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Tom Woods: The Making of an Anti-War Libertarian: New at Reason

Reason's Matt Welch sat down with the popular libertarian writer and podcaster to discuss his ideological journey, his LP plans, and his controversial past associations.

Tom Woods stands accused of many things, but laziness is not one of them.

A senior fellow at the Ludwig von Mises Institute, Woods is the author of a dozen books, including The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History. He's written curricula for the Ron Paul homeschool program; he co-hosts, along with economist Robert Murphy, the weekly Contra-Krugman podcast, which dissects columns by New York Times Nobel laureate Paul Krugman; and he posts a new episode of the popular Tom Woods Show every day.

I sat down with Woods recently to talk about his ideological journey, his plans with the Libertarian Party, his past associations with such controversial entities as the League of the South, and his assessment of Donald Trump, among many other topics.

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  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Pat Buchanan was the catalyst for his adventure into Libertarianism? That's going to be polarizing.

  • Just Say'n||

    In the 90's, Buchanan was the only mainstream commentator who was advocating a non-interventionist foreign policy. That's why his original presidential run in 1992 was supported by such divergent people as Murray Rothbard and Russell Kirk who could only agree on the topic of American imperialism.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    I do remember when the left was concerned about George W. Bush's "hands off" approach to the world in 2000.

  • ||

    I do remember when the left was concerned about George W. Bush's "hands off" approach to the world in 2000.

    I clearly remember a speech Gore gave about the role of the US in a post-Soviet world when a lot of people were saying "maybe we could scale down our insane military spending now" where Gore advanced the notion of the US as "World Police."

    This was the first time I heard that, and I don't recall Republicans taking that stance at the time (until the emergence of the Neo-Cons).

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    I remember being floored when an OP-Ed out of Europe was printed a day or two after Bush was elected and in it there was a sentence which read "The world needs more America, not less America."

  • ||

    Buchanan was the only mainstream commentator who was advocating a non-interventionist foreign policy

    Yeah, but his 'non-interventionism" was off-putting in its focus on the diseases we'd catch from the dirty foreigners, who don't deserve our help anyway.

  • Just Say'n||

    At least he wasn't interested in killing foreigners overseas. I always found it interesting that Buchanan gets knocked for his reactionary views on immigration, but others are totally not bigoted for shrugging when our country bombs bridal parties are devastates countries.

  • Libertymike||

    There's a profound difference between not wanting black and brown neighbors and bombing black and brown in the name of democracy and for Neo-Cohen interests.

  • ||

    others are totally not bigoted for shrugging when our country bombs bridal parties are devastates countries

    Was bombing Serbia racist?

  • Just Say'n||

    No. It was immoral, though, and served no national interest.

  • ||

    No. It was immoral, though, and served no national interest.

    Agreed. But I also don't think it would be necessarily correct to label those who supported it "bigots." Unlike Pat Buchanan, who was against it, but who could also fairly be labelled a "bigot."

  • Just Say'n||

    Buchanan's 92 campaign emphasized his opposition to the First Gulf War. The Yugoslav Wars occurred in the late 90's. I was referring to his opposition in the First Gulf War. But, going further, Buchanan has opposed every conflict since his 92 campaign.

    I think it is as fair to call people who disregard death overseas in Arab countries "bigots" if we are now saying that Buchanan's mainstream immigration views (at the time in the 90's) is "bigoted" today.

  • Just Say'n||

    Frankly, people throw-out the term "bigot" too casually today, in general. Just because you disagree with someone's views on a policy does not mean that that person is a "bigot" by default

  • ||

    Just because you disagree with someone's views on a policy does not mean that that person is a "bigot" by default

    Yes - that's exactly what I'm saying to you.

  • ||

    I think it is as fair to call people who disregard death overseas in Arab countries "bigots" if we are now saying that Buchanan's mainstream immigration views (at the time in the 90's) is "bigoted" today.

    Why?

    1) In 1992 Arabs weren't even considered an ethnic minority. They were considered "Caucasians." I don't recall "racism and bigotry" ever even being part of the discussion about the war, and I was firmly in the anti-war camp at the time.

    2) Buchanan's immigration views have never been "mainstream." He has always been regarded as a fringe kook and openly racist, at least throughout my adult life.

    I'm not saying ignoring pointless wars is "good." I'm saying it doesn't have anything to do with whether or not you're a "bigot." Buchanan is "anti-interventionist" (mostly a good), but also a bigot (bad), and his reasons for being "anti-interventionist" tend to have racism at their root.

    Buchanan is a libertarian ally only coincidentally on a couple of issues. Personally, I think association with him and his ilk only hurts the brand.

  • Just Say'n||

    I don't think Buchanan is a bigot. He may be wrong on his position with regards to immigration, but you may want to revisit President Bush and Clinton's positions on immigration, which are very Trumpist.

    It's only a recent phenomenon that Buchanan has been labeled a "bigot" and nearly anyone who desires any restrictions on immigration (illegal or otherwise) is labeled a "bigot" (Buchanan was MSNBC's token conservative for a long time because of his dislike for the Bush Administration). There use to be a time when making bigoted statements made one a bigot. Now, taking certain political positions makes one a bigot.

    Buchanan is obviously not a libertarian, but I certainly don't accept the revisionist view that he is a bigot. He's an odd paleocon.

  • Just Say'n||

    And he's wrong, lest people assume that I am defending Buchanan's immigration positions

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    Buchanan, a bigot?
    Nah.

  • Just Say'n||

    Nice source, Chipper. Do you also have a link from David Frum?

  • ||

    Nice source, Chipper. Do you also have a link from David Frum?

    Are they misquoting him?

  • ||

    It's only a recent phenomenon that Buchanan has been labeled a "bigot"

    No, it isn't. Not by a long shot. See Chipper's link, below. William Buckley penned an Op Ed in 1991 about Buchanan's anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial that was turned into a book the following year. He had enough of a reputation that Nixon did an interview in 1992 claiming Buchanan isn't a bigot. Forget all that stuff about the Jews and the natural inferiority of blacks and Latinos!

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    totally not bigoted for shrugging when our country bombs bridal parties are devastates countries.

    I believe CNN has become interested in those again.

  • ||

    They have again moved from "unfortunate but necessary tragedies" to "overt acts of racist aggression." It's like it's 2001 all over again.

  • Just Say'n||

    You did this, Michael Malice. Your welcome

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    Wow, kudos to Matt for interviewing Tom Woods. You are awesome, Matt. BUCS is gonna be livid.

  • Yellow Tony||

    Matt and Woods were on Malice's show not too long ago as well.

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    Where you been? Have you find a way back to McAfee land yet? I wanna meet a fishperson lady.

  • Just Say'n||

    BUCS can't even right now

  • Just Say'n||

    Welch needs to interview Scott Horton next. Tom Woods looks like Bill Kristol next to Scott Horton.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    I'm not angry, I'm just suddenly aware of how far this shit website has fallen since earlier this morning, when they spoke well of the greatest fuck master of our time

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    I like Woods' assessment on Trump. I think he's spot on in regards to how grounded Trump is in any particular ideology.

  • Libertymike||

    Tom Woods is a Liberty Mike type of libertarian.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    I was just going to say that. I was wondering which H&R commenter he was.

  • Libertymike||

    Just for the record, I have a full head of thick, wavy tresses even though I am 8 or 9 years older than he is.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Don't make it gay.

  • Just Say'n||

    Too late

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    NTTIAWWT

  • Just Say'n||

    Murray Rothbard and Walter Block were part of the Peace and Freedom Party in California, allied with the Trotskite faction. The Peace and Freedom Party included open Stalinists who defended the Soviet Union and its repression. As was common with all of Rothbard's ever changing and bizarre political alliances, non-interventionism was the only reason why he worked with the Peace and Freedom Party.

    And yet LP "pragmatists" never fault Rothbard for working with Stalinist apologists. However, his brief association with Pat Buchanan is beyond the pale. That should tell you something about the "pragmatism" that they're spewing.

  • ||

    That should tell you something about the "pragmatism" that they're spewing.

    That they're more concerned with combating the widely-held perception that libertarians are racists than with combating the view-that-literally-no-one-holds that libertarians are Stalinists?

  • Just Say'n||

    Considering that every non-interventionist commentator from Sheldon Richman to Glenn Greenwald is automatically saddled with some variety of being a "bigot" (in the case of the latter two, anti-semites, which is truly bizarre considering Richman's ethnic background), perhaps the answer is to just drop the whole opposition to big government plank. And then just rename the party the Republican Party.

  • ||

    every non-interventionist commentator from Sheldon Richman to Glenn Greenwald is automatically saddled with some variety of being a "bigot"

    By whom?

  • Just Say'n||

    Mainly conservatives (or neoconservatives, if you so choose).

    www.nationalreview.com/2003/03.....avid-frum/

    LOL- David Frum

  • Just Say'n||

  • ||

    Yeah, well Republicans have been doing that for about 20 years. But you started out by complaining about the LP calling Richman and Greenwald bigots and saying they should just drop the act and admit that they're really Republican conservatives, and then in support gave examples of Republicans doing that.

    Do you have any examples of Libertarians calling Richman and Greenwald bigots?

  • ||

    Although, in fairness, lots in the comments section here have called Richman an anti-American bigot, for what that's worth.

  • Just Say'n||

    My mistake. I wasn't trying to say that the LP calls Richman a bigot. My first remark related to people viewing Rothbard's association with Buchanan problematic while ignoring his past alliances with Soviet apologists. Obviously, Rothbard's strange alliances all relate back to his views on foreign policy.

    But, to a larger extent my criticism is that we've whittled down who is or isn't a bigot from someone who advocates inherently bigoted policies to someone who advocates policies that while not inherently bigoted are assumed to have a disparate impact on one particular racial or ethnic group.

    I don't accept that. And that's why I don't accept that someone who opposes liberal immigration policy is anymore of a bigot than someone who criticizes Israel is an anti-semite.

    For example, advocating for a Muslim ban on immigration is bigoted, but advocating for a ban on refugees, while wrong, is not inherently bigoted.

    Too many people are being swept up in the bigot category merely for not accepting prevalent policy positions and all that does is weaken the term because of overuse.

  • ||

    Too many people are being swept up in the bigot category merely for not accepting prevalent policy positions and all that does is weaken the term because of overuse.

    Agreed, and I myself got exceeding tired of being called an anti-Semite for criticizing Israel and US help of same.

    But because people who criticize US foreign policy (or advocate certain immigration policies) are called bigots by someone does not mean that all who are called bigots are merely criticizing US foreign policy. Some of them are actual bigots, including Buchanan.

    And I think this is why the LP will hold Rothbard at arm's distance due to the association with Buchanan and his ilk while not really caring about the association with P&F, since literally no one thinks the LP is a front for a Stalinist organization. But calling libertarians secret racists is really, really standard fare.

    Witness Tony, who every day comes here to call us all racists. Not once has he accused us of being Stalinists. Never. Could you imagine someone saying "did you know that Murray Rothbard was actually a Stalinist? I can prove it - look how he use to rub elbows with these P&F types!" Who would take such a statement seriously for even a moment?

    But wasn't half the argument in Democracy in Chains that libertarians don't shun people like Buchanan hard enough and are therefore racist?

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    Well, yeah, the cultural left hates racism more than economic collectivism. They both suck. Which one is really worse? That's a matter of personal preference.

  • Just Say'n||

    If you think the great sin of the Soviets was "economic collectivism" then I got some Jewish emigres who may want to enlighten you

  • Just Say'n||

    Also, got some Hungarians who might want to shine some light on how "bread lines" was really the only bad thing about the Soviets

  • Just Say'n||

    There are some Ukrainians, though, who aren't available to talk

  • Nardz||

    "the cultural left hates racism"

    Hahahahahahahahaha
    Right.
    That's why they define people primarily by skin color or ethnicity.

  • Jesse Walker||

    Murray Rothbard and Walter Block were part of the Peace and Freedom Party in California, allied with the Trotskite faction.

    It was in New York, and they were aligned with the Progressive Labor (Maoist) faction.

    Some libertarians in California did take over the state Peace and Freedom Party for a brief period in the 1970s; you are probably confusing the two events.

  • SIV||

    Thank you

  • Just Say'n||

    Thanks. I guess I have to read Doherty's book again

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