The American commentator and journalist Llewellyn Harrison Rockwell, Jr., who turns seventy on July 1, is one of the leaders of the libertarian world. Few others are so uncompromising in their criticism of government interventions into citizens’ private lives, of taxes, of government welfare and government education. Hardly anyone combines this criticism so consistently with the condemnation of foreign policy interference in the affairs of other countries. Hardly anyone has offered so comprehensively private alternatives, for example in the areas of medicine, nutrition and safety in the neighborhood, where, according to Rockwell’s opinion, the state has totally failed.
The former publishing house employee became known in the 1980s through his newsletter The Rothbard-Rockwell-Report. Its range enlarged enormously through the internet. Since 1999, he has published the internet magazine lewrockwell.com (LRC). Here, an assortment of authors publishes articles daily except Sundays under the slogan “anti-state, anti-war, pro market” – which is the website’s subtitle. LRC, one of whose contributors is the unconventional German economist Hans-Hermann Hoppe (JF 45/12), is one of the most widely read libertarian websites in the world and ranks among the most popular 10,000 of all categories.
“Lew,” as his friends call him, has only contempt for the state-friendly media. He recently expelled a New York Times reporter from the site of his Ludwig von Mises Institute in Alabama, telling him he was “part of the regime”. This institute, which was founded by Rockwell in 1982 and is run by him to this day, includes twenty senior fellows and seventy associated scholars. It is named after the strictly free market economist, who died in 1973, and who is the most important representative of the so-called Austrian School (AS). It advocates the radical shrinkage of the state. The mission of the Institute is the promotion of “classical liberalism”, specifically and explicitly under the banner of this school of thought. Any attempt to do good with government funds leads, according to the AS to side effects, which the state again feels called to fix: Until it becomes a juggernaut outwardly aggressive and inwardly surveilling and regulating everything.
The state is the “greatest worldly enemy of humanity,” says Rockwell, a Catholic. Although the Tea Party movement is not quite as radical: Without Rockwell’s journalistic groundwork their electoral success would probably have been probably smaller. The growing skepticism of his countrymen against foreign missions – as in the case of Syria – may also be at least partly attributable to Rockwell.
Maybe that’s his biggest success so far.