Liberarian Party

Tom Woods: The Making of an Anti-War Libertarian

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

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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.

A champion of the Austrian School of economics and a devotee of Murray Rothbard, Woods didn't exactly start out as a radical anti-statist. He was, he says, a "moderate Republican," happy to lavish government spending on domestic programs and to launch bombs at evildoers abroad. It was the 1992 presidential campaign of Pat Buchanan, who was against the Gulf War and opposed to new military adventures abroad, that began the transformation. Now, Woods is one of the leading antiwar voices in the libertarian movement.

Never one to shy away from a social media scrap, Woods got into an epic Twitter feud last summer with the leadership of the Libertarian Party. One side called the Mises Institute a gateway drug to white nationalism and the alt-right, while Woods and his allies mocked the Libertarian National Committee as a bunch of "social justice warriors." Then something curious happened: After the L.P.'s Mises Caucus failed to dislodge party chair Nicholas Sarwark at this year's national convention, Woods and his friends redoubled their efforts to transform the party from within.

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.

Edited by Mark McDaniel and Todd Krainin. Cameras by Jim Epstein and McDaniel.

Oxygen Garden by Chris Zabriskie is licensed under a Attribution License.

Photo credit: George Skidmore. (CC BY-SA 2.0.)

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