Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Prelude to Repression

The Libertarian Forum, edited by Murray N. Rothbard; April 1, 1969.  The second issue of this obscure journal and already a tremendous insight.  But this can wait…. 


After identifying a stupefying (well, for the time) list of government and crony-corporate abuses, Rothbard offers:

Libertarians have every reason to view all of these matters with knowledgeable horror.  They could predict any enormity of the state simply because they know that enormities are the nature of the state, enormities and crimes against liberty.

There is one area of struggle in Washington, however, that may be viewed with special horror.  It is the struggle between the CIA and the FBI for covert control of the government, the world, the galaxy or whatever else comes along.

Rothbard identifies the special advantage that is held by the CIA: money.

The CIA has far and away the greater edge in economic power and freedom of movement.  Assassination has been its business overseas all along.

When it comes to money, the CIA has no equal.

In contrast, the FBI can offer data.

Rothbard offers a story, that of Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev and Lavrenti Beria, “the top cop of the Soviet Union.”  It seems Beria “made the mistake of entering a Kremlin meeting without his bodyguard.”  Hence, Nikita had the opportunity to have Beria done in – and took it.

Conservatives in America are “clucking and tushing.”  This could never happen in America:

And this is precisely the point.  In democratic America there has appeared no way to relieve the head of the political or secret police of his command.

As Donald Trump has so well discovered almost fifty years later.

“Dear Ted”: Prelude to Repression?

Richard Nixon, “the Man Who Isn’t There, a zero wrapped in a vacuum,” has written an open letter to the president of Notre Dame University, Father Theodore M. Hesburgh.  It is a letter in which Nixon demands that the university president gets “tough with our students.”

Nixon, presiding over a war that sees the deaths of Americans by the tens-of-thousands and Vietnamese (and others in Southeast Asia) by the millions…

…has the gall to express his horror at the violence of some kids who have broken a few windows, or who have stepped on some campus grass.  He has the sheer bravado to call for the submission of reason for force!

And now for the prescient insight:

For Nixon, in the Dear Ted letter, openly hinted about possible action “at the state and Federal levels” to crack down on the college campuses.

Just over one year later, this:

The Kent State shootings (also known as the May 4 massacre or the Kent State massacre) were the shootings of unarmed college students protesting the Vietnam War at Kent State University in Kent, Ohio, by members of the Ohio National Guard on May 4, 1970. Twenty-nine guardsmen fired approximately 67 rounds over a period of 13 seconds, killing four students and wounding nine others, one of whom suffered permanent paralysis.


A hint of something is evident to me at this point, and (I admit, I have read ahead) will become far more so in future editions of this journal.  Rothbard was expressing the opinions of what we would consider a leftist; cheering on campus protests and the like.  Probably one more of many reasons why Ayn Rand gave Murray the boot!

The thread – the consistent thread and the one of which he never let go – was that this seemed to be all tied to war.  As Rothbard has written somewhere, the entirety of the libertarian cause can be wrapped up in this one issue, the issue of war.

And, to my knowledge, it concerned Rothbard not at all with whom he allied in this anti-war cause.


  1. "And, to my knowledge, it concerned Rothbard not at all with whom he allied in this anti-war cause."

    I feel exactly the same. Unfortunately, anti-war allies are not so plentiful these days. After being suckered in by Trump I don't think I will be aligning myself with any political figure or group ever again. A secession movement like Catalonia's might do it, but I don't see much opportunity for that in the US short of moving to communist California after a second Trump win.

  2. VFP national certainly skews left domestically, but we are "right" on issues of war and peace!

  3. Excellent write-up, I will enjoy reading these posts as you go through the Libertarian Forum. You were probably referring to War, Peace, and the State where Rothbard references Buckley's line about the demunicipalization of garbage collectors and rightly places war as the most important issue of our time.


  4. Any contention that might have taken place between the CIA and the FBI has long since been replaced by collusion between the CIA and the other 16 intelligence agencies that it rides herd on, per Kevin Shipp, who elaborates a bit in this video:

    1. I think contention and collusion are both inherent and present in all bureaucratic agencies, and certainly within and between these two. My guess, more contention than collusion.