1. Predecessor to the Mises Institute
As first revealed in Jane Mayer’s Dark Money, the Center for Libertarian Studies (CLS) was launched with $65,000 from Charles Koch. Their inaugural event was a 1976 conference whose papers and presenters, would ultimately shape Charles Koch’s future political strategy. Many CLS officials and participants would eventually create the Mises Institute, and eventually the League of the South.
According to documents in the Hoover Institution archives at Stanford University, early CLS officials consisted of several (eventual) Mises Institute founders or scholars, including Murray Rothbard, Henry Hazlitt, Joe Stromberg, and Walter Block. Mises founder Lew Rockwell served as longtime Vice President of the Center for Libertarian Studies. The Mises Institute has described itself as “heir to the Center for Libertarian Studies.”
2. Mises Institute to League of the South
The Mises Institute was founded in 1982 by several CLS officials noted above.
The League of the South (LOS), a violent “southern nationalist” hate group, was founded in 1994 by at least ten Mises Institute scholars, at least three of which were CLS officials, including Mises Institute founder Lew Rockwell.
Rockwell was an advocate for police brutality, a ghostwriter of Ron Paul’s racist newsletters, and a publisher of openly racist newsletters with CLS/Mises Institute co-founder Murray Rothbard. Archived versions of the LOS website show that Murray Rothbard is listed as a charter member of the League of the South, just one year before he died.
The LOS eventually founded the the League of the South Institute for “the Study of Southern Culture and History.” It was described as the “educational arm of the Southern independence movement.” The Mises Institute’s Donald Livingston was its first director.
Other current Mises Institute “affiliate scholars” that were LOS Institute “faculty” include: Thomas DiLorenzo, Marshall DeRosa, Jeffrey Tucker, Thomas Woods, Clyde Wilson, and (CLS official) Joseph Stromberg.
Jane Mayer’s documentation of the founding of CLS includes quotes from an unpublished history of Charles Koch by historian Clayton Coppin, whose original text shows that Joseph Stromberg presented alongside Charles Koch at the 1976 CLS conference, presenting a paper on maintaining a radical hardline ideology rather than a gradualist, or “Fabian,” strategy. Koch would ultimately fund both the hardline (Rothbard) and gradualist (Hayek) strategies, incorporating the same diversified tactics employed throughout his operation of Koch Industries. (See Note on Austrian economics).
3. The Abbeville Institute
In 2000, the SPLC declared the LOS to be a hate group.
In 2002, Donald Livingston founded a spin-off the Abbeville Institute, named for the birthplace of John Calhoun, seventh vice president of the United States and fierce advocate of slavery. Their mission cites how rarely it is possible “even on southern campuses” to ”acknowledge the achievements of the white people of the South.”
In 2009, Donald Livingston told the Chronicle of Higher Education that:
the League of the South is not racist but that he left it almost a decade ago because it was "avowedly secessionist," while he was more interested in understanding and explaining secession. He emphasizes that Abbeville does not advocate policy. (Chronicle of Higher Ed, 2009)
Despite his claim, Livingston can be seen as active faculty on archived versions of the LOS Institute website as late as 2004.
The Abbeville Institute was formed as an “intellectual challenge” to the:
cultural and political atrocity—an increasingly successful campaign by the media and an academic elite to strip young white southerners, and arguably black southerners as well, of their heritage, and, therefore, their identity. To this end, we hold summer schools for college and graduate students as well as conferences for academics at colleges and universities. We also conduct educational conferences for the public.
Livingston and others explained how:
the Civil War—or as they often refer to it, the War of Northern Aggression or the War to Prevent Southern Independence—was not about slavery (the system was on its way out anyway, they argue) and that the antebellum Southern states had every right to secede. (Chronicle, 2009)
Mises scholars that are currently active with the Abbeville Institute include: Donald Livingston, Thomas DiLorenzo, Joseph Stromberg, Marshall DeRosa, Paul Gottfried, and Clyde Wilson, who has celebrated and published several volumes of John Calhoun’s collected writings.
Murray Rothbard, co-founder of the Cato Institute, Mises Institute, and LOS, praised John Calhoun, calling him “one of America’s most brilliant political theorists,” and quoted him at length in his 1978 book, For a New Liberty:
the inherent tendency of a State to break through the limits of its written Constitution . . .it is a great mistake to suppose that the mere insertion of provisions to restrict and limit the powers of the government . . . will be sufficient to prevent the major and dominant party from abusing its powers. (FEE.org)
As recently as 2000 Cato’s Vice President, Gene Healy, defended Rothbard’s Calhoun worship:
Fragmentation of political power, even—perhaps especially—when such power is invoked in the service of our natural rights, is a surer guarantor of liberty than the goodwill of federal legislators and judges. I’d have thought that this was a respectable position for a libertarian to take. (FEE.com, 2000)
In Chapter 4, we see that while the development of the increasingly radical Austrian economists was taking place alongside a much larger legal and political effort by the Koch network to dismantle civil rights in the United States.