Traditionalist Catholics are typically not fans of Murray Rothbard. And yet as I read more of his work, I find more reasons to appreciate Rothbard’s insights into political theory, which I believe were shaped by a deeper appreciation for the Catholic political and philosophical tradition than some are willing to admit. It is easy to see Rothbard as nothing more than a secular Jewish atheist who opposed “the Old Order” and supported unrestricted personal liberty. And yet he spent his final years advocating for Pat Buchanan’s presidential run and his socially conservative platform.
That there is an affinity for Catholicism in Rothbard’s thought is not surprising. He identifies the Catholic countries, above all Austria, as the originators of subjective-utility economics, while Protestant countries such as Britain developed more labor-centric economic theories. The Catholic tradition had identified consumption (in moderation) as a worthwhile activity and goal; the Calvinist tradition emphasized hard labor as the primary good and consumption as a necessary evil at best. He writes:
Conversely, it is no accident that the Austrian School, the major challenge to the Smith-Ricardo vision, arose in a country that was not only solidly Catholic, but whose values and attitudes were still heavily influenced by Aristotelian and Thomist thought. The German precursors of the Austrian School flourished, not in Protestant and anti-Catholic Prussia, but in those German states that were either Catholic or were politically allied to Austria rather than Prussia.
Sigh. I hate this. I really do. I was going to write more about populism, but a recent angry outburst directed at me prompted this instead.
I hate having to clarify a position that will likely cause at least some people who agree with me on 95% of issues to become my embittered, mortal enemies over the remaining 5%. But I’m just the sort of guy who must perpetually set the record straight. Don’t blame me, blame my personality.
I agree with Ron Paul and Pat Buchanan on American foreign policy. So do a lot of the troops, by the way – the people who actually have to fight America’s wars gave more money to Ron Paul than to any other GOP candidate during the 2007-08 primaries (please don’t listen to people who factor in McCain’s contributions after April of ’08, when Paul withdrew from the race).
This is to say, I support an non-interventionist (not “isolationist”) foreign policy. I will give you four reasons why.