designed for failure and how we allow this to happen. Rather than ask the same officials to do a better job of planning the economy, we must somehow rid ourselves of these planners entirely; especially considering “we the people” don’t need the planners. The planners need us.

Perhaps it was their recent failures in understanding inflation, coupled with month after month of high inflation readings that prompted the Biden-Powell meeting?

The day before the meeting, Biden had an op-ed statement in the Wall Street Journal, where he wrote:

First, the Federal Reserve has a primary responsibility to control inflation. My predecessor demeaned the Fed, and past presidents have sought to influence its decisions inappropriately during periods of elevated inflation.  I won’t do this.

His message says nothing regarding the path forward and instills no confidence that the future looks promising. If they're trying to convince us that all will be well, or that they’ve somehow learned from the past, they’re not doing a very good job. We should be concerned with Biden’s message to trust the process since it appears their short-run goal is to bring on a recession, crash the stock, bond, and housing market, and in the long run destroy the purchasing power of the US dollar. Should they accomplish this, the current system ensures none of the people who brought us to economic ruin will ever face any form of recourse.

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Deconstructing the Myth of Social Democracy

Social democracy (or welfare state) may feel like the nice middle point between laissez faire capitalism and communism that many people feel comfortable with. Among the many arguments that proponents of social democracy espouse in favor of such a system there’s their concern for the poor, they ask, in a minimal state society who would help the poor?

The hidden premise in the argument is that the state really helps the poor and that it is part of the capitalist system to bring about poor people. They see a middle-sized state with moderate intervention in the market as the solution to such problem, they reject communism/socialism for well-known historical facts (authoritarianism, impoverishment, etc.).

Although an easy response to the question maybe to say that charity would help to combat said poverty, there is a more definitive yet difficult answer. One must counter the premise that the state helps to reduce poverty in any way.

The first part of the answer is look at the nature of the state, but why? To see which type organization, we are dealing with. Why does the state exist and how is it that society is under it? The state is an organization you are part of or are under from the moment you are conceived, you don’t choose to be part of it, you just happen to be born somewhere within its borders and therefore under its rules.

The state is an organization that you have are part of without choosing to do so, no one is ever presented with a contract to accept the rules of the state. In other words the state regulates you without your consent. The question remains why is there a state in the part of the world you are born?

This is a historical question, the answer lays in there, if you look at every state in the world you will find that the territories under them where conquered by them at some point in time (For more on the subject see Oppenheimer The State 1908), no one in those territories was ever asked if they wanted to be part of this state or another (Even in the event of a referendum the ones that reject it are forced to stay in the territory they are).

Now, let’s assume that we are the government and there’s poverty in our lands, what can we do to at least try to help? Which tools does a social democratic government have to combat poverty?

Money is key, the government in a social democracy has a monopoly on the money supply so what happens if they try to use this tool to combat poverty. It can do three things either contract, fix or expand the money supply, these three things will affect the entire economy, and in this circumstance badly, since changes in the money supply that are not dictated by supply and demand distort relative prices and therefore the communication system that prices are. In other words, it will cause inflation or deflation (the bad one, that means the one not generated by an increase of supply of all goods in the market).

Welfare may be the next possible option, which means giving money to poor people, but this has its own problems. First, that money you are giving is being taken from somebody else by taxes so you would be making someone richer at the expense of making somebody else poorer. Plus, by giving money away, the people receiving the money will not have an incentive to work since they are getting money anyway by doing nothing, so production will decrease affecting everybody in the economy.

Even if this redistribution is made from up to down, that means taking from the rich to give to the poor, it will still create problems since the rich are basically people that saved. Thus, if you take money from them general investment will decrease therefore affecting the expansion and creation of business, businesses that otherwise would have created jobs and bid up wages. Note that as F.A Hayek said, the means by which the state redistributes the wealth to make a society more egalitarian, are the same methods by which a tyrant would benefit a racial elite (F.A Hayek - The Road to Serfdom 1944), which means taking from someone by force to give to somebody else.

What about lowering the price of products to make them cheaper so more people can afford them? This would again create problems. Let me illustrate it this way: if person A buys X amount of a product and then the price of that product is lowered then person A will buy more of that product, that means there will be less amount of X product in the shelfs than before. In other words whoever gets first to the product will get it, richer people will be able to buy more of it before more modest people get there. The other problem is that investment in the price-controlled product will also decrease since it is now cheap and not as profitable as before thus less people will want to produce it.

That illustrates how any price control will fail to help to combat poverty even minimum wage laws that the only thing they do is to make illegal hiring someone below certain price. Then the employer that values certain worker with a price that is below the minimum will simply not hire him.

Now, let’s come to one of the main features of a social democracy, to give services for free so people that cannot afford them on the market, can get them by the state. Of course, nothing is ever “free,” always somebody is paying for it, in this situation, everyone by means of taxes is paying for these services although many of them are not even using those services.

Even worse, low-income people that are supposedly being helped by these, are actually not, since they are being taxed before they use the state services therefore being impoverished and getting nothing in return. Instead, they are financing the people that have the time to go and actually get those services. This is true for state-run services like the public school system and healthcare.

Furthermore, the money that is being taken to finance these services would have been used (if people want) to create private schools or hospital that would be more efficient than state-controlled ones. The idea of a social democracy comes from the proposition that there is a third way between capitalism and socialism. Ludwig Von Mises already took on this position and showed that a third way always leads to socialism, since one intervention in the market distorts it, prompting the government to intervene again.

What then can a social democratic government do to combat poverty? At this point it is safe to say that government through its interventions is the source of poverty and nothing it can do will help, it’s no surprise since as I have mentioned that the state does not get its members voluntarily. Basically, what the government can do is to stop being a social democracy and embrace the free market, just let the people be free to create wealth.

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The War Against Porn Can Be Rothbardian

06/05/2022Aaron Cummings

With social issues defining more and more political campaigns, Rothbard’s pitch for the GOP became a relevant playbook for future candidates. If the motto “Culture is downstream from law,” has taught us anything, it's that the relationship between legislation and behavior has been consistent. Murray Rothbard was hesitant to place pornography as a viable subject for private property rights. However, many political figures have been using the populist strategy to outcompete its statist foes.

When Rothbard addressed the feminist critique of pornography, the argument was fought on idealistic grounds (Rothbard, pg. 199). By this logic, the sexual revolution could’ve only became a slippery slope if the alarmists transformed into militant activists. Unfortunately, this was the exact evolution that dictated second wave feminism. What started as a breach of the Hays Code evolved into an online phenomenon where exploitation has been kept from mainstream coverage. He described the slippery slope that has consumed the 60’s counterculture rally cry:

In today’s increasingly degenerate intellectual climate no simple truths can any longer be taken for granted (Rothbard, pg. 200).

This was the state of society in the 70’s that experienced abandoned families and egalitarianism. By contrast, the progression of 21st century pornography as an industry conflicts with its previous status as a recreational private property concern. He doubled down on the condemnation by establishing the key dichotomy in Rothbardian ethics:

A man's right and the morality or immorality of his exercise of that right.

As a topic, pornography was addressed on moral terms and that determined its verdict among libertarians. Conservatives continue to seal its fate in the political space, while others watch the public reaction to this unfashionable perspective on porn.

The populist wing of the GOP has made quiet progress, yet their efforts were proving to be more daring. Whereas bills were often reduced to flukes and shuffled away due to bureaucracy, it’s easier to announce the problems head on. This strategy was not often the first choice for Rothbard since it often reaffirmed the status quo. However, it speaks to the relevancy of right wing populism that isn't bogged down in academic language.

If legislation was impractical, that seemed to motivate libertarian thinkers prior to Rothbard. By the 90’s, culture wasn’t a bridge too far in American discourse. When Pat Buchanan cited morality as the main pitch for the 1992 election, Rothbard shifted the libertarian line from economic grievances to social ones. Whereas previously libertarians would not be receptive to this change, there was an answer that united them alongside conservatives.

The next few years saw similar topics emerge into mainstream politics. Referendums on affirmative action, questions about a national language, and other wedges were no longer fought between liberals and conservatives only. Libertarians started entering the arena and the culture war was a new outlet waiting to be seized upon. In a period of about 15 years, the majority of voters showed support against these inflection points.

Despite this populist momentum, the candidates never changed their tune after the Republican Revolution of the 90’s. That allowed libertarian rhetoric to gain legitimacy. Not only were voters aware of the elitist attitude of the party, they were also receptive to culture in a direct way. What was once deemed a recreational activity has been more appropriately described as a corporate industry. Pornography has existed as a political establishment rather than a competitor in the free market. This distinction allowed Rothbardian philosophy to flourish against the tide of hyper liberalism.

When the Hustler Magazine v. Falwell verdict went in favor of Larry Flynt; it interfered with a deeper principle beyond the first amendment. The expansion of pornography since the 1988 court case was a clear and present threat to the same demographic that libertarians were reaching out to.

There has been a lack of outrage when other topics like federal spending have affected those voters, although the troubling social trends have animated them like no other. The intrusive pattern of widespread pornography has stepped beyond the parameters of consent. Moreover, these conditions allowed an entire population to be isolated and vulnerable to progressive trends. Without a proper way to compete against it, the restrictions of freedom have increased dramatically.

Both libertarians and conservatives shared enough overlap and a common enemy to combat the statist aspects of society. In a modern setting where men and women have been driven apart by economic limitations and social barriers, libertarians have had room to critique the changing customs. Rothbard adjusted his focus from the economic plight that was generally confusing to a wide audience and narrowed the message to familiar territory.

Tuning into the social issues over the state itself have earned libertarians a voting bloc and winning issues to retaliate against the establishment with. As the 1964 presidential election proved, Barry Goldwater was able to outmaneuver Nelson Rockefeller with a platform of small government and free trade. The success didn’t result in an electoral victory, yet the influence never left the GOP.

These ideas were pushing boundaries during a climate surrounded by New Deal era policies. Modernity has evolved into more intimate spaces that even the liberals of a bygone era never fully capitalized on. Populists in the future have an opportunity to continue the legacy neglected in the 90’s and truly repeal the pornography industry as .

When Hawley addressed the trafficking side of the industry, there was exclusive attention given to sites that were guilty of criminal accounts and pursued with the full weight of the law. Moreover, the main obstacle for Rothbard was within the bounds of private property rights while most of the videos in question are anything but. His comments from Egalitarianism As A Revolt Against Nature presented the industry in a limited state and only began to expand past the level of a private magazine distributor. Despite this, a dichotomy was prefaced to determine the utility of sex in relation to virtue ethics.

What made this a concern for Rothbardian libertarians was his definition of moral right. Whereas Stanley v. Georgia established the one way to face the topic, resolutions like VA HJ549 reduced the spread of distribution and were a practical way to give people a psychological break from consumption. As a result of House and Senate declarations, pornography shifted into the realm of a health crisis. That allowed the momentum to reach the New York Times and created avenues for legislation. A reasonable model would be the Section 230 strategy, despite its focus on Silicon Valley. Where conservatives have been misguided is they were unaware of the resources available to them.

With Section 230 being an expansion of the 1996 Communications Act, government regulation reduced the publishing rights of multibillion dollar platforms and held them legally accountable for violations. Conservatives have used this issue exclusively for transparency on social media. However, it also widened the scope towards monopolies in general and could be directed at pornography as past court decisions have done. In terms of practicality, most of the top sites in the industry haven’t been passing the Miller test. This would address pornography in a way that doesn’t affect companies who aren’t receiving government subsidies. The private companies called into question were those dealing with regulatory capture or other protections and therein lies the distinction.

This places pornography in a unique category. If it is viewed as a mental phenomenon, this conflicts with the autonomy that is meant to be bestowed upon human action. A libertarian answer to the industry does not equate it with other competitors among the marketplace.

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What the Paleo Rebirth Outside the United States Actually Represents

Javier Milei is leading the polls as a precandidate for the 2023 presidential election in Argentina.

Let that sink in: Javier Milei, a libertarian economist, whose views in the past 10 years have shifted towards Austrian economics and anarcho-capitalism, a social media viral sensation, and for the last year, a congressman in the Argentinian Chamber of Deputies, elected as part of a conservative-libertarian coalition, is leading the polls as a precandidate for next year´s presidential election in his country, meaning he could potentially become its next president.

For anyone in the conservative and the libertarian spheres, both in the United States and overseas, this should be a huge surprise and an even greater cause for joy and hope for our political future.

It means our ideas have been successfully spread, and that their influence has expanded outside of what we could have thought was their natural environment in North America.

A lot of people and of institutions would like to claim Milei’s victory and his growing numbers of popular support in his country, as well as his popularity in other countries in the Latin American region, as a result of their work, their resources, and their lucky bet on a loud intellectual with crazy hair.

But the truth is that Milei’s case is nothing but the result of years and years of work, immense networks of people working to promote different ideas, a local tradition upon which to build a platform, the right opponents in the right circumstances, and of course, the internet.

A few years ago, for people outside the United States, Milei would have been nothing but another foreign right-wing politician, maybe aligned with the neoconservative elites in Washington DC, maybe another case of successful grooming of foreign elites as imperial prefects for the American government in their Latin American provinces.

But Milei is not part of the Argentinian traditional elites. He does not come from the same old families that have been involved in Argentinian politics for decades. He does not belong to the ruling Peronismo (in whatever form or shape it adopts, from left to right to woke), and furthermore, he actually has opposed the socialist Peronistas in government, as well as their ineffective opposition, represented by moderate right-winger Mauricio Macri (with who he has become close recently) for pretty much all of his fairly recent public life.

Milei did not have the chances of many other foreign politicians to study in the United States, and benefit from the funds and networks available to the client elites of America in their allied countries.

He got all his degrees in economics from local Argentinian universities, and yet, the Washington Post has articles about him published by their foreign press correspondents, and for many Argentinians, Milei could be their last political hope for a serious change, as their poverty rate, and their rage, continues to grow under the inflationary and price control policies imposed by the socialist and woke government of Peronista president Alberto Fernandez.

With all things considered, Milei’s success is probably the beginning of the Paleo revival outside of the United States, and for American conservatives and libertarians, this should be a real eye opener of what a good political strategy really meant for both movements back in the day and what it could actually mean today.

The thing about Milei is that he may be an Austrian and an anarcho-capitalist libertarian, but his platform and his main supporters come from all different backgrounds in the Argentinian right, from traditionalist Catholics and Nationalists, such as Juan José Gómez Centurión, a Falkands War veteran and candidate in the 2019 Argentinian presidential elections, who supported him in his 2021 legislative campaign, to anti-woke liberal conservatives, such as Agustin Laje and Nicolás Marquez, a duo of fellow social media influencers, known for their Ben Shapiro-esque pro-life rants against pro-abortion and radical feminist activists.

During all of these years, leading up to the current political moment, in which Milei has approximately 20% of the Argentinian population’s support for his presidential bid, ‘El Peluca’, as he is affectionally known for his uncombed hair, has adopted what could only be considered as Rothbard & Rockwell’s Paleo strategy from the 90s, incorporating right-wing populism into a dual conservative and libertarian platform, openly talking against the ruling Argentinian elites in his appearances in talk shows, and promoting their general despise as part of the same caste, even if they belong to different parties.

Milei’s case rests in contrast with Ecuadorian president Guillermo Lasso, who coincidentally, also comes from a libertarian background, and who only got elected in a population-wide effort to impede former president Rafael Correa’s protégé Andrés Arauz, a Keynesian economist with MMT affinities who actually proposed to de-dolarize the Ecuadorian economy and go back to printing money to be elected, as its election would probably have meant the end of the few market institutions present in Ecuador.

In his first year of government, Lasso’s brand of beltway libertarianism has proven to be ineffective to rule efficiently, given that Ecuador is currently under a national security crisis, represented by constant prison riots and massacres with increasing numbers of casualties, drug-related violence affecting the social structures of the country, and a political crisis, with a minority bench in the National Assembly, and compromise leaders, such as former Legislative President Guadalupe Llori, unseated and under impeachment threats by members of a coalition of parties that include the conservative Social Christian Party (which was kicked out of the coalition that got Lasso elected right after the election) and of course, the remaining majority of Rafael Correa loyalists.

Moreover, some of his most trusted advisors and high-ranking government officials, such as Aparicio Caicedo, a Cato Institute affiliated scholar turned public intellectual, or Bernarda Ordoñez, a known feminist activist, have been harshly criticized in local media for their lack of touch with the actual social and political situation in Ecuador: the first, for his apparent lack of empathy towards the poorer classes, and the second for her insisting promotion of hardly unnecessary progressive agenda, who recently renounced from her office as cabinet-ranking Secretary of Human Rights over her and Guillermo Lasso’s conflicting views over the ongoing national security crisis.

While Lasso has been characterized as a conservative by English speaking media in numerous occasions, especially for his personal pro-life stance in the abortion legalization issue, his policies have proven so far to be neither conservative, with his backing of nationally state-enforced rulings on same-sex marriage and even abortion itself, nor libertarian, with public spending and tax increases, in what many people think are his conflicting economic views, on one hand promoting free markets, and on the other brokering deals for IMF loans.

Lasso also got elected on an explicitly anti-populist platform, painting the Ecuadorian left as invariably populist, in what many other beltway libertarians in Latin America, such as Gloria Alvarez or Axel Kaiser have done in the past.

However, what differentiates Lasso from Milei is that the former, by adopting a mainstream, non-populist, establishment libertarian and right-liberal strategy has alienated himself from his country’s problems and even from his apparent personal political beliefs, whereas the latter, by adopting the culturally conservative aspects of Argentinian society, has got his popularity and his support, as well as the one of libertarian ideas he promotes, skyrocketing, to the surprise and fear of the elites in Argentina and in the United States.

Lasso’s decline is a textbook example of the retreat of beltway libertarians: once you get into power, you forget the ideal of freedom that got you into the fight, but Milei’s success is a reminder of what Lew Rockell said in his manifesto titled The Case for Paleo-Libertarianism:

If the American people continue to connect libertarianism with repellent cultural norms, we will fail. […] Do we want to remain a small and irrelevant social club like the LP? Or do we want to fulfill the promise of liberty and make our movement a mass one again as it was in the 19th-century? Culturally meaningful libertarianism has arrived during the greatest turmoil on the Right since the1940s. Libertarians can and must talk again with the resurgent paleoconservatives. We can even form an alliance with them. […] Together, we have a chance to attain victory.

If Milei gets elected to the Argentinian presidency next year, he will prove one again that right-wing populism was the correct strategy for the Paleo movement from the very start, and if that happens indeed, it will finally mean that Rothbard was right when he wrote in his essay Right-Wing Populism: A Strategy for the Paleo Movement that:

For sensible people and paleo-libertarians, the time has come to re-enter the real world, and to help forge a coalition that will create a successful right-wing populist movement which will, by necessity, be in large part libertarian.

To go over the heads of the media and political elites, to reach the working and middle class directly, to spread the ideas of liberty and the knowledge of how they have been oppressed, requires inspiring and charismatic political leadership. It requires, in addition to intellectual cadre, political leaders who will be knowledgeable, courageous, dynamic, exciting and effective in mobilizing and building a movement.

It requires leadership able to seize the moment to act, leadership with the moxie and the fortitude to surmount the slanders and smears that will inevitably be directed against it.

It requires ideological and political 'entrepreneurs’ in the best sense, leadership that is willing and able to forge a paleo coalition to split off heartland and paleo-conservatives from Official and neo-conservatives, to raise the banner and to build a real-world movement in which, as in the days of the Old Right, libertarians can play a valuable part.

And if paleo-libertarianism can be reborn outside the United States, it means it can be also reborn in the United States as well.

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Interview with Professor James Fenske

06/03/2022Lipton Matthews

James Fenske is a Professor of Economics at the University of Warwick and is highly regarded for his innovative studies charting the economic history of developing countries. His work has been featured in reputable outlets such as the Journal of Development Economics, Economic History of Developing Regions, and the Review of Economics of the Household.

  1. Professor Fenske, you write extensively on Africa so what sparked your interest to study this continent?

In Africa, there is always another story. Take, for example, the book “Slavery in Africa” by Miers and Kopytoff. They bring together studies of how slavery worked in several African societies. The volume’s 78-page opening chapter starts by criticizing western scholars for their failure to appreciate the nuances of slavery in Africa relative to the plantations of the Southern United States and the Caribbean. That’s the first story. They then position African institutions of slavery against Western concepts, arguing that in land-abundant Africa people were scarce and African societies were happy to receive more people through any means, including slavery. The rights of an owner over a slave were not so different from other rights in persons, like those of a kin group over its members, and slaves were on the path of reincorporation from one society into another. That’s the second story. And then Robertson and Klein begin their book with the phrase “Most slaves in sub-Saharan Africa were women.” That’s the third story.

You can spend a lifetime reading about Africa, and still not know the full story.

  1. Africa is the poorest continent, according to the World Population Review. Could you explain why this is the case?

No.

The World Development Indicators say that GDP per capita in sub-Saharan Africa in 2020 was $3,718.00 in PPP-adjusted 2018 international dollars. In the UK, the same number was $46,482.90. That’s a difference of about 1200%.

Now suppose, I naively do the following. I download Nathan Nunn’s data from his 2008 QJE paper from his website, and I regress log GDP per capita on log slaves exported per unit area. Then I compute the counterfactual log GDP per capita for each country implied by the fitted values had it exported zero slaves. The average country becomes 112% richer. The country that gains the most is Ghana, at 270%. But 270% is a long way from 1200%.

And this is only one of many examples. Over the last twenty years and longer, considerable evidence has accumulated that several measurable variables negatively affect African economic performance – the slave trades, constraints imposed by geography, the nature of pre-colonial institutions, the nature of post-colonial governance, the debt crises, problems with aid, problems with war, commodity prices, droughts, urban bias… Sometimes there is a set of right-hand side variables that, in the style of a 1990s cross-country regression, can push the so-called “Africa dummy” to levels of statistical insignificance. And sometimes it can’t. You can put together a set of factors, take the most credible estimates that exist of their treatment effects, and find a sum that reaches 1200%. But if you were to fix any one problem, the returns to solving others might fall. Or they might rise.

And then Ewout Frankema and Marlous Van Waijenburg tell me that wages were as high in Africa in 1900 as they were in Asia. So perhaps everything prior to 1900 is irrelevant in understanding Africa today.

Understanding economic growth is hard.

  1. Property rights are crucial to economic growth, but some contend that property rights in Africa are insecure due to land abundance. Is this an accurate assessment?

The clearest statement of this view comes from Gareth Austin, in his 2008 Economic History Review article. Though you can find versions of it in the work of John Iliffe and Anthony Hopkins. Gareth recently gave an excellent recapitulation of this perspective in a keynote speech at the Economic History Society annual conference. According to this view of the world, because land was abundant relative to people in Africa before colonial rule, it led to less investment in property rights over land. But the abundance of land also raised wages, spurring greater reliance on coercion. Related work by anthropologists and historians like Stanley Tambiah, Jack Goody, and Igor Kopytoff have tied Africa’s historically sparse populations to outcomes such as bride price and polygamy.

And yet the world has changed dramatically since the colonial period. According to the World Bank’s estimates and projections, the world’s population was a bit over 3 billion in 1960, with some 227 million in sub-Saharan Africa. Today those numbers stand at about 7.9 billion and 1.2 billion. For 2050, their projections are a world of 9.7 billion people with 2.2 billion in Africa. If these numbers are right, Africa’s population density was 9.5 per square kilometer in 1960, 50.3 today, and will be 92.2 per square kilometer in 2050. Herbst, in his “States and Power in Africa” puts African population density at 4.4 per square kilometer in 1900. But today’s 50.3 makes Africa’s population denser than either China or South Asia in 1900. Ninety persons per square km would give Africa the population density of the UK in the Victorian era.

The question may not be whether African property rights are as they are because the population is scarce, but how they will adapt to the continent’s rising population.

  1. Many argue that the legacy of the transatlantic slave trade still affects Africa. Is this claim verified by empirical research?

Absolutely! Nathan Nunn’s work on GDP and his work with Leonard Wantchekon on trust paved the way for an entire generation of scholars to examine the influence of the slave trade on a wide range of other factors. Nonso Obikili has shown that the slave trade increased political fragmentation and reduced literacy. John Dalton and Tommy Leung have shown the Atlantic slave trade raised polygamy, while Edoardo Teso has shown that it raised women’s labor force participation. In forthcoming work, Warren Whatley has put together evidence that the slave trades spread an entire package of institutions, including slavery, polygamy, and centralized aristocratic forms of power.

I think there is still a lot of work that can be done by economists on this topic, not only in Africa, but looking at the African diaspora and its connections with Africa. I have also seen some exciting new work presented recently at conferences on the role of the slave trade in European development – hopefully, these will be circulated widely as working papers soon.

  1. Political theorists submit that warfare improved state capacity in Europe, but what are the findings for Africa?

The key counterpoint here is the work of Charles Tilly, who argued that in Europe “war made the state and the state made war.” For Europe, Tilly argued that fiscal pressures brought on by the military revolution led to the development of state capacity. Later writers like Nicola Gennaioli, Joachim Voth, and Mark Dincecco have provided evidence that economists would recognize in support of Tilly’s view, and they have traced the long-run consequences for urbanization, fiscal centralization, limited government, and ultimately, development in Europe.

But this may not be a story that holds elsewhere. Several historians and political scientists have considered this story and concluded that it cannot apply to Africa. Jeffrey Herbst, for example, argues that because of Africa’s relatively low population densities, war was over people and not over land. Richard Reid and Martin Klein have pointed out that raiding wars of the sort that dominated war in sub-Saharan Africa, in contrast to the campaigning wars of Europe, left more room for the prolongation of wars. Further, Robert Bates has argued that the colonial peace cut short the military revolution in Africa. Together, these helped undermine the links between historic war and later development in Africa. It is no surprise, then, that Timothy Besley and Marta Querol-Reynal have found that, at the grid cell level, parts of Africa that experienced more conflict before colonial rule experience more violence today.

  1. Though you are best known for covering Africa, your research also explores India. Could you comment on the relationship between pre-colonial warfare and state capacity in India?

The environment of pre-colonial warfare between states in pre-colonial South Asia resembled the inter-state military competition that existed in Europe after the military revolution as described by Charles Tilly. Madhabi Roy has made a convincing case that fiscal resources mattered for military success. And, unlike sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia before 1757 was relatively densely populated. And so, one might expect Tilly’s description of Europe to have explanatory power in South Asia that it does not in Africa. Writers like John Richards, Andrew de la Garza, and Pratyay Nath have indeed described state-building efforts under the Mughals that were responses to military pressures. The empire gave land to military officials to extract agricultural surplus, developed a pyramidal treasury system, and implemented a land revenue tax.

Some of the most interesting empirical work on this has been contained in PhD theses. Roberto Foa finds there is greater state effectiveness today, even looking within modern Indian states when comparing districts just within the boundaries of the subcontinent’s eighteenth-century challenger states to those just outside of these boundaries. Safya Morshed recently presented a fascinating paper in the Economic History of Developing Regions seminar in which she connects the threat of warfare faced by the Mughals to their appointments of government officials and the salaries they paid them.

  1. India is a diverse country with multiple languages and diversity is usually portrayed as a barrier to economic growth. Based on your research is linguistic diversity adversely affecting development in India?

My research has been narrower. A few years ago, Namrata Kala and I published a paper in the Journal of Economic History in which we showed that linguistic distance predicts less market integration in colonial India. That is, if I take a pair of markets in districts that speak dissimilar sets of languages, the prices of staple goods like wheat and rice correlate less strongly across that pair of markets than across other pairs that speak more similar languages, conditional on other measures of how far apart these markets are.

One of my favorite papers on linguistic diversity and development in India was written by Tarun Jain a few years ago and came out in the Journal of Economic History. He shows that districts within colonial provinces that did not share the official language of the province lagged in education. But in 1956 Indian states were reorganized on linguistic lines. As a result, the formerly mismatched districts began to catch up.

If there is a dimension along which diversity is likely to matter, it is caste. Latika Chaudhary has done important work showing how caste fragmentation limited access to education in colonial India. Suanna Oh’s job market paper showed that caste identity is a major constraint on the jobs workers will accept and Kaivan Munshi has written a thorough review for the Journal of Economic Literature. David Reich, in his book “Who we are and how we got here,” shows just how strong the pressures of endogamy are within castes. For the Vysya of southern India, for example, there is strong evidence of a genetic bottleneck dating back two to three thousand years that would have been erased had there been even a 1% influx from other castes per generation. In his words, India does not have a large population – rather, “India is composed of a large number of small populations.”

  1. The Colonial era in India is often maligned, however is there evidence to suggest that Indians benefited from Infrastructural developments?

There is! Many writers have charged that the railroads had low productivity, charged too much for freight, and contributed to the drain out of the country by guaranteeing returns to investors. But many economists have shown that the colonial railroads did have impacts that would benefit the average Indian. Tahir Andrabi and Michael Kuehlwein have shown that they reduced price gaps over space. Dave Donaldson has shown that railroads increased rural incomes. He and Robin Burgess have shown that railroads helped break the link between drought and famine.

And this is not a story limited to railroads. Aaditya Dar has a recent working paper in which he shows that districts that received colonial canals were more successful in adopting the new crop varieties of the Green Revolution – though today they are now struggling with greater depletion of groundwater.

It is striking though, how much of this literature is based on comparisons across locations in India. Did a city connected to a railroad grow faster than one that didn’t? Did a district connected to a railroad see less famine afterward compared to one that did not? Some of the biggest questions in the literature on colonialism – “were railroads part of the drain?” – may be beyond the toolkit of applied econometrics. And so, there is considerable scope for other economists who specialize in topics like finance or macroeconomics to make important contributions here.

  1. India’s Green Revolution has been heralded as a watershed in the country’s history, so how did it improve social indicators?

This is a story much broader than India. Douglas Gollin, Casper Worm Hansen, and Asger Mose Wingender recently published a paper in the Journal of Political Economy in which they demonstrate that the new crop varieties introduced by the Green Revolution raised incomes in the developing world. Had the Green Revolution come a decade later, incomes would be lower by more than 15%. And they show that the Green Revolution reduced birth rates and raised life expectancy. Jan von der Goltz and his coauthors, in a recent paper in the Journal of Health Economics, use data on more than half a million births from around the developing world to show that the diffusion of new crop varieties reduced infant mortality. And of course, there is classic work by Andrew Foster and Mark Rosenzweig on how, by increasing the returns to schooling, the Green Revolution spurred greater schooling in India.

There may, of course, have been costs as well. Sheetal Sekhri and Gauri Kartini Shastry have a recent working paper that suggests the greater abundance of wheat and rice in India may have led, in later life, to more diabetes among men. Other writers have focused on the potential downsides of increased fertilizer use. There is, I think, a lot more for economists to contribute here.

  1. Thanks for your participation. Do you have recommendations to improve development in poor countries?

Borrow over at long maturities at a fixed interest rate. And in your own currency if they’ll let you. Don’t do anything you wouldn’t want your god to see

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Dave Mustaine's Crucial Lesson for Entrepreneurs

06/01/2022Jeff Deist

Listeners of The Human Action Podcast and Radio Rothbard sometimes remark on the intro and outro music from heavy metal band Megadeth.

Fans of this genre are very familiar with both the band and its founder, legendary guitarist Dave Mustaine. Mustaine is well-known among both fans and his musical colleagues as a highly skilled technical guitarist who composes remarkably complex and unique songs. Guitar World ranks Mustaine sixth in its listing of the top one hundred metal guitarists of all time. His talent and commercial success are undeniable, especially given his career of nearly forty years in a very tough and cutthroat industry.

Yet fans and even music critics might not know Mustaine is almost entirely self-taught. He has not studied music theory, and does not read music or use guitar tablatures. In fact, during a recent interview, Mustaine discussed his collaborative relationship with bandmate and fellow guitarist Kiko Loureiro. Loureiro, in contrast to Mustaine, studied music theory, piano, and classical guitar from a young age in his native Brazil. Thus, at a fan workshop they attended together, Loureiro was able to describe the dynamics, keys, tempos, and articulation of a particular Megadeth song using the specific language of music theory—to Mustaine's good-natured but somewhat bewildered amusement.

As Loureiro told Blabbermouth magazine:

You have to understand that people are different," he continued. "A creator can play something and just imagine the mountain, the sea, the hell, a war—imagine things, those sounds. He can relate that riff to a machine gun or can relate that riff to a bomb exploding, in the case of MEGADETH. But he can play a chord and imagine the mountain, the sun, sailing—whatever. So some people are like this. Some other people, they need the theory—they need the names, they need the things organized to make sense. So that's why some people really relate to the theory and love theory. I love theory. Some other people don't feel they need theory to compose, to create, because it's all about imagination. And, of course, the basic stuff they might know—"Oh, this is a major chord," "This is a minor chord," "This is the name of the notes, like E, A, D," but in the end, it really doesn't matter as well.

So, does Dave Mustaine use theory? No, he doesn't.

We all recognize this phenomenon from our own experience: some people have to know and understand the whys of any endeavor while some people focus on the hows. And often the latter group is far better at execution, in business or otherwise, simply because they focus more intently on end results. They get out of their own way and have a strong, demonstrated aptitude for action over introspection.

As Dave Mustaine puts it when describing his guitar playing and songwriting:  "I know what I'm doing, but I don't know what it is that I'm doing."

This surely is true of countless entrepreneurs, musicians, artists, athletes, parents, and successful people in all walks of life! They may have no formal training, education, credentials, or theoretical grounding in their chosen professions but succeed by doing—through a bias for action. Mustaine's key insight, shared intuitively by such people, is a relentless focus on results rather than process. This is a vital trait common to all successful entrepreneurs.

The opposite is true of bureaucratic minds, whether in government or private companies. The work itself, rather than the end result or goals, becomes the whole focus. And so it expands to fill an allotted time, such as a forty-hour workweek or a preset product deadline. In bureaucracies, a managerial mindset grows and dominates. Credentialism and seniority become the path to advancement and raises, rather than demonstrated contributions to the bottom line. As a result of this process focus, both customers (or constituents) and employees are worse off in the long run. 

The price and—more importantly—the value of any good or service are not determined by cost, labor, or some mysterious inherent quality. This key insight of Austrian economics—that value is subjective and marginal, something to be experienced by the consumer and facilitated by the entrepreneur—indirectly or subconsciously informs the work of all successful businesses. And thus a relentless customer focus—in keeping with Mises's concept of "consumer sovereignty"—is a mainstay of the business training available on our Economics for Business platform.

The value of Dave Mustaine's music ultimately is determined by fans, experiencing it through their own highly subjective and individual aesthetic preferences. Mustaine's genius, both from a musical and business perspective, lies in taking his talents and drive for musical expression and creating value through a focus on results. For Mr. Mustaine and countless successful entrepreneurs, how matters more than why.

Image source:
Agni Minardi via Flickr
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How Not to Read

05/31/2022David Gordon

Raymond Geuss is an influential political philosopher, and I hope to review his new book, Not Thinking Like a Liberal,(Harvard, 2022) on another occasion.  Geuss is a confirmed enemy of liberalism, both classical and modern, He dislikes both Rawls and Nozick; in fact, his attitude toward Rawls falls little short of hatred. This interferes with his ability to read these thinkers with care.  He says that one feature he dislikes  of the way philosophy has come to be done  "is the one which Robert Nozick described in the preface to one of his books. He says he wanted to give an argument so powerful that it would fuse the brain of those who heard and understood it and force  them to accept it. Even apart from the visibly sadomasochistic element in this,  it does not seem to me that an approach that conceptualizes discussion in this way, as the search for this kind of argument or refutation, is the most likely way to attain any kind of understanding  of the world." (p.9. Amazon Kindle edition)  Guess hasn't noticed that the point of Nozick's discussion is to oppose this way of doing philosophy in favor of a non-coercive form of discussion.  Because Nozick is an enemy, he cannot recognize that he and Nozick are for once on the same side.

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The Racist Red Herring

05/31/2022Robert Aro

Two new faces were recently sworn into the Fed’s inner circle, Dr. Lisa Cook and Dr. Philip N. Jefferson, whom I wrote about in January when Biden nominated them.

Both candidates are PhD holders with impressive academic backgrounds and work experience; both are African-Americans. As a black man, it inspires me to see others in the community get ahead. However, once this warm and fuzzy feeling fades, I must remember that race can be used as a distraction method, keeping the public away from more pressing economic issues. The New York Times proudly demonstrates:

Lawmakers and think tanks have for years pushed the Fed to increase diversity within its ranks, arguing that having a set of economists and researchers at the central bank who more closely reflect the public — the people the Fed ultimately serves — would lead to a wider range of viewpoints around the policy table and more rounded economic discussions.

Yet, the Fed doesn’t serve the public. Suppressing rates, inflating asset bubbles, causing the boom-and-bust cycle, and debasing the US dollar is not in the public’s interest. Rather than reporting on critical issues, we are fed a diversion to keep us divided and unaware of the Fed’s destructive economic policies.

There is an on-going narrative imploring us to focus on the Fed, how progressive they are for hiring non-white males. Yet no one explains how this supposedly benefits the disenfranchised.

To say that big banks, governments and the wealthiest members of society are served by the Federal Reserve would be more accurate than what the New York Times offers.

The article then accidently agrees with the position I just shared, they explain it as follows:

The Fed sets the nation’s monetary policy, raising or lowering the cost of borrowing money in order to slow down or speed up the economy. Its actions help to determine how strong the labor market is in any given moment, help to control inflation, and can influence financial stability.

Setting a national monetary policy is an impossible task, relying on both the impossibility of knowledge and the problem of economic calculation under socialism. Tinkering with interest rates distorts time preferences giving false market signals to both consumers and entrepreneurs. Rate suppression requires an inordinate amount of money (i.e., trillions of dollars) to be digitally created. These trillions of new dollars are used to purchase US Treasuries and Mortgage-Backed Securities, pushing up asset prices, like stocks and real estate, as well as household items. The list of issues is vast and has everything to do with economic schools of thought, little to nothing to do with race. Of course, this is illusory wealth and only those well connected to the new money reap the benefits.

Between the war on drugs, terror, poverty, homelessness, and the upcoming war on one’s right to bear arms, America already has many problems with huge racial undertones. But at the Federal Reserve, the problem is a lack of intellectual diversity, not physical diversity.

The Federal Reserve may have blacks and women amongst their highest ranks, and proudly display their diverse collection in front of the nation to prove just how progressive they’ve become. Yet it says absolutely nothing about monetary policy. The Fed will never give a seat to anyone who has a firm understanding of liberty, freedom or the free market. Don’t be fooled by their insulting diversions.

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Libertarian, Conservative, and Postliberal: Is There a Common Ground for the Right?

It’s been already two weeks since I began my own fellowship at the very Mises Institute. During this time a lot of things have already happened, both in the local American scene as well as in the rest of the world--my own country, Ecuador, included.

Given my own affinities with ideas from various sources in the political right, from the classical liberalism of Mises and Hayek and the anarcho-capitalism of Rothbard and Hoppe to the traditional conservatism of Burke and Scruton and the novel post-liberalism of Deneen, Vermeule and Ahmari, I was amazed and intrigued to read a fairly recent article by Mises Institute President, Jeff Deist, discussing the rise in the popularity of this last group and of its ideas.

For a person like me, who tries to navigate the muddy waters between libertarianism and conservatism, ideological tags have become meaningless. In Ecuador, where media and academia are dominated by the progressive left and its liquid culture, politics has become synonymous with nepotism, corruption, and inefficiency.

There have been instances where I have tried to combine my libertarian and my conservative leanings into a single philosophy, as some kind of liberal illiberalism; an economic skepticism of the organization of the modern State;  a practical and moral defense, from a socialist and nationalist perspective, of the existence of private property; and even a conservative interpretation of the tenet of the Austrian School of Economics. But none of these attempts seem to get to the point where a viable mix of libertarianism and conservatism is developed.

In a spontaneous coincidence more than a deliberate attempt, Jeff and I have been thinking about the same issues. This is not the first time he has theorized on ways to introduce free market and sound money ideas into the school of conservative thought that seems to be fashionable in the moment.

But Austro-libertarianism paradoxically seems to follow the Burkean way, in which our intellectual development as a doctrine expands with moderation and prudence. Conservatism, or at least, American conservatism, has adopted the old leftist vice of infighting, reducing itself into warring factions against each other, where the least difference in theory (or the popularity of a certain leading figure) is reason enough for the movement to break its fragile peace or for a new faction to arise.

For conservatives and libertarians in the ground, working 8 to 5 jobs while trying to get involved in local and grassroot politics-- and most importantly, struggling to survive with freedom and dignity in a world where the most ridiculous whims of our ruling classes get imposed with legislation and enforced with the state’s monopoly on taxation and violence--petty conflicts within the conservative intellectual and managerial class seem truly unimportant. They not only demonstrate the instability of a movement that lacks power, but also steal our most precious and irreplaceable resource, which is time.

Nonetheless, there seems to be something different about the rise of post-liberalism, even with its internal differences and with career politicians trying to capitalize on its apparent success.

It may be because its leading figures, having learnt from the Donald Trump experience and from his successes and mistakes in the American presidency, have become wiser in the handling the conservative movement.

For instance, the political Catholicism of the likes of Vermeule, Deneen and Ahmari don’t seem to be at odds with the Aristotelian nationalism of the Claremont Institute, and in many senses both end up embraced by institutions like Hillsdale College or the Intercollegiate Studies Institute. They don't shiver to invite people like Jordan Peterson, Michael Rectenwald, or SCOTUS Associate Justice Clarence Thomas (all of them cancel culture victims) speak at its events.

With the notable exception of the neocons, well represented by opportunistic career Republicans like Mitt Romney and Liz Cheney (both of whom seem despised and rejected by all factions of this new American Right), the conservative movement looks to be building bridges, both internally and externally. It is creating platforms like NatCon conferences to allow their ideas to spread indiscriminately, and promoting them in countries with likeminded governments (like Orbán’s Hungary) to get connected to their fellow figures (like Nigel Farage or Marion Maréchal) in Europe.

But the Austro-libertarian movement is missing on the opportunity to participate in the development of this new New Right, even if this could be the right opportunity for a true paleo revival, without the mistakes in economic doctrine that made the first attempt fail. Rothbard pushed for his free-market vision, while Pat Buchanan twisted his view on economic protectionism into an outright state-planned economy.

In two occasions, while hosting my podcast for the Spanish newspaper España - Navarra Confidencial, I had the chance to discuss the possibility of a new libertarian-conservative fusion, the first one with our aforementioned Jeff Deist and Hillsdale professor Brad Birzer. The common ground between the two views were that the state was indeed a danger for freedom and community, and that a neo-fusionist movement could indeed work to recover culture, family values and decentralization.

In here, the term neo-fusionist that both Jeff used and I am now using is a clear reference to the doctrine of Frank Meyer, considered by President Ronald Reagan as his most intellectual influence,  a political philosopher who tried to unite elements of libertarianism and traditionalism into a single philosophical synthesis of the two. This received much criticism from both libertarian and conservative figures like Harry V. Jaffa (the intellectual father-figure of modern Claremonters) Paul Gottfried (a paleoconservative thinker and now the editor of the Chronicles magazine), along with our own Murray Rothbard (who saw in Meyer a rather lost and confused libertarian).

The second time was in another podcast discussion, with our own Mises Wire assistant editor Tho Bishop and his peer at Chronicles, Pedro Gonzalez where the main focus was the political strategy for a paleo revival considering the cultural and demographic changes in the US since the 90s. Both of them agreed with me on most issues, from local political action and the main problems to tackle, to the immediate use of state power to solve those problems, given there was no private alternative, and that, moreover, the private sector was caught itself into the woke madness.

In the US, there is a genuine opportunity to allow for right-libertarians a space into the post-liberal Right. Outside the US,  the libertarian name is getting tarnished by the inoperancy, alienation and cluelessness of beltway libertarian-influenced politicians such as my own country’s president, Guillermo Lasso, and his advisors, whose public policy ideas are as unrelated to the local situation, with its many security and poverty problems, as DC staffers are unrelated to the issues of Common Joe in Middle America.

Quoting from the end words of Jeff’s essay, "Have we lost "liberal" forever? Maybe. If liberalism is dead, then liberals killed it. I'm doubtful we can ever reclaim it. Perhaps we need a new word for organizing society through property, peace, trade, and sound money”, but I also add, have we lost “libertarian” too?

While I am not as pessimist with that, and I still believe there is chance for right-libertarianism to be a force for political action, I wouldn’t call myself as such, not only because there is a concern for me to be put into the same bag as my unlikely-to-get-reelected local government, but because it is only half of what I believe.

I do think, though, that we should remember and apply what Jeff proposed in his “For A New Libertarian” speech, that is, to fight for what matters for the common man, understanding that these fights, pretty much unrelated to libertarianism, are what form the basis of the abstract freedom libertarians strive for.

We cannot forget both Rothbard and Hoppe began with the most absolute individualistic rationalism in their thinking to end up admiring the freedom of traditional medieval order in Europe in his first volume of his Austrian. Perspective on the History of Economic Thought and developing a rather reactionary and aristocratic communitarianism in his magnum opus, Democracy: The God That Failed, respectively.

Neither should we forget that the father of modern conservatism, Edmund Burke, came from a fairly liberal and Whig background, both as an intellectual and as a statesman, without that getting into conflict with his Anglo-Irish and Christian (both Anglican and Catholic) roots.

At last, more as an anecdote than as an example, both great English traditionalist of the late 19th century, G. K. Chesterton and Hillaire Belloc were involved with classical liberalism while maintaining their own religious and traditionalist beliefs. Chesterton stated in his book Orthodoxy  that "I was brought up a Liberal, and have always believed in democracy, in the elementary liberal doctrine of a self-governing humanity”, while Belloc was elected as a Member of the British Parliament supported by the British Liberal Party.

I would like to finish by bringing up John Adams famous words about the US Constitution, “Our Constitution was made for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other. […] The only foundation of a free Constitution is pure virtue, and if this cannot be inspired into our people in a greater measure than they have it now, they may change their rulers and the forms of government, but they will not obtain a lasting liberty. They will only exchange tyrants and tyrannies.”

John Adams understood that self-government, decentralization, and individual freedoms needed a moral framework to thrive, to develop to its full potential, for their respect was not enforced by an all-powerful government, but by a shared common tradition that guided the lives of all under their same provisions.

It was the moderation and tolerance of the Christian tradition in the Anglosphere the created the right conditions for classical liberalism to be applied and be the framework for the establishment of the American Republic, and the Catholic virtue of the Habsburgs in their rule over the Spanish and Danubian Empires that led to the development of the Salamanca and Austrian Schools.

On the other hand, it was the excesses of the Continental Liberals, as christened by F.A. Hayek, with their hyper-rationalist constructivism that led from Revolution, Jacobinism, expansive nationalism, and Marxist Socialism up to the horrors of Bolshevik Leninism, Soviet Stalinism, and German Nazism.

Continental Liberalism, as extreme as today’s Progressive Liberalism, also lead to the radical ideas of ultramontanism and dictatorship promoted by Maistre and Donoso Cortés and later taken up by Carl Schmitt.

It is better for us libertarians and conservatives to be together and follow Burke and Meyer into a neo-fusionist path, before our bona fide conservative intellectuals, pushed to the extreme by our corporatocratic elites and their loyal woke hordes, decide to follow the Counter Enlightenment path.

So even if libertarians and conservatives seem opposed at times, we both belong together as different sides of the same golden coin, counterbalancing each other excesses, and recognizing each other’s value.

Only through virtue, we can get order and freedom, understood as self-government, and only through free self-government we can get prosperity. There is no other way.

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