Interview conducted 7/20/2019 at the Mises Institute, in Auburn, AL
Atilla Sulker: What are your views on nationalism, especially considering its dynamic and dichotomy in regards to globalism today?
Lew Rockwell: Well like Mises, I’m pro-nationalism. I think it’s normal to love one’s homeland. Aquinas talks about that, Aristotle. It has a significant history, I would say. It’s only recently that you’re supposed to hate your homeland and turn it over to whoever wants to come in on welfare. I think it’s very important in resisting the state, even though the state tries to use nationalism, to benefit itself against the people. I think that it (nationalism) is a natural response to the state. I don’t think that nationalism that’s built on hating the guts of the nation next door, for example, is a good one. But it’s about loving your own country, and opposing its enemies, which you should come to understand, the head of that is your own government. And also, I notice that all the bad people in society hate nationalism, and are always denouncing it, whether it’s the New York Times, or the Washington Post, or academics, or left-wingers. It’s bad. I noticed that Colorado State University banned the use of “America” and “American” as words that would trigger people.
AS: Why do you think people like the Bushes and the McCains, who in many ways can be seen as nationalist imperialists, denounce Trump’s brand of nationalism?
LR: I don’t think that imperialism is at all necessarily connected to nationalism. The good nationalism has nothing to do with imperialism. It should oppose imperialism because it brings war and destruction to your own people, as well as other people. But I think Bush and McCain, both of course, extremely evil and promoters of world government, are not nationalists at all. Maybe they want to see their own families and their own connections at the height of the global government running everything. But they don’t like Trump, because of what they thought he might turn into, in terms of America first, and no more wars. So that, unfortunately, hasn’t happened, although he (Trump) hasn’t started any big wars. But he has done terrible things like fund the war in Yemen, by giving or selling weapons, and selling weapons to Saudis. And of course his constant drumbeat of aggression against Iran is horrendous, and he’s strangling those people. American sanctions are worse than sanctions that the Bushes put on against Iraq before they invaded. In that famous exchange with the Secretary of State (Madeleine Albright), she was asked that apparently 500,000 children and people had died because of sanctions, and she said: “We think it’s worth it”.
LR: I just heard this recently from Pompeo, but this has been going on for a long time. The reason you have sanctions, according to these people, is to hurt the citizens of the other country, so they will rise up and overthrow their government. I’m not aware of any instances where that has ever happened. In fact, it just makes people more loyal to their own government. Part of it is that I think there is a lot of money made off of sanctions, for people connected to the “sanctions giver”. I also think that this is just typical of government- they love hurting other people, they love killing people, they love starving people, sickening them. Denying baby toys, and baby food, and so forth to the people of Iran. I must say that I have not seen the whole list, which I’d like to see, of everything that you can’t sell to Iran. But it includes, just like Iraq, all sorts of medicines, and it’s really a vicious business. And Trump- it’s like he’s strangling the people of Iran, and they’re stepping on his toe, and he’s going “Hey! How dare you do that! You’re really in trouble now! You’re in big trouble now!”. And of course, this is because of Israel. This is why the U.S. fought the war against Iraq. And regarding Iran, Netanyahu has advocated this since 1999. He said that Iran was a terrorist threat against the Jewish people, and they had to be stopped and destroyed, so they wouldn’t hurt Israel. I don’t believe that. The Iranians are not an aggressive people. They’re not an aggressive people. It’s true that they’ve helped their co-religionists in Iran, and cooperated with the ones in Iraq, but Israel does that all the time.
LR: People in Lebanon are being attacked by Israel, as they have invaded the capital a number of times, destroyed the capital, that sort of thing. But the people they hate the most are the people who kicked them out of Lebanon and created guerrilla warfare. And because Iran is connected to those people- they’re all Shiites- this is supposed to be unbelievably evil. Well, I must say it doesn’t seem so to me. Of course, I would like everybody to mind their own business. The U.S. is the ultimate example of never minding your own business- minding other people’s business. Because of course the U.S. always knows what’s best. The U.S. is the font of wisdom. Also, it’s the biggest arms dealer in history, selling weapons to, giving weapons to countries all over the world, to start wars. And once those wars start, well it’s just a great business opportunity for Lockheed and others, and the rest of them. Somebody mentioned today, during the contest (Mises University event), that 91 percent of U.S. senators, take money from Lockhead. Raytheon, and all the rest of these companies of course, pretty much own the Congress. And that’s the money that’s on the surface. There’s a lot of money that changes hands under the table. And they do things like having very beautiful women being their lobbyists, offering themselves to the senator, or the congressman, and they’ll do what the company wants them to do. So it’s very sick, sicko business, and we’re supposed to of course cheer all of this, and think it’s wonderful. The U.S. is killing- I think I’ve made this point to you before- how many millions of people has the U.S. killed in its history of wars? Just in WWII, we’ve killed millions, and WWI, and what they did to the Philippines, and what they did to the South.
LR: It’s been just horrendous. The U.S. has pretty much always been at war, ever since it was founded as an independent country. Not good. And Americans, I don’t think, think of themselves as a warlike people. It’s those other guys that are warlike. We’re all just peaceful. But of course, the U.S. has troops in 181 countries, its military bases everywhere, its navy everywhere, its air force everywhere. In the official statement of military goals, it’s dedicated to making sure that nobody can ever rise up, or ever do to other countries what the U.S. has repeatedly done to other countries. Very bad business. Now they hate Turkey of course too, for buying the Russian anti-missile defense system, which is apparently better than the so-called “Patriot System”, but why is it up to them to make a decision? But of course, it simply would be evil to deal with the Russians. They’re this little tiny country. They’re not a tiny country geographically or in population, but their GNP is about 10 percent of that of the United States. And their military budget is 10 percent. And of course, China is the same- they have a lot of people, but a small military, small GDP. And we’re supposed to think “ooh, they’re gonna take us over, ooh those Chinese, they’re really bad”. Terrible.
AS: What do you think of Amash’s recent breaking from the Republican Party, and his sort of “bold stance” against Trump? And what are the implications for libertarians?
LR: I guess he’s popular with the Libertarian Party. But it seems to me that there are so many things wrong with Amash. For example, he wanted to have taxpayers pay for soldiers sexual transformation surgeries, which are extremely expensive. I think he’s a leftist in many ways. I don’t really think he’s a libertarian. I think Thomas Massie is probably the one libertarian in congress, and I like him a lot, but I don’t like Amash. But certainly, the people who run the Libertarian Party now would love to have Amash as a candidate. Will he voluntarily give up his seat? Will he have to lose his seat to run? I don’t know. I must say, I don’t see him giving up his congressional seat to be the L.P. candidate, because then, what comes after that? Unless he thought that Trump would be defeated. I must say that I don’t think that’s going to happen because I think the Democrats- and I imagine Amash would vote with the Democrats about giving free healthcare to illegal aliens, and all those kinds of things- I think they’re policies are so crazy.
LR: I was talking to a very prominent guy in Washington the other day, and he doesn’t like Trump. But I said that it seems to me that the Democrats are so crazy, that they’re going to reelect Trump just on that basis. Because no Americans, including Hispanic Americans, believe that anybody should be able to come here, go on welfare, and get money for medical care, and so forth. The far left is of course very much in favor of that. I think that alone would elect Trump. We’ll have to see. And I’m not a big fan of Trump. In the beginning, I thought that he was definitely better than Hillary, and I think that he probably is still better than Hillary. But obviously, I’m very disappointed by all the people he brought into his administration- John Bolton, Mike Pompeo, who also took explicit pleasure in the fact that people in Iran are starving to death. Because we’re really putting the pressure on them. Very very nasty. Very nasty creep. They’re all creeps of course. Probably the one exception is Ron Paul.
AS: Can libertarians be reformists and take back the government by gradually voting their way to freedom, via electing so-called “freedom candidates”? Or will a collapse of sorts initiate the transition to liberty?
LR: Well I think there’s definitely going to be a collapse. Will it lead to liberty? I’d like to think so, but I’m not sure by any means. Because, of course, sometimes in those situations, you have the man on the white horse, who promises to fix everything, and just needs all power to him. But I must say that I don’t think the L.P.’s strategy of reaching out to the far left- you have to, for example, be a feminist, to be a libertarian, or all these other things. That’s just ridiculous. But they’re much more concerned with leftism than they are with freedom. There’s nothing wrong with an incrementalist approach, not as your ultimate strategy, but if you could take a penny off of the income tax, that’s a great thing. But of course, does that ever happen? So you could have small changes, but I must say that I don’t see much happening. Trump’s tax plan, I don’t think was much of a help to regular people. On the other hand, his regulatory reforms have been tremendous, in terms of, for example, environment, he’s made some great moves. Perhaps the areas that the neocons don’t care about.
LR: So I assume that sort of thing would continue in the second Trump administration. But- and this is not the main reason not to have a war in Iran- but I think Pat Buchanan is right. If he starts a war in Iran, that’ll be the end of him. He won’t be able to win, no matter how crazy the Democrats are. And even though they’re all advocating a war, then it would be “whoa, he (Trump) did it, we’re (the Dems) not part of it”, that kind of thing. So I hope to goodness that he doesn’t. I thought it was great that he wanted to cross the border with North Korea, and met with Kim. It’s great if it’s really true that he stopped the planes from bombing Iran the last time. Of course, there would have been far more than 150 people killed- that’s ridiculous- a military estimate. And of course, the military keeps all this stuff secret. They never put out, for example, how many people are killed every year in Afghanistan by American troops. That’s top-secret. They just care about the Americans who are killed. I mean, I do too, but obviously, there are far more Afghanis being killed than Americans.
AS: A recent story broke out, but it seems like Rand Paul may be a sort of diplomat, in regards to Iran.
LR: You know, I thought that was a tremendous thing, but the most recent thing I saw was that Trump denied that he wanted him (Rand) to be an Iranian envoy. I tried to talk Ron Paul into going to Iran. The U.S. would have probably arrested him when he came back, for violating the 1700’s act about private foreign policy. But I’d love to go with him on a trip to Iran, Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua, to all the places the U.S. is targeting, as a private peace emissary, and just see what they have to say, and what the U.S. is doing in all these countries, all the terrible things, starving people to death. So maybe- it’s probably a crazy idea for him, but I’d love to see somebody do it.
AS: Nowadays, you have a lot of these supposed libertarians saying “Oh, let’s not deal with people like China, and Russia, because these guys are dictators”, and so on. “They’re evil!”. What would be your response to that?
LR: Well, first of all, the business people, regular people in Russia and China, are hardly dictators. So they’re saying that Putin is a dictator, that Xi is a dictator. I don’t think either one of them has all the power. And even if they are- obviously there is a dictator in North Korea- how do you achieve peace unless you’re willing to deal with them? The U.S. president, by the way, is a dictator. He has the power to launch atomic weapons on his own say so. He has the power to destroy the world on his own say so. I mean, what is a more dictatorial power than that? And everybody thinks that’s okay, that’s fine. Maybe they don’t like it if Trump can do it, but they thought it was fine if Bush or Obama could do it. So the U.S. presidency is actually an elected dictatorship. Does Putin or Xi have more power than the American president? Of course, that’s ridiculously untrue. So I think that this is just liberal baloney. I mean, are they saying that we shouldn’t do business with Russia or China? They like the sanctions, they think it’s great to starve people to death and destroy businesses in Russia and China.
LR: This is allegedly all libertarian, but it’s not a libertarian thing at all, of course. You’re supposed to be about peace and trade, and it’s what Jefferson said in his inaugural, and Washington said in his farewell address, that we should seek to trade with everybody that wants to trade with us, and have happy and peaceful relations with everybody that wants them with us. If they don’t, then that’s another story, but certainly, China and Russia would like to have peaceful trading relations with us. They hate the sanctions, which are very damaging, and poor Iran- the sanctions are unbelievably damaging. Same with Venezuela. And North Korea. I find it outrageous that Kim is considered to be a crazed dictator because he says “everything is negotiable, including our atomic weapons, but we’re only going to start the negotiations once you remove the sanctions”. The sanctions, especially those aimed at starving the Korean people, are very hurtful, and you can always put them back on if things don’t go your way, but take them off to show goodwill, and of course, that’s considered outrageous, that they could stop starving. And any libertarian who thinks it’s good to starve people in another country, because they have a different form of government than our elected dictatorship, as far as I’m concerned, to heck with them.
AS: The fact that it’s elected doesn’t make it any less of a dictatorship.
LR: (laughs). No. It’s a fraud. This is part of how the American State maintains its control domestically- by everybody thinking “Well, we have the ultimate power. We can elect the president”.
AS: What is the relationship between a strongly rooted culture, and liberty? Is it a two-way street?
LR: I would say that they go together. I think that a strongly rooted culture, a strong religion, traditions of family power- and it’s why Karl Marx, and all these people, including the U.S. government, have these terrible inheritance taxes. Because they can’t stand private power. But if families can hand down money to their descendants, they can build a powerful family that can stand against the state. And that, of course, can’t be allowed.
AS: Let’s take a hypothetical. Would you rather live in a traditionalist society with a statist government, but a good culture or a relatively free country with a culture gradually shifting to amorphism?
We then briefly discussed what some current examples of these might be. Turkey and Hungary came up as two examples of a more traditionalist society, with a strong state. America was an example of a country with an amorphous culture, but a slightly less consolidated state, due to the existence of some civil liberties (free speech, religion, etc.). Unfortunately, some of Mr. Rockwell’s beginning remarks are missing, as the camera shut off suddenly as he started speaking, but here is what I recorded on camera.
LR: I would have to be a Hungarian. But if I were, I think I would revel with what Orbán (Hungarian Prime Minister) is trying to do- even though it’s the government- protect the country from mass immigration. Neither one of those (the two scenarios outlined in the question) is an ideal thing, but I think that if there’s a really strongly rooted culture, that means there are areas that the government can’t actually touch, and that I think is the basis for increasing freedom. There’s probably far more freedom in Hungary or in Poland, even though they’re always denounced. I’m afraid that many who fear that illegal aliens will be used as political pawns by Democrats are probably right. If they can get enough illegal aliens in, they’ll be in power indefinitely. And the Republicans, of course, don’t deserve anything good to happen to them. They’re such creeps. But, they’re willing to oppose this, and I don’t know how honest Trump is when he claims that he’s opposing these things. We’ve had the most open borders in American history under Trump. It’s very disturbing. People from Central America, Latin America, Africa, Asia. And of course, Trump has just signed a bill admitting a vast number of Asian-Indians, with H-1B visas. They’re already a huge number of Indians- Kamala Harris, Nikki Haley. I would say that if there were a demand for programmers, I would say that American firms in America, and probably private small educational institutions, like the one in San Francisco, that teaches coding- it’s a year-long course, and if you are accepted and you graduate with good grades, they’ll guarantee that you’ll make at least a hundred thousand dollars a year in your first job. That kind of educational institution, not the kind that’s here in Auburn, I think would flourish. But as long as they’re being dumped on by vast numbers of immigrants, that’s not going to happen. And of course, they again want to get rid of the indigenous American population. That’s the goal in Europe- get rid of all the Europeans, or make them a minority. And same with the Americans here.
AS: I recall asking you last year what type of music you listen to, and you mentioned Black Sabbath, a group that I am a huge fan of. Give us your thoughts on the band.
LR: (laughs). Well, I like them, and I especially like their anti-war stuff. Are there any contemporary groups that are as anti-war as they are? (we discussed our admiration for Black Sabbath further during lunch, and Mr. Rockwell alluded to such songs as “War Pigs”, and mentioned that he preferred the “Dio era” of Sabbath)
AS: Well certainly not any groups that are part of this wave of pop culture garbage. A lot of the newer metal bands that are sort of less known, and under the ground- if you look at metal, it’s very anti-war, and it gets very libertarian to an extent, but then they just fall into the trap that it’s all because of capitalism, stuff like that. They’re almost there until they get that one flaw.
Originally published on Lewrockwell.com.
71 Republic takes pride in our distinctively independent journalism and editorials. Every dollar you give helps us grow our mission of providing reliable coverage. Please consider donating to our Patreon.