Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Murray Rothbard, Lew Rockwell and Scientific Racism

In his review of Herrnstein and Murray's 'The Bell Curve', Murray Rothbard praised the book for "expressing in massively stupefying scholarly detail what everyone has always known but couldn't dare to express about race, intelligence, and heritability". Rothbard reached the following conclusion:

SO: WHY TALK ABOUT RACE AT ALL?

If, then, the Race Question is really a problem for statists and not for paleos, why should we talk about the race matter at all? Why should it be a political concern for us; why not leave the issue entirely to the scientists?

Two reasons we have already mentioned; to celebrate the victory of freedom of inquiry and of truth for its own sake; and a bullet through the heart of the egalitarian-socialist project. But there is a third reason as well: as a powerful defense of the results of the free market. If and when we as populists and libertarians abolish the welfare state in all of its aspects, and property rights and the free market shall be triumphant once more, many individuals and groups will predictably not like the end result. In that case, those ethnic and other groups who might be concentrated in lower-income or less prestigious occupations, guided by their socialistic mentors, will predictably raise the cry that free-market capitalism is evil and "discriminatory" and that therefore collectivism is needed to redress the balance. In that case, the intelligence argument will become useful to defend the market economy and the free society from ignorant or self-serving attacks. In short; racialist science is properly not an act of aggression or a cover for oppression of one group over another, but, on the contrary, an operation in defense of private property against assaults by aggressors.

Rothbard was proud to be a 'racialist' because racialism exposed the true source of inequality in a free market, namely genetics. A belief in biological racial inequality was, for Rothbard, part of the libertarian project, because racial inequality was simply how markets reflected nature. Moreover, this was no sudden conversion: Rothbard promoted the same view, as early as 1973, here.

Rothbard's article was published in the Rockwell Rothbard Report. His partner in that journal, Lew Rockwell, is the founder and Chairman of the Ludwig von Mises Institute. Rothbard and Rockwell were involved in Ron Paul's 1988 Presidential election campaign. In early 2008, this article revealed that "a half-dozen longtime libertarian activists—including some still close to Paul" had identified Rockwell as the "chief ghostwriter" of the Ron Paul newsletters published from "roughly 1989 to 1994." Some of those articles had a racist theme and can be viewed here.

Rothbard advocated support for ex-Klansman David Duke:
It is fascinating that there was nothing in Duke's current program or campaign that could not also be embraced by paleoconservatives or paleo-libertarians; lower taxes, dismantling the bureaucracy, slashing the welfare system, attacking affirmative action and racial set-asides, calling for equal rights for all Americans, including whites: what's wrong with any of that? And of course the mighty anti-Duke coalition did not choose to oppose Duke on any of these issues.
This led one disaffected libertarian to write:
The idea that it's fine to [buddy] up with open racists just because they are for limited government is ridiculous though. Is the idea that with their help it will just be a tiny racist government?
A racist using the pseudonym Peter Bradley posted a tribute to Rothbard, reproduced here:
Murray Rothbard was the founder of modern libertarianism and was also a proponent of voluntary racial separation. I never met Rothbard, but Sam Francis and several others told me he was on the same wavelength as American Renaissance on racial issues. Michael Levin was a frequent contributor to the RRR for the four years I subscribed to it. He wrote very honestly about things such as black crime, race and IQ, and the media whitewash of black failure. Hans Hoppe, who favors immigration, wrote that America could keep its racial identity and still have immigration by selecting immigrants based on IQ and race. Jared Taylor’s book of essays, The Real American Dilemma, received a favorable review by Paul Gottfried in a 1998 issue of RRR. The RRR’s forthrightness on race got it lambasted by David Frum in his 1994 book Dead Right. Frum was particularly displeased about an unflattering essay on the moral character of Martin Luther King.
In 1993, Rothbard wrote about Malcolm X and discussed the possibility of a separate state for blacks, but concluded that it would "require massive "foreign aid" from the U.S.A.". He also described black nationalism as "a phony nationalism" that was "beginning to look like a drive for an aggravated form of coerced parasitism over the white population." The overall impression created by the article was that Rothbard was using black nationalism as a straw man with which to complain about black 'parasitism' and the supposed inability of blacks to form independent, self-sufficient communities without welfare support from whites.

Rothbard stated that "There is no question that black nationalism is a lot more libertarian than the compulsory integration pushed by King, the NAACP, and white liberals." This says more about Rothbard than it does about black nationalism. A separatist state, with restricted migration to 'the USA', does not seem to be a free one, nor would black nationalism in its Muslim form have offered women the range of liberties that Rothbard took for-granted in the case of white men.

Rothbard also advocated during this period that "Cops must be unleashed, and allowed to administer instant punishment, subject of course to liability when they are in error." The implication clearly was that the cops would be white and the recipients black. The latter thus had no entitlement, according to Rothbard, to due process under the law. The irony that a libertarian should believe that public officials ought to possess those draconian powers was lost on Rothbard. As Matt Welch noted, "Empowering police to mete out street justice on dark-skinned youth does not square with any notion of limited government I’m familiar with."

Moreover, Rothbard's Jewish background did not deter him from taking dubious positions relating to Jewish questions. He fixated here on the roles of 'Jewesses' and 'top Jewish financiers' in the rise of the Welfare State, without explaining why their "ethnic" [his term] origin should be relevant. His reference to an 1860's "cohort" of such women did not establish an explanation for the existence of that cohort. He appeared to be inviting readers to draw their own inferences.

Rothbard's public views on antisemitism constituted a minimization strategy. He insisted here on a narrow definition of antisemitism and that Pat Buchanan could not be an antisemite, even though Rothbard cited this article which discusses Buchanan's views on the Treblinka death camp. Although Treblinka 'skepticism' is not proof of antisemitism, it is indicative of a willingness to believe that Jewish witnesses participated in a monstrous fabrication. At the very least, the article showed that Buchanan was 'fellow traveling' with antisemites: "Much of the material on which Buchanan bases his columns is sent to him by pro-Nazi, anti-Semitic cranks." It is therefore revealing that Rothbard omitted any discussion of Buchanan's views on the Holocaust from an article in which Rothbard was supposedly proving that Buchanan was not an antisemite. It suggests that Rothbard was insincere and that his real suspicions concerning Buchanan's views on Jews differed from the conclusions which he expressed in the article. He concealed those suspicions by erecting a straw man definition of antisemitism and excluding beliefs that may have shown that definition to be inadequate.

Rothbard's work on race and politics, eulogized and promoted by Rockwell, therefore poses major problems for his current supporters and potential new followers. Even Ron Paul recognized this problem, belatedly, when he claimed that "Libertarians are incapable of being a racist, because racism is a collectivist idea." If this statement is true, it would mean that Rothbard was not a true libertarian. If the statement is false, it would mean that at least one brand of libertarianism was racist, and Rothbard's present and future supporters must decide if they wish to wear that brand.

23 comments:

Fooled Once said...

By my measure, about 10 percent of this post concerns the Holocaust, another 10 percent concerns Jews and Jewishness, and none of it concerns Israel.

Is this a blog about the Holocaust (you know: evil Germans, Nazis, their allies, innocent victims, and virtuous, victorious opponents)? Or even about Israel and the American movement supporting it, whose interests motivate most opposition to Holocaust revisionism?

Not to say, of course, that Harrison's post is not (a) interesting; and (b) valid, at least as far as it goes (some omissions, inadvertent and/or deliberate, but it is just a blog post).

Jonathan Harrison said...

1. Scientific Racism is clearly relevant to the Holocaust, as Nazism was partially founded on racial theories.

2. Rothbard was a historical revisionist, in the tradition of Harry Elmer Barnes, so there is a historical overlap with Holocaust revisionism/denial, even if Rothbard himself did not write about the Holocaust. Some of Rothbard's themes - e.g. the reasons for US entry into the war; whether Hitler's intentions were aggressive or defensive - are clearly of relevance to debates with deniers.

3. Rothbard's evasions and minimizations regarding Buchanan and Duke are clearly a form of denial about the true nature of those political movements, which were more collectivist ('white rights') than truly libertarian.

Roberto Muehlenkamp said...

Is this a blog about the Holocaust (you know: evil Germans, Nazis, their allies, innocent victims, and virtuous, victorious opponents)?

We don't think black and white here, Mr. Smith. Victims of systematic mass murder tend to be innocent, and the organizers/perpertrators of such may be called evil if you wish, but that doesn't make all Germans evil, and neither does it make the Nazis' opponents virtuous.

Or even about Israel and the American movement supporting it, whose interests motivate most opposition to Holocaust revisionism?

So, are we supposed to be with "Israel and the American movement supporting it"?

If so, what made you think we are?

Or do you not include us in "most opposition to Holocaust revisionism"?

If so, who do you include?

Jonathan Harrison said...

I worry about the observational powers of someone who applies the "evil Germans" straw man to a blog which has attacked Goldhagen's crappy thesis on more than one occasion.

Fooled Once said...

I'm just a bit new to the blog (forgive me). Consider my reference to "evil Germans" to be a reference to Goldhagen (and his program), and not to you or the blog (it's not all about you).

Speaking of observational powers, Roberto thinks I'm Smith. If I were, I might go back longer with this blog.

But I don't. I know your means of observation of me are limited (quite deliberately). But since they are so limited, don't base conclusions on something you really can't observe (conclusively).

In fact, knowing things without adequate reason for knowing them . . . isn't that at the root of our fundamental disagreements?

In one way of looking at it, you know a great deal of stuff that I not only don't know, but that I in fact question, to some extent out of suspicion as to the incentives faced by those who first told use those things.

Roberto Muehlenkamp said...

"Speaking of observational powers, Roberto thinks I'm Smith."

A provocative assumption, not wholly unreasonable considering where the "Fooled Once" link leads to.

"If I were, I might go back longer with this blog."

What's the poet trying to tell us here?

"In fact, knowing things without adequate reason for knowing them . . . isn't that at the root of our fundamental disagreements?"

Could that be a reference to our anonymous philosopher's "knowing" that the historical record of the Nazi genocide of the Jews is a monumental hoax, without a shred of evidence to support his "knowledge" and despite all known evidence speaking against it?

"In one way of looking at it, you know a great deal of stuff that I not only don't know, but that I in fact question, to some extent out of suspicion as to the incentives faced by those who first told use those things."

Why "to some extent"? Has our anonymous philosopher got anything other than "suspicion as to the incentives faced by those who first told use those things" to base his "questioning" on?

Robert86 said...

Overall I feel this post is somewhat off topic for what I would expect from this blog. Then again it is not mine to choose what get's posted on it. Still it's strains the scope of the blog from historigrapy to political criticism. Not that those two are entirely seperate mind you but history and politics make poor bedfellows.

It is interesting to note that there is still a nativist fringe present in the "libertarian" right that tarnishes it's reputation. It's even sadder when associated with a smart and liberty loving man like Ludwig Von Mises.

Murray Rothbard was a quate valuable right libertarian thinker, who's insights where the corner stone of modern "Anarcho-Capitalist" thought. Sadly though he did have some bigoted personal opinions like many other famous people in history. Not black and white indeed.

Jonathan Harrison said...

"history and politics make poor bedfellows" is probably true, but we are dealing with people - deniers and others on the Right - who have politicized history. Rothbard is an example, as is Buchanan, although Rothbard is much more sophisticated and erudite than Buchanan or any Holocaust denier. There's a big gulf in quality between Rothbard and, say, Mattogno, but that doesn't mean that we should not deal with Rothbard as a polemicist of history and 'race'.

Rich said...

Scary stuff. Any idea about whether Ron Paul has taken a clear stand against this tripe?

Jonathan Harrison said...

Paul's current position is that "Libertarians are incapable of being a racist, because racism is a collectivist idea." Paul has distanced himself from the old racist newsletters that have been linked to Rockwell.

Paul's critics have expressed incredulity that Paul would not have known what was in his newsletters.

Jonathan Harrison said...

Many posters on the Mises public forum seem to be opposed to racism and to immigration controls.

"It is not rational to discriminate against others, economically, based upon which side of a river, mountain range, ocean or imaginary line they are born. Nationalism is as egregious and irrational a belief as racism, sexism or homophobia."

http://mises.org/Community/forums/t/17892.aspx?PageIndex=1

If that's the majority opinion at Mises, then Rothbard's views on race make him something of a dinosaur in that regard.

Jonathan Harrison said...

Contrast the above thread with Rothbard's view expressed in Nations by Consent: Decomposing the Nation State

"I began to rethink my views on immigration when, as the Soviet Union collapsed, it became clear that ethnic Russians had been encouraged to flood into Estonia and Latvia in order to destroy the cultures and languages of these peoples. Previously, it had been easy to dismiss as unrealistic Jean Raspail's anti-immigration novel The Camp of the Saints, in which virtually the entire population of India decides to move, in small boats, into France, and the French, infected by liberal ideology, cannot summon the will to prevent economic and cultural national destruction. As cultural and welfare-state problems have intensified, it became impossible to dismiss Raspail's concerns any longer."

http://mises.org/Community/forums/p/3768/52019.aspx

Seems to be based on a conspiratorial image of foreigners.

Major Major said...

If you think that's bad, take a look at the commentary presented here:

http://libertarianalliance.wordpress.com/2007/04/30/sean-gabb-on-holocaust-denial/

I do believe that Greg Gerdes is among those lending a few comments.

Joseph T Major

Dan said...

Correct me if I'm wrong, but weren't there quite a few former camp inmates who claimed to have witnessed gassings in Bergen-Belsen and Dachau?

If so, then Jews obviously ARE capable of making up similar stories, and a "willingness to believe" that this could have happened in Treblinka as well seems quite reasonable.

Roberto Muehlenkamp said...

Correct me if I'm wrong, but weren't there quite a few former camp inmates who claimed to have witnessed gassings in Bergen-Belsen and Dachau?

I know of one inmate - Dr. Blaha - who claimed to have witnessed gassings at Dachau. He wasn't Jewish, IIRC. And his claims, while not corroborated by other eyewitnesses, need not have been inaccurate considering certain features of the building and documentary evidence whereby Dr. Rascher at least intended to build a gassing facility at Dachau.

If so, then Jews obviously ARE capable of making up similar stories, and a "willingness to believe" that this could have happened in Treblinka as well seems quite reasonable.

Reason flew out of the window with the "then Jews obviously ARE capable of making up similar stories" - remark, and as concerns Treblinka mass gassings are proven by coincident eyewitness testimonies submitted to cross-examination in court and confirmed by depositions of accused perpetrators, plus documentary and physical evidence showing that the place was a mass killing site. Check out the blogs labeled "Treblinka".

Roberto Lucena said...

That's nice, that's the new "revisionist" arguments about the Holocaust: to create spammer profiles of 'porn sites' for publishing spam/trojan links with them.

Spammer Profile:
http://www.blogger.com/profile/02932338019878768463
Spammer Blog:
http://lyonsgeorge5611.blogspot.com/

It'd be good if blogger/blogspot has have a ban option for these spammer profiles.

Roberto Lucena said...

"Robert86 said...
Overall I feel this post is somewhat off topic for what I would expect from this blog. Then again it is not mine to choose what get's posted on it. Still it's strains the scope of the blog from historigrapy to political criticism. Not that those two are entirely seperate mind you but history and politics make poor bedfellows."


Robert, I read what Jonathan said above and I agree with him, I think to talk about these far-right groups and their ideologies/ideologists aren't an off-topic discussion, it's totally within of the blog's subject.

The "biological", "scientific" and historical antisemitism and racism, that have been promoted since century XIX until now, are the ideological base for the Holocaust Denial and dissemination of the racism/antisemitism today through these extremist groups.

These far-right groups(and other extremists) continue the "tradition" of the "biological" and political racism of the past with a new garb/camouflage, the same racism it made possible that the Holocaust happened and other tragedies.

It's necessary to understand what these groups think and says which political groups 'racialize' the history for promoting racism, hatred and the rehabilitation of the fascism/nazism.

Ruslan Amirkhanov said...

"Libertarians are incapable of being a racist, because racism is a collectivist idea."

I love how these libertarian morons think there is some kind of mathmatical formula that will absolve them from being racist, no matter how many times they are busted.

Conservatives of all stripes often think that if they didn't intend to be "racist"(and their definition usually varies), then it is impossible for them to be thus. So for example the kid with the "Obama Monkey-See Monkey-Spend" sign isn't a member of the Klan, and probably doesn't generally consciously hate black people, and so on- therefore the sign couldn't be racist. BS.

Ruslan Amirkhanov said...

By the way, has anyone noticed that this scientific racialism disproves the claims of WNs and especially Kevin MacDonald who claim that the Jews are engaged in a conspiracy to conceal "racial reality" and that they are attempting to destroy the "white race."

Avigdor said...

Ruslan, I've read the 'Culture of Critique'. I don't believe it's fair to say "Kevin MacDonald...claim[s] that the Jews are engaged in a conspiracy to conceal 'racial reality'"

I think it's more accurate to say he identified Franz Boas as the leader of a movement dedicated toward minimizing the importance of racial reality and that he did that in large part because of his Jewish identity.

I dare say no one can reasonably take issue with that statement, as opposed to your straw-man characterization of his thesis.

Ruslan said...

"I think it's more accurate to say he identified Franz Boas as the leader of a movement dedicated toward minimizing the importance of racial reality and that he did that in large part because of his Jewish identity."

First mistake, this idea of race as "reality". Second mistake, MacDonald has no way of proving Boas' alleged conspiracy without reading his mind.

braveheart said...

The Holocaust is a provable hoax - as documented by the revisionist literature. As for racism being collectivist, every signer of the Constitution was a racist - as proven by their own documented statements. No founding father was a National Socialist; every founding father was a white supremacist.

As to Mr. Mullenkamp, he is simply a tribal liar.

josh said...

Your attack on rothbard for his views on race is not only hypocritical but completely substanceless. Why should I assume that all people are born equal? Such a belief can only be assumed by three means:

1. Coercion
2. Brain washing
3. Bigotry (personal bias)

So in reality, it is you who are the bigots. If you want to challenge rothbard on intelligence and race, then please, attack the statistics of 'the bell curve.'

Now I will come to your hypocrisy. You state that 'race does not matter,' and you also state that there is no merit in its discussion.

Yet you are the ones who SUPPORT the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in Palestine. You are the ones who DENY the Palestinians the right of return to THEIR land on account of their 'ethnicity.'

I am a jew, a supporter of 'cultural zionism,' and I even support the state of israel, but i will be dammed if I am to be grouped in with the likes of you fascists.