Libertarianism Wiki
Lew Rockwell
Born Llewellyn Harrison Rockwell, Jr.
(1944-07-01) 1, 1944 (age 78)
Boston, Massachusetts
Nationality United States
Occupation Political commentator, activist, blogger
Influenced by Henry Hazlitt, Robert Taft, Garet Garrett, John T. Flynn, Albert Jay Nock, H.L. Mencken, Frank Chodorov, Charles C. Tansill, Carl Menger, Ludwig von Mises, Murray Rothbard
Religion Roman Catholic
Spouse(s) Mardelle Rockwell

Llewellyn Harrison "Lew" Rockwell, Jr. (born July 1, 1944) is an American libertarian political commentator, activist, proponent of the Austrian School of economics, and chairman/CEO of the Ludwig von Mises Institute.

Life and work[]

Rockwell was born in Boston, Massachusetts in 1944. His father was a "Taft Republican", and Rockwell was exposed at a young age to military non-interventionism.[1] He was introduced to the laissez faire thought of the French Liberal and Austrian schools of economics when he received Henry Hazlitt's Economics in One Lesson as a gift from a family friend on his twelfth birthday.[1] Later in his youth, Rockwell describes feeling alienated from mainstream conservatism,

"Over time, I became aware that I was not only dissenting from the left but also from the conservative establishment, which was embroiled in the Cold War as a first principle. I grew increasingly skeptical of the official right, especially during the war on Vietnam.... I had been a reluctant Goldwaterite in 1964, but by 1968 I worked briefly for Gene McCarthy."[1]

Early career in publishing[]

After college, Rockwell went to work for Neil McCaffrey's Arlington House publishing company which had been founded in 1965. At Arlington House, Rockwell worked as an editor on books by authors including Bill Rickenbacker, Harry Browne, George Roche, and Henry Hazlitt. There he became acquainted with the works of Ludwig von Mises.[1]

In the mid-1970s Rockwell went to work at Hillsdale College.[1] George Roche had become president of the college in 1971.[2] In his time at Hillsdale College, Rockwell started the Hillsdale College Press, founded the school's monthly publication, Imprimis, and worked in fundraising and public relations.[1] Gary North praises Rockwell for successfully borrowing Leonard Read's methods in creating Imprimis:

"He applied Read's strategy when he launched Imprimis for Hillsdale College. The president of Hillsdale, George Roche, had worked for Read until he became president at Hillsdale in 1971. (I replaced Roche at FEE.) He wanted The Freeman for Hillsdale, but of course could not get it. So, he hired Rockwell to start Imprimis. Hillsdale gives the newsletter away. As with The Freeman, the letter is based on ideas, not appeals for donations. This became the most financially successful fund-raising newsletter in history, raising several hundred million dollars for Hillsdale. It now has over 1.7 million subscribers. It is the college's lifeline." [3]

Rockwell met Murray Rothbard for the first time in 1975, while working for Hillsdale. Rockwell credits Rothbard with convincing him to reject statism completely:

"It was clear to me at the time that Murray Rothbard was Mises's successor, and I followed his writings carefully. I first met him in 1975, and knew immediately that he was a kindred spirit.... I cannot remember the day that I finally came around to the position that the state is unnecessary and destructive by its nature – that it cannot improve on, and indeed only destroys, the social and economic system that grows out of property rights, exchange, and natural social authority – but I do know that it was Rothbard who finally convinced me to take this last step." [1]

Working for Ron Paul[]

Main article: Ron Paul

Rockwell served as Ron Paul's congressional chief of staff from 1978 to 1982.[4][5] He has maintained a working relationship with Paul over the years, as a contributing editor to "The Ron Paul Investment Letter";[6] as a consultant to Paul's 1988 Libertarian Party campaign for President of the United States;[7] and as vice-chair of the exploratory committee for Paul's run for the 1992 Republican Party nomination for president.[8]

In 2008, libertarian publication Reason published stories discussing several racially charged articles that appeared in Ron Paul newsletters c. 1989–1994. One Reason piece asserted that "a half-dozen longtime libertarian activists—including some still close to Paul" had identified Rockwell as the "chief ghostwriter" of the newsletters. . According to Reason, Rockwell denied responsibility for the disputed material and called the accusations "hysterical smears aimed at political enemies."[9] The issue arose again during the 2012 Ron Paul presidential campaign with publications like the The Atlantic and the New York Times detailing Rockwell's possible involvement.[10][11]

Ludwig von Mises Institute[]

Main article: Ludwig von Mises Institute

In 1982, Rockwell founded the Ludwig von Mises Institute in Auburn, Alabama and was its president until the summer of 2009, when he transitioned to the position of Chairman of the Board.[12] He also is Vice President of the Center for Libertarian Studies in Burlingame, California and publisher of the political weblog Rockwell was closely associated with his teacher and colleague Murray Rothbard until Rothbard's death in 1995. Rockwell's political ideology, like Rothbard's in his later years, combines a form of anarcho-capitalism with cultural conservatism and the Austrian School of economics. He also advocates federalist concepts as a means of promoting freedom from central government, and also advocates secession for the same political decentralist reasons. Rockwell has called environmentalism "[a]n ideology as pitiless and Messianic as Marxism."[13]

The Mises Institute published Rockwell's Speaking of Liberty, an anthology of editorials which were originally published on his website, along with transcripts from some of his speaking engagements. Rockwell and the Ludwig von Mises Institute together publish the Journal of Libertarian Studies.

File:Blumert Rockwell Gordon Rothbard.jpg

Burton Blumert, Rockwell, economist and philosopher David Gordon, and Murray Rothbard.


Main article: Paleolibertarianism

In 1985, Rockwell was named a contributing editor to Conservative Digest.[14] During the 1990s Rothbard, Rockwell and others described their views as paleolibertarian,[15] but Rockwell no longer uses the term to describe his ideas.[16] Jean Hardisty, founder of Political Research Associates, wrote in 1999 that Rockwell was one of the most influential proponents of the paleoconservative faction of "right-wing libertarianism."[17][]

Main article:

Rockwell's website features a selection of articles, including positions opposing war and imperialism along with support for Austrian economics.. The site also carries essays which argue against the participation of the United States in the Second World War, speculation about an end of the United States as a cohesive union, and assertions the Western world is threatened by an intersection of fascism and socialism as politicians and states centralize their power.[18][19][20] These writings are sometimes controversial and have brought harsh criticism from some on the political right.[21][22] The website also provides podcasts featuring Rockwell's interviews of various scholars and writers, including many affiliated with the Mises Institute. He also hosts a blog for himself and other contributors at





  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 Doherty, Brian. "Libertarianism and the Old Right.", 1999. Orig. published by 12 May 1999.
  2. Michaelson, Mark G. "Remembering George Roche.", The American Spectator, 12 May 2006.
  3. North, Gary. "How Lew Rockwell Copied Leonard E. Read and Took Over the Libertarian Movement." 26 May 2009. [1]
  4. Berlau, John. Now playing right field – Rep. Ron Paul – Interview Insight on the News. 10 February 1997.
  5. Hayes, Christopher, The Nation, Ron Paul's Roots, 6 December 2007, retrieved 14 January 2008
  6. "The Ron Paul Investment Letter," Volume 3, Number 3, March 1987
  7. "Campaign staffs announced", LPNEWS, May/June 1987, 10
  8. Burton Blumert, "Ron Paul for President Exploratory Committee" fundraising letter, October 1, 1991.
  9. Reason: Matt Welch, "Old News"? "Rehashed for Over a Decade"?, January 11, 2008 and Sanchez, Julian and Weigel, David, Who Wrote Ron Paul's Newsletters?, January 16, 2008.
  10. Jim Kirchick, The Story Behind Ron Paul's Racist Newsletters, The Atlantic, December 21, 2011.
  11. Jim Rutenberg, Serge F. Kovaleski, Paul Disowns Extremists’ Views but Doesn’t Disavow the Support, New York Times, December 25, 2011.
  12. About the Mises Institute page at Ludwig von Mises Institute website.
  13. Rockwell, L. H., Jr. (1990). "An anti-environmentalist manifesto." From The Right, Quarterly II, 1(6), 1. (newsletter of Patrick J. Buchanan), p. 1; Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr. Rockwell's Anti-Environmentalist Manifesto, May 1, 2000 version published by
  14. Berlet, Chip. The Write Stuff: U. S. Serial Print Culture from Conservatives out to Neonazis, Library Trends – Volume 56, Number 3, Winter 2008, pp. 570–600.
  15. Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr. "The Case for Paleo-libertarianism" in Liberty magazine, January, 1990, 34–38.
  16. Do You Consider Yourself a Libertarian?, Kenny Johnsson interviews Lew Rockwell for The Liberal Post, as posted on LewRockwell.Com, May 25, 2007.
  17. Hardisty, Jean V. 1999. Mobilizing Resentment: Conservative Resurgence from the John Birch Society to the Promise Keepers. Boston: Beacon, pp. 170–178.
  18. Rogers, Mike. "Dying For the Emperor? No Way." 12 October 2005. [2]
  19. Gonella, Jason. "The Decline and Fall of the United States Empire." 9 December 2004 [3]
  20. DiLorenzo, Thomas J. "Economic Fascism" 23 November 2004. [4]
  21. Laksin, Jacob. "The Right's Left Turn." FrontPageMag. 5 October 2005. [5]
  22. Goldberg, Jonah. "Farewell, Lew Rockwell: The final word." National Review Online. 7 March 2001. [6]

External links[]


Template:Austrian economists Template:History of economic thought Template:Navboxes

Template:Template other