Saturday, November 23, 2013

Response to "Exposing the Racist History of Libertarianism and Murray Rothbard"

    The following is a response to “Exposing the Racist History of Libertarianism and Murray Rothbard” by Gary Anderson, from the October 3rd, 2011 issue of Business Insider. The full article can be read at the following address:
    In his article “Exposing the Racist History of Libertarianism and Murray Rothbard”, Gary Anderson makes a series of statements which generally amount to libelous slander against various heroes and founders of libertarianism; in particular, former Texas Congressman and three-time presidential candidate Ron Paul, and economists Ludwig von Mises and Murray Rothbard. His statements make sweeping statements about Austrian School economics, libertarianism, and libertarians, and ignore important things about history and distinctions between political ideologies.

   This piece critiques the statements and assertions made by Anderson in his piece point by point, and more or less in order.

Was Murray Rothbard a Friend of Ayn Rand?
    While it is true that “Murray Rothbard was the student of Ludwig Von Mises”, the statement that Rothbard was “a friend of Ayn Rand” is misleading, given that – after he stopped associating with her and her circle of “friends” (ideologues) - he wrote a play entitled “Mozart Was a Red”, which pokes fun at Rand's habit of calling her own views and preferences “rational”, and applying the label “collectivism” to points of view with which she disagreed, often regarding topics which have nothing to do with politics or economics.
    However, it is true that Rothbard praised Rand; in 1958, he wrote that “Atlas Shrugged” was “the greatest novel ever written”. But this point does not have anything to do with race, so for the purposes of this essay it does not merit further discussion. It might be worth mentioning in passing that - when pressed - Rand supported the State of Israel over Palestine, due to the Israelis' technological superiority over the Palestinians' supposedly more primitive culture, but this does not reflect in any way upon Rothbard's views.

Was Murray Rothbard a Racist or a Racial Separatist?
    Anderson's next claim is that “Rothbard was a racist...”. Since this is a very general statement, instead of discussing it directly, I will only address more specific claims, such as the author's next claim that Rothbard “...believed in the [']voluntary['] separation of the races”.
    In the June 1994 issue of American Renaissance, Rothbard wrote on the topic of possible solutions to the racial apartheid problem in South Africa. He wrote that, “[b]eyond a small quantity, national heterogeneity simply does not work; the [']nation['] disintegrates into more than one nation, and the need for separation becomes acute... We are now probably a lot more than two nations, and we had better start giving serious thought to national separation.”
    Rothbard is saying that a nation works best when it is homogenous - that is, when its nationals unite into a common political association on the basis of shared interests and feelings, including ethnic, racial, cultural, or religious identity – and that national separation should be considered as an option when the criteria which once united the people of a nation is no longer shared by all its people or by the vast majority thereof.
    Rothbard continues, “To those who think that the main problem is restricting the number and types of immigration, the best answer is that such a policy is decades too late. We are already far more than one nation within the borders of the U.S.A., let alone worry about the immigrants. To greet the very raising of such questions with the mindless cry of [']racism['] or [']chauvinism['] misses the entire point... We might not be able any longer to bring back the Old Republic across the entire land area of the 50 states. But we may be able to bring it back in a substantial part of that land area.”
   Rothbard's comment that “[w]e are already far more than one nation” could suggest any number of things. One possibility is that he means to imply racial or ethnic “nations” of people living in the U.S.; that is, he is promoting racial separatism. This seems to be Gary Anderson's interpretation of Rothbard's position.
   Another possibility is that by “nations”, he means people identifying as members of the same nation on ethnic, racial, cultural, religious, and other bases. In this case, a “nation” may imply a “people”, although not necessarily a “state” (or country), because a people may have a national identity but still be stateless, as in the situation experienced by the Jewish people before the State of Israel existed.
   Yet another possibility is that Rothbard is referring to the fifty states as nations unto themselves. This is a possibility because of the national essence of the states, being recognized as “free, sovereign, and independent states” by the United States and Great Britain in the 1783 Treaty of Paris.
   Understanding the latter two possibilities, we see that it is possible that what Rothbard was advocating was that the oppressed blacks of South Africa come to wield self-determination, autonomy, and independence as a sovereign nation; rather than that they become victims of national separation through being excluded from participation and membership in the white-run government. 
   Murray Rothbard is not the first person to advocate voluntary national separation as a solution to the problem of the dissolution of a national cultural identity which shapes a society existing within the framework of a geographical state. After all, the founding of the United States occurred when – among other things – a national identity developed among the colonists, who resented being governed by inaccessible and unaccountable overseas powers.
   In fact, support for national separation alongside individualism and voluntary governmance is not unique to theorists of the classical liberal and laissez-faire persuasions. In 1907, Austrian social democrat Otto Bauer wrote “The Question of Nationalities and Social Democracy”, in which he developed the principle of “national personal autonomy”. This principle is that nations should be organized “not in territorial bodies but in simple association of persons”
    Fellow Austrian social democrat Karl Renner's observation that Jews could adopt any nationality they wish is one which certainly seemed to apply to Bauer, a secular Jew who spoke German and Czech. The reason for nationality having been such an important issue in Bauer's place and time is that the Habsburg Empire was fracturing into about ten distinct peoples with new national identities, most of which now control their own sovereign European states.
   To summarize Rothbard's quote on immigration, he evidently feels that “restricting the number and types of immigration” might have worked several decades ago. However - to be fair - Rothbard only made this statement as “the best answer” to those who support such a policy, which seems to suggest that Rothbard's position is that dealing with immigration alone is not enough to solve the national question. This may also provide an explanation as to why Rothbard wrote, “...let alone worry about the immigrants” and “[t]o greet the very raising of such questions with the mindless cry of [']racism['] or [']chauvinism['] misses the entire point...”.
   Rothbard's comment that “[w]e might not be able... to bring back the Old Republic across the entire land area of the 50 states... [b]ut we may be able to bring it back in a substantial part of that land area” shows that Rothbard is still thinking of independent and self-determining nations of people in the context of sovereign territorial government (that is, statism; the local monopoly on the use of legitimate force), in contrast to Bauer's aterritorial conception of nationalism.
   We have yet to confirm that Rothbard's advocacy of national separatism is motivated by racism, and that his advocacy of an evidently statist form of national separatism is motivated by anything other than pragmatism. These issues will be addressed, although for now Anderson is done with Rothbard, and has moved on to Ludwig von Mises.

Was Ludwig von Mises a Fascist?
   Anderson continues, “I have argued that [Rothbard's] teacher, Mises, was an elitist with fascist tendencies.” Ludwig von Mises was a member of the Austrian nobility, served as a front officer in the Austro-Hungarian artillery, and served as an economics advisor to austrofascist Austrian Chancellor Engelbert Dollfuss (as well as to Otto von Habsburg).
    While Dollfuss (of the Christian Social Party, and later the Fatherland's Front) was an austrofascist, he was not a Nazi or a national socialist. In fact, he banned the Austrian Nazi party in 1933, and in 1934 he was assassinated by Nazis.
    Dollfuss's Austrian fascism was modeled on Mussolinian fascism; not Hitler's National Socialism. Mussolini helped protect Austria's fascist regime against the Nazis until 1938. Dollfuss and von Mises supported Austrian independence, rather than the annexation of Austria by a Germany under Nazi rule.
    Additionally, Dollfuss's Austria was not anti-Semitic. There were no official anti-Semitic policies in place, public violence against Jews was rare, and Jewish artists and others took refuge in Austria from Germany until Austria became unsafe for Jews and Austrian nationalists in 1938.
    Furthermore, Ludwig von Mises himself was a Jew. In 1940, fearing a Nazi invasion, he fled Switzerland to the United States. It may be true that von Mises was an “elitist” - having been born into a wealthy Jewish family and having been a member of the nobility - but to call him a fascist is to risk conflating Nazism and antisemitism with anything and everything termed “fascism”, through ignoring the vague differences between austrofascism, Italian fascism, and national socialism, and the history of those regimes' interactions.
    It is worth noting that in Dollfuss's fascist regime banned the Social Democratic Party which was at several times headed by Karl Renner. However, during the emergency period through which Dollfuss led Austria, Renner for a time pledged to support the Anschluss (the annexation of Austria by Germany which reunited the two).

Was Murray Rothbard's Support of David Duke Motivated By Racism?
    Anderson continues, “...Rothbard spoke kindly of David Duke, the KKK office seeker”, commenting that “[o]ne disaffected libertarian was dismayed that Rothbard would seek to align himself with a pure racist just because he believed in limited government.”
    Anderson is referring to former Republican Louisiana State Representative and perennial presidential candidate David Duke, who was once the Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. Duke is a “racial realist” and a critic of the State of Israel. He supports preserving Western culture and traditional Christian family values, voluntary racial segregation, and white separatism.
    In the January 1992 issue of The Rothbard-Rockwell Report, Rothbard wrote an article entitled “Right-Wing Populism: A Strategy for the Paleo Movement”. In the article, he wrote that “[i]t took a massive campaign of hysteria, of fear and hate, orchestrated by all wings of the Ruling Elite, from Official Right to Left, from President Bush and the official Republican Party through the New York-Washington-run national media through the local elites and down to local left-wing activists. It took a massive scare campaign... bogey images of the Klan and Hitler... a virtual threat to boycott Louisiana, to pull out tourists and conventions... jobs by businesses leaving the state...” [to “get” David Duke].
    Rothbard's article - in which he describes Duke as a “right-wing populist” and seems to regard Duke's having received 55% of the white vote in his Louisiana State House race as a good thing - was written in 1992. This means that the article was published 22 years after David Duke formed the national socialist White Student Alliance group at Louisiana State University, 18 years after Duke founded the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan (K.K.K.K.) in Louisiana, and 12 years after Duke left the Klan to form the National Association for the Advancement of White People (N.A.A.W.P.).
    It is true that Duke was formerly associated with national socialism, border-watch activities, and the Ku Klux Klan; and also that he has criticized the State of Israel and Jewish control over American foreign and banking policy, and defended Ernst Zundel, the German publisher who served in jail and prison in Germany, the U.S., and Canada for - among other crimes - inciting hatred against an identifiable group, being a threat to national security, inciting racial hatred, and incitement for Holocaust denial.
    However, Duke kept his K.K.K.K. open to women and Catholics, he has consistently opposed white pride without aggression or violence for decades, he criticizes the State of Israel for its militancy and its policy of apartheid against the Palestinians, he criticizes passages in the Jewish Talmud which he believes promote the idea of Jewish supremacy, and he defends questioning the facts of the Holocaust as protected free speech which does not directly and specifically threaten or encourage the incitement of violence.
    Zundel - who admitted he wasn't positive that he had absolutely no Jewish heritage - has never been convicted of any crime against Jews or the property of Jews, nor of any crime against person or property in general. We should keep this in mind, as well as the fact that restriction of non-violent speech regarding the Holocaust has already been adopted across the European Union, with each state imposing a three-year prison term for offenses such as diminishing, trivializing, or questioning crimes against humanity.
    Rothbard never praised David Duke explicitly for his past association with national socialism or the Ku Klux Klan. In The Rockwell-Rothbard Report, Rothbard wrote, “[i]t is fascinating that there was nothing in Duke's... campaign that could not also be embraced by paleo-conservatives 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?””

Why Did Murray Rothbard Oppose a Black Nationalist State?
    Next, Anderson addresses Rothbard's stance on the relationship between nationalism and American blacks specifically, saying that “[t]he only reason that Rothbard did not back a separate state for blacks was because he was afraid it would cost too much in [']foreign aid['].”
    And so, we now return to the question “is his advocacy of an evidently statist form of national separatism motivated by anything other than pragmatism?” In defending David Duke, Rothbard wrote that “[t]he basic right-wing populist insight is that we live in a statist country and a statist world dominated by a ruling elite”.
    Rothbard supported what he called “anarcho-capitalism” over statism. In the mid-19th century, the same philosophy was largely a branch of classical liberalism and laissez-faire economics; more recently it has come to be known as “market anarchism”.
    In 1972, Rothbard wrote in defense of the idea that “free-market capitalism” should be distinguished from “state capitalism”, saying that “[f]ree-market capitalism is a network of free and voluntary exchanges... State capitalism consists of one or more groups making use of the coercive apparatus of the government – the State – to accumulate capital for themselves by expropriating the production of others by force and violence.”
    Rothbard believed that libertarianism could co-exist with open borders, until he changed his position to support closed borders in a March 1994 paper entitled “Nations By Consent: Decomposing the Nation-State”, in which he cited the need to protect the destruction of cultures and languages (i.e., cultural nations and linguistic nations) from immigration resulting from forced economic and social integration, the result of trade negotiation between two or more sovereigns.
    In the essay, Rothbard wrote that “the crucial flaw is the implicit assumption of the entire analysis [which is “the problem of the nation”; i.e., “collective security against aggression” rather than “national self-determination” and “the genuine nation, or nationality”] [is] that every nation-state “owns” its entire geographical area in the same just and proper way that every individual property owner owns his person and the property that he has inherited, worked for, or gained in voluntary exchange...”.
    He continues, “[i]t is absurd to designate every nation-state, with its self-proclaimed boundary as it exists at any one time, as somehow right and sacrosanct, each with its “territorial integrity” to remain as spotless and unbreached as your or my bodily person or private property. Invariably, of course, these boundaries have been acquired by force and violence, or by inter-state agreement above and beyond the heads of the inhabitants on the spot, and invariably these boundaries shift a great deal over time in ways that make proclamations of [']territorial integrity['] truly ludicrous.”
    We see from these quotes that Rothbard is directly questioning each of the three principles of statism: territorial integrity, legitimate force / coercion, and the regulatory monopoly. The regulatory monopoly is antithetical to the classical liberal and free-market ideal of regulatory competition, which can be fulfilled in federalist systems which institutionalize dual federalism, co-equal sovereignty, and regional (including states') rights and decentralization.
    The purpose of regulatory competition is to allow for an experimentation in policy, so that the risks of bad policies confined to relatively small areas, and so that the best policy may be gleaned from amongst jurisdictions competing to provide the best governance for the most reasonable cost to the citizens who consume their goods and services. This form of government helps to diffuse the centralization and hierarchical structure of the federalist state.
    Dual federalism is the only type of federalist system which provides opportunity for states, counties, and municipalities to freely practice difference, divergence, and diversity in policy implementation, which can seem necessary to Democrats, liberals, progressives, and socialists if and when a state desires to nullify a Republican, conservative, libertarian, or capitalist federal law which prohibits the state from implementing the laws they please.
    Understanding that – and, indeed, why – Rothbard opposed the state, we should be able to guess right away that he would reject something termed “the welfare state”. And, of course, he does; in his essay reviewing The Bell Curve by Richard J. Herrnstein and Charles Murray, Rothbard wrote that the book expressed “what everyone has always known but couldn't dare to express about race, intelligence, and heritability”.
    Rothbard writes that “[u]ntil literally mid-October 1994, it was shameful and taboo for anyone to talk publicly or write about, home truths which everyone, and I mean everyone, knew in their hearts and in private: that is, almost self-evident truths about race, intelligence, and heritability… Essentially, I mean the almost self-evident fact that individuals, ethnic groups, and races differ among themselves in intelligence and in many other traits, and that intelligence, as well as less controversial traits of temperament, are in large part hereditary.”
    He continues, “[i]f and when we... abolish the welfare state... 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”. He adds that the The Bell Curve “tries to downplay the entire issue of race, devoting most of its space to [statistics, qualifications, and] inheritable differences among individuals within each ethnic or racial group.”
    To summarize the preceding three paragraphs, Rothbard believes that intelligence – as well as “less controversial traits of temperament” (which presumably includes any natural or behavioral trait) are “in large part hereditary”, that they differ among “individuals, ethnic groups, and races”, and that these “truths” are “almost self-evident”.
    The proposition that the idea that individual traits differ in large part due to heredity is almost self-evident seems true enough. So here's where we should be the most clear: Rothbard believes that intelligence - and other traits, including any natural or behavioral “temperamental trait” one could think of - differ, in large part, due to heredity across races and ethnicities.
    To summarize this, Rothbard wishes The Bell Curve had addressed race and ethnicity more directly, instead of focusing on inheritable differences among individuals (as well as statistics and qualifications). Additionally, he believes that heredity is a significant factor in natural and behavioral traits with regard to race and ethnicity, in addition to among individuals.
    It very well may be that Rothbard also believes that environment – that is, environmental conditioning – is also (in addition to heredity and genetics) “in large part” an influence on natural and behavioral traits including intelligence, and neglected to mention it. Rothbard would of course agree that the collusion of big government and big business has resulted in an expropriation of wealth from all Americans (white, black, Jewish, etc.). We will remember that Rothbard once wrote “attack... affirmative action and racial set-asides, call... for equal rights for all Americans, including whites”.
    Rothbard defends his opposition to affirmative action by writing - in his book The Case for Discrimination - “...what is the relevance of past victimization to present rights? Surely, we all have an equal right not to be aggressed against at present, and no other rights than that, regardless of the amount of victimization suffered by our forebears in the past.”
    Rothbard would likely have agreed with the statements that affirmative action is impermissible public-sector discrimination. His writing in The Case for Discrimination seems to express a general sentiment that governance and discrimination (i.e., choice) are each more preferable when done by the private sector (businesses and individuals) than when done by the public sector (the state).
    In Rothbard's view, the ostensibly legitimate coercion of the state's regulatory monopoly (or oligopoly, as the case may be) is intrinsically aggressive. This is because the state wields the authority to initiate force against those suspected of committing any and all crimes which occur within a constitutionally-delineated set of borders.
    The state's monopoly on violence stands in direct contrast to Rothbard's conception of the core functions of government (i.e., providing defense, security, and justice) as only being just and non-violent if arranged according to voluntary association. In such a system, individuals choose who provides them with the various goods and services associated with defense and security independently and on a transaction-by-transaction basis, without anyone being compelled to always submit his or her civil and criminal disputes to the same arbitrator.
    It will inform us to know that the typical libertarians believes that subjecting an individual to an obligatory association against his or her will constitutes the involuntary servitude - i.e., slavery - discussed in the Amendment XIII to the U.S. Constitution (this will be addressed later in the section on Ron and Rand Paul's positions on the Civil Rights Act of 1964).
    Market-anarchists like Rothbard often state a desire for a free-market system of private law and private defense. They believe that - as Rothbard stated in The Case for Discrimination - there should be no statute of limitations, and some favor a potentially infinite series of appeals.
    A reasonable market-anarchist position on compensation for slavery, hate crimes and public-sector discrimination would involve using free-market private-sector arbitrators - who are neutral third parties lacking material interest in the outcome - to resolve disputes between people and the private and public agencies they claim wronged them.
   When the defendant is a public agency (that is, an arm of the state), this mutual choice of independent arbitrators - without which a just legal system cannot exist - constitutes and entails a direct confrontation with the sovereign state regarding the legitimacy of its authority and monopoly jurisdiction over any and all crime in an area. This is because the private-sector arbitrator is preventing the state from acting as both judge and defendant, in which case it could not be trusted to refrain from deciding in its own favor more than appropriate.
    Rothbard regards all obligation to participate in the funding of the actions of the state as involuntary servitude. Rothbard would likely agree that he - not a member of the political class - is not responsible for any systematic exploitation of racial and ethnic minorities, except in that he became a victim of the state's aggressive compulsory taxation system, whereby the confiscation of a segment of his earnings were used by the state to finance arms of government which practice public-sector discrimination.
    Simply put, when politicians and public employees and agencies are responsible for public-sector discrimination - or for forcing discrimination or segregation on private enterprises (as in the case of Jim Crow laws) - the politicians and public employees who are responsible should pay to compensate the victims; not the taxpayers, Rothbard included.
    Rothbard's is opposed to compulsory taxation and the welfare state because they conflict with libertarian and free-market principles of regulatory competition and individual choice and delegated negotiation power in contractual governance. Additionally, Rothbard rejects calls for socialism and collectivism as a means to redress disparities in socioeconomic equality - and, presumably, access to disparities in intelligence and knowledge - across races and ethnicities and among individuals; favoring instead individualist-, market-, and trade- oriented approaches to affecting a more egalitarian distribution of adequate access to justice, security, defense, etc..
    Rothbard would undoubtedly argue that the markets - not the state, nor the collective, nor society - are the proper avenue for the redress of such inequalities. Market anarchist theory is not negligent of advocating particular methods of and tactics for distributing resources; they primarily support individual choice in the market, through the direct-action radical rectification of state theft and the structural poverty it causes (including landed property; i.e., adverse possession [squatting]), among other tactic [for example, those named by Gary Chartier in his article “Bleeding Heart Libertarians for Redistribution”].
    Very much in the same way that diverse government through regulatory competition can minimize and insulate against the risk of policy failure, refraining from using the regulatory monopoly to coerce taxes out of Professor Rothbard does the same, insulating and internalizing what would otherwise require externalization of responsibility by means of socialization of risk of personal and private financial failure (that is, social welfare and corporate welfare, including taxpayer-funded corporate bailouts).
    This is to say that Rothbard likely feels that each individual - white, black, Jewish, etc. - should have the equal opportunity to become as financially well-off as Rothbard himself, without forced redistribution to redress wealth disparity before a true free-market system can be implemented. Also, that compulsory taxation constitutes an uncompensated or under-compensated takings of private personal earnings, in that the cost of receiving goods and services from government would be cheapened due to the presence of market competitors against the monopoly and oligopoly maintained by the state. It is worth noting that the libertarian stance on private property takings (at least in regards to the issue of eminent domain and Amendment V to the U.S. Constitution) is that any takings of private property must be absolutely consensual and fairly compensated, or else such takings must occur as punishment for a crime.
    The effects of such takings of wealth are that it is practically impossible to estimate how much potential growth in productivity - and fruit of market knowledge - is lost when funds which would otherwise have been spent re-investing for personal wealth were taxed away by the state before their full yield could be acquired and taken into personal possession, and the knowledge of how to accumulate such wealth dispersed among other market participants. Freedom of the individual to acquire vast amounts of wealth implies freedom of any and all individuals to do the same.
    Now - to finally answer the question at hand - why did Rothbard oppose a black nationalist state? The following quotes on this topic all come from Rothbard's article “Their Malcolm and Mine”, which was originally published in the February 1993 issue of The Rockwell-Rothbard Report.
    Wrote Rothbard, “There is no question that black nationalism is a lot more libertarian than the compulsory integration pushed by King, the NAACP, and white liberals. But there are... problems with black nationalism, which Malcolm [X] never had a chance to explore... [for example] black nationalism in what territory? A nation has to have territory... [']Black nationalism['] within the United States is then only a phony nationalism, and beginning to look like a drive for an aggravated form of coerced parasitism over the white population.”
    He continues, “Apart from all the problems of enclaves and access [involved in creating a single nation as an archipelago of black communities], does anyone really believe that this New Africa would be content to strike out on its own, with no massive [']foreign aid['] from the U.S.A., and strictly limited migration between the two nations? In a pig’s eye.”
    To summarize and to answer the original question, Rothbard opposes a black nationalist state because - as a libertarian - he is opposed to all states. This includes nation-states like black nationalist states, as well as the welfare state. In Rothbard's view, the state is coercing blacks to become dependent on the welfare state; by subjecting them (as well as whites and others) to an involuntary political association.
    Rothbard also rejects the idea of a black nationalist state on the grounds that it would not be able to support itself without “massive... foreign aid” from the United States. This seems to suggest that he desires any potential black nationalist movement (which is not statist) to be financially independent, and also free from compulsory association between nations; i.e., free from being coerced into dependence on other nations.
    Rothbard's comment seems more reasonable in light of the fact that opposition to foreign aid is typical of libertarians, being that the state's coercive monopoly is involved; such foreign aid is funded through compulsory taxation of the subjects of one state by it, and given to another sovereign state and possibly to some of its subjects if there is anything left over after the state takes what it wants.
    Among self-described libertarians, opposition to foreign aid is rarely motivated by racism; but always by opposition to spending money and resources (including weaponry) aiding potentially dangerous foreign regimes that claim a local right to prohibit competition in the provision of security, which renders the market practically non-existent, and de-legitimizes the right of people to defend themselves against representatives of the state, and to provide security unlicensed by the state if and when the state becomes intolerably tyrannical.
    Rothbard is also concerned about the possibility that Martin Luther King's popularity among white liberals - and the success of the movements behind him in affecting and changing the policy of states - could risk legitimizing statism, as well as the compulsory integration and taxation which go along with it. Rothbard would likely agree with Barry Goldwater's statement that “[w]e must never forget that the freedom to associate means the same thing as the freedom not to associate.”
    It is important to note that Rothbard does not oppose black nationalism. As I have explained, Rothbard opposes black nationalist statism because of his various reasons for opposing any and all kinds of statism. Despite the militancy of black nationalist leaders such as Marcus Garvey and Malcolm X, Rothbard has nothing but kind words for both men.
    While casting Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as a “fraudulent intellectual” - and calling the Reverend Al Sharpton a “clown” - Rothbard praises Malcolm X's genuine intellect: “He carried himself with great pride and dignity; his speaking style was incisive and sparkled with intelligence and sardonic wit.”
    Of Marcus Garvey, Rothbard writes, “ would make the most sense to adopt the solution of... Garvey: a mass exodus, a return to West Africa, there to carve out a new black nation, as a people's exile from the Old Sod is at last redeemed. It is true that in contrast to voluntary immigration, black migration from Africa to America was coerced, and voluntary black [']Zionism['], or African repatriation[,] was the preferred solution to the black problem for most groups, North and South, before the Civil War.”
    Rothbard continues, “Even now, I bet that many Americans would cheerfully chip in to support such a crusade.” This statement suggests that Rothbard would prefer that Americans support such a project on an individual and voluntary basis, rather than through the state's compulsory taxation.
    It's worth noting that Liberia - the fruit of Garvey's dream of a return of New World blacks to their ancestral African homeland, forming their own sovereign state - suffers from poor economic conditions and poor conditions for business despite the foreign aid sent from the United States and other countries, as well as from non-governmental and international governmental entities.
    Given the similar libertarian and nationalist attitudes expressed by white and Jewish libertarians and black nationalists alike, it should not surprise us to discover that – not unlike the “black [']Zionism[']” mentioned by Rothbard – there exist movements to attempt to geographically relocate libertarians for the purposes of achieving “national” sovereignty or greater influence on government. Examples of this include the Free State Project in New Hampshire, and Milton Friedman's grandson Patri's efforts to build a private city in El Salvador. Additionally, sea-steading presents a possibility for similar goals to be achieved on a much smaller scale.
    Murray Rothbard does not oppose a black nationalist state because he thinks blacks are less intelligent and/or in some other way inferior; rather, he supports the black nationalist movement, but is concerned about the risk that – if it were to express itself as a sovereign state – it would succumb to all the same problems which are typically associated with statism.
    To Rothbard and his followers, sovereign states wield the practically unquestionable authority to threaten and use physical force to compel people to integrate and associate into non-consensual political, economic, and social arrangements, violating basic conditions necessary for a competitive market, and for kinetic freedom of choice concerning standards of quality justice and security which vary among individuals and across ethnic/racial and ideological groups.
    Under the state, political association is non-consensual due to the lack of free individual choice from among existing alternative governance agencies; which people would otherwise choose independently, on a case-by-case basis, and in a situation in which the agency dispensing justice would be neutral (having no vested interest), and have no authority to compel anyone to always submit their disputes to itself based on such arbitrary things as where the persons involved happened to be located or traveling when the dispute occurs.
   This brings us to the geographical problem of nationalism. Rothbard is cautious of promoting a geographical state as a solution to the black nationalist movement's lack of self-determination for several reasons. One is that he describes the “territorial integrity” required of statism as “absurd” to begin with. Another reason is that the geographical state of the African-American nation - mainly “enclaves” of scattered, non-contiguous black neighborhoods - undermines the condition of territorial integrity, so even if we momentarily suspend disbelief in the necessity of territorial integrity, a fundamental problem of logistics remains.
    We might wonder what exactly Rothbard means when he indicates that he does not “believe that this New Africa would be content to strike out on its own... strictly limited migration [emphasis mine] between the two nations”. Is strict limitation of migration necessary to sustain a nation's independence? Perhaps not, but perhaps it is necessary to sustain a nation-state.
    After all, the “blood and soil” mentality is what sustains the current governmental paradigm. And, of course, people have got to have permanent access to land in order to plant food and survive, don't they? Not necessarily. What about wandering vagrants in a(n allegedly) post-scarcity modern economy? What of gypsies, Jews, nomads, refugees, political prisoners, and stateless persons? They travel, seek food and security where they are, and are often oppressed and inhibited by states.
    There is as much validity to the idea that land and territorial integrity is necessary for government as there is to the idea that it is not. Besides, permanent ownership of land is - by and large - outlawed; however, there is still allodial land ownership in Alaska, making the state possibly the only U.S. state not operating under a feudalist land rentier system.
    Rothbard does not seem prepared to go into this territory - at least not in this particular essay on Malcolm X - but these are some of the things a libertarian might want to take into consideration when thinking about possible solutions to building national apparati which can provide security and the resources necessary to sustain life to peoples and persons of all varieties, dispositions, and characteristics, and according to any combination thereof which they might see fit based on their own subjective individual evaluation and free informed consensual election.
    It may well be that Rothbard is genuinely confusing the state with the nation, falsely attributing to the nation the monopoly power to standardize immigration and emigration policy within territory, which is characteristic of a nation-state, but not of a nation which rejects the state. But the point of the statement might also have been to draw attention to the fact that when people talk about black nationalism, they are not often clear about what is to be expected of what a black nationalist movement with fulfilled goals would look like; i.e., whether it will be a state or not, what kind of policies on territory and migration it might need to have in order to be self-sustaining (that is, not parasitic on - nor encroaching on the territory of - any wealthier or poorer nation, and not parasitic whether through victimization or through blameworthy willful indolence).
    After Gary Anderson writes of Rothbard's apparent opposition to a black nation-state, he writes, “...Ron Paul distanced himself from Rothbard's racism, in stating that racism is a collectivist view. Still, there is a strong racial tension in libertarian thought.” Paul's original statement was “Libertarians are incapable of being a racist, because racism is a collectivist idea.”
    Ron Paul also said that “Racism is simply an ugly form of collectivism, the mindset that views humans strictly as members of groups rather than individuals. Racists believe that all individuals who share superficial physical characteristics are alike: as collectivists, racists think only in terms of groups. By encouraging Americans to adopt a group mentality, the advocates of so-called [']diversity['] actually perpetuate racism. Their obsession with racial group identity is inherently racist. Liberty means having a limited, constitutional government devoted to the protection of individual rights rather than group claims. ...Liberty means free-market capitalism, which rewards individual achievement and competence[;] not skin color, gender, or ethnicity.
    But Ron Paul aside (Paul's views on race and civil rights will be more thoroughly addressed later in the piece), to recapitulate, of what kind of “racism”, exactly, is Rothbard - and are libertarians in general - guilty, according to Gary Anderson? Being “pale, stale, and male”, and needing to have his privilege checked? Rothbard did, after all, casually use the word “Whitey” while agreeing with Malcolm X. Does Rothbard as a secular Jew deserve the right to say that about white people, and to talk about black people as if he knows anything about their problems? Wait a minute, are all Jews white?
    The reader may detect the sarcasm in the previous paragraph. By the way, two-thirds of the world's fifteen million Jews have Eastern European lineage, and a libertarian believes in free speech and says whatever he wants so long as he does not directly incite initiatory aggression. But getting back to the point, Murray Rothbard was a secular Jew whose libertarian “national” compatriots and associates were all in conflict with Nazis, whether they were Austrofascist economic advisers who fled them, or Americans who fought them.
    Privilege-check Murray Rothbard and Ludwig von Mises if you will; they are dead and cannot defend themselves. Privilege-check Malcolm X for having Murray Rothbard as a sympathizer, and Martin Luther King for having Ron Paul as an admirer. Privilege-check Marcus Garvey for calling American blacks a race of cowards and imbeciles, and Bob Marley's son for using that quote in his music. Privilege-check libertarian Big Boi; conservative Thomas Sowell; Colin Powell, adviser to a Republican; and conservative Walter Williams.
    Just don't neglect to consider whether Colin Powell, Thomas Sowell, and Walter Williams - by the mere fact that they are African-American - deserve race-based reparations and affirmative action. They would want you to do so. Additionally, privilege-check anyone but Abraham Lincoln, Woodrow Wilson, and Lyndon Johnson, the unfortunately racist, civil-liberties-denying heroes of the Civil Rights left.
    Murray Rothbard is only a racist insofar as he is a vulgar libertarian. For the purposes of discussion with others, he must theoretically accede to the currently accepted governmental paradigm of the territorial nation-state with a local monopoly on legitimate coercion. Rothbard is attempting to explain a bridge between nation-statism and an articulation of the state's antithesis which still retain a national character; not every aspect of a perfect, concise critique of the state makes it through during every one of Rothbard's statements. When a writer like Gary Anderson takes one of them out of context - or does something even less responsible, like use the phrase “Rothbard's racism” - the reader becomes horribly misled and under-informed.
    Rothbard and libertarians are certainly guilty of attempting to consistently oppose statism, nation-statism, the warfare-welfare complex, corporate welfare, compulsory integration via mass migration resulting from international trade agreements, location-based compulsory political association, institutional racism and discrimination in the public sector (even when it labels itself “affirmative action” and purports to be the opposite of discrimination), and the political culture of compulsory political and financial dependence and parasitism - and of impermissiblility of independence, fiscal solvency and discretion, and political autonomy and self-determination - which the aforementioned things encourage.
    Rothbard is guilty of “racism” because he is guilty of being cautious about what a successful voluntary, independent, and self-sustaining black national separatist movement might look like; cautious about endorsing the first suggested plan to enable blacks to become independent (i.e., the welfare state, involuntary association, compulsory taxation, and heavy-handed, expensive federal intervention into alleged interstate commerce in order to bring about desegregation in the private sector which ostensibly served the public, thus meriting intervention), which the movement led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. seemed to legitimize when it supported the obviously racist civil rights reformer Lyndon Johnson, for president of the United States in 1964, instead of delving into a serious discussion about Barry Goldwater, a consistent conservative with a solid record of supporting civil rights legislation aside from one or two articles of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (this will be more thoroughly addressed later).
    But if Rothbard opposes nation-statism, what kind of nation or nationality does he want? That is beyond the scope of this piece, but suffice it to say that a consistent libertarian would support a free and competitive market in the provision of defense, security, and justice. That is to say that a libertarian nation would be a system of contracts between individuals, in which the individuals who by their own volition and election become subject to this or that particular free-market provider of defense, security, and justice, become a nation in that they are bound together in a political association which is voluntary rather than compulsory.
    Is Murray Rothbard personally racist? That is, does his comment that “racialist science is... 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” mean that he is racist because he supports white/Jewish supremacy and falsely believes that black people are trying to steal his property?
    No; it may mean that he is a vulgar libertarian, but it does not necessarily mean that he is racist. It seems that Rothbard falsely believes that there is no such thing as institutional and systemic discrimination and racism perpetrated by the state. If this is true, then it would explain how Rothbard perceives what he observes about race and achievement; namely, that there are observable achievement disparities across racial and ethnic lines.
   Rothbard evidently believes that such achievement disparities are intrinsic to the races and ethnicities themselves; rather than believing that they result from the conditions of such races and ethnicities in the United States, and - at that - existing as mere statistical averages, neglecting adequate representation of each individual, including outliers and exceptional individuals.
    Aside from apparently being a vulgar libertarian (because he seems to believe that the current state of markets are the natural result of innate differences that vary to some degree according to race and ethnicity), Rothbard is being unscientific. I might add that, for wishing that The Bell Curve had focused more on ethnicity and race rather than on individual differences, Rothbard may be “racist” in the sense that Ron Paul described racism as “a form of collectivism”.
    However, if we re-examine one of Rothbard's other quotes about The Bell Curve, we see that Rothbard is primarily focusing not on differences associated with race and ethnicity, but differences associated with heritability and genetics. Writes Rothbard, “individuals, ethnic groups, and races differ among themselves in intelligence and in many other traits, and that intelligence, as well as less controversial traits of temperament, are in large part hereditary.”
    It is important to stress that Rothbard included “individuals” here for a reason. This inclusion shows that Rothbard is not obsessed with group, collective, ethnic, or racial differences, relative to his focus on individual differences (this would render him not racist by Ron Paul's anti-collectivist standards). Rothbard is simply defending racialist science on the basis of the uncontroversial idea that heredity and genetics influence (not “exclusively determine”) differences across individuals and racial/ethnic groups.
    To address Rothbard's comment that racialist science is “an operation in defense of private property against assaults by aggressors”; here Rothbard is likely commenting on the sweeping, unprecedented, and expensive federal intervention into interstate commerce and uncompensated private property takings which was unfortunately overlooked in the rush to pass comprehensive civil rights reform in an era of rapid and tumultuous change. The ramifications of the political successes of the Civil Rights Movement on the relationship between public and private property - and between the states and the federal government - will be addressed more thoroughly later in this piece.
    Finally, what does it mean that Rothbard holds his personal view on genetics, and that as a libertarian he would support national association through voluntary individual election from among competing providers of dispute-resolution, security, defense, and protection, in a system of contract rights?
    It implies that individuals would be free to refrain from associating politically with other individuals on the basis of any criteria they choose; that is, a person's prejudice of others based on race and ethnicity would simply not be detectable in a market for political goods and services which treats people as individuals instead of as groups, and in which people - in the absence of states - would likely come to view nationality as something which is more influenced by cultural, religious, moral, and ethical values and interests than race, ethnicity, and identification with landed public and private property.
    It implies that in a libertarian society, people would have the right to refuse service (refuse to serve) to anyone without giving a reason; the freedom from involuntary servitude protected by Amendment XIII to the U.S. Constitution. Anyone who supports affirmative action and objects to the right of a person or organization to use race as one of many criteria by which to determine with whom to associate, might want to re-evaluate his or her views on affirmative action.

What About Ron Paul's Racist Newsletters?
    Anderson writes, “Ron Paul's newsletters had racist thoughts in them, although Dr[.] Paul stated they were put in his publications without his knowledge. I have no reason to doubt that. But these were mistakes that are significant.”
    Ron Paul has admitted that he as the purported author of the newsletters, he is responsible for their content, but he has said that, truthfully, he did not read those particular articles or explicitly approve their publication.
    The supposedly racist Ron Paul newsletters - which feature negative comments about Martin Luther King and references to how “fleet of foot” African-American muggers can be – have been alleged to have been written by Jeffrey Tucker, Lew Rockwell, and Murray Rothbard.
    Whom is the real author of the newsletters, whether their contents are racist, and why the reader should care, are outside the scope of this piece.

What About Ron and Rand Paul's Criticism of Civil Rights Legislation?
    Anderson writes, “...even Rand Paul made a racial gaff[e] right after he won the [Kentucky U.S.] senate seat, that he regretted, when he said he was for the repeal of the 1964 civil rights act.”
    This is plainly not true; Rand Paul has never said that he would support a repeal of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (which provided for, among other things, freedom from discrimination and segregation in private businesses such as restaurants and hotels); he and Ron Paul have said that had they been in Congress at the time, they - like Barry Goldwater before them - would have criticized Title II of the act, which specifically desegregated private properties which ostensibly serve “the public”, denying them the right to discriminate against individuals for any reason, and to see that individuals coming onto their private property for the purposes of economic interaction conduct themselves in the manner preferred by the owner of the property.
    The enforcement of Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 incurred great financial expenses which the Southern states were not prepared to undertake. It necessitated then-unprecedented federal intervention into interstate commerce, predicated upon the notion (newly established through the decision in Heart of Atlanta Motel v. U.S.) that a particular establishment's location means that it “substantially affects interstate commerce”, thus meriting federal intervention.
    Furthermore, it necessitated uncompensated property rights takings; the right to refrain from associating with others for any reason should be protected, and only taken under conditions of consent and adequate compensation. The constitutional arguments made by the plaintiff in Heart of Atlanta (in support of Amendments V and XIII) support this view.
    Simply put, libertarians believe that infringing on an innocent person's right to discriminate without getting permission and adequately compensating that person, is itself involuntary servitude, i.e., slavery (you can read more about this topic in my article “Barry Goldwater and the Conservative Backlash: A Case Study of Ethnic Collective Action by Whites in the Election of 1964”, at
    Anderson continues, “This [presumably, “libertarian economics” and “individualism”] plays into the desire to repeal the civil rights act, so that you can kick out ethnic minorities from your restaurant without serving them. This plays into the desire of Rothbard to voluntarily separate from blacks in a nation and in public activity.”
    As I explained above, the cost to the states, the uncompensated private property rights takings, and the blurring of the line between the public and private sectors, were the primary reasons for the libertarian and conservative objections to Title II. It is worth noting that in 1964 Barry Goldwater had a better record supporting civil rights legislation than President Lyndon Johnson.
    It is also worth noting that Goldwater conservatives wholly opposed Jim Crow laws. For those who aren't familiar with this concept, Jim Crow laws were orders by the public government that ostensibly private businesses must segregate.
    To repeal Jim Crow laws was a considerable stride towards civil rights reform, as well as towards freeing the private sector from domination by the public sector. But - being that Goldwater also supported expanding voting rights for blacks - a Goldwater presidency likely would have overseen decreased private-sector discrimination occur gradually, as each state would grow to be able to afford to implement and enforce anti-discrimination and anti-segregation legislation, and when public elections would allow such reforms to come to be.
    However, it may well be that the important issue of civil rights was dealt with with the appropriate amount of haste; that is debatable. After all, a business owner living in the Deep South under a Goldwater presidency would find himself in the awkward position of being free to discriminate and to require segregation, although not required to do so.
    In such a situation, according to Goldwater and the Pauls, consumers would be free to boycott establishments whose set of discriminatory practices offend their tastes; the free market would bring about social change as and when it would occur naturally without the heavy hand of central government forcing it to occur. Additionally, say what you will about today's conservatives; at least in 1964 the Republicans ran a presidential candidate who was willing to endorse the boycott (which is, I might add, arguably a form of discrimination).

Is Racism Compatible with Libertarian Economics?
    Anderson writes, “...many buy into the financial views of the libertarians. They are used to justify Wall Street excess. But are they more insidious and dangerous than that? Racism is actually quite compatible with libertarian economics.”
    Anderson is probably referring to the Austrian School of economics. The claim that libertarians' economic position justifies Wall Street excess is preposterous; when libertarians criticize the welfare state, they criticize social welfare and corporate welfare alike. The claim that “[r]acism is... compatible with libertarian economics” is, frankly, ignorant and unfounded, for all of the reasons which I have explained in the preceding 9,000 words of this piece.

The State Should Treat Adults Like Children; Doesn't That Prove That Libertarians Are Racist?
    Anderson continues, “Libertarian economics stresses individualism, even though these guys know that their moms changed their diapers and they had to get help all along the way growing up. Individualism is great, but I remember going to class reunions and seeing that once you got to the 20th [year] reunion, there was a lot less individualism and a lot more humility. We all need people. We are not islands... Yet there is a theme historically that comes from Mises. For Mises, as I quoted in [']Ludwig von Mises Implies Being a Savage Animal Is Ok!['], [said that] the newborn child is born a savage. This is why libertarians only accept the legitimacy of voluntary relationships.”
    As Anderson writes, people become more humble later in life. According to Anderson, they become less individualistic, too. However, it may well be that this is the result of statist society taking away people's freedom to become politically and financially independent and autonomous. Maybe rather than becoming humbled, people become discouraged, and thereby lose their individuality. I would support the notion that losing one's individuality is a bad thing, and agree with Hannah Arendt that the polis should be an artifact of uniqueness.
    Disturbingly, Anderson seems to be suggesting that the fact that when libertarians were infants, their mothers had to change their diapers, means that such individuals who become independent adults should never be free to make their own financial and political decisions; that is, that the state should - as Barry Goldwater and Ron Paul are apt to repeat - “take care of us from cradle to grave”, and that the two parties should - as Chris Matthews is apt to repeat - behave as the “mommy party and the daddy party”.
    Essentially, Anderson is defending the idea that the state should treat independent adults capable of giving informed consent as if they were children. This simply cannot do, for reasons that are obvious and hardly worth going into detail about for the purposes of this piece, which was about race in the first place.

    Anderson continues by writing about topics which barely have anything to do with racism, much less “expose the racist history of libertarianism and Murray Rothbard” (I would argue that this very piece that I am writing accomplishes that goal more thoroughly than Anderson's).
    He refers to an “elitist financial decay that seeks limited government to the extreme”, claims that libertarianism is “based upon the desire to ignore the needs of the greater society”, calls anarcho-capitalism “a capitalism of unwholesome greed”, and makes some practically incomprehensible points about who will build the roads, the common good, societal destabilization, the relationship between socialization and technology, and some unnamed and likely fictional “young people who have... wealth and independence”. Since these topics have practically nothing to do with race, they are beyond the scope of this piece.
    In summary, Gary Anderson's article “Exposing the Racist History of Libertarianism and Murray Rothbard” (published in the October 3rd, 2011 issue of the online magazine Business Insider) does not “expose the racist history of libertarianism and Murray Rothbard”. Rather, it makes a series of poorly-supported and unsupported claims of racism and other negative claims about their ideas; claims which neglect important things about politics, economics, nationalism, and history, which simply cannot be discussed thoroughly in its approximately 660 words.
    The purpose of this piece has been to critique Anderson's claims that several particular libertarians are racist. This is well worth discussing, as this piece has shown. We might consider that to ask a different question - namely, “Are libertarians racist” or “Is libertarianism racist” - might actually be "racist" in and of itself, in the sense in which Ron Paul explains that racism is a collectivist idea.
    This is to say that we should remember to look at and deal with the individual unilaterally in a system of voluntary association permitting self-reliance and independence, lest we look at everything through the lens of collectivism and “groupism” (as Paul put it), and - if a libertarian hero or two does, in fact, turn out to be a racist and promote racist policies - judge the whole of libertarianism for the evident racism of only one or a few of its proponents.

For more entries on civil rights, slavery, segregation, and discrimination, please visit:


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