Rothbard, Branden discuss Cults

In the period after the publication of Atlas Shrugged in 1957, a young Murray Rothbard became involved in the Ayn Rand circle in New York. Rothbard brought several other young libertarians from his Circle Bastiat into the group.

Rothbard had been invited into the circle by Nathanial Branden after he wrote to Rand about how great her accomplishment was in writing Atlas Shrugged. Branden writes in Judgment Day:”The letter was movingly and beautifully written, profoundly insightful concerning what Ayn had accomplished in Atlas and full of what seemed like the most genuine appreciation and admiration. It was almost the model of an ideal fan letter, at the highest intellectual level.” (page 259).

It didn’t last. Rothbard came to see in the Ayn Rand circle what others came to see – acolytes looking up to a guru. After several months in the Ayn Rand circle, in a letter to Ludwig von Mises, Rothbard wrote that “the fanaticism with which they worship Rand and Branden has to be seen to be believed, the whole atmosphere being a kind of combination of a religious cult and a Trotskyite cell.” (quoted in Mises: the Last Night of Liberalism by Guido Huelsmann)

Nathanial Branden had his own reaction to Murray Rothbard:”Murray lived in New York and Ayn invited him to a meeting. While he clearly had striking intellectual gifts, I felt a stab of disappointment almost the first moment. fear and malice seemed to leap from his face.”

Soon Rothbard’s anarchism became an issue. Branden writes in Judgment Day (page 260): “We had a few debates with Murray about government and its necessity, which were initially calm and good natured. One evening he brought with him his own circle of friends —young students of economics, history and the like —all of whom were anarchists and all of whom, at least to my perception, had something of Murray’s manner about them, something fearful and given to sarcasm and hints of unidentified superiority. In appearance and style they were indistinguishible from any of the young socialists I had ever encountered.”

Objectivism and Libertarianism are both philosophies focused on individualism, and respect for individuality. Even such philosophies can lead to cult-like behavior. Murray Rothbard and Nathanial Branden have each warned us about cult behavior. It is up to us to protect our individuality and up to us to respect the individuality of others.

(By Gene Berkman, Editor, California Libertarian Report)

Murray Rothbard on Abortion

In the June 1971 issue of The Libertarian Forum, Murray Rothbard published a front page essay on libertarian strategy, titled How to Destatize. In this essay he looks at what libertarian activists were doing, and what libertarian activists were saying had to be done to bring about a free society.

After critiquing the “education” approach of right-wing libertarians, and the left-wing actions on May Day in 1971, Dr Rothbard looks at two victories for liberty in New York state – the end of rent control, and the legalization of abortion. New York state legalized abortion in 1970, three years after Gov. Ronald Reagan had signed a law to protect abortion rights in California in 1967. Rothbard credits the focus of the women’s movement on principle, and their willingness to act in support of principle, for pushing New York state to legalize abortion. Here is what he wrote in 1971:

“Abortion reform also had the ingredients of sound libertarian theory at work plus a crisis situation. The theory had been propounded for years by pro-abortion groups, but was accelerated recently by the fact that the Women’s Lib groups, in their raucous and annoying manner, had stumbled across a purely libertarian theory which they propounded with force and effect: that every woman has the absolute right to own and control her own body. The attention devoted to Women’s Lib by the media assured that the politicians finally were able to hear, not a wishywashy liberal plea for moderate abortion reform, but the “extreme” – and consistent – view that the State had no right to pass any abortion restrictions whatever.”

“While libertarian theory had been firmed up and spread more aggressively, a crisis situation was becoming ever more blatant: and this was the massive, non-violent civil disobedience of women and doctors who obtained their abortions illegally. And not only were increasing numbers of women and doctors willing to ignore the law; but others were increasingly willing to broaden the fuzzy zone that often exists between legality and illegality: for example, doctors willing to stretch the definition of “endangering the health of the mother”, which made abortion permissible. Furthermore, it was also becoming evident that, taking place as they did under conditions of illegality, the abortions were both unnecessarily expensive and unnecessarily dangerous. In the case of abortions, then, it was mass civil disobedience that brought about the crisis situation, while the spread of libertarian theory made the government more willing to turn· to the de-statizing solution, But not only theory: also the use of the theory to pressure the politicians, by petition, by noise, by threat of votes, etc.”

You can access The Libertarian Forum as PDF @ The Mises Instiute (Scroll down to June 1971)

With the recent Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v Wade, and the actions of the “Mises” Caucus at the Recent Libertarian National Convention, it is necessary to reassert the libertarian commitment to personal rights, including the right to privacy and the right to self-ownership.

(By Gene Berkman, Editor, California Libertarian Report)

California Eliminates Cannabis Cultivation Tax, Effective Immediately

California’s regulated cannabis market just got a little bit more competitive with the robust illicit market that has continued to flex its power in the state. 

Following Gov. Gavin Newsom’s signing of a $308-billion state budget on June 30, California’s weight-based cannabis cultivation tax was eliminated—effective July 1, 2022.

The cultivation tax, which imposed a $161-per-pound rate on licensed growers—regardless of the current market value of cannabis—was abolished via Assembly Bill 195, which was attached as a trailer to the state budget.

On June 29, the California Senate passed A.B. 195 via a 34-0 vote, while the Assembly passed the measure, 69-1. Assemblymember Rudy Salas casted the lone no vote before Newsom signed the budget the following day. 

For Graham Farrar, co-founder and president of Glass House Brands, a Santa Barbara-based cannabis operator with more than a half a million square feet of cultivation space, A.B. 195 is in line with one of two main changes being advocated and echoed among the state’s license holders: less taxes and more retail.

“It’s huge,” Farrar said of killing the state’s cultivation tax. “You can charge a premium for licensed product because nobody prefers ‘bathtub gin,’ right? I think we’d all rather have licensed product, but there’s only so much premium people are willing to pay. So, less taxes narrows that gap [so the licensed growers have a chance to be competitive with the folks who aren’t paying taxes].”

Among the measures included in A.B. 195, the bill also maintains a 15% cannabis excise tax but moves the collection of that excise tax from distributors to point of retail sale by Jan. 1, 2023.

Full Report @ California NORML

Russians Urged to Snitch on Ukraine War Critics in Return to Soviet-Style Denunciations

Following Russia’s bombing of a drama theatre in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol in March, St. Petersburg-based artist Alexandra Skochilenko swapped supermarket price tags with stickers containing information about the attack that reportedly killed hundreds of civilians.

A fellow store customer reported her act of resistance to the police.

“I was extremely outraged by the slander I read because I worry a lot about Russian soldiers in Ukraine,” the 72-year-old informant claimed in testimony published by local media.

Soon after, Skochilenko, 31, was arrested for spreading “false information” about the Russian Army — a crime under new legislation that is being used to clamp down on information deviating from the Kremlin’s narrative of the war in Ukraine.

Skochilenko is one of dozens of Russians who have been criminally charged for anti-war actions or statements since the invasion began on Feb. 24. 

Many have been reported to police by family, neighbors and passersby in a trend analysts say harks back to Soviet denunciations — and is being actively encouraged by Russian authorities.

Complete Post @ The Moscow Times

 Without Roe v. Wade, Litigants Look to State Constitutions for Protection of Abortion Rights

Several state supreme courts already have recognized the right to terminate a pregnancy. Will more states join the list?

JACOB SULLUM | 6.30.2022 6:30 PM

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Abortion-rights supporters demonstrate outside the U.S. Supreme Court on June 30, 2022.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled last week in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization that the U.S. Constitution does not guarantee a right to abortion. But several state supreme courts have rejected abortion bans as inconsistent with state constitutional provisions, and current litigation over new restrictions seeks to enforce such precedents or create new ones.

Those lawsuits have met with some initial success in Michigan, where a judge ruled in May that the state constitution protects abortion rights, and Florida, where a judge said the same on Thursday. Some lawsuits do not claim constitutional protection for abortion rights but instead seek to delay implementation of “trigger” bans designed to take effect after the reversal of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 precedent that the Supreme Court repudiated in Dobbs. Here is a rundown of where things stand.



In 1997, the Alaska Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the state constitution “protects reproductive autonomy, including the right to abortion.” The court cited Article I, Section 22 of the Alaska Constitution, which was adopted in 1972 and says, “The right of the people to privacy is recognized and shall not be infringed.”

The justices concluded that “a woman’s control of her body, and the choice whether or when to bear children, involves the kind of decision-making that is “necessary for…civilized life and ordered liberty.” They added that “our prior decisions support the further conclusion that the right to an abortion is the kind of fundamental right and privilege encompassed within the intention and spirit of Alaska’s constitutional language.”


In 1969, four years before Roe established a constitutional right to abortion, the California Supreme Court ruled that a state law allowing a woman to obtain an abortion only when it is “necessary to preserve her life” was so vague that it violated the right to due process. It said “a definition requiring certainty of death,” as urged by the government, “would work an invalid abridgment of the woman’s constitutional rights,” including “the woman’s rights to life and to choose whether to bear children.”

The justices reasoned that “the fundamental right of the woman to choose whether to bear children follows from the Supreme Court’s and this court’s repeated acknowledgment of a ‘right of privacy’ or ‘liberty’ in matters related to marriage, family, and sex.” They noted that “none of the parties who have filed briefs in this case have disputed the existence of this fundamental right.”

Complete Post by Jacob Sullum @ Reason