Thursday, July 28, 2005

Murray's "left turn"

They say that those who ignore the past are doomed to repeat it. So all libertarians hoping for and working toward a Left-Right libertarian coalition should CLICK HERE RIGHT NOW and download a copy of “Rothbard’s Time on the Left,” by John Payne. This 18-page article, which appeared in the Winter 2005 Journal of Libertarian Studies, is the fullest account I’ve read of Murray Rothbard’s strategic alliance with the New Left in the 1960s. Writes Payne:

“[W]hy would the most free market of free-market economists reach out to a gaggle of assorted socialists? ... In the New Left, Rothbard found a group of scholars who opposed the Cold War and political centralization, and possessed a mass following with high growth potential. For this opportunity, Rothbard was willing to set economics somewhat to the side and settle on common ground...”

This is really an exhilarating, inspiring political tale. And although, after four or five years, Murray’s efforts ultimately failed, “a great many libertarians were culled and/or created from the ranks of SDS [Students for a Democratic Society] and unaffiliated Vietnam War protesters.

“Whatever else can be said, Rothbard never backed away from the truth as he saw it, even when it meant the destruction of a political bond he had worked so hard to build; the struggle for liberty always remained paramount.”

What can we learn from Murray’s story? Persistence, determination, and the wisdom in knowing when to cut your losses and shift your tactics.
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