A transcript of the Lew Rockwell Show episode 402 with Ben Swann Talking to Lew Rockwell.
ROCKWELL: Recently, famed journalist, Ben Swann, asked me, “What is Anarcho-Capitalism?” I thought you might like to hear our discussion.
SWANN: This is going to be an interesting show because in our first hour, we’re going to be talking with Lew Rockwell of LewRockwell.com. He is one of the — I would say one of the foremost authorities right now in the country in terms of especially something called Anarcho-Capitalism. We’re going to talk to him a little bit about that, what exactly Anarcho-Capitalism consists of. But also, one of these guys who has been pushing the idea of Libertarianism and really the liberty movement before there was a liberty movement in the United States. And so I’m interested in hearing from him, specifically on media and how he sees things beginning to shift.
On the phone with me right now, as we get the show kicked off, is Lew Rockwell.
Lew, thanks so much for being on.
ROCKWELL: Ben, great to be with you.
SWANN: This is the first time we’ve talked. It’s absolutely an honor to talk with you. Your reputation precedes you, certainly, the founder of the Von Mises Institute in Alabama. And you have pushed forward a lot of these ideas of sovereign money, of limited government. I guess the way to describe it is you’re referred to as anti-war, anti-state and pro-market, is that correct?
ROCKWELL: Yes, that’s the little slogan at the top of my website.
SWANN: Let’s talk about some of those things. What does it mean, first of all, to be pro-market in the United States today? Because my opinion is that we really do not have a free market remaining anymore, that every part of the market has some form of regulation or government involvement on some level. Is that true?
ROCKWELL: Sure, it’s true, and governments at all levels. I mean, it’s not only the federal government, but state governments, local governments, county governments, go down the list of all the horrors. Yeah, but still if the free market weren’t working at all in our country, we’d all be dead. I mean, even in the Soviet Union, at its worst, there were aspects of the free market, mostly underground, of course.
SWANN: Right, which can be referred to as the black market?
ROCKWELL: Yeah, the underground economy, the black market. So we have that in this country, too, thank goodness. It’s huge and growing. But there are still great entrepreneurs and great investors and great employers and employees, and just many great aspects of the capitalist system still going on. We still see industries growing and we see good things happening. That’s because of the market, not because of the state. The government is, of course, entirely anti-market. I used to think that maybe they had learned they didn’t want a Soviet system because then all the people in the government then didn’t have any resources either.
ROCKWELL: I remember Yuri Maltsev, who is a former Soviet economist, telling me about, towards the end of the regime, there was a car accident, and a local party leader was part of the accident and his trunk popped open and he was seen by the people in the town’s street to have sausages in his trunk, at which point, he was pulled out of the car and beaten up, because people thought is was an outrage because they didn’t have any sausages. So when you get down to where maybe the ruling class has got cars that don’t work and a few sausages in the truck, even maybe they — I won’t say an unfortunate aspect of a capitalist order, because it’s not. It’s the parasite of the government doing this. But a capitalist order does give the government far more resources to do damage with, to loot, to steal, to make war, to take away our liberties, to give tanks and MRAPs to little towns, police forces, from all the various other things they’re doing. And maybe this has always been true in human history, a race, as Murray Rothbard put it, between power and market, between freedom and the enemies of freedom.
So, yes, I would say, certainly by the standards of the founding fathers, even by the standards of the 19th century, we don’t live in a free country any more. I mean, our civil liberties are tremendously circumscribed. There are constant wars going on. The media — there’s always been something wrong with the media but, today, the media, the mass media is just entirely spokesmen for the government. I mean, we might as well be in the Soviet Union for just constant propaganda on behalf of whatever the government wants to do, mainly loot us, hurt us, start wars, kill people in other countries. And the U.S. government has its international ambition to be the world government. And probably it’s the only government in history that actually has the resources to potentially be the world government. So that’s why they’re doing so much, making Russia an enemy, one of the few countries that is not controlled by the U.S.; so that’s why they’re hated. China, Iran, Syria, anybody who is not controlled by the U.S. has to be destroyed in order to bring about global hegemony. So there’s all kinds of horrendous stuff going on.
On the other hand, there’s great, creative, market-based things happening in this country, in Europe, and in the former Soviet Union, former Red China, and so forth. We’re seeing many great, happy, wonderful things happening. So I try to be like Murray Rothbard was. While I’m a short-term pessimist –
— as to troubles, a long-term optimist that maybe freedom can actually win.
I have the pleasure of dealing with so many young people and they are so much more sophisticated, know so much more than I did when I was their age — and I was interested in all this stuff — but they’re much better at it. And they don’t buy the government lies. To them, the typical professor at a state university or a politician might as well have a little sign on his forehead flashing, “Liar, liar.” Certainly, they know what not to believe. They need help in knowing what to believe, and that’s where organizations like the Mises Institute come in.
There’s this constant battle and there’s reasons to be optimistic. There’s reasons to be pessimistic. I must say that one thing that really worries me, I mean, are they actually risking an atomic war with the Russians? I mean, we saw recently that a NATO general, who is an American general in charge of NATO forces, said that U.S. forces could potentially be involved in all of this. So if we actually have a direct military confrontation between the Russians and the Americans, that’s a very scary business. I guess it would start off as a conventional war, but would it end as a conventional war? I don’t know. And certainly, we know that the U.S. has been happy to drop atomic weapons on defenseless cities in the past. Would they do that again? I hope not.
SWANN: That becomes the question, doesn’t it? It becomes the question.
ROCKWELL: Well, the famous Neo-Conservative called Herman Kahn, who was the founder of the Hudson Institute and a very influential civil defense intellectual, he wrote a book called Thinking the Unthinkable, where he advocated that the U.S. and its imperial ambitions should use atomic weapons on a regular basis.
ROCKWELL: So there are some people who actually believe in this. And as we know, in World War I and other wars, sometimes things can get out of hand, where nobody’s intending, in the beginning, so it’s a terrible thing.
Obama said he doesn’t want a war with Russia. I hope that’s the case. We’ve seen some of these generals go up against him in terms of military power, what the military should be doing.
SWANN: Right. That’s absolutely true.
Lew, stay right there. We’re coming up on a break here. So on the other side of the break, though, let’s talk a little bit more, in specific, about what NATO is doing right now, Russia, Crimea, and also how media is a part of that problem, I think, overall, in the way that they deal with the American public.
Much more with Lew Rockwell when we come back.
And welcome back to the Ben Swann Radio Show here on RBN, the Republic Broadcasting Network. Glad that you’re with us.
We’re talking today with none other than Lew Rockwell, who really needs no introduction. If you are even a passing Libertarian, then you know this man’s name and the contribution that he’s made to the Libertarian movement and the liberty movement overall over the past many years.
And, Lew, we were talking before the break specifically about Russia, Crimea, NATO. We just put together a piece on this. But as you have probably seen, Anders Rasmussen, who is really the chief of NATO, calling for nations that are involved in NATO, the 28 member countries, to increase military spending. Of course, that’s his answer to take on the, quote, unquote, “Russian threat.” But when you break down the numbers, it’s something like $990 billion was spent in 2012 by NATO countries on military, on military alone, versus about $90 billion by Russia on military alone. Now, we’re talking about a gap there of $900 billion, which is just incredible. How much do you think this plays into the fact that the public is just uneducated on these issues?
ROCKWELL: Well, they’re uneducated and they’re also easily pushed into fear and loathing. So a lot of people, if they’re told, “Hey, now we’ve got to hate the Russians,” they’ll hate the Russians. I mean, certainly, it worked in previous eras when the Russians probably had the worst government in the history of the world, the Lenin-Stalin government. Horrendous stuff that went on. Of course, Stalin was the U.S. ally in World War II.
SWANN: That’s right.
ROCKWELL: Uncle Joe, as they called him. So obviously, the U.S. government didn’t think too badly of Stalin.
But that’s not Russia today. I mean, they have a lower tax rate than we do — [laughing]. Please oppress me like that. And you’ll notice, whenever a country is being demonized, we’re never shown pictures of it on television.
SWANN: That’s right.
ROCKWELL: But if you look at downtown Moscow today and its business district, it looks like Houston, I mean, huge skyscrapers and bustling cars and people, and well-dressed people and so forth. So this is still a far poorer country than the U.S. or Western Europe. After all, they were under Communism for many decades and that had a horrible effect just on every aspect of life. And their life expectancy, for example, is far lower, their disease rates are far higher still today because of the horrific affects of Socialism under all the Communist leaders. But, you know, they’re not threatening us. And they couldn’t. I mean, they’re not in the same league. It’s a much poorer country. And as you point out, just an infinitesimal military budget — this is true of China, too, by the way — as compared to the U.S. And we constantly hear the creeps in Washington saying, oh, we’ve got to spend more on, quote, unquote, “defense.”
ROCKWELL: Well, as far as I can tell, the U.S. spends nothing on defense. It spends everything on offense. And it’s, again, to run the world. But it’s alarming when you see something like NATO, which is a bunch of unelected creeps, who are, in effect, threatening a war that would involve the U.S. and involve other countries. So I’m hoping that people in Europe are not going to want this to happen. For one thing, there’s been a happy economic relationship with Russia and Europe in terms of natural gas and oil and other things. Aren’t there enough wars going on? I mean, there are wars going on all over the world. The U.S. is attacking with drones, and otherwise, people all over the world, every day, all the time. Maybe Barack signs the death orders over his scrambled eggs in the morning. I don’t know what the actual method of this is, but it’s terrible stuff. If you started to use atomic weapons — and, of course, they have bazookas that have atomic warheads on them, artillery shells and so forth. It doesn’t have to be a giant bomber dropping a giant bomb. So I don’t know. It’s scary. NATO, it seems like they want a war. And NATO, just like the E.U., would like to be a government, would like to have its own military and not just the national militaries that are part of NATO.
SWANN: Well, don’t you think, too, that NATO itself has become almost irrelevant? I mean, it was kind of constructed during the Cold War as a response to the Soviets; that this was going to be an alliance that could stand against them. I would say over the last, certainly, 20 years, NATO has almost become irrelevant in the international conversation. And it seems as if this becomes the opportunity that these opportunists will use to say, “Well, look, see, no, we are relevant. There is value to us being in existence. And not only that, but we need to be strengthened and we need to, as you said, perhaps become our own military.” And I see even the Neo-Cons in the United States just salivating, just salivating over the idea of resurrecting the Cold War because, look, another war in the Middle East, they know the American public is tired of it. I think the American public demonstrated that by resisting and pushing back against overt strikes on Syria and on Damascus. And so they’re saying, “Look, we’ve got to find a way to kind of re-invigor the desire for Americans to be involved in war.” Guys like Bill Kristol will call Americans “war weary.” I don’t think they’re war weary. I think they’re better informed than they had been and they’re sick of this just constant cycle of war that we’ve been living under for the past 12 years, 13 years.
ROCKWELL: Well, it may be much longer than that. But certainly, there’s been — just look since World War II, I mean, there have been many, many wars that have taken place that the U.S. has been involved in. You know, the U.S. is the gigantic warfare state. It’s, by far, the biggest warfare state in the history of the world. It’s got, by far, the biggest military. It’s got this huge military budget. It’s got every kind of horrible killer weapon that you could possibly conceive of.
And, yeah, I think your analysis of NATO is exactly right. By the way, all governments and quasi-governments are constantly trying to get popular support for their own expansion. So, yeah, NATO, which was formed in order for the U.S. to occupy Europe — that’s what I would argue was actually going on. The U.S. still occupies Western Europe all these years after World War II. And because the Soviet Union, because of the nature of Socialism, has always been, was always a very poor country, very poor, far poorer than today’s Russia. They just didn’t have the wherewithal. They couldn’t even trust their own troops. NATO was part of U.S. aggression, not actually a defensive alliance, because there was no way the Russians could have done it. Even in World War II, they were only able to fight with vast foreign aid from the U.S. NATO I think has always been a bad organization, always an arm of U.S. hegemony, just like all the other post-World War II institutions, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank. These are all designed to increase the reach and the power of the U.S.
And, yes, you’re exactly right. They are salivating for a war. Maybe we should have General Bill Kristol. Put him in uniform, give him a gun, and let him lead the troops.
SWANN: Right, rather than warmongering from behind some desk —
ROCKWELL: Yeah, rather than his typewriter; typewriter in his fancy office.
SWANN: And I think we see that. We see that kind of developing on several different fronts. But I also think there is a desire to see Russia as the enemy, the United States as the good guy, that it’s almost intrinsically built into American DNA. And it happens through our public school system. It happens through media. It happens through politicians. And I think for most Americans, these archetypes are so strong. It’s like Rocky IV, right? We know who the good guy is and we know who the bad guy is. And Ivan Drago is still the bad guy and Rocky is still the good guy. It’s so deeply imbedded into us as Americans, it doesn’t take a whole lot of effort on the side of media to be able to say, “We’re going to push these archetypes in your mind and remind you that we have a very real enemy that is Russia or the Russians.”
ROCKWELL: Neo-Cons have always especially hated the guts of Russia so they’re all looking forward to what they would hope is another war.
SWANN: They’ve got their fingers crossed.
Lew Rockwell, stay with us. On the other side of the break, I want to talk to you about this thing called Anarcho-Capitalism. What exactly is that? How does it work? And is there any example of it you can point to in our current system?
Much more with Lew when we come back.
And welcome back to the Ben Swann Radio Show here on the Republic Broadcasting Network.
I’ve been telling you all week long about this book that has just been released by the Atlas Society, called The Republican Party’s Civil War: Will Freedom Win? And the idea behind this book is very simple: There’s a three-way battle going on in the Republican Party right now, basically, between the Neo-Cons, which we’ve been talking about here, the kind of cronyists in the party; the Libertarian wing, which you might call Liberty Republicans; and then the social conservatives. And there’s a lot of crossover into those social conservatives and Libertarians. It’s not so clearly defined as two particular groups but there’s definitely some divisions there. And so the explanation behind this book, the idea behind it by Ed Hudgins is simply that there are ways to create coalition and ways to stand up for individual freedom, that freedom is what will ultimately win.
If you go to BenSwann.com today, you can download a free copy of that book from Amazon. It’s up on the top of our homepage. Just click on that link and you can get that book for free. I encourage you to go and download this book. It is a terrific look at the future of the Republican Party and how freedom will ultimately win there.
On the phone with me this afternoon is Lew Rockwell. He is the purveyor of LewRockwell.com. He is also the founder of the Von Mises Institute. He is a self-professed Anarcho-Capitalist.
Lew, can you explain to me what that means?
ROCKWELL: That’s phrase is Murray Rothbard’s. A lot of the anarchist movement in the 19th century was Socialist Anarchism. People actually thought if they got rid of the government, they’d live under Socialism.
What is Anarcho-Capitalism? It’s the view that — it’s also called the Non-Aggression Principle, the basis of Libertarianism — that it’s never legitimate to initiate violence or the threat of violence against the innocent. Of course, you’re going to use violence in defense of yourself, but you may never initiate and you can’t allow a government to do it, which, of course, is the great purveyor and initiator of violence in the whole world, is the U.S. government and other governments. An Anarchist would say that it is possible to have the free market provide the legitimate services that government provides. There aren’t many, of course, but there are some. They would be far more effective done in the market. Far better to have private police who treat you like a customer than government police who want to taser you and put you in a cage. That it’s just, from a practical standpoint, from a moral standpoint, that we don’t want this horrendous monopoly called the government. We don’t need it. We still need defense, we need police, that sort of thing, but these, again, can be provided far more efficiently and far more effectively, far more justly voluntarily in the market. We have the government, which is a monopoly. For example, it gets to decide how much of your money it’s going to take every year, whatever they’d like to take from you. And of course, Anarcho-Capitalists and Libertarians would argue that government activities have a different name. Taxation is actually theft. If it was done in the private sector, it’s theft. When it’s done by the government, oh, it’s taxation for public services. And conscription, the draft, is actually kidnapping and so forth. So you can go down the list. So everything the government does is illegitimate, even though they spend their time with huge propaganda in the government schools and through the government-friendly media and all their allies, who are getting some of the government dough, constantly telling us we have to have government for civilization. If we didn’t have government, why, we’d all be killing each other.
Well, of course, there’s too much killing going on, done by the government or by the government that can’t provide any help against crime. I’d like to see Obama, for example, get rid of the crime in the District of Columbia. It seems to me that’s an actual — it might be achievable. It’s in a small area — an achievable goal, rather than worrying about what’s going on in the Ukraine. But needless to say, they don’t care. They don’t care about crime because crime is against regular people. They only care about things that are done against the government, and then, of course, oh, my gosh, it’s the end of the world and it has to be stopped.
SWANN: That’s an interesting idea. When we talk about acts of aggression, for instance, you know, you’re describing — certainly, when we talk about government being responsible for death, to talk about military and conflicts overseas — as they call them, conflicts — you know, when you have drone-strike programs and so many people being killed, and as you said, the idea is, well, without government, people will die and, ultimately, it will be chaotic. But I think you could also argue, for the person living in Yemen right now, life is chaotic not because of the lack of government, but because of an overseas government that is very organized in its process of attacking and killing people.
ROCKWELL: And, of course, besides taxation, the other way they pay for what they do is what’s in the private sector called counterfeiting and the governments call monetary policy. And they just, in effect, print up money, even though it has a horrendous effect on the economy and on private property and on the producers and on the decent people. It aids the banksters. It, of course, aids the government.
Look at their court system. They’re always the judge in their own case. A judge is a government judge. The prosecutor is a government prosecutor. A lot of times if people can’t afford a lawyer, they’ll get a government lawyer allegedly defending them and so forth. I mean, it’s sort of the definition of injustice where one party to the dispute is the judge in the case. So there’s something wrong with everything the government does. Most of it is illegitimate and immoral and, otherwise, a social disaster.
Are they threatening us with a potential atomic war? I mean, how many people has the U.S. government killed in its career of wars over the centuries? How many millions? Millions of people. Now, if you talk to any advocate of the government, they’ll say all those people deserve to be killed because anybody killed by the government deserves to be killed. That’s their basic rule. So that’s whether it’s the policeman breaking into your house with the wrong address and shooting you and killing you. Well, you know, you shouldn’t have been in there. There’s always an excuse for anything the government is doing.
But Anarcho-Capitalists say, from an economic standpoint, from a moral standpoint, from a philosophical standpoint, that the idea that we need a ruling class over us, that we need people — and, of course, government employees are basically paid double what taxpayers are paid. Do we actually need this ruling class over us?
Most of us live in a state of anarchy. I mean, we’re not shooting up the next-door-neighbor’s house because we like his dining room set. We’re not knocking people over the head on the street. We act in a peaceful, voluntary way. I would argue that that can be all of society. And if there are criminals, of course, the criminals have to be dealt with. But today, we live under the rule of the criminals, so we live under the worst possible system.
And we see what’s been happening to the U.S. government, especially since that happy government holiday they must celebrate in secret called 9/11. It pushed back the cause of freedom and it vastly expanded the power of the government, so that now they spy on everything we do, they control our businesses, they control our neighborhoods, they control our families. Is there anything the government would think about doing that it was interested in doing in the interest of its special interests that they would say, “Oh, we can’t do that because it’s wrong”? That never happens. Whether it’s start a war, false flags? I mean, how many U.S. wars have been started by false flags? I was thinking about the Vietnam War today. That was, of course, a false flag in the Gulf of Tonkin where they claimed this little, tiny Vietnamese equivalent of a P.T. boat had attacked a U.S. destroyer. Well, it appears to me you could have known just from that alone that there’s something funny. But it was all made up. It never happened. Later, some of the officers involved told the truth about it, that it was all just made up. And I think that’s been the case of many U.S. wars. They’re bloodthirsty.
Also, as F.A. Hayek pointed out in The Road to Serfdom, in the government, unlike in private society, the worst rise to the top. Whether it’s in a company or just in private organizations or whatever, it’s not a 100% rule but, in general, the hardest-working, smartest people rise to the top. In the government, it’s the most demagogic, the most immoral, the most lying, the most pro-killing people, and they enjoy sticking it to the rest of us. I mean, I notice Obama has totally destroyed traffic in Houston over the last couple of days. Traffic is bad enough in Houston, but because of his being there, all the roads are shut down, the main arteries and so forth. They don’t actually have to do that for alleged reasons of security. But you know what? They like doing that. They like exercising their power. They like making people uncomfortable and angry. They love it. They love sending kids to war to kill and be killed. These are not nice people. We don’t want them ruling us.
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