From his perch at the Ludwig Von Mises Institute in Auburn, Alabama, Llewellyn Rockwell has quietly and without fanfare carried on a thirty-year war to unseat competing versions of libertarianism, to dethrone neo-conservatives, and to resurrect the Old Right. The moment he has been awaiting may have finally arrived via the unlikely vehicle of the Ron Paul presidential campaign.
At age 67, Llewellyn Rockwell (Lew to his friends) fancies himself a man of ideas, rather in the mold cast by his father, a Boston-area surgeon. “He wasn’t a whiner,” Rockwell says of his father. “He was a man of the Old Right…an admirer of Robert Taft, not least because of his non-interventionist foreign policy.” Rockwell cites the death of his older brother in Roosevelt’s “deliberate war,” and makes no bones about his own isolationist and anti-war beliefs. (He even worked briefly for Senator Eugene McCarthy’s 1968 presidential campaign in protest of the Vietnam War.) Among his other affiliations, today he is an advisor to Justin Raimondo’s AntiWar.com, which features such far-right luminaries as Pat Buchanan. [i]
Rockwell considers himself to be a “paleo-libertarian” — a species of political dinosaur that works to undo most of the changes in civil and human rights that have occurred since 1929.
It is Rockwell’s long and close association with Ron Paul, however, that sets him apart. Rockwell served as Paul’s Washington-based Congressional chief of staff from 1978 to 1982. When Paul ran for president on the Libertarian Party ticket in 1988, Rockwell became vice chairman of the campaign. Rockwell also worked in various editorial capacities for the Ron Paul Investment Letter. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Rockwell served as vice-president of Ron Paul & Associates, which published two additional newsletters. Because of the nasty bigotry and unrepentant racism found in those publications, they have become a public issue.
Of course, Paul has denied he wrote the offensive material in question; but at one point, he admitted that he is “morally responsible” for what had appeared under his name. But now, even that level of acknowledgment seems to be absent. Reporters cite a number of sources that pin Rockwell as the source of the newsletters’ vitriol, yet they also note Rockwell’s continuing denial of authorship. So the writer of the racist “Ron Paul” material remains formally unacknowledged — a trick that any other presidential candidate would find impossible to pull off.
Despite Rockwell’s denials, a fellow libertarian, Ed Crane, founder of the Washington-based Cato Institute, confirmed his status as a bigot publicly many years ago. Crane cited the “intolerant attitudes among people like … Rockwell, in ethnic and cultural matters, and even on the question of sexual diversity,” in the November 1990 edition of Liberty.
Rockwell and Paul have long shared an affinity for the John Birch Society, the legendary conspiracy-minded outfit that has enjoyed a re-birth as part of the Tea Party-inspired opposition to President Obama. Rockwell served as a contributing editor of the Bircher magazine, The New American, for most of the 1990s, while Paul was listed as a contributing editor of the periodical in 1987. The Texas Congressman has maintained his admiration for the Birchers, giving a congratulatory speech at a Texas regional conference as recently as August 2009.
Meanwhile, Rockwell and his Von Mises Institute have undergirded Ron Paul’s steadfast adherence to the ideas that guide his campaign today.