Untimely Observations

"The Dream" By Other Means

The brand of historiography promoted by the Mises Institute is at its best when it is revisionist, and fearless of social and political taboos. It is at its very worst when it is Manichaean: The Black Hats vs. the White Hats; The Good Guys (a term these historians actually like to use) vs. The Baddies; the Party of Liberty vs. the tyrannical Statists etc. etc. etc.

I might agree with Thomas DiLorenzo on some crucial issues, including the Federal Reserve and the Cult of Lincoln, but history-writing should not be a kind of extended op-ed, in which readers silently cheer on the Good Guys, hiss at the Baddies, judging both by the degree to which they adhere to a 2012 Anarcho-Capitalist Platform.

All this was brought to mind as I was reading what DiLorenzo surely considers to be devastating take-downs of his National Review opponents in the Beltway, regarding the Ron Paul newsletters saga.

The official National Review line has, for a while, been that Ron Paul is borderline unmentionable, mostly due to his foreign-policy positions.  If there is a strong need to go after him, the NRchiks haven't hesitated to bring up that at one point in time, Paul's newsletters promoted unfashionable views on race, as well as conspiracy theories of various degrees of crankiness—despite the fact that such views are out of tune with Paul’s more recent public statements on racial matters and the civil rights movement. 

DiLorenzo’s response is to dig up some money quotes from NR’s past and insinuate that the “neocons” are racist bigots. That is, he does EXACTLY what he accuses NR of doing. (In the process, he proves that NR was once a pretty interesting magazine!)

It’s ultimately far more plausible for a Jonah Goldberg- or Ramesh Ponnuru-type to claim that they are devotees of MLK’s legacy than a Rothbardian, in the sense that King was a socialist egalitarian, at war with natural hierarchies—and who wanted to use the state to equalize society. In their very persons, people like Ponnuru and Goldberg are expressions of what MLK’s legacy has come to mean—they are Melting Pot Americans enthralled with expanding democracy and consumer capitalism around the globe, utterly discontinuous figures with a traditional American Right exemplified by Madison Grant and Henry and Brooks Adams.

Moreover, the “libertarianism” offered forth by DiLorenzo is, in the end, a photographic negative of American Left-liberalism: one side wants to achieve social equality via Civil Rights legislation; the other, through free-market capitalism; both are dedicated to “The Dream.” (At the end of the day, this is probably all that libertarianism can ever be.)

It’s also worth pointing out that the mainstream media haven’t taken Jamie Kirchick’s lead and attacked Paul as a “Angry White Man,” the progeny of the Paranoid Persuasion, etc. They have, more of less, accepted Paul’s explanation that he didn’t write the newsletters, and have instead stuck to badgering Paul about how he could ever have allowed such offensive material to be published under his name.

The reason why this controversy is worth discussing is that it reveals the degree to which the media and intellectual Establishment will not tolerate any serious discussion of race as a biological reality. DiLorenzo simply re-affirms the taboo.

The logic of his recent pieces can be boiled down to something like this:

William F. Buckley is a “neocon,” because Thomas di Lorenzo says so...and William F. Buckley once said kinda nice things about South African apartheid and Jim Crow…therefore neocons are racists and hate Martin Luther King Jr….and Jamie Kirchick, the Left-liberal homosexual activists, agrees with the neocons on foreign policy...so, you know, he’s a racists, too...unlike Ron Paul who’s wonderful...

DiLorenzo might want to read up on what his mentors and employers once wrote about Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr. in former lives. He would discover to his horror that there were some racist neocons writing for the Rothbard-Rockwell Report!