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Rothbard on race

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ZombieRothbard Posted: Thu, Jun 23 2011 10:57 AM

So I am a huge fan of Rothbard, regardless of his social beliefs. But despite my love for Rothbard, there is some of his work later in his life that is cringe-worthy. Some of the stuff that I have read of his from his paleolibertarian days can be described as racist and bigoted tirades.

I have seen the usual objections from groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center, who are basically just libelers and slanderers. The things they point out that supposedly paint Rothbard as a racist, homophobe and anti-semite are weak at best. But Rothbards liberal use of the words "Yankee", "Lesbian" and "Jewish" tend to paint a view of a man who, at the very least, was trying to appeal to certain people, since mentions of their sexuality, ethnicity and geographic location weren't exactly relevant to his point. There are better quotes to cite of Rothbards, that actually seem to paint him as a "dictionary definition" racist. I want to cite this statement for example, taken from his article "Hutus vs. Tutsis"

 

"The crucial point is that, in both Rwanda and Burundi, Hutus and Tutsis have coexisted for centuries; the Tutsi are about 15 percent of the total population, the Hutu about 85 percent. And yet consistently, over the centuries, the Tutsi have totally dominated, and even enserfed, the Hutu. How are we to explain this consistent pattern of domination by a small minority? Could it be – dare I say it – that along with being taller, slimmer, more graceful and noble-looking, the Tutsi are far more i-n-t-e-l-l-i-g-e-n-t than the Hutu? And yet what else explains this overriding fact?"

 

This is in stark contrast to the Rothbard that said the following quotes in "For a New Liberty" in the section on education:

 

"One of the most common uses of compulsory public
schooling has been to oppress and cripple national ethnic and
linguistic minorities or colonized peoples—to force them to
abandon their own language and culture on behalf of the language
and culture of the ruling groups".

 

"Furthermore, one of the great glories of mankind is its
diversity, the fact that each individual is unique, with unique
abilities, interests, and aptitudes. To coerce into formal schooling
children who have neither the ability nor the interest in
this area is a criminal warping of the soul and mind of the
child".

 

This Rothbard seems to actually champion diversity. I know that technically these quotes don't contradict each other, you can still believe in racial superiority while championing diversity (although this is not usually a common theme). But to me, these quotes represent a huge shift in Rothbard's thinking from 1973 to 1994. My intention here isn't to put Rothbard on trial necessary, but just to understand why such a change in his social views, or at least his rhetoric occured. Was it because of his changing alliances with the New Left and the Paleoconservatives? If so, what were his TRUE social views? And also, can we honestly say that Rothbard was uncompromising, when his rhetoric changed drastically to appease different groups throughout his life?

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No2statism replied on Thu, Jun 23 2011 11:09 AM

I don't think he was racist, and he is certainly one of my heroes.  He just a unique sense of humor.  Also, some of the things he said (like whites having a higher IQ) have mainstream backing, although I'm not saying they were true.

The fact that he always wanted the laws of Nature of Nature's God to dominate are more important than anything else IMO.  In other words, he should be commended for supporting neither forced integration nor forced segregation, regardless of whether he was racist.

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"The real issue, as in most other cases, is not skin color but various character traits of different population groups."

From the same article.

'Men do not change, they unmask themselves' - Germaine de Stael

 

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Conza88 replied on Thu, Jun 23 2011 11:59 AM

Ron Paul is for self-government when compared to the Constitution. He's an anarcho-capitalist. Proof.
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Eric080 replied on Thu, Jun 23 2011 12:05 PM

The genetic proclivities towards certain behaviors is an area for biology and psychology, so I don't pretend to have the answers.  I recall having a race/IQ discussion on these boards a few months ago.  Rothbard may be right or he may be wrong, but at least he's asking the questions the biologists and psychologists are too afraid to ask (or if they do answer, it is helplessly biased in favor of egalitarianism).  For the record, I lean towards any discrepancies being minor and too small to take into account, but like I said, I'm not the person to ask.

 

Rothbard did take on a more populist tone in the early 90's I think.  Plus, calling somebody racist I think doesn't get us anywhere.  I personally don't like racists, but as long as they keep it a preference I don't mind people being racist.  If they turn it into some racial superiority complex, then I say screw them.

"And it may be said with strict accuracy, that the taste a man may show for absolute government bears an exact ratio to the contempt he may profess for his countrymen." - de Tocqueville
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Conza88 replied on Thu, Jun 23 2011 12:16 PM

Race! That Murry Book - The Irrepressible Rothbard

..."Namely: Until 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. What used to be widespread shared public knowledge about race and ethnicity among writers, publicists, and scholars, was suddenly driven out of the public square by Communist anthropologist Franz Boas and his associates in the 1930s, and it has been taboo ever since. 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."

... "But, when all is said and done, the truth about race and IQ means a lot more to liberals and to neocons than it does to paleos. For the liberals and neocons, being statist to the core, are obliged to seize control of resources and to allocate them somehow among the various groups of the population. Liberals-neocons are "sorters," they aim to sort people out, to subsidize here, to control and restrict there. So, to the neocon or liberal power elite, ethnic or racial science is a big thing because it tells these sorters who exactly they should subsidize, who they should control, who they should restrict and limit. Should they use taxpayer funds to subsidize the "disadvantaged" or geniuses? Which is more socially productive, which dysgenic?"

Way too much to post, OP please read the entire thing and share your thoughts. Thanks.
 

Ron Paul is for self-government when compared to the Constitution. He's an anarcho-capitalist. Proof.
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Phaedros replied on Thu, Jun 23 2011 12:18 PM

Conza-

You're exactly right. For the micromanaging state that knowledge of genetic predisposition is something they would need desperately.

Tumblr The welfare of the people in particular has always been the alibi of tyrants. ~Albert Camus
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I agree that racism is simply a preference, as long as it isn't used to justify state violence or coercion.

I want to note that the point of this thread wasn't necessarily to argue on whether Rothbard was racist or not, although I think that it is certainly relevant. I am more interested in trying to understand the strategy behind his shift in style between the 70's and the 90's.

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I disagree with Rothbard on the usefulness of investigations into race. I think his ending paragraph about it being necessary to demonstrate the lack of intelligence of some races to protect the market is a lot of hot air.

That being said, I have to agree with his point that scientific inquiry shouldn't be suppressed, including inquiry into race or heredity. I don't think the results of such studies would be useful to anyone, but I wouldn't want to ban or censor such studies either.

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Phaedros replied on Thu, Jun 23 2011 12:50 PM

Dude what are you talking about? You haven't demonstrated any change whatsoever. He's talking about different things. In the first he's trying to elucidate why a minority has been able to dominate a majority in Rwanda. In the other he's talking about how compulsory education is used to dominate other people. Where in the first quote did he say that diversity was bad? I don't get what you're thinking.

Tumblr The welfare of the people in particular has always been the alibi of tyrants. ~Albert Camus
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I mentioned that those quotes weren't contradictory right in my post. The point of posting them was to show a change in rhetoric, and a possible change in social views. Even if Rothbard thought the same way in the 70's, I haven't seen any of his work from that period that reflected the kind of views he was expressing in the 90's. My point is that his tactics changed in that timespan. I am only interested in Rothbards views on race in an effort to understand his strategy. I say it clearly in the OP that I respect Rothbard and don't even care if he was a racist or not, beyond attempting to understand his shift in rhetoric.

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Phaedros replied on Thu, Jun 23 2011 1:02 PM

I don't see a shift in rhetoric at all. Again he's talking about different things. He also assumes the classical liberal tradition, which was about diversity.

Tumblr The welfare of the people in particular has always been the alibi of tyrants. ~Albert Camus
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Phaedros replied on Thu, Jun 23 2011 1:06 PM

Also, did he ever say the Tutsi were "superior"? He just said they tend to have certain characteristics. Whether or not you  think that makes them superior is your own preferences of beauty, etc.

Tumblr The welfare of the people in particular has always been the alibi of tyrants. ~Albert Camus
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The shift is rhetoric is how in the 70's, I don't see Rothbard even mentioning the so called "importance" of race inquiry. Logic would dictate that during his alliance with the New Left, he would censor himself on those kinds of discussions.

 

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Raudsarw replied on Thu, Jun 23 2011 1:24 PM

Rothbard changed a lot over the years, and I must say, I consider the 60s and 70s Rothbard to better. I don't mean to say that he changed his views, but he changed the way he presented them to attract a different audience. And to me, the 60s Rothbard sounded a lot more agreeable.

 

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Phaedros replied on Thu, Jun 23 2011 1:28 PM

Still you haven't proven any "shift in rhetoric". All you've shown are two different pieces separated by decades discussing different topics.

Tumblr The welfare of the people in particular has always been the alibi of tyrants. ~Albert Camus
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Eric080 replied on Thu, Jun 23 2011 1:30 PM

ZombieRothbard, I think what happened is that he took a much more anti-egalitarian shift in this thinking after his break with the anti-war Left in the 60s and 70s.  He thought conservatives would be more willing to adopt market anarchy so he tried to change hearts and minds in that sector.  The reason he probably chose to emphasize racial-genetic inequality in his laters years is because equality is used as a tool to bludgeon the "unfair" outcomes of the market process.

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Phaedros replied on Thu, Jun 23 2011 1:38 PM

Where does he say anything about one of the races being "superior" anyway? I mean if I say to you that men are generally stronger than women does that mean I believe men are superior to women?

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Why can we not investigate upon race.  Has anyone read this book : http://www.amazon.com/Race-Culture-World-Thomas-Sowell/dp/0465067972 

He talks about a lot of the differences of culture and racial implications for it.  It is not at al racist.  Slavery and racism has not always been negative.  I do tend to think that people have different skills that are inherent to them.  They are traits that come from both heredity and environment.

Have Japanese and other Asiatic Islanders evolved under the same coniditions as Africans in a desert?  Would they have varying talents and attributes as a culture in different situations than Scottish?

Rothbard is just unafraid of saying things that the PC police won't allow today.  It is true that one should understand all of the implications and that some people may act duplicitous under both the guise of a victim of racism and a preacher of it.

White people have just claimed the responsibility of "management" throughout history...

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Marko replied on Thu, Jun 23 2011 2:22 PM

"The crucial point is that, in both Rwanda and Burundi, Hutus and Tutsis have coexisted for centuries; the Tutsi are about 15 percent of the total population, the Hutu about 85 percent. And yet consistently, over the centuries, the Tutsi have totally dominated, and even enserfed, the Hutu. How are we to explain this consistent pattern of domination by a small minority? Could it be – dare I say it – that along with being taller, slimmer, more graceful and noble-looking, the Tutsi are far more i-n-t-e-l-l-i-g-e-n-t than the Hutu? And yet what else explains this overriding fact?"

Well this is certainly not to Rothbard's credit. I bet that like most people he knew next to nothing about either the Tutsis or the Hutus, jet here he is making some very bold assertions. He actually takes the time to spell it out. It is pure conjecture and not very sensitive.

But being insensitive isn't the same as racism, we shouldn't fall into that trap either.

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Phaedros replied on Thu, Jun 23 2011 2:24 PM

You guys really need to stop thinking emotionally here.

Tumblr The welfare of the people in particular has always been the alibi of tyrants. ~Albert Camus
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Clayton replied on Thu, Jun 23 2011 3:38 PM

I don't think the results of such studies would be useful to anyone, but I wouldn't want to ban or censor such studies either.

That should be left to entrpreneurs to determine. The company I work for employs ethnographers to study the different demands of people in different regiosn of the world. I'm quite sure racial intelligence is a forbidden topic in formal discussions but it's absolutely relevant. You don't design a device intended for a child the same way you design a device intended for an adult. Different races have identifiably different proclivities in how they relate to mechanical and electronic devices.

The problem with almost any discussion of intelligence is that it's not clear what exactly is under discussion. In Western parlance, we associate the term with something like IQ, or what I call "puzzle-solving aptitude." Of course, there are different kinds of intelligence... tackling and riding down an elephant in the African heartland to harvest its tusks requires a tremendous amount of skill and experience but a different kind than is required for creating actuarial tables. As Rothbard is using the term here, I think he means it in the more general sense of cunning. I fail to see what is racist in any of these quotes.

Clayton -

http://voluntaryistreader.wordpress.com
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He talks about a lot of the differences of culture and racial implications for it.  It is not at al racist.  Slavery and racism has not always been negative.  I do tend to think that people have different skills that are inherent to them.  They are traits that come from both heredity and environment

 

Slavery and racism haven not always been negative? Come on. Maybe you could make that argument for racism (although I wouldn't buy it), but slavery????

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You guys really need to stop thinking emotionally here

 

Aren't emotions a large part of what sets us apart from animals? If you don't think emotions are relevant, then why don't you advocate cold hard utilitarianism?

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Slavery some asian areas it was kind of like an honor.  Sometimes you had a better more taken care of life if people could afford you as a servant (slave).  It goes with honor.  It was like an honorable relationship (some might call it brainwashing, but it was a culture).

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DanielMuff replied on Thu, Jun 23 2011 10:12 PM

I don't get it. Are the Tusis and the Hutus of different races?

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Praetyre replied on Thu, Jun 23 2011 10:39 PM

It would be highly amusing to watch the multiculti crowd (as Professor Gottfried remarked vis-a-vis Cardinal Francis Arinze papability) feverishly debate (or rather, purge) each other over where different subgroups of the Victim Group "African" sit in the holy hierarchy. It seems that being non-PC (like Thomas Sowell, Walter Williams, Paul Gottfried, Justin Raimondo and, of course, the venerable Murray Rothbard) can "cancel out" victim status in accordance with the political usefulness one possesses to the managerial elite. Maybe we just need to poll the Rwandans on their stances on gay marriage and socialized medicine. That'll sort out the Social Justice Warriors from the Uncle Toms.

Joking aside, while I personally don't give a damn what genetic subgroup or race you belong to provided you don't define your whole identity based on it, I do find it very odd (indeed, downright suspicious) how hysterically the medical-psychological establishment denounces anybody who presents evidence suggesting the existence of measurable differences in intelligence between different racial groupings, or, in some areas particularily seized by lunacy, the existence of any identifiable races at all.

It's rather reminscient of the AGW cult, really. Just look at Dr James Watson.

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Here's my take from a few years back on what racism actually is. (It was from when Ron Paul was been accused of it.)

 

http://the-eclectic-rambler.blogspot.com/2008/01/what-actually-is-racism.html

The atoms tell the atoms so, for I never was or will but atoms forevermore be.

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Marko replied on Fri, Jun 24 2011 6:34 AM

I don't get it. Are the Tusis and the Hutus of different races?


Apparently one are "taller, slimmer, more graceful and noble-looking" than the other. Albeit I think that isn't actually true, a racial difference is claimed, if not a difference in race.

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Maybe, one is short and the other long distance?  and that is the difference in race?

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Stephen replied on Sun, Jun 26 2011 4:17 PM

 

You guys really need to stop thinking emotionally here

 

Aren't emotions a large part of what sets us apart from animals? If you don't think emotions are relevant, then why don't you advocate cold hard utilitarianism?

Actually, animals also have emotions. What separates humans from animals is reason. Unlike animals, our consciousness is not connected to our immediate perception. We can reflect, and we can act purposefully.

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Stephen replied on Sun, Jun 26 2011 4:19 PM

Rothbard might have shifted from left to right because he had a major shift in worldview. Or, maybe it was just strategy. I really don't know. But I wouldn't call it inconsistency. It's not as though he held contradictory beliefs at the same time.

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Conza88 replied on Mon, Jun 27 2011 12:03 AM

So much bs in this thread.

Conventional Critiques

"He wasn't consistent. Raimondo produces letters and articles from his earliest writings showing that he had mapped out most of his life's work. That goes for his attachment to Austro-free-market theory, his anarcho-capitalism, his devotion to natural rights, his love of the Old Right political paradigm, his optimistic outlook for liberty, his hatred of war, his essential Americanism, and even his reactionary cultural outlook. The ideas were all developed throughout the course of his life, but the seeds seemed to be there from the beginning. The attacks were too. Ralph Lord Roy's 1953 book Apostles of Discord blasted some early Rothbard articles as dangerously supporting "unregulated laissez-faire capitalism." Exactly. He learned, he developed, he elaborated, but he never made a fundamental shift."

He left libertarianism to become a leftist in the 1960s. Raimondo's book puts all this in perspective, at long last. The upshot: Murray never became a leftist in the way we understand that term. Again, his views never changed. His "New Left Period" had nothing to do with hippies; it was an attempt to seek soldiers for the libertarian cause within the ranks of the Left because it was here you found the anti-statism of the day: the complaints about federal police, the anti-draft protests, the anti-war sentiment, war revisionism, the praise of civil disobedience, and all the rest. Murray worked to find the best parts of the New Left and steer its leadership to a pure position. It didn't work, though it didn't entirely fail either. In any case, it was the best hope he had at the time.

He departed libertarianism during his paleo period. Again, Murray never left libertarianism. He did leave the Libertarian Party and its surrounding movement (including the DC crowd trying to ingratiate itself with the state) in 1989. I was there when Murray was hooted down during a convention when he rose to speak on behalf of his candidate for party chairman. Yes, it's true: outrageously, they booed him because his candidate was too bourgeois and too middle class, despite being politically radical. Recall that 1989 was the year the Cold War ended, and a new opening appeared to achieve Rothbard's dream of bringing about a middle-class revolution against the state. He saw that the Libertarian Party was not the vehicle for doing this. Might his judgment have changed later?

He was a great theorist but a terrible strategist. Also absurd. Raimondo demonstrates the acuity of his strategic thinking even in some of his most controversial moves to reach out to the Left and reach out to the Right. In its time, each move made sense and fit with the overall strategic plan. In fact, one of Rothbard's seminal contributions was developing libertarian strategy. Moreover, Raimondo also shows that his detractors, who were always anxious to sell out to the powers-that-be, invariably flamed out. Raimondo only takes issue with one strategic judgment Rothbard made over a particularly bitter LP nomination fight, but even here he provides the reader with enough information so that you can see it from Rothbard's point of view.

Rothbard vs Rothbard: A false Dilemma by Joseph R. Stromberg

Enemy of the State by Lew Rockwell

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Stephen replied on Mon, Jun 27 2011 12:12 AM

I'm gonna have to read more on this.

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James replied on Mon, Jun 27 2011 11:35 AM

Slavery and racism haven not always been negative? Come on. Maybe you could make that argument for racism (although I wouldn't buy it), but slavery????

I think it's sort of true, in a way.  The first step away from outright butchery and cannabalism by the state would have been chattel slavery.

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Eric080 replied on Mon, Jun 27 2011 12:23 PM

I don't think phrasing it as an ideological shift is accurate.  Conza is right on that score.  It was just a strategy to "co-opt" movements that Rothbard had potential.

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Sorry, this post was meant for a different thread.

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