Saturday, March 2, 2019

The Cato Institute's "libertarian success story"

The Academy Is Unstable and Degrading. Historians Should Take Over the Government, Instead. - The Chronicle of Higher Education - Daniel Bessner:

February 27, 2019 - "What does it mean to be a public intellectual? When scholars discuss this question, they generally assume that the primary path to publicness is to engage with a mass audience.... But there is a second way that scholars, particularly those who identify with the social-democratic left, should contribute to public life: by engaging with state institutions through participation in the intellectual technostructure — think tanks, policy schools, university centers — that since World War II has shaped U.S. policy....

"The history of libertarianism, the most influential radical movement in modern U.S. history, ... indicates that intellectuals can effect significant change by working within the strictures of the American political system.... Just 70 years ago, libertarians stood on the fringes of American politics; in the last two decades, however, they have exerted a profound impact on public policy....

"The history of libertarianism’s ascent begins with Murray Rothbard, an economist who ... is today largely forgotten.... Rothbard encountered the radical free-market ideas of the Austrian exile Ludwig von Mises. Specifically, Mises’s influential Human Action (1949) inspired Rothbard to develop a political theory he dubbed 'anarcho-capitalism,' which combined anarchist philosophy with a capitalist faith in free markets.

"Rothbard spent his life spreading the libertarian gospel and organizing the budding libertarian movement. One of his most clever moves was to frame libertarianism as a fundamentally American ideology. As Rothbard argued in his For a New Liberty (1973), the American Revolution was "explicitly libertarian'... The tragedy of American history was that various events, from the Louisiana Purchase to the Civil War to the New Deal, betrayed the revolution.... For Rothbard, the goal of libertarianism was to return the nation to its supposedly anti-statist roots.

"In 1977 Rothbard helped found the Cato Institute with the aid of Edward Crane, a libertarian operative, and Charles Koch, a right-wing billionaire. Cato quickly developed the two-pronged strategy that still guides it today. First, per Rothbard’s vision, Cato seeks ... 'to identify and develop the future leaders, thinkers, advocates, and supporters of the libertarian movement, thereby promoting the principles of individual liberty, limited government, free markets, and peace'.... Second, Cato embraces the perspective of Crane and Koch, who wanted the think tank to affect public policy directly by producing expert reports and lobbying congresspeople and other politicians. By combining Rothbardian notions of public education with Cranian ideas of policy advocacy, Cato has brought libertarianism to the center of American politics and, according to the University of Pennsylvania’s Think Tanks and Civil Societies program, has become one of the United States’ most influential think tanks, particularly in the areas of economic, education, and social policy.

"Cato’s success has a lot to teach socialist intellectuals. At the most general level, it demonstrates the importance of not limiting intellectuals’ activities to any one sphere.... Specifically, Cato’s history and present influence suggest that think tanks are critical means to develop, promote, and spread ideas that currently stand outside the mainstream. It might therefore be useful for left-wing intellectuals to create avowedly socialist think tanks."

Read more:
'via Blog this'

No comments:

Post a Comment