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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/7494/national-review-and-the-triumph-of-the-new-right/

National Review and the Triumph of the New Right

November 29, 2007 by

Garet Garrett, writes Murray Rothbard, had called the shots: in referring to the triumph of the New Deal and then of American Empire, he had summed up the strategy: “revolution within the form.” The New Right did not bother, would not rouse possible resistance, by directing a frontal assault on the old idols: on the dead Senator Taft, on the Bricker Amendment, or on the old ideals of individualism and liberty. Instead, they ignored some, dropped others, and claimed to come to fulfill the general ideals of individualism in a new and superior “fusion” of liberty and ordered tradition.

How, specifically, was the deed done? For one thing, by hitting us at our most vulnerable point: the blight of anti-Communism. For red-baiting came easily to all of us, even the most libertarian. In the first place, there were the terrible memories of World War II: the way in which the Communist Party had gleefully adopted the mantle of war patriots, of “twentieth-century Americanism,” and had unashamedly smeared all opponents of war as agents of Hitler. FULL ARTICLE


George P December 4, 2007 at 9:38 pm


Thank you for your thoughful comments. I will begin by addressing Gene’s points first.
I will concede that my assertion that humans “instinctively” desire order was not properly established. In my own defense however, a certain brevity is necesary in this type of forum precluding long chains of logic. I assure you however that the remark was not careless or ill considered. I will attempt a brief explanation.

Human institutions are not designed but rather are shaped by evolutionary social forces which are nearly impossible to discern even by people directly associated with them. For instance, even though most people marry, they don’t necessarily understand how marriage evolved or why it evolved, and more importantly how they are changed by it. We live in a society that has shaped and is shaped by marriage.

Similarly, our understanding of civic order is shaped by our collective institutions and the historical knowledge they reflect. When I speak of people “instinctively” requiring order I am referring to this unarticulated undertanding that reflects their cultural experience with the institutions that have shaped them. This “instinct” is not knowledge in a scholarly sense but it is a knowledge of sorts, an insight, that should not be ignored. In fact, it is dangerous to ignore the wisdom embedded in our institutions and traditions simply because we cannot articulate with scholarly rigor that understanding.

My claim therefore is not only that there exists this “instinct” for civic order reflecting our collective experience over the millenia but also that there is an explanation that can now be articulated. This understanding denies anarchy as a plausible proposition. Furthermore, my examples of the Greeks, and the Chinese and your examples of Pizzaro, Cortez and Perry are not speculative diversions singnifying nothing. They tell us something important about human nature. In your own comparison of Gibbon and Mises you observe how Gibbon failed to explain in three “ponderous volumes” what Mises succeeded in doing in three pages. Why do you think that is? Because Mises discerned a deeper structure at work behind what must have seemed to Gibbon a bunch of random events signifying not much.

In closing, there is something to get, and that something is terribly important.

I liked that word “supererogatory”. I had to look it up. Also, I was intrigued by your Gold Standard statement since I have been having a debate on that subject with some other Austrians.

TokyoTom December 5, 2007 at 5:51 am

Conservatives agree with libertarians that in the economic sphere of human life non-intervention or laissez-faire as it was called is the proper approach. Where we part company is the social sphere. Conservatives do not accept the proposition of non-interference in this area of life. … Libertarians confuse the accomodations conservatives have had to make to survive the socialist onslaught as closely held beliefs.

George, you are clearly describing only what is left of conservatism, not the Republican party, which is not at all “non-intervention or laissez-faire”. Your assertion that conservatives had to make to “accomodations” to “survive the socialist onslaught” is not convincing, but in any case does not account for the eagerness with which the Republican party both sought control of the state and, once it had gained it, cast aside all professed principles to expand its domain and to corrupt extract the greatest possible gains from it to benefit themselves and corporate insiders. Government power has been not only too seductive, as Parrotocracy put it so well, and conservatives went hog wild not only in misgoverning, but in cynically selling division (trumpted up fears of Islamofascism, dissent, gays, immigrants and radical enviros et al.) as a way to further
to expand government.

You are making my point when you rightly point out that conservatives have not been able to reduce the size of government. They have however been quite capable of waging the foreign policy they wanted. The Cold War, Afghanistan and Iraq are the latest evidence. In order for conservatives to succeed in reducing the size of government they need libertarian help. That is the point. We as conservatives would have done it otherwise.

George, if Afghanistan and Iraq represent the foreign policy that conservatives wanted, then all the more reason for locking them up and throwing away the key – which Queen Hillary will be able to do soon if she wishes simply by calling you all “illegal combatants” and shipping you off to Guantanamo of some other place that our Commander in Chief controls but conveniently is not part of US territory. Rhetoric aside, it’s clear that these recent wars are not at all conservative undertakings, but irresponsible ventures intended to satisfy personal motives and to serve political ends and to provide benefits to various special interests. The trillions that these wars have and will cost are not being burnt, but are being provided to friends, with at a huge net loss to the country.

I appreciate that you want to reduce the size of government, but the rest of your party has not shown that in the least over the past seven years. What you’ve done instead is to make the central state even more of a prize important to fight over, and given greater tools of coercion and control to the President and his bureaucratic apparatus, to the ultimate benefit of the powerful and enduring corporations that parasitize the state.

While the state may no longer really be necessary, given the organizational power of the modern market, clearly those who use it have no interest is seeing it go away. Thus the sidebar discussion about human nature, while interesting, seems hardly important.

gene berman December 5, 2007 at 7:50 am

George P.:

Is is even remotely possible that you actually haven’t read (Mises’) HUMAN ACTION? Hard as it is for me to believe, it’s about the only way to be unfamiliar with “supererogatory,” a word used here and there throughout (as I’d indicated very plainly when I used it).


There’s no good reason to ascribe to malice and cupidity human behavior as easily explained by ignorance and stupidity.

In the natural sciences, better ideas achieve ascendancy in mens’ minds because competing explanations (theories) are (most generally) more easily judged by their results. The better are adopted, the less valid (or invalid) fall by the wayside and into oblivion. In the social sphere, things are a bit different. The same prejudice toward the better result prevails, of course, but many circumstances (of both what might be thought of as “constants” and “variables” in a forced analogy to the experimental method of the empiriocal sciences) can and do change with time, different compositions of people, etc. In this sphere, the rule is that no theory is ever completely demolished as long as its explanatory value is sufficient to attract and hold sufficient adherents to furnish its expositors with a living (or, sometimes, with as little as a dubious notoriety).

Note, TT, that I’m merely explaining, not suggesting that there’s a solution of any kind; here in the world (just as in Lake Wobegon), there’s no getting away from the fact that half the folks are “below average.”

TokyoTom December 5, 2007 at 10:42 am

Gene, we are complex beasts, so I concede that ignorance and stupidity, along with no small measure of self-deception and over-optimism tied to a lack of personal responsibility for the consequences, have played their parts in the Republican debacles, just as they have with those that Democrats have given us. But malice and cupidity are basic drives and just as present.

I like what one of my favorite enviros, John Baden (founder of FREE and PERC and Mont Pelerin Society member, had to say two years ago about Republicans generally:

Republican commitments to limited government were eroded by the opportunity to transfer wealth to clients and constituencies. It’s that simple — and that sordid.


Michael A. Clem December 5, 2007 at 11:40 am

Tactical alliances only work when there is a common goal. How can libertarians work with conservatives towards free market economics when Republicans keep engaging in corporate subsidies and favoritism? If there are still limited government, free market conservatives out there, their party has left them behind. Time for them to seek a new venue.

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