Power & Market

The Mission of the Mises Institute, In One Paragraph

08/14/2018Jeff Deist

The mission of the Mises Institute, as presaged by Ludwig von Mises in his 1962 review of Murray Rothbard's Man, Economy, and State: 

If we want to avoid the destruction of Western civilization and the relapse into primitive wretchedness, we must change the mentality of our fellow citizens. We must make them realize what they owe to the much vilified "economic freedom," the system of free enterprise and capitalism. The intellectuals and those who call themselves educated must use their superior cognitive faculties and power of reasoning for the refutation of erroneous ideas about social, political and economic problems and for the dissemination of a correct grasp of the operation of the market economy. They must start by familiarizing themselves with all the issues involved in order to teach those who are blinded by ignorance and emotions. They must learn in order to acquire the ability to enlighten the misguided many.

The entire review is fantastic, and demonstrates the degree to which Mises considered the young Rothbard an eminent and pioneering economist — nothing less than an "epochal" contributor to the science of praxeology. High praise indeed.

h/t Bob Robert.

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Trump vs. His Own Administration?

08/13/2018Ron Paul

Are President Trump’s senior cabinet members working against him? It’s hard not to conclude that many of the more hawkish neocons that Trump has (mistakenly, in my view) appointed to top jobs are actively working to undermine the president’s stated agenda. Especially when it seems Trump is trying to seek dialogue with countries the neocons see as adversaries needing to be regime-changed.

Remember just as President Trump was organizing an historic summit meeting with Kim Jong-Un, his National Security Advisor, John Bolton, nearly blew the whole thing up by making repeated references to the “Libya model” and how it should be applied to North Korea. As if Kim would jump at the chance to be bombed, overthrown, and murdered at the hands of a US-backed mob!

It seems that Trump’s appointees are again working at cross-purposes to him. Last week, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that he was invoking a 1991 US law against the use of chemical weapons to announce yet another round of sanctions on Russia over what he claims is Putin’s involvement in the poisoning of a former Russian spy and his daughter in the UK.

The alleged poisoning took place in March and only now did the State Department make its determination that Russia was behind it and thus subject to the 1991 sanction law. Was there new information that came to light that pointed to Russian involvement? According to a State Department briefing there was none. The State Department just decided to take the British government’s word for it.

Where do we get authority to prosecute Russia for an alleged crime committed in the UK, by the way?

President Trump’s own Administration is forcing him to accept the State Department determination and agree to sanctions that may well include, according to the 1991 law, a complete break of diplomatic relations with Russia. This would be a de facto declaration of war. Over unproven allegations.

Trump has authority to reject the imposition of new sanctions, but with his Democrat opponents continuing to charge that he is in league with the Russian president, how could he waive sanctions just before the November US Congressional elections? That would be a windfall for the Democrats seeking to take control of the House and Senate.

The only way Russia could avoid the second, most extreme round of these sanctions in November is to promise not to use chemical weapons again and open its doors to international inspections. What government would accept such a demand when no proof has been presented that they used chemical weapons in the first place?

Certainly it is possible that President Trump is fully aware of the maneuverings of Bolton and Pompeo and that he approves. Perhaps he likes to play “good cop, bad cop” with the rest of the world, at the same time making peace overtures while imposing sanctions and threatening war. But it certainly looks like some of his cabinet members are getting the best of him.

If President Trump is to be taken at his word, that he welcomes dialogue “without pre-conditions” with leaders of Russia, North Korea, Iran, and elsewhere, he would be wise to reconsider those in his employ who are undermining him every step of the way. Otherwise, it is hard to believe the president is sincere. Let’s hope he does choose dialogue over conflict and clips the wings of those under him attempting to push him in the other direction.

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Tariffs: Tax Hikes Wrapped in the Flag

08/04/2018Doug French

Trump’s tariffs are simply, in the words of economist Murray Rothbard, “not only nonsense, but dangerous nonsense, destructive of all economic prosperity.” Business owners who are suffering from this ham-handed government intervention should be the first to complain, whether having voted for Trump or not.

I asked a friend of a business owner (a fan of the president), what the owner thought of the tariffs. “He’s for them,” came the answer.

“But his profits have to be impacted,” I countered, “since he uses steel in his manufacturing.”

“Yes, but he thinks it will all work out in the long run,” was the reply.

“But, his profits are being diverted to the government. Wouldn’t he rather have the profits than the government?”

“Yes, but there are not any American cars being sold in China,” my friend countered, using one of the president’s bromides.

Dangerous nonsense indeed.

The New York Times’ Nelson Schwartz reports a similar feeling from Banner Metals in Columbus, Ohio. “I’m not looking at what’s best for Banner right now,” Bronson Jones, a part-owner of the company and its chief executive told Schwartz. “I’m looking at what’s best for the national economy. The U.S. has been taken advantage of for too long.”

What? The Fed and Treasury conspire to conjure dollars from the ether, and these amounts on a ledger or pieces of paper are tradable for actual goods, but the US has somehow been done wrong? How could anyone, the owner of a business no less, believe such a thing?

“We are not, if we were ever, a world of self-sufficient farmers,” Rothbard wrote. “The market economy is one vast latticework throughout the world, in which each individual, each region, each country, produces what he or it is best at, most relatively efficient in, and exchanges that product for the goods and services of others.”

“If it comes out of my paycheck, so be it,” Banner maintenance technician Casey Jackson told the Times. “You got to look at the big picture. That tiny bit of sacrifice we make will create jobs.”

No, that sacrifice destroys jobs. What’s taken from Jackson is given to inefficient producers who will waste capital and ultimately extinguish jobs. “Protectionism is simply a plea that consumers, as well as general prosperity, be hurt so as to confer permanent special privilege upon groups of inefficient producers, at the expense of competent firms and of consumers,” wrote Rothbard.

However, tariff victims are standing by their man. “He’s going for the jugular, which is typical Trump style,” Mr. Jones said. “I’m not used to it, and it’s not a presidential style we are accustomed to. But he’s the only president who’s taken a significant stance on trade, and we need a brash approach.”

Actual free trade would be a brash approach, not going full blown Smoot-Hawley. But don’t try to convince the guys on the Banner shop floor of any economics 101 mumbo-jumbo. “It’s aggressive, it’s tough, and he [Trump] won’t back down,” Mr. Jackson said. “Using trade as a bargaining chip will help someone else put food on the table.”

Todd Grizzle, a 25-year-old maintenance technician, put in his two cents worth and hit the nail on the head. “I like the idea of the U.S. having allies,” he said. “But if this can bring more jobs back to America, that’s a good thing.”

Consumers will pay more for goods, some people will lose their jobs or receive pay cuts but it’s all worth it for the red, white, and blue. Rothbard explained the danger decades ago. Tariffs and protectionism “is a peculiarly destructive kind of bailout, because it permanently shackles trade under the cloak of patriotism.”

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Tariffs are Bad — Not Because Trump Is Good or Bad — But Because Tariffs Are Always Bad.

07/26/2018Matthew Noyes

[Originally published by the Albany Student Press.]

The Trump Administration levied tariffs on steel and aluminum last month through an executive order. Imported steel is subject to a 25 percent tariff and aluminum to a 10 percent tariff. A tariff is a tax on the American people. The money is paid for out of citizen’s pockets and does more harm to Americans than it does to their trading partners.

There are several arguments President Trump and his supporters use to defend the tariffs. Economist Walter Williams says that one of these arguments are that they help domestic steel and aluminum industries. Increasing the price of foreign steel and aluminum reduces the supply and makes it easier for domestic firms to compete. Williams then debunks this claim by arguing the increased profit of domestic firms comes at an aggregate cost to Americans. Artificially higher costs on steel and aluminum make the prices of other goods go up that use them. The argument that it helps steel and aluminum producers in the U.S. is true, but it ends up hurting the economy overall.

Another point that deserves rebutting is one made by Trump. NPR quoted Trump saying, “A strong steel and aluminum industry are vital to our national security.” Defense Secretary James Mattis said, “Military demand for steel and aluminum can be met with just 3 percent of domestic production.” The notion of autarky, that the U.S. needs to produce all of what it needs instead of trading, greatly limits the economy’s potential and as a result may limit future defense capabilities.

The New York Times reported that Trump also claims that shifts in trade policies are necessary to make countries like China engage in fair trading. However, there is no such thing as fair trade, only free trade. Free trade is the voluntary exchange of goods and services between people in different countries. It allows one region or firm’s comparative advantage to create more of something at a lower cost, benefiting everyone. Free trade produces mutual benefits to all parties involved. Trade isn’t a zero-sum game that has losers and winners. A great quote that summarizes this concept is one by sociologist Franz Oppenheimer , “The first method [of acquiring wealth] is by producing a good or a service and voluntarily exchanging that good for the product of somebody else,” aka: the free market. The other method being stealing taking someone else’s property.

The Trump Administration wants you to artificially pay more for certain goods. Cans of soda, construction, and countless other things we pay for everyday are going to be more expensive. Free trade is a part of capitalism. Trump’s campaign was full of protectionist rhetoric, so it isn’t surprising that he followed through with it. What is disheartening is the hypocrisy of the media and politicians. President Obama’s tariff on tires did not see the same scrutiny from the mainstream media as Trump’s tariffs have. On the flip side, some from the right-wing media have not been critical about the tariffs simply because they’re Trump’s. Many in the Republican Party who claim to be capitalists and conservatives have supported the tariffs as well. Trump’s tariffs are bad, not because Trump is good or bad, but because tariffs are always bad. Government interference in consensual interactions between people is wrong whether it’s by Republicans or Democrats.

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Trump's Road to Socialism

07/24/2018Tho Bishop

Today the Trump administration is announcing a $12 billion bailout plan for farmers impacted by the response from the Trump administration’s tariffs. As Politico reports:

The administration's plan is expected to use two commodity support programs in the farm bill, as well as the Agriculture Department’s broad authority to stabilize the agricultural economy during times of turmoil by buying up excess supply. The plan is also expected to focus on providing aid to the dairy sector in particular, one of the sources said.

The plan has been in the works for months. It seeks to ensure that U.S. farmers and ranchers — a key constituency for President Donald Trump and Republicans — don’t bear the brunt of an escalating trade fight with China, the European Union and other major economies as the administration pursues an aggressive course to rebalance America's trade relationships.

Trump's moves to slap tariffs on imports from some of America‘s largest foreign buyers have prompted retaliation against U.S. farm goods like pork, beef, soybeans, sorghum and a range of fruits. The administration's trade aid plan is also a bid to shore up support among a slice of the rural electorate ahead of the midterm elections.

In spite of the President’s claim that tariffs are “the greatest,” and trade wars are “easy to win,” the economic backlash was easy to foresee. In fact, as the political success Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have brought “democratic socialism” into the mainstream of the Democratic Party, Trump’s economic nationalism threatens to pave a road to the same destination.

After all, Trump’s tariffs are not only a new tax for Americans, but a policy of directly picking winners and losers in the economy. The interests of steel workers, for example, are being placed above the interest of consumers and farmers. This leads to the government using tax dollars to prop up farmers. Of course this spending means that tax-paying consumers are hit yet again, with their tax dollars being used for this new welfare program.

Government interventionism doesn’t simply stop there. The natural result of these new government barriers is for businesses to seek ways around them, such as Harley’s decision to move some manufacturing to Europe. This, of course, sparked backlash from President Trump, threatening further retaliation for such a move. As we've seen time and time again, the more Trump digs in to his support for protectionism, the more he will seek to interfere with the actions of individual companies.

In Omnipotent Government, Ludwig von Mises wrote:

Present-day protectionism is a necessary corollary of the domestic policy of government interference with business.

The opposite is also true: The domestic policy of government interference with business is a necessary corollary of present-day protectionism.

The result is an economy that increasingly replaces the market with state control. This is precisely why Mises wrote extensively about how escalating economic interventionism led to socialism. As he wrote in Human Action:

All varieties of interference with the market phenomena not only fail to achieve the ends aimed at by their authors and supporters, but bring about a state of affairs which-from the point of view of their authors' and advocates' valuations—is less desirable than the previous state of affairs which they were designed to alter. If one wants to correct their manifest unsuitableness and preposterousness by supplementing the first acts of intervention with more and more of such acts, one must go farther and farther until the market economy has been entirely destroyed and socialism has been substituted for it.

Of course defenders of the President will argue that Trump’s tariffs are simply meant as a negotiating ploy designed to give America “better trade deals.” The future is impossible to predict, perhaps that will be the end result. Memes about 4d chess, however, are of little help to those Americans hurt by Trump’s tariff policy. And increasingly the Trump administration has signaled its willingness to embrace a prolonged trade war.

Such policies are, in the long run, as great a threat to the American economy as that posed by the Sanderistas.

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The Mueller Indictments and The Trump-Putin Summit: Triumph of the Deep State?

07/17/2018Ron Paul

The term “deep state” has been so over-used in the past few years that it may seem meaningless. It has become standard practice to label one’s political adversaries as representing the “deep state” as a way of avoiding the defense of one’s positions. President Trump has often blamed the “deep state” for his political troubles. Trump supporters have created big conspiracies involving the “deep state” to explain why the president places neocons in key positions or fails to fulfill his campaign promises.

But the “deep state” is no vast and secret conspiracy theory. The deep state is real, it operates out in the open, and it is far from monolithic. The deep state is simply the permanent, unelected government that continues to expand its power regardless of how Americans vote.

There are factions of the deep state that are pleased with President Trump’s policies, and in fact we might say that President Trump represents some factions of the deep state.

Other factions of the deep state are determined to undermine any of President Trump’s actions they perceive as threatening. Any move toward peace with Russia is surely something they feel to be threatening. There are hundreds of billions of reasons – otherwise known as dollars – why the Beltway military-industrial complex is terrified of peace breaking out with Russia and will do whatever it takes to prevent that from happening.

That is why Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s indictment on Friday of 12 Russian military intelligence officers for allegedly interfering in the 2016 US presidential election should immediately raise some very serious questions.

First the obvious: after more than a year of investigations which have publicly revealed zero collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, why drop this bombshell of an allegation at the end of the news cycle on the last business day before the historic Trump/Putin meeting in Helsinki? The indictment could not have been announced a month ago or in two weeks? Is it not suspicious that now no one is talking about reducing tensions with Russia but is all of a sudden – thanks to Special Counsel Robert Mueller – talking about increasing tensions?

Unfortunately most Americans don't seem to understand that indictments are not evidence. In fact they are often evidence-free, as is this indictment.

Did the Russian government seek to interfere in the 2016 US presidential elections? It’s certainly possible, however we don’t know. None of the Justice Department’s assertions have been tested in a court of law, as is thankfully required by our legal system. It is not enough to make an allegation, as Mueller has done. You have to prove it.

That is why we should be very suspicious of these new indictments. Mueller knows he will never have to defend his assertions in a court of law so he can make any allegation he wants.

It is interesting that one of the Russian companies indicted by Mueller earlier this year surprised the world by actually entering a “not guilty” plea and demanding to see Mueller’s evidence. The Special Counsel proceeded to file several motions to delay the hand-over of his evidence. What does Mueller have to hide?

Meanwhile, why is no one talking about the estimated 100 elections the US government has meddled in since World War II? Maybe we need to get our own house in order?

Reprinted with permission.

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Tho Bishop Joins Power Trading Radio at FreedomFest

The Mises Institute has had a great presence at this year's FreedomFest with speakers including Judge Andrew Napolitano, Walter Block, and Hunter Hastings. Another highlight of the event has been seeing many friends and fellow travelers around the country, including John O'Donnell and the group at Power Trading Radio. Tho Bishop, assistant editor of the Mises Wire, stopped by their show today, and he and John talked about the history and impact of the Mises Institute and the vision of Lew Rockwell.

Live from Freedom Fest with Tho Bishop

 

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The Fed's Latest Claim of "Independence" Is As Unconvincing as Ever

07/12/2018Ryan McMaken

Here we go again. A fed official is once again going to the media to repeat the age-old myth that the Fed is totally independent of political influence.

The last time we heard about this from someone at Powell's level what last year, when Steve Mnuchin reminded everyone of the Fed's alleged independence in January:

Responding in writing to questions from Senator Bill Nelson , Steve Mnuchin described the Fed as “organized with sufficient independence to conduct monetary policy and open market operations.” He also praised “the increased transparency we have seen from the Federal Reserve Board over recent years.”

This time, it's Fed chair Jerome Powell himself, who granted an interview to NPR's Marketplace . Most of the interview was devoted to making this point about independence. Here's some of it:

Ryssdal: There is a question that has to be asked — actually a couple of them — about the political environment in which this economy operates right now. Granting that the Fed has always been a source of political frustration for many in the executive branch, it's worth pointing out here that Larry Kudlow, the chairman of the president's National Economic Council, and the president himself have said they are low-interest rate guys. Larry Kudlow encourages the Fed to move very slowly on interest rates on the theory that rising interest rates would be a tricky thing for the president politically. Do you think it's appropriate for the White House to be not telling the Fed what to do, but saying these things in public?

Powell: Let me just say I'm not concerned about it, and I'll tell you why. We have a long tradition here of conducting policy in a particular way, and that way is independent of all political concerns. We do our work in a strictly nonpolitical way, based on detailed analysis, which we put on the record transparently, and we don't consider political considerat — we don’t take political considerations into account.

I would add though that no one in the administration has said anything to me that really gives me concern on this front. But this is deep in our DNA. For a long, long time the Fed has felt it important to conduct our business that way. I'm deeply committed to that approach. And so are all of my colleagues here.

Ryssdal: Which I understand, but you're also humans. And when the White House leans on you, you must feel it.

Powell: Again, nothing has been said to me publicly or privately that gives me any concern about our independence.

Ryssdal makes a point that anyone not trained to believe Washington, DC sound bytes would see. Powell, like everyone else involved in the Fed's governance is a human being and brings with him his own biases.

We saw some of this in 2016 when it came to light that Fed employers donated far more money to the Hillary Clinton campaign, than to any other campaign:

Bloomberg had an interesting report this week looking at the political contributions of Federal Reserve employees this election season. Unsurprisingly, Hillary Clinton is dominating the field, receiving $18,747 in contributions — over four times more than all other candidates combined. While most of the donations came from lower level Fed officials, Federal Reserve Governor Lael Brainard came under fire for making several donations to Clinton’s campaign.

When people like Powell say "non-political," though, they don't mean non-ideological or unbiased. They mean they aren't making decisions in a way so as to benefit certain candidates or certain political parties.

Even if this were true — which it's not (see below) — it would be of little comfort. The Fed can still act to benefit certain groups over others. Its policies can be employed to keep interest rates low for governments, so as to keep the cost of the national debt low. The Fed can adopt policies that benefit Wall Street more than Main Street. The Fed can act to benefit spenders rather than savers.

These acts of picking winners and losers, and influencing public policy, would be considered "political" by a normal person — as indeed they are political. They're just not directly connected to any political campaign.

Besides, the fact the Fed behaves as a political institution has been documented for years by political scientists. ( Whole classes are taught on the subject .) Only economists and media talking heads are so naive or so willfully ignorant as to believe a policymaking institution can be "non-political."

But even on the matter of straight-up efforts to influence elections, the Fed is guilty. In 2010, when Fed Chairman Arthur Burns's diary was published, Doug French noted:

Burns's diary is page after page of political dirty dealing, lying, and backstabbing. Nixon went so far as to plant negative press about Burns and threatened to expand the Fed's Board of Governors to dilute the chairman's influence, all to bring Burns in line with the president's economic meddling. None of that seems necessary; Burns's diary would indicate that the president had him at hello.

No doubt a well-worn path still exists between the Eccles Building and the White House. But the myth continues. Economist Mark Zandi told CNBC's Lori Ann LaRocco recently,

I think the worst thing that could happen is if the Fed was politicized. An a-political Federal Reserve is a cornerstone of our financial system and broader economy. So nothing is more important than maintaining the Fed's independence. And the fact that its wrapped in the political process is just disturbing and disconcerting.

Ultimately, though, we need to ask ourselves if "independence" is even something that is desirable. After all, the flipside of "independence" is a lack of accountability. The only way for the Fed to be truly independent would be if it was totally unaccountable. Murray Rothbard wondered if that would be a good thing:

“Independent of politics” has a nice, neat ring to it, and has been a staple of proposals for bureaucratic intervention and power ever since the Progressive Era...But it is one thing to say that private, or market, activities should be free of government control, and “independent of politics” in that sense. But these are government agencies and operations we are talking about, and to say that government should be “independent of politics” conveys very different implications. For government, unlike private industry on the market, is not accountable either to stockholders or consumers. Government can only be accountable to the public and to its representatives in the legislature; and if government becomes “independent of politics” it can only mean that that sphere of government becomes an absolute self-perpetuating oligarchy, accountable to no one and never subject to the public’s ability to change its personnel or to “throw the rascals out.”

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Trumping to Serfdom

07/05/2018Doug French

Ryan Murphy of SMU has confirmed what F.A. Hayek wrote decades ago. It turns out Washington D.C. has more psychopaths per capita than anyplace else in the country. Insert my shock face here.

The best chapter of the seminal “Road to Serfdom” is ‘Why the Worst get on Top,’ where Hayek wrote,

Advancement within a totalitarian group or party depends largely on a willingness to do immoral things. The principle that the end justifies the means, which in individualist ethics is regarded as the denial of all morals, in collectivist ethics becomes necessarily the supreme rule. There is literally nothing which the consistent collectivist must not be prepared to do if it serves ‘the good of the whole’, because that is to him the only criterion of what ought to be done.

The New York Times’ Maureen Dowd quotes the study,

“psychopaths are likely to be effective in the political sphere” and that “the occupations that were most disproportionately psychopathic were C.E.O., lawyer, media, salesperson, surgeon, journalist, police officer, clergyperson, chef, and civil servant.

Hayek wrote that psychopaths, er politicians, have to “weld together a closely coherent body of supporters”...appealing “to a common human weakness. It seems to be easier for people to agree on a negative programme – on the hatred of an enemy, on the envy of the better off – than on any positive task.”

Think, the media, immigrants, the FBI, and now, gulp, Canadians.

Hayek continued,

The contrast between the ‘we’ and the ‘they’ is consequently always employed by those who seek the allegiance of huge masses. The enemy may be internal, like the ‘Jew’ in Germany or the ‘kulak’ in Russia, or he may be external. In any case, this technique has the great advantage of leaving the leader greater freedom of action than would almost any positive programme.

Trump’s surrounding characters are right out of central casting, starting with Rudy Giuliani, who, as Burt Blumert wrote, “Politically, Giuliani is like the horror film monster who refuses to stay dead.” Murray Rothbard said Giuliani was his least favorite politician.

As for Trump himself, when asked about comments made of Michael Milken’s sentencing, in a speech given in 1989 at the Libertarian Party convention, Rothbard said , “The other was Donald J. Trump, of all the nerve, saying ‘You can be happy on less money than that.’ What gall, what chutzpah!"

Chutzpah indeed. But, Rothbard hadn’t seen anything yet. Dowd, writes,

We knew Trump was a skinflint and a grifter. But the New York attorney general deeply documented just how cheesy he and his children are with a suit accusing the Trump charitable foundation of illegal behavior and self-dealing. It was just what Trump always accused the Clintons of doing.

Donald’s constant fibbing and contention that news is fake was anticipated by Hayek.

And the most efficient technique to this end is to use the old words but change their meaning. Few traits of totalitarian regimes are at the same time so confusing to the superficial observer and yet so characteristic of the whole intellectual climate as this complete perversion of language.

America’s road to serfdom continues on.

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The Spirit of '76: Radicalism and Revolution

07/03/2018Ryan McMaken

In the final chapters of his masterful history of the American Revolution, Conceived in Liberty, Murray Rothbard takes to examining the political and social repercussions of the American Revolution's success. He notes the revolution accelerated the elimination of old feudal laws, the disestablishment of churches, and the confiscation of lands from the old Tory ruling classes. Confiscated lands were sold by state governments to "patriots." In other words, the "land redistribution" programs we so often hear about taking place during other revolutions, were not alien to the American one.

The war changed race relations in many areas as well. In 1776, Congress authorized the enlistment of blacks in military units, and some especially anti-British masters began to offer freedom to slaves that enlisted. Meanwhile, the "American navy — Continental, state, and privateer — welcomes Negro sailors from the very beginning of the conflict." Among the colonies, only South Carolina and Georgia refused to participate in this new option for blacks in the war. Indeed, so strong was the devotion to slavery among South Carolina and Georgia officials, Rothbard concluded, "they preferred defeat in the war to allowing that sort of subversive license." Not surprisingly, these new legal and social realities accelerated the abolition of slavery in many states, although total abolition crashed upon the rocks of the slave economy in the Deep South. 

There is no denying, then, that the American Revolution was very much a revolution, as Rothbard wrote in Chapter 80

Especially since the early 1950s, America has been concerned with opposing revolutions throughout the world; in the process, it has generated a historiography that denies its own revolutionary past. This neoconservative view of the American Revolution, echoing the reactionary writer in the pay of the Austrian and English governments of the early nineteenth century, Friedrich von Gentz, tries to isolate the American Revolution from all the revolutions in the western world that preceded it and followed it. The American Revolution, this view holds, was unique; it alone of all modern revolutions was not really revolutionary; instead, it was moderate, conservative, dedicated only to preserving existing institutions from British aggrandizement. Furthermore, like all else in America, it was marvelously harmonious and consensual. Unlike the wicked French and other revolutions in Europe, the American Revolution, then, did not upset or change anything. It was therefore not really a revolution at all; certainly, it was not radical.

This view, Rothbard writes "displays an extreme naiveté on the nature of revolution." The American revolution was radical, indeed, and 

It was inextricably linked both to the radical revolutions that went before and to the ones, particularly the French, that succeeded it. From the researches of Caroline Robbins and Bernard Bailyn, we have come to see the indispensable linkage of radical ideology in a straight line from the English republican revolutionaries of the seventeenth century through the commonwealth men of the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, to the French and to the American revolutionaries.

In spite of all of this, the mainstream continues to devalue the Revolution and its revolutionary nature. On the left, pundits claim that the war was a reactionary attempt to preserve slavery, or that it was fought to advance the views of authoritarian retrograde religious zealots. The truly revolutionary nature of the conflict — because it was radically laissez-faire — is ignored altogether. On the right, we are told to conveniently ignore all the revolutionary aspects of the war beyond the a vague opposition to taxes. Sedition and secession in 1776? That was OK. The same thing today? That's not OK. "Follow the law!" seems to be a frequent mantra of modern "patriots."   

We are fortunate, though, that this new radicalism was not guided by ideologies such as socialism, nationalism, or any sort of totalitarianism. It was instead — as we see in the thinking of the Anti-Federalists — guided by radical decentralist views, by radical suspicion of the state, by radical opposition to commercial controls, and by a radical opposition to a national military establishment. 

Although now greatly reduced, bastardized, and diluted, these revolutionary views, to a limited extent, continue to allow for a relatively robust amount of freedom in private and commercial life. How much of that freedom will be preserved a generation from now remains to be seen. 

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