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Monday, January 02, 2012

Murphy on LVMI

Bob writes an interesting post about the Mises Institute here. A few observations:

1) As soon as I arrived at my first Mises Institute event, someone I knew from online and I met in the bar at the hotel at which the events used to be held. Right away, he began telling me ethnic jokes. There was definitely an atmosphere that, if you weren't comfortable with such material, you had come to the wrong place. And I occasionally heard one of the senior people, who has lots of H's in his name, say some clearly racist things.

2) That being said, I think the truly racist time at LVMI had passed by the time Bob and I got there (at roughly the same time, I think). Rothbard, in the late 80s or early 90s, had decided that an appeal to racists was just the ticket for his movement.  He published articles saying things like blacks weren't doing very well because they weren't so smart*, got involved with Neo-Confederate causes, and so on. I think by 2000, Lew Rockwell sincerely regretted that time, and was doing what he could to toss out some of the bad apples that LVMI had collected back then. I never saw any evidence of racism from Rockwell or Jeff Tucker, the chief people I dealt with from LVMI.

Oh, and I agree with Bob's implicit assignment of authorship: Rothbard wrote the inflammatory Ron Paul newsletters. They sound exactly like him, and little like Rockwell.

3) Bob's defense of LVMI against the charge of cultism just won't go. The Church of Scientology also makes statements that everything in their literature should be questioned and confirmed by the potential Scientologist. So are they "some cult" as well? "We encourage you to question everything" can be a sign of genuine openness, or it can be a cult recruitment tactic. It simply doesn't prove anything one way or the other.

* An extraordinarily obtuse attempt to defend against a charge of racism is to contend that IQ evidence proves that blacks really are innately less intelligent than whites. That's not a defense against a charge of racism; it's a defense of racism! The person who responds this way is saying he thinks racism is accurate.

12 comments:

  1. How do you think Paul should handle the newsletter issue? I don't know any of these figures personally but it will *look* like the campaign is throwing someone under the bus who cannot defend himself. Was HHH a ghostwriter by any chance?

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  2. "That's not a defense against a charge of racism; it's a defense of racism!"

    For me this begs the question now of what is racism? Is it really that you think that there are some genetic differences among different races? I mean there obviously are differences, else blacks weren't black and whites weren't white. Also in running sports it also becomes quite obvious that blacks are faster on the average.

    Is it now far-fetched to believe that there might also be cognitive differences? No I don't think so. I think in all probability there are on the average minor ones. But I have no idea who is to favor. There are lots of cognitive tasks a brain has to master; only a pure IQ test does not reflect that. Not to forget that IQ tests have other defects. It is clear that such a thought alone already sounds offensive (also to me) though I can't think that this is the real problem.

    The problem is if you would conclude and justify that because there are some genetic differences, that some people should not have the same rights as the "superior" ones. E.g. should not be allowed to vote, should not be able to get high public jobs etc.. That's what racism is. It's not that you think there are differences; it’s if you think because of that people should be treated differently and are below you.

    So I think if you want to charge someone with racism it is not enough to show that he thinks that whites (or blacks or Asians or...) are "smarter" or whatever.. Though of course I grant this is a hard indicator for racism, since the only time I would think or write about this topic is when racism itself is the topic, not if something else is.

    At the end racism is arbitrary group thinking that makes illogical conclusions from real or imagined facts that they are worth more... Why not argue that all people above 6 foot are superior because they have more oversight? It would at least benefit me ;)

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  3. skylien:
    "Racism is a belief that one race is superior to the other or the practice of treating a person or group of people differently on the basis of their race."
    http://www.yourdictionary.com/racism

    See that first definition (before the "or")? I am using a very standard definition here. You are using a special case of racism: racism that results in legal discrimination.

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  4. No idea, traumerei. He screwed the pooch when he didn't handle it years ago.

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  5. Thankfully it didn't seem to be an issue with the people I called on his behalf today.

    There's plenty of time for a more reasoned view on him as the elections drag on.

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  6. Gene,

    I spoke about this one in the first part of my post. The first definition is too vague IMO.

    If the first definition was enough to prove someone is a racist then this would mean that I am one, since I believe that blacks are superior in running on the average, according to my lamenting girlfriend they have a much better connective tissue, and it’s likely that black men have a bigger.. (this might be only rumors though, and no it was not confirmed by my girlfriend..). At the same time I don’t know even one attribute of whites that they are superior in on the average in all probability (considering that most things depend on the circumstances and culture surrounding you, so you cannot reduce it to genetic reasons). So am I?

    I never saw a racist who was not also one according to second definition. Can you show me one? The first part is only a means to justify why the “inferior” race should not have the same rights, why they maybe should be driven out of the country, or at worst put in concentration camps or that it’s ok that they should be slaves. It just does not make sense to be a racist and say: “Yeah, our race is Superior in everything especially in IQ and morality etc, but I would fight and even die that these poor Inferior races get the same rights and are treated nicely and respectfully as my own Superior race”. The sole reason in being a racist is to subjugate and control other races, and definitely avoid being controlled/governed by them. You cannot do that by demanding equal rights. So I don’t consider my definition a special case, but the main case.

    Granted, racists don’t easily come out today and say “I demand that race X should not be allowed to do “insert any legal thing””, though this is exactly what they think. The point is it is not automatically defending racism if you acknowledge differences in different races. It might be only stating facts. If you want to find out if someone is a racist, say to him this: Now suppose you are right, race X is different/inferior in this or that. What does that mean now, why are you telling me this, what’s got that to do with the issue?

    Maybe you will find out then.

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  7. Now, Gene, IANAR (I know, they all say that) but wouldn't it be astounding if two groups of people with different genetic and cultural backgrounds had the exact same mean IQ? Even allowing for statistical meaningfulness. One can believe that another group has a different mean IQ, or height, or skin pigmentation level without believing it to make members of that group inferior, or treating them in any way differently.

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  8. skylien: "I never saw a racist who was not also one according to second definition"

    Well, I think the correct response here is: duh! Since you DEFINE racism to the racism of the second type, YOU will not see any of the first type who is not one of the second. But they were a dime-a-dozen in the 19th century. Try Abraham Lincoln, for instance.

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  9. OK, Andy, from Wikipedia:

    'The Oxford English Dictionary defines racism as the "belief that all members of each race possess characteristics, abilities, or qualities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races" and the expression of such prejudice,[9][10] while the Merriam-Webster's Dictionary defines it as a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority or inferiority of a particular racial group, and alternatively that it is also the prejudice based on such a belief.[11] The Macquarie Dictionary defines racism as: "the belief that human races have distinctive characteristics which determine their respective cultures, usually involving the idea that one's own race is superior and has the right to rule or dominate others."'

    Sorry, usage is with me. "Benign" racism is not only common, it may have once been the dominant form: "We whites have an obligation to uplift the inferior races," etc.

    IQ: I think human mental capacity is essentially the same amongst all peoples of the earth. If IQ tests show otherwise, the problem is with the IQ tests! (Imagine an "IQ test" designed by Amazonian hunter-gatherers, involving detecting what animals have passed down a forest trail, spotting poisonous snakes, etc. The incoming class at MIT would perform miserably, and the bushmen would shine.)

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  10. Gene, we don't disagree on the definition. If it were true that the mean intelligence (by some measure) of one group differed by 5% from another, but the standard deviation were 30% of the mean, believing in the difference in means would certainly not be consistent with racism by the definitions you gave.

    BTW, I don't hold any particular beliefs re. which racial groups have above average IQs as I haven't read many studies on it, although I did slog through some years ago. I guess the point I'd like to get across is that even if there were shown to be differences in racial means of some meaningful characteristic, that would not validate racism, the belief that members of some racial group are somehow worth less than members of another group because of it. Which is what I saw in "that's not a defense against a charge of racism; it's a defense of racism!"

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  11. Andy, man is the rational animal. If there were some fundamental difference in basic intelligence between two populations of humans, that's a lot different than if they have different heights or skin colors.

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  12. I see it like Andy:
    "I guess the point I'd like to get across is that even if there were shown to be differences in racial means of some meaningful characteristic, that would not validate racism, the belief that members of some racial group are somehow worth less than members of another group because of it. Which is what I saw in "that's not a defense against a charge of racism; it's a defense of racism!""

    "Well, I think the correct response here is: duh! Since you DEFINE racism to the racism of the second type, YOU will not see any of the first type who is not one of the second. But they were a dime-a-dozen in the 19th century. Try Abraham Lincoln, for instance."

    Sorry, I meant of course racists who are not one according to my definition, but are uncontroversially one among the general opinion. Like Nazis and slave promoters etc..

    You mean this Lincoln?
    "I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races, that I am not nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people; and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And in as much as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race. I say upon this occasion I do not perceive that because the white man is to have the superior position the negro should be denied everything. I do not understand that because I do not want a negro woman for a slave I must necessarily want her for a wife. My understanding is that I can just let her alone.[24]"

    How is that demanding equal rights? Yes it is good that he wanted to free them of slavery, but he still wanted different rights for them, exactly what I said racists want. Of course maybe he lied here to sway the public opinion to win the presidency. But then you cannot even know if he was racist like you think at all.

    I'd pick the definition of Macquarie Dictionary.

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