Saturday, March 10, 2007

Revisiting a sacred text

Bless the Ludwig von Mises Institute. For several years now, they’ve made the classic Left and Right: A Journal of Libertarian Thought available for free download. Now the complete journal — launched in 1965 by Murray Rothbard, Leonard Liggio, and George Resch — is offered by the Mises Institute as a convenient, 690-page, print-on-demand paperback. (The downloadable archives remain available online.)

In An Enemy of the State, a biography of Rothbard, Justin Raimondo wrote that Left and Right “never had a circulation of more than a few thousand, but its influence on a whole generation of libertarians was to effect an intellectual sea-change. Without funding, or promotion, Left and Right found its way to pockets of libertarian supporters on campuses across the nation. From Berkeley to the University of Kansas to the University of North Carolina, libertarian student organizations inspired by Rothbard’s call to reclaim their legacy as the ‘true’ Left sprang up overnight — and suddenly libertarians were being noticed.”

On this blog two years ago, I wrote:

“There’s no question that Left and Right had a tremendous influence on me and on the late Samuel Edward Konkin III, who crafted the Movement of the Libertarian Left to recapture the spirit of that journal. In its mere nine issues, Left and Right presented Rothbard’s manifesto, ‘Left and Right: The Prospects for Liberty,’ his ‘Liberty and the New Left,’ Liggio’s ‘Isolationism, Old and New’ and ‘Early Anti-Imperialism,’ Harry Elmer Barnes’ ‘Pearl Harbor After a Quarter of a Century,’ and brilliant editorials on everything from the Black Revolution, to SDS, to flag desecration (extremely pertinent right now), to the CIA, to the Ninth Amendment, and to the importance of Che Guevara.

“There are few more valuable things libertarians can do today than visit those pieces and begin reforming their ideas about classical liberalism, statism, and American history.”

All serious Libertarian Leftists owe it to themselves to either buy this new paperback volume or visit the Left and Right archives. After all, the journal is, as Roderick Long wrote brilliantly this week, “a sacred text for all left-libertarian reunificationists today — a second glimpse of the promised land, after forty years in the desert.”


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