Lew Rockwell: Bad For The Liberty Movement, Period
Over the weekend, I wrote a powerful rant on my personal blog about Lew Rockwell and his destructive influence over the liberty movement. I’m not going to lie, it is filled with obscenities and is generally NSFW (though the only image is one of Lew’s face.) I wrote it so…colorfully…because I have been incredibly frustrated with a man who paints himself as the patron saint of libertarianism, the prelate of so-called freedom who is so quick to excommunicate anyone who disagrees with his own idiosyncracies. (I was also inspired by a NFL kicker’s letter to a Maryland state senator over the topic of same-sex marriage…among other things.)
There have been a few who are interested in a less avant-garde takedown of Rockwell, though, one better suited for polite company, and I am only too happy to oblige. I really feel that a man like Rockwell does not deserve such treatment, but I’m in the market of ideas, and I have customers to support.
The item that sent me on a tirade was a blog post on the Lew Rockwell blog calling Libertarian Party presidential candidate Gary Johnson a “warmonger” because he dared to say thanks to our military. Now you can have legitimate criticisms of the military and their unwavering, blind support from a large number of Americans, but calling Johnson a “warmonger” is too far and uncalled for. But it wasn’t even that; it was that the blog post labeled 9/11 a false flag operation.
In other words, Lew Rockwell’s blog is now the home of 9/11 Truthers. (Or Troofers.)
What incenses me so much about this is that Lew Rockwell is (in my view, wrongly) considered to be one of the leading lights of American libertarianism. When such a thing is posted on his website, it is not just associated with him. Oh no. Forget about methodological individualism for a moment here, my compadres. When some average Joe sees that, and has a connection to libertarianism in his head, he’s going to think that all libertarians are crazy conspiracy theorists with their heads planted firmly up their behinds. We are guilty by association with his man. You can imagine how that helps our credibility. (Oh, did I mean help? I meant ruin. My bad.)
This is after ten years of scientific analysis from every corner of the globe showing that there is absolutely no evidence whatsoever that the US government did it. None. Zip. Nada. Nullius. Every theory floated that has the government as the perpetrator has been thoroughly and unequivocally debunked. Yet here is Lew Rockwell’s website, peddling that same conspiracy theory nonsense. From late 2001 to maybe mid-2004, I could see it. But this is 2012. And if anything, the last twelve years have proven that the government is far too incompetent to even be able to tell it’s butt from a hole in the ground. (It’s ironic LRC would say things like this too, considering they also feel the government is beyond incompetent on just about every other issue. So, 99.9999999% of the time, they can’t fix a toilet…but that .0000001% of the time, they manage to pull off an attack on US soil against US citizens without anyone knowing and keeping the majority of the public in the dark? Okay, buddy. Might be time to put the bong down now.)
But it’s not just 9/11 Trooferism that causes me to have a conniption. There are myriad other things that come from Lew Rockwell’s direction that are damaging our movement. The racism and the racist newsletters. The bigotry, the demand for uniformity rather than a celebration of diversity. The homophobia. The defense of the Confederacy, an institution specifically created to defend human slavery. (And really, if you go that route, how can you in your right mind call yourself a libertarian?) Lew Rockwell’s site is chock full of insanity on just about every subject.
The man is not really a libertarian. He’s just a contrarian.
I am constantly told that “Lew Rockwell is a great man” and that “He’s done more for the liberty movement than you’ve ever done.” As I am a humble man, I will open myself up to the possibility the latter statement is true, but I must ask: What has he done? This usually results in the answer of, “He founded the Mises Institute.” So what? What has the Mises Institute ever done for the libertarian movement? Have you ever see a Mises Institute scholar in the news? No; they sit in their campus in Auburn, Alabama, far away from any halls of power, writing blog posts and essays about Austrian economics and praxeology and their one true god, Ludwig von Mises, and his only begotten son, Murray Rothbard. (Seriously, some of their posts really do sound like religious texts.) They engage in armchair economics and armchair philosophy, but don’t actually produce anything that goes anywhere.
And as for Lew Rockwell enlarging the liberty movement, he did so in the 1980s by going to the far right and pandering to the types who supported Pat Buchanan. (Rockwell actually endorsed Buchanan’s presidential bid, briefly.) Steve Horwitz explained this last year in a BHL post about the Ron Paul newsletters, and it’s something that needs to be reread constantly. This was the paleolibertarian strategy, a strategy that brought in a number of people—but not libertarians. It brought in a lot of those opposed to gays and multiculturalism, but not libertarians.
So as far as I can see, Lew Rockwell has done nothing for the movement.
Wait, that’s not true. He has done something: damaged it. I’m out here, trying to tell people about liberty and freedom, and all the time something comes up about how Ron Paul is a racist or that libertarians believe in crazy stuff or whatever. It hurts. It makes it difficult to spread the message of freedom to the country. And that’s what we have to do, you know: we have to convince others to join us, to educate them that it’s okay to hold onto their money and to have a small government (or no government at all, in some cases.) But how can I do that when I got Lew Rockwell sitting over my shoulder muttering something about how the Confederacy was the greatest thing on Earth, and how because I don’t have a paleo diet I’m not really a libertarian and thus nobody should be listening to me?
It’s time that libertarians around the country—minarchist, anarchist, or what have you—stand up and say “ENOUGH.” We have a hard enough time as it is trying to effect change here, we don’t need someone like Lew making it even harder for us. If Lew was really concerned about advancing liberty, he wouldn’t be allowing this stuff to fly and would instead be directly trying to get people to understand how liberty betters them, and how it relates to contemporary problems. Instead, he spouts conspiracy theories, inane BS about the Confederacy, dips into a bit of racism and homophobia, and tops it off with a heavy load of Austrian economics lecturing that nobody cares about.
We don’t need him. He’s not helping. Neither are his ilk. So let’s ditch these guys and get back to doing what we should be: promoting liberty, not stupidity. Lew Rockwell, go get your own movement.