The Fascist Threat
Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr.
Recently by Llewellyn H.
The Police State Abolishes the Trial
talk was delivered at the Doug Casey conference, "When Money Dies,"
in Phoenix on October 1, 2011.
knows that the term fascist is a pejorative, often used to describe
any political position a speaker doesn’t like. There isn’t anyone
around who is willing to stand up and say: "I’m a fascist; I think
fascism is a great social and economic system."
But I submit
that if they were honest, the vast majority of politicians,
intellectuals, and political activists would have to say just that.
the system of government that cartelizes the private sector,
centrally plans the economy to subsidize producers, exalts the
police State as the source of order, denies fundamental rights and
liberties to individuals, and makes the executive State the
unlimited master of society.
describes mainstream politics in America today. And not just in
America. It’s true in Europe, too. It is so much part of the
mainstream that it is hardly noticed any more.
It is true
that fascism has no overarching theoretical apparatus. There is no
grand theorist like Marx. That makes it no less real and distinct as
a social, economic, and political system. Fascism also thrives as a
distinct style of social and economic management. And it is
as much or more of a threat to civilization than full-blown
because its traits are so much a part of life – and have been for so
long – that they are nearly invisible to us.
If fascism is
invisible to us, it is truly the silent killer. It fastens a huge,
violent, lumbering State on the free market that drains its capital
and productivity like a deadly parasite on a host. This is why the
fascist State has been called The Vampire Economy. It sucks the
economic life out of a nation and brings about a slow death of a
once thriving economy.
Let me just
provide a recent example.
last week were filled with the first sets of data from the 2010 US
Census. The headline story concerned the huge increase in the
poverty rate. It is the largest increase in 20 years, and now up to
people hear this and dismiss it, probably for good reason. The poor
in this country are not poor by any historical standard. They have
cell phones, cable TV, cars, lots of food, and plenty of disposable
income. What’s more, there is no such thing as a fixed class called
the poor. People come and go, depending on age and life
circumstances. Plus, in American politics, when you hear kvetching
about the poor, everyone knows what you’re supposed to do: hand the
government your wallet.
Buried in the
report is another fact that has much more profound significance. It
concerns median household income in real terms.
What the data
have revealed is devastating. Since 1999, median household income
has fallen 7.1 percent. Since 1989, median family income is largely
flat. And since 1973 and the end of the gold standard, it has hardly
risen at all. The great wealth generating machine that was once
America is failing.
No longer can
one generation expect to live a better life than the previous one.
The fascist economic model has killed what was once called the
American dream. And the truth is, of course, even worse than the
statistic reveals. You have to consider how many incomes exist
within a single household to make up the total income. After World
War II, the single-income family became the norm. Then the money was
destroyed and American savings were wiped out and the capital base
of the economy was devastated.
It was at
this point that households began to struggle to stay above water.
The year 1985 was the turning point. This was the year that it
became more common than not for a household to have two incomes
rather than one. Mothers entered the workforce to keep family income
intellectuals cheered this trend, as if it represented liberation,
shouting hosannas that all women everywhere are now added to the tax
rolls as valuable contributors to the State’s coffers. The real
cause is the rise of fiat money that depreciated the currency,
robbed savings, and shoved people into the workforce as taxpayers.
This story is
not told in the data alone. You have to look at the demographics to
demographic shift essentially bought the American household another
20 years of seeming prosperity, though it is hard to call it that
since there was no longer any choice about the matter. If you wanted
to keep living the dream, the household could no longer get by on a
But this huge
shift was merely an escape hatch. It bought 20 years of slight
increases before the income trend flattened again. Over the last
decade we are back to falling. Today median family income is only
slightly above where it was when Nixon wrecked the dollar, put on
price and wage controls, created the EPA, and the whole apparatus of
the parasitic welfare-warfare State came to be entrenched and made
Yes, this is
fascism, and we are paying the price. The dream is being destroyed.
The talk in
Washington about reform, whether from Democrats or Republicans, is
like a bad joke. They talk of small changes, small cuts, commissions
they will establish, curbs they will make in ten years. It is all
white noise. None of this will fix the problem. Not even close.
is more fundamental. It is the quality of the money. It is the very
existence of 10,000 regulatory agencies. It is the whole assumption
that you have to pay the State for the privilege to work. It is the
presumption that the government must manage every aspect of the
capitalist economic order. In short, it is the total State that is
the problem, and the suffering and decline will continue so long as
the total State exists.
Origins of Fascism
To be sure,
the last time people worried about fascism was during the Second
World War. We were said to be fighting this evil system abroad. The
US defeated fascist governments but the philosophy of governance
that it represents was not defeated. Very quickly following that
war, another one began. This was the Cold War that pitted capitalism
against communism. Socialism in this case was considered to be a
soft form of communism, tolerable and even praiseworthy insofar as
it was linked with democracy, which is the system that legalizes and
legitimizes an ongoing pillaging of the population.
meantime, almost everyone has forgotten that there are many other
colors of socialism, not all of them obviously left wing. Fascism is
one of these colors.
There can be
no question of its origins. It is tied up with the history of
post-World War I Italian politics. In 1922, Benito Mussolini won a
democratic election and established fascism as his philosophy.
Mussolini had been a member of the socialist party.
biggest and most important players within the fascist movement came
from the socialists. It was a threat to the socialists because it
was the most appealing political vehicle for the real-world
application of the socialist impulse. Socialists crossed over to
join the fascists en masse.
This is also
why Mussolini himself enjoyed such good press for more than ten
years after his rule began. He was celebrated by the New York
Times in article after article. He was heralded in scholarly
collections as an exemplar of the type of leader we need in an age
of the planned society. Puff pieces on this blowhard were very
common in US journalism all through the late 1920s and the
in this same period, the American left went through a huge shift. In
the teens and 1920s, the American left had a very praiseworthy
anti-corporatist impulse. The left generally opposed war, the
state-run penal system, alcohol prohibition, and all violations of
civil liberties. It was no friend of capitalism but neither was it a
friend of the corporate State of the sort that FDR forged during the
In 1933 and
1934, the American left had to make a choice. Would they embrace the
corporatism and regimentation of the New Deal or take a principled
stand on their old liberal values? In other words, would they accept
fascism as a halfway house to their socialist utopia? A gigantic
battle ensued in this period, and there was a clear winner. The New
Deal made an offer the left could not refuse. And it was a small
step to go from the embrace of the fascistic planned economy to the
celebration of the warfare State that concluded the New Deal period.
merely a repeat of the same course of events in Italy a decade
earlier. In Italy too, the left realized that their
anti-capitalistic agenda could best be achieved within the framework
of the authoritarian, planning State. Of course our friend John
Maynard Keynes played a critical role in providing a
pseudo-scientific rationale for joining opposition to old-world
laissez faire to a new appreciation of the planned society. Recall
that Keynes was not a socialist of the old school. As he himself
said in his introduction to the Nazi edition of his
General Theory, national socialism was far more
hospitable to his ideas than a market economy.
Flynn Tells the Truth
definitive study on fascism written in these years was
As We Go Marching by John T. Flynn. Flynn was a journalist
and scholar of a liberal spirit who had written a number of
best-selling books in the 1920s. He could probably be put in the
progressive camp in the 1920s. It was the New Deal that changed him.
His colleagues all followed FDR into fascism, while Flynn himself
kept the old faith. That meant that he fought FDR every step of the
way, and not only his domestic plans. Flynn was a leader of the
America First movement that saw FDR’s drive to war as nothing but an
extension of the New Deal, which it certainly was.
Flynn was part of what Murray Rothbard later dubbed the Old Right –
Flynn came to oppose both the welfare State and the warfare State –
his name went down the Orwellian memory hole after the war, during
the heyday of CIA conservatism.
As We Go
Marching came out in 1944, just at the tail end of the war, and
right in the midst of wartime economic controls the world over. It
is a wonder that it ever got past the censors. It is a full-scale
study of fascist theory and practice, and Flynn saw precisely where
fascism ends: in militarism and war as the fulfillment of the
stimulus-spending agenda. When you run out of everything else to
spend money on, you can always depend on nationalist fervor to back
more military spending.
the history of the rise of fascism, Flynn wrote:
"One of the
most baffling phenomena of fascism is the almost incredible
collaboration between men of the extreme Right and the extreme
Left in its creation. The explanation lies at this point. Both
Right and Left joined in this urge for regulation. The motives,
the arguments, and the forms of expression were different but all
drove in the same direction. And this was that the economic system
must be controlled in its essential functions and this control
must be exercised by the producing groups."
that the right and the left disagreed on precisely who fits the bill
as the producer group. The left tends to celebrate laborers as
producers. The right tends to favor business owners as producers.
The political compromise – and it still goes on today – was to
under fascism becomes the cartelization device for both workers and
the private owners of capital. Competition between workers and
between businesses is regarded as wasteful and pointless; the
political elites decide that the members of these groups need to get
together and cooperate under government supervision to build a
have always been obsessed with the idea of national greatness. To
them, this does not consist in a nation of people who are growing
more prosperous, living ever better and longer lives. No, national
greatness occurs when the State embarks on building huge monuments,
undertaking nationwide transportation systems, carving Mount
Rushmore, or digging the Panama Canal.
words, national greatness is not the same thing as your greatness or
your family’s greatness or your company’s or profession’s greatness.
On the contrary. You have to be taxed, your money’s value has to be
depreciated, your privacy invaded, and your well being diminished in
order to achieve it. In this view, the government has to make
such a program has a far greater chance of political success than
old-fashioned socialism. Fascism doesn’t nationalize private
property as socialism does. That means that the economy doesn’t
collapse right away. Nor does fascism push to equalize incomes.
There is no talk of the abolition of marriage or the nationalization
not abolished but used as a tool of political manipulation. The
fascist State was far more politically astute in this respect than
communism. It wove together religion and statism into one package,
encouraging a worship of God provided that the State operates as the
fascism, society as we know it is left intact, though everything is
lorded over by a mighty State apparatus. Whereas traditional
socialist teaching fostered a globalist perspective, fascism was
explicitly nationalist. It embraced and exalted the idea of the
As for the
bourgeoisie, fascism doesn’t seek their expropriation. Instead, the
middle class gets what it wants in the form of social insurance,
medical benefits, and heavy doses of national pride.
It is for all
these reasons that fascism takes on a right-wing cast. It doesn’t
attack fundamental bourgeois values. It draws on them to garner
support for a democratically backed all-round national regimentation
of economic control, censorship, cartelization, political
intolerance, geographic expansion, executive control, the police
State, and militarism.
For my part,
I have no problem referring to the fascist program as a right-wing
theory, even if it does fulfill aspects of the left-wing dream. The
crucial matter here concerns its appeal to the public and to the
demographic groups that are normally drawn to right-wing politics.
If you think
about it, right-wing statism is of a different color, cast, and tone
from left-wing statism. Each is designed to appeal to a different
set of voters with different interests and values.
divisions, however, are not strict, and we’ve already seen how a
left-wing socialist program can adapt itself and become a right-wing
fascist program with very little substantive change other than its
Eight Marks of Fascist Policy
Flynn, like other members of the Old Right, was disgusted by the
irony that what he saw, most everyone else chose to ignore. In the
fight against authoritarian regimes abroad, he noted, the US had
adopted those forms of government at home, complete with price
controls, rationing, censorship, executive dictatorship, and even
concentration camps for whole groups considered to be unreliable in
their loyalties to the State.
reviewing this long history, Flynn proceeds to sum up with a list of
eight points he considers to be the main marks of the fascist State.
As I present
them, I will also offer comments on the modern American central
Point 1. The government is totalitarian because it acknowledges no
restraint upon its powers.
This is a
very telling mark. It suggests that the US political system can be
described as totalitarian. This is a shocking remark that most
people would reject. But they can reject this characterization so
long as they happen not to be directly ensnared in the State’s web.
If they become so, they will quickly discover that there are indeed
no limits to what the State can do. This can happen boarding a
flight, driving around in your home town, or having your business
run afoul of some government agency. In the end, you must obey or be
caged like an animal or killed. In this way, no matter how much you
may believe that you are free, all of us today are but one step away
as the 1990s, I can recall that there were moments when Clinton
seemed to suggest that there were some things that his
administration could not do. Today I’m not so sure that I can recall
any government official pleading the constraints of law or the
constraints of reality to what can and cannot be done. No aspect of
life is untouched by government intervention, and often it takes
forms we do not readily see. All of health care is regulated, but so
is every bit of our food, transportation, clothing, household
products, and even private relationships.
himself put his principle this way: "All within the State, nothing
outside the State, nothing against the State." He also said: "The
keystone of the Fascist doctrine is its conception of the State, of
its essence, its functions, and its aims. For Fascism the State is
absolute, individuals and groups relative."
I submit to
you that this is the prevailing ideology in the United States today.
This nation conceived in liberty has been kidnapped by the fascist
Point 2. Government is a de facto dictatorship based on the
say that we truly have a dictatorship of one man in this country,
but we do have a form of dictatorship of one sector of government
over the entire country. The executive branch has spread so
dramatically over the last century that it has become a joke to
speak of checks and balances. What the kids learn in civics class
has nothing to do with reality.
State is the State as we know it, all flowing from the White House
down. The role of the courts is to enforce the will of the
executive. The role of the legislature is to ratify the policy of
executive is not really about the person who seems to be in charge.
The president is only the veneer, and the elections are only the
tribal rituals we undergo to confer some legitimacy on the
institution. In reality, the nation State lives and thrives outside
any "democratic mandate." Here we find the power to regulate all
aspects of life and the wicked power to create the money necessary
to fund this executive rule.
As for the
leadership principle, there is no greater lie in American public
life than the propaganda we hear every four years about how the new
president/messiah is going to usher in the great dispensation of
peace, equality, liberty, and global human happiness. The idea here
is that the whole of society is really shaped and controlled by a
single will – a point that requires a leap of faith so vast that you
have to disregard everything you know about reality to believe it.
people do. The hope for a messiah reached a fevered pitch with
Obama’s election. The civic religion was in full-scale worship mode
– of the greatest human who ever lived or ever shall live. It was a
that the American people believe is that presidential elections
bring about regime change. This is sheer nonsense. The Obama State
is the Bush State; the Bush State was the Clinton State; the Clinton
State was the Bush State; the Bush State was the Reagan State. We
can trace this back and back in time and see overlapping
appointments, bureaucrats, technicians, diplomats, Fed officials,
financial elites, and so on. Rotation in office occurs not because
of elections but because of mortality.
Point 3. Government administers a capitalist system with an immense
of bureaucratic administration has been with us at least since the
New Deal, which was modeled on the planning bureaucracy that lived
in World War I. The planned economy – whether in Mussolini’s time or
ours – requires bureaucracy. Bureaucracy is the heart, lungs, and
veins of the planning State. And yet to regulate an economy as
thoroughly as this one is today is to kill prosperity with a billion
necessarily mean economic contraction, at least right away. But it
definitely means killing off growth that would have otherwise
occurred in a free market.
So where is
our growth? Where is the peace dividend that was supposed to come
after the end of the Cold War? Where are the fruits of the amazing
gains in efficiency that technology has afforded? It has been eaten
by the bureaucracy that manages our every move on this earth. The
voracious and insatiable monster here is called the Federal Code
that calls on thousands of agencies to exercise the police power to
prevent us from living free lives.
It is as
Basiat said: The real cost of the State is the prosperity we do not
see, the jobs that don’t exist, the technologies to which we do not
have access, the businesses that do not come into existence, and the
bright future that is stolen from us. The State has looted us just
as surely as a robber who enters our home at night and steals all
that we love.
Point 4. Producers are organized into cartels in the way of
is not usually how we think of how our current economic structure.
But remember that syndicalism means economic control by the
producers. Capitalism is different. It places by virtue of market
structures all control in the hands of the consumers. The only
question for syndicalists, then, is which producers are going to
enjoy political privilege. It might be the workers but it can also
be the largest corporations.
In the case
of the US, in the last three years, we’ve seen giant banks,
pharmaceutical firms, insurers, car companies, Wall Street banks and
brokerage houses, and quasi-private mortgage companies enjoying vast
privileges at our expense. They have all joined with the State in
living a parasitical existence at our expense.
This is also
an expression of the syndicalist idea, and it has cost the US
economy untold trillions and sustained an economic depression by
preventing the post-boom adjustment that markets would otherwise
dictate. The government has tightened its syndicalist grip in the
name of stimulus.
5. Economic planning is based on the principle of autarky.
the name given to the idea of economic self-sufficiency. Mostly this
refers to the economic self-determination of the nation-state. The
nation-state must be geographically huge in order to support rapid
economic growth for a large and growing population.
This was and
is the basis for fascist expansionism. Without expansion, the State
dies. This is also the idea behind the strange combination of
protectionist pressure today combined with militarism. It is driven
in part by the need to control resources.
Look at the
wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya. We would be supremely naive to
believe that these wars were not motivated in part by the producer
interests of the oil industry. It is true of the American empire
generally, which supports dollar hegemony.
It is the
reason for the planned North American Union.
The goal is
national self-sufficiency rather than a world of peaceful trade.
Consider, too, the protectionist impulses of the Republican ticket.
There is not one single Republican, apart from Ron Paul, who
authentically supports free trade in the classical definition.
Rome to modern-day America, imperialism is a form of statism that
the bourgeoisie love. It is for this reason that Bush’s post-09/11
push for the global empire has been sold as patriotism and love of
country rather than for what it is: a looting of liberty and
property to benefit the political elites.
Government sustains economic life through spending and borrowing.
requires no elaboration because it is no longer hidden. There was
stimulus 1 and stimulus 2, both of which are so discredited that
stimulus 3 will have to adopt a new name. Let’s call it the American
prime-time speech, Obama argued in favor of this program with some
of the most asinine economic analysis I’ve ever heard. He mused
about how is it that people are unemployed at a time when schools,
bridges, and infrastructure need repairing. He ordered that supply
and demand come together to match up needed work with jobs.
schools, bridges, and infrastructure that Obama refers to are all
built and maintained by the State. That’s why they are falling
apart. And people don’t have jobs because the State has made it too
expensive to hire them. It’s not complicated. To sit around and
dream of other scenarios is no different from wishing that water
flowed uphill or that rocks would float in the air. It amounts to a
denial of reality.
went on, invoking the old fascistic longing for national greatness.
"Building a world-class transportation system," he said, "is part of
what made us an economic superpower." Then he asked: "We’re going to
sit back and watch China build newer airports and faster railroads?"
answer to that question is yes. And you know what? It doesn’t hurt a
single American for a person in China to travel on a faster railroad
than we do. To claim otherwise is an incitement to nationalist
As for the
rest of this program, Obama promised yet another long list of
spending projects. Let’s just mention the reality: No government in
the history of the world has spent as much, borrowed as much, and
created as much fake money as the US. If the US doesn’t qualify as a
fascist State in this sense, no government ever has.
None of this
would be possible but for the role of the Federal Reserve, the great
lender to the world. This institution is absolutely critical to US
fiscal policy. There is no way that the national debt could increase
at a rate of $4 billion per day without this institution.
Under a gold
standard, all of this maniacal spending would come to an end. And if
US debt were priced on the market with a default premium, we would
be looking at a rating far less than A+.
Point 7. Militarism is a mainstay of government spending.
Have you ever
noticed that the military budget is never seriously discussed in
policy debates? The US spends more than most of the rest of the
And yet to
hear our leaders talk, the US is just a tiny commercial republic
that wants peace but is constantly under threat from the world. They
would have us believe that we all stand naked and vulnerable. The
whole thing is a ghastly lie. The US is a global military empire and
the main threat to peace around the world today.
US military spending as compared with other countries is truly
shocking. One bar chart you can easily look up shows the US
trillion-dollar-plus military budget as a skyscraper surrounded by
tiny huts. As for the next highest spender, China spends 1/10th as
much as the US.
Where is the
debate about this policy? Where is the discussion? It is not going
on. It is just assumed by both parties that it is essential for the
US way of life that the US be the most deadly country on the planet,
threatening everyone with nuclear extinction unless they obey. This
should be considered a fiscal and moral outrage by every civilized
only about the armed services, the military contractors, the CIA
death squads. It is also about how police at all levels have taken
on military-like postures. This goes for the local police, State
police, and even the crossing guards in our communities. The
commissar mentality, the trigger-happy thuggishness, has become the
norm throughout the whole of society.
If you want
to witness outrages, it is not hard. Try coming into this country
from Canada or Mexico. See the bullet-proof-vest wearing, heavily
armed, jackbooted thugs running dogs up and down car lanes,
searching people randomly, harassing innocents, asking rude and
You get the
strong impression that you are entering a police State. That
impression would be correct.
Yet for the
man on the street, the answer to all social problems seems to be
more jails, longer terms, more enforcement, more arbitrary power,
more crackdowns, more capital punishments, more authority. Where
does all of this end? And will the end come before we realize what
has happened to our once-free country?
Point 8. Military spending has imperialist aims.
used to claim that his military buildup was essential to keeping the
peace. The history of US foreign policy just since the 1980s has
shown that this is wrong. We’ve had one war after another, wars
waged by the US against non-compliant countries, and the creation of
even more client states and colonies.
strength has not led to peace, but the opposite. It has caused most
people in the world to regard the US as a threat, and it has led to
unconscionable wars on many countries. Wars of aggression were
defined at Nuremberg as crimes against humanity.
supposed to end this. He never promised to do so. But his supporters
all believed that he would. Instead, he has done the opposite. He
has increased troop levels, entrenched wars, and started new ones.
In reality, he has presided over a warfare State just as vicious as
any in history. The difference this time is that the left is no
longer criticizing the US role in the world. In that sense, Obama is
the best thing to ever happen to the warmongers and the
As for the
right in this country, it once opposed this kind of military
fascism. But all that changed after the beginning of the Cold War.
The right was led into a terrible ideological shift, well documented
in Murray Rothbard’s neglected masterpiece
The Betrayal of the American Right. In the name of stopping
communism, the right came to follow ex-CIA agent Bill Buckley’s
endorsement of a totalitarian bureaucracy at home to fight wars all
over the world.
At the end of
the Cold War, there was a brief reprise when the right in this
country remembered its roots in non-interventionism. But this did
not last long. George Bush the First rekindled the militarist spirit
with the first war on Iraq, and there has been no fundamental
questioning of the American empire ever since. Even today,
Republicans – except, again, Ron Paul – elicit their biggest
applause by whipping up audiences about foreign threats, while never
mentioning that the real threat to American well-being exists in the
I can think
of no greater priority today than a serious and effective
antifascist alliance. In many ways, one is already forming. It is
not a formal alliance. It is made up of those who protest the Fed,
those who refuse to go along with mainstream fascist politics, those
who seek decentralization, those who demand lower taxes and free
trade, those who seek the right to associate with anyone they want
and buy and sell on terms of their own choosing, those who insist
they can educate their children on their own, the investors and
savers who make economic growth possible, those who do not want to
be felt up at airports, and those who have become expatriates.
It is also
made of the millions of independent entrepreneurs who are
discovering that the number one threat to their ability to serve
others through the commercial marketplace is the institution that
claims to be our biggest benefactor: the government.
people fall into this category? It is more than we know. The
movement is intellectual. It is political. It is cultural. It is
technological. They come from all classes, races, countries, and
professions. This is no longer a national movement. It is truly
We can no
longer predict whether members consider themselves to be left wing,
right wing, independent, libertarian, anarchist, or something else.
It includes those as diverse as home-schooling parents in the
suburbs as well as parents in urban areas whose children are among
the 2.3 million people who languish in jail for no good reason in a
country with the largest prison population in the world.
And what does
this movement want? Nothing more or less than sweet liberty. It does
not ask that the liberty be granted or given. It only asks for the
liberty that is promised by life itself and would otherwise exist
were it not for the leviathan State that robs us, badgers us, jails
us, kills us.
is not departing. We are daily surrounded by evidence that it is
right and true. Every day, it is more and more obvious that the
State contributes absolutely nothing to our well-being, but
massively subtracts from it.
Back in the
1930s, and even up through the 1980s, the partisans of the State
were overflowing with ideas. They had theories and agendas that had
many intellectual backers. They were thrilled and excited about the
world they would create. They would end business cycles, bring about
social advance, build the middle class, cure disease, bring about
universal security, and much more. Fascism believed in itself.
This is no
longer true. Fascism has no new ideas, no big projects, and not even
its partisans really believe it can accomplish what it sets out to
do. The world created by the private sector is so much more useful
and beautiful than anything the State has done that the fascists
have themselves become demoralized and aware that their agenda has
no real intellectual foundation.
It is ever
more widely known that statism does not and cannot work. Statism is
the great lie. Statism gives us the exact opposite of its promise.
It promised security, prosperity, and peace; it has given us fear,
poverty, war, and death. If we want a future, it is one that we have
to build ourselves. The fascist State will not give it to us; on the
contrary, it stands in the way.
It also seems
to me that the old-time romance of the classical liberals with the
idea of the limited State is gone. It is far more likely today that
young people embrace an idea that fifty years ago was thought to be
the unthinkable thought: the idea that society is best off without
any State at all.
I would mark
the rise of anarcho-capitalist theory as the most dramatic
intellectual shift in my adult lifetime. Gone is that view of the
State as the night watchman that would only guard essential rights,
adjudicate disputes, and protect liberty.
This view is
woefully naive. The night watchman is the guy with the guns, the
legal right to use aggression, the guy who controls all comings and
goings, the guy who is perched on top and sees all things. Who is
watching him? Who is limiting his power? No one, and this is
precisely why he is the very source of society’s greatest ills. No
constitution, no election, no social contract will check his power.
night watchman has acquired total power. It is he who would be the
total State, which Flynn describes as a government that "possesses
the power to enact any law or take any measure that seems proper to
it." So long as a government, he says, "is clothed with the power to
do anything without any limitation on its powers, it is
totalitarian. It has total power."
It is no
longer a point that we can ignore. The night watchman must be
removed and his powers distributed within and among the whole
population, and they should be governed by the same forces that
bring us all the blessings the material world affords us.
In the end,
this is the choice we face: the total State or total freedom. Which
will we choose? If we choose the State, we will continue to sink
further and further and eventually lose all that we treasure as a
civilization. If we choose freedom, we can harness that remarkable
power of human cooperation that will enable us to continue to make a
In the fight
against fascism, there is no reason to be despairing but rather to
continue to fight with every bit of confidence that the future
belongs to us and not them.
is falling apart. Ours is just being built.
is based on bankrupt ideologies. Ours is rooted in the truth about
freedom and reality.
can only look back to the glory days. Ours looks forward to the
future we are building for ourselves.
world is rooted in the corpse of the nation-state. Our world draws
on the energies and creativity of all peoples in the world, united
in the great and noble project of creating a prospering civilization
through peaceful human cooperation.
that they have the biggest guns. But big guns have not assured
permanent victory in Iraq or Afghanistan, or any other place on the
the only weapon that is truly immortal: the right idea. It is this
that will lead to victory.
said: "In the long run even the most despotic governments with all
their brutality and cruelty are no match for ideas. Eventually the
ideology that has won the support of the majority will prevail and
cut the ground from under the tyrant's feet. Then the oppressed many
will rise in rebellion and overthrow their masters."
Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr. [send
him mail], former editorial assistant to Ludwig von Mises and
congressional chief of staff to Ron Paul, is founder and chairman of
the Mises Institute, executor for
the estate of Murray N. Rothbard, and editor of
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