“The Randian strategic view is… before you can do anything politically you have to have everyone agree with Randian philosophy; free will, concept and percept and all the other crap… Since you are not going to have that in practice you have just regular statists.” Murray N. Rothbard http://mises.org:88/Rothbard1989
It is not clear to me from that quote that Rothbard was referring to Randians as statists. But if he was, it would not surprise me. I asked him a question or two years ago that reflected my concern with the role ideas play in shaping political choices. Rothbard responded with resentment and annoyance inappropriate to the tone and meaning of the questions.
Although the prevailing outlook among Randians seems to be pro-American wars, which I consider a form of limited statism, I would prefer trying to persaude Randians that they are mistaken about the proper role of government, as contrasted with trying to persuade Lew Rockwell that he ought to give up religious superstition. With Randians, reason has a pretty good chance of winning the day.
I personally agree with Rand. Though it is certainly an exaggeration to say "everyone", you must certainly have a philosophical revolution before major changes will take place. My since of it is that Murray was saying that since Rand's philosophical revolution is never going to take place, then we will never have anything but statists.
Looking at it again it is hard to grasp the meaning from the quote. Rothbard's manner of speaking doesn't lend itself well to quotations but he essentially said the following :
Objectivists are not like libertarians. They do not believe in political action until everyone believes in their philosophical theories. Since this will never happen Objectivists are just another group of statists. And he implies this from the "evidence" he provided about a minute earlier regarding Greenspan.
I thought that this was a totally outragous set of claims and inferences. Whenever I watch a video or listen to a recording with Rothbard I am entertained but left with the distinct impression that I am not listening to someone who's ideas I should take seriously.
I watched the video of the link that Jason provided, and I think I grasp the broader context of this Rothbard quote. The question he was answering was something to the effect of: 'What's the deal with Alan Greenspan? How did he go from being a seemingly ideological free market advocate to the head of the Fed?'
Rothbard's reply basically said that Greenspan is and always was a Keynesian (even during his Randian era - is that true, by the way?), but that he was also an adherent of the "Randian strategic view" and therefore believed that everyone must "agree with Randian philosophy; free will, concept and percept and all the other crap..." before any true implentation of freedom and capitalism could take place. As Jody seemed to infer, Rothbard's claim is that widespread cultural agreement on every one of Objectivism's philosophical tenets will never be achieved, and therefore statism is the the only reality that Objectivists will ever exist in. That's my take on it, anyway.
I came across this recently on another site about capitalism. I was arguing for Capitalism with an Anarcho-capitalist and it went something like this. ME: So you expect all these protection agencies to follow the rules and not bar competition through the use of force? Governments today don't follow this rule what makes you think your protection agencies will? HIM: Without making the dreadfully obvious point that war is unprofitable, I'll simply point out all the running in circles that is happening here. First we see the problem encountered slightly earlier in this thread - you need a central government to stop the free market from creating a central government. Or, you need the central government to restrict your liberties to keep your liberties from creating a central government that restricts your liberties to keep...
Again, the constitution of society will have a great deal to do with whether or not rights violations (PDAs attacking other PDAs in an attempt to enslave all of society) are tolerated. This is fundamentally no different from the situation in any statist society.
War is unprofitable on the average which is not to say that war would not be profitable for those few who win and control the spoils, or in the short run, or that people using force even bother to consider the long run. So no - If my "protection agency" can get the jump on and wipe out the competion, of course establishing how they were about to go rogue and how we "saved the people" from this injustice, I may well profit immensely from my little sneak attack (or think I will, whether I succeed or not is a moot point, just that I think I can do it).
Rothbard never changed a damn thing, did he? Greenspan did, and he moved the US towards better money management and created more wealth. Rothbard is a nasty, bomb throwing anarchist curmudgeon. Greenspan is/was a great financial leader.
> "before you can do anything politically you have to have everyone agree with [Objectivism]"
The Rothbard quote shows what a glib, fast-talking, irresponsible slimeball he was.
He takes the Rand principle that one needs to change a culture's philosophy to have change that is both fundamental (radically changing the system) and permanent (so that it won't slide back fifty or a hundred years later) and oversimplifies it and twists to saying you can't have ANY change without philosophical change. He adds the gratuitous claim that Rand's view would be that EVERY PERSON has to agree. Then he uses this, along with his other distortions of Rand, to set up Objectivism as a straw man he can smear and discredit.
This is a perfect example of him doing it. It is short and easy to grasp in a single sentence so that no thinking person could miss the exaggeration.
Thanks, Murray, you slippery bastard, for the rope to hang you with.
Rick Pasotto is right. It's hard to believe an Objectivist would think the Federal Reserve Board creates wealth or that Alan Greenspan was a great financial leader.
All the Fed can do is artificially manipulate the national money supply, which has created a lot of inflation. It's entrepreneurship and technology that drives the economy forward and raises wages. The president and Congress can help by substantially reducing taxation and regulation, but the Fed can't do anything positive except let the markets work.
The fact that GDP grew tremendously during Greenspan's tenure is largely because of the IT revolution that happened in spite of the Fed, not because of it.
I think Rothbard's point was that if you are going to wait until everyone agrees with you, that will be a long, long time. So in the meantime you form coalitions with like-minded folks.
As I understand the Official Objectivist position, you can't vote "for" someone, but only agianst someone (I think Rand voted for Nixon as against McGovern) and you can't say anything favorable about semi-Randians (in fact you can't even mention them).
The O.O. approach delays the influence of Objectivism in the name of doctrinal purity.