William Marina, R.I.P.


Anti-imperial and early American historian and libertarian fellow traveler William Marina has died. A celebration from fellow historian David Beito at the History News Network:

I was first introduced to Bill about twenty years ago by his friend Leonard Liggio. We had a wonderful lunch discussion about American history including his dissertation on the American Anti-Imperialist League. Of all the anti-imperialists, he had the kindest words for U.S. Senator William Borah, an insurgent progressive who opposed empire.

As I grew to know Bill a bit better, I could see that his admiration for Borah made perfect sense. Like many of the insurgents, Bill was suspicious of all forms of militarism, imperialism, and bigness in any form, whether private or public. Bill had strong libertarian inclinations but was best described as a decentralist. He was very much an independent thinker and full of surprises.

In our conversations, I consistently found Bill to be a source of infectious enthusiasm. He described himself as a Taoist and that too made sense when you got to know him. He had an upbeat, but somewhat fatalistic, attitude toward passing events. He was a wealth of insights on such varied issues as the history of bureaucracy, Chinese traditions of localism, the need to promote alternative forms of higher education outside of the universities, and sustainable housing.

Because of his experiences as a Fulbright Scholar and economist for the U.S. Joint Economic Committee, he had many illustrative stories about the corrupting influence of foreign aid and the military-industrial complex.

A 1975 essay by Marina on the American revolution as a people's war. The archive of Marina's contributions on contemporary foreign policy issues for LewRockwell.com.


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  1. Libertarian fellow traveler? You guys really are the commies of the right.

    1. What?!! “commies of the right”? You must have been snorting mud when you wrote this comment.

  2. Libertarian fellow traveler? You guys really are the commies of the right.

    I don’t get it.

  3. I saw a talk by Bill marina at some Florida LP do in the early eighties. He had run for State Commissioner of Education in ’82 (I think it was) as an independent since the LP had a harder time with ballot access in those days.

    Then he seemed to lose interest in the LP (like a lot of others, including me – it just took me longer) and I didn’t hear much about him any more.

    Sad to see him shuffle off this mortal coil. RIP.

  4. I read Marina’s 1975 essay, and while he was absolutely right about the effectiveness of the militia he was nonetheless wrong about popular support for the Revolution . . . depending on *when* you count it. Certainly, by the *end* of the war there was widespread popular support, but it was much less at the beginning, and if the British forces (chiefly colonial loyalists) that came to the Southern colonies had not acted like . . . well, like American forces in Iraq and Afghanistan . . . they would have found some loyalist armies to support them. However, a policy of burning every house and church in sight turned their friends into enemies, and killing soldiers who were trying to surrender was enough to draw in combatants even from over the mountains.

    Even so, sad to see a good man go.

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