The Betrayal of the American Right

Murray Rothbard in his Betrayal of the American Right gives the history of the “right” side of the political spectrum and how it changed in the twentieth century. The “extremists” of the Old Right were Isolationist Libertarians who opposed the economics of the New Deal and the foreign policy that sought to involve us in wars to save the British, French, and Spanish empires. These men included Howard Buffett, Frank Chodorov, Garet Garrett, Robert McCormick, and Robert A. Taft.

Rothbard was an undergraduate at Columbia University during World War II while his libertarian and non-interventionist views continued to solidify. This work is extremely helpful to any who may not know that there is another side to the story during those years. Rothbard gives a very first hand account during many of the events covered in the book as he speaks about the groups he was with and the reasons he was with them. It is refreshing as he continues to give admissions of where he feels his and his friends were wrong and the reasons they were wrong.

Anyone that doesn’t have a complete familiarity with the political spectrum of ideas from the 1930s to the 1960s will be motivated to expand upon this book and become familiar with the many sides of the debates mentioned. Rothbard’s extreme peace position can be shocking at first but does bring to mind many questions. Why does the establishment and all of its surrogates never question any of the many wars that we have been involved in? Was going to war really the only answer or was it the best option for the military-industrial complex and an economy that is largely dependent on this? In addition to the peace question is the economics questions and the very clear understanding that our economy is not even close to a true laissez-faire capitalism.

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