Wednesday, March 7, 2012


Lew Rockwell has done yeoman's working covering the Crane-Koch battle over the Cato Institute.

Today, Ed Crane fired back at the Kochs in a "Save Cato" statement.  In the statement, he lists a number of web sites reporting on the power opera, but no mention of

LRC has reported left, right and center takes on the battle. Most important, LRC has presented the backstory on Cato and the original illegal purge of Murray Rothbard. Why doesn't Crane mention LRC?

Since the Rothbard purge was because of Murray's principled stand for independence, integrity, nonpartisanship, and commitment to libertarian principles (See David Gordon and Murray himself), is Crane having a little trouble pointing to the full story, since Crane led the purge of Murray?

In his statement, Crane says his battle against the Kochs is based on " independence, integrity, nonpartisanship, and commitment to libertarian principles."  This is the basis on which Rothbard objected to his purge from Cato.

And get a load of this from Crane:
The Kochs' goal is not to improve the stature nor effectiveness of the organization, but rather, to turn a venerable, independent and effective nonpartisan institution into yet another political arm of their vast empire.
This is exactly what Murray argued Crane was doing to Cato, when he was purged. He wrote a letter to Crane that in part said: criticisms of yourself had nothing to do with the Cato Institute, but were solely directed toward your activities in the Libertarian Party, a period when you were on leave from the Cato Institute. I have spent a long time trying to disassociate the Cato Institute from the Libertarian Party... And yet you dare to judge my competence as a Cato board member solely on the basis of a strictly partisan political dispute between us! Since you are now supposedly out of politics, I would expect that the entire question had become moot. The critics of the Cato Institute have been saying for a long time that we are merely a front for the Libertarian Party. Are you proposing to prove them right?
Murray wrote in his report on the purge:
 Crane & Co. must be made to understand that the libertarian movement is after all an ideological movement. And so there must be at least some libertarians who hold their ideology dear, who will not be bought, who will not bend the knee to a new set of Masters even if they don't yet call themselves the State. If there is any justice left on this earth, the libertarian movement cannot and will not be run like a giant corporation. We will brook no "chain of command" that rides roughshod over rights and even over human decency. The movement is too big for any set of power-hungry villains to control... For while Cato has done many good things, the reality of the Cato Institute was unfortunately all too different. And much of that difference can be laid squarely at the door of its President, Ed Crane.
So now, Crane proposes to tell us that the battle for control of Cato is about principle? Puhleeze. This is a power battle. The Kochs and Crane will say or do anything to gain control. If it would help Crane gain control of Cato by posing as a transvestite from India, you would see him in the morning with a dress on and a dot on his forehead.


  1. Years ago when a friend and I were Cato interns, that friend proposed as a prank to put a bust of Murray Rothbard on Ed Crane's desk. Perhaps now is a fitting time to send Ed Crane a bust of Rothbard.

  2. Some observer thought it was good that Yaron Brook was hanging around talking to Ed Crane a couple of years back. Brook is a mixed by from my pov but at least he tries to be consistent (as he sees it). Since ARI-type Randians despise libertarians, either Brook has lost his mind or he doesn't see Crane as a libertarian.

    I guess we have that in common.

  3. I learned a lot reading papers put out by the Cato Institute, but I stopped supporting Cato during the run-up to the second Iraq war. Cato's position on it was over-nuanced to a tortured degree. Their position was that an invasion of Iraq might be 'counterproductive' in the "war on terrorism."

    It was a seductive position in that it felt like it had a chance to influence policy makers, who, one presumed, were genuinely concerned about such things. But thanks to cites like, I was perfectly aware that the 'war on terror' was complete propagandistic garbage that put even Hermann Goering to shame.

    That's when it hit me that the system (establishment, matrix, simulacra, whatever) doesn't care how much fighting there is about the system as long as the system's existence itself is never challenged. The system outright welcomes attempts to 'influence' it because all such attempts presume the system's legitimacy in some 'realpolitik' sense.

    That's when I switched from being an apologetic anarcho-capitalist libertarian to an unapologetic anarcho-capitalist libertarian. The real purpose of the Cato Institute was to reinforce the Randian myth that our prosperity hung on the outcome of the battle between corporations and the government--to obfuscate the symbiotic relationship between corporations and the government.

  4. #Reinstate Rothbard

  5. Unfortunately,

    This is precisely why I have never been able to subscribe to full anarchic politics. While I agree with most every stipulation of the benefits of a world without government, I observe that every group of humans I have ever beheld - even ardent libertarians - use their influence to establish privilege and institutionalize it if they can.

    Privilege cannot be institutionalized without a monopolizing force.

    A monopoly of force makes... a government.

    My typical description of my preference for minarchy:

    I love Anarchy and Unicorns. Both are so free, beautiful, and rare. How could they not be the most valuable of things? It's a pity they are imaginary.

    But while vivid my typical description doesn't get to the heart of the matter.

    Anarchy is the natural condition to which every human is born, and from which humans for thousands of years have produced...statism.

    The CATO controversy, Rothbard's ejection, Crane's likely ejection, and the Libertarian Party are all perfect examples of what people do given a trifling of influence; they trample each others' property in a power struggle from which to institutionalize their personal dominance.

    1. The beauty of civil society (without the institution of coercion) is that while such petty dictators may very well achieve dominance within their own little worlds, such as Bill Gates or Steve Jobs, their influence ends at the door.

      No matter how powerful Apple or Microsoft become, they cannot compel anyone to buy their products or services. So their efforts must be turned to better serving their customers than anyone else in order for them to prosper.

      The only difference between your view and mine is that I don't view the institution of coercion as a given.

      You may be correct about the end result, where enough people "obey" in a voluntary society to create yet another institution of coercion, but at least it won't be prima facie _wrong_ to exercise self defense against them when they try.

    2. If I may paraphrase: I love minarchy and unicorns. Both are so free, beautiful and rare. How could they not be the most valuable of things? It's a pity they are both imaginary.

      "A monopoly of force makes...a government." So we need a monopoly of force to prevent people from...what? Assaulting and robbing one another,ie.,force. Handing certain people a monopoly of force to prevent force? Be very afraid.

  6. El Gordo,

    Do tell how, from the observation that humans can be bastards, you come to the conclusion that some of these humans must therefore be given the monopoly right to coerce.

    At first blush, it would seem to be a position wholly devoid of any sense whatsoever, but maybe you have stumbled upon some form of enlightenment heretofore unknown to Mankind. Do tell.