Saturday, September 17, 2011

Murray Rothbard, Lew Rockwell and Scientific Racism

Murray Rothbard, Lew Rockwell and Scientific Racism

The following is reprinted from Holocaust Controversies. It deals primarily with Rothbard and Rockwell, two of the major influences on Ron Paul and two men who have pushed libertarianism into some strange waters indeed.

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:


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.

No comments: