A brief glimpse at the dark underside of contemporary libertarianism

I just ran across the website of the Property and Freedom Society, a fringe libertarian group I had not heard of before.  (I’m mostly interested in work by people with at least a patina of intellectual credibility.)  Apparently PFS is associated with the Mises/Rothbard wing of the libertarian movement, a group that today stands out for its openness to racist appeals to gain power (link is to an infamous Rothbard paper endorsing “right wing populism”).  Classy.  They call themselves “culturally conservative libertarians”.  That’s one way to put it.

But maybe I should be more open minded.  Ok, let’s take a look.  The first item on their home page today is titled A Brief History of Race Relations.  OK, that sounds interesting, at least if we’re being charitable.  But next on the list is Why Are The Jews So Smart?  After going through a complicated process of Bayesian updating, I think I’ll skip the videos.  But scrolling down through the list one thing that jumps out is that all the speakers in their featured videos are white men.  Literally all of them.  I imagine they must have some diversity in their ranks, but presumably this is more or less a random sample of their wares and an accurate picture of their membership.  It’s pretty jarring.  I wonder why they have trouble recruiting non-white members . . .

Our friend Jeffrey Tucker of Brownstone Institute fame apparently had some association with them in the past.  No surprise.  This is from his Wikipedia page, footnotes omitted:

In the late 1980s, he worked for Ron Paul as an assistant to editor Lew Rockwell. During Paul’s 2008 Presidential campaign, newsletters written on behalf of Paul became controversial because some contained statements against black people and gay people. Tucker was said to have helped Rockwell write the newsletters.

The Southern Poverty Law Center includes this in its write up of The Ludwig von Mises Institute:

Both Rockwell and institute research director Jeffrey Tucker are listed on the racist League of the South’s Web page as founding members — and both men deny their membership. Tucker has written for League publications, and many League members have taught at the institute’s seminars and given presentations at its conferences.

I have no idea what the truth is here or what Tucker’s views on race are.  But the willingness of at least some libertarians to make common cause with racists is deeply troubling.  Racism is not only wrong, it undermines support for democratic government.  Fanning the flames of racial animosity is a threat to all of us. 

Anyone interested in the connections between libertarianism and racism should check out Fardel’s Bear, especially some of the earlier entries.