The Chickens Come Home

So many pixels have been spilled over the way that Lew Rockwell & Co. have slimed the libertarian movement. What more can be said? The evidence of truly ugly racist collectivism at and the little network of groups clustered around him is overwhelming, not only in the Ron Paul newsletters that have been found, but in their hateful attacks on Rosa Parks and others, as well as in their connections with anti-Semites, German “nationalists,” white supremacists (e.g., Sam Francis), etc., etc. ad nauseam. The embrace of clearly anti-libertarian figures, sentiments, and causes, all in the name of being “anti-PC,” contrarian, and enemies of the American state has done incalculable damage to the cause of limited government. Rockwell and his sick crew should be ostracized and excluded from decent company.

My colleague David Boaz’s statement here. I agree entirely. (The blog post below has some commentary, as well.)

45 Responses to “The Chickens Come Home”

  1. The ‘fever swamp’ category on this blog is an invaluable resource, as we can point friends to a lengthy catalogue of reasons not to get in bed with Rockwell and friends. Thanks very much.

  2. The Horror, the horror....

    I don’t think the majority of libertarians realized the extent of the problems that surround the Mises Institute. Thanks for enlightening us.

  3. My sentiments precisely. Thank you Dr. Palmer, for the work you did to warn us of the infiltration by everything I abhor into the movement that advances my views. Those people working from Auburn, Alabama do not represent my views. They are the opposite!

  4. The present kerfuffle seems to have reinvigorated the RightWatch blog that you had previously recommended as a monitor of the fever swamps but whose author had become despondent. Go have a look at it.

  5. So the defense of Ron Paul and Lew Rockwell runs something like this:
    “Ron Paul isn’t a bigot, you faggot nigger lover!”

    Somehow, that doesn’t work for me.

  6. The Truth Will Out

    Here’s the word from Ron Paul’s former Chief of Staff, who joins Wendy McElroy and others in pointing the finger at LEW ROCKWELL

    Dear Lew,

    You have now had three opportunities â??1996, 2001, and 2008 â?? to prove that you are a friend of Ron Paul and freedom, and you have failed to do so each time.

    This week, for the third time, the puerile, racist, and completely un-Pauline comments that all informed people say you have caused to appear in Ronâ??s newsletters over the course of several years have become an issue in his campaign. This time the stakes are even higher than before. He is seeking nationwide office, the Republican nomination for President, and his campaign is attracting millions of supporters, not tens of thousands.

    Three times you have failed to come forward and admit responsibility for and complicity in the scandals. You have allowed Ron to twist slowly in the wind. Because of your silence, Ron has been forced to issue repeated statements of denial, to answer repeated questions in multiple interviews, and to be embarrassed on national television. Your callous disregard for both Ron and his millions of supporters is unconscionable.

    If you were Dr. Paulâ??s friend, or a friend of freedom, as you pretend to be, by now you would have stepped forward, assumed responsibility for those asinine and harmful comments, resigned from any connection to Ron or his campaign, and relieved Ron of the burden of having to repeatedly deny the charges of racism. But you have not done so, and so the scandal continues to detract from Ronâ??s message.

    You know as well as I do that Ron does not have a racist bone in his body, yet those racist remarks went out under his name, not yours. Pretty clever. But now itâ??s time to man up, Lew. Admit your role, and exonerate Ron. You should have done it years ago.

    John Robbins, Ph.D.
    Chief of Staff
    Dr. Ron Paul, 1981-1985

  7. Wow. Been out of the loop (long vacation) and now I come back to this! You were right, Tom, about what’s wriggling under the the LewROCKwell. You’ve taken a lot of heat for alerting people. We should make sure that decent people will be too embarrassed to associate with, donate to, or lend his or her name to anything that is organized by Lew Rockwell.

  8. Tom’s a hero for standing up to these people and documenting their bigotry on this site. They call anything they don’t like a smear, but as Tom pointed out in one post, they smear themselves.

    Open-minded people will respect Cato for refusing to turn a blind eye to the hate-filled newsletters. That kind of prejudice diminishes everyone’s freedom. Ron Paul is the one running for president, not the Cato Institute, and it’s up to him to explain the newsletters. People only have to read to understand their jaundiced views, which are a reflection of themselves, however much they accuse Cato of errant libertarianism.

  9. George Stevens

    Dear Tom,

    I trust you’re more well-versed in von Mises than I, but from my reading he was absolutely in favor of free trade and immigration, and considered the church (at least in Europe) to be an enemy of liberty – hardly a hero for the nativist ‘paleo turn’ in the early ’90s.

    The paleos did seem to drift away from Buchananism and the Chronicles crowd as the ’90s progressed. I do appreciate a good bit of their work, particularly the Mises scholarship and the anti-war work.

    I don’t know if Lew penned the racially insensitive passages in question (from about a five month period, not years as some say here) – It could have been an assistant of his or an intern. I can think of some possible names, but it’s only second-hand talk. I do know Lew was involved in production of the newsletter.

    In any case, the paleos were cranky, negative and socially ultra-conservative at that time, and what they put (or allowed to run) in Ron’s newsletter is damaging him now. We always felt they manipulated him.

  10. The baby boom wants to stick its kids and grandkids with a retirement bill of $53 trillion. The interventionist foreign policy has cost America tens of thousands of lives and trillions of dollars. The mainstream media and the average voter are perpetuating these crimes with its top tier presidential candidates.

    You and the rest of the Cato Institute are throwing out a new baby (the RPR) with some bad bathwater (20 year old newsletters). It is a sad day for the Liberty movement.

    Fortunately that baby is a lot stronger than you may admit.

    The Cato Institute could begin to put this affair behind us by getting a lot more aggressive on foreign policy. Ron Paul has demonstrated there is enormous upside for the Liberty movement in this area and today Cato is squandering it.

  11. I’ve read all of these comments and gone through other websites. I think it’s worth mentioning that Palmer was friendly to Ron Paul early on.

    On October 20 Palmer reported about a CNN discussion of Ron Paul’s campaign

    The leadup of issues is a mixed bag, including some libertarian themes and some odd views on â??securing our bordersâ? [read: controlling the movement of people] and â??transferringâ? sovereignty to â??unelected foreign elites,â? i.e., signing treaties that reduce trade barriers and that include adjudication procedures. Well, no oneâ??s perfect. The war is Ron Paulâ??s strongest issue and I hope that he pushes that relentlessly.

    And then later on in the comments section,

    I share the worries about Ron’s rhetoric and some of his positions, which I consider incompatible with liberty, but it’s true that he’s the only candidate on the GOP side who can honestly say that he was against the Iraq War from the get-go, which is one reason he’s getting attention. Moreover, he’s raising important questions in the debates. I’m glad he’s there and that he’s bringing out people who don’t go for statist adventurism all over the globe. Most of the critics of neo-conservative adventurism only disagree on where they want to send the troops. They may want them out of Iraq, but they also want them in Bosnia and in Darfur and in Burma and on and on. At least one candidate doesn’t merely differ over the question of what nations should be invaded.

  12. To Haigh & Peter It isn’t Tom Palmer nor Cato that are attacking Paul. Paul is being hoist by his own petard, and his association with Lew Rockwell.

    I still support Paul, he’s clearly the best candidate, but there can’t be a Paul “revolution” if he’s going to keep associating with the Rockwell cult.

  13. To Charles Steele
    “Paul is being hoist by his own petard”

    Paul has taken responsibility for this petard but it was Palmer’s and Boaz’s choice to hoist it. Palmer and Boaz have a lifetime of contributions but in this choice of theirs I see nothing constructive.

    One of the unique contributions of Paul’s campaign is its attraction to anti-war democrats. I don’t expect these supporters will ever cross over to libertarianism but progress is most likely when constituencies are consolidated. The newsletter affair is a petty distraction that undermines this opportunity.

  14. Palmer and Boaz neither wrote nor publicized the RP newsletters. National Review did.

    Ron Paul sabotages himself by not denouncing the crap written in his name.

    Here’s what the anti-war democrats have been saying about Paul for some time:

    The RP newsletter quotes from Daily Kos are much worse, IMO, than what NR posted. Good luck converting anti-war democrats with this stuff. What irks me is that a great deal of damage can be undone by being upfront and simply coming clean. I believe Paul isn’t a racist; he ought simply to denounce this crap and whoever wrote it.

  15. OBloodyHell

    I’ve been a reader for a long time at Rockwell & Mises — sort of. I never subscribed to the RP newsletter, and I stopped paying attention to Rockwell himself some years back, after his response to my own comment about a ridiculous anti-Iraq War diatribe consisted basically of telling me that a cited poll of Iraqi opinions could not possibly be accurate, since it was taken “at gunpoint”. The fact that some of the poll takers had security to protect them was equated to the poll being taken using police-state tactics to scare up the right answers.

    Maybe so, but the simple fact was that there were no “Yanqui go home” parades suggested strongly against the sort of resentment Rockwell clearly presumed present… so I stopped paying any attention to his commentaries in that regard, while never unsubscribing.

    I will state that, for the most part, the Mises newsletter stays off of politics, and, as long as it does, and stays on economics ground, it is highly rational, thoughtful, and worth reading.

    I know Rockwell may officially edit it, but there are apparently other hands there who seem to keep it on an even keel, and in the direction that I believe Mises and Rothbard would support, as would most Libertarians. I suggest that as long as does this, you don’t tar them with the same brush you use against Rockwell.

    By all means, if they make ridiculous political claims, nail their balls to the wall, but, as long as this is not a regular thing, I recommend that the site and its economic viewpoints are worthy of attention. They are one of the two alternative schools of economic thought to use against Neo-Keynesian idiocy and collectivist bullsh**.


    Would the Rockwell-Rothbard approach to building a power base be described as “triangulation”?

    I guess Ron Paul had a spontaneous remission of whatever little moral lapse he succumbed to. Or would it be more accurate to say he’s “repented”? What does it mean to take moral responsibility for Machiavellian tactics of this sort? Does the nice country doctor morph into Henry Kissinger when he’s with his “advisors”?

  17. Mob, shmob.

    The left has been blogging about the Paul newsletters for some time. The Daily Kos link I gave is dated May 2007.

    I know a number of “progressives” and leftists who don’t read anything from Cato, never heard of Reason, and have no idea what any “beltway libertarians” say about anything. They know I am a libertarian, and sort of get what I am talking about. When they heard I support Paul, I was asked whether he isn’t actually a racist — this was prior to the New Republic article (I keep mistakenly calling it National Review). It would be a lot easier for me to keep saying “no, he’s not” if he’d come clean.

    This isn’t a conspiracy against Paul. It’s his own newsletter, for heaven’s sakes!

  18. Tom G. Palmer

    For the record, I should state that I am saddened by the whole dirty affair; that I had never met James Kirchik, nor had I communicated with him, until a cocktail party AFTER the publication of his article, when we spoke for less than five minutes; that I was not quoted in the piece. Neither I nor David Boaz were aware of the awful statements in the newsletters, but both of us were wary of anything involving Paul’s circle of friends. Make of that what you will, but the only people who bear any responsibility for the harm done are A) Lew Rockwell for doing what he did (and believing what he believes), and B) Ron Paul for putting his name on such sickening statements, whether he believes them or not. I hope that they understand what they have done. Were I a Christian, I might forgive them. I am not.

  19. More like “poorly executed Machiavellian tactics”…

    The success of Rothbard’s dream of the paleo-vanguard tricking the unwashed hick masses into libertarian anarcho-revolution?

    1) failed miserably 2) made a joke of libertarianism and Ron Paul 3) was transparent enough to show Rothbard and Rockwell for the dishonest hucksters they are.

    Lew Rockwell, you are no Henry Kissinger sir!

  20. Charles N. Steele,

    Charles, I don’t believe Dr. No can be trusted. He doesn’t seem to have a problem laying down the law in his imperious declarations on immigration and abortion. And don’t you worry a tad about the people he might choose for his cabinet? Or do you think all cabinet posts would be abolished, along with the IRS?

    I don’t know about you, but I’d feel uneasy if he chose, say, Hoppe as Treasury Secretary, Gary North as Attorney General and Lew Rockwell as Secretary of State. And even if he didn’t, what kind of advisors are they now on the Constitution, economics, foreign policy? These people don’t inspire confidence. Not that everyone has to sound like Mahatma Gandhi, but their truculent prose makes the reader wonder also about the depth of their commitment to peace.

  21. Tom,
    Theres Ron Paul the candidate and theres Ron Paulâ??s message. This whole newsletter affair focuses on Ron Paul the candidate and his associates. The opportunity on the national stage, is Ron Paulâ??s message. Not the message of 20 year old newsletters, but messages of small government, free markets, and civil liberties.

    Itâ??s not necessary that Cato support the candidate but Cato should be taking advantage of the moment by amplifying the message.

    When Ron Paul says any of the following
    – Close down 700 bases in 130 foreign countries
    – We need to return to a strict interpretation of the constitution
    – America should not go to war without a declaration from Congress
    – The legality of abortion should be determined by the states.
    – The country is bankrupt
    – Etc.

    Cato could be reacting. Agree or disagree, it almost doesnâ??t matter, as long as the intent is true to the essence of liberty. Amplify the message, modify it, or bring it a new layer of detail. Cato could be catching the attention of all the young people who have been attracted to Ron Paulâ??s message, instead the moment is being squandered.

  22. Anon — the point never was that Paul would win; the GOP would never allow him to be the nominee. The point was and is having libertarian ideas entered into the debate, instead of just theocracy, militarism, and socialisms.

    But if I thought he would win AND install the cabinet you mention, I’d likely donate every penny and second of my time to getting him elected, just for sheer entertainment value.

    Afterwards, though, I’d also have to move to a safe place to watch, like Canada.

  23. Haigh — I don’t know whether “the moment is being squandered,” but the idea of piggybacking on the enthusiasm for Paul is good; it’s what I’m getting at by supporting him…which means writing and otherwise spreading libertarian ideas.

  24. As someone who’s outside the U.S. and been inspired by the more contemporary work of CATO and the more theoretical work of Mises Institute, I consider it a sad day when the two cannot hold fort together.

    Because I really do think the work of both institutes are complementary, at least looking from a distance.

    I really do think the Ron Paul run is the single most exciting thing that libertarians anywhere in the world had seen for a long long time. no actually let me rephrase it, this has been the most exciting thing ever.

    No one would make money bombs, youtube videos, Blimps or go door-to-door with the message of Liberty for any institute. Ron Paul did that.

    Ron Paul made liberty inspiring again, I refuse to believe that anyone remotely libertarian didn’t find the RP candidacy inspiring.

    Whether you agree with him or not, At the very least Ron Paul deserve a simple thanks from everyone who claim to be libertarian.

    Go Ron Paul, go Cato.

  25. Bravo Deane,
    I live in the United States and you have gone to the heart of my concerns over this newsletter sideshow.

    If indeed the Ron Paul candidacy can stay standing until the GOP convention, I hold out hope that Cato will find a little resonance.

    Call the ideas of the RPR Liberty 3.0. At this point its not clear Cato will make the product transition out of their 2.0 outlook.

  26. Charles N. Steele,

    Let’s return to the days of bootleg abortions. Now there’s a true libertarian idea, a touch of theocracy, militarism and socialisms all in one.

    Have the government declare when life begins, and take the liberal view that it’s at conception and not preconception. Then go state by state and ban abortions, protecting fetal rights “since there cannot be liberty in a society unless the rights of all innocents are protected,” says Dr. No.

    No distinction made between a zygote and a full-term fetus, and the government should intervene on behalf of the rights of the fetus (unborn child, says Paul). Pregnant women apparently should have no say in the matter, and have no right to do anything except carry a zygote to term and deliver on demand for the sake of liberty.

    What a great combination, liberty backed by police power to reassure “social conservatives” invested in theocratic socialisms that the US government’s word on life is on a par with that of leading Christianists.

    Haigh, if libertarianism’s a 2.0 consumable product, the Ayn Rand-churchocratic packaging doesn’t work.

    Thanks for reading. I’ll not belabor such inconsistencies here again, since Tom Palmer needs to get back to his work for human rights without more blowback from the peaceful Paul Revolution camp.

    Right, a peaceful lot, the 2.0 revolutionaries. Dr. Steele, I’ll send you an email if I go libertarian enough to feel the need for a Kalashnikov.


  27. Well, Anon, I am very strongly in favor of abortion, but I recognize that defining the moment when individual rights begin is a very sticky problem, and I don’t disparage those with differing opinions. It’s a poor litmus test of libertarianism.

    Re the Paul campaign, Deane sums up my feelings, and those of many of my friends. One needn’t think RP is perfect, nor have any regard for LvMI, to recognize that the outpouring of support for RP is a hopeful thing.

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