Thursday, September 27, 2007

Drawing inspiration from Murray

We of the Agorist Action Alliance and the Alliance of the Libertarian Left today work to draw frustrated and disenfranchised freedom activists from “left” and “right” together into a vital anti-state, anti-war, libertarian Leftist movement. And granted, the task seems overwhelming. But back in 1971, after three decades of political “homelessness” and being stonewalled in his efforts to unite libertarian strains from both Old Right and New Left, eternal optimist Murray Rothbard still maintained his dream of building such a coalition. Listen to this rallying cry, the closing paragraphs from The Betrayal of the American Right.

“And so we now face an America ruled alternately by scarcely differentiated conservative and liberals wings of the same state-corporatist system. Within the ranks of liberalism there is a growing number of disaffected people who are increasingly facing the fact that their own credo, liberalism, has been in power for forty years, and what has it wrought? Executive dictation, unending war in Vietnam, imperialism abroad and militarism and conscription at home, intimate partnership between Big Business and Leviathan Government. An increasing number of liberals are facing this critical failure and are recognizing that liberalism itself is to blame. They are beginning to see that Lyndon Johnson was absolutely correct in habitually referring to Franklin Roosevelt as his ‘Big Daddy.’ The paternity is clear, and the whole crew stands or falls together.

“Where, then, can disaffected liberals turn? Not to the current Right, which offers them only more of the same, spiced with a more jingoistic and theocratic flavor. Not to the New Left, which destroyed itself in despair and random violence. Libertarianism, to many liberals, offers itself as the place to turn.

“And so libertarianism itself grows apace, fueled by split-offs from conservatism and liberalism alike. Just as conservatives and liberals have effectively blended into a consensus to uphold the Establishment, so what America needs now — and can have — is a counter-coalition in opposition to the Welfare-Warfare State. A coalition that would favor the short-term libertarian goals of militant opposition to the Vietnam War and the Cold War generally, and to conscription, the military-industrial complex, and the high taxes and accelerated inflation that the state has needed to finance these statist measures. It would be a coalition to advance the cause of both civil liberty and economic freedom from government dictation. It would be, in many ways, a renaissance of a coalition between the best of the Old Right and the old New Left, a return to the glorious days when elements of Left and Right stood shoulder to shoulder to oppose the conquest of the Philippines and America’s entry into World Wars I and II. Here would be a coalition that could appeal to all groups throughout America, to the middle class, workers, students, liberals, and conservatives alike. But Middle America, for the sake of gaining freedom from high taxes, inflation, and monopoly, would have to accept the idea of personal liberty and a loss of national face abroad. And liberals and leftists, for the sake of dismantling the war machine and the American Empire, would have to give up the cherished Old Left-liberal dream of high taxes and Federal expenditures for every goody on the face of the earth. The difficulties are great, but the signs are excellent that such an anti-Establishment and antistatist coalition can and might come into being. Big government and corporate liberalism are showing themselves to be increasingly incapable of coping with the problems that they have brought into being. And so objective reality is on our side.

“But more than that: the passion for justice and moral principle that is infusing more and more people can only move them in the same direction; morality and practical utility are fusing ever more clearly to greater numbers of people in one great call: for the liberty of people, of individuals and voluntary groups, to work out their own destiny, to take control over their own lives. We have it in our power to reclaim the American Dream.”

You can read this 36-year-old passage and be inspired by it, heartened by the fact that Rothbard never surrendered his vision. Or you can bewail three decades of experimentation and (so far) failure and suggest that our current efforts are a tremendous waste of time.

I choose to be inspired by Rothbard’s spirit and stay the course.

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