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Llewellyn Harrison "Lew" Rockwell, Jr. (born July 1, 1944) is a libertarian writer, activist, and founder and former president of the Ludwig von Mises Institute (he stepped down as president in 2009 but remains as a chairman). Despite a less than sterling record of confronting racism and the downright dubious company he keeps, no one has yet had the audacity to call him a White supremacist and let him know his so-called praxeology "solution" for fixing the economy is basically fascism with bad bow ties instead of jackboots.


Rockwell is a hardline libertarian who often attacks the moderates as "Beltway libertarians" (and he in return is often derided as not a true libertarian). He was a close associate of Murray Rothbard, which should explain things. The slogan of his website,, is "anti-state, anti-war, pro-market," and he means it. Any deviation is seen as a betrayal of the libertarian movement. Rockwell is stuck in the unenviable position of being part of a movement associated with libertine morality and being a social conservative. Because Rockwell supports policies that would let people smoke doobies while screwing hookers, but actually opposes these acts, he coined the term "paleo-libertarian" to distance himself from the rest of the movement. Rockwell defines his brand of libertarianism:

Paleolibertarianism holds with Lord Acton that liberty is the highest political end of man, and that all forms of government intervention -- economic, cultural, social, international -- amount to an attack on prosperity, morals, and bourgeois civilization itself, and thus must be opposed at all levels and without compromise. It is "paleo" because of its genesis in... [the] interwar Old Right that opposed the New Deal and favored the Old Republic of property rights, freedom of association, and radical political decentralization. Just as important, paleolibertarianism predates the politicization of libertarianism...Instead of principle, the neo-libertarians give us political alliances; instead of intellectually robust ideas, they give us marketable platitudes. What's more, paleolibertarianism distinguishes itself from left-libertarianism because it has made its peace with religion as the bedrock of liberty, property, and the natural order.[1]

There is a heavy overlap between writers at Rockwell's site and the von Mises Institute, so you'll get a lot of recycled material. There's some actual Austrian economists like Tom DiLorenzo, Walter Block, and Peter Schiff (of course) writing there, so the site is rife with gold buggery. There's massive amounts of legal history (real and pseudo), much of it dealing with Constitutional originalism. They also hate Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt (along with almost all 20th Century Presidents aside from Warren G. Harding), and Alexander Hamilton.

The (sometimes) good stuff

Rockwell promotes such vehement opposition to war he puts to shame even the moonbats. Cindy Sheehan was even once a regular writer for his website.[2] The site frequently features writing critical of the militarism rampant in U.S. culture, a position once mainstream among left-wingers in the wake of the Vietnam War but since left-of-center progressives dropped the ball on this issue back in the 80s to early 90s in favor of trying to out-right the right in ritual military/veteran worship, at least give Rockwell credit where credit is due for trying to out-left the left in opposing it.

Anti-war writings — including such topics as counter-recruitment usually associated with the pacifist left — and related opposition to security theater and other aspects of the "war on terror" are the main topic of several regular writers on the site such as Laurence Vance,[3] Butler Shaffer,[4] and Becky Akers.[5]

This even extends to criticism of U.S. involvement in the American Civil War and World War II, areas where even the left is hesitant to venture. However, proving the old adage[6] that putting principle over reality in every case no matter what can still lead into batshit crazy territory, they sometimes run articles by Pearl Harbor conspiracy theorists[7] and neo-Confederates.[8]

Koch Industries and anyone associated with or funded by them are considered the arch-nemesis of True Libertarianism by Rockwell, so the site runs a lot of criticism of the Kochs. This is just a continuation of the old feud between Ed Crane and Murray Rothbard that had its roots in Ed Clark's 1980 presidential campaign on the Libertarian Party ticket[9], but it means Rockwell may on the one hand make common cause with left-progressives in publishing criticism of the "Kochtopus", and on the other hand allow this feud to override other issues. His libertarian ecumenism may include all manner of paleoconservatives and remnants of the New Left, but it does not include the Cato Institute or Reason.

The site also takes the usual libertarian positions in favor of the legalization of marijuana and drugs, civil liberties, and against police abuses and incarceration and surveillance overkill by the state. This is unfortunately mixed with a cranky social conservatism in which one may find anti-abortion, homophobic, or anti-porn views; indeed, the site's opposition to body scanners in U.S. airports emphasizes the "pornography" angle rather than strictly opposing them on civil liberties principles alone. Also, the anti-police brutality stance the site takes today was not always the case as anyone familiar with the old Rothbard-Rockwell Report days knows[10]. Give them credit for evolving on that issue. One hopes they will one day similarly evolve out of their woo-promotion and tendency to pal around with neo-Confederates and Christian dominionists.

Woo promotion and other dubiousness

Rockwell might be something like an inverse Arianna Huffington, promoting all kinds of woo generally associated with wingnuttery instead of moonbattery. Rockwell's site is a hotbed of global warming denialism, and his writers really love the "environmentalists are racists" trope (possibly a case of weapons-grade projection there).[11] Rockwell also loves his paleo diet, raw milk, barefoot running, and coconut oil. He often runs articles by the seriously suspect Joe Mercola and other alties promoting these and other various snake oils.[12] The site has also featured some articles on AIDS denialism.[13] He has also favored the elimination of drunk driving laws, claiming that they persecute people solely for having a particular chemical in their bloodstream.

The site is also a platform for religious zealots like Gary North. Rockwell himself is a Catholic, but allows batshit crazy Christian Dominionists like North to write for his site. This includes support for creationism or "criticisms" of evolution (depending on the columnist).[14]

Ron Paul newsletters

The kerfuffle over Ron Paul's racist newsletters led to accusations that Rockwell had ghost-written the newsletters. Rockwell dismissed this as a smear by his political enemies. Here is one take from The Economist:

Mr Rockwell denied authorship to Jamie Kirchick, the reporter whose New Republic article published earlier this week reignited controversy over the newsletters. But both Mr Rockwell (who attacked the New Republic article on his site) and Mr Tucker refused to discuss the matter with Democracy in America. ("Look at," Mr Tucker told me, "I'm willing to take any responsibility for anything up there, OK?") According to Wirkman Virkkala, formerly the managing editor of the libertarian monthly Liberty, the racist and survivalist elements that appeared in the newsletter were part of a deliberate "paleolibertarian" strategy, "a last gasp effort to try class hatred after the miserable showing of Ron Paul’s 1988 presidential effort." It is impossible now to prove individual authorship of any particular item in the newsletter, but it is equally impossible to believe that Mr Rockwell did not know of and approve what was going into the newsletter.[15]

Reason (magazine) also notes that other Libertarian Party insiders were aware of the intentional use of Southern strategy-style tactics in the Rockwell-Rothbard "paleolibertarian" campaign.[16] Rothbard and Rockwell became supporters of Pat Buchanan in an attempt to build a populist-libertarian coalition in the early '90s until they decided Buchanan wasn't free market enough for them.[17] Former Paul staffer Eric Dondero has claimed that Paul wrote about half of the newsletters' content while Rockwell ghostwrote most of the rest of it.[18] Some of Rockwell's writers have been found to have written openly racist material for other sites and publications as well and he seemed to have some admiration for the late Sam Francis, a well-known white supremacist and member of the Council of Conservative Citizens.[19][20] His Neo-Confederate Mises Institute buddies Thomas DiLorenzo and Thomas Woods often cross-post to his site. All of this put together is a little more than a tad suspicious.

But where else can you find columns tying together the Federal Reserve and the rap music giving kids the brain damage as the primary causes of what's wrong with the world today?[21]


  1. Libertapedia entry for Paleolibertarianism
  2. No, really. Here's the archive of her columns
  3. Laurence Vance archive
  4. Butler Shaffer archive
  5. Becky Akers archive
  6. Okay, so it's not old or an adage, but it should be.
  7. Such as this one by Robert B. Stinnett hyping his book.
  8. Here's a real doozie: "The Yankee Problem in America" by Clyde Wilson.
  9. A topic already covered to death in most histories of the libertarian movement. For the most detail see Brian Doherty, Radicals for Capitalism: A Freewheeling History of the Modern Libertarian Movement, PublicAffairs, 2007; and Justin Raimondo, An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard, Prometheus Books, 2000
  10. Rothbard's all-time career low
  11. See Global Warming is a Fraud and Environmentalism is Racism
  12. Mercola peddling his quackery: 7 Reasons to Eat More Saturated Fats. Yum!
  13. Articles promoting Peter Duesberg, among other quacks.
  14. Here's their take on the FSM: Toto takes on the Flying Spaghetti Monster
  15. The Rockwell Files, The Economist
  16. Who wrote Ron Paul's Newsletters?, Reason
  17. The Roots of Rand Paul's Civil Rights Resentment, Salon
  18. Who Wrote the Ron Paul Newsletters? Ed Brayton
  19. Racism and bigotry delivered courtesy of Lew Rockwell, Tom G. Palmer
  20. What's wriggling under the Rock(well)?
  21. Social Decay and the Federal Reserve

Adapted from RationalWiki