More Racial Ugliness From Paleos

Saturday, February 2nd, 2008

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.

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13 Responses to “More Racial Ugliness From Paleos”

  1. #1 |  Jim Henley | 

    You bastard. I just read ALL of that thing.

    Ad a favorable review by another Mises publication from 1998.

  2. #2 |  johncjackson | 

    I wear the cosmotarian label as a badge of honor, though I’m not sure what to do with it.

    This sort of “swift justice” for blacks was also advocated by Lew Rockwell, IIRC, in his articles about/after the Rodney King incident. I also remember him writing ( or was it Rothbard?) something about how the police should be allowed(required?) to beat suspects as immediate punishment only subject to civil penalty ( I guess only if they had the wrong guy and knew they did or something).

  3. #3 |  johncjackson | 

    Just wanted to say I haven’t read this site in awhile. I was reading from top to bottom. So I didn’t get the the Lew Rockwell on Rodney King post before I made the above comment. getting ready to read that now and see if it matches up with my memory.

  4. #4 |  Christopher Monnier | 

    Put me in the cosmotarian camp.

  5. #5 |  Greg N. | 

    By quoting these people, you’re just smearing them.

    I didn’t know the Orange line extended into Del Ray, but one day you and your fellow STATO/(t)Reason turncoats (except Gene Healy) will pay for these attacks.

  6. #6 |  David in GA | 

    I can only speak for myself but I think many suburbotarians had a similar position. The Ron Paul newsletters were common knowledge among libertarians (unless you don’t read your own magazine) but as soon as a mainstream publication “discovered” them, cosmotarians who had been supporting Dr. Paul suddenly couldn’t condemn him harshly enough or often enough. The criticism had nothing to do with your anti-racism stance and was certainly not in defense of the content of the newsletters. It seems to me like this post is implying that anyone who criticized the cosmo crowd is a racist or racist supporter but that is just not the case.
    However, your work on other issues is outstanding.

  7. #7 |  Jerri Lynn Ward | 

    “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).”

    I went to the link where the article resides and went to p. 306 and did not find the above. Instead, I found information about Africa. I plugged the sentence into my search engine and got no hits. I scanned page by page of the article and looked for the above, and found nothing. What I found was analysis of data. I didn’t read line by line because this was some complex stuff.

    Has anyone else found the offending sentence?

    Analysis of racial differences in intelligence is of absolutely no interest to me. I do not judge God’s children on the basis of race or intelligence. I leave that to the social darwinists and evolutionists.

  8. #8 |  Dave Empey | 


    look at the top of page 316.

    (I found it instantly with a search for “black time”.)

  9. #9 |  Persona non grata | 

    Label this, thpppt.

    Labels are used inorder to obscure the truth or hide fear.

    They certainly never help with defining a debate.

  10. #10 |  Libertarians, Old and New « MANSIZEDTARGET.COM | 

    […] Balko in his latest salvo shows the intellectual poverty of the new generation of “hipstertarians.“  For […]

  11. #11 |  Russell Hanneken | 

    The Journal of Libertarian Studies is today published by the Mises Institute, but in 1996 it was published by the Center for Libertarian Studies, which I believe had no official connection to the Mises Institute. I do get the impression their staff came from the same Rothbardian/paleo-libertarian clique.

    Today, the JLS is edited by Roderick Long, who describes himself as a “left-libertarian.” Long’s views seem a bit out of step with those of his predecessors, and I think it shows in the issues of JLS that have been published since he assumed editorship.

  12. #12 |  Greg N. | 

    CLS has always been a Rothbard/Rockwell project (Rockwell is the current VP of CLS). Whether there’s any “official” affiliation with the Mises Institute is irrelevant; the relevant personnel are the same.

  13. #13 |  Brian Moore | 

    Absolutely intolerable. I can’t even stand to read that.

    “He even makes a specific argument against individualism, calling it irrational as commonly understood.”

    Yeah… you can’t separate libertarianism from individualism. You can’t say things like that and expect to have any right to be considered a libertarian.

    Complete and total crap.