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Murray Rothbard (1926-1995) was an Austrian school economist and influential leader of the modern libertarian movement. As T.H. Huxley was nicknamed "Darwin's bulldog," Rothbard might as well have called himself von Mises' bulldog.
Rothbard was one of the foremost proponents of the pseudo-psychology known as praxeology. Rothbard viewed property rights as paramount to freedom and so went even beyond von Mises, who was a minarchist, in advocating anarcho-capitalism. He was also known as a big critic of fractional reserve banking and the Federal Reserve. Because of his philosophy, he held many views that would be seen as progressive as well as ones that were batshit crazy. For example, he voiced support for the civil rights movement as well as opposition to the Vietnam War and the draft, but also defended the practice of child labor, "racialist science," and that "cops must be unleashed, and allowed to administer instant punishment." Also, despite his initial vocal support for revolutionary black power politics, he later worked with Lew Rockwell, founder and then president of the Ludwig von Mises Institute, to run a campaign strategy to exploit racism in order to build a libertarian/paleoconservative coalition and praised the notorious work by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, The Bell Curve.
 Right to Left to Right
Rothbard's political alliances shifted over time, although he and his supporters would say his actual views never really changed much since the 1950s, he just worked within whichever radical movement was gaining popularity and thus the best place to advance his own views.
During the 1950s he was part of the conservative movement and wrote for a time for William F. Buckley's National Review, as well as the Foundation for Economic Education. He briefly joined Ayn Rand's inner circle but soon left and became a critic of the cult-like aspects of the Rand movement, writing a long article about the movement and also a satiric play, "Mozart was a Red," sending up Ayn Rand and two of her chief lieutenants.
But later in the decade he supported Adlai Stevenson's presidential campaign and joined the Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy to work for nuclear disarmament, and in the 1960s he was part of the New Left, praising the student uprising, promoting the works of New Left historians William Appleman Williams and Gabriel Kolko, and even joining the Peace and Freedom Party. Under Rothbard's influence several movement conservatives switched allegiences to the New Left, most notably Goldwater speechwriter Karl Hess, and at the same time several of the New Left were influenced toward libertarianism such as Leonard Liggio, Ronald Radosh, and former SDS president Carl Oglesby. His newsletters, Left and Right and the Libertarian Forum, promoted a cross-fertilization among Old Right isolationists, Goldwaterites, and the New Left; this approach of a simultaneous Robert Taft - Noam Chomsky axis came to define libertarianism during the 1970s before it shifted rightward under the influence of the stable of Koch Industries funded groups.
He worked within the Libertarian Party during the 1970s and 1980s, and helped found the Cato Institute. During this period he attempted to keep the libertarian movement on a "centrist" course, criticizing "deviationism" of both the right (Ayn Rand and the neoconservatism of William F. Buckley) and the left (Henry George and left-anarchism of the Kropotkin/Bakunin variety); and, to his credit, spoke out against libertarians being wooed by such fads as est and New Age beliefs. Rothbard's increasing animosity toward the Koch faction during the 1980 Ed Clark presidential campaign led to his being booted from Cato in early 1981; he turned his attention toward struggle with the Koch-aligned Ed Crane for control of the Libertarian Party, eventually leading to a walkout of Crane and his supporters at their 1983 convention. Ironically, when the Crane/Koch faction proposed drafting Ron Paul for the 1984 Libertarian Party nomination, Rothbard opposed Paul as insufficiently pure libertarian.
Rothbard's own political allegiences however were also shifting back to the right during this time. While he supported nuclear disarmament, Black Power, pro-choice on abortion, amnesty for draft resisters, and the anti-Vietnam War movement he was vocally opposed to environmentalism, radical feminism, humanistic psychology and had at best a personal animosity toward the counterculture, and began articulating a pro-police "tough on crime" viewpoint as early as 1971 when he stunned some readers by advocating a tough crackdown on the Attica State prison uprising. He abruptly flip-flopped during the 1972 U.S. Presidential election from "dump Nixon at all costs" to endorsing his re-election once the Democratic nominee was George McGovern. During the late 1970s when prominent libertarians were voicing support for the Equal Rights Amendment and opposition to nuclear power, Rothbard viewed both positions as heresy and opposed them from the right. When in 1988 the Libertarian Party presidential nomination was between American Indian Movement leader Russell Means - supported by those within the LP whose attraction had been cultural-left issues - and former Republican congressman Ron Paul, Rothbard threw his support behind Ron Paul and the emerging paleoconservative movement. By 1992 he had left the Libertarian Party altogether, supported Pat Buchanan's presidential campaign, and had adopted a socially conservative line fused with foreign policy isolationism he and Lew Rockwell defined as "paleolibertarian". From then until his 1995 death he threw his lot in with the paleoconservative movement and with right-wing populism that had grown out of the 1992 campaigns of Pat Buchanan and Ross Perot.
 Adam Smith was also a Red
One of Rothbard's more "interesting" arguments concerned Adam Smith. Not only did Rothbard argue that he was no true capitalist, but that Smith was in fact a proto-Marxist because of his formulation of a labor theory of value and his failure to advocate totally "free" markets.
 Ethical system and children
Rothbard reminds us that reasoning completely from first principles and paying attention only to the means rather than the ends can lead to truly batshit heights of insanity, envisioning the wonders of a "free baby market":
“” Applying our theory to parents and children, this means that a parent does not have the right to aggress against his children, but also that the parent should not have a legal obligation to feed, clothe, or educate his children, since such obligations would entail positive acts coerced upon the parent and depriving the parent of his rights. The parent therefore may not murder or mutilate his child, and the law properly outlaws a parent from doing so. But the parent should have the legal right not to feed the child, i.e., to allow it to die. The law, therefore, may not properly compel the parent to feed a child or to keep it alive. (Again, whether or not a parent has a moral rather than a legally enforceable obligation to keep his child alive is a completely separate question.) This rule allows us to solve such vexing questions as: should a parent have the right to allow a deformed baby to die (e.g., by not feeding it)? The answer is of course yes, following a fortiori from the larger right to allow any baby, whether deformed or not, to die. (Though, as we shall see below, in a libertarian society the existence of a free baby market will bring such “neglect” down to a minimum.)
 See also
- ↑ Black Power, actually; he praised the revolutionary stance of Malcolm X, Stokely Carmichael, and the Black Panther Party while critical of Martin Luther King as "the major restraining force on the developing Negro revolution."
- ↑ The Irrepressible Rothbard, Essays of Murray N. Rothbard, December 1994
- ↑ Right-Wing Populism, January 1992
- ↑ Reason - Who Wrote Ron Paul's Racist Newsletters?
- ↑ Race! That Murray Book, in The Irrepressible Rothbard
- ↑ "The Sociology of the Ayn Rand Cult"
- ↑ "Mozart was a Red," with introduction by Justin Raimondo
- ↑ Performance of the play at the Ludwig von Mises Institute for Rothbard's birthday
- ↑ "The New Libertarian Vanguard", The Libertarian Forum November-December 1982, p. 8
- ↑ "Attica", The Libertarian Forum, October 1971, p. 1
- ↑ He said some astonishingly batshit things during this period that were at odds with his views two decades earlier, such as praising David Duke and the police beating of Rodney King.
- ↑ Peter Hans Matthews and Andreas Ortmann. An Austrian (Mis)Reads Adam Smith: A Critique of Rothbard as Intellectual Historian. Center for Economic Research and Graduate Education (CERGE), Oct. 1999
- ↑ Ethics of Liberty