Friday, March 16, 2018

Rothbard’s Legacy

Would you be as protective of Murray Rothbard if you hadn’t actually met him?

So asks Michael Malice of Tom Woods, at a little after the 45 minute mark of this podcast.  Woods responds:

Yeah, I would.

Woods goes on to describe the vast body of work produced by Rothbard.  For Woods, purely on a scholarly level, this is sufficient reason to be protective of Rothbard’s legacy.

After offering several personal experiences, Woods continues with a story of Neil McCaffrey and his relationship with Rothbard.  To make a long story short, he and Rothbard didn’t see eye to eye on many political and religious subjects.  According to Woods:

McCaffrey deviated from [Rothbard] quite a bit.

Yet Rothbard and McCaffrey remained really close.  Wood’s reaction?

That’s the kind of guy we should all try to be.

Yes, I think so too.


I have been browbeaten recently and publicly regarding my relationship with Rothbard; for some reason it is found lacking – not based on my expectations but perhaps for expectations others have of me. 

Yet I don’t think Rothbard would have taken this as seriously.  Of course, I never met Rothbard so I can’t say this from any firsthand experience.  But Woods has met him, and Woods has said it.

This reaction has me weighing the possibility of altering the focus of this blog.  Maybe, more so, refining it.  Because I don’t feel I have a beef with Rothbard, and I doubt he would have one with me.

But I don’t want there to be any confusion about this.  So I am thinking to ensure nothing like this comes up again.


  1. > ... I have been browbeaten recently and publicly regarding my relationship with Rothbard ... <
    Bionic, I truly think the problem is this tendency of people to make gods out of men. Like their ancestors, unsatisfied with a God who requires faith; they seek a more tangible idol. They put Rothbard up on a pedestal and proclaim him far and wide as the savior, the font of wisdom and the center of their religion.

    It is true that Mr. Rothbard was an extremely intelligent and well-educated individual and I have a great deal of respect for him and what he accomplished - but he was a very changeable and very human being. We do well to learn from him but we err to make him the center of all things.

    I think the people who take issue with you have this problem. I know this is difficult but I don't think you should take them seriously when they do this to you.

    The important work we are all engaged in is to push the boundaries of libertarianism to its logical extreme. In so doing, we uncover the weaknesses of the philosophy and discuss possible solutions. The recent work you have done with libertarianism and culture has been outstanding and demonstrates the amount of work that still needs to be done.

    Take courage from those who support you in this work and let's continue to move forward.

  2. Rothbard made fun of cult Ayn Rand.

  3. "But I don’t want there to be any confusion about this."

    The only way to ensure that there is no confusion over this, or any other topic you might address, is to stop writing altogether.

    You've stated that you write to organize your thoughts, and that you write publicly to learn. Changing (or refining) your blog because of others' confusion would not be inline with your stated purpose.

    Now I will add "On Rothbard" to my list of suggested tabs for your menu.

    Clean your damn room.

    I warned you.

    Keep up the good work .


    1. Jeff

      I have taken a crack at organizing better the Libertarians and Culture tab (along the lines of the subsets that you previously noted, somewhat adjusted), but am not yet satisfied with it (hence I have not changed the public page).

      I next want to go through the Bibliography tab and incorporate several of these posts into the subsets of the Libertarians and Culture tab. If I feel it is ready for prime time after this, I will publish it.

      As to your admonishment - you are, of course, correct. Yet this "bionic" thing is just a mask, a facade. Beneath this mask I am human, with the frailties that come with this position.


    2. You are doing excellent work here. And while my suggestions were sincere, my admonishing tone was in jest (I am reasonably sure that you recognize this, but I want to state it anyway.) Regular readers know that this blog is a labor of love, and not a professional endeavor. Thank you, as always, for this blog.


  4. Hello Bionic, I want to let you know that I read this blog daily and enjoy it very much. Your fans who leave comments are far and away the most informed and interesting compared to other blogs I follow. I haven't disappeared. Peggy in Oregon

    1. Thank you, Peggy. Overwhelmingly, I am very grateful for the comments and feedback at this site.

  5. I knew Murray and was in awe of him and the depth and breadth of his scholarship. At the same time he was so open, approachable and down to earth that you immediately felt the personal interest he took in what you had to say.
    I had the personal good fortune to get to sit in on one of his classes at UNLV where he'd lecture without notes. You'd never know where it would take you, filled with detailed information that you might never have heard mentioned anywhere before.
    I can tell you he would have enjoyed your thinking and would have done everything to encourage you to continue doing what you're doing. Keep it up.


    This is a list of a half dozen lectures given by Rothbard at NY Polytechnic Institute in Brooklyn in 1986. Listen to as many as you can as often as you can after which you begin to feel real kinship with Rothbard. His greatest interest seems to have been economic history particularly paraphrasing '....where the hell do the people who take up political positions come from, what is their hidden motivation, where do they go afterward....'. He believed the job of the Austrian economic historian was largely revisionist: After taking a brainwashing in history and economics at unionized monopoly government education centers aka the public school, what people desperately needed was 'debamboozlelization ' or words to that effect :)

  7. A long time reader, lurker and ponderer - I would just like to chime in with the other commentators and thank you for your writings. I sincerely enjoy reading them and in the ways you provide the context of your own pondering and musings.

    Thank you,

  8. I don't exactly follow your post. I hope you are not worrying that some people find you not sufficiently worshipful of Rothbard. He never wanted worship.

    I think Rothbard was most interested in finding the truth, no matter where that led to. I think he was also most interested in making political allies to fight mankind's most evil enemy ... The Nation-State.

    I think Rothbard would have loved your writings and egged you on. I know he would have called you an ally.

    Keep writing my friend.

    1. I will keep writing. Just may remove one area of focus from my future work.

  9. Rothbard lives because Bionic does (well, plus Rockwell, Woods, and even your sometime foil Block!)

  10. Can I browbeat you into some brisket? ;)

    Down to about two gallons (of 7) of home made honey mead. I can bring some, while supplies last.

    You are doing good work/writing.

    1. I thought it was shrimp and jambalaya!

    2. Ok. I am game.

      When starting cooking thread? My changing the focus mind you.

      If you have not yet tried total red shrimp, you have to. Cook and handle like mini lobsters. Good eating.I

      See. Helping you out.

    3. I recall discussing Shiner Bock with brisket; you said something about your being more from the Gulf of Texas, not Texas beef country (which is all the rest of Texas).

      Something like this, if I am remembering correctly.

    4. Royal, not total.

      Royal red shrimp.

  11. Hi BM,

    What the others said: keep it up/don't give in!

    But can you shed some light on what it was exactly that prompted you to perhaps alter the focus of your blog? Must have been some browbeating.

    You write, you get both praised and criticized; you deal with it and write on. Right?

    So write on man, and never ever apologize.

    All the best from Amsterdam,

    1. I won't shed additional light. The individual or individuals for whom this post was written will understand.

      "So write on man, and never ever apologize."

      It isn't a question of apologizing. It is a matter of weighing costs and benefits.

  12. BM,
    I have posted very little (once before) but I have been thoroughly reading through your blogs. I VERY much appreciate your bibliography and have learned much. Back to the real point though, someone has browbeaten you because of a perceived disagreement with Rothbard. Having read much of what you have written in the past year or two I find you thoughtful in your positions. Whether you disagree at any point with Rothbard or anyone else is completely within your rights as a thinking person. Who wants to read a person who so thoroughly agrees with another person that I may as well just read the source and not some talking head who has no original thought. You always, and I do mean ALWAYS, present your positions with logical thought. Changing the focus of your blog as a result of some other peoples opinion would mean you are changing YOU based on others opinion and NOT because you have new evidence that changes your position. YOU, to my understanding, are NOT that type of person. You take the evidence and work through it to a logical conclusion. When new evidence arises that influences your position, like a good logical thinker, you adjust your position to reflect the reality. This is who I perceive you to be. I do not always agree with you. However, I am a thoughtful enough person (I like to hope so) that I can follow the logic you used to arrive at your conclusion. In short, don't let someone bully you into changing anything about who you are or what you write about.

    From the Land of the Peoples Republic

    1. "Changing the focus of your blog as a result of some other peoples opinion..."

      I think I worded that a bit incorrectly. I may just remove one area of focus from my future writing.

      And this is because there are costs.

  13. To all who have commented in this thread: thank you very much for your words of encouragement.

    Regarding "altering the focus of this blog," perhaps this wasn't worded properly. I am not shifting to discuss cooking; nothing will change in terms of the major themes: liberty and culture, history, tradition, war, political theory, etc.

    Understandably, Rothbard is a sensitive topic for some. As often as I have stated that I find his work both brilliant and foundational, for some people this isn't enough - either I read him not enough or I read him in a way that is critical, and nothing else is seen.

    Rothbard is too important. I may leave him (meaning his writing, not his ideas - which permeate this blog) to others.

    1. bionic,

      I respectfully would like to disagree with your decision. This blog is for you. Some here may think it is for their benefit. Entitled to it in some way. But ultimately, it is yours. You created it. You own it. You maintain it. Many times, you have said you write for yourself, as it helps you read and process information and findings. That should not stop. No one's comments should make you stop reading and writing about Rothbard. Not even a comment from Rothbard himself. I personally believe he would urge you to continue were he still with us. I have enjoyed and benefitted from your reading your posts about Rothbard. Not reason enough for you to continue, obviously, but it is a secondary (or tertiary) consideration. I understand costs and benefits and all. But the question should be solely about you, Does reading (and writing and processing) about Rothbard benefit bionic? Or cost bionic too much? It is about you. Sola bionic.