Justin Raimondo: "Think in principles, not in range of the moment"

In the final part of my interview, Justin Raimondo describes his political awakening, and the origins of Antiwar.com. Photo: AP

WASHINGTON, March 25, 2013 ― Justin Raimondo is the editorial director of Antiwar.com, contributing editor of The American Conservative Magazine, and acclaimed author of Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement, and An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard. A senior fellow at the Randolph Borne Institute and an adjunct scholar at the Mises Institute, Raimondo is well known for his libertarian views on issues of foreign intervention and peace.


Kevin Kelly: Tell me more about Antiwar.com.

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Justin Raimondo: We started in 1996. It was basically a reaction to the war in the Balkans, which was Bill Clinton’s war.

We were listening to all of the war propaganda on CNN, otherwise known as the Clinton News Network, and not believing and saying “wait a minute they’re saying that 100,000 Kosovars are being massacred? Really? Where are the bodies?” We were being fed the usual lies and it just made me mad. The Cold War is over. Why are we still in Europe? Why are we policing the whole world?

That’s when I started writing a column every single day, attacking the nonsense that I was hearing coming from the T.V. The Internet back then wasn’t as popular as TV, and of course now the Internet is even more popular than TV. After that, we were convinced that there was going to be a huge war in the Middle East, and what do you know, we were right. That’s what kept us going, and then 9/11 happened. After 9/11 our readership really climbed. We went from having maybe 10,000 visitors a day, to maybe 80,000. In one day.

I was in New York on 9/11visiting my parents. I called our webmaster, woke him up, told him what happened, and he was on it. We had the first analysis of 9/11 out on the Internet, as far as I know. Those were hard times because we got lots of hate mail, threats, I couldn’t register to vote because its public record and my address would be public and who knows what would happen. There were all kinds of smear attacks against us, including Andrew Sullivan who accused us of being part of the “fifth column.” Of course now he’s anti-interventionist, now that it’s fashionable, but he doesn’t admit to or apologize for any of that.

We said back then there are no Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq, don’t even bother looking. We were definitely in a minority, but we were right. The lesson is don’t be afraid to say what you really believe because it could turn out to be right, and it did turn out to be right. We were right about that, and as they lied and lied and we exposed the lies we got a good rep. It paid off in readers and credibility.

Kelly: What motivated you to fight for these ideals that you have been fighting for, for most of your life?   


Raimondo: Well, it’s hard to say. I read Ayn Rand when I was like 12, and I think that had something to do with it. I’ve always been an ideologue of some sort, basically a libertarian. I’ve been involved in the libertarian movement since I was very young and way back before anybody even knew about it. When I was a libertarian, and I would tell people I was a libertarian back in the 1960’s they would say: “I didn’t know the librarians had their own political party.”

Most people didn’t know what a libertarian was. It was basically us kids, with our little mimeographed journals, and we were Young Americans for Freedom, then we split off. That’s the way it’s always been, but I founded Antiwar.com because I was very much associated with Murray N. Rothbard and the Libertarian Party and the libertarian movement. We had an organization back then, we had the Radical Caucus of the Libertarian Party and we had a ten point program.

One of those points was that foreign policy is really central, foreign policy is primary. You can’t be a libertarian unless you are also an anti-interventionist. We’ve fought for that in the movement and fought to preserve that often against overwhelming odds.

After I left the Libertarian Party and dropped out of any organized movements, I thought lets concentrate on one issue. What’s the most important issue? The most important issue is the question of war and peace. You are never going to have smaller government; you’re never going to push back the State, if we’re at war all the time. We have to put a stop to that so we founded Antiwar.com in 1996 and initially it started out where I wrote a column every single day. Some of those columns were 5,000 words and more long.

Success on the Internet means that you show up at a certain place, at a certain time, in a regular manner; since the Internet is chaos, you have to give some kind of order to it. If it shows up, people are going to start reading you. I went from, on a good day having 1,000 readers to now 50,000.

Kelly: With so much uncertainty in the world, what advice would you give to the young people of this nation/generation?

Raimondo: Be skeptical. Question everything. Think in principles, not in range of the moment. Of course you have to discover what those principles are. Always be skeptical of anything that anybody from the government or their friends tells you because it’s probably a lie. Skepticism, not nihilism, but skepticism, and plus usually the conventional wisdom is wrong.


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Kevin Kelly

Kevin Kelly is currently a college student majoring in History and Political Science. His writings have appeared in The Daily Local, Lew Rockwell.com’s blog, The Washington Times, Antiwar.com, and Freedom’s Phoenix Online Digital Magazine. He has been a popular guest political contributor to numerous national radio shows across the country, offering his perspective on a wide array of issues. 

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