The late Murray N. Rothbard is a name well-known among most libertarians I suppose, and his article “The Soviet Bogeyman” from 1973 is re-posted at http://mises.org/, at:
It is Rothbard’s reaction to a Libertarian Party presidential candidate of those years, Dr. Hospers, and the latter’s advocacy of national arming to counter Soviet aggression. Rothbard refers to an apparently false claim repeated by Hospers in his own defense that there were Soviet “orders to advance” into Western Europe at the end of the war (presumably World War Two).
I disagree with Rothbard’s gullibility, while more or less agreeing with the approach he takes to potential aggressive threats from the Soviet Union, in his last paragraph, as excerpted below. Meaning I agree with the Rothbard approach to defense, while noting that he is wrong in denying any “Russian Threat”.
To proceed to Dr. Hospers’ final point: what of those Americans who are not persuaded by our evidence, and who persist in fearing the Russian Threat? He accuses us anarcho-capitalists who wish to dismantle the American State of “risking not only my life, but yours, by disarming.” But the point is that, in an anarchist society, those who fear a foreign threat and wish to arm themselves defensively, are free to go ahead and do so. Dr. Hospers happily concedes that private police forces would be more efficient than the police force of government monopoly; so why not private defense forces or “armies” as well? Contrary to Dr. Hospers, anarchists do not propose to force those who wish to arm defensively to disarm: instead on the contrary it is he and other advocates of archy who are now forcing us to arm against a foreign threat that many of us believe does not exist. It is no more moral to tax someone to pay for one’s own defense, whether real or imagined, than it is to draft him for the same purpose. And, besides, if the FBI is really protecting us against the sabotage of Grand Central Station, then why couldn’t the owners of that station do a far better job?
In my opinion, there is no small measure of naiveté in Rothbard’s arguments that the Soviets were only ever interested in “peaceful coexistence”, and, so he says, they were satisfying with merely waiting for the spontaneous revolutions to occur in other nations.
From what I have read of his writings, and the immense respect accorded him by other libertarian voices that have shown reliable insights, and from what I have learned from those writings, Rothbard is a source of great understanding of issues libertarian and anarcho-capitalist.
But he is not an oracle of God, to say the least, and on the issue of parental obligations toward children I could not disagree more, and there will be more on that topic in this blog forthcoming.
But on some of the things he says about the “Soviet threat” and “Communist threat”, there is a disconnect from the real world. It is an understandable reaction to the warfare state and military-industrial complex and the anti-Communist hysteria whipped up to justify major hikes in state confiscation schemes and income tax theft. Certainly, living in America, it is easier to see the sins committed against us by our own government than by foreign governments, including the abuse perpetrated with anti-communist justifications.
The fact is, though, that the so-called “Soviet threat” was not a phantom, nor is the Saul Alinsky/Noam Chomsky/Oliver Stone school of misinformation and subversion. Fraud, flattery, envy, and rigged elections in support of newly repackaged Soviet-style “democracies” were never phantoms.
The kind of corruption very much visible to Rothbard in the Western states, this corruption being borne of human nature itself, was very much present in the minds of the advocates of “peaceful coexistence”. At the same time, Russian defectors were pointing out at the time Rothbard penned this piece, Soviet military academies were teaching new officers that nuclear confrontation with the West was inevitable and that the first strike would determine the winner.
In more recent modified plans, though, in my opinion, this seems to have been a last resort option. Their plan is aided and abetted inside the United States by intellectuals who demand more welfare state power, more confiscatory power, more state theft, more inflation, more power for the Federal Reserve. While blasting the use of unconstitutional and illegal tactics when they are used against their fellow socialist/dictatorship advocates, they snort “paranoia” when anarcho-capitalists decry their use against “rightists”, or the economic abuse of citizens.
During the times of the book of Judges of the Bible, there was no permanent police force, there was no king, there was no standing army, there was no government at all. But on occasion the nations roundabout would oppress them.
In the famous history of Gideon, in fact, it was one such time, and the Philistine masters had banned all making of weapons, and only “approved” blacksmiths were allowed to even forge metals into plows. Gideon was “called” while plowing and formed a band that manufactured a bunch of “illegal weapons” and used them in a very asymmetric battle to throw off the invaders.
There is another issue at play here in Rothbard’s essay and even in its resurrection for posting at http://mises.org that affects most American libertarians, especially as a reaction to warmongering neoconservatives.
That is, they seem to share a kind of ignorance that has been imposed upon Americans about the world outside of the United States. Libertarian principles do not belong to one group of people any more than the truth about any other thing. Advocacy of freedom and liberty are universal. Natural rights are universal.
American libertarians are very much aware, and vociferously oppose the grossly unfair idea of redistribution in the U.S., and they are very much aware of the machinations of intellectual and political operators that want to justify the growing state economic control and central planning dictates.
But in other lands, they seem to me to be woefully ignorant of the struggles of people in other lands against violations of their freedom and their rights.
The recent glorification by even some libertarians of Hugo Chavez based on his (apparent) anti-Americanism is a case in point. But on principle, as some gullible hearts believe, he did NOT do anything good for the poor, any more than Lyndon Johnson’s “Great Society” war on poverty. There are precious few journalists or news agencies left in the world that report the truth faithfully, and the AP might as well declare itself openly as a Leftist Propaganda Front.
In fact, Chavez’ anti-American rhetoric rings hypocritical. He re-created the ruling class of bourgeoisie with billionaire supporters and newly billionaire buddies, and his own heirs now own a fortune that rivals those of the most brutal dictators of Asian and African fame.
The attack on AP, in fact, by the U.S. Department of Justice, looks like a multi-pronged illusionist trick. The AP participated in the attack by the entire international press against Honduras’ restoration of constitutionality in 2009, for example, and to those of us intimately aware of what was really happening in Honduras (my wife is Honduran), we saw it as obvious that it was deliberately deceitful reporting.
CNN’s reports in particular, in Spanish, were very, very bad, so much so that when about a million Hondurans spilled into their plazas and main roads to support the constitutional succession to Roberto Micheletti, a large group gathered outside CNN offices to protest their lying coverage.
In Miami, a lot of Hondurans gathered outside the Honduran consulate. Some of the Honduran-Americans I spoke with said they had voted for Obama and they would “never make that mistake again”.
Back to Lenin’s “peaceful coexistence” policy that Rothbard refers to, the sneaky, NWO propagandist Professor Carroll Quigley, quoted by the Birchers, is not the only source to find Communist designs for “attacks” (Lenin’s word) on capitalist countries. There is plenty of Communist literature, and references from Communist Party defectors, from Communist Party victims, in huge abundance:
NUMBER: 246 AUTHOR: Vladimir Ilich Lenin (1870–1924) QUOTATION: They [capitalists] will furnish credits which will serve us for the support of the Communist Party in their countries and, by supplying us materials and technical equipment which we lack, will restore our military industry necessary for our future attacks against our suppliers. To put it in other words, they will work on the preparation of their own suicide. ATTRIBUTION: VLADIMIR ILICH (ULYANOV) LENIN, as reported by I. U. Annenkov in an article entitled, “Remembrances of Lenin,” Novyi Zhurnal/New Review, September 1961, p. 147.Annenkov recounts (pp. 144–47) a visit to the Moscow Institute of V. I. Lenin shortly after Lenin’s death, where he examined a number of Lenin manuscripts consisting principally of short and fragmentary notes, some of which were so interesting that he copied them. This Russian-language journal is published in New York City.
The popular and widely-quoted paraphrase, The capitalists are so hungry for profits that they will sell us the rope to hang them with, has often been considered spurious because it had not been found in Lenin’s published works.
It’s not like history has nothing to say here. It is indisputable that Stalin participated whole-heartedly, with the complete support of the entire Soviet apparatchiks, in dividing up Europe among the Allies. It is indisputable that Stalin’s Soviet Union poured arms, logistical support and funds into Mao’s guerrilla warfare. It is indisputable that the Soviet Union’s KGB and the more secretive GRU supplemented the open guerrilla wars they were famous for. And libertarian-minded lovers of freedom embrace historical selective amnesia to their own hurt. Not only that, it is a denial of the testimony of many fellow libertarians with better knowledge than the rest of us on the subject.
Just ask yourselves, people, what is wrong with somebody who can say government power corrupts in a land like the United States but not in a dictatorship or Islamic mini-caliphate? Why just pick on so-called “rightist” dictatorships?
Why say the Supreme Court robbed the 2000 election from Al Gore, for whom you have no political love, obviously, but totally ignore the complicity of the Florida Supreme Court in trying to support the rigging of the results attempted by minor elections officials? I do NOT think the Constitution is perfect, maybe a looser version like the previous Continental Congress structures would have been better. But if you talk about the rule of law with the same mouth, remember that the Constitution says the STATES set the rules for selecting the electors and Florida followed their own rules and the Florida Supreme Court told the state to change the rules. The Supreme Court would have done well to stop the obviously suspicious counting that resulted in an Senator Franklin. Motto: “Count the votes till I win! Then stop counting!”
Daniel 11’s “vile person” comes to power on the heels of a “raiser of taxes”, “in whose estate” shall come one who shall “come in peaceably, obtain the kingdom by flatteries”, “work deceitfully”, “enter upon the fattest places of the province”, and “shall do that which his fathers have not done, nor his fathers’ fathers; he shall scatter among them the prey, and spoil, and riches”.
And mayhem ensues..
- The Soviet Bogeyman (mises.org)