Log in

No account? Create an account

Anarchism& Murray Rothbard

I was talking with my coffee house friend Jerry yesterday about politics in general and anarchism in particular. He is one of my favorite people to talk politics with. He is considerably to the left of me, but is generally fair, rational and open-minded. He reads a lot of Noam Chomsky, but he has also read a fair amount of Hayek, and concedes that the latter has some good points. Agreement with Hayek, even if it's partial, always covers a multitude of ideological sins.

He also concedes that Noam Chomsky goes too far sometimes. I said I can't agree with Chomsky's anarchism, and added that I couldn't accept the anarchism of one of my pet political theorists, Murray Rothbard. There was some discussion about the unworkability of anarchism and the futility of prescribing different kinds of anarchy, whether it be Chomsky's anarcho-syndicalism or Rothbard's anarcho-capitalism.

Unfortunately, the conversation drifted towards other things (as it frequently does in a coffee shop) before I had a chance to tell him my favorite Rothbard anecdote. But this is a good occasion for sharing it here.

Rothbard had helped put together a Libertarian conference on Columbus day weekend in 1969. There was an eclectic group of people there, including libertarian conservatives, objectivists, anti-war activists, and yes, anarchists.Sometime during this gathering, Karl Hess issued a call to march on Fort Dix. Half the attendees left, only to get tear-gassed. Rothbard was later heard to complain "this horseshit is precisely why the anarchists lost out in 1917 to the Bolsheviks".

From the accounts I've read, Rothbard seemed perplexed that you can't seem to gather anarchists together without them getting rowdy. 

I have never said this about someone as worthy of esteem as Murray Rothbard, or anyone with his considerable genius, scholarship and body of work, but....bless his heart.

I initially read about the Columbus Day gathering in Brian Doherty's Radicals For Capitalism, and later read the original account in Jerome Tucille's It Usually Begins With Ayn Rand. I strongly recommend both of these books to anyone who wants to learn more about this incident, or just wants to learn more about some of the most fascinating people they've never heard of.