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Rothbard on Trump

Didn’t think it was possible, did you?

A Strategy for the Right, first published in 1992 in the Rothbard-Rockwell Report, it is the opening chapter in a compilation of Rothbard’s essays, entitled “The Irrepressible Rothbard.”

What I call the Old Right is suddenly back!

Rothbard felt the proper home for libertarians was with the right – the old right made up of anti-New Deal elements, for example H.L. Mencken, Albert Jay Nock, Rose Wilder Lane, and Garet Garrett.  He also points to Howard Buffet (Warren’s dad) and Robert Taft.

The old right also included those who were against American involvement in World War II.

…contrary to accepted myth, the Original Right did not disappear with, and was not discredited by, our entry into World War II. On the contrary, the congressional elections of 1942 — elections neglected by scholars — were a significant victory not only for conservative Republicans, but for isolationist Republicans as well.

Neglected by me, as well; but no longer.  Regarding the House of Representatives:

The 1942 United States House of Representatives elections was held in the middle of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s third term.  The main factor that led to the Republican gains during this election cycle was concern over World War II and American involvement.

Roosevelt’s Democratic Party lost 45 seats, retaining only a slender majority even though they lost the popular vote by over 1 million votes (3.9%).

What?  They lost the popular vote and still won a majority?  I say the Russians did it – and for this claim I actually have some evidence: Roosevelt’s administration was found to be loaded with Soviet agents, sprinkled throughout; Roosevelt’s favorite uncle was named “Joe.”

Regarding the Senate:

The United States Senate elections of 1942 were held November 3, 1942, midway through Franklin D. Roosevelt’s third term as President. Although this election took place during World War II, the opposition Republican party made major gains, taking eight seats from the Democrats and one from an independent.

Returning to Rothbard and his writing on Trump:

The Marxists, who have spent a great deal of time thinking about strategy for their movement, always pose the question: Who is the agency of social change? Which group may be expected to bring about the desired change in society?

He first examines what he calls the Hayekian model: convert the top philosophers and intellectuals, and then watch the trickle-down effects.

… I hate to break this to you, intellectuals, academics, and the media are not all motivated by truth alone.

Rothbard believes it will take a few centuries for the trickle-down theory to produce fruit, so he moves on to other possibilities: the “Fabian strategy,” used by the left to gradually increase state power, should be used in reverse.  Such is the wish of beltway libertarian and conservative think-tanks.

The flaw here, however, is that what works to increase state power does not work in reverse. For the Fabians were gently nudging the ruling elite precisely in the direction they wanted to travel anyway.

Twenty-five years after Rothbard wrote these words, the lack of fruit due to such beltway efforts is obvious.

What does Rothbard suggest?

Therefore, in addition to converting intellectuals to the cause, the proper course for the right-wing opposition must necessarily be a strategy of boldness and confrontation, of dynamism and excitement, a strategy, in short, of rousing the masses from their slumber and exposing the arrogant elites that are ruling them, controlling them, taxing them, and ripping them off.

And so the proper strategy for the right wing must be what we can call “right-wing populism”: exciting, dynamic, tough, and confrontational, rousing and inspiring not only the exploited masses, but the often-shell-shocked right-wing intellectual cadre as well.

He was writing in the time of Pat Buchanan.  He might as well have been writing about Trump.

It seems someone decided to put the Rothbardian strategy to work: Robert Mercer, described as a “reclusive hedge fund manager” and his family.

During the past decade, Mercer, who is seventy, has funded an array of political projects that helped pave the way for Trump’s rise…. “Bob thinks the less government the better. He’s happy if people don’t trust the government.”

My kind of guy.

There was a time that Mercer was aligned with the Koch brothers, of Cato fame:

By 2011, the Mercers had joined forces with Charles and David Koch, who own Koch Industries, and who have run a powerful political machine for decades. The Mercers attended the Kochs’ semiannual seminars, which provide a structure for right-wing millionaires looking for effective ways to channel their cash.

He and his family soon figured out – as did Rothbard decades before – that the Koch brothers’’ strategy would never achieve much of anything toward real change.  After spending heavily alongside the Koch’s to get Romney elected in 2012…

Rebekah Mercer, meanwhile, was growing impatient with the Kochs. She felt that they needed to investigate why their network had failed to defeat Obama in 2012. Instead, the Kochs gathered donors and presented them with more empty rhetoric. Mercer demanded an accounting of what had gone wrong, and when they ignored her she decided to start her own operation. In a further blow, Mercer soured several other top donors on the Kochs.

Murray must have that “I told you so” look on his face about now, as evidenced in his further comments:

It is important to realize that the establishment doesn’t want excitement in politics, it wants the masses to continue to be lulled to sleep. It wants kinder, gentler; it wants the measured, judicious, mushy tone, and content, of a James Reston, a David Broder, or a Washington Week in Review. It doesn’t want a Pat Buchanan [Donald Trump], not only for the excitement and hard edge of his content, but also for his similar tone and style.

Koch = establishment = Romney; Mercer = in your face = Trump.  Which path offers the better chance for change?  Mercer listened to Rothbard and succeeded; the Kochs kicked Rothbard out and have achieved…nada.

Justin Raimondo gets it:

Libertarianism today is a confused jumble of leftist “lifestylism,” virtue-signaling, and emotional impulses disguised as a political program. You just have to take a look at the Gary Johnson/Bill Weld farrago to see this. On the one hand, the pro-drugs “live and let live” rhetoric, and on the other a declared adherence to a vague “centrism,” brewed a counterintuitive amalgam of “rebelliousness” and pandering to the Establishment. Thus you had Johnson blathering on about the wonders of pot while Weld was endorsing Hillary Clinton. A more disgraceful campaign—in the name of “libertarianism”—would be hard to imagine.

These people have zero understanding of the Trump phenomenon—and I would go further and say they have no conception of the political. Conflating individualism with narcissism, they utilize ideology as a form of self-actualization rather than, say, a way to save the country.

While I have been “associated” with libertarianism, it’s important to note that this association, for most of my career, has been with the perspective of the late Murray N. Rothbard—and Rothbardianism is as different from “official” libertarianism” as it is from modern liberalism.

He goes on to offer:

Buchanan was the necessary prelude to Trumpism, and Pat is clearly the father of that revolution—a fact that is almost never acknowledged.

I will only slightly modify this last sentence: Ron Paul played a key role in this revolution during the time between Buchanan and Trump – both in 2008 and 2012.  The thread runs through Dr. Paul.

Conclusion

Yeah, we all get it: Trump is no libertarian; Trump may even be a Trojan Horse or even co-opted.  This isn’t the point.  What he is, or more importantly what he represents, is the key: a complete rejection of the status quo

Published in Bionic Mosquito