Also as part of the conference this weekend, we also celebrate Lew Rockwell’s 60th birthday. Sto lat!. Lew runs the best think tank in the country which has the best economics site in the world. His little hobby—LewRockwell.com—has turned into the best political site in the world. I say that as someone who was a reader of it before I was a writer for it. (Frankly, I try to put out of my memory whatever I used to do in the morning before LRC went online. Watch the Today Show?) That’s not all. Lew also manages to produce an endless stream of speeches and essays featuring some of the best prose in the libertarian corpus.There is a solid core of beliefs at Mises, often called “Austro-libertarianism,” but this is due to spontaneous order, not the provision of intellectual straightjackets or enforcement of a party line. Outside these core beliefs, there is a remarkable degree of intellectual, religious, and philosophical diversity, ironically more such diversity than some locales critical of the Mises Institute.
Personally, I can attest that no one at or around the Mises Institute ever asked me what I thought about any issue as if there was only one right answer or banishment awaited. Those bibliographically-challenged who toss around the word “cult” are perhaps engaging in “reaction formation,” accusing others of what they themselves are guilty of.
Lew is an example of Jefferson’s natural aristocracy in action. He is a leader because he commands respect, not because he commands armies or a billionaire’s checkbook. Good people stay by him and work for him, year after year, decade after decade. New people drift in; few drift out. Ever more young and talented libertarians vote with their feet for the Mises Institute.
In the end, this human capital will prevail over the greater financial capital flowing elsewhere because the best and the brightest are attracted to intellectual integrity; they can’t be bought. In turn, this talent and integrity does receive financial support from those who seek to further the core mission, not to manipulate or divert it.
When others cowered after 9/11, Lew and crew fought for their principles more boldly than ever. Unlike some others, Lew never has to wonder, “What did I get in return for selling out my principles, anyway?”
Lew reminds me of old Gen. Lewis Armistead, out in front of the troops, taking fire, but pressing on: “Come on boys, give them the cold steel! Who will follow me?”
Lew Rockwell is the worthy successor to Murray Rothbard as the leader of authentic libertarianism. Happy birthday, Lew!