Robert LeFevre


Robert LeFevre

Robert LeFevre (1911–1986) was an American libertarian businessman, radio personality and primary theorist of autarchism.

Freedom School

In 1957, LeFevre founded the Freedom School, which he ran until 1973, in Colorado Springs, Colorado. In 1965, after a flood devastated the campus, the school and college moved to California. The Freedom School was designed to educate people in LeFevre's philosophy about the meaning of freedom and free-market economic policy. LeFevre added Rampart College, an unaccredited four-year school, in 1963. Both institutions shared the same campus, and had a press, The Pine Tree Press, which published works for both, including a newsletter for the Freedom School, the "Rampart Journal of Individualist Thought" (1965-68), and a tabloid for the Press itself. [ [http://www.mises.org/freemarket_detail.asp?control=362 The Free Market, July 2001, Volume 19, Number 7] ]

After Rampart College's collapse, LeFevre carried on his work in South Carolina under the patronage of business giant Roger Milliken.

Notable teachers at the Freedom School or Rampart College include Rose Wilder Lane, Milton Friedman, F.A. Harper, Frank Chodorov, Leonard Read, Gordon Tullock, G. Warren Nutter, Bruno Leoni, James J. Martin, and Ludwig von Mises.

Notable graduates include Roy Childs, Kerry Thornley, Fred and Charles Koch, and Roger MacBride.

Views

LeFevre believed that natural law is above the law of the state and that for American society to prosper economically, free-market reforms were essential. He also believed that bestowing the good deeds of society on its government was no different from rewarding criminals for abstaining from illegal activity. All government consists of "customs" and "institutions" that control our lives by stealing our property, restricting our freedom, and endangering our lives with the rationale of protecting us from ourselves.

Pacifism

LeFevre was also famously an anarcho-pacifist, and taught his brand of libertarianism during the 1960s at the Freedom School, later Rampart College.cite book |last=Doherty |first=Brian |title=Radicals for Capitalism: A Freewheeling History of the Modern American Libertarian Movement |publisher=PublicAffairsTM |location=New York |year=2007 |isbn=978-1-58648-572-6 |page=312 ] Brian Doherty summed up the insights of LeFevrean lectures as delivering "the universal law that if you trespass on someone else's property, you'll make him mad, and you wouldn't want that, would you?"cite book |last=Doherty |first=Brian |title=Radicals for Capitalism: A Freewheeling History of the Modern American Libertarian Movement |publisher=PublicAffairsTM |location=New York |year=2007 |isbn=978-1-58648-572-6 |page=315 ] Although often forgotten by libertarians today, LeFevre "preached a thoroughgoing pacifism that held it to be an impermissible violation of the property rights of an assailant to destroy the ropes he'd tied you up with (just so long as they were his ropes) and just as bad to take a necklace back from a blackguard who stole it from you as it was for the blackguard to take it from you in the first place.cite book |last=Doherty |first=Brian |title=Radicals for Capitalism: A Freewheeling History of the Modern American Libertarian Movement |publisher=PublicAffairsTM |location=New York |year=2007 |isbn=978-1-58648-572-6 |page=316 ]

Given his dedication to pacifism, LeFevre also spoke out against war as a product of the state. He once gave a speech called "Prelude to Hell" to a local Lions Club about what it would be like for a typical American city to get nuked as a result of "those mighty, terrible, pointless conflicts that the modern state inevitably creates."cite book |last=Doherty |first=Brian |title=Radicals for Capitalism: A Freewheeling History of the Modern American Libertarian Movement |publisher=PublicAffairsTM |location=New York |year=2007 |isbn=978-1-58648-572-6 |page=318 ] According to Doherty, LeFevre was "capable of facing down angry lieutenant colonels, who raged at his pacifistic refusal to fight for the flag, and explaining his theory of human rights so patiently, so guilelessly, that in the end the crusty colonel had to admit that LeFevre was right to stand his ground."cite book |last=Doherty |first=Brian |title=Radicals for Capitalism: A Freewheeling History of the Modern American Libertarian Movement |publisher=PublicAffairsTM |location=New York |year=2007 |isbn=978-1-58648-572-6 |page=319 ]

According to Robert Smith, LeFevre became convinced of the power of non-violent resistance after a run-in with a union. "I remember him telling the story," says Smith, "of union goons busting into a radio station he worked at. And he just fell flat on the ground and lay there. They were so nonplussed they walked out without beating the shit out of him. That convinced him of the principles of nonviolence."cite book |last=Doherty |first=Brian |title=Radicals for Capitalism: A Freewheeling History of the Modern American Libertarian Movement |publisher=PublicAffairsTM |location=New York |year=2007 |isbn=978-1-58648-572-6 |page=319 ]

Influence on libertarian movement

LeFevre was influential in the early libertarian movement, but differed from modern libertarians on two counts. Most libertarians hold to a non-aggression principle in which the initiation of force or fraud is considered morally wrong, but that the use of force in defense when it is initiated by somebody else is acceptable. LeFevre went further and took a pacifist stance, believing that any use of force is morally wrong. The other point concerns the matter of voting and political parties. While most libertarians believe these are acceptable, and indeed many are organized into the Libertarian Party, LeFevre believed voting itself was an act of aggression and opposed participation in electoral politics.

LeFevre favored the abolition of the state but used the term "autarchism" (self government) to describe his politics, to distinguish it from anarchism. In part this was because of the association of anarchism in the public eye with violence, but LeFevre did not consider himself an anarchist, and in his "LeFevre Commentaries" bluntly stated that he was not an anarchist.

In popular culture

Robert LeFevre's movement was a basis for Robert A. Heinlein's book "The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress". LeFevre was the basis for the character Professor Bernardo de la Paz, organizer of the Lunar revolution.

Bibliography

*"Anarchy" (1959)
*"The Nature of Man and His Government" (Caxton Printing, 1959) ISBN 0-87004-086-3
*"This Bread is Mine" (American Liberty Press, 1960)
*"Constitutional Government in the Soviet Union" (Exposition Press, 1962; Pine Tree Press, 1966)
*"Limited Government- Hope or Illusion?" (Pine Tree Press, 1963)
*"Role of Private Property in a Free Society" (Pine Tree Press, 1963)
*"Anarchy v. Autoarchy" (Pine Tree Press, 1965)
*"Money" (Pine Tree Press, 1965)
*"The Philosophy of Ownership" (Pine Tree Press, 1966, 1985; Ludwig von Mises Institute, 2007)
*"Justice" (Rampart College, 1972)
*"Lift Her Up Tenderly" (Pine Tree Press, 1976)
*"Does Government Protection Protect?" (Society for Libertarian Life ed, Rampart Press, 1978)
*"The Libertarian" (Bramble Minibooks, 1978?)
*"Protection" (Rampart College, n.d.)
*"The Fundamentals of Liberty" (Rampart Institute, 1988) (posthumously) ISBN 0-9620480-0-3
*"A Way to Be Free" (Pulpless, 1999) (posthumously) (autobiography) Vol 1 ISBN 1-58445-141-6, Vol 2 ISBN 1-58445-144-0

Quotes

*"An anarchist is anyone who believes in less government than you do."
*"If men are good, you don't need government; if men are evil or ambivalent, you don't dare have one."
*"Government is a disease masquerading as its own cure."
*"A limited government is a contradiction in terms."

Notes

External links

* [http://www.faem.com/lefevre/fevre01.htm LeFevre on principles]
* [http://www.faem.com/lefevre/fevre02.htm LeFevre on freedom]
* [http://www.faem.com/lefevre/fevre03.htm LeFevre on the genesis of property]
* [http://www.faem.com/lefevre/fevre04.htm LeFevre on] the morality of ownership
* [http://www.faem.com/lefevre/fevre05.htm LeFevre on] the community and private property
* [http://www.faem.com/lefevre/fevre06.htm LeFevre on] Capitalism
* [http://www.faem.com/lefevre/fevre07.htm LeFevre on] the American Revolution
* [http://www.faem.com/lefevre/fevre08.htm LeFevre on] money"Note that the website hosting the above essays, "F.A.E.M. (First Amendment Exercise Machine)", contains other articles with many controversial remarks that may be offensive. These are unrelated to the beliefs of Robert LeFevre."
* [http://www.mises.org/story/2133 LeFevre's essay, "Who Was the Original Aunt Jemima and What Did She Do?"]
* [http://www.mises.org/story/1970 LeFevre's essay, "The Nature of Man and His Government" (1959)]
* [http://www.voluntaryist.com/lefevre/ LeFevre articles on "The Voluntaryist" website] . "The Voluntaryist" is a newsletter devoted to LeFevre's views of libertarianism.
* [http://www.mises.org/media.aspx?action=category&ID=27 Audio archive of 50 LeFevre commentaries] hosted by the Ludwig von Mises Institute. These commentaries have made their mark in the history of libertarian ideas for their clarity, eloquence, and pedogogical value. Drawing on great thoughts from all ages, and specifically influenced by Rothbardian political economy, Robert LeFevre asks and answers fundamental questions about the relationship between man, property, society, and the state.
* [http://nwda-db.wsulibs.wsu.edu/findaid/ark:/80444/xv29769 Guide to the Robert LeFevre papers from 1946–1981 at the University of Oregon.]


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