Review: An Enemy of the State–The Life of Murray N. Rothbard

6 Star Special, America (Founders, Current Situation), Banks, Fed, Money, & Concentrated Wealth, Biography & Memoirs, Budget Process & Politics, Capitalism (Good & Bad), Corruption, Crime (Corporate), Crime (Government), Democracy, Empire, Sorrows, Hubris, Blowback, Executive (Partisan Failure, Reform), Values, Ethics, Sustainable Evolution
Amazon Page
Amazon Page
5.0 out of 5 stars Gfited Author Summarizes Gifted Libertarian Mind
Justin Raimondo
September 8, 2009

I was so impressed by the AUTHOR of this book and the manner in which he so ably presented in summary form the very complex economic, philosophical, and consequently political reflections of Murray Rothbard that I immediately looked for “About the Author” and did not find it. So let me start with the author rather than the subject.

Justin Raimondo an American author and the editorial director of the website Antiwar.com. He describes himself as a “conservative-paleo-libertarian.” In addition to his thrice-weekly column for antiwar.com, he is a regular contributor to The American Conservative and Chronicles magazine. Raimondo also writes two columns a month for Taki’s Top Drawer. He has published three other books, the last one only available from Google Books:
Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement (Background: Essential Texts for the Conservative Mind)
The Terror Enigma: 9/11 and the Israeli Connection
Into the Bosnian Quagmire: The Case Against U.S. Intervention in the Balkans (AFPAC, 1996) via Google Free Online

As someone who appreciates complexity in all its forms, I found the author’s intellectual endeavor in this book to be stunningly formidable. Of the over 24 books by Murray Rothbard, the author presented a coherent account of the high points, and particularly of these that merit further study:
Man, Economy, and State with Power and Market – Scholars Edition
Economic Depressions
An Austrian Perspective on the History of Economic Thought (2 Vol. Set)
The Case Against the Fed
Wall Street Banks and American Foreign Policy

From my nine-pages of notes, respecting the 1,000 word limitation on reviews:

Multiple bottom lines in this include the need to question the role and value of the state; the importance of respecting natural law over man-made law (the latter replete with fraud); the utter divide between intellectuals who are independent (very few) and those who choose to be the kept wards of the state; the difference between liberty for all and the dumbing down effect of egalitarianism in its socialist form; the conflict between individual liberty and organizational power; the vital need to respect non-aggression as a fundamental principle; the equally vital need to keep humanity embedded in all studies, avoiding the “objectivism” that is best summarized in another book I have reviewed, Voltaire’s Bastards: The Dictatorship of Reason in the West; the urgency of educating the public so as to contain the economic elites manipulating state power for their exclusive benefit; and the potential role of religion as a libertarian force (I am reminded of Liberation Theology in Latin America, something the Pope, with his Swiss bank accounts, was never enthusiastic about–so we must distinguish between religious organizations that seek power, and religious intent at the tactical level that is more humane).

In the course of reading this book I felt that I was receiving three different values:

1. A history of Libertarian thought in America;

2. A summary of the reflections of the subject, Murray Rothbard

3. An orientation for the coming war between Middle America and populism, and the corrupt two-party tyranny and its Wall Street masters (cf. Grand Illusion: The Myth of Voter Choice in a Two-Party Tyranny and my own book, also free online, Election 2008: Lipstick on the Pig (Substance of Governance; Legitimate Grievances; Candidates on the Issues; Balanced Budget 101; Call to Arms: Fund We Not Them; Annotated Bibliography)

Among the many highlights for me personally:

+ described as the anti-thesis to Marx

+ corrected Adam Smith as well as John Locke, Austrian school focuses on scarcity of resources rather than plentitude of labor, I fall between the two–the human brain is inexhaustible, but we have not applied it to the known scarcity of resources.

+ coherent definition of statism as the common enemy guilty of expropriation, constantly expanding its powers, generally by declaring war without good reason.

+ libertarianism described as a philosophy seeking a policy–as I myself find our federal policies incoherent to the point of being criminally insane or insanely criminal, this resonates with me–this is the philosophy for all of us who are NOT inclined by amorality or empowered by concentrated wealth, to bribe our government.

+ Alan Greenspan was a ringer, who sold out as a member of the Trilateral Commission and on the board of Morgan (Zbigniew Brzezinski is the mind behind most of Obama’s mis-steps today in foreign policy–another Trilateralist).

+ Patrick Buchanan and the America Firsters are a significant potential reinforcing force, as are the Reformers. Sadly, the book makes it clear that the Constitutionalist Party is a break-away element that will not play well with others.

Quotes of note:

169. For at least two decades we have been living in a society that has taken on all the characteristics of fascism. At home we have the fascist corporate state economy; an economy of monopolies, subsidies, and privileges….

189. Coercive elites are artificial aristocracies who maintain their power through the office of the State.

196. We now face an America ruled alternately by scarcely differentiated wings of the same state-corporatist system.

The latter was written over a decade before Peter Peterson’s Running on Empty: How the Democratic and Republican Parties Are Bankrupting Our Future and What Americans Can Do About It or John Bogle’s The Battle for the Soul of Capitalism.

The final note for me was the three paths to restoring the Republic:

1. Educatioinalism of the public at large such as the antiwar and 9-11 Truth Movements pursue as well as the natural capitalism, true cost, and sustainable design movments

2. Fabian perssuasion in the halls of power, something CATO Institute gets good marks for

3. Radicalization of Middle America, something that Bush-Cheney and Obama-Biden appear to be doing very nicely.

The author, the subject, and I all share one huge big idea: our persistent faith in the average American. I believe that populism, properly understood as average Americans armed with both personal weapons and a rich understanding of reality, is here to stay. It is sweeping across Latin America and now it is here in America. Praise the Lord!

The Average American: The Extraordinary Search for the Nation’s Most Ordinary Citizen
All Rise: Somebodies, Nobodies, and the Politics of Dignity (BK Currents (Hardcover))
Collective Intelligence: Creating a Prosperous World at Peace

Vote on Review
Vote on Review