Murray N. Rothbard (1926–1995) was dean of the Austrian School. He was an economist, economic historian, and libertarian political philosopher.
The Betrayal of the American Rightby Murray N. Rothbard
Betrayal of the American Right is the full story, and
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This remarkable piece of history will change the way you look at American politics. It shows that the corruption of American "conservatism" began long before George W. Bush ballooned the budget and asserted dictatorial rights over the country and the world. The American Right long ago slid into the abyss.
Betrayal of the American Right is the full story, and the author is none other than Murray N. Rothbard, who witnessed it all first hand. He tells his own story and reveals that machinations behind the subversion of an anti-state movement into one that cheers statism of the worst sort.
The book was written in the mid-1970s and is only now published for the first time. Each time a prospective publisher promised to go ahead, the deal fell through. Even so, it has been privately circulated for the 30 years since it was written - and everyone lucky enough to own a copy of the manuscript knew he had a treasure.
People who have read it swear that it is the best account ever how the old right was subverted to become a propaganda branch of the state, not just recently but fifty years ago. So Rothbard's account is not only a critical historical document; it also has explosive explanatory power.
According to Rothbard, the corruption of the right began in the ten years after the end of the Second World War. Before then, a strong movement of journalists, writers, and even politicians had formed during the New Deal and after. There was a burgeoning literature to explain why New Deal-style central planning was bad for American liberty. They also saw that central planning and war were linked as two socialistic programs.
The experience of war was telling. Prices were controlled by central edict. Businesses were not free to buy and sell. Government spending went through the roof. The Fed's money machine ran constantly. The war was a continuation of the New Deal by others means. They learned that a president dictatorial enough to manipulate the country into war would think nothing of ending liberty at home.
There were wonderful intellectuals in this movement: Frank Chodorov, John T. Flynn, Garet Garrett, Albert Jay Nock, Rose Wilder Lane, and dozens of others. This movement didn't want to conserve anything but liberty. They wanted to overthrow the alien regime that had taken hold of the country and restore respect for the Constitution. They believed in the free market as a creative mechanism to improve society. They favored a restoration of the gold standard, decentralized government, and peace and friendship with all nations (as George Washington wanted).
Murray Rothbard recounts all this, and then enters into the picture. He was a central player in the unfolding events. As a young man, he first encountered the new generation of people on the right who departed dramatically from the old. They were the first "neoconservatives." They favored war as a means. They were soft on executive dictatorship. They considered economics rather trivial compared with the struggle against international foes.
They found new uses for the state in the domestic realm as well. They like the CIA, the FBI, and no amount of military spending was enough for them. A leader of the movement—William F. Buckley—even called for a "totalitarian bureaucracy within our shores" so long as Russia, which had been an alley in the war, had a communist system.
This transformation was formative for Rothbard. He began an intellectual journey that would lead to a break from the movement that was now calling itself conservative. He studied with Ludwig von Mises during and after his graduate school years. He wrote a seminal book on economics. He wrote at a fevered pace for the popular press. By 1965, he found that he was pretty much alone in carrying on the Old Right vision. Most everyone else had died or had entered into that long trajectory that would lead to George Bush.
As Thomas Woods writes in the introduction, "It is not just a history of the Old Right, or of the anti-interventionist tradition in America. It is the story—at least in part—of Rothbard's own political and intellectual development: the books he read, the people he met, the friends he made, the organizations he joined, and so much more."
- Ludwig von Mises Institute
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