The Libertarian Forum, Vol. 1, No. 1, April 1, 1969
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A Semi-Monthly Newsletter
|Joseph R. Peden, Publisher
||Washington Editor, Karl Hess
||Murray N. Rothbard, Editor
|VOL. I, NO. I
||APRIL 1, 1969
The Scientific Imperial Counsellor:
"To Restore Faith In Government"
America now has, whether we know it or not, an
imperial Counsellor. He is a new kind of appointee
of the Nixon Administration, a White House aide but
with Cabinet rank, empowered to range all over the
sphere of domestic policy. The astute Business Week
calls him "The adviser who may be closest to Nixon":
Dr. Arthur F. Burns. (Business Week, March 1).
Arthur Burns, a professor of economics at Columbia
University, was the first Chairman of the Council of
Economic Advisers of the Eisenhower Administration.
In that Administration Burns took his stand
against the old-fashioned conservatives who wanted
to roll back some of the New Deal aggrandizement
of the federal apparatus. Though he had his technical
quarrels with the Keynesians, Arthur Burns was
instrumental in saving the day for the permanent
Keynesian policy of expanding during recessions and
cutting back during booms, and in saving the very
existence of the Keynesian-interventionist Council
of Economic Advisers itself. Now that old-fashioned
conservatives have disappeared from the Republican
party, no one talks in terms of abolishing the CEA or
its mandate toward perpetual statism.
One of the curious aspects of Arthur Burns's rise
to the pinnacle of power is that, among all economists,
he was preeminent as the supposedly value-free
"scientist", the technician, the man who eschews
politics and ideology. And yet here he is, at the peak
of his career, in the most political, the most ideological
job of them all. But, oddly, Burns himself does
not acknowledge this fact. He still thinks of himself
as a simple scientific technician, at the service of
society; he now says of his own role: "I'm not
interested in power and influence, I'm interested in
doing a job."
Thus, Burns has become almost the caricature of
modern American social science: a group of disciplines
swarming with supposedly value-free technicians,
self-proclaimed non-ideological workmen simply
"doing a job" in service to their masters of the State
apparatus: that is, to their military-political-industrial
overlords. For their "scientific" and "value-free"
outlook turns out to be simply marginal wheeling
and maneuvering within the broad frames of reference
set by the American status quo and by their masters
who enforce that status quo. Lack of ideology simply
means lack of any ideology that differs at all fundamentally
from the ruling system.
But it seems that these are days of crisis, and in
times like these, even the most narrow of statistical
craftsmen must become "philosophers", i. e., must
give the show away. So Arthur Frank Burns. Burns
himself allows to Business Week that economic
problems nowadays are "trivial", in comparison to
the larger domestic concerns over which he now
assumes his suzerainty. For, Burns opines, the really
important problem is that "a great many of our
citizens have lost faith in our basic institutions . . .
They have lost faith in the processes of the government
itself." "The President keeps scratching his
head," Burns goes on, "and I as his adviser keep
scratching my head—trying to know how to build new
institutions . . . to restore faith in government."
So that is what our new imperial Counsellor is up to.
The aggressively "scientific" statistician has become
our purported faith-healer, our evangelical Witch
Doctor, who has come to restore our faith in that
monster Idol; the State. Let us hereby resolve,
everyone, one and all, that Arthur is not going to get
away with it.
But soft, we must guard our flank, for there is a
host of so-called "libertarians" and free-market
advocates who swear up and down that Arthur Burns
is God's gift to a free-market economy. Which says
a great deal about the quality of their devotion to
liberty, as compared to their evident devotion to
||The Libertarian, April 1, 1969
Washington power struggles are off and squirming.
We note that H. E. W. and Agriculture are vying for
control of the programs with which to feed, and also
co-opt, the hottest current item among political
constituencies, hungry Americans. We hear that the
Army, sensing a danger that the endless ground war
in Vietnam might not be endless after all and certainly
can't be victorious anyway, is looking for new frontiers
on which to place its guidons and that chemical-bacteriological
warfare may be just the ticket. (A
ticket which, incidentally, may also gain it a better
seat than ever at the game of riot control.) All the
other services, of course, want their own bug battalions.
We sense, also, that the jet setters of the aero-space
conglomerates are pitted in some sort of dinosaurian
battle against the graying herd-elders of the industrial
establishment for control of not only the available soul
of the Administration itself but for the control of the
more wordly [sic] goodies to be found in taking over
government programs (at cost-plus) as we move from
the vilified practice of a welfare state run from the
White House to the now panegyrized practice of a
welfare state, run for fun and profit, from corporate
board rooms with the White House just signing the
checks and setting the goals. There is little change in
who pays the bills, of course.
Libertarians have every reason to view all of these
matters with knowledgeable horror. They could predict
any enormity of the state simply because they know
that enormities are the nature of the state, enormities
and crimes against liberty.
There is one area of struggle in Washington, however,
that may be viewed with special horror. It is
the struggle between the CIA and the FBI for covert
control of the government, the world, the galaxy or
whatever else comes along.
Talk of the rivalry between these two agencies, or
baronies, is a Washington commonplace. Most comments
on the struggle, however, reflect mainly from
the exotic persons and bureaucratic principalities
involved, with endless speculation, for instance, upon
whether there were more FBI or CIA informers and
paid provocateurs involved in our recent spate of
political assassinations. Actually these arguments
are rather like parsing scaldic verse, almost entirely
academic, in that they concentrate on bureaucratic
commas and semi-colons without attending much at
all to content.
The content of the struggle mainly involves the
weapons with which it is being fought, and the styles
of the wielders of the weapons. There is no basic
difference beyond that inasmuch as both factions are
merely symptoms of an inevitable sickness of the
The CIA has far and away the greater edge in
economic power and in freedom of violent movement.
Assassination has been its business overseas all along.
There are obvious restraints on its use at home.
There also are obvious opportunities for its selective
and discreet employment; particularly against the
more obscure obstructionists in any situation, persons
who mightn't be widely missed but who might be the
crucial difference between one policy or another in
its early, intimate stages. The political murder of
private citizens has never really caught on here but
that is not to say that an imaginative man might not
have a go at it anyway—particularly with the vast
conspiratorial depths of the CIA upon which to draw.
When it comes to money the CIA has no equal.
Although the FBI does have some special and very
confidential funds to spend on informers and other
covert employees, and even though some cynics might
suspect that it could even keep for its own uses some
of the vast criminal funds which it regularly, and
pridefully, "recovers" when busting bandits, the
Bureau has got to come in second. The Agency is
not audited at all. There is a Congressional group
that is supposed to supervise it but no one really
imagines that they can do anything like a thorough job.
For one thing, the personnel of the CIA is carried on
the payrolls of other agencies and its continual involvement
with "national security" means that official
secrecy cloaks its daggers and its doings quite
It is from the CIA's money-power that much of its
realpolitik powers derive. Its subsidy of everything
from publishing houses to labor organizations is now
well known. No newsman to whom I have recently
spoken doubts for a moment that this subsidized
estate within a subsidized state is not still thriving.
Even if the excuse for the subsidy is, as it always is
claimed, exclusively for activities of the person or
group outside of the country, these CIA subsidies
provide a selective means of encouraging persons or
groups who, despite international activities, almost
invariably must have some domestic clout as well.
This clout, do not misunderstand, is not used on direct
behalf of the CIA. But it can be used on behalf of
those policies of which the CIA approves and which
ultimately will enhance its power.
Where the CIA uses dough, the FBI uses data. Its
chief influence, as opposed to outright pressure,
derives from the selective use of its files. It is not
imaginable, for instance, that even a President could
get an item from the FBI's files if the Director
specifically did not want him to have it. After all, it
is employees of the Director, not of the President,
who tend those files and everyone knows how easy it
is for a piece of paper to either appear or disappear
in a bureaucracy.
Thus, from President to legislator to syndicated
columnist, the FBI can offer data not as something
that may be demanded but as a boon which may be
conferred—upon the helpful. President Johnson's
|The Libertarian, April 1, 1969
notorious use of FBI data to persecute political foes
is another Washington press corps conversational
commonplace as is the mock dismay at the fact that
J. Edgar Hoover should have found in or made of
Lyndon Johnson one of his most eloquent supporters
despite the fact that, at the outset of The Great
Society, it was assumed that the President and the
Director followed somewhat different muses.
Thus, in this modern Machiavellian melodrama, we
see directly pitted against one another the old-fashioned
money and muscle. Florentine intrigue,
cloak-and-daggerism of the CIA and the more American,
corporate-organizational, file-case, computer-card
snoop-and-snitchism of the FBI.
Libertarians, for what small comfort it may bring
to a group which probably occupies a special place in
files of both the Agency and the Bureau, happen to
have the only sure solution to the disease of secret-policism
which is what both CIA and FBI represent in
a germicidal sense: cure the disease by curing the
cause, the State. Every State, sooner or later, has
had an urge to defend itself against foes real or
imagined, foreign or domestic. This has always
resulted in some form of secret or political police
organization. There are no exceptions to this iron
law of the dungeon.
So long as nation states exist, so long will political
police prowl amongst us.
All of which brings us to the remarkable story,
recently revealed in the press, of how, according to
Nikita Krushchev, the top cop of the Soviet Union,
Lavrenti Beria, was done in.
Director Beria, it is now said, made the mistake of
entering a Kremlin meeting without his bodyguard
whereupon Krushchev, a genuine genius at getting to
the nitty gritty of any situation, shot him.
It is predictable that conservatives, particularly,
are still clucking and tushing about this latest revelation
of the brutality of politics in a totalitarian state.
It could not happen, they may exult, in a safe and
civilized land such as ours.
And that is precisely the point.
In democratic America there has appeared no way
to relieve the head of the political or secret police of
his command. In short, what this great Republic lacks
in vivid personnel relations, it more than makes up
for in tenure.
"Dear Ted": Prelude To Repression?
There is nothing quite so ominous as the emergence
of Richard Milhous Nixon as educational theorist. In
his tenure in office so far, Mr. Nixon has been the
Man Who Isn't There, a zero wrapped in a vacuum.
Except in the case of our kids; there the President
has made a stand, in his "Dear Ted" letter to Father
Theodore M. Hesburgh, president of Notre Dame
University, and a man who has rivalled the clownish
S. I. Hayakawa in vowing to get tough with our students.
So eager was the President to get his views known
on this subject that he released the letter to the press
(New York Times, Feb. 24) even before Ted had
received it. As might be expected, our new educational
philosopher came out foursquare against "violence",
"intimidation", and "threats", and called for the "rule
of reason" to prevail. "Whoever rejects that principle,"
intoned Nixon, "forfeits his right to be a member of
the academic community."
Mr. and Mrs. America, how long are we going to
suffer this solemn farce? Here is the President of
the United States, in command of the mightiest
engine of terror and intimidation the world has ever
known, a man who every day murders American
soldiers and Vietnamese peasants in the hills and rice
paddies of Vietnam, a man whose entire machinery
of State lives off systematic theft, a man who heads
the machinery of slavery known as the draft. And he
has the gall to express his horror at the violence of
some kids who have broken a few windows, or who
have stepped on some campus grass. He has the sheer
bravado to call for the substitution of reason for
force! In this he shows himself an apt pupil of his
beloved predecessor, who had the brass to say,
during the July, 1967 urban riots: "We will not endure
violence. It matters not by whom it is done, or under
what slogan or banner. It will not be tolerated."
Someone should instruct these worthies about the
mote and the beam.
But apart from the farcical elements of the situation,
Nixon's entry into educational theory poses an ominous
question: Is this the prelude to general repression on
our campuses? For Nixon, in the Dear Ted letter,
openly hinted about possible action "at the state and
Federal levels" to crack down on the college campuses.
This was supposed to be the prelude to a call
for Federal investigation of the campuses at the
National Governors' Conference a few days later.
Despite the dubious constitutionality of this proposal,
Governor Reagan ardently pushed for the idea, but
happily the governors turned it down. Perhaps this has
stopped any political groundswell for a Federal crackdown
on the campuses; at any rate, the governors
have at least given a setback to the Reagan theory of
education by bayonet. Let us hope the setback isn't
The following people were generous, and even heroic
enough to subscribe to The Libertarian as Libertarian
Associates, paying $15 or more:
Mr. James Altes New York, N. Y.
Mr. and Mrs. Walter Block New York, N. Y.
Mr. J. M. Foley Burlingame, California
Mr. Walter Grinder Bogota, New Jersey
Dr. Harold H. Saxton Mayville, N. Y.
Mr. and Mrs. Harry Stern Wilmington, Del.
"There are but three ways for the populace
to escape its wretched lot. The first two are
by the routes of the wineshop or the church;
the third is by that of the social revolution."
— Mikhail Bakunin, 1871
||The Libertarian, April 1, 1969
Donald Barnett, "Angola: Report from Hanoi II".
Ramparts (April, 1969). Happy Day! Ramparts
lives! The reports of its death were greatly
exaggerated. In this article, the anthropologist
Dr. Barnett presents an exciting and heartwarming
story of his stay with the guerrilla
forces of the national liberation movement in
Portuguese-run Angola. One thing is made clear:
what with the Portuguese government taxing all
the peasants' surplus above subsistence and burning
peasant villages and herding them into concentration
hamlets, and the guerrillas scrupulously
buying everything they use from the peasants,
whom do you think the overwhelming mass of
P. T. Bauer and B. S. Yamey, Markets, Market
Control and Marketing Reform (London: Weidenfeld
and Nicolson, 1968). 421 pp. 90s. Not really
about marketing, but a collection of articles about
the free market and government interference,
particularly in underdeveloped countries. Professor
Bauer is the world's preeminent economist
specializing in underdeveloped countries.
Daniel and Gabriel Cohn-Bendit, Obsolete Communism:
The Left-Wing Alternative (New York:
McGraw-Hill). 256 pp. $5.95. The story of the
almost-victorious French revolution of May, 1968
by its heroic young anarchist leader. The case
for an anarchist rather than a Bolshevik revolution.
John Duffett, ed., Against the Crime of Silence (New
York: Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation, 1968.
Available from O'Hare Books, Flanders, N.J.
07836). 662 pp. $8.50 hardbound, $5.75 Flexicloth.
The War Crimes Tribunal, sponsored by Bertrand
Russell, held its sessions on genocidal American
aggression and atrocities in Vietnam at Stockholm
and at Copenhagen during 1967. The Tribunal was
outrageously smeared in the American press.
Here is the detailed record of its hearings and
reports. Indispensable for any serious student of
the Vietnam War.
Karl Hess, "The Death of Politics", Playboy (March,
1969). This article marks the appearance of a
shining new star in the libertarian firmament. An
excellent article, and the first time that the
libertarian position has hit the mass market.
Lingering traces of statism are due to the fact
that the article was written while Mr. Hess was
in a period of transition toward the full and complete
————, The Lawless State. (Lansing, Mich.: Constitutional
Alliance, Feb. 5, 1969. Available from
Constitutional Alliance, P. O. Box 836, Lansing,
Mich. 48904). 30pp. 40¢. Rousing libertarian attack
on the State. One of the first of a series of handy
and inexpensive "minibooks" from this publisher.
David Horowitz with David Kolodney, "The Foundations",
Ramparts (April, 1969). David Horowitz
is becoming the best and most intelligent of a new
and much-needed breed: muckrakers of the present
State Monopoly system. Here he exposes the work
of the big foundations, their tie-ins with the
government, corporations, universities, and the
black movement. First of two parts.
James Ridgeway, The Closed Corporation: American
Universities in Crisis (New York: Ballantine
Books, 1968). Paper. 241 pp. 95¢. Excellent
muckraking book on the universities and their
tie-in with the military and governmental-industrial
complex. Should silence those naive
souls who still think of our universities as private
institutions and dedicated communities of scholars.
Madeleine B. Stern, The Pantarch: A Biography of
Stephen Pearl Andrews (Austin, Tex.: University
of Texas Press, 1968). 208 pp. $6.00. A scholarly,
though often sneering, biography of a brilliant if
eccentric founder of American individualist
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