Getting "reoriented" for the new year
I find that there’s no better time to “get my head re-straightened” than as we approach the beginning of a new year. So I’ve just re-read (for the zillionth time) Murray N. Rothbard’s seminal essay for Left Libertarians, first published 40 years ago, “Left and Right: The Prospects for Liberty.” Rothbard’s piece offers an exquisite historical summary of the long struggle of liberty against power. It presents a genuine and proper reorientation of just where we lovers of freedom belong on the ideological spectrum. And it brims with an optimism that is hard to find in most of today’s libertarian movement:
“[T]he Old Order was able to persist in its slave system for centuries precisely because it awoke no expectations and no hopes in the minds of the submerged masses; their lot was to live and eke out their brutish subsistence in slavery while obeying unquestioningly the commands of their divinely appointed rulers. But the liberal revolution [of the 18th century] implanted indelibly in the minds of the masses — not only in the West but in the still feudally-dominated undeveloped world — the burning desire for liberty, for land to the peasantry, for peace between the nations, and, perhaps above all, for the mobility and rising standards of living that can only be brought to them by an industrial civilization. The masses will never again accept the mindless serfdom of the Old Order; and given these demands that have been awakened by liberalism and the Industrial Revolution, long-run victory for liberty is inevitable. ...
“For the Libertarian, the main task of the present epoch is to cast off his needless and debilitating pessimism, to set his sights on long-run victory and to set out on the road to its attainment. To do this, he must, perhaps first of all, drastically realign his mistaken view of the ideological spectrum; he must discover who his friends and natural allies are, and above all perhaps, who his enemies are. Armed with this knowledge, let him proceed in the spirit of radical long-run optimism...”
Now, on to my re-reading of