About That Gravelanche…

Richard Spencer has a reaction to it up at Taki’s Magazine. I still think that the true believers in the LP will prevent Gravel from getting the nomination. But Gravel may be the second coming of Russell Means, the Indian-rights activist who was Ron Paul’s rival for the LP’s 1988 nomination. Means was also a fashionably outre lefty with questionable libertarian credentials. But he came rather close to getting the nomination. In fact, if he weren’t running against a serious contender like Paul, he would have won the nomination easily. So perhaps Gravel will do better than I expect.

I’m inclined to vote Libertarian in November no matter who they nominate. Gravel’s entry into the race might actually help Bob Barr if Barr decides to run. The main obstacle Barr would have faced were Gravel not in the race would have been questions about his libertarian orthodoxy — Barr was a drug warrior in Congress, after all, and also voted for the Patriot Act that he now campaigns against. Gravel might make Barr look more orthodox by contrast.

Apropos of nothing in particular, I feel like mentioning that one of the few flaws of Brian Doherty’s otherwise nigh comprehensive history of the libertarian movement, Radicals for Capitalism, is that it contains very little about the 1988 LP nomination fight, even though that fight and the bad blood that followed it had monumental consequences, spurring Murray Rothbard to break with the party and seek allies on the Buchananite Right instead. The present configuration of libertarianism, with a sharp division between the Beltway libertarians and Rothbard-inspired institutions like the Ludwig von Mises Institute, owes a great deal to the fallout from the 1988 race.

And apropos of everything, here’s David Weigel’s coverage at Reason of the Gravelanche (which I think David christened).

Update: Am I selling Means short?  His libertarian credentials were better than Gravel’s, at any rate.

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8 thoughts on “About That Gravelanche…

  1. dylan waco March 28, 2008 / 11:52 pm

    Dan,

    Means bio talks a lot about his LP background and work. I think it is fair to say that he is significantly more libertarian than Gravel and in fact is more libertarian than most of the Reason editorial staff.

    Dylan

    P.S. Also worth noting that Means, like his good friend the infamous Ward Churchill, is one of the more vocal “left” critics of Marxism to the point where they both actually sided against the Sandinistas during the Contra War

  2. Daniel Maxwell March 29, 2008 / 2:44 am

    Interesting you mention Radicals for Capitalism. You are right, it is more a history of the beltway libertarian movement, and what it grew out of, then Rothbard and co.

    But Doherty is an interesting character. I think in some ways he defines what Rothbard said was wrong with the Official Mainsteam Libertarian movement – the automatic definition of ‘libertarian’ as a culture leftist. Reason and CATO are excellent examples of this. Rothbard, who was always a cultural conservative, grew annoyed with the leftism starting in the early 80s (starting point – Ed Clark’s 1980 campaign) it worsened over time. And to this day Reason and co. are still annoyingly lefty and it can be a real pain to look at their magazine at all. Rothbard’s essay ‘Big Government Libertarians’, one of his best IMO, sums them all up fairly well.

  3. Brent Burk March 29, 2008 / 3:39 am

    Mean may or may not have been a “libertarian”, but I don’t like his talk. He dogs on Ron Paul, saying he won cause he was a “Republican”, he wasn’t “really” a libertarian, they only elected him because they wanted more exposure. Yadayadayada.

  4. Scott Lahti March 29, 2008 / 6:22 pm

    I wonder whether the conflict between the Sandinistas and the Miskito indigenes played any role in the ways of Means’ and Churchill’s opposition to the Nicaraguan leaders. Though siding with Marxist forces has been an orthodox enough habit of anti-imperialist defenders of native peoples, there’s certainly enough diversity on the left to include thos for whom Marxism is simply one more vehicle of oppression by centralising elites linked to far-off globalist movements from the metropoles divorced from locally variegated struggles for power and pelf. One wonders how many campesinos of the time cut their teeth on Marx or Lenin; the literary heritage of that part of the world is a lot more various than the bien-pensants know or care; no one would mistake, say, the late Octavio Paz for any kind of Neruda-esque Red, anymore than Ignazio Silone in Italy or Camus in France or Orwell in England or Ortega in Spain.

  5. dylan waco March 29, 2008 / 6:47 pm

    Scott,

    The Miskito Indian issue was the primary issue for Means and Churchills anti-Sandinista position.

    Still Means and Churchill have always been consistently anti-Marxist. Churchill has written entire books on the subject and Means has been very candid about the “growth at any cost” mantra of “economic man” being a fusionist ideology that Marxist and corporate Capitalist agree on.

    Dylan

  6. Scott Lahti March 29, 2008 / 7:11 pm

    Give them copies of Wilhelm Ropke and E.F. Schumacher and Wendell Berry, and a stack of the proto-green weekly MANAS, and have them call me in the morn-lennium…

  7. Dain April 4, 2008 / 6:07 pm

    “# Scott Lahti Says:
    March 29, 2008 at 6:22 pm

    I wonder whether the conflict between the Sandinistas and the Miskito indigenes played any role in the ways of Means’ and Churchill’s opposition to the Nicaraguan leaders. Though siding with Marxist forces has been an orthodox enough habit of anti-imperialist defenders of native peoples, there’s certainly enough diversity on the left to include thos for whom Marxism is simply one more vehicle of oppression by centralising elites linked to far-off globalist movements from the metropoles divorced from locally variegated struggles for power and pelf. One wonders how many campesinos of the time cut their teeth on Marx or Lenin; the literary heritage of that part of the world is a lot more various than the bien-pensants know or care; no one would mistake, say, the late Octavio Paz for any kind of Neruda-esque Red, anymore than Ignazio Silone in Italy or Camus in France or Orwell in England or Ortega in Spain.
    # dylan waco Says:
    March 29, 2008 at 6:47 pm

    Scott,

    The Miskito Indian issue was the primary issue for Means and Churchills anti-Sandinista position.

    Still Means and Churchill have always been consistently anti-Marxist. Churchill has written entire books on the subject and Means has been very candid about the “growth at any cost” mantra of “economic man” being a fusionist ideology that Marxist and corporate Capitalist agree on.

    Dylan
    # Scott Lahti Says:
    March 29, 2008 at 7:11 pm

    Give them copies of Wilhelm Ropke and E.F. Schumacher and Wendell Berry, and a stack of the proto-green weekly MANAS, and have them call me in the morn-lennium…”

    In the minute it took me to read the above, I was blown away. How cool is all THAT?

  8. Scott Lahti April 5, 2008 / 4:02 am

    Dain, a fellow admirer of Dwight Macdonald and Christopher Lasch, has taught us at least as much, if what I’ve read over time in Dan’s comment-boxes is any indication…write more, and ye shall be read and saluted anon!

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