A reader writes:
Are you familiar with the Journal of Libertarian Studies? I have a copy of the Fall 1996 issue (volume 12, number 2). The inside cover says the journal’s editors at the time were Hans-Hermann Hoppe, Walter Block, David Gordon, and Joseph Salerno. (Murray Rothbard is listed as “founding editor.”)
In that issue there’s an article by philosophy professor Michael Levin called “Why Race Matters: A Preview.” It’s a precis of a (then) forthcoming book by the same author.
In the article, Levin says he advocates “swifter imposition of harsher sanctions on blacks than whites for the same infraction, in light of higher black time preferences, and (in light of the apparent more rapid maturation of blacks) treatment of blacks as adult offenders at an earlier age than whites” (p. 306).
Curiously, though every other article from that issue is listed on the Mises Institute’s web site, that article isn’t mentioned. But by looking at the URLs for the other articles in the Fall 1996 issue, I figured out you can find the article here.
Reading stuff like that leaves me with mixed feelings. On the one hand, I want to admire the editors for having the courage to publish controversial views on sensitive subjects. On the other hand, the viewpoint in question seems so unhinged (even granting Levin’s premises, try to imagine the state disinterestedly meting out punishment based on a purely “scientific” understanding of race differences, and try to imagine black people accepting racial double standards with equanimity) that it’s hard to avoid the suspicion that the editors have some axe to grind.
I’ll say. It’s really a vile piece of writing. Levin also says the law should factor race into whether an act of self-defense is justified (in other words, if you attack a black man you wrongly thought posed a threat to you, the courts will cut you more slack than if you wrongly attack a white man—because black people are more savage and criminal than white people). He says a social safety net for white people can be justified, but one for black people can’t. He argues that police should need less cause to detain black people than to detain white people.
He even makes a specific argument against individualism, calling it irrational as commonly understood. Instead, he says it’s perfectly acceptable—preferable even—to judge people based on their race than by, as that “gay pedophile” fellow put it, “the content of their character.” And as the above examples indicate, he’s not advocating open racial discrimination merely for individuals (which would be bad enough), he’s explicitly advocating it be adopted by government.
Let’s be clear, here. There’s nothing remotely libertarian about any of this. It’s the very antithesis of libertarianism. But there it is. In the Mises Institute’s Journal of Libertarian Studies.
I’m glad the Mises Institute is apparently ashamed enough to not list Levin’s article on its website. But they did publish the thing in 1996. And once again, we see the same names cropping up with this stuff. In the 1990s.
Have to say, if the term “cosmotarian”—which I gather was coined as a slur—means staunch, unapologetic, unwavering opposition to the kind of dreck in Levin’s article, I’ll embrace the label with whole heart.