I used to be a regular reader of lewrockwell.com. I especially liked the antiwar pieces, many of which were quite good, and still are, not to mention the site’s usually strong criticism of U.S. Foreign intervention in general. I tend to find, that when they post good stuff, it is quite good, and when they post bad stuff, it is the awful sort of social conservatism-tinge apologetics for big business that one would expect from the guy who likely wrote Ron Paul’s infamous racist news letters.
This brings me to my case in point: the site’s heavy use of article’s from Pat Buchanan. I have a good friend, who is an older libertarian and reader of Rockwell’s site and he forwards me a Pat Buchanan article from it, on a near weekly basis. The most recent example, was a piece arguing that Republicans in general should have done more to fight “Obamacare”, nothing that would be unexpected on a libertarian site. Other articles have generally been about war or US intervention abroad. All things, within the site’s purview, but all things that can be and have been articulated just as well clearly by people with much stronger libertarian credentials and less baggage, than Buchanan.
Couldn’t Rockwell, find someone better to argue these points than Pat Buchanan? The man is a bible-thumping, protectionist, socially conservative, boarder fascist, who favors teacher-mandated prayer in public schools, who served in two of this country’s worst and most corrupt administrations, and has a history of saying borderline racist and unambiguously homophobic things. In other words, he is far from being a libertarian, and far from being anything, that any forward looking libertarian, under the age of 60 would want anything to do with.
Furthermore the man is not the type of writer who is going to convince anyone, who does not already agree with him, of anything. The best way to alienate the up and coming generation of would-be libertarians would be to associate the movement with Buchanan. Simply put, the people this man appeals to are not getting any younger, nor are they becoming more relevant politically, over the long term.
In response to these objections, my friend who sends me the Buchanan pieces, argued “If we only read libertarian literature, how we going to learn what the other people are thinking. You have to keep in mind, that the worst thing that can happen to a free society is to go to war.” My response is that limiting your non-libertarian sources to old right types, making arguments you already agree with, is hardly going to expose you to new ideas, or get you any closer to the pulse of America. This country is becoming far more socially liberal, and far less sympathetic to the rigid traditionalism and petty prejudice Pat Buchanan embodies. For many the greatest appeal of libertarianism is its anti-authoritarianism, and socially liberal aspects, while it’s greatest stumbling block is that the misconception that movement is composed of even more extreme republicans who might smoke pot, once in a while. Associating with Buchanan contributes to this misconception, and brings little positive benefit to make up for this.
If Rockwell really wanted to expose us to a wider range of works, from non-libertarians making similar arguments, why not bring in a few contributors from the radical or centrist left in addition to Buchanan? This would make a far more well rounded site a with much broader appeal. Buchanan hardly strikes me as being on the cutting edge of anti-war writing. Everything he says can and has been said, usually better, by people all over the political spectrum. Why does this site have to give so much voice to old right types, with their vast quantities of authoritarian baggage?
Of course, I suspect, this is largely a reflection of Mr, Rockwell’s preferences. He seems to be still secretly in bed with that horrendous “paleo-strategy” from the eighties, that was all about appealing to disaffected, angry white men, pissed off about racial equality and what have you. An excellent critique of this can be found here. The point is, this strategy is played out and cripples libertarianism rather promotes it. It is a terrible part of the libertarian movement’s past, and Rockwell ought to explicitly reject it and instead embrace a vision of a free society that the Pat Buchanans of the world would want nothing to do with. Rockwell is obviously free to post whatever he wants, but I recognize his use of Buchanan material as being a tactical error and obnoxious.