Is it possible for a Jew to also be anti-Semitic? The case of Murray Rothbard

(c) 2013.


Since the 1970s, anti-Jewish Congressman Ron Paul has been promoting the ideas of an economist named Murray Rothbard, who developed a theory to support modern anarcho-capitalism. Rothbard is the single most important figure, after Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich Hayek themselves, in the strains of libertarian thought that claim adherence to Austrian economic principles -- and is the subject of breathless adulation by his followers.

Rothbard founded the Center for Libertarian Studies in 1976 and the Journal of Libertarian Studies in 1977. In 1982, he helped found the Ludwig von Mises Institute at Auburn University in Alabama and served as its vice president of academic affairs until his death in 1995.

Definition of Terms

Anti-Semitism is suspicion of, hatred toward, or discrimination against Jews for reasons connected to their Jewish heritage. The term was coined by non-Jews in late 19th century Europe as a more scientific-sounding term for Judenhass ("Jew-hatred"). The word libertarian comes from the root word "liberty" and refers to individuals who favor less government intrusion and are distrusting of government power. In the U.S., the libertarian movement consists of think-tanks, Ron Paul activists and organizations, and individuals affiliated with the Libertarian Party. The term "racial realism", used below, is a term coined by racists and KKKers to give more credence to the racism they advocate.

Murray Rothbard, who has had immense influence on the growth of libertarian ideas, unfortunately also has played a large role in the acceptance of racist and anti-Semitic ideas among libertarian adherents. As you will see, it is quite possible for someone born to two Jewish parents to not only embrace anti-Semitic ideas, but also to promote those ideas vigorously -- as in the case of Rothbard.

A photo of Rothbard, folk hero of libertarians and anarchists.

Rothbard's Redneck Strategy

In the 1980s, anti-government sentiment was not so mainstream. Instead, it was contained to people on the far-right who supported militia movements, anti-political correctness, and had racist ideas. During this time, Rothbard argued that libertarians should engage in 'Redneck Outreach' to insert libertarian notions into these circles of far-right extremists.

Rothbard, Lew Rockwell, and Ron Paul focused the Ron Paul Political Report -- a newsletter Paul distributed to his supporters -- on very extreme ideas which trashed Jews, African Americans, and homosexuals. The newsletters continued until Paul was elected to Congress in 1995. Mr. Rockwell is the founder of the Ludwig von Mises Institute, a major libertarian think-tank, and still serves as its president to this day.

In the Rothbard-Rockwell Report, a publication Rothbard edited with Lew Rockwell, Rothbard published white supremacist material, such as this commentary from paleo-conservative thinker Sam Francis: "In the first place, the natural differentiation of the races in intellectual capacities implies that of the two major races in the U.S. today, only one possesses the inherent capacity to create and sustain the level of civilization that has historically characterized its homelands in Europe and America ... And secondly, the recognition of racial realities implies that most of the efforts now deployed to combat racism are misplaced, based on a profound misconception of racial capacities. Those policies and laws are the fruit of a discredited egalitarian mythology that animates the federal leviathan’s perpetual war against civil society and debilitates white resistance to the gathering storm of racial revolution that the enemies, white and non-white, of the white race and its civilization now openly preach and prepare."

In 1993, Rothbard wrote about Malcolm X and discussed the possibility of a separate state for blacks, but concluded that it would "require massive 'foreign aid' from the United States". The impression created by the 1993 article was that Rothbard used black nationalism as a straw man to complain about black 'parasitism' and so-called inability of blacks to form independent, self-sufficient communities without welfare support from whites. To this day, the 'Redneck Strategy' from the 1980s has had negative consequences for the libertarian movement.

It is our belief that Rothbard was proud to be a 'racialist' because, to him, it exposed the true source of inequality in a free market: genetics. The belief in biological racial inequality was, for Rothbard, part of his 'libertarian' project, because racial inequality is simply how markets reflect nature. For Rothbard, the arousal of the masses was best accomplished through appeals to racism. He believed that libertarians needed to remind the masses that privileged elites were looting and oppressing the middle and working class in the United States. This could effectively fire people up and generate support for him and his allies.

On Rothbard and Rockwell, Ron Paul sadly admits, "They enjoyed antagonizing people, to tell you the truth, and trying to split people ... they were political provocateurs." Paul never revealed who wrote his racist newsletters, but the final blame is most likely with either Rothbard or Rockwell. (Note: Congressman Paul signed every one of those newsletters, so the ultimate responsibility is with him. He agreed with what was written, and that's why he signed his name to each newsletter publication.)

Rothbard and the Jewish Question

Rothbard was born to Jewish parents, David and Rae Rothbard, and raised in Bronx, New York. His father had emigrated from Poland and his mother emigrated from Russia. His own self-description was that he remained "A pro-Christian Jew who thinks that everything good in Western Civilization is traceable to Christianity". An associate of Rothbard’s, who wrote a piece entitled "Why must Christians routinely grovel and apologize for crimes against Jews which they never committed?", recounted that, "It is not Christian anti-semitism, but, as Murray Rothbard used to note, 'Jewish goy-bashing' which has become the characteristic act of tastelessness in our time."

Early in his life, Rothbard was affiliated with the Old Right, which could have contributed to his pursuit and promotion of xenophobia and propaganda against non-white, non-Christians later on. Many of the Old Right's adherents, who were opponents of the New Deal and favored the U.S. staying out of World War II -- Charles Lindbergh and Father Coughlin, for example -- were staunchly anti-Jewish. After very few successes politically, their ideas eventually shaped the philosophical movement called paleo-conservatism, thanks in large part to Rothbard himself and fellow anti-Semitic travelers like Joseph Sobran, Pat Buchanan, Peter Brimelow, and Sam Francis. The paleo-conservative movement's goals include opposition to multiculturalism, support for Christian orthodoxy, anti-federalism, and a "non-interventionist" (read: isolationist) foreign policy.

Rothbard's Jewish background did not deter his interest in raising "the Jewish question". He did so when questioning "top Jewish financiers" who "contributed to the welfare state's growth" in his article "Origins of the Welfare State in America". The entire article is fixation on how Jews were the catalysts behind the social welfare state in the United States. Murray Rothbard, the great economist, never mentioned Jewish contributions to America, such as Haym Solomon (who aided the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War), Uriah Levy (veteran of the War of 1812), Irving Berlin (who created the song "God Bless America"), Dr. Jonas Salk (created the polio vaccine), and many others.

When Pat Buchanan raised objections to facts regarding the Treblinka Concentration Camp's extermination of more than 780,000 Jews in the Holocaust, he was defended by none other than Rothbard. The suggestion by Buchanan that known facts in the Holocaust were fabricated by the Jewish victims is indeed anti-Semitic. Rothbard defended the indefensible.

Murray Rothbard also defended former KKK leader David Duke, a candidate for various political offices in Louisiana, saying, "It is fascinating that there was nothing in Duke's current program or campaign that could not also be embraced by paleo-conservatives or paleo-libertarians; lower taxes, dismantling the bureaucracy, slashing the welfare system, attacking affirmative action and racial set-asides, calling for equal rights for all Americans, including whites: what's wrong with any of that?"

The Institute for Historic Review, an anti-Jewish organization that is the world's most notable Holocaust denial organization, features a story to memorialize the "brilliance" of Rothbard's "scholarship".

Ron Paul's Newsletters and Political Positions

Rothbard was a long-time mentor to Congressman Ron Paul, whose presidential campaigns have made Murray Rothbard a household name over the last six years. Despite his political ambitions, Paul's greater mission has always been to educate people about philosophy and economics. Paul, Rothbard, and the founder of the Ludwig Von Mises Institute, Llewellyn "Lew" Rockwell, met in the 1970s and discovered they shared similar ideas. The trio continued their alliance throughout the 1980s and into the 1990s until Rothbard's death in 1995.

In an editorial in the Los Angeles Times in 1992, Rothbard writes, "What is an 'anti-Semite,' anyway?" and concludes that there are two possible types: personal anti-Semites, who don't want association with Jews, and political anti-Semites, who advocate discriminatory positions. This is a very narrow definition advanced by Rothbard, which is unsurprising, but even under his own definition Ron Paul -- his favorite politician -- qualifies as an anti-Semite because of his discriminatory policy positions:

1. Paul says church-state separation has no constitutional basis. If minority religious groups like Jews are not protected from majority religious institutions from codifying into law their religious beliefs, how can Jews maintain their religious practices?

2. Paul's "We the People Act", which he repeatedly introduced as a member of Congress, would forbid federal courts from adjudicating "any claim involving the laws, regulations, or policies of any State or unit of local government relating to the free exercise or establishment of religion". If enacted into law, this bill would have removed all federal remedies for allegations of state violations of religious freedom. Does this not negatively impact the religious minority group known as the Jewish people, who comprise just 1% of the U.S. population?

3. Paul posed for a photo with KKK Grand Wizard Don Black after refusing to return $500 from Black in 2008.

4. In 2008, Paul endorsed anti-Semite Chuck Baldwin for President, who ran as a Constitution Party candidate. Baldwin has lashed out at the Jewish bankers -- he calls them "moneychangers" -- who control the media. He concludes, "They are destroying America."

5. The racist Ron Paul newsletters were crafted either by Rothbard or by close associate Lew Rockwell. See "Rothbard's Redneck Strategy" above for details.

Read more about Paul's anti-Semitism. Because Rothbard was not a politician himself, all of his policy-goals are not outlined. But the next best thing is to review the positions of Congressman Paul, who worked with Rothbard for many years. We can only conclude that only does Rothbard defend abhorrent racism, but he also promoted politicians -- Ron Paul and Pat Buchanan -- who did not favor equal rights for religious minorities under the law.


In his editorial from 1992, Rothbard says the burden of proof for anti-Semitism is on the person making the claim.

We concur.

The evidence above shows that Murray Rothbard was indeed a self-loathing, Jew-bashing racist. What's more, the anti-Semitic philosophy he laid out is now being used by the worst enemies of the Jewish people to continue to advance their agenda two decades after his demise.

The libertarian "paleo" strategy has failed. They should abandon it entirely and admonish Rothbard, Rockwell, and Paul for their decades of promoting hate rhetoric as somehow "libertarian".