Murray N. Rothbard: The Tupac Shakur of Economists

Although he passed away over two decades ago, death hasn’t stopped the iconic libertarian economist Murray N. Rothbard from releasing new material.

According to Rothbard’s long-time confidant and biographer Justin Raimondo of, a group of “lost columns” are going to be released to the public that Rothbard supposedly penned in the 1960’s alongside a new book about how libertarians should approach the crucial question of strategy. They will be edited by Raimondo himself and released through the Mises Institute.

This isn’t the first time that Rothbard has conquered death to deliver the message of hardcore liberty to the masses. In 2010, Strictly Confidential: The Private Volker Fund Memos of Murray N. Rothbard was published by David Gordon, editor of the Mises Review. That was a rather substantial 431 page text, and now a mere six years later, we are privileged to even more Rothbard. Take that, Grim Reaper!

Rothbard’s prolific nature extending beyond the grave draws an obvious comparison to Tupac Shakur, the legendary rap artist who was gunned down in 1996. After his death, 2Pac immediately became an icon and a countless number of albums were released on his behalf. This has led to many of his devotees claiming that faked his own death, remains alive to this very day, and continues to record music in a clandestine location at the present time. It is difficult to read the comments section of a 2Pac Youtube video without being deluged by these notions.

And since Rothbard always loved good conspiracy analysis and frequently wrote about the topic, I will throw a theory out there in his honor. It is not out of the realm of the possible that the cantankerous Rothbard pulled a 2Pac himself! Perhaps Rothbard lives on and guides the libertarian movement from afar with only an inner circle of well-wishers knowing the shocking truth.

happeningbunker Murray, you in there?

Could Lew Rockwell, Justin Raimondo, Ron Paul and other hardcore libertarians be hiding Rothbard in the happening bunker where he works continuously in solitude perfecting the message of liberty? Similar to 2Pac, it is hard to believe that Rothbard’s amazingly prescient, relevant, ground-breaking work was actually written before he perished.

However, Rothbard’s writings that were released while he was alive showed that the man’s uncanny ability to judge the political landscape was unmatched. He saw the chess board many moves in advance, and actually commented on many of the pressing challenges facing libertarian activists right now.

For example, Rothbard wrote about the need for libertarians to embrace “right wing populism” back in 1992:

The reality of the current system is that it constitutes an unholy alliance of “corporate liberal” Big Business and media elites, who, through big government, have privileged and caused to rise up a parasitic Underclass, who, among them all, are looting and oppressing the bulk of the middle and working classes in America. Therefore, the proper strategy of libertarians and paleos is a strategy of “right-wing populism,” that is: to expose and denounce this unholy alliance, and to call for getting this preppie-underclass-liberal media alliance off the backs of the rest of us: the middle and working classes.

He expanded upon his notion of a libertarian-themed right wing populism, and suggested for libertarians to form an alliance with the Christian right on the common grounds of fighting back against the totalitarian left and their demented secular religion of political correctness back in 1993:

Most libertarians think of Christian conservatives in the same lurid terms as the leftist media, if not more so: that their aim is to impose a Christian theocracy; to outlaw liquor and other means of hedonic enjoyment, and to break down bedroom doors to enforce a Morality Police upon the country: Nothing could be further from the truth: Christian conservatives are trying to fight back against a left-liberal elite that used government to assault and virtually destroy Christian values, principles, and culture…

In sum, the task of paleolibertarians is to break out of the sectarian libertarian hole., and to forge alliances with cultural and social, as well as politico-economic, “reactionaries.” The end ofthe Cold War, as well as the rise of “political correctness,” has made totally obsolete the standard libertarian view that libertarians are either half-way between, or “above,” both right and left. Once again, as before the late 1950s, libertarians should consider themselves people of the right.

Rothbard lamented disgraceful impostors like Libertarian Party carpetbagger William Weld and other big government libertarians back in 1994:

Thus, the favorite presidential candidate for 1996 of all libertarians who will not rigidly confine themselves, in thought and in deed, to the Libertarian Party, is unquestionably Massachusetts Republican Governor William Weld, who even refers to himself as a “libertarian.”

The reason for Weld’s embrace of this term is not his alleged “fiscal conservatism.” Weld and his acolytes have depicted him as a heroic slasher of the state’s taxes and budgets. Weld’s so-called “budget-cutting” amounts to taking Michael Dukakis’s grotesquely swollen last budget and cutting it by a very modest 1.8 percent, but even this toe-in-water cut has been more than offset by big budget increases every year since. Thus, the next year Weld made up for his fiscal conservatism by increasing Massachusetts expenditures by 11.4 percent; and this year he is raising it again by an estimated 5.1 percent. In other words, William Weld’s gesture in cutting his first year’s budget by less than 2 percent has been more than made up by his raising the budget in the last two years by 17 percent. That’s “fiscal conservatism”? The story is the same on the tax front; Weld’s loudly trumpeted piddling tax cuts were more than offset by large tax increases.

But this is all window-dressing to sucker the conservatives. Weld’s “libertarianism,” in the minds of himself and his left-libertarian admirers, consists almost completely of his passionate devotion to “gay rights,” as well as his practicing gay affirmative action by appointing to high state positions a large number of open gays. To round out the picture, I should also mention that Weld is a fanatical adherent of environmentalism, and its despotic crippling of the living standards of the human race.

In the same article, Rothbard described the early rumblings of a developing movement that would eventually manifest itself on the national stage with the Ron Paul revolution, national Tea Party movement, and Donald Trump’s upstart Presidential campaign this year:

There is now a powerful and truly grass-roots movement awake throughout the heartland of America, a movement that is radical, right-wing populist, and possessed of a deep hatred and contempt, first of course for the Clintons and their whole repellent crew, and second, for Washington in general, for the Beltway, its ideologies and its culture, and for all politicians, especially those located in Washington.

This grass-roots right-wing is very different from anything we have yet seen. It profoundly dislikes and distrusts the mainstream media. And, by extension, it has no use for Beltway organizations or their traditional leaders. These grass-rooters are not content to kick into the coffers of Beltway organizations and obediently follow their orders. They may not be “socially tolerant,” but they are feisty, they hate the guts of the federal government, and they are Rising up Angry. In this burgeoning atmosphere, the supposedly pragmatic Beltway strategy of cozying up to Power is not only immoral and unprincipled; it also can no longer work, even in the short run. The oppressed middle and working-classes are at last rising up and on the march, and the new right-wing movement will have no time and no room for the traitorous elites who have led them by the nose for so many years.

From these excerpts, it becomes clear that Rothbard is not merely an oracle for the take-no-prisoners , ferociously principled Austro-libertarians who never bend or break on anything, but his works can also be helpful for the liberty conservative looking to make his mark on the political process. His advice was clear: Forge alliances in the grassroots. Don’t get in bed with the Beltway class. Don’t play the political establishment’s twisted games.

Although he may not be relaxing in the Happening Bunker right now (as fun of a thought as that may be), Rothbard’s legacy endures and he remains incredibly relevant in 2016. Rothbard’s works were so far ahead of the curve that he is only really coming into his own right now. During these trying times, activists would be wise to re-discover the works of Rothbard and use them to forge a stronger libertarian movement moving forward.

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