Cato VP: Ron Paul Represented a “Hideous Corruption of Libertarian Ideas”

by | Apr 25, 2017

Cato VP: Ron Paul Represented a “Hideous Corruption of Libertarian Ideas”

by | Apr 25, 2017

Today’s Tom Woods Letter, which all the influential people receive every weekday. Be one of them.

“Ron Paul’s xenophobia was a hideous corruption of libertarian ideas.”

What kind of person says something so detached from reality?

Why, Brink Lindsey, Vice President of research at the Cato Institute.

(Before I go on, let’s dispense with this objection: “Woods, you purist, why are you attacking fellow libertarians?” There are many possible answers to that question. But my response is: before you criticize me for defending Ron Paul, please forward me the letter of outrage you sent to Brink Lindsey. No double standards allowed.)

Heaven knows why Ron Paul is supposed to be a “xenophobe.” We are spared Lindsey’s deep thoughts on the subject.

But isn’t it a bit rich that Lindsey, a guy who supported the preposterous Iraq war that killed countless people for no good reason, should be calling other people xenophobes?

My enemies are whoever my government (which does not lie to me about foreign affairs — why, that’s conspiracy talk!) tells me they are. That doesn’t sound like a xenophobic principle at all!

Even if Ron were a xenophobe, if I lived in a country in the crosshairs of the U.S. I think I’d rather be facing someone who just called me nasty names, as opposed to someone who actually wanted to drop bombs on me.

Then he’s upset that Ron hasn’t supported various trade agreements. Why, only a conspiracy theorist could oppose them!

Brink, just so you know, when the International Trade Organization was floated in the late 1940s, it was the free traders like Philip Cortney, who was a friend of Mises, who led the opposition. His book The Economic Munich explained why the whole approach of these bureaucratic agreements had to be rejected. Wilhelm Ropke opposed the ITO for the same reason.

So now we’re not allowed to like Wilhelm Ropke, either. (Take notes, people. By the end, you’ll be left with Lindsey and his 12 friends.)

Then Lindsey writes, “The libertarian movement had an ugly illiberal streak long before Ron Paul. It’s been there from the get-go.”

This declaration links to an article on Murray Rothbard’s support for the Dixiecrats and states’ rights. This is supposed to be so obviously evil as not to require elaboration. Why, libertarians should favor one gigantic jurisdiction! That will be super for liberty! Whatever could go wrong?

We commemorate the Armenian genocide today. I don’t think it would be correct to say the Armenians were particularly enriched by living under a centralized regime.

In attacking Rothbard in this way, Lindsey is also condemning the great Frank Chodorov, who also supported states’ rights (which is just a shorthand term, obviously), as did Felix Morley, whose work was published by Liberty Fund, where evidently nobody thought: “This man’s views are not allowed.”

We’re going to have to chuck an awful lot to satisfy the delicate Brink Lindsey.

Political decentralization has been a fairly constant theme in libertarian thought, and indeed F.A. Hayek once said that liberty was more likely to flourish in small states.

Meanwhile, nobody pauses to note that Ludwig von Mises himself praised Rothbard to the skies — and I think I’ll take that endorsement over the 21st-century virtue-signaling of Brink Lindsey, whoever he is.

Rothbard, whose scholarly output (in the days before the Internet!) surpasses that of the entire staff of the Cato Institute, is ignored or demonized by Cato and the Koch orbit. They much prefer the tamer Milton Friedman and F.A. Hayek. (No, I’m not denying those men’s merits, so resist the urge to lecture me.) Mises is tolerated sometimes, but he’s pushing it.

Since Rothbard is an actual libertarian, he’s not easily pigeonholed. You’d never guess from reading Lindsey that Rothbard favored the release of Huey Newton, co-founder of the Black Panthers.

Or that he criticized Judge Julius Hoffman for his ridiculous treatment of Bobby Seale (the other co-founder of the Black Panthers). Or that he denounced the arrest of H. Rap Brown.

Something tells me Lindsey didn’t know any of this. The sum total of his knowledge appears to be something like:


Oh, and I nearly forgot:


Lindsey, meanwhile, has favored a strategy he calls “liberaltarian.” The left shares some of our views, so let’s hook up with them instead of with the right!

I think we can all see how that’s been going.

Meanwhile, Ron Paul pops out of nowhere and generates a massive youth movement, gets kids reading Mises and opposing war and central banking, and Lindsey goes berserk.

War and central banking are about the last two issues Lindsey wants discussed. The very heart of the empire? Forget it. Let’s make libertarianism about prostitution and abortion, discussion of which poses not the slightest threat to the regime.

And whoops — I shouldn’t have said empire just there. Only a crazy person would use a word like that.

When the chips are down, you can count on folks like Lindsey to stand with the establishment, jointly denouncing heretics. As in:


NEW YORK TIMES: Is this Brink Lindsey?

BRINK LINDSEY: Why, hello, Mr. New York Times reporter, sir. Before we continue, let me assure you, sir: I’m a libertarian, but I’m not like those bad people you don’t like. They’re really awful and dangerous people. They haven’t imbibed p.c. morality at all. I’m not like them, trust me!

Also, I make sure to confine myself to trivial issues you in the media don’t really care that much about.

Oh, by the way, I want to join forces with you! Have you heard of liberaltarianism? I know you folks on the left agree with me on some things, and I know you’re just dying to —

Hello? Hello?

Decision time.

You can hang out with Brink Lindsey and his 12-person group of anti-Ron Paul libertarians (those people sound like a real blast), or you can come hang out with me, and with the brilliant, non-tame, hardcore libertarian folks in my private group.

Entrance is this way:

About Thomas E. Woods, Jr.

Thomas E. Woods, Jr., is a senior fellow of the Libertarian Institute, the Mises Institute and host of The Tom Woods Show, which releases a new episode every weekday. He holds a bachelor’s degree in history from Harvard and his master’s, M.Phil., and Ph.D. from Columbia University. Woods has appeared on CNBC, MSNBC, FOX News Channel, FOX Business Network, C-SPAN, and Bloomberg Television, among other outlets, and has been a guest on hundreds of radio programs. Woods is the author of twelve books, most recently Real Dissent: A Libertarian Sets Fire to the Index Card of Allowable Opinion, Rollback: Repealing Big Government Before the Coming Fiscal Collapse and Nullification: How to Resist Federal Tyranny in the 21st Century.

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