In the Mises Institute forum post entitled Lyndon Larouche's Mises-Hayek conspiracy theories, a poster named Aragon notes, in part, that one of the accusations against the Austrian School of Economics is that the Austrian School is a "front" for the Central Intelligence Agency or CIA. "The National Review is considered the most influential CIA publication. It consistently puffs Jean Kirkpatrick, Milton Friedman, and other cognoscenti of the intelligence community and the Viennese School of Economics" (emphasis mine). What this argument is trying to say is simply that Murray N. Rothbard was a "puppet" for the Central Intelligence Agency.
Did Murray N. Rothbard work for the CIA-publication called the National Review? The answer is unequivocally yes. Was the National Review really a CIA-publication in the first place?
According to Dr. Hans-Hermann Hoppe, the CIA did fund the National Review. Hoppe writes in his book Democracy: The God That Failed (p. 190, footnote 3, paragraph 2) that
a second, somewhat older but nowadays almost indistinguishable branch of contemporary American conservatism is represented by the new (post World War II) conservatism launched and promoted, with the assistance of the CIA, by William Buckley and his National Review. Whereas the old (pre-World War II) American conservatism had been characterized by decidedly anti-interventionist (isolationist) foreign policy views, the trademark of Buckley's new conservatism has been its rabid militarism and interventionist foreign policy. (bold emphasis mine; italics in the original)There is also no question that Murray N. Rothbard did, in fact, work for the National Review and for William or Bill Buckley. We know that Rothbard worked for the National Review because he speaks quite candidly about his role in the organization. Rothbard himself was quite aware of the fact that he was working for the CIA. Rothbard writes in his book The Betrayal of the American Right that the CIA was pulling pretty much all the strings at the National Review:
We should now ask whether or not a major objective of National Review from its inception was to transform the right wing from an isolationist to global warmongering anti-Communist movement; and, particularly, whether or not the entire effort was in essence a CIA operation. We now know that Bill Buckley, for the two years prior to establishing National Review, was admittedly a CIA agent in Mexico City, and that the sinister E. Howard Hunt was his control. His sister Priscilla, who became managing editor of National Review, was also in the CIA; and other editors James Burnham and Willmoore Kendall had at least been recipients of CIA largesse in the anti-Communist Congress for Cultural Freedom. In addition, Burnham has been identified by two reliable sources as a consultant for the CIA in the years after World War II. (168)Rothbard also speaks quite openly about the role he played at the National Review. Rothbard, writing about himself, observes that
National Review's image of me was that of a lovable though Utopian libertarian purist who, however, must be kept strictly confined to propounding laissez-faire economics, to which National Review had a kind of residual rhetorical attachment....But above all I was supposed to stay out of political matters and leave to the warmongering ideologues of National Review the gutsy real-world task of defending me from the depredations of world Communism, and allowing me the luxury of spinning Utopias about private fire-fighting services. I was increasingly unwilling to play that kind of a castrate role. (177)Common sense tells me that something is rotten here in our metaphorical State of Denmark. The issue of "shared confession" plays a predominant role in this type of "conspiracy theory" research. As serious historical researchers, we must look for "a shared world view" and for "shared ideas." In fact, Gary North explains, in his article Writing Conspiracy History: Lists Are Not Enough, the correct procedure for doing historical research in a "conspiracy theory" type setting:
There are many levels of association, dependence, and interaction among political groups and activist organizations. What matters most is shared confessions, not shared money. Shared ideas, not a long list of names on the yellowing letterhead stationery of a short-lived, peripheral, one-man organization like the Religious Roundtable, are what matters.
Serious historical research involves more than collecting membership lists and letterhead lists from old archives or Web-based data bases. The researcher must ask himself: "So what?" He must show that the connections have to do with a shared worldview and shared sources of funding, especially funding by an organization or a family with an identifiable agenda that stretches across two generations or more. (bold emphasis mine)So, is there a "shared worldview" or "shared ideas" between the National Review and Rothbard? From Rothbard's own discussion above, the National Review saw him as "lovable though Utopian libertarian purist" who was "strictly confined" to "safe topics." But on the core issue--i.e., on foreign policy--ROTHBARD AND THE NATIONAL REVIEW STRONGLY DISAGREE. The National Review became an advocate of "rabid militarism and interventionist foreign policy." The obvious question to ask is: did Rothbard support militarism or an interventionist foreign policy? The simple answer is NO, he did not. Some evidence to support this conclusion can be found in David Gordon's article entitled Rothbard against War. Gordon writes of a Rothbard who not only intellectually disagrees with the National Review but also openly opposes their policies. Gordon writes of Rothbard's strong stand against the National Review and the Cold War:
Although Rothbard was an early contributor to William Buckley's National Review, he rejected the aggressive pursuit of the Cold War advocated by Buckley and such members of his editorial staff as James Burnham and Frank S. Meyer. He broke with these self-styled conservatives and thereafter became one of their strongest opponents. (bold emphasis mine)
One attempt to explain this "bizarre" relationship between the pro-militarist and statist National Review and the anti-militarist and anarchist Rothbard is to use what I am calling the 2-Stage Hypothesis of Foundation Funding mentioned by Daniel McCarthy in his National Review Isn't Right. McCarthy writes explicitly about this 2-Stage Hypothesis when he describes the history of Rothbard's relationship with the National Review. The basic sequence of events for a NEW Foundation is (1)Stage 1: hire big names in order to build credibility for the new foundation, (2)purge the undesirables in order to transition into Stage 2; (3)Stage 2: now launch the "real" politically motivated agenda:
Was there ever a time when National Review was conservative? Certainly conservatives were once published in its pages, especially in the early years when National Review was seeking to establish itself as the voice of the American Right and American conservatives were in desperate need of a journal. But once National Review had counterfeited its credentials it soon began to purge anyone on the Right who disagreed with its line, from the John Birch Society to Murray Rothbard, and later Joseph Sobran.... Having slandered most of its rivals on the Right as kooks or anti-Semites, National Review can now afford to be more open about its imperial agenda. (bold emphasis mine in order to highlight the process: first credibility building, then purging of heretics, and finally real agenda launching, i.e., coming out of the closet in favor of American imperialism)To summarize, the 2-Stage Hypothesis of Foundation Funding is:
- Hire famous names in order to build credibility for the new Foundation
- After purging the heretics (who were hired in Stage 1), launch the "real" political agenda
The RF [Rockefeller Foundation] started funding Mises because he was already a major representative of Viennese intellectual life. Mises was part of the European intellectual establishment before he received financial support from US financial aristocracy. Like all new private research institutions, the RF first tried to hop into bed with the already existing scientific establishment to prop up its own reputation [or get the credibility it needs as the new kid on the block]. Only in a second step did the RF (and similar organizations) try to steer the scientific agenda according to its own political and philosophical prejudices. When they proceeded from Step One to Step Two, there was no more place for Mises precisely because his views were unacceptable to RF. (bold emphasis mine)Summarizing Woods's discussion:
- The Rockefeller Foundation as the new foundation (just as the National Review was the new voice of conservatives back during the Cold War) hires a famous name, Mises, in order to build up the Foundation's credibility and reputation.
- Mises gets purged (fired) when the Foundation proceeds from Step One to Step Two. Mises is the heretic who got purged. Then the real "steered scientific agenda" comes out into the open.