Review of The Origins of the Second World War | Murray N. Rothbard

[From a memo to Mr. Kenneth Templeton at the William Volker Fund, April 18, 1962.]

It is not often that one is privileged to review a book of monumental import, a truly significant “breakthrough” from obscuran­tism to historical knowledge and insight. But such a book is the magnificent work by A.J .P. Taylor, The Origins of the Second World War (London: Hamish Hamilton, 1961 — now New York: Athenaeum, 1962).

As Taylor points out and explains at the beginn­ing of this book, Revisionism of World War II, in every country of the world, has been virtually non-existent. In the United States Pearl Harbor revisionism has progressed a long way, and built up a successful body of historical literature, so that its opponents have had to beat one retreat after another.

But, in vivid contrast to the situation after World War I, the origins of the ”1939 war in Europe have been a locked door,” and the historical profession, as well as all the general public and official opinion, in all the countries involved, have clung grimly and tenaciously to almost the same views that were held at the height of the­ conflict itself.

While there has been a substantial shift in the wartime view that all Germany is and was forever guilty of war there has been no shift in the wartime view of Hitler and his Administration, and of the supposedly sole guilt which they incurred. The extent of the stifling atmosphere is indicated by the automatic disreputability, the shock, and shame, which any deviation from this propaganda line incurs if expressed verbally or in print.

Any raising of the semblance of a doubt over the official line that (a) Hitler was bent on conquering the world, and (b) the only way to meet the situation was to take a “firm” line and stop him, is to incur the automatic charge of being “pro-Hitler” or “pro-Nazi.” In the same way, the “historical blackout” operates today in the Cold War; any intimation that the Soviet is not solely responsible for the Cold War is met with the charge of being “pro-Communist” or “soft on Communism.”

All this is immeasurably aided by the old propaganda trick of identifying a State’s domestic with its foreign policy; paint a government’s domestic policy as wicked enough (e.g., Hitler, Communism), and the ignorant and the superficial will automatically agree that this wicked government must be guilty, and uniquely guilty, of any wars or threats of war that might arise, and that conversely the “good” United States (or Britain or France) will be uniquely innocent and virtuous.

In the United States, even Pearl Harbor revisionism could only fight its way against heavy and oppressive odds, and its champions could be written off by the Establishment as either “mere journalists” (Morgenstern, Chamberlin) or as former isolationists and opponents of U.S. entry into the war (Barnes, Tansill, et al.) — although this was hardly a disqualification for the most enthusiastic praise lavished on such renegade ex-isolationists as Langer, Commager, et al. And, Pearl Harbor revisionism has faced no difficulties compared to revisionism on Hitler and Germany — for the wartime emotionalism whipped up here and abroad against Japan was as nothing compared to the frenzy whipped up against Germany and against Hitler. Here the blackout war-born propaganda frenzy has been virtually total. Continue reading “Review of The Origins of the Second World War | Murray N. Rothbard”

Reseña de Los orígenes de la Segunda Guerra Mundial | Murray N. Rothbard

[De una nota al Sr. Kenneth Templeton en el William Volker Fund, 18 de Abril de 1962.  For the English language version, click here].

No es frecuente que uno tenga el privilegio de revisar un libro de importancia monumental, un “avance” verdaderamente significativo desde el oscurantismo hasta el conocimiento y la percepción histórica. Pero tal libro es el magnífico trabajo de A. J. P. Taylor, Los orígenes de la Segunda Guerra Mundial (Londres: Hamish Hamilton, 1961 – ahora Nueva York: Athenaeum, 1962). Como Taylor señala y explica al comienzo de este libro, el revisionismo de la Segunda Guerra Mundial, en todos los países del mundo, ha sido prácticamente inexistente. En los Estados Unidos, el revisionismo de Pearl Harbor ha progresado un largo camino y acumuló un cuerpo exitoso de literatura histórica, de modo que sus oponentes tuvieron que vencer una retirada tras otra. Pero, en vívido contraste con la situación posterior a la Primera Guerra Mundial, los orígenes de la “guerra de 1939 en Europa han sido una puerta cerrada” y la profesión histórica, así como toda la opinión pública y oficial en general, en todos los países involucrados, se han aferrado con severidad y tenacidad a casi los mismos puntos de vista que se mantuvieron en el momento álgido del conflicto. Aunque ha habido un cambio sustancial en la visión de la guerra de que toda Alemania es y siempre fue culpable de guerra, no ha habido cambio en el punto de vista de guerra de Hitler y su Administración y de la culpabilidad supuestamente única en la que incurrieron. La magnitud de la atmósfera sofocante está indicada por la falta de credibilidad automática, la conmoción y la vergüenza, que cualquier desviación de esta línea de propaganda incurre si se expresa verbalmente o impreso. Todo aumento de la apariencia de una duda sobre la línea oficial de que (a) Hitler estaba empeñado en conquistar el mundo y (b) la única forma de enfrentar la situación era tomar una línea “firme” y detenerlo, es incurrir automáticamente en la acusación de ser “pro-Hitler” o “pro-nazi”. De la misma manera, la “laguna histórica” opera hoy en la Guerra Fría; cualquier indicio de que el Soviet no es el único responsable de la Guerra Fría se enfrenta con el cargo de ser “procomunista” o “blando con el comunismo”. Todo esto es inmensamente ayudado por el viejo truco propagandístico de identificar la política interna de un Estado con su política exterior; pintar la política interna de un gobierno como lo suficientemente perversa (por ejemplo, Hitler, el comunismo) y los ignorantes y superficiales automáticamente aceptarán que este malvado gobierno debe ser culpable y únicamente culpable, de cualquier guerra o amenaza de guerra que pueda surgir y que por el contrario, los “buenos” Estados Unidos (o Gran Bretaña o Francia) serán excepcionalmente inocentes y virtuosos. En los Estados Unidos, incluso el revisionismo de Pearl Harbor solo podía luchar contra las pesadas y opresivas probabilidades y sus defensores podrían ser eliminados por el establishment como “meros periodistas” (Morgenstern, Chamberlin) o como antiguos aislacionistas y opositores de la entrada de Estados Unidos en la guerra (Barnes, Tansill , et al.) — aunque esto no fue una descalificación para el elogio más entusiasta prodigado a los ex aislacionistas renegados como Langer, Commager, et al. Y, el revisionismo de Pearl Harbor no ha enfrentado dificultades en comparación con el revisionismo de Hitler y Alemania — por el emocionalismo de guerra azotado aquí y en el extranjero contra Japón no fue nada comparado con el frenesí que se libró contra Alemania y contra Hitler. Aquí la laguna del frenesí propagandístico nacido de la guerra ha sido prácticamente total. Continue reading “Reseña de Los orígenes de la Segunda Guerra Mundial | Murray N. Rothbard”

The NAFTA Myth | Murray N. Rothbard

Rothbard’s essay on NAFTA, reprinted below, is available in the collection Making Economic Sense.


For some people, it seems, all you have to do to convince them of the free enterprise nature of something is to label it “market,” and so we have the spawning of such grotesque creatures as “market socialists” or “market liberals.” The word “freedom,” of course, is also a grabber, and so another way to gain adherents in an age that exalts rhetoric over substance is simply to call yourself or your proposal “free market” or “free trade.” Labels are often enough to nab the suckers.

And so, among champions of free trade, the label “North American Free Trade Agreement” (Nafta) is supposed to command unquestioning assent. “But how can you be against free trade?” It’s very easy. The folks who have brought us Nafta and presume to call it “free trade” are the same people who call government spending “investment,” taxes “contributions,” and raising taxes “deficit reduction.” Let us not forget that the Communists, too, used to call their system “freedom.”

In the first place, genuine free trade doesn’t require a treaty (or its deformed cousin, a “trade agreement”; Nafta is called a trade agreement so it can avoid the constitutional requirement of approval by two-thirds of the Senate). If the establishment truly wants free trade, all it has to do is to repeal our numerous tariffs, import quotas, anti-“dumping” laws, and other American-imposed restrictions on trade. No foreign policy or foreign maneuvering is needed.

If authentic free trade ever looms on the policy horizon, there’ll be one sure way to tell. The government/media/big-business complex will oppose it tooth and nail. We’ll see a string of op-eds “warning” about the imminent return of the 19th century. Media pundits and academics will raise all the old canards against the free market, that it’s exploitative and anarchic without government “coordination.” The establishment would react to instituting true free trade about as enthusiastically as it would to repealing the income tax. Continue reading “The NAFTA Myth | Murray N. Rothbard”

American Economy and the End of Laissez-Faire – 1 of 13 – The Civil War and Its Legacy

The American Economy and the End of Laissez-Faire: 1870 to World War II

1. The Civil War and Its Legacy
Lecture by Murray N. Rothbard

How does government intervene in the economy? What are the consequences? What are the motivations behind passing these interventions? The lives of the people involved explain why they do these things. Rothbard delves into the religious views of the leaders in American history to understand motivations. Schools, drink, and Sabbath laws were the focus of Yankees in Northern states for ninety years.

Lecture 1 of 13 presented in Fall of 1986 at the New York Polytechnic University.

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

Sourced from: https://mises.org/library/american-economy-and-end-laissez-faire-1870-world-war-ii

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American Economy and the End of Laissez-Faire – 2 of 13 – The Railroading of the American People

The American Economy and the End of Laissez-Faire: 1870 to World War II

2. The Railroading of the American People
Lecture by Murray N. Rothbard

The railroads experienced both enormous growth and enormous government intervention. Land was closed off from settlement, causing farmers to oppose the privileged railroads. Markets were skewed. Waste and inefficiencies were high. Graft and corruption were rampant. Only the Great Northern by James Hill was built with private monies. It became the of the few transcontinental railroads not to go bankrupt.

Lecture 2 of 13 presented in Fall of 1986 at the New York Polytechnic University.

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

Sourced from: https://mises.org/library/american-economy-and-end-laissez-faire-1870-world-war-ii

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American Economy and the End of Laissez-Faire – 3 of 13 – The Decline of Laissez-Faire

The American Economy and the End of Laissez-Faire: 1870 to World War II

3. The Decline of Laissez-Faire
Lecture by Murray N. Rothbard

Economics is a constant fight between the market and the government. The railroad cartel did not work against the free market even with ideal conditions. Airlines were tightly regulated until the small airlines began to compete in quality. Deregulation followed. Cleveland deviated from laissez-faire because of Morgan interests.

After the Civil War, manufacturing thrived – our own Industrial Revolution was underway. Prices fell. Savings rose. Capitalists owned the machinery so the workers no longer had to. The factory system enormously increased productivity.

Corporations are legitimate as libertarian entities. Industry made petroleum a natural resource.

Lecture 3 of 13 presented in Fall of 1986 at the New York Polytechnic University.

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Sourced from: https://mises.org/library/american-economy-and-end-laissez-faire-1870-world-war-ii

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American Economy and the End of Laissez-Faire – 4 of 13 – The Rise and Fall of Monopolies

The American Economy and the End of Laissez-Faire: 1870 to World War II

4. The Rise and Fall of Monopolies
Lecture by Murray N. Rothbard

Petroleum entered the industrial scene in 1859 with John D. Rockefeller’s hard work. As the first manufacturing corporation, Standard Oil created a monopoly in kerosene refining by buying others out. A huge drop in the price of fuel followed, benefiting consumers, due to production efficiencies. Rothbard, then, discusses pietists, prohibitionists and the big political shift of 1896.

Pietists, prohibitionists, anti-immigrationists, and women suffragettes had made a big Republican drive before 1890. But then a big, sudden shift in politics occurred, with Democrats capturing the big Midwest states, due to demographics of Germans, higher birth rates, anti-prohibitionists, and hard money standards. After this, the Republican party got more moderate and the Democratic party got captured by extreme pietists in 1896. The South became a fully Democratic region. The Panic of 1893 resulted in the loss of Democratic seats due to the depression. By 1896 Bryanites were taking over the party. German Lutherans, and Catholics became majority-party Republicans, leaving the Irish to become minority-party Democratic civil servants. This situation lasts until 1932. The parties become non-ideological. Statists prevailed.

Lecture 4 of 13 presented in Fall of 1986 at the New York Polytechnic University.

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

Sourced from: https://mises.org/library/american-economy-and-end-laissez-faire-1870-world-war-ii

Source: American Economy and the End of Laissez-Faire – 4 of 13 – The Rise and Fall of Monopolies – YouTube

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American Economy and the End of Laissez-Faire – 5 of 13 – Pietism and the Power Brokers

The American Economy and the End of Laissez-Faire: 1870 to World War II

5. Pietism and the Power Brokers
Lecture by Murray N. Rothbard

When pietists shift to the Republican party, they form the progressive movement of 1900-1920. Rockefeller- McKinley forms alliances with power brokers like Kuhn, Loeb & Co., and Harriman (versus the Morgans).

Teddy Roosevelt (Oyster Bay wing of the family) was financially in with the Morgans. The Panama Canal caper included a fake revolution in Panama in order to give more U.S. money to the French canal company, whose shares were owned by a Morgan group.

In industry, iron and steel found double protection through tariffs and greenback inflation. Morgan tried to establish cartels, but failed. The iron and steel companies then turned to government to do it for them- a progressive move.

Lecture 5 of 13 presented in Fall of 1986 at the New York Polytechnic University.

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

Sourced from: https://mises.org/library/american-economy-and-end-laissez-faire-1870-world-war-ii

Source: American Economy and the End of Laissez-Faire – 5 of 13 – Pietism and the Power Brokers – YouTube

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American Economy and the End of Laissez-Faire – 6 of 13 – Tariffs, Inflation, Anti Trust and Cartels

The American Economy and the End of Laissez-Faire: 1870 to World War II

6. Tariffs, Inflation, Anti-Trust and Cartels
Lecture by Murray N. Rothbard

The Sherman Act outlawed restraint of trade. The Clayton Act added to that. Anti-Trust hysteria came in the 1940-50s. Whatever you did would be considered monopolistic. The charges didn’t come from consumers, they came from whining competitors. It was government-enforced blackmail. The US leather industry was put out of business. The corn starch industry was put out of business. Retail cartels, enforced by the government, imposed artificially higher prices on products. It was the welfare state in action. Claims of economic privilege were whipped up by racial and ethnic claims.

Teddy Roosevelt is my least favorite person. He liked killing.

Lecture 6 of 13 presented in Fall of 1986 at the New York Polytechnic University.

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

Sourced from: https://mises.org/library/american-economy-and-end-laissez-faire-1870-world-war-ii

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American Economy and the End of Laissez-Faire – 7 of 13 – Theodore Roosevelt Master Reformer

The American Economy and the End of Laissez-Faire: 1870 to World War II

7. Theodore Roosevelt: Master Reformer
Lecture by Murray N. Rothbard

Assassinations in American are only by lone nuts. No one who benefits is ever suspected, like Lyndon Johnson. The progressive period saw a re-alliance of church and state – secularized extreme Pietism (Protestant sects) with government as savior by intervening in markets. Meat packing regulations and the Sugar Trust under Teddy Roosevelt, passed in June 1906. The myth was that the meat was diseased and people were dying of it. That was false. The big meat packers were asking for regulations because they wanted to sue their small competitors. The Pure Food and Drug Act was a prototype for the whole progressive movement toward purity of body, mind and soul. Adulteration only meant any change in the name of the sugar chemistry.

Lecture 7 of 13 presented in Fall of 1986 at the New York Polytechnic University.

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

Sourced from: https://mises.org/library/american-economy-and-end-laissez-faire-1870-world-war-ii

Source: American Economy and the End of Laissez-Faire – 7 of 13 – Theodore Roosevelt Master Reformer – YouTube

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