Fifty years ago this year, Murray N. Rothbard offered his thoughts onNational Review, the flagship magazine of American conservatism, which had commemorated its tenth anniversary in late 1965.
He went on to tell the full story in The Betrayal of the American Right, at once an intellectual history and a memoir.
Murray’s primary complaint: what had once been a movement skeptical of or opposed to overseas adventurism and empire-building had now, under the influence of editor Bill Buckley, come to be defined by those very things.
In Buckley’s infamous formulation, it would be necessary to erect a “totalitarian bureaucracy” within our shores in order to battle communism abroad. The implication was that once the communist menace subsided, this extraordinary effort, domestic and foreign, could likewise diminish.
Since government programs do not have a habit of diminishing but instead seek new justifications when the old ones no longer exist, few of us were surprised when the warfare state, and its right-wing apologists, hummed right along after its initial rationale vanished from history.
As it turns out, by the way, the Soviet threat was grossly exaggerated, as such threats always are. The wickedness of the Soviet regime was never in doubt, but its capabilities and intentions were consistently distorted and overblown.