REBUTTED: “Exposing the Racist History of Libertarianism and Murray Rothbard”

I Google searched “Murray Rothbard”, and the sixth result was this aneurysm of an article from 2011. In it, a Business Insider writer named Gary Anderson tries to “expose” the history of libertarianism as racist (the go-to non-argument buzz word of the left).

(I will rebut the full article below, but if you wish to visit the site directly while using an adblocker, then click the “X” where the refresh button is, at least on Chrome, while the page is loading, but after the text has loaded in. This way, you can avoid the “It looks like you’re using an adblocker” popup and continue cringing reading.)

Murray Rothbard was the student of Ludwig Von Mises and a friend of Ayn Rand. Rothbard was a racist, and believed in the “voluntary” separation of the races. I have argued that his teacher, Mises, was an elitist with fascist tendencies. This part of libertarian history is a part that the libertarians would like to cover up. It slips out at times and has done so with Ron Paul, Rand Paul and others. But we need to take a look at what these guys believed, circa 1990 because that was not so long ago.

Okay, first of all, I would just like to point out that the actions or misdeeds of people who are or who claim to be libertarians have no reflection on libertarianism as a philosophy. If Ron Paul went out tomorrow and bombed an orphanage, advocated for an invasion of Canada, screamed the n-word, and praised Stalin in a drunken escapade, that would have no bearing on the principles and philosophy of libertarianism itself. Character attacks and “exposés” on particular libertarian figures are not rebuttals of libertarian arguments.

And for the record, I find it incredibly racist that the URLs of the links you provided for Ron and Rand Paul, two people for whom you and your website clearly have disdain, include the word “blackboard”. This obviously means you use the color black as a negative, and thus hate people of color.

We know that Rothbard spoke kindly of David Duke, the KKK office seeker. One disaffected libertarian was dismayed that Rothbard would seek to align himself with a pure racist just because he believed in limited government. The 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”.

In the link, the quote from Rothbard basically says that he sees no reason “paleo-conservatives or paleo-libertarians” should oppose Duke’s policies. He never said that he likes David Duke as a person or agrees with what he did as a Klansman.

It should be noted that 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. Ron Paul’s newletters[sic] 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.

You haven’t established how Rothbard is racist. You just alluded to his praise of David Duke’s policy proposals, which he deemed to be in accordance with some libertarian and conservative thought.

I don’t see how a few Ron Paul newsletters from the ’90s having “racist thoughts in them” has anything to do with there being “racial tension in libertarian thought”, especially when you yourself say you have “no reason to doubt” that they were added without Paul’s knowledge.

But even Rand Paul made a racial gaff right after he won the senate seat, that he regretted, when he said he was for the repeal of the 1964 civil rights act. It would seem that this racial/libertarian theme continues.

The video in your link is unavailable now, but again, even if it wasn’t, I don’t need to defend the actions and opinions of everyone who claims to be a libertarian in order to defend libertarian arguments. Whatever “themes” or anecdotes you find are irrelevant when it comes to the philosophy itself.

So then, we need to look at more history to see if this is a constant pattern or if it is just an aberration. After all, 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.

Wait, libertarian views are used to justify Wall Street excess? You mean the same Wall Street that lobbies and receives bailouts from the government? I don’t know about you, but I’ve never met a libertarian, or encountered anything in libertarian thought, that encourages government intervention in the economy and bailouts paid for by theft taxation to financial institutions.

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 reunion, there was a lot less individualism and a lot more humility. We all need people. We are not islands.

Individualism has nothing to do with anti-social isolation. One can be a staunch individualist and interact with other people on a daily basis. Individualism is simply the desire for individual liberty to prevail over collective “need” (which is, of course, always determined by the government). It does not mean that one must cut off all contact with other human beings and live in solitude in the wilderness.

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!, the newborn child is born a savage. This is why libertarians only accept the legitimacy of voluntary relationships. This 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. You can see how this insidious morality breaks down society and good will.

Segregation in the south before the Civil Rights Act was a government policy. No competent businessman would go out of his way to, say, discriminate against blacks with his bus company, especially in an area where a large proportion of his customers are black. The only color a capitalist sees is green. If restaurant owners were allowed to “kick out ethnic minorities”, their restaurants would fail, simply due to their limiting of their potential customers, but also due to voluntary boycotting, etc.

Also, you simply state these things and imply that they are immoral, without providing an argument. Why would it be a bad thing if people of different races voluntarily separated?

One can deduce that if the foundation of libertarianism is rotten, so is the elitist financial decay that seeks limited government to the extreme. It is a decay because it is based upon the desire to ignore the needs of the greater society. But that society has been stronger because capitalism is tempered with compassion. Where capitalism becomes anarcho-capitalism, a term coined by Rothbard, it becomes a capitalism of unwholesome greed. The capitalist still has to take the subway, or drive his car into the city. If he gets shot at in a destabilized society how does that benefit him? If there is no money to fix the roads, how can he do his job?

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THE ROADS! WHO WILL BUILD THE ROOOOADS???

Where do I even start? You say “if there is no money to fix the roads, how can [the capitalist] do his job?”. A quote from Bastiat comes to mind: “Every time we object to a thing being done by government, the socialists conclude that we object to its being done at all”.

Just because libertarians oppose the forced confiscation of money in order to pay for the construction of roads, does not mean we oppose the use of money for construction of roads. As long as the transactions are voluntary, libertarians have no problem with roads (if you don’t know how roads could possibly be built without immense amounts of government force, please take the time to watch this for a few ideas).

As for whether libertarianism ignores “the needs of the greater society”, who the hell are you or anyone else to decide what those needs are?

Capitalism, when left unregulated, is voluntary. Otherwise it is not capitalism. Take the example of a pencil and a dollar. If you have a pencil and I have a dollar, and we trade them voluntarily, we both benefit, as you want my dollar more than you want your pencil, and I want your pencil more than I want my dollar, or else we would not both have consented to the transaction.

Therefore capitalism does not need to be “tempered with compassion”. It is inherently beneficial to all parties.

If you think a philosophical anarcho-capitalist society would be Mad Max style chaos, or that anarcho-capitalists advocate for such chaos, you clearly haven’t looked into their ideas at all.

The danger, of course, is that people will become less socialized if there are tech gadgets to allow people to stay at home and work from home. One can hope that these young people who have this wealth and independence will come to see the importance of the common good anyway.

I’ve read this paragraph a few times and still struggle to understand what he means by it. Where did this sudden disdain for modern technology come from? Did he forget that he was supposed to be writing about the inherent racism in libertarianism? All I know is he says something about the “common good” on the bottom, which, again, is always decided upon arbitrarily by the government, and is not an objective thing.

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