Are you tired of the state of the world? Do you feel as if you have clowns to the left of you and jokers to the right, and that your proclivities for human freedom might as well be tossed aside because you're doomed to live forever in a filled-to-capacity statist madhouse [YouTube link]?
Bissell, Edward W. Younkins, and me, published by Lexington Books as a hardcover in June It is forthcoming very soon between late February and mid-March in an affordable, quality softcover edition! We are happy to announce that we have a very limited supply of paperback copies of this trailblazing anthology, which has been deeply discounted.
Check out the details here. Pre-order while supplies last! We have also set up a moderated Facebook discussion group in which the authors featured in this provocative volume will interact in a structured and constructive way with all those who are eager to learn about the powerful potential inherent in a dialectical-libertarian approach to social theory and social action.
This is no mere research project but one that unleashes a multitude of strategies for changing the state of the world in which we live. Indeed, as the cover of the book suggests, you have nothing to lose but your chains. For years, I have heard lots of folks use the phrase " gaslighting ," especially in a political context, which describes, as Stephanie Sarkis observes, "a tactic in which a person or entity, in order to gain more power, makes a victim question their reality.
It works much better than you may think. Anyone is susceptible to gaslighting, and it is a common technique of abusers, dictators, narcissists, and cult leaders. It is done slowly, so the victim doesn't realize how much they've been brainwashed. Now, I don't own shares of stock in Turner Classic Movies , but for those of you who have never seen the or film adaptations of the Hamilton play, especially the latter, for which the great Ingrid Bergman won an Oscar for Best Actress please turn on your televisions today or, if you have a DVR, set it up to record!
TCM is showing both films back-to-back in its monthly feature, shining a spotlight on the original and remade versions of films over the years.
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You owe it to yourself to discover the original context from which this common political term derives. And you'll be entertained twice as much.
As the world was marking the thirtieth anniversary of the falling of the Berlin Wall November 9, , I was going through some of my old yearbooksfrom my graduating years of elementary school P. Many treasured memories of days gone by.
But one thing jumped out at me, quite ironically.
I could not get over how many of my classmates signed my yearbooks with phrases such as: "To my friend Chris, Love you until the Berlin Wall falls! Or to be more historically specific: We all have a tendency to reify our current circumstances as if they are unalterable. With a nod toward gallows humor, I chuckle at Marx's classic maxim that history repeats itself, " the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce. But I think that, in the end, as witnesses to history, we cannot deny that circumstances both echo the past and, at surprising moments in our lives, like the events of thirty years ago, smash its most intractable assumptions.
I know the world is not a pleasant place nowadays; polarization on the home front has not been this pronounced since the s, in my humble opinion. But for those of us who value human liberty, and the vigilance it takes to keep and preserve it, there is a seemingly intractable paradox: The only thing that makes the building of walls possible is the weakest of human desires, motivated typically by fearthe desire to rule or to be ruledbecause the prospect of freedom is often overwhelming in the demands it places on personal responsibility and the need to "step up" on behalf of the rights of our neighbors.
But the only thing that makes the falling of walls inevitable is the more powerful human desire to embrace that freedomand all the possibilities it offers for the flourishing of the human condition. So to my classmates from elementary school, middle school, and high school, I know what you meant when you inscribed my yearbooks with that old Berlin Wall metaphor. I can only offer a very small reflection on a very big wall: Love endures longer than walls.
And the fight for freedom requires the dismantling of the walls that continue to separate and constrain us. The following essay can be found on the Mises Wire ; check out the newly available Murray N. For me, it began in my senior year of high school. I took a year-long "Advanced Placement" course for college credit that offered an in-depth survey of American history, from the colonial period to the modern era.
My early political views, shaped by both relatives and influential teachers, always tended toward a pro-free market stance. Invariably, the contentious discussions I was having in class were shared at home with my family.
One afternoon, after listening to my tirades concerning the current events of the day, my sister-in-law told me that she'd been reading a novel called Atlas Shrugged , and that a lot of what I was saying seemed to echo the themes in this book.
No way! So in lieu of the hefty novel, I bought a copy of that much shorter book—and as I began reading it, I was completely stunned. Here was the most stylized moral, practical, and historical defense of the free market that I'd ever read. Perhaps the greatest revelation of Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal was the vast free-market literature referenced by its contributors.
Austrian-school economist Ludwig von Mises was prominently cited throughout the essays, and in the bibliography, no fewer than eight of his classic works were listed. Flynn and Isabel Paterson. I had learned that Ludwig von Mises had once given seminars at New York University's Graduate School of Business, and I had applied to New York University partially because of my knowledge that there was actually a program in Austrian economics that had taken shape there.
Even though my intended major was history, I eventually took on a triple major in economics, politics, and history. Among the first talks I heard on campus were those given by Richard Ebeling and David Ramsay Steele, who gave me further insight into the remarkable diversity within the libertarian and Austrian scholarly community. It didn't take me long to register for courses with one of Mises's finest students: Israel Kirzner. For me, it was as if I'd stepped into Scholarly Nirvana.
Even between classes, I could just walk on over to the corner of Bleecker and Mercer Streets and thumb through the literature on display at Laissez Faire Books.
And when the academic year was over, there was always a whirlwind summer weekend libertarian conference to go to, sponsored by either the Cato Institute or the Institute for Humane Studies. History remained my deepest passion.
With the Soviets bogged down in Afghanistan, President Jimmy Carter was calling for a return to draft registration. It was fortuitous that on April 30, , the House Military Manpower Subcommittee voted unanimously to have the House Armed Services Committee consider the resumption of Selective Service registration. A planned protest in Washington Square Park on May Day became that much more prescient, as SLS joined a diverse coalition of groups to resist the growing political support for conscription.
Time spent as a growing libertarian activist took nothing away from my deepening academic studies. When I returned in the Fall of , the beginning of my junior year at NYU, I had already taken courses with some of the finest historians that the Department of History had to offer, including Richard Hull and colonial historians Patricia Bonomi and Gloria Main.
Simultaneously, my acquaintance with Murray Rothbard had developed into a collegial friendship; Murray's work had an enormous impact on my growing libertarian perspective and he never hesitated, in countless phone conversations, to provide me with insightful guidance and advice on the development of my professional course of study see " How I Became a Libertarian ".
This work culminated with my first professional article published in The Historian the NYU undergraduate history journal in on " Government and the Railroads in World War I " [pdf] and in my undergraduate senior honors thesis, directed by labor historian Daniel Walkowitz, " The Implications of Interventionism: An Analysis of the Pullman Strike " [pdf].
In fairness, many years later, I criticized aspects of Rothbard's work in a full scholarly exegesis of its scope, as a segment of my doctoral dissertation, from which I derived Part II of my book, Total Freedom: Toward a Dialectical Libertarianism , the culminating work of my "Dialectics and Liberty Trilogy" which began with Marx, Hayek, and Utopia and Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical.
That critique, however, is itself evidence of the impact that Rothbard had made on my libertarian studiessince it was simultaneously my attempt to make visible, and to grapple with, his many contributions, something that too many contemporary scholars had simply ignored.
March 31, 2005
It was in part my commitment to making those contributions visible that I approached Professor Richard Hull in the fall semester of At the time, Professor Hull was the amiable advisor for both undergraduate students of history and The Historian. I told him that there was, indeed, considerable interest among the members of the Undergraduate History Society in Rothbard's iconoclastic approach and I urged him to extend a departmental invitation to Murray to speak before students and faculty of the Department of History.
The result of that invitation was Murray's talk on "Libertarian Paradigms in American History," a lecture that he gave on December 4, at 4 pm in room of the Main Building. Professor Hull encouraged me to introduce Murray to a standing-room only crowd of well over people. I highlighted virtually all of Rothbard's historical works, in particular, while cautioning the crowd that it would not be easy to pigeonhole him as a New Right or New Left historian; clearly, I suggested, Murray Rothbard was forging a unique interpretive approach to the study of history.
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Virtually all of the department's historians were in attendance that afternoon; Murray knew many of them personally, and after the lecture, he exchanged some warm words with Gloria Main, since he had referred in his talk to Jackson Turner Main, her husband, whose work on the Antifederalists he recommended highly.
The central theme of Rothbard's lecture was the conflict between "Liberty" and "Power" throughout history.
He did not deny the complexities of historical events and did not disapprove of alternative approaches to the understanding of history. Drawing from Albert Jay Nock, however, he believed that the contest between "social power" embodied in voluntary institutions and trade and "state power" in which certain interests used the coercive instruments of government to expropriate others for their own benefit was central to understanding the ebb and flow of historical events.
Social power, which reached its apex in the eighteenth and nineteenth century, breeds prosperity, civilization, and culture; state power, which came to dominate the twentieth century, produced the most regressive period in human history—as government expanded its powers through warfare and a maze of regulatory agencies, central banking, and welfare-state bureaucracies.
Throughout his talk, he drew on the pioneering scholarship of Bernard Bailyn on the ideological origins of the American Revolution; Jackson Turner Main on the role of the Antifederalists in restraining, through the Bill of Rights, the "nationalist" forces that forged the counter-revolutionary Constitution; Paul Kleppner, who provides an enlightening take on the struggle between "liturgical" and "pietist" cultural forces, the latter viewed as a key element in the emergence of the Progressive Era and the growth of government intervention; and Gabriel Kolko, whose revisionist work on the role of big business in the move toward the regulatory state explains much about the rise of corporatist statism in the twentieth century and beyond.
The entire minute talk, which included a brief question-and-answer session, is peppered with that edgy Rothbardian wit, which entertained as much as it informed. By the end of the lecture, Rothbard was given a standing ovation. So enthralled was I by the success of that December lecture that in September , I extended an invitation to Murray to be among the speakers featured in a nearly week-long "Libertython" sponsored by the NYU chapter of Students for a Libertarian Societydedicated to exploring the politics, economics, and philosophy of freedom.
On September 23, , he gave the second of six scheduled lectures that day. His lecture focused on "The Crisis of American Foreign Policy," wherein I introduced him to a slightly smaller audience than the event sponsored by the History Department. The size of the audience didn't matter; for Rothbard, there was nothing more important than the issue of war and peace.
As he put it, libertarians were usually quite good in opposing the regulations of OSHA or criticizing the destructive effects of price controls. But when faced with the role of the warfare state as the single most important factor in the expansion of government power: "Blank out"a turn of phrase he used, giving credit to Ayn Randwas the typical response he'd witnessed from far too many libertarians.
By not focusing enough attention on the role of "war and peace," all the other issues concerning price control, free will versus determinism, and so forth, become "pointless With a bit of gallows humor, he couldn't resist criticizing the U. As the antidote to war, he cited W.
Much more than documents.
Fields, who, when asked by the Saturday Evening Post how to end World War II, remarked: "Take the leaders of both sides or all sides, in the Hollywood Bowl, and let them fight it out with sackfuls of guns. Some will have difficulty accepting Rothbard's argument that in any clash between "democratic" and "dictatorial" countries, the latter is not necessarily the source of contemporary conflict. In fact, Rothbard argues, the foreign policy of the "democratic" United States has been at the root of many of the global conflicts in the post-World War II era.
Included here as well are several self-acknowledged "digs" that Rothbard takes at the Libertarian Party's Presidential candidate, Ed Clark, with some surprising comments on subjects such as immigration policy. Except for those who were present at these two events, these two lectures have not been heard by anyone since I had been the only person with recorded copies of these Rothbard lectures and it is remarkable that these recordings survived.
Indeed, an apartment fire in October nearly consumed my library—and my family.
March 30, 2005
Fortunately, we survived, as did most of my books, audio and video cassettes, and other recordings. The "lost" Rothbard lectures were found under two feet of ash and sheetrock.
I later digitized them for the sake of posterity and have donated these materials to the Mises Institute , which has become a repository of so much of Rothbard's corpus.
I am delighted that they will now be heard for the first time in nearly four decades. In , the late singer, songwriter, and musician, Prince , put out the title track and lead single to his album, " Controversy.
If I could have co-written the song for re-release, I'd have to add one more line in keeping with the spirit of things; after all, "I wish there were no rules" comes pretty close to the conventional "definition" of anarchism!
Well, my Facebook friend, Cory Massimino put up a post today on FB discussing left-libertarianism, providing a breakdown of its four distinct though interrelated meanings.
I quote him here in full, with his permission:.