Friday, May 16, 2014

Are Rothbard, Rockwell and Hoppe Racists? The Charges Examined

By Victor J. Ward

My last post prompted two comments that I want to include in this post.

The first was by an anonymous poster who provided a definition of racism:

"Racism properly defined is the advocacy or implementation of a legal/political system that eschews the values of individual justice and replaces it with a system based on racial group identity (i.e. "social justice"). Making broad generalizations about racial groups can be bigoted or not, depending on the factual accuracy of the claim, but to be racist such generalizations must advocate for a political system that treats people as members of a racial group rather than on an individual basis."

I think that this is a sound definition of racism. If anyone has something else to offer, I am happy to hear it.

Thank you, Anon.

The second comment came from someone by the name of Sam. He stated:

"But Ward brushed away Roderik Long's link which was not really about who profits and lives off the welfare state. It was a link to Hoppe's speech on the industrial revolution and that the gradual rise of IQ in the west was the reason for it and the low IQ in Africa being the reason they haven't progressed much for a long time like it was possible for East Asians. Nothing controversial here if you are familiar with Charles Murray's The Bell Curve* or IQ and The Wealth of Nations by Richard Lynn."

Later in the comment, Sam included some articles written by Lew Rockwell and Murray Rothbard. The articles addressed some of the reasons why people believe the charge of racism is appropriately applied to leading libertarians.

When Sam says that I brushed off the Roderick Long link -- he is correct. I did give it short shrift. I hope to correct that in this post.

But, before I do that, I want to address the articles written by Rockwell and Rothbard.

The Rockwell article came out after the Rodney King beating video surfaced. In short, Rockwell said that policemen needed to provide some extra force during an arrest because the deterrence of the courts and the penal system had failed. So, a police baton (or several) "upside the head" may serve as a better deterrent than a long expensive trial followed by either an acquittal or a short stint in the county jail.

Rockwell acknowledged that the police went too far, but he also acknowledged that criminals have been going too far for a long time. As Rockwell asks in his article, we have the video of the police beating someone, but when are we going to see the video of a home invasion where the criminals terrorize the homeowner; or the video of someone getting robbed; or an innocent person getting murdered; or a woman being terrorized and raped?

That's what the article is about.

You can think what you want about what Rockwell wrote in the early 1990s. (I know that my opinions have radically changed since then.) But, the subject of this current post is whether or not there was racism in the article, and the answer to that question is an unqualified "No."

Using the above-mentioned definition of racism, it is clear to any honest reader of what Rockwell wrote that he is not advancing a legal system that eschews the value of the individual in favor of replacing it with a system based on race. In fact, just the opposite is true: Rockwell wants the focus to be on the individual -- specifically the criminal.

There is no place where Rockwell mentions race or equates criminals with any minority group. So, if someone reads the article and wrongly believes that criminal = Black, that erroneous reading speaks volumes about the reader of the article, not the author.

In regards to the Rothbard article, the pertinent part deals with school vouchers and, more specifically, Rothbard's positive endorsement of Rockwell's view on said vouchers.

There are different types of school voucher systems, but the basics of all these systems is that a family who is assigned to attend public school A can use the voucher and attend either public school B or a charter school.

The Rothbard/Rockwell concern was that by the state giving public school A parents the choice to go to public school B, the state would be limiting the choice of public school B parents, for giving preferential choice to one group means limiting the choice of a different group.

Rothbard/Rockwell also expressed concern that inner city parents from a low-performing public  school would take their vouchers to a high-performing public school, thus lowering the standards of the once good school.

Again, there is no mention of race. People assume that inner city means Black, and/or hispanic, and/or minority.

As a former teacher and public school administrator, however, I can assure you that the term "inner city" is more of a description of an attitude or lifestyle or economic status -- not race.

When I worked for the Oakland Unified School District, there were some schools that were called, "Flatlands," and there were other schools that were called, "Hills." The Flatland schools were in the inner city, and the Hill schools were in the wealthy suburbs. The Flatland schools were attended by Blacks, Hispanics, Whites, and Asians. The Hill schools were attended by Blacks, Hispanics, Whites, and Asians. Granted, there was a much larger percentage of Blacks and Hispanics in the Flatlands than in the Hills, but all races were represented in the Flatlands and in the Hills.

Here's the thing: While a Black Hills father may have most in common with another Black Hills father, he also has more in common with a White Hills father than he does with a Flatland Black father. A Flatland Asian mom hangs most easily with another Flatland Asian mom, but she also enjoys the time with a Flatland Hispanic mom more than she does with a Hills Asian mom.

Is this 100% true? Of course not; there are not many things in life that are 100% true; but I've often seen family fellowship occur along economic/attitude/lifestyle lines, not racial lines.

The Rothbard/Rockwell concern of the inner-city, low-performing school student invading the suburban, high-performing school has little to do with race. Again, if people want to associate inner-city with race, they are mistaken, especially in the context of public schools, and this was the context addressed by the Rothbard/Rockwell article.

(I should also mention that the I don't think the Rothbard/Rockwell concern will come in to play. I could go into that, but I'll save that for a later time when I am discussing the horrible failure of public education.)

Of course, to the person that wants to smear both Rothbard and Rockwell, all of the above-mentioned will have no effect for critics' minds have already been seared and hardened. But, all I can do is report on what I read from the two men and what I have experienced in life.

Finally, let me address the Roderick Long link that was a taped recording of a speech by Hoppe. Yes, Hoppe's statement was in line with Charles Murray's book, The Bell Curve. In The Bell Curve, Murray links intelligence with genetics and race. (Rothbard gave the book a favorable review.)

Here is my thinking about the book and Hoppe's comment: Who cares?

Let's say that Charles Murray's research was correct in its revelation that Blacks have a lower IQ than Whites, and that the lower IQ is genetically caused. Why should I allow that to negatively affect my life? Why should any Black person allow that research to stop him/her from doing whatever it is that they want to do?

I received my MBA with concentrations in Management and Finance. My Finance classes were dominated by  people who were electrical engineers, most of them of Indian descent. For them, financial math was easy; for me, it was very hard.

Was it hard for me because I had not spent as much time dealing with mathematical equations as some of my MBA classmates or were the classes hard because I was genetically inferior? Maybe the classes were hard because of genetics, although my father would have done well in all the Finance classes since he received a Master's degree in Math from UCLA. Maybe he did not pass those genes on to me. Maybe all of my father's scientific/mathematical genes went to my sister, who is a doctor. Maybe my father was able to escape the Black curse of being intellectually inferior, but I was not.

But, in the end, I graduated with the same degree and the same concentration as all the engineers taking those Finance classes.

For Larry Bird, getting to the NBA may have required an enormous amount of effort, while for a person like Hakeem Olajuwon, learning the game may have come relatively easily. Olajuwon has two championships, and Bird has three.

Whom do we think is a better economist: Thomas Sowell or Paul Krugman?

Whom would I trust with my financial portfolio: Iris Mack or Tim Geithner?

Who is a better lyricist: Eminem or MC Hammer?

Even if Murray and Hoppe are correct in terms of their coupling IQ and genetics, they are miles away from the definition of racism: An advocacy or implementation of a legal/political system that eschews the values of individual justice and replaces it with a system based on racial group identity.

Victor J. Ward  first came across libertarianism by reading Murray Rothbard's Ronald Reagan: An Autopsy and Walter Block's Defending the Undefendable. He holds a law degree from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law and an MBA from Santa Clara University.


  1. Yet another excellent post by Victor sublimely summed up in two words: Who cares?

    Can't wait to read the post on the success of government-run schools!

  2. Thomas Sowell spent some ink exploring race from the perspective of an economist, Race and Culture, etc. One of numerous salient points is that success in mathematics, not surprisingly, correlates to a great extent with time spent studying mathematics.

    1. I recall a fascinating interview with Sowell where he talked about how the jagged coast lines of Europe versus the regular coastlines of Africa explained how the 2 economies and cultures developed differently because of internal trade.

  3. IQ strikes me as another government non-sense statistic like GNP and CPI for sort of the same kinds of reasons that Austrian school economists should understand better than anybody. They are all false aggregations of things that cannot be meaningfully defined in the first place.

    We know that there is no such thing as GNP and CPI from Austrian school insight and theory.

    But for various reasons Austrian schoolers seem not able to resist the temptation of talking about GNP and CPI in their economic analysis anyway. It seems so harmless. Sure, the non-sense statistic we call "CPI" remained stable in the 1920s and Austrian school insight might seem to be illustrated by using this non-sense statistic to prove that the 1920s was an actually an inflationary period because CPI should have been dropping otherwise.

    But not really. There are to many other variables and the whole concept is absurd to begin with which the Austrians can prove. And while CPI might seem to help Austrians explain the 1920s, it can end up making them look wrong in other cases like the last 10 or 20 years. So they have to scramble and point out that the dollar's world reserve currency status has allowed inflation to be "exported" abroad. Perhaps this is true, but the Austrians' mission is to explain the absurdity of government statistics, not make them appear useful.

    Likewise with IQ. The Austrians should see this as the government psychologists' version of the same scam pulled by government economists. You can't add together an idiot-savant's mathematical intelligence as expressed by his playing a piano with his ability to solve quadratic equations and claim that your unit-less total says anything about any definition of intelligence that you can create. It may seem like you can, as with CPI, but deductive reasoning tells us otherwise.

    I question the motivations of Rothbard for writing about IQ and Rockwell for writing about the benefits of abolishing due process in the first place. I was really pissed at Rockwell in 1992 for writing in the LA Times and using the occasion of the cops attempting to brutally murder someone for evading being kidnapped for speeding and brain chemistry non-crimes. They clearly were trying to tweak the noses of the cultural liberals in order to cozy up to the Buchananites and I think Rockwell understands now how foolish it was.

    I don't think they ever were "racists" and the best thing for Rockwell to do now would be to come clean and explain how even though its vital to defend bigots' rights, getting involved in proving their claims can make you look foolish if you're wrong and can harmfully thicken your libertarian message.

    1. Murray and Lew made a Faustian pact wen they started trying to cozy up with the Chronicles crowd in the 1990s. I agree it was a huge mistake.

      Just read some of the collectivist nonsense that Samuel Francis used to dish out in that magazine. . Here is a sample"

      "Thus, America First trade and immigration policies should
      recognize that we, as Americans, owe duties to ourselves and our
      compatriots before we owe anything to other peoples, and
      restrictions on immigration, free trade, and technology transfer
      should be debated and framed in terms of our national identity and
      interests, and not in terms of natural or human rights or the
      interests of a fictitious "global community."

      "Perhaps most centrally, the quality of the American
      population, its education, its economy and technology, and its
      social disciplines are all, in one sense, "assets" by which the
      national well-being and security of the country may be measured"

    2. You are completely wrong about IQ. It is an incredibly well-understood construct with a great deal of empirical support. For a quick high-quality introduction see this by the prominent psychometrician Linda Gottfredson:

  4. Beautiful analysis, beautiful observations, beautiful writing,

    Thank you, Victor!

  5. So Robert, how much are you going to pay Victor so that he doesn't set up his own blog?

    1. For your information, I have already discussed a plan that could turn out very lucrative for Victor.

  6. Wenzel, you are doing good work here on this blog highlighting the "racist" mind manipulation scam.

    The next generalization, along the the same lines, is the use of broad "character assassination" to defuse valid criticisms of the State. The State views dissent itself as a threat and has already planned out character assassination attacks to defend itself from valid criticisms. You should help train people to identify such attacks - they worked beautifully against Ron Paul, so we know that there are enough low IQ Americans around who are vulnerable to these scams. [The cancerous outgrowth of thick libertarianism is another bad development that will make it even easier to manipulate people using weak sauce "racism" and "feminism" allegations.]

    See this:
    "There has already been reporting that shows that—the document, for example, in the book that shows the NSA plotting about how to use information that it collected against people it considers, quote, “radicalizers.” These are people the NSA itself says are not terrorists, do not belong to terrorist organizations, do not plan terrorist attacks. They simply express ideas the NSA considers radical. The NSA has collected their online sexual activity, chats of a sexual nature that they’ve had, pornographic websites that they visit, and plans, in the document, on how to use this information publicly to destroy the reputations or credibility of those people to render them ineffective as advocates."