Story by Joseph Ford Cotto
For untold millions of Americans, libertarianism might seem like something of a passing trend -- a fad, essentially.
The band of through-and-through adherents to libertarian philosophy might be, relative to the overall population of our country, negligible, but mind this age old saying: "Big things come in small packages."
Both the guiding lights of America's libertarian movement and run-of-the-mill activists enjoy a megaphone-powered voice. While neither the mainstream left or right are behind them anywhere close to 100 percent, libertarians have found that many lefties support a liberty-minded approach to civil rights and, more broadly, constitutional protections. No small number of righties, meanwhile, endorse free market economics and stripping away bureaucracy.
Therefore, it should be no surprise that, especially with the rise of the Internet, libertarian ideas have found their way into settings which would have been inhospitable only a decade ago. Nonetheless, getting a majority of leftists, rightists, and centrists to endorse comprehensive libertarian philosophy remains an order so tall that it can best be described as unlikely.
Still, the emissaries and adherents of libertarianism press forward. One cannot help but admire their deep sense of purpose, political courage, and strident conviction.
Lew Rockwell personifies these attributes better than anyone I can imagine. He is among America's most famous and influential libertarian voices. He publishes an eponymous website which is ground zero for the libertarian chattering class; there one can find perspectives from all the shades of libertarianism, delivered without mainstream media filtration. Rockwell founded the Ludwig Von Mises Institute, which has grown into our world's foremost organ for Austrian School economic theory. Rockwell chairs the organization to this day.
As if all of this were not enough, he has authored four books, edited six, and worked closely with Ron Paul -- both as a congressional staffer and man of letters.
Rockwell spoke with me about a good many topics relating to libertarianism in American society. Some of our conversation is included below.
Joseph Ford Cotto: China is notorious for its currency manipulation schemes. Beyond this, however, it not only owns a tremendous amount of America's national debt, but accounts for much of our trade deficit as well. How do you suppose that the U.S. could level the playing field in the near future?
Lew Rockwell: What is supposed to be wrong with China’s investing in the American economy? Investments in America are a good thing, not a bad thing; and, to repeat an answer to a previous question, a trade deficit isn’t “bad”. Trade with China, or any other country, isn’t a competitive sport that requires a “level playing field.” What is supposed to be the “field,” how is it supposed to be made “level,” and why does it have to be made “level,” in whatever sense you want to use this term? The whole set of concepts is meaningless.
Cotto: Some claim that the surest way for America to enjoy monetary stability is a return to the gold standard. Do you believe that, given current socioeconomic affairs, this is a viable option?
Rockwell: The only way we can have sound money is to get the government entirely out of the business of supplying money. Money should be a commodity, and historically, gold has been the most popular free market currency. Under our present system money is worthless paper arbitrarily declared to be money by the government. The economy is manipulated by the Fed, whose foolish policies cause business cycles that culminate in economic disaster.
People are becoming more and more interested in the gold standard, and restoration of sound money is not only a viable option, but the only viable option. For anybody interested in sound money, I’d recommend two short books: What Has Government Done to Our Money? by Murray Rothbard and End the Fed by Ron Paul.