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John Simkin

William F. Buckley and the Assassination of JFK

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I have never heard the name William Frank Buckley mentioned in relation to the JFK assassination. However, there is evidence to suggest that he was willing to go to extreme measures to get Barry Goldwater elected in 1964. Is it possible that after the Cuban Missile Crisis and the failure of Operation Tilt, Buckley thought that more extreme measures were needed.

Buckley has had an interesting career. He is the son of William Buckley Sr., a Texas oil millionaire.

After the war Buckley enrolled at Yale University. He joined the Skull and Bones Society. Other members included George H. W. Bush, the future director of the CIA. Buckley soon became involved in right-wing politics and was involved in disrupting the 1948 Henry Wallace presidential campaign. In many ways, Wallace was an early example of JFK. He moved sharply to the left once in power (in Franklin D. Roosevelt's cabinet). Wallace was also horrified by the possibility of nuclear war (the issue that changed JFK's views on the Cold War).

During this period Buckley described himself as a "revolutionary against the present liberal order".

In 1951 Buckley joined the Central Intelligence Agency and worked with E. Howard Hunt in Mexico City. Despite the fact that Buckley is one of America's most prolific writers, he has said next to nothing about this part of his life.

While with the CIA he published God and Man at Yale: The Superstitions of Academic Freedom. He also worked with Eudocio Ravines on The Road to Yenan, a book about the communist conspiracy to obtain world domination.

According to Buckley, he left the CIA after a few months. In my opinion he never really left the CIA. Instead, it was decided that he would be more useful to the agency as an "independent" journalist. In other words, he was to become a key figure in Operation Mockingbird.

Buckley's first job after leaving the CIA was to become editor of The American Mercury. He continued to be active in right-wing politics and in 1953 Buckley established the Intercollegiate Society of Individualists (ISI). This was modeled on the Intercollegiate Socialist Society (ISS) that had been founded by Jack London in 1905. The ISI distributed free copies of right-wing books such as Road to Serfdom (Friedrich A. Hayek) and The Income Tax: Root of all Evil (Frank Chodorov). This also fits into the strategy of the CIA's Operation Mockingbird strategy (see the 1976 Frank Church report).

Buckley also joined forces with Willi Schlamm to start up a new right-wing journal entitled the National Review. Schlamm, who had previously been literary editor of The Freeman, a conservative magazine published by Henry Luce. The magazine was funded by right-wing figures including Adolphe Menjou, Spruille Braden, Roger Milliken, Clarence Manion and Robert Welch, the founder of the John Birch Society. I suspect that Tom Braden's CIA funds were also used to keep this journal going.

In September, 1960, Buckley, Douglas Caddy and Marvin Liebman established the far right group, Young Americans for Freedom (YAF). The first meeting was held at Buckley's home in Sharon, Connecticut. Caddy became YAF's first president. Its first national council included eleven members of the John Birch Society. The main mission of the YAF was to “prepare young people for the struggle ahead with Liberalism, Socialism and Communism”. Tom Hayden and other leaders of the Students for a Democratic Society compared the YAF to the Hitler Youth.

The main objective of Buckley and the YAF was to support the efforts of Barry Goldwater to become the Republican Party candidate to take on John F. Kennedy in the forthcoming presidential election. Buckley and Goldwater both believed that the link to Robert Welch and the John Birch Society posed a threat to this objective. As a result Buckley used the National Review to attack the neo-fascist views of Welch.

Donald Freed has argued that E. Howard Hunt and Charles Colson were also behind the formation of YAF. Ramparts Magazine documented a wide range of different illegal strategies used by YAF to get Goldwater the Republican nomination in 1960 and 1964. This included bombings and assassination attempts.

Is it possible that by November 1963 Buckley knew that Goldwater would not be able to defeat JFK in 1964? After his experiences with the covert actions of YAF, might he have been tempted to use more extreme methods to stop JFK being reelected?

The YAF failed in its task to get Goldwater the presidency. However, it is interesting that the same figures in the YAF turn up in the early 1970s carrying out dirty tricks against the Democrats.

Buckley has something else in common with David Phillips and E. Howard Hunt. Over the years he has written a series of novels about CIA covert operations. His hero is named: Blackford Oakes. It seems he learnt a lot during his short time in the CIA. In 2001 he published the novel "Spytime: The Undoing of James Jesus Angleton".

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Buckley has something else in common with David Phillips and E. Howard Hunt. Over the years he has written a series of novels about CIA covert operations. His hero is named: Blackford Oakes. It seems he learnt a lot during his short time in the CIA. In 2001 he published the novel "Spytime: The Undoing of James Jesus Angleton".

Im suspicious the Buckley spy books are really ghost-written by Hunt. Buckley is the godfather to at least one of Hunt's chidlren, with Artime I believe being the godfather to another. Consequently, I suspect Buckley knows a lot more than he's ever let on. You didn't even mention the David Belin articles Buckley published to combat the film JFK. It's clear he's abig supporter of the CIA. I think it's rather silly to think he's actually on their payroll, however. I mean, do "groupies" get paid by rock stars?

Spytime portrayed Angleton's drift into paranoia. I've read it. By the end of the book Angleton is relieved when Colby fires him, because he at long last knows the identity of the mole he's been searching for: Colby himself.. It works as literature but is not the glamorous portrait of the CIA you might envision. In another one of Buckley's books, Blackford Oakes befriends Che Guevara. He has the chance to save Guevara's life at the end but chooses not to when Guevara acknowledges his role in killing one of Oakes' lady friends, who'd been spying on Fidel. I suspect he'd talked to Rodriguez before writing that one.

My favorite story about Buckley is his famous run-in with Gore Vidal. Vidal called him a "crypto-fascist' during a live television debate, to which Buckley called Vidal a fag and threatened to sock him in the face. Classic stuff. Another great Buckley moment came when the movie and TV personality Gary Merrill--an ardent leftist--came across Buckley in an airport. As Merrill tells it, he banged on the phone booth Buckley was in and started calling him the pig that he was, to which Big Bad Buckley responded by...cowering in the phone booth till the airport security could drag Merrill away. I'd have paid to see that.

Buckey is what he is... a smug, clever, selfish, egocentric, monster--despite his embrace of the party of Lincoln, many of his early books and ideas were just gussied up southern racism. He may be a nasty beast, hiding fear and hatred under intellectualism, but he wasn't the mastermind of the crime of the century.

Still, maybe I'm just biased because when I was a kid I really fell for his I'm-smarter- than- the-rest-of-you routine. I wanted to be just like him, talking rings around everyone who dared to step in the ring with me. Now he makes me sick.

Edited by Pat Speer

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John Simkin wrote: "Is it possible that by November 1963 Buckley knew that Goldwater would not be able to defeat JFK in 1964? After his experiences with the covert actions of YAF, might he have been tempted to use more extreme methods to stop JFK being reelected"

At the risk of sounding like Tim Gratz I feel obliged to say that there is not a shred of credible evidence to connect William Buckley to the events of November 22nd 1963. He may have been old pals with Howard Hunt, but law and logic warn us that the concept of guilt by association is a fallacy.

If it is undisputed that Buckley shared much of the conservative Goldwater philosophy, how could he possibly have hoped to benefit from Lyndon Johnson's ascension to power?

Those who murdered JFK were criminals. William Buckley, on the other hand has never even run a red light in his whole life, to the best of my knowledge and belief.

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Hi all

Here are a couple of more recent photographs of William F. Buckley Jr.--

wfb.jpg

buckleybig.jpg

Buckley is characterized the following way on the NNBD site, which gives a good rundown on Buckley's career and views.

"William F. Buckley Jr. is a fading but still prominent right-wing American political commentator." He remains an eccentric and outspoken spokesman for the American right.

I would also think it is very unlikely that Buckley had a hand in the Kennedy assassination, despite his detestation of the Kennedys.

Best regards

Chris George

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I'll never forget the first time I became aware of Buckley. I was a politically illiterate teenager watching Jack Paar's Tonight Show one night. This would have been sometime in the 1950s. Buckley was a guest on the show. I had never heard of him, and all I remember about the interview was Paar's sidekick Hugh Downs bluntly telling Buckley that he (Downs) thought that "most Americans despise everything that you stand for." I wondered who the hell this guy was (aside from clearly being a creep) to be treated with such contempt, having been invited onto the show.

After the interview and Paar and Downs came back from commercials, they noted that several people in the audience had gotten up and left with Buckley's departure. Paar and Downs assumed they must have been "Buckley followers."

I figured that this Buckley guy must really be bad news. I'm still not sure whether he is or not. But he made quite a first impression (though I don't remember anything that he said on the show, possibly because I didn't understand anything that he was saying). The only more impressive first appearance by someone I had never heard of was also in the '50s when some spastic-acting singer named Elvis Presley turned up on the Dorsey Brothers Show and sang "Shake, Rattle, and Roll." The world has never been the same.

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John wrote:

Donald Freed has argued that E. Howard Hunt and Charles Colson were also behind the formation of YAF.

John, on the YAF thread I asked you what source Freed cites for this assertion. You have his book. I suspect your failure to reply means he has none. In Perlstein's masterful book on the conservative movement in the 1960s, he does not cite the involvement of either Hunt or Colson in the formation of YAF. I cannot assert with certainty that they were not involved. I have yet to see any serious scholarship that says they were. Not that I think there involvement or lack thereof is a significant point anyway.

John wrote:

Tom Hayden and other leaders of the Students for a Democratic Society compared the YAF to the Hitler Youth.

I don't want to condemn Hayden without seeing a source for this allegation. If in fact he did say it, it is a ridicoulus assertion. To compare YAF to the Hitler youth movement makes Joseph Mccarthy look like Mother Theresa. I suspect some right-wingers compared SDS to Stalin. So what? The rantings of extremists prove absolutely nothing. Moreover, Hayden could have been employing sarcastic rhetorical excess. When some of my friends used to call the official UW newspaper "The Daily Cardinal" appropriately named, we dod not seriously assert it was Communist; we just used rhetoric sardonically to illustrate how far to the left it was at the time.

Hitler youth? You youself just posted that one of the founders of YAF was Jewish, and a homosexual to boot.

John wrote:

Ramparts Magazine documented a wide range of different illegal strategies used by YAF to get Goldwater the Republican nomination in 1960 and 1964. This included bombings and assassination attempts.

I think I may end my comments with this quote. John, I do not think you are even quoting Ramparts correctly here. Perhaps Mr. Turner can correct this. It surprises me that you would even compose such a sentence. How could YAF try to help Goldwater get the GOP nomination in 1960 when it was not formed until September 11, 1960 and Nixon was nominated on July 28, 1960? It seems the first responsibility of a historian is to get the dates right. Or did I miss something? Were the geniuses behind YAF trying to construct a time machine to redo three months of history?

Re any YAF member participation in a bombing by some kooky YAF member, I was an ear-witness to a bombing by SDS members on the UW campus that murdered an innocent non-political mathematician. But that does not make Hayden or the national leadership of SDS responsible. If you have proof that YAF as an organization was involved in a bombing, cite it. Otherwise, this is again worse than McCarthyism.

John, this whole post is, in my opinion, beneath your usual level of speculation.

Let me just paraphrase your post:

You assert that an organization founded on September 11, 1960 by a homosexual Jew was 1) Hitleristic; and 2) was attempting to get Barry Goldwater the GOP nomination at the Republican convention held two and a half months earlier. That illustrates the scholarship on this thread! (It should also be pointed out that Goldwater himself was half-Jewish.)

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John, I do not know what is more ridiculous: your statement that an organization founded in September of 1960 was attempting to influence the results of the 1960 Republican convention held months earlier or your dismissal of F. A. Hayek,a Nobel prize winning economist as some sort of right-wing nut.

I suspect you have never even read Hayek's "A Road to Serfdom".

For those not familiar with Hayek:

Biography F. A. Hayek (1899-1992)

Peter G. Klein (1)

First, here is Klein's conclusion re Hayek:

There is widespread agreement that Hayek ranks among . . .the leading economists of the twentieth century.

Now the article in its entirety (footnotes omitted):

"A claim for equality of material position can be met only by a government with totalitarian powers."

F. A. Hayek is undoubtedly the most eminent of the modern Austrian economists. Student of Friedrich von Wieser, protégé and colleague of Ludwig von Mises, and foremost representative of an outstanding generation of Austrian school theorists, Hayek was more successful than anyone else in spreading Austrian ideas throughout the English-speaking world. "When the definitive history of economic analysis during the 1930s comes to be written," said John Hicks in 1967, "a leading character in the drama (it was quite a drama) will be Professor Hayek. . . . It is hardly remembered that there was a time when the new theories of Hayek were the principal rival of the new theories of Keynes" (Hicks, 1967, p. 203). Unfortunately, Hayek's theory of the business cycle was eventually swept aside by the Keynesian revolution. Ultimately, however, this work was again recognized when Hayek received, along with the Swede Gunnar Myrdal, the 1974 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Science. Hayek was a prolific writer over nearly seven decades; his Collected Works, currently being published by the University of Chicago Press and Routledge, are projected at nineteen volumes.

Life and Work

Hayek's life spanned the twentieth century, and he made his home in some of the great intellectual communities of the period.(2) Born Friedrich August von Hayek in 1899 to a distinguished family of Viennese intellectuals,(3) Hayek attended the University of Vienna, earning doctorates in 1921 and 1923. Hayek came to the University at age 19 just after World War I, when it was one of the three best places in the world to study economics (the others being Stockholm and Cambridge, England). Though he was enrolled as a law student, his primary interests were economics and psychology, the latter due to the influence of Mach's theory of perception on Wieser and Wieser's colleague Othmar Spann, and the former stemming from the reformist ideal of Fabian socialism so typical of Hayek's generation.

Like many students of economics then and since, Hayek chose the subject not for its own sake, but because he wanted to improve social conditions--the poverty of postwar Vienna serving as a daily reminder of such a need. Socialism seemed to provide a solution. Then in 1922 Mises published his Die Gemeinwirtschaft, later translated as Socialism. "To none of us young men who read the book when it appeared," Hayek recalled, "the world was ever the same again" (Hayek, 1956, p. 133). Socialism, an elaboration of Mises's pioneering article from two years before, argued that economic calculation requires a market for the means of production; without such a market there is no way to establish the values of those means and, consequently, no way to find their proper uses in production. Mises's devastating attack on central planning converted Hayek to laissez-faire, along with contemporaries like Wilhelm Röpke, Lionel Robbins, and Bertil Ohlin.

It was around this time that Hayek began attending Mises's famed Privatseminar. Regular participants, who received no academic credit or other official recognition for their time, included Hayek, Gottfried Haberler, Fritz Machlup, Oskar Morgenstern, Paul Rosenstein-Rodan, Richard von Strigl, Karl Schlesinger, Felix Kaufmann, Alfred Schütz, Eric Voegelin, Karl Menger, Jr., and others not so famous. For several years the Privatseminar was the center of the economics community in Vienna, attracting such visitors as Robbins from London and Howard S. Ellis from Berkeley. Later, Hayek became the first of this group to leave Vienna; most of the others, along with Mises himself, were also gone by the start of World War II.

Mises had done earlier work on monetary and banking theory, successfully applying the Austrian marginal utility principle to the value of money and then sketching a theory of industrial fluctuations based on the doctrines of the British Currency School and the ideas of the Swedish economist Knut Wicksell. Hayek used this last as a starting point for his own research on fluctuations, explaining the origin of the business cycle in terms of bank credit expansion and its transmission in terms of capital malinvestments. His work in this area eventually earned him an invitation to lecture at the London School of Economics and Political Science and then to occupy its Tooke Chair in Economics and Statistics, which he accepted in 1931. There he found himself among a vibrant and exciting group: Robbins, J. R. Hicks, Arnold Plant, Dennis Robertson, T. E. Gregory, Abba Lerner, Kenneth Boulding, and George Shackle, to name only the most prominent. Hayek brought his (to them) unfamiliar views,(4) and gradually, the "Austrian" theory of the business cycle became known and accepted. At the L.S.E. Hayek lectured on Mises's business-cycle theory, which he was refining and which, until Keynes's General Theory came out in 1936, was rapidly gaining adherents in Britain and the U.S. and was becoming the preferred explanation of the Depression.

Hayek and Keynes had sparred in the early 1930s in the pages of the Economic Journal, over Keynes's Treatise on Money. As one of Keynes's leading professional adversaries, Hayek was well situated to provide a full refutation of the General Theory. But he never did. Part of the explanation for this no doubt lies with Keynes's personal charm and legendary rhetorical skill, along with Hayek's general reluctance to engage in direct confrontation with his colleagues.(5) Hayek also considered Keynes an ally in the fight against wartime inflation and did not want to detract from that issue (Hayek, 1994, p. 91). Furthermore, as Hayek later explained, Keynes was constantly changing his theoretical framework, and Hayek saw no point in working out a detailed critique of the General Theory, if Keynes might change his mind again (Hayek, 1963, p. 60; Hayek, 1966, pp. 240-41). Hayek thought a better course would be to produce a fuller elaboration of Böhm-Bawerk's capital theory, and he began to devote his energies to this project. Unfortunately, The Pure Theory of Capital was not completed until 1941, and by then the Keynesian macro model had become firmly established.(6)

Within a very few years, however, the fortunes of the Austrian school suffered a dramatic reversal. First, the Austrian theory of capital, an integral part of the business-cycle theory, came under attack from the Italian-born Cambridge economist Piero Sraffa and the American Frank Knight, while the cycle theory itself was forgotten amid the enthusiasm for the General Theory. Second, beginning with Hayek's move to London and continuing until the early 1940s, the Austrian economists left Vienna, for personal and then for political reasons, so that a school ceased to exist there as such.(7) Mises left Vienna in 1934 for Geneva and then New York, where he continued to work in isolation; Hayek remained at the L.S.E. until 1950, when he joined the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago. Other Austrians of Hayek's generation became prominent in the U.S.--Gottfried Haberler at Harvard, Fritz Machlup and Oskar Morgenstern at Princeton, Paul Rosenstein-Rodan at MIT--but their work no longer seemed to show distinct traces of the tradition founded by Carl Menger.

At Chicago Hayek again found himself among a dazzling group: the economics department, led by Knight, Milton Friedman, and later George Stigler, was one of the best anywhere, and Aaron Director at the law school soon set up the first law and economics program.(8) But economic theory, in particular its style of reasoning, was rapidly changing; Paul Samuelson's Foundations had appeared in 1947, establishing physics as the science for economics to imitate, and Friedman's 1953 essay on "positive economics" set a new standard for economic method. In addition, Hayek had ceased to work on economic theory, concentrating instead on psychology, philosophy, and politics, and Austrian economics entered a prolonged eclipse.(9) Important work in the Austrian tradition was done during this period by Rothbard (1956, 1962, 1963a, 1963b), Kirzner (1963, 1966, 1973), and Lachmann (1956), but at least publicly, the Austrian tradition lay mostly dormant.

When the 1974 Nobel Prize in economics went to Hayek, interest in the Austrian school was suddenly and unexpectedly revived. While this was not the first event of the so-called "Austrian revival," the memorable South Royalton conference having taken place earlier the same year, the rediscovery of Hayek by the economics profession was nonetheless a decisive event in the renaissance of Austrian economics.(10) Hayek's writings were taught to new generations, and Hayek himself appeared at the early Institute for Humane Studies conferences in the mid-1970s. He continued to write, producing The Fatal Conceit in 1988, at the age of 89. Hayek died in 1992 in Freiburg, Germany, where he had lived since leaving Chicago in 1961.

Contributions to Economics

Hayek's legacy in economics is complex. Among mainstream economists, he is mainly known for his popular The Road to Serfdom (1944) and for his work on knowledge in the 1930s and 1940s (Hayek, 1937, 1945). Specialists in business-cycle theory recognize his early work on industrial fluctuations, and modern information theorists often acknowledge Hayek's work on prices as signals, although his conclusions are typically disputed.(11) Hayek's work is also known in political philosophy (Hayek, 1960), legal theory (Hayek 1973-79), and psychology (Hayek, 1952). Within the Austrian school of economics, Hayek's influence, while undeniably immense, has very recently become the subject of some controversy. His emphasis on spontaneous order and his work on complex systems has been widely influential among many Austrians. Others have preferred to stress Hayek's work in technical economics, particularly on capital and the business cycle, citing a tension between some of Hayek's and Mises's views on the social order. (While Mises was a rationalist and a utilitarian, Hayek focused on the limits to reason, basing his defense of capitalism on its ability to use limited knowledge and learning by trial and error.)

Business-cycle theory.

Hayek's writings on capital, money, and the business cycle are widely regarded as his most important contributions to economics (Hicks, 1967; Machlup, 1976). Building on Mises's Theory of Money and Credit (1912), Hayek showed how fluctuations in economy-wide output and employment are related to the economy's capital structure. In Prices and Production (1931) he introduced the famous "Hayekian triangles" to illustrate the relationship between the value of capital goods and their place in the temporal sequence of production. Because production takes time, factors of production must be committed in the present for making final goods that will have value only in the future after they are sold. However, capital is heterogeneous. As capital goods are used in production, they are transformed from general-purpose materials and components to intermediate products specific to particular final goods. Consequently, these assets cannot be easily redeployed to alternative uses if demands for final goods change. The central macroeconomic problem in a modern capital-using economy is thus one of intertemporal coordination: how can the allocation of resources between capital and consumer goods be aligned with consumers' preferences between present and future consumption? In The Pure Theory of Capital (1941), perhaps his most ambitious work, Hayek describes how the economy's structure of production depends on the characteristics of capital goods--durability, complementarity, substitutability, specificity, and so on. This structure can be described by the various "investment periods" of inputs, an extension of Böhm-Bawerk's notion of "roundaboutness," the degree to which production takes up resources over time.(12)

In Prices and Production (1931) and Monetary Theory and the Trade Cycle (1933a) Hayek showed how monetary injections, by lowering the rate of interest below what Mises (following Wicksell) called its "natural rate," distort the economy's intertemporal structure of production.(13) Most theories of the effects of money on prices and output (then and since) consider only the effects of the total money supply on the price level and aggregate output or investment. The Austrian theory, as developed by Mises and Hayek, focuses on the way money enters the economy ("injection effects") and how this affects relative prices and investment in particular sectors. In Hayek's framework, investments in some stages of production are "malinvestments" if they do not help to align the structure of production to consumers' intertemporal preferences. The reduction in interest rates caused by credit expansion directs resources toward capital-intensive processes and early stages of production (whose investment demands are more interest-rate elastic), thus "lengthening" the period of production. If interest rates had fallen because consumers had changed their preferences to favor future over present consumption, then the longer time structure of production would have been an appropriate, coordinating response. A fall in interest rates caused by credit expansion, however, would have been a "false signal," causing changes in the structure of production that do not accord with consumers' intertemporal preferences.(14) The boom generated by the increase in investment is artificial. Eventually, market participants come to realize that there are not enough savings to complete all the new projects; the boom becomes a bust as these malinvestments are discovered and liquidated.(15) Every artificial boom induced by credit expansion, then, is self-reversing. Recovery consists of liquidating the malinvestments induced by the lowering of interest rates below their natural levels, thus restoring the time structure of production so that it accords with consumers' intertemporal preferences.(16)

Knowledge, prices, and competition as a discovery procedure.

Hayek's writings on dispersed knowledge and spontaneous order are also widely known, but more controversial. In "Economics and Knowledge" (1937) and "The Use of Knowledge in Society" (1945) Hayek argued that the central economic problem facing society is not, as is commonly expressed in textbooks, the allocation of given resources among competing ends. "It is rather a problem of how to secure the best use of resources known to any of the members of society, for ends whose relative importance only those individuals know. Or, to put it briefly, it is a problem of the utilization of knowledge not given to anyone in its totality" (Hayek, 1945, p. 78).

Much of the knowledge necessary for running the economic system, Hayek contended, is in the form not of "scientific" or technical knowledge--the conscious awareness of the rules governing natural and social phenomena--but of "" knowledge, the idiosyncratic, dispersed bits of understanding of "circumstances of time and place." This tacit knowledge is often not consciously known even to those who possess it and can never be communicated to a central authority. The market tends to use this tacit knowledge through a type of "discovery procedure" (Hayek, 1968a), by which this information is unknowingly transmitted throughout the economy as an unintended consequence of individuals' pursuing their own ends.(17) Indeed, Hayek's (1948b) distinction between the neoclassical notion of "competition," identified as a set of equilibrium conditions (number of market participants, characteristics of the product, and so on), and the older notion of competition as a rivalrous process, has been widely influential in Austrian economics (Kirzner, 1973; Machovec, 1995).

For Hayek, market competition generates a particular kind of order--an order that is the product "of human action but not human design" (a phrase Hayek borrowed from Adam Smith's mentor Adam Ferguson). This "spontaneous order" is a system that comes about through the independent actions of many individuals, and produces overall benefits unintended and mostly unforeseen by those whose actions bring it about. To distinguish between this kind of order and that of a deliberate, planned system, Hayek (1968b, pp. 72-76) used the Greek terms cosmos for a spontaneous order and taxis for a consciously planned one.(18) Examples of a cosmos include the market system as a whole, money, the common law, and even language. A taxis, by contrast, is a designed or constructed organization, like a firm or bureau; these are the "islands of conscious power in [the] ocean of unconscious cooperation like lumps of butter coagulating in a pail of buttermilk" (D. H. Robertson, quoted in Coase, 1937, p. 35).(19)

Most commentators view Hayek's work on knowledge, discovery, and competition as an outgrowth of his participation in the socialist calculation debate of the 1920s and 1930s. The socialists erred, in Hayek's view, in failing to see that the economy as a whole is necessarily a spontaneous order and can never be deliberately made over in the way that the operators of a planned order can exercise control over their organization. This is because planned orders can handle only problems of strictly limited complexity. Spontaneous orders, by contrast, tend to evolve through a process of natural selection, and therefore do not need to be designed or even understood by a single mind.(20)

Hayek and Austrian Economics

Clearly, the Austrian revival owes as much to Hayek as to anyone. But are Hayek's writings really "Austrian economics"--part of a separate, recognizable tradition--or should we regard them, instead, as an original, deeply personal, contribution?(21) Some observers charge that Hayek's later work, particularly after he began to turn away from technical economics, shows more influence of his friend Sir Karl Popper than of Carl Menger or Mises: one critic speaks of "Hayek I" and "Hayek II"; another writes on "Hayek's Transformation."(22)

It is true that Popper had a significant impact on Hayek's mature thought. Of greater interest is the precise nature of Hayek's relationship with Mises. Undoubtedly, no economist has had a greater impact on Hayek's thinking than Mises--not even Wieser, from whom Hayek learned his craft but who died in 1927 when Hayek was still a young man. In addition, Mises clearly considered Hayek the brightest of his generation.(23) Yet, as Hayek (1978a) noted, he was from the beginning always something less than a pure follower: "Although I do owe [Mises] a decisive stimulus at a crucial point of my intellectual development, and continuous inspiration through a decade, I have perhaps most profited from his teaching because I was not initially his student at the university, an innocent young man who took his word for gospel, but came to him as a trained economist, versed in a parallel branch of Austrian economics [the Wieser branch] from which he gradually, but never completely, won me over."

Much has been written on Hayek's and Mises's views on the socialist calculation debate. The issue is whether a socialist economy is "impossible," as Mises charged in 1920, or simply less efficient or more difficult to implement. Hayek (1992, p. 127) maintained later that Mises's "central thesis was not, as it is sometimes misleadingly put, that socialism is impossible, but that it cannot achieve an efficient utilization of resources." That interpretation is itself subject to dispute. Hayek is arguing here against the standard view on economic calculation, found for instance in Schumpeter (1942, pp. 172-186) or Bergson (1948). This view holds that Mises's original statement of the impossibility of economic calculation under socialism was refuted by Oskar Lange, Fred Taylor, and Abba Lerner, and that later modifications by Hayek and Robbins amounted to an admission that a socialist economy is possible in theory but difficult in practice because knowledge is decentralized and incentives are weak. Hayek's response in the cited text, that Mises's actual position has been exaggerated, receives support from the primary revisionist historian of the calculation debate, Don Lavoie, who states that the "central arguments advanced by Hayek and Robbins did not constitute a 'retreat' from Mises, but rather a clarification directing the challenge to the later versions of central planning . . . Although comments by both Hayek and Robbins about computational difficulties of the [later approaches] were responsible for misleading interpretations of their arguments, in fact their main contributions were fully consistent with Mises's challenge" (Lavoie, 1985, p. 20). Kirzner (1988) similarly contends that Mises's and Hayek's positions should be viewed together as an early attempt to elaborate the Austrian "entrepreneurial-discovery" view of the market process. Salerno (1990a) argues, by contrast, in favor of the traditional view--that Mises's original calculation problem is different from the discovery-process problem emphasized by Lavoie and Kirzner.(24)

Furthermore, Hayek's later emphasis on group selection and spontaneous order is not shared by Mises, although there are elements of this line of thought in Menger. A clue to this difference is in Hayek's (1978a) statement that "Mises himself was still much more a child of the rationalist tradition of the Enlightenment and of continental, rather than of English, liberalism . . . than I am myself." This is a reference to the "two types of liberalism" to which Hayek frequently refers: the continental rationalist or utilitarian tradition, which emphasizes reason and man's ability to shape his surroundings, and the English common-law tradition, which stresses the limits to reason and the "spontaneous" forces of evolution.(25)

Recently, the relationship between Mises and Hayek has become a full-fledged "de-homogenization" debate. Salerno (1990a, 1990b, 1993, 1994) and Rothbard (1991, 1995) see Hayek's emphasis on knowledge and discovery as substantially different from Mises's emphasis on purposeful human action. Salerno (1993), for example, argues that there are two strands of modern Austrian economics, both descended from Menger. One, the Wieser-Hayek strand, focuses on dispersed knowledge and the price system as a device for communicating knowledge. Another, the Böhm-Bawerk-Mises strand, focuses on monetary calculation (or "appraisal," meaning anticipation of future prices) based on existing money prices. Kirzner (1995a, 1995b, 1996, 1997) and Yeager (1994, 1995) argue, by contrast, that the differences between Hayek and Mises are more matters of emphasis and language than substance.(26)

Regardless, there is widespread agreement that Hayek ranks among the greatest members of the Austrian school, and among the leading economists of the twentieth century. His work continues to be influential in business-cycle theory, comparative economic systems, political and social philosophy, legal theory, and even cognitive psychology. Hayek's writings are not always easy to follow--he describes himself as "puzzler" or "muddler" rather than a "master of his subject"--and this may have contributed to the variety of interpretations his work has aroused.(27) Partly for this reason, Hayek remains one of the most intriguing intellectual figures of our time.

Edited by Tim Gratz

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Buckley's name comes up again and again and again in what I read. Maybe I am reading the wrong stuff. Google 'William F. Buckley' and 'MKULTRA.'

- lee

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John wrote:

Is it possible that by November 1963 Buckley knew that Goldwater would not be able to defeat JFK in 1964?

John, by November of 1963, Goldwater knew that! But Goldwater liked JFK and detested LBJ.

Mr. Caroll made a good point. Why would Buckley simply want to put LBJ into the presidency? LBJ's domestic programs were far more grandiose and liberal than JFK's. One of JFK's primary economic programs was an across-the-board tax cut, still applauded and emulated by Republicans.

And not only that but LBJ stopped the Kennedys' secret was against Castro.

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Tim wrote:

One of JFK's primary economic programs was an across-the-board tax cut, still applauded and emulated by Republicans.

Tim, you need to research the history of the Kennedy tax cut; it was bottled up in Congress by folks such as REPUBLICAN Everett McKinley Dirksen. Maybe it was "applauded" by Republicans LATER, but at the time, it was AMBUSHED by Republicans in Congress. While Republicans have changed their direction SINCE, in 1963 they did everything they could to PREVENT Kennedy's tax-cut legislation from becoming law.

If I recall correctly, it was only AFTER the assassination that JFK's economic policy became law.

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It is indeed a strange event when Tim Gratz and J. Raymond Carroll join forces. I will try to deal with all the points that you both make.

John wrote:

Donald Freed has argued that E. Howard Hunt and Charles Colson were also behind the formation of YAF.

John, on the YAF thread I asked you what source Freed cites for this assertion. You have his book. I suspect your failure to reply means he has none. In Perlstein's masterful book on the conservative movement in the 1960s, he does not cite the involvement of either Hunt or Colson in the formation of YAF. I cannot assert with certainty that they were not involved. I have yet to see any serious scholarship that says they were. Not that I think there involvement or lack thereof is a significant point anyway.

As I have told you before, this information from Donald Freed comes from an article entitled “Gemstone – the Bottom Line” published by the Citizens Research and Investigations Committee (republished in Big Brother and the Holding Company, pages 91-105). Freed does not give his source for this information as he was relying on supporters who had infiltrated the YAF. He also names Edward Butler of the Information Council of the Americas (INCA) as also being involved in the formation of YAF. Butler was Colson’s aide at the time. According to Freed, in 1963 Butler helped Lee Harvey Oswald to set up a left-wing, pro-Castro cover for the alleged assassin.

We now know that in 1951 that Buckley worked with E. Howard Hunt at the CIA station in Mexico City. After he left the CIA he continued to work closely with Hunt in producing propaganda aimed at young Americans via the Intercollegiate Society of Individualists (ISI). It was just natural progression that they would go on to establish the YAF together. They also worked very closely with Robert Welch in this operation. YAF’s first national council included eleven members of the John Birch Society.

I have of course read Rick Perlstein’s account of the YAF in his book “Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus” (based on your recommendation). I would not call it “masterful” although I can see why you like the book. That is your problem, you only read books that tell you what you want to know. I have also read other books that provide a much more detailed account of the YAF. This includes Vyacheslav Nikitin’s “The Ultras in the USA”, Alan Crawford’s “Thunder on the Right”, Arnold Forster & Benjamin R. Epstein’s “Danger on the Right” and “The Radical Right”, Kirkpatrick Sale’s "Power Shift" and John B. Judis', "William F. Buckley: Patron Saint of the Conservatives”. I don’t suppose you have read these books as they might unsettle your right-wing extremist views.

John wrote:

Tom Hayden and other leaders of the Students for a Democratic Society compared the YAF to the Hitler Youth.

I don't want to condemn Hayden without seeing a source for this allegation. If in fact he did say it, it is a ridicoulus assertion. To compare YAF to the Hitler youth movement makes Joseph Mccarthy look like Mother Theresa. I suspect some right-wingers compared SDS to Stalin. So what? The rantings of extremists prove absolutely nothing. Moreover, Hayden could have been employing sarcastic rhetorical excess. When some of my friends used to call the official UW newspaper "The Daily Cardinal" appropriately named, we dod not seriously assert it was Communist; we just used rhetoric sardonically to illustrate how far to the left it was at the time.

Hitler youth? You youself just posted that one of the founders of YAF was Jewish, and a homosexual to boot.

You have misunderstood Tom Hayden’s quote. He was not implying that YAF was an anti-Semitic organization. (It was of course racist as it opposed the civil rights movement but that is another matter.) Hayden’s point is that the YAF was attempting to recruit young people to the right-wing cause. This was the strategy of William Buckley and his buddy Robert Welch in the late 1950s. As Buckley pointed out, this was a reaction to the success the left was having at universities in the late 1950s and early 1960s. It was part of McCarthyism that this was being done by the university staff and therefore they should be exposed and removed. See two early books by Buckley where he outlines this strategy: God and Man at Yale: The Superstitions of Academic Freedom (1951) and McCarthy and Its Enemies: The Record and Its Meaning (1954).

Freed’s point is that the YAF and the John Birch Society used the same political tactics as the Hitler Youth. People like Tom Hayden had seen at first hand the actions of the YAF and did think it was accurate to compare them to the Hitler Youth.

John wrote:

Ramparts Magazine documented a wide range of different illegal strategies used by YAF to get Goldwater the Republican nomination in 1960 and 1964. This included bombings and assassination attempts.

I think I may end my comments with this quote. John, I do not think you are even quoting Ramparts correctly here. Perhaps Mr. Turner can correct this. It surprises me that you would even compose such a sentence. How could YAF try to help Goldwater get the GOP nomination in 1960 when it was not formed until September 11, 1960 and Nixon was nominated on July 28, 1960? It seems the first responsibility of a historian is to get the dates right. Or did I miss something? Were the geniuses behind YAF trying to construct a time machine to redo three months of history?

This suggestion comes from several articles that appeared in Big Brother and the Holding Company that was edited by Steve Weissman and published by the Ramparts Press in 1974. Some of the articles had appeared in Ramparts Magazine (October, 1973, November, 1973, June, 1974) whereas others came from other sources (The Nation, NACLA, Monthly Review, Sundance and the Citizens Research and Investigation Committee) or were written especially for the book by Weissman.

At the risk of sounding like Tim Gratz I feel obliged to say that there is not a shred of credible evidence to connect William Buckley to the events of November 22nd 1963. He may have been old pals with Howard Hunt, but law and logic warn us that the concept of guilt by association is a fallacy.

If it is undisputed that Buckley shared much of the conservative Goldwater philosophy, how could he possibly have hoped to benefit from Lyndon Johnson's ascension to power?

Those who murdered JFK were criminals. William Buckley, on the other hand has never even run a red light in his whole life, to the best of my knowledge and belief.

It is of course true that William Buckley has never been convicted of a crime and his image is of someone who has never “run a red light”. One of the advantages of being rich is that you do not have to carry out criminal activities yourself - you pay other people to do it for you. Nixon got caught because he was arrogant and sloppy about the people he employed. Most are far more shrewd about the way they work and never allow the crime to be traced back to them.

It also needs to be pointed out that Buckley has moved a long way to the left since the late 1950s. Buckley and Goldwater decided to ditch Robert Welch after the publication of his book “The Politician” in 1961. In private they had agreed with his views. They also approved of his claims that George Marshall was "a conscious, deliberate, and dedicated agent of the Soviet conspiracy" and that Harry S. Truman had been used, "with his knowledge and acquiescence" by the communists who "controlled his administration". These were Democrats and were easy game. The reason they had to ditch Welch concerns his comments about Dwight Eisenhower who Welch claimed to have been "knowingly receiving and abiding by Communist orders, and consciously serving the Communist conspiracy, for all his adult life." Buckley and Goldwater were at this time trying to get control of the Republican Party, they had no chance if they could be identified with such comments about the much-loved Eisenhower. However, Buckley and Goldwater continued to praise the John Birch Society. By this time the JBS was too important to the far right. Buckley used the National Review to call for Welch to be ousted from JBS. This of course never happened as Welch was the main source of funding for the organization.

Buckley is now to the left of George Bush. This probably says more about how far the Republican Party has moved since the 1960s. In a recent edition of the National Review (4th January, 2005) Buckley condemned Bush for “the relief given to the rich by the tax law of June 2001, which reduced the top tax rate from 39.6 percent to 35 percent. This meant that the highest bracket taxpayers pay $60 to $80 billion less in taxes than they would otherwise pay.”

He also a critic of Bush’s foreign policy and believes that American troops should be brought home immediately. See his article in the National Review on the 6th May.

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As I recall, Buckley has also advocated the legalization of drugs, ending the so-called war on drugs, which seems almost inconceivable coming from the right. Since he is not on the left, perhaps Buckley at times is motivated more by common sense than by political ideology.

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