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Murray Rothbard’s Star Wars Review

Arts and Movies

By Mr. First Nighter


Star Wars, dir. by George Lucas. With Alec Guinness and Carrie Fisher.

First came the hype. That Star Wars is going to be the biggest popular film success since Jaws means very little. So every season is going to have its oversold smash hit, so what? But the difference, the new hype, with Star Wars was its overwhelming acclaim among the critics. Usually the masses whoop it up for a Jaws while the critics go ape over Bertolucii or Fassbinder. Yet here they were in joint huzzahs, with the critic from Time flipping his wig to such an extent as to call it the best movie of the year and making Star Wars the feature of that week’s issue.

But the oddest, the most peculiar part of it was what my fellow-critics were saying: “Hurrah, a fun movie-movie”; “good escape entertainment”; “a return to good guys vs. a happy ending again”; “movie fare for the entire family”; “like Flash Gordon” etc. Here were men and women who have spent the greater, part of their lives deriding these very virtues, attacking them as mindless, moralistic, unaesthetic, fodder for the Tired Businessman instead of the Sensitive Intellectual. And yet here were these same acidulous critics praising these mindless, reactionary verities. What in blazes was going on? Had all colleagues experienced a blinding miraculous conversion to Old Culture truths? While I do not deny the logical possibility of such a mass, instantaneous conversion from error, my experience of this wicked world has convinced me that it is empirically highly unlikely. So what gives?

The best thing about seeing Star Wars is that my curiosity was satisfied. The mystery explained! For it was indeed true that Star Wars returns to the good guy-bad guy, happy ending, and all the rest. But there is an important catch, and it is that catch that enables our critical intelligentsia to praise the movie and yet suffer no breach in their irrational and amoral critical perspective. The catch is embodied in the reference to Flash Gordon: namely, that this is such a silly, cartoony, comic-strip “movie that no one can possibly take it seriously, even within its own context. No one, that is, over the age of 8. Hence, in contrast to Death Wish or Dirty Harry, where the viewer is necessarily caught up in the picture and must take the viewer is seriously, Star Wars is such kiddie hokum that the adult critics can let their hair down and enjoy it without having their aesthetic values threatened.

To put it another way, our critics, who are bitterly opposed to a moralistic and exciting plot, are scarcely challenged by the plot of “Star Wars, which is so designedly imbecilic that the intelligentsia can relax, forget about the plot and enjoy the special effects, which the avant-garde always approves.

Even on the kiddie level, Star Wars doesn’t really work. It is peculiarly off-base. The hero, for example, is so young, wooden and callow that he doesn’t really come off as an authentic comic-strip hero. As a result, his older mercenary aide becomes a kind of co-hero, which throws off the balance of the story. The hero presumably doesn’t get the Fairy Princess in the end, either, although far worse is the casting of the Princess. For, Carrie Fisher is ugly and abrasive, and if one could care very much about the hero one would hope that nothing came of their proto-romance: Miss Fisher is the quintessence of the Anti-Princess, and this ruins whatever may have remained of interest of value in Star Wars. There are more problems; not only does wise Alec Guinness lose his mighty duel with his evil ex-disciple, but the whole duel is pointless and leads nowhere, even within the context of the plot.

“Not only is this oversold turkey not the best movie of the year, it is not very good even within the sci-fi movie genre. Some of the critics have proclaimed Star Wars as even better than “2001”, but that would be no great feat, since there have been few movies of any genre that have been worse than that pretentious, mystical, boring, plotless piece of claptrap. But Star Wars doesn’t begin to compare with the science fiction greats of the past, e.g.: “The Thing”—the first post World War it sci-fi movie; “It Came from Outer Space”; “The Night of the Living Dead”, and, best of all, the incomparable “Invasion of the Body Snatchers”; None of these movies needed the razzle-dazzle of “special effects”; they did it on plot, theme, and characters. Back to them!


First appeared in The Libertarian Forum, Vol. 10.6, June 1977


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Economics 101 – 3 of 8 – Capital, Interest, and Profit – Murray N Rothbard

3. Capital, Interest, and Profit

Profit is total revenue minus total costs. Ours is not just a profit system, it is a profit and loss system. Losses are a sign that you wasted land, labor, or capital, yet those who make profits are criticized.

Entrepreneurship is an art not a course you can learn.

Labor earns wages. Land earns rent. Capital earns interest. Confusingly, the word capital means both the machines used to produce goods and the funds available for investment. Bohm-Bawerk answered the question of where interest rates come from.

Time is the key element in the earning of interest. The capitalist who pays out while he waits for the product to be sold before being paid, performs a vital function of paying for land and labor now. The capitalist is rewarded by being paid a discount on labor and land, discounted by the rate of interest. There are all sorts of rates of time preferences.

The third of eight sessions from Murray Rothbard’s Economics 101 series.

A collection of eight speeches and lectures by Murray N. Rothbard, spanning from the 1970s to the early 1990s. He is speaking in a small classroom setting, explaining economics from the ground up, and systematically in the manner of a classic 101 course on the topic—but with a revolutionary approach.

This lecture as a Podcast: http://enemyofthestate.podomatic.com/

Sourced from: https://mises.org/library/economics-101

Source: Economics 101 – 3 of 8 – Capital, Interest, and Profit – Murray N Rothbard – YouTube

http://www.readrothbard.com/economics-101-3-of-8-capital-interest-and-profit-murray-n-rothbard

TRANSCRIPT Continue reading “Economics 101 – 3 of 8 – Capital, Interest, and Profit – Murray N Rothbard”

Economics 101 – 4 of 8 – Labor – Murray N Rothbard

4. Labor

Minimum wage laws force unemployment up. All of those with few skills looking for an entry position will be denied because they cannot add enough value to the business-labor field to be paid minimum wage. Unemployment follows minimum wage hikes. Marginal workers are being denied the labor market.

There were workers in canning businesses making thirty cents an hour who were disemployed when a forty cents minimum wage was enacted. By changing definitions of employment government agencies manipulate figures.

Population growth issues have often been irrational. Overpopulation in one area could be underpopulation in another. Optimum (maximum) populations depend on market systems and capital investment. As levels of living rise, parents decide upon lower birthrates.

The fourth of eight sessions from Murray Rothbard’s Economics 101 series.

A collection of eight speeches and lectures by Murray N. Rothbard, spanning from the 1970s to the early 1990s. He is speaking in a small classroom setting, explaining economics from the ground up, and systematically in the manner of a classic 101 course on the topic—but with a revolutionary approach.

This lecture as a Podcast: http://enemyofthestate.podomatic.com/

Sourced from: https://mises.org/library/economics-101

Source: Economics 101 – 4 of 8 – Labor – Murray N Rothbard – YouTube

http://www.readrothbard.com/economics-101-4-of-8-labor-murray-n-rothbard

TRANSCRIPT Continue reading “Economics 101 – 4 of 8 – Labor – Murray N Rothbard”

Economics 101 – 5 of 8 – Labor and Unions – Murray N Rothbard

5. Labor and Unions

Rothbard covers the principles of demand and supply curves. Prices are at the seat of the whole system. Use the logic of reality. The most mobile labor force is teenagers. Over time, capital equipment per laborer increases. Real wage rates increase. Consumer prices decrease.

Unions cannot determine wage rates without putting companies out of business and causing unemployment. They attempt to control the labor market by restricting people. Unions have very little power when labor is ample. There were no labor unions from 1885 to 1935. Unions were first established in construction, coal mining, and entertainment fields, but they were a small percent of the workforce.

The National Labor Relations Board determined what a bargaining unit was. They preferred industrial unions to craft unions. Unions made employment government-regulated rather than free-market.

Union growth has been in government agency areas.

The fifth of eight sessions from Murray Rothbard’s Economics 101 series.

A collection of eight speeches and lectures by Murray N. Rothbard, spanning from the 1970s to the early 1990s. He is speaking in a small classroom setting, explaining economics from the ground up, and systematically in the manner of a classic 101 course on the topic—but with a revolutionary approach.

This lecture as a Podcast: http://enemyofthestate.podomatic.com/

Sourced from: https://mises.org/library/economics-101

Source: Economics 101 – 5 of 8 – Labor and Unions – Murray N Rothbard – YouTube

http://www.readrothbard.com/economics-101-5-of-8-labor-and-unions-murray-n-rothbard

TRANSCRIPT Continue reading “Economics 101 – 5 of 8 – Labor and Unions – Murray N Rothbard”

Economics 101 – 6 of 8 – Conservation and Property Rights – Murray N Rothbard

6. Conservation and Property Rights

Free markets shift resources from where they are less valued to where they are most valued, benefiting consumers. When private property and free markets are allowed to operate, a natural conservation of resources occurs. Nothing is a resource unless it is useful to man.

Governments do not own anything and are not interested in preservation or maintenance. The conservation movement since 1900 simply closed off land. Western railroads and Western real estate owners financed the conservationists in order to keep land off the market.

Oceans have yet to adopt private property rights, but it will be needed to end ocean communism which depletes fisheries.

The law of capture produced such over drilling and depletion in oil. Radio and TV channels have to find a technological unit like bandwidth or frequency to define private property. Hoover nationalized the radio channels. This totalitarian control over media by the FCC is fascist, but not protested. It has a chilling effect on speech.

Pollution beyond the optimum takes place because of government intervention of resources. Proper pricing systems and private property can eliminate pollution. Rothbard speaks about air and water pollution and the legal changes like tort law which systematically changed common law structure. Private property needs once again to be allowed to function.

The sixth of eight sessions from Murray Rothbard’s Economics 101 series.

A collection of eight speeches and lectures by Murray N. Rothbard, spanning from the 1970s to the early 1990s. He is speaking in a small classroom setting, explaining economics from the ground up, and systematically in the manner of a classic 101 course on the topic—but with a revolutionary approach.

This lecture as a Podcast: http://enemyofthestate.podomatic.com/

Sourced from: https://mises.org/library/economics-101

Source: Economics 101 – 6 of 8 – Conservation and Property Rights – Murray N Rothbard – YouTube

http://www.readrothbard.com/economics-101-6-of-8-conservation-and-property-rights-murray-n-rothbard

TRANSCRIPT Continue reading “Economics 101 – 6 of 8 – Conservation and Property Rights – Murray N Rothbard”

Economics 101 – 7 of 8 – Banking and the Business Cycle – Murray N Rothbard

7. Banking and the Business Cycle

One of the most difficult things to understand about banking is how money is created out of thin air. Current commercial bank liabilities are immediate. The banks do not have the reserves to redeem all demand notes. Thus, banks are inherently insolvent. But, government has eliminated runs on banks. Banks are not allowed to fail when they are mismanaged.

Central banks are sold to the public as restraining inflation, but central banking was created to allow inflation. The inflationary process generates the boom and bust business cycle.

The Bank of England was a great racket. The public accepted new money that was created out of thin air. The King had given the Bank a monopoly on money creation. President Jackson tried to get rid of the US central banks. Banks created the Federal Reserve System in 1913. The Fed banks now have a monopoly on all paper money. By legal tender law, one must accept Federal Reserve Notes. The Federal Reserve manipulates the money supply by manipulating the Federal reserves. The Central Bank is a lender of last resort. Every bank will be bailed out.

Economists were mainly concerned about the crashes, not the booms, of business cycles. Mises understood that the banks were inherently inflationary. He understood that the expanded money supply was going to commercial banks to loan to longer-term production projects like construction. This credit expansion was not based upon consumers having saved anything. The boom was a bad distortion. It promoted malinvestment. The crash was inevitable and a good thing. Austrians would stop inflating. Austrians during the crash would keep government hands off. 1920 was a great example of this Austrian Theory of the Business Cycle at work.

The seventh of eight sessions from Murray Rothbard’s Economics 101 series.

A collection of eight speeches and lectures by Murray N. Rothbard, spanning from the 1970s to the early 1990s. He is speaking in a small classroom setting, explaining economics from the ground up, and systematically in the manner of a classic 101 course on the topic—but with a revolutionary approach.

This lecture as a Podcast: http://enemyofthestate.podomatic.com/

Sourced from: https://mises.org/library/economics-101

Source: Economics 101 – 7 of 8 – Banking and the Business Cycle – Murray N Rothbard – YouTube

http://www.readrothbard.com/economics-101-7-of-8-banking-and-the-business-cycle-murray-n-rothbard

TRANSCRIPT Continue reading “Economics 101 – 7 of 8 – Banking and the Business Cycle – Murray N Rothbard”

Economics 101 – 8 of 8 – Mises in One Lesson – Murray N Rothbard

8. Mises in One Lesson

Austrian economics has nothing to do with the economics of Austria. Austrian Economics (AE) began with Carl Menger in 1871. It is based on an analysis of individual action, not aggregates or groups.

Economics predated Adam Smith. The British classical economics school could not solve the value paradox. It also embraced the labor theory of value. Another big fallacy was a focus on long-run equilibrium. Additionally, they separated micro and macroeconomics into two hermetically sealed spheres.

Menger and Bohm-Bawerk focused systematically on individual action. The purpose of production is consumption. Value is inferred by the consumer in a subjective marginal unit value theory. This solved the value paradox. Economics is not really a quantitative subject. Value is subjective and cannot be measured. Preferences are ordinal, not cardinal. There is no separate process called distribution. Distribution comes right out of production. People prefer present goods immediately available. Production is a time structure. Capitalism is a network by which the free market responds to constant feedback. Equilibrium economics does not mention this.

Austrians only talked about micro, but had not included macro until Mises’ The Theory of Money and Credit in 1912. Mises shows that more money (as opposed to more of other commodities) destroys economic calculation. Mises explains the origins of money through his regression theorem. Money must originate as a valued market commodity, not by government edict. His ideal system would be 100% reserve banking, or a true Free Banking system.

Mises’ business cycle theory was a simple model. Increases in the money supply and credit go first to those close to the source and mess up the capital structure. Increases are not helicoptered out simultaneously to all. Commercial bank credit expansion, unbacked by private savings, leads to malinvestments. Recession is a necessary process by which bad investment is liquidated. Resources shift out of capital goods back into consumer goods.

Mises taught his views at the University of Vienna in private seminars. He warned about the Great Depression. Socialism arose after WWI. Most recognized immediately that Socialism had an incentive problem, like “Who will take out the garbage?” Mises was one of the few who saw the real problem of Socialism was that it could not calculate. There was no price system. It couldn’t work. Neither does interventionism work. Only laissez-faire capitalism works. Mises’ crowning accomplishment was Human Action. However, Keynes’ General Theory in 1936 swept Mises aside. Hayek did not refute Keynes’ book, as he had a prior work. Mises could not find an academic post, yet he cheerfully established a teaching seminar at NYU. Mises died in 1973. Hayek got the Noble prize in 1974 based upon work that he did on Mises’ business cycle theory.

The final of eight sessions of Murray Rothbard’s Economics 101 series. This lecture may be the most concise overview of the core ideas of the Austrian School of Economics.

A collection of eight speeches and lectures by Murray N. Rothbard, spanning from the 1970s to the early 1990s. He is speaking in a small classroom setting, explaining economics from the ground up, and systematically in the manner of a classic 101 course on the topic—but with a revolutionary approach.

This lecture as a Podcast: http://enemyofthestate.podomatic.com/

Sourced from: https://mises.org/library/economics-101

Source: Economics 101 – 8 of 8 – Mises in One Lesson – Murray N Rothbard – YouTube

http://www.readrothbard.com/economics-101-8-of-8-mises-in-one-lesson-murray-n-rothbard

TRANSCRIPT Continue reading “Economics 101 – 8 of 8 – Mises in One Lesson – Murray N Rothbard”

Intro to Austrian Economics – 1 of 4 – Scarcity and Choice

Austrian Economics: An Introduction, presented at New York Polytechnic University in 1972.

1. Scarcity and ChoiceEconomics begins with the concepts of scarcity and choice. If there was no scarcity it would all be free. Resources like time and materials need to be allocated to economically feasible uses. This will depend on the consumers’ demand for the final product.

Source: Intro to Austrian Economics – 1 of 4 – Scarcity and Choice – YouTube

http://www.readrothbard.com/intro-to-austrian-economics-1-of-4-scarcity-and-choice

TRANSCRIPT Continue reading “Intro to Austrian Economics – 1 of 4 – Scarcity and Choice”

Intro to Austrian Economics – 2 of 4 – Supply and Demand

Austrian Economics: An Introduction, presented at New York Polytechnic University in 1972.

2. Supply and DemandIn this lecture in 1972, supply and demand concepts included: preferences of consumers, prices, quantity, quality, elasticity, equilibrium, marginal utility, present goods, and production processes.

Source: Intro to Austrian Economics – 2 of 4 – Supply and Demand – YouTube

http://www.readrothbard.com/intro-to-austrian-economics-2-of-4-supply-and-demand

TRANSCRIPT Continue reading “Intro to Austrian Economics – 2 of 4 – Supply and Demand”

Intro to Austrian Economics – 3 of 4 – Advertising

Austrian Economics: An Introduction, presented at New York Polytechnic University in 1972.

3. AdvertisingAdvertising has always had bad press with economists, but consumers discover that a product either works and works well, or it doesn’t. Consumer wants are not artificially created by business itself. Advertising as a selling cost seemed evil. The free market benefits every participant. But intervention benefits one group at the expense of another. Political advertising – propaganda – gets a free pass.

Source: Intro to Austrian Economics – 3 of 4 – Advertising – YouTube

http://www.readrothbard.com/intro-to-austrian-economics-3-of-4-advertising

TRANSCRIPT Continue reading “Intro to Austrian Economics – 3 of 4 – Advertising”

Intro to Austrian Economics – 4 of 4 – Price Controls

Austrian Economics: An Introduction, presented at New York Polytechnic University in 1972.

4. Price ControlsPrice controls – triangular interventions – occur when an intervener (generally government) either compels a pair of people to make an exchange or prohibits them from making an exchange. Although ludicrous, price controls are instituted because a product appears to be in short supply, e.g. oil – while price controls create artificial shortages of the product. The conservation movement ties in with the attack on comfort and consumption and humans in general.

Source: Intro to Austrian Economics – 4 of 4 – Price Controls – YouTube

http://www.readrothbard.com/intro-to-austrian-economics-4-of-4-price-controls

TRANSCRIPT Continue reading “Intro to Austrian Economics – 4 of 4 – Price Controls”