Tag: Trump Populism

How Murray Rothbard Helped in Creating Trump

By Jack Parkos | United States

In 2016, Donald Trump won the presidency of the United States with his rising movement of “right-wing populism”. Right-wing populism is a moment based on putting the “average man” and nation first. Many key tenants include opposition to elitism, mass immigration, social spending, and globalism. Though Trump has been the most successful with his movement, he was not the first right-wing populist.

The Beliefs of Right-Wing Populism

l. Slash Taxes. All taxes, sales, business, property, etc., but especially the most oppressive politically and personally: the income tax. We must work toward repeal of the income tax and abolition of the IRS.

2. Slash Welfare. Get rid of underclass rule by abolishing the welfare system, or, short of abolition, severely cutting and restricting it.

3. Abolish Racial or Group Privileges. Abolish affirmative action, set aside racial quotas, etc., and point out that the root of such quotas is the entire “civil rights” structure, which tramples on the property rights of every American.

4. Take Back the Streets: Crush Criminals. And by this I mean, of course, not “white collar criminals” or “inside traders” but violent street criminals – robbers, muggers, rapists, murderers. Cops must be unleashed, and allowed to administer instant punishment, subject of course to liability when they are in error.

5. Take Back the Streets: Get Rid of the Bums. Again: unleash the cops to clear the streets of bums and vagrants. Where will they go? Who cares? Hopefully, they will disappear, that is, move from the ranks of the petted and cosseted bum class to the ranks of the productive members of society.

6. Abolish the Fed; Attack the Banksters. Money and banking are recondite issues. But the realities can be made vivid: the Fed is an organized cartel of banksters, who are creating inflation, ripping off the public, destroying the savings of the average American. The hundreds of billions of taxpayer handouts to S&L banksters will be chicken-feed compared to the coming collapse of the commercial banks.

7. America First. A key point, and not meant to be seventh in priority. The American economy is not only in recession; it is stagnating. The average family is worse off now than it was two decades ago. Come home America. Stop supporting bums abroad. Stop all foreign aid, which is aid to banksters and their bonds and their export industries. Stop gloabaloney, and let’s solve our problems at home.

8. Defend Family Values. Which means, get the State out of the family, and replace State control with parental control. In the long run, this means ending public schools, and replacing them with private schools. But we must realize that voucher and even tax credit schemes are not, despite Milton Friedman, transitional demands on the path to privatized education; instead, they will make matters worse by fastening government control more totally upon the private schools. Within the sound alternative is decentralization, and back to local, community neighborhood control of the schools.

These statements sound extremely blunt and to the point. “America First”, unleashing the cops on criminals and “bums”, and slashing welfare. One may think this sounds like President Donald Trump. Indeed it does draw parallels to Trump’s platform, as Trump spoke much of clearing the streets, slashing taxes, and especially putting America first. However, Trump is not the pioneer of this movement

Murray Rothbard and Populism

In fact, it was anarcho-capitalist philosopher Murray Rothbard who wrote this in his essay entitled “Right-Wing Populism.” In the 1990s, Rothbard began his “Paleo strategy”, creating paleo-libertarianism. This movement attempted to create a right-wing populist libertarian coalition to take down the political elites.

This began when the conservative movement split into two groups: the “old right” as Rothbard stated, who were isolationist, and the neoconservative Warhawks. Rothbard, who was sick of the libertarian movement’s progressivism, decided that the former was the best option. Rothbard himself held socially conservative views and began his support for paleoconservative Pat Buchanan. With his help from Buchanan, the Paleo movement (right-wing populist movement ) was born. (During this time, Rothbard was also an avid supporter of Ron Paul).

Rothbard died in 1995, and with him, his right-wing populist movement. The neoconservatives and social democrats that he feared started to win offices. However, in this past election, a man was elected that Rothbard might have dreamed of. This man was Donald Trump. To quote Rothbard:

“And so the proper strategy for the right wing must be what we can call “right-wing populism”: exciting, dynamic, tough, and confrontational, rousing and inspiring not only the exploited masses, but the often-shell-shocked right-wing intellectual cadre as well. And in this era where the intellectual and media elites are all establishment liberal-conservatives, all in a deep sense one variety or another of social democrat, all bitterly hostile to a genuine Right, we need a dynamic, charismatic leader who has the ability to short-circuit the media elites, and to reach and rouse the masses directly. We need a leadership that can reach the masses and cut through the crippling and distorting hermeneutical fog spread by the media elites.”

Trump’s Populist Movement

At the time, this leader was Pat Buchanan. However, this leader is now Donald Trump, who is dynamic, charismatic, and has attacked the media elites plenty of times was the perfect man for Rothbard’s strategy. Rothbard would have loved Donald Trump and likely would have endorsed him in 2016.

Indeed, Donald Trump’s movement can be seen as Rothbard and Buchanan’s movement rising from the dead. Trump has been compared to Buchanan and has even quoted him in tweets. Furthermore, paleolibertarians such as Lew Rockwell (who also played a role in Rothbard’s movement), Walter Block, and Hans-Hermann Hoppe have shown some sympathy to the Trump movement, although they are not undying loyalists to his cause.

The parallels are very similar. Both of the movements do have a big theme of “America first” with an opposition to neoconservatives and globalism. Furthermore, both Buchanan and Trump were promoters of tariffs (although the libertarians were opposed to this). Trump’s views on immigration are similar to those of Buchanan and Rothbard. Moreover, the movements were tough on crime, progressivism, elitism, and the mainstream media.

Rothbard did not ideally want a state. However, he did have a pragmatic view of a decentralized state with less bureaucratic elites and less war. Although it took time, the 2016 election was a movement that was started by Rothbard and Buchanan two decades ago, and it has finally emerged.


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Populism and Elitism: Two Sides of an Evil Sword

Ryan Lau | @agorisms

In American politics, we often see the switch between populism and elitism. In the 1890s, for example, the People’s Party took the nation by storm. Many of their policies, from the direct election of senators to a shorter workweek, eventually went into effect.

Not long after, Woodrow Wilson came into office. At this point, the pendulum of politics swung toward elitism, with resegregation and Wilson’s own attitude of superiority following WWI taking a hold. But of course, what swings in one direction must come back.

The McCarthy era saw a quick snap back to populism, though this time, it was of the right wing. Presidents Johnson and Nixon followed suit. A few decades later, the focus shifted back to the elite in the Bush/Clinton era. Now, Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders have reignited the populist flares of both sides. Like left and right, populism and elitism run, always opposed and never in control for too long. But do either of them have any merits?

Elitism: The Ultimate Gamble

A system that practices elitism has a fairly small number of people making most of the decisions. In a sense, it suggests that people are not properly equipped to decide many things for themselves. Instead, those who are most qualified and specialized should make more important decisions. For example, an elitist is more likely to support the appointment, rather than election, of senators. They believe in reduced importance and role of the people.

Without a doubt, elitism opens itself up to a number of problems. For the sake of simplicity, let’s assume that a monarch in elitist country X makes most or all of the policy decisions. The people have little to no power and can’t vote for a new leader if they don’t like this one.

Three possibilities occur here. First, the leader may, as an expert, do a good job fulfilling the needs of the populace without harming them. Second, he or she may do a poor job in doing so. Third, it is possible (and even likely) that some combination of these previous two outcomes happens.

The Benign Elitist

In the first situation, the leader of country X knows what is best for all of his or her people, and makes decisions that make them happy. Yet such a feat would require a superhuman ability to please. The simple fact of the matter is that no leader can adequately know what is truly best for everyone. The second he or she makes a decision that helps most people, others may see harms.

There are far too many people in any country to make them all happy. Thus, it is impossible for any elitist ruler to do so; the idea is a contradiction. Different people have different needs, and no leader can wave a wand and meet them all. The individuals themselves are far more likely to make these decisions best. After all, they have a vested interest in the situation. For instance, imagine a trial lawyer trying to determine whether to take a risky case. Though his financial advisor may be rich, powerful, and brilliant, he alone truly knows the case; hence, he is the best person to make a final decision about it.

On the contrary, some may state that elitism is necessary for certain functions of life. A baseball coach, for instance, is far more useful than a novice player in teaching how to swing the bat. But politics is not a sport. The swinging of a bat harms nobody unless the player decides not to grip it well. Unfortunately, politics does not work in this manner, and the decisions have much greater impacts. Moreover, political events affect individuals in ways that no elitist can truly understand without being involved. Due to the size of an elite, though, it is almost impossible for them to have knowledge of all people’s needs.

Hit or Miss

Alternatively, elitism offers the possibility that the leader in charge does not satisfy the peoples’ needs. In this case, the power that an elite has can lead to dangerous consequences. Tyranny grows even faster when all of the people in power share it. Without any strong resistance from other people in power, there is not much short of a revolution to stop an unjust elite.

Even if the leader violates the laws of logic and makes truly everyone happy, there is no guarantee that he or she will continue to do so. Moreover, a term of rule is never permanent, and future rulers are unlikely to carry on an identical legacy as past ones. Even if a ruler pleased absolutely everyone, the successor, more than likely, would not.

Thus, it appears that elitism is not an adequate way to promote good. The elitist cannot be truly good, for there are too many people to tend to; it is impossible to do so for all of them. When he or she is bad, the consequences are far too dire. We must not entrust power to those who will be unseeing at best and despotic at worst.

Populism: Lukewarm Water

Populism, on the other hand, gives a far greater role to the people. As stated previously, they tend to support more policies that reflect the desire of the majority, which usually is the working and middle classes. For example, they may strongly support unions and oppose giving government elites too much power. This does not, however, necessarily mean they support smaller government, as many populists support a strongly graduated income tax and high tariffs.

Populism and elitism both are ridden with issues, but a particular one is unique to populism; so many people are in the decision-making processes that the voices of legitimate experts are weak. Populism is more likely to be democratic and give strong favor to the majority. And if the majority is wrong? Tough luck, it isn’t the will of the people.

Despite its prevalence on both the left and the right, populism generally limits the realm of acceptable thought. As masses of people must approve policies before they go into action, it is hard for an individual with an innovative idea to further it. Majorities are often wrong, as are elites.

The Moderating Effect

Imagine that 10 people in a room of 30 are fascists. 10 more are standard American liberals and conservatives, but the last 10 people are anarchists. In a populist system, each opinion receives equal weight, and those that do not have the support of the people will falter. In this case, the ten fascists will not see much support from the other 20. So, it is safe to say that populism has a moderating effect on tyranny. In an elitist system, if the one or few in charge is or are fascist, then fascist policies will rule. A populist system, however, can quench the fires of extreme tyranny.

Yet, this same effect happens on ideas of liberty. The 10 anarchists, under populism, are not going to receive support from the 20 who do believe in a state. Similarly, populism has a moderating effect on liberty, preventing true freedom from ever occurring. Where elitism takes a gamble, populism removes both the risk and the reward. In place, there is only a system of lukewarm moderation, in which no forms of true liberty are likely to exist.

Majority Rule

As stated above, people have drastically differing needs. An elite leader may or may not attempt to make them all happy. The populists, on the contrary, are far more likely to do so. But is this a good thing?

If ten people believe in a free society that benefits all, but fifty people propose a notion that they believe will benefit the people (as the majority, whatever they believe will benefit them will benefit the most people in a disagreement), then the fifty, however right or wrong they are, will take precedence. Generally, populism, like democracy, places tremendous importance on the people are stresses equal say.

On the other hand, if the roles are switched, the fifty people in favor of liberty will see their idea gain more momentum. However, this is not due to the merits of the idea itself, but simply due to a majority holding the opinion and the majority can certainly be wrong.

In fact, most Americans do not even know the basic functions of their own government. In a recent poll, 37 percent of Americans could not name a First Amendment right. 74 percent could not name the branches of government and more than half said that illegal immigrants have no Constitutional rights. Are these really the people that should be making the decisions that affect us all?

Populism and Elitism: Shared Faults

Populism and elitism, without a doubt, differ considerably in their means and implementations. Also, they have some distinctly different flaws. Despite this, there is a key piece that the two ideas have in common; they both suggest that others can and should forcibly make decisions for you.

In a situation in which you are not the expert, it is wise to allow one to step in. On the contrary, it can be beneficial to take a poll of many other perspectives to see the merits of an idea. Yet, populism and elitism do both of these things by force, imposing them through the will of the government onto the people. In neither case is anyone really free, with the possible exception of the rulers in an elitist system.

The court case example from above applies to populism as well. There is nothing necessarily different about a majority and an elite. Both may have good intentions and be correct. But, both may also have wicked intentions or be incorrect (or both). For this reason, it is highly irresponsible to give the power of decision-making to anyone but the individual. In most cases, the individual is the most capable of making his or her own choices. Exceptions certainly exist, but nothing is stopping people from choosing to seek the opinions of majorities or experts. But overreliance on one, the other, or both is a road to disaster. We must, in order for a free society to prosper, allow each of us to make our own choices. Populism and elitism simply are not compatible with this idea.


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Libertarians Must Defeat the Left: A New Strategy.

By Jack Parkos | United States

Recently, I wrote on the importance of right-wing unity. This will serve as a follow up to that piece; it is important to go into further detail about why this is essential for society to prosper.

What Is the Left?

Two main groups make up the threat of the left. First of all, there is a wave of modern Marxists. These are the groups like Antifa, who want to bring down capitalism and the social order. According to them, capitalism oppresses various groups like women, minorities, and the LGBT community. As they want to see the end of free markets, they are not friends of liberty.

The other main threat of the left is the elites. These are often crony capitalists in positions of high power and influence. These people feed the previous group of Marxists, even if they differ from them. They also tend to support wars and do shady business behind the backs of the general public. In many cases, they have a monopoly on the media and education. Both elected and appointed, elites use big government against the people. They have infected both parties. Establishment Republicans may speak against left groups like Antifa but are as pro-war as the left elites.

Together, the establishment and Marxists are a deadly weapon in politics, culture, and society. They are a threat to liberty. Antifa advocates for an ideology (communism) that opposes private property. They both are against free speech. Antifa does this via riots when conservatives speak.

It is time that libertarians adopt a strategy to stop this. Principles are dying in politics; mobs are filling the void. Trying to reason with the left will not work; they are unable to peacefully come to resolutions. We have crazy enemies in the media, establishment, left and more. The old saying goes “desperate times call for desperate measure”. But we may not need to come up with a completely new strategy, there exists already an idea that, if adapted to modern times, could serve as a solution.

Right-Wing Populism

Murray Rothbard was the father of both Anarcho-Capitalism and Paleo-Libertarianism. An anarchist, of course, believes in no government and consequently, no politics. But Murray Rothbard, while believing in an ideology that would end politics, paid very close attention to modern politics. Not only that: he participated in it. This would be shocking to some anarchists, but Rothbard knew this was necessary to advance the movement.

In 1992, Murray Rothbard published a controversial essay entitled “Right-Wing Populism”. Although the essay contains some horrid ideas (such as allying with white nationalists), some parts of this essay are a good guide for how to approach modern politics. It is very important that we (libertarians) condemn white nationalists. Once we remove this portion of the essay, what does it say?

Rothbard presents an interesting idea, that with a new approach, could be beneficial. He writes:

The basic right-wing populist insight is that we live in a statist country and a statist world dominated by a ruling elite, consisting of a coalition of Big Government, Big Business, and various influential special interest groups. More specifically, the old America of individual liberty, private property, and minimal government has been replaced by a coalition of politicians and bureaucrats allied with, and even dominated by, powerful corporate and Old Money financial elites (e.g., the Rockefellers, the Trilateralists); and the New Class of technocrats and intellectuals, including Ivy League academics and media elites, who constitute the opinion-moulding class in society.

Rothbard described the right-wing populist movement as an “old right” that opposes big government and corporate unity. Many of the things he talks about apply to problems we face today. We are under a crony capitalist system that elites run without care for the people, and this must cease.

Allies of the Right

Cultural Marxists and elites work towards similar goals that lead to the weakening of society. Given this, it becomes abundantly clear that libertarians need allies, even if they are not pure lovers of liberty. Given the modern state of politics, this is absolutely necessary. Rothbard supported the idea of allies. But who do we choose? Rothbard makes a great point in his essay:

Libertarians have long been puzzled about whom, about which groups, to reach out to. The simple answer: everyone, is not enough, because to be relevant politically, we must concentrate strategically on those groups who are most oppressed and who also have the most social leverage.

So, who opposes the left and elite and has the leverage to help us win? Donald Trump’s populist movement. Before throwing away this idea, it is important to look at it deeply. It is nearly obvious that Rothbard would have liked this idea. Rothbard supported Pat Buchanan, someone who is not a 100% pure libertarian. If he were around in the 2016 election, it is extremely likely he would have supported Trump.

A Voice Against the Establishment

Trump did run an anti-establishment campaign, calling out the coalition of bureaucrats and politicians that Rothbard also criticized. Take a look at these proposals below. Who does this sound like?

l. Slash Taxes. All taxes, sales, business, property, etc., but especially the most oppressive politically and personally: the income tax. We must work toward repeal of the income tax and abolition of the IRS.

2. Slash Welfare. Get rid of underclass rule by abolishing the welfare system, or, short of abolition, severely cutting and restricting it.

3. Abolish Racial or Group Privileges. Abolish affirmative action, set aside racial quotas, etc., and point out that the root of such quotas is the entire “civil rights” structure, which tramples on the property rights of every American.

4. Take Back the Streets: Crush Criminals. And by this I mean, of course, not “white collar criminals” or “inside traders” but violent street criminals – robbers, muggers, rapists, murderers. Cops must be unleashed, and allowed to administer instant punishment, subject of course to liability when they are in error.

5. Take Back the Streets: Get Rid of the Bums. Again: unleash the cops to clear the streets of bums and vagrants. Where will they go? Who cares? Hopefully, they will disappear, that is, move from the ranks of the petted and cosseted bum class to the ranks of the productive members of society.

6. Abolish the Fed; Attack the Banksters. Money and banking are recondite issues. But the realities can be made vivid: the Fed is an organized cartel of banksters, who are creating inflation, ripping off the public, destroying the savings of the average American. The hundreds of billions of taxpayer handouts to S&L banksters will be chicken-feed compared to the coming collapse of the commercial banks.

7. America First. A key point, and not meant to be seventh in priority. The American economy is not only in recession; it is stagnating. The average family is worse off now than it was two decades ago. Come home America…

8. Defend Family Values. Which means, get the State out of the family, and replace State control with parental control. In the long run, this means ending public schools, and replacing them with private schools. But we must realize that voucher and even tax credit schemes are not, despite Milton Friedman, transitional demands on the path to privatized education; instead, they will make matters worse by fastening government control more totally upon the private schools. Within the sound alternative is decentralization, and back to local, community neighborhood control of the schools.

These are all Rothbard’s points, but some show considerable overlap with Trump.

Additional Similarities

Rothbard further details some similarities below:

So far: every one of these right-wing populist programs is totally consistent with a hard-core libertarian position. But all real-world politics is coalition politics, and there are other areas where libertarians might well compromise with their paleo or traditionalist or other partners in a populist coalition. For example, on family values, take such vexed problems as pornography, prostitution, or abortion. Here, pro-legalization and pro-choice libertarians should be willing to compromise on a decentralist stance; that is, to end the tyranny of the federal courts, and to leave these problems up to states and better yet, localities and neighborhoods, that is, to “community standards.”

A Coalition of the Right

If the father of anarcho-capitalism was open to the idea of working with “non-libertarians”, it cannot be against anarchist principles to do so. Of course, we do not have to support every idea on the list or change our principles. However, the Trump Populist Movement is a good “target” to ally with. They also could become future libertarians, as many current libertarians come from this camp. We need to put aside our differences and unite with populists. We need to find common ground and defeat our common enemy: the left.

If this alliance weakens elitism and stops the left, then there is no real reason not to consider it. Along with this, we must call out when Trump is right as well as when he is wrong. But, we need to appear friendly. Trump likes this, and if he likes us, he may ally with us and lean towards libertarian positions. Without supporting every bill or abandoning principle, we can take this new strategy. Rothbard’s thoughts on the matter are not perfect, but lay the framework for a move towards true liberty.


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Stand With Ryan

By Ethan Suquet | USA

Right now as we ease into the new year of 2018 Republicans seem divided over the years agenda and there seem to be two sides to that. On the one hand, there’s the populist wing of the Republican party led by President Trump that would like 2018 to focus on what would amount to a bipartisan multi-billion dollar boondoggle on infrastructure spending. On the other hand lies the conservative wing of the Republican party, led by Speaker Ryan that is ready to sit down and be the adults in the room that make sure that future generations aren’t handed down tens of trillions of dollars more in debt because of irresponsible entitlement spending. In this new years agenda we on the right need to remain united, we must unite under a major policy push to fix entitlements, we must stand with Ryan.

Since his early years in Congress, Paul Ryan has been a leader on entitlements, in 2012 when he was the Republican Vice Presidential nominee he was the half of the ticket that helped the GOP come to a consensus around medicare vouchers. He has had the courage to touch the third rail in politics without hesitation, saying things in interviews such as “competition works everywhere, especially in Medicare”. On the right, we need to choose between two paths right now. The Ryan path of solving the problems of the day and making sure that we don’t pass on crushing debt to the next generation or the Trump path of blowing up the deficit with a big government intrusion into the issue of infrastructure. This path will not be an easy path. On infrastructure, there’s the option of a consensus by the big government factions of both parties that could garner upwards of 70 votes in the Senate, while on infrastructure we would be hitching our bets of entitlement reform on Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins casting a conservative vote. Although entitlement reform won’t be anywhere near as easy to pass as an infrastructure bill, it’s the right thing to do, and because of that everyone on the right must unite around an entitlement based 2018 agenda and stand with Ryan.