But … but I thought being a libertarian meant not admitting that certain real problems really are real!

by John Holbo on April 4, 2009

Jonah Goldberg responding to a paragraph by Will Wilkinson:

As it happens, American drug prohibition and sentencing policies hit poor black men the hardest, devastating already disadvantaged black families and communities—a tragic, mocking contrast to the achievement of Obama’s election. Militarized police departments across the nation month after month kick down the wrong doors, terrify innocent families, shoot lawful citizens, and often kill the family dog.

I’m not casting doubt on the statistics they cite or the sincerity of the arguments (I’ve argued with too many liberatarians and legalizers about drugs to doubt their sincerity on the issue, statistics are another matter). But something has always bothered me about the drug war is racist argument which, in fairness, Will only suggests above.

It seems so, well, unlibertarian — at least in one respect. Sure, as an argument against the unintended consequences of what they consider to be a bad policy, the disproportionate affect on blacks works just fine.

But as an argument from proud individualists it seems a bit off. It seems to me that the classical liberal is supposed to see people as autonomous and sovereign moral actors, not identity politics groups.

And that’s why true libertarians were opposed to the abolition of slavery. And, after that, opposed to the Civil Rights movement. The crucial error of the abolitionists, after all, was not to regard slaves as individual autonomous and sovereign moral actors. Instead, they were treated as if they were members of an oppressed group. The Civil Rights movement, too, failed to focus on how whites and blacks are equal and autonomous. It treated the situation as if it were one in which racism played a crucial role.

No, seriously. Goldberg goes on to say that the Drug War situation would be different if – per impossibile – the systematically disproportionate bad effect on African-Americans could be thought by any reasonable observer to be anything but a sheer, innocent accident. “It seems to me, the only way the “racist drug war” argument really works on libertarian grounds is if you take for granted that it is a bad policy in principle and that its proponents know it is a bad policy but support it anyway for evil reasons … But I don’t think that’s a great argument, at least not from libertarians, not least because it is untrue.”

Does Goldberg really think that if, on a regular basis, police were routinely knocking down doors of the houses of rich white suburban folk and killing the family dog … that there wouldn’t be some changes around the place? All those scenes in The Wire, in which characters are casually observing that deaths of one class of person don’t matter as much to the powers that be as deaths of a different sort of person … Goldberg thinks that all these cynical cops are just naive about how the real world works?

There actually is a semi-interesting point to be made here: namely, you could make the case that the problem isn’t racism so much as the powerful not having to care – hence not caring – what happens to the already powerless and disadvantaged. (Who, for purely contingent, historical reasons tend to be African American because the problem used to be racism, no doubt, even though it isn’t any more!) But, even granting all that, the idea that libertarians are obscurely morally obliged not to take note of cases in which grievances fester, because of malign neglect (it ain’t benign!) – so long as the grievances pool in ways that make them group grievances, as opposed to individual grievances … ?

I mean, I can see arguing that libertarians are permitted to be unresponsive to certain sorts of group grievance. But obliged to pretend they don’t exist?

Someone is going to complain, tediously, that my cracks about abolitionism and civil rights are unfair. So let me, tediously, nip that one in the bud: there is no reason why you can’t regard individuals as autonomous moral agents while also recognizing that some individuals are members of systematically disadvantaged groups. The abolitionists did both things. The Civil Rights movement did the same. Yet this is what Goldberg is saying Wilkinson really shouldn’t be doing. The question of whether there is racism (conscious, or unconscious) in any of these cases, is really quite perfectly incidental. (It’s not as though libertarians even think it’s impermissible to be be racist, in the privacy of your own head, if it comes to that.)

It may be, of course, that certain attempts to redress group problems will overreach, and offend against individual autonomy. But it is hard to think of a case in which bare recognition of the existence of disadvantaged groups – all Wilkinson is doing in the passage Goldberg critiques – could already be tantamount to betraying commitment to autonomy and moral agency. Yet this is where Goldberg wants to draw the line.

(I have been puzzled for some time as to why Goldberg thinks libertarianism is an attractive political philosophy. This may be an important clue.)

{ 107 comments }

1

anonymous 04.04.09 at 5:25 am

Too complicated…

Libertarianism can be summed up in three words: “Not my problem”.

2

TheOctagon 04.04.09 at 5:32 am

I’m glad you note that libertarians can recognize identity politics. Many libertarians are becoming increasingly friendly to these views. It’s becoming clear to them that political and cultural oppression are deeply intertwined and that one way to fight the state is to fight cultural oppression. They’re even trying to convince leftists that the causal connection runs in the other direction as well – reduce state power, reduce cultural oppression. Reduce cultural oppression, reduce state power. I’m intrigued, at least.

Incidentally, this view about the connection between types of oppression was common in 19th century libertarianism. Herbert Spencer, for instance, argued that statism derived from patriarchy in his Principles of Sociology. Other examples abound, not the least of which was J. S. Mill (yes, he supported co-ops, no that doesn’t mean he’s not a classical liberal).

Many 19th century libertarians were among the first feminists, as well. It has been an unfortunate consequence of the 20th century that libertarianism’s resurgence had so much to do with the rise of the conservative movement. It has deeply shaped their historical consciousness.

But overtime, perhaps they will return to their roots. I think this is something Wilkinson wants to pursue. But philosopher Roderick Long is really doing the yeoman’s work on this issue, along with some of his students.

3

john holbo 04.04.09 at 5:51 am

“Libertarianism can be summed up in three words: “Not my problem”.”

Naw, that’s egoism. Libertarianism says something more like ‘not my problem’ unless it is a problem even to someone who says ‘not my problem’ to everything but their own problems.

So we are doomed to a degree of complexity, I’m afraid.

4

Shawn Crowley 04.04.09 at 6:19 am

Libertarianism is politics for over-age Star Trek fans. The real world of real people is ignored in favor of a fantasy land where sweeping abstractions trump actual results. It is a flight from the messiness of everyday life. Why do you think so many libertarians identify with Spock? No messy emotion and the illusion of disinterested analysis. To be fair to the Trekkies there is a lot of libertarian overlap with space colonizers (don’t like the rules on this orbital pod? Start your own!), D&D players and so on. All a retreat from compromise and practicality.

But it does puzzle me why Goldberg is so worried about the race aspect of the war on drugs. He could simply ignore race and concentrate on the massive governmental power being brought to bear on individuals engaged in often harmless behavior. But that would require him to care. Ooops, beam me up Scotty!

5

Seth Finkelstein 04.04.09 at 6:21 am

“But obliged to pretend they don’t exist?”

Sure. He’s pretty clear about why. If I can very loosely paraphrase him in order to translate what he’s saying in one part: if you believe that such group grievances exist in this specific case, then you might be tempted to think that it’s possible that legitimate group grievances exist in other cases, especially economic ones. And that opens an extremely scary can of liberal worms. That’s this passage right here:

“I’m hard pressed to think of another area where libertarians are so willing to talk about racial or ethnic groups as a class. For all sorts of reasons, few libertarians would countenance the argument that capitalism is disproportionately harsh on poor blacks. Or, more specifically, libertarians generally shun the idea that it’s racist for banks to disproportionately deny loans to minorities if/when minorities are disproportionately likely to be bad credit risks. “

It’s very standard stuff, just using the unfamiliar axioms of Libertarian “logic” (which I should make clear is not mine, but I understand the twisted way it works).

6

Ray 04.04.09 at 7:36 am

Really, why bother? Goldberg is not smart, original, or even particularly influential or representative. He’s an idiot who advances the first argument to come into his head to justify why policies that benefit him – or annoy liberals, ho ho ho – should be kept in place. His arguments aren’t consistent and even he doesn’t bother to defend them. So why bother picking them apart? _Nobody_, not even Goldberg, takes them seriously. Analysing him – hell, even just reading him – is giving him more respect than he deserves.

7

Henri Vieuxtemps 04.04.09 at 8:57 am

Wait a second.
There is a policy or law or practice. Some individuals are oppressed by it.
You could, of course, identify ‘the persons being oppressed’ as a group, but that seems tautological. Individuals are being oppressed, and it will never (all right, almost never) be possible to map this ‘set of oppressed individuals’ perfectly onto some other group: people with darker skin, women, etc.
So the fact that “sentencing policies hit poor black men the hardest” is a trivial observation, is not important; all you need to know is that there are many individuals negatively and unfairly affected by this policy.
Is there anything wrong with this logic?

8

John Holbo 04.04.09 at 9:22 am

“To the fact that “sentencing policies hit poor black men the hardest” is a trivial observation, is not important; all you need to know is that there are many individuals negatively and unfairly affected by this policy.”

Goldberg actually seems to take the line … well, suppose it turned out that some insurance scheme was bilking, say, all the customers who had birthdays in odd months. I take it Goldberg would be ok with saying this policy is unjust to the group that has birthdays in odd months. But once the group in question is women or African-Americans, then you are for some reason obliged to dis-aggregate the complaint and treat it not as a group problem but as a set of strictly individual problems.

I take it the principle is that groups done wrong whose members self-identify as group members cannot be perceived by self-identifying members of the group of libertarians to be members of that done wrong group they self-perceive themselves to be members of (and of which they really and truly are members).

It’s hardly self-evident.

9

AdamH 04.04.09 at 9:31 am

It seems to me that classical liberals typically have some sort of commitment to equality. For instance, Locke on the rule of law: “One Rule for Rich and Poor, for the Favourite at Court and the Country Man at Plough,” etc.

One way this requirement might be violated is through the Favourite at Court being granted explicit favours, but another way might be if the Country Man is being “malignly neglected” and hence having his rights given poorer protection.

There are libertarians who seem to deny any such requirements of equality – Nozick, for instance. But they aren’t classical liberals…

10

AdamH 04.04.09 at 9:35 am

(And thus I wonder what to make of: “the classical liberal is supposed to see people as autonomous and sovereign moral actors, not identity politics groups.” – Is a commitment to the rule of law “identity politics”?)

11

Henri Vieuxtemps 04.04.09 at 10:42 am

But the group in question is not African-Americans. The most you can say is that it’s correlated with the category you call “African-Americans”, which is not, incidentally, a well-defined group itself.
Seriously, take American slavery for example. Is the issue here that something was being done to African-Americans, or is it slavery?

12

Freshly Squeezed Cynic 04.04.09 at 11:18 am

11: Both.

13

John Holbo 04.04.09 at 11:37 am

Henri,

Suppose I said that economic difficulties in the auto industry disproportionately affect Michiganites (Michiganders, call the what you like). Would you object to this on the ground that it is vague (who is to say what a Michigander really is?) only an imperfect correlation and (therefore?) an observation of no real interest.

Isn’t it just common sense that we could, potentially, be quite interested in vague truths that amount to rough correlations?

14

conchis 04.04.09 at 11:41 am

Whew! When I started reading this post in my RSS reader, the indentation suggested that Golberg’s comments were actually being made by you (Holbo). I thought I’d wandered into an alternate universe for a moment there…

15

conchis 04.04.09 at 11:51 am

More substantively, there’s lots of simplistic/faux-complicated jabs at libertarians going on here (anonymous, Shawn). Some versions of libertarianism deserve these jabs; Wilkinson’s doesn’t strike me as one of them.

16

Jay 04.04.09 at 12:08 pm

No, anarchists might say “let slaves be slaves”, etc. “True” libertarians and classical liberals tend to see a govt. role in protecting liberties (natural rights), upholding a justice system premised on individual rights, producing pure public goods, and perhaps funding a public education system. Slavery deprives individuals of their liberties (duh), and therefore state intervention is justified. Perhaps you could find frothing-at-the-mouth, living in mom’s basement types who would make an argument from absolute, unconditional freedom (where no govt. role is justified). But Wilkinson and other classical liberals accept the state for the reasons I noted. Others go further (e.g. addressing pollution as a negative externality requiring taxation, real but obviously shallow safety nets).

17

Sam C 04.04.09 at 12:29 pm

The Octagon at 2: You seem to be inventing a tradition. ‘Libertarian’ in the nineteenth century meant left anarchists like Peter Kropotkin. Nineteenth-century liberals like Mill were not libertarians either in that sense or in the current (=anarcho-capitalist) sense. Contemporary libertarianism has much shallower roots than libertarians like to claim.

18

Henri Vieuxtemps 04.04.09 at 1:21 pm

Typically, you would say that it disproportionally affects Michigan, the state of Michigan.
Would you say that “Michiganites are more likely to commit violent crimes” is also a common sense observation?

19

ed 04.04.09 at 1:36 pm

Please refrain from giving Jonah Goldberg a shred of credibility by seriously deconstructing one of his arguments. Mr. Goldberg is a fraud and a buffoon and only deserves point-n-laugh ridicule.

Also, what’s next? Actual Libertarians who line up with the ACLU?

20

engels 04.04.09 at 1:36 pm

Seriously, take American slavery for example. Is the issue here that something was being done to African-Americans, or is it slavery?

Both. The racist constitution of American slavery is an additional reason for condemning it. I think this must be obvious to most people who read this but to spell it out compare racially motivated crimes. Murder is wrong but murder motivated by hatred of someone’s race is wrong for an additional, separate reason.

21

jholbo 04.04.09 at 2:00 pm

“Typically, you would say that it disproportionally affects Michigan, the state of Michigan.”

Yes, but talk about Michigan being affected by an economic downturn is typically shorthand for talking about people who live in Michigan. Isn’t this just more common sense?

“Would you say that “Michiganites are more likely to commit violent crimes” is also a common sense observation?”

No. It’s certainly not common sense. Is it true? More likely than whom? (Why is this important? What does it have to do with what I was claiming? I wasn’t saying that correlation claims have to be common sense to be interesting. I was saying it is common sense that correlations, even if they are a bit vague, may be interesting.)

22

J. sligh 04.04.09 at 2:16 pm

The Octagon at 2: You seem to be inventing a tradition. ‘Libertarian’ in the nineteenth century meant left anarchists like Peter Kropotkin. Nineteenth-century liberals like Mill were not libertarians either in that sense or in the current (=anarcho-capitalist) sense. Contemporary libertarianism has much shallower roots than libertarians like to claim.

Libertarian meant something in the nineteenth century? I thought the term was invented out of whole cloth in the 70s.

Mill wasn’t a left anarchist or an anarcho-capitalist, but few self-identified libertarians are, either. Surely the claim made by libertarians isn’t that Mill was “actually” a libertarian, but rather that his ideas are broadly congruent with their own, which is why some people in this category call themselvse classical liberals – constructing tradition.

To the extent that a lot of tradition is invented after the fact, how do you prove that libertarianism has shallower roots than libertarians like to claim? I don’t think they’re even all claiming the same things.

(Though I will admit, the rhetorical strategy of sweeping all “defenders of liberty” onto one side of the room and saying that you’re the custodian of that side might bear out what you’re arguing.)

I think I might have written all of this just to assert: Michiganders, not Michiganites.

23

Rich Puchalsky 04.04.09 at 2:33 pm

This is related to another libertarian staple: denial of anthropogenic global warming. Why would denial of science be required by a political ideology, when they seem at first glance to be unrelated? Because the only solutions to the problem are communal ones, and therefore libertarians must deny that the problem itself exists.

But let’s not give them too much credit, which the paragraph above really does. It’s common for someone to point to Wilkinson, or some similarly “reasonable” libertarian, and say that you’re being too simplistic when you characterize libertarianism, because it doesn’t cover them. But so what? There are any number of varieties of libertarianism, held by individual libertarians. As anything resembling a mass, though,and characterizing them as such — pretending for a moment that they ever had enough numbers to qualify — they really are/were quite simple. Libertarians are racists. Their arguments were always full of bits about how unjust it was for the government to tell businesspeople who they could and couldn’t serve and that people should be allowed not to serve blacks if they didn’t want to, and they’d always go off on how bad Lincoln was. Their ideology is/was just another route for people on the Right to justify their racism.

24

Xmas 04.04.09 at 2:39 pm

Nice effing straw man…

The power of government is the power to oppress. Libertarians like to point that out, in all it’s horrible aspects. Just because you like SOME oppression, but not ALL oppression makes you the hypocrite, not libertarians. Libertarians are HORRIFIED by the selective enforcement of laws. When Bobby from the suburbs can skate when he has a bag of weed in his pocket, but Mikey from the city is giving his first of “Three Strikes”, we see another example of government injustice. When Poletown is destroyed so that GM can build a new factory, we see another example of government injustice. When we see rent-control put in place and those low-priced apartments are given to the rich or to powerful New York congressmen, we see another example of government injustice.

As for the drug war, a fair set of laws would make crack cocaine and regular ol’ powdered cocaine treated equally by weight. But crack, which was predominately used by the inner-city poor, has much higher the penalties as powdered cocaine. Both can be free-based, just one slightly easier than the other, so their is no difference between the two drugs.

But hey, keep making fun of us when we complain about the growing power and capriciousness of the government. It’s not like bloggers will ever run headlong into some abuse of government power.

25

qb 04.04.09 at 2:52 pm

Xmas @ 24: Yeah, because no political philosophy besides libertarianism can account for the injustice of selective enforcement and the drug war. Sheesh. Read an effing book.

Shawn @ 4: I agree in principle, but I find fault with the analogy to Star Trek. The United Federation of Planets takes liberal perfectionism to its logical limit. If you want a libertarian space epic, try Firefly.

26

MarkUp 04.04.09 at 2:53 pm

Bobby of course reserves the right to blast Mikey with his AK should Mikey cross the line. Mikey wonders if having another two strikes might not have been a bad thing. Yes, color me a cynic if you wish. Obvious to me, there is no shortage of tar and feather candidates in any group.

27

John Emerson 04.04.09 at 2:59 pm

The only really interesting thing about Goldberg is these questions: Why is he in the major media at all? Why do we have to care what he thinks about anything? Why is this intellectual null more influential than any of the dozens or hundreds of men, women, and children who are able to debunk him?

28

Righteous Bubba 04.04.09 at 3:02 pm

Just because you like SOME oppression, but not ALL oppression makes you the hypocrite, not libertarians.

Libertarians like oppression as much as the next person: they’d just prefer the oppression was in private hands.

29

anonymous 04.04.09 at 3:21 pm

28: Indeed. Their obsession with private property rights, pretty much above all else, illustrates this.

30

Down and Out of Sài Gòn 04.04.09 at 3:31 pm

This is related to another libertarian staple: denial of anthropogenic global warming. Why would denial of science be required by a political ideology, when they seem at first glance to be unrelated? Because the only solutions to the problem are communal ones, and therefore libertarians must deny that the problem itself exists.

It’s a defect in the philosophy induced by its practitioners. Silly people like Goldberg may think “people are autonomous and sovereign moral actors”, but most people prefer not to remain autonomous nor sovereign. Libertarianism that does not include the freedom to self-associate is no Libertarianism at all. So folk should have the freedom to form whatever groups they want – including groups to fight AGW.

In fact, it’s better that such groups exist. I gather “Coercion” is the big no-no in Libertarianism – and what’s more coercive than to have your climate and ecology killed by someone else’s excess carbon dioxide? The Great Barrier Reef is not only being killed by rising temperatures, but by acidification in seawater caused by CO2 emitted by polluters all over the world. So if the groups prevent such things, then the bigger the better. Therefore, communalism is not only permissible in Libertarianism, it is obligatory!

Hmm. Wonder if Libertarians will buy this argument. :-)

Nice effing straw man… The power of government is the power to oppress.

You’re right, Xmas. “The power of government is the power to oppress.” is a nice effing straw man argument.

31

Matt Kuzma 04.04.09 at 3:58 pm

This is exactly why that whole “we believe in individual rights not group rights” crap has never ceased to be complete gibberish to me: every group is composed of individuals so it is absolutely trivial to recast any group advocacy argument into an equally individualistic argument. If it’s the mere mention of group identities that bothers you, that’s an easily fixed problem. “Thousands of individuals, with their own cherished personal dreams and goals are being denied the right to establish a family by being prohibited from marrying”

Problem solved.

32

Perezoso 04.04.09 at 4:21 pm

You seem to be inventing a tradition. ‘Libertarian’ in the nineteenth century meant left anarchists like Peter Kropotkin. Nineteenth-century liberals like Mill were not libertarians either in that sense or in the current (=anarcho-capitalist) sense. Contemporary libertarianism has much shallower roots than libertarians like to claim.

Yes. Libertarianism primarily meant something like opposed to Statist bureaucracy, in all of its forms. Jefferson was a libertarian, for most part (though in favor of some liberal policies, such as inheritance taxes, controls on banking etc). Libertarianism follows from Lockean natural rights –perhaps not the most elegant of political schemes, but somewhat preferable to the Hegelian state (or the LBJocracy for that matter); at least in principle you have Due Process rights under a libertarian govt (including the US).

It’s only in the last few years that libertarianism has been associated with the NRA, Ayn Rand, gung-ho militarism and the flat-tax types. We might recall, however, that when the napalm was flying most mainstream Dems supported LBJ (and even Nixon). Ayn Rand herself had words for the hawks and the US military budget . The soccer- mommy liberals enjoy lampooning libertarians, but not all are hawks or gung-ho capitalists; few are biblethumpers–unlike the ever-growing ranks of DNCocrat believers (whether xtian or mooslim).

33

Perezoso 04.04.09 at 4:21 pm

You seem to be inventing a tradition. ‘Libertarian’ in the nineteenth century meant left anarchists like Peter Kropotkin. Nineteenth-century liberals like Mill were not libertarians either in that sense or in the current (=anarcho-capitalist) sense. Contemporary libertarianism has much shallower roots than libertarians like to claim.

Yes. Libertarianism primarily meant something like opposed to Statist bureaucracy, in all of its forms. Jefferson was a libertarian, for most part (though in favor of some liberal policies, such as inheritance taxes, controls on banking etc). Libertarianism follows from Lockean natural rights –perhaps not the most elegant of political schemes, but somewhat preferable to the Hegelian state (or the LBJocracy for that matter); at least in principle you have Due Process rights under a libertarian govt (including the US).

It’s only in the last few years that libertarianism has been associated with the NRA, Ayn Rand, gung-ho militarism and the flat-tax types. We might recall, however, that when the napalm was flying most mainstream Dems supported LBJ (and even Nixon). Ayn Rand herself had words for the hawks and the US military budget . The soccer- mommy liberals enjoy lampooning libertarians, but not all are hawks or gung-ho capitalists; few are biblethumpers–unlike the ever-growing ranks of DNCocrat believers (whether xtian or mooslim).

Goldberg

34

Dan 04.04.09 at 4:56 pm

Rich Puchalsky at 23:

Why would denial of science be required by a political ideology, when they seem at first glance to be unrelated?

I dunno – maybe for the same reason that a lot of folks on the left have trouble dealing with evolutionary psychology? I won’t even dignify your rant about racism with a response, except to note that it’s people like you who devalue the term.

Matt Kuzuma at 31:

This is exactly why that whole “we believe in individual rights not group rights” crap has never ceased to be complete gibberish to me: every group is composed of individuals so it is absolutely trivial to recast any group advocacy argument into an equally individualistic argument. If it’s the mere mention of group identities that bothers you, that’s an easily fixed problem. “Thousands of individuals, with their own cherished personal dreams and goals are being denied the right to establish a family by being prohibited from marrying”

Problem solved.

I don’t think people like me who believe there are no group rights have a problem with the direction you go in – yes, of course individuals should have the right to marry who they want. This is hardly controversial in libertarian circles – the vast, vast majority of libertarians believe that insofar as marriage is a state institution, it should be open to everyone regardless of sexual orientation. It’s the converse that is the issue – should there be rights accorded to groups that are not accorded to the individuals in those groups? An example of such a putative group right is the right of a cultural group to have its culture respected and publicly supported. It’s rights like this, which are held by groups and generate duties to the group rather than the specific individuals that constitute the group, that I have a problem with.

35

bianca steele 04.04.09 at 5:02 pm

JG says it’s only wrt drug policies that libertarians say a group should be permitted to do things that are illegal, “because it’s what they do.” Sure. They don’t say corporations and retailers should be allowed to sell shoddy products at inflated prices on the basis of false advertising, “because it’s what they do.” They don’t say Republican candidates elected after running libertarian slogans should be given a pass when they impose anti-libertarian policies, “because it’s what they do.” They don’t say college men should be allowed to have sex with women who said no only nine out of the first ten times if the men really, really want it, “because it’s what they do.” But maybe we shouldn’t hold them responsible for what they think. After all, they’re not the ones with the power or the influence in the US today.

And I’m truly baffled about why he thinks libertarians must think of themselves as “proud individualists.” Wilkinson doesn’t. Why does Goldberg feel constrained to?

36

Henri Vieuxtemps 04.04.09 at 5:53 pm

If you define “Michiganites” as a group of people who currently live Michigan then it does make sense, I suppose. But that’s not an identity, that’s just your current address. We are discussing the Identity Politics here.

No. It’s certainly not common sense. Is it true?

For the sake of argument let’s assume it is true: socio-economic conditions in (hypothetical) Michigan are such that the crime rate is highest in the country. Then one might say (turning correlation into causation) that a Michiganite is more likely to commit crimes. Here an identity group is made a villain, and the fallacy is clear. Why is it different for the victimhood?

Powerful oppress (not merely neglect) the powerless; fragmenting into various identities only makes it worse.

37

belle le triste 04.04.09 at 6:34 pm

i’m totally not following this michiganders argument: regional identities are exactly the identity politics which routinely DO produce effective fightback against whatever’s creating the shared sense of grievance

i: x is happening that’s felt to bad for many (but not all) michiganders
ii: “michiganders unite and fight!”
iii: [bang crash wallop]
iv: independent republic of michigandia

this specific outcome may be good or bad in the long-term (and there may be tremendous practical obstacles to overcome at stage iii), but i don’t understand henri’s argument that all geographically localised battles for secession are so intrinsically on-the-face-of-it absurd that they can but dramatise why non-geographical types of identity politics are a bad thing?

38

bianca steele 04.04.09 at 6:39 pm

John,
Something else is baffling me: At times you seem to be picking on Jonah Goldberg in particular, implying he of all people ought to see the problems with his argument. I don’t see that. Maybe I’m misinterpreting you. You discuss him as if he were a student in your class, not someone who’s been in the public eye already for decades and gets barrelsfull of e-mails telling him what he should think, some perhaps pretty similar to your own posts.

39

Sam C 04.04.09 at 6:41 pm

J. sligh at 22 said:

Surely the claim made by libertarians isn’t that Mill was “actually” a libertarian, but rather that his ideas are broadly congruent with their own, which is why some people in this category call themselvse classical liberals – constructing tradition.

If that’s the claim, then libertarians should actually read some Mill, because his ideas are long way from contemporary libertarianism. Mill thinks, for instance: (i) that there are no such things as natural rights; (ii) that liberty is a good idea for people formed by a particular, distinctive social ethos, and not for others; (iii) that the state should be closely involved in education; and (iv) that taking part in communal decision-making and the social use of power (i.e. democracy) is part of the best kind of life for human beings. And that’s just from (his most apparently libertarian-friendly book) On Liberty. Once you get into (e.g.) the essays on Bentham and Coleridge, or chapter 5 of Utilitarianism, he’s revealed as even less libertarian.

To the extent that a lot of tradition is invented after the fact, how do you prove that libertarianism has shallower roots than libertarians like to claim?

By doing the sort of work I sketch above. I’m a professional Mill geek, but it really doesn’t take that much honest work to see that libertarian attempts to set themselves up as heirs to a grand tradition are mostly feeble. I’ll happily admit that not all libertarians make these careless claims, of course.

40

bianca steele 04.04.09 at 7:12 pm

Jay@16: You have a point about the difference between libertarians and anarchists. But your point depends on people seeing political action as a worthwhile thing, either to influence which specific people are in elected office, or to influence policies and priorities, or to change the government (in big ways or in small ways like amending the constitution). If all a libertarian wants is to express moral condemnation of the things he doesn’t like, I don’t see why he would need to hold different opinions from those an anarchist would hold.

41

DW 04.04.09 at 7:15 pm

Dan at #34:

I dunno – maybe for the same reason that a lot of folks on the left have trouble dealing with evolutionary psychology? I won’t even dignify your rant about racism with a response, except to note that it’s people like you who devalue the term.

Evolutionary psychology is a science in roughly the same sense that the Detroit Lions are a professional football team. Not all liberals dismiss it out of hand and many that do reject it do so simply because of the low quality of results. Among other things, when your studies show heterosexual men reporting a much higher average number of sexual partners than heterosexual women, that suggests something’s seriously wrong with your data. Similarly, pairing off wealthy high status men with beautiful young women (another standard proposition of evolutionary psychology) doesn’t really play out in real life. Typically, Ivy League educated professional men marry Ivy League educated professional women, not most physically attractive/fertile women they can find. A woman wanting to marry up should focus more on getting into Harvard than on plastic surgery and cosmetics.

Evolutionary psychology simply isn’t in the same league as standard evolutionary theory or AGW in terms of quality. So liberal rejection of it simply isn’t comparable to conservative support for intelligent design. Evolutionary psychology right now strikes me as equivalent to early gunpowder weapons – great concept, crap execution.

-DW

42

Sam C 04.04.09 at 7:24 pm

Jay at 16:

No, anarchists might say “let slaves be slaves”, etc.

Which anarchists? None of the anarchists I’ve read or talked to would say anything of the sort.

43

Tracy W 04.04.09 at 7:43 pm

Evolutionary psychology is a science in roughly the same sense that the Detroit Lions are a professional football team. Not all liberals dismiss it out of hand and many that do reject it do so simply because of the low quality of results.

I know nothing of the Detroit Lions football team. But low quality results is not the same as “not a science”. The quality of a science’s results depends in large part on how easy it is to perform controlled experiments, the easier it is the faster it is to test and discard hypotheses, and the harder it is for interested parties to engage in special pleading for their favoured hypothesis. There are all sorts of ethical rules about experimenting on humans and in any case we take over a decade to reach breeding age and are expensive to house and feed, making evolutionary experiments darn difficult and time-consuming. Meanwhile Galileo could happily spend a few days rolling numerous objects down slopes and evolutionary biologists can breed new generations of fruit flies in labs in a matter of weeks, plus fruit flies eat a lot less and take up a lot less space.
Evolutionary psychology is not the only science to suffer from problems of replication and timescales – so does educational research (albeit the timescale problems are milder) and earthquake research.
Liberals, or any one of any other political persuasion, may be justified in rejecting particular evolutionary psychology’s hypotheses because of the low quality of the results, but this does not mean that the field itself is not a science. What makes something not a science is when it generates hypotheses that are not disprovable, like Freudian psychology did (basically, if there was no evidence of a repressed desire, to strict Freudians all that meant was that the desire was even more deeply repressed). It’s very illogical to criticise evolutionary psychology on the basis that its hypotheses are wrong and also claim it’s not a science. A better phrase if you want to denigrate something as not a science is “Not even wrong.”

44

magistra 04.04.09 at 8:23 pm

There are all sorts of ethical rules about experimenting on humans and in any case we take over a decade to reach breeding age and are expensive to house and feed, making evolutionary experiments darn difficult and time-consuming.

But evolutionary psychologists do not routinely appear to do something that would seem basic to their work: repeat the same experiments in several different cultures. (After all, they claim that certain characteristics are innate to humans, not culturally dependent). With globally-connected universities, it would not be difficult to do such experiments in several very different cultures as a matter of course. But instead, EPs seem quite content to assume that you test a few 100 students in the US and get the truth about the whole of humanity for all time. (There have been studies that have been repeated successfully in many countries and I take those a lot more seriously than most EP results).

45

chris 04.04.09 at 8:39 pm

Rich Puchalsky 04.04.09 at 2:33 pm
This is related to another libertarian staple: denial of anthropogenic global warming. Why would denial of science be required by a political ideology, when they seem at first glance to be unrelated? Because the only solutions to the problem are communal ones, and therefore libertarians must deny that the problem itself exists.

THANK you. I have been reading over at the Volokh Conspiracy for a month or two and have not been able to figure out the connection between ‘libertarianism’ and climate-denialism. (Of course, they get a mix of types commenting, but the pro-gum folks do seem to align with climate-denialism.)

46

chris 04.04.09 at 8:42 pm

Sam C:

To add to your points about the disjunction between Mill’s views and those of contemporary libertarians: Mill believed people could/should be compelled to help others. Not a comfortable claim for a utilitarian, but Mill was always his own man.

I usually tell my students that libertarians wish Mill had only written the first few pages of On Liberty and then put down his pen forever. (“Pay no attention to the thinker behind the curtain!”)

47

Henri Vieuxtemps 04.04.09 at 8:56 pm

Independent republic of Michigandia won’t help with auto industry troubles. More likely victimized Michigandias will demand compensation from, say, the despicable Californistas who, perhaps, caused the calamity by demanding unrealistic anti-pollution standards, or something. Groups turn against each other, the real problem – that has nothing to do with the Michigandian identity – persists.

48

Henri Vieuxtemps 04.04.09 at 9:18 pm

The racist constitution of American slavery is an additional reason for condemning it. I think this must be obvious to most people who read this but to spell it out compare racially motivated crimes.

I need slaves to pick cotton, so I go to a market and buy me some slaves. Due to various geopolitical developments of the last several centuries the slaves come from Africa, they are all Africans.

I don’t mind your condemning me for owning slaves, but are you sure you really have a point with this “additional reason”?

49

notsneaky 04.04.09 at 10:31 pm

John, I think the way your post is organized is confusing. At first when I read it I attributed the first paragraph to JG and the next three to your response. But of course it’s actually Will/JG/John once you get behind the fold. Which led me to believe this was a belated April Fools joke.
But the upshot is this, for some of the confused commentators up thread:
Jonah Goldberg IS NOT the liberterian in this post. Will Wilkinson is. JG is criticizing libertarianism in this post. And I know ya’ll hate libertarians and we’re over grown Star Trek nerds (actually the Socialistic The Wire is the current liberterian show of choice) but in this John is more or less indirectly or directly defending certain kinds of libertarians against idiots like Jonah Goldberg.
Somehow so many commentators were just so eager to jump on the liberterian bashing band wagon that this was completely lost on them. Hence the multiplicity of comments that just plain don’t make sense to anyone who’s actually read stuff below the fold.

50

jholbo 04.05.09 at 2:36 am

Henri, another analogy:

suppose a multiple murderer kills a bunch of people in a small town. After he is convicted the town newspaper editorializes.: ‘he is not only guilty of the murders of these individuals: he wounded our town itself. Every one who lives here has a friend, a neighbor whose life has been shattered by what he did.’

Now would you say that this is utterly unacceptable moral nonsense? It seems so.

You seem to think it is a moral mistake/intellectual confusion to take note of the fact that certain injustices are not lightly sprinkled over the whole country in a random walk but instead clustered in a way that has concentrated, negative knock-on effects on a more or less identifiable group. You object to this on the grounds that the correlation is approximate (no doubt some people in the town were totally unaffected, and some people who didn’t even live in the town might have been deeply affected) and membership in the group is vague.

I don’t really know how to argue against your attitude. It seems to me perverse – that is, bizarre and almost totally unmotivated. You say the logic is airtight. Maybe you could say what you think the logic IS.

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John Holbo 04.05.09 at 2:59 am

notsneaky, you’re right: the post is confusingly organized.

52

DW 04.05.09 at 6:15 am

#43: It’s very illogical to criticise evolutionary psychology on the basis that its hypotheses are wrong and also claim it’s not a science. A better phrase if you want to denigrate something as not a science is “Not even wrong.”

I didn’t say it wasn’t a science. I meant it was a very poor science. I’ve read a fair amount on the subject. The problem isn’t just that they get things wrong, it’s that they don’t bother to correct the errors. Pretty much any work on evolutionary psychology will inform the reader that men seek youth and beauty in a mate while women seek wealth and status. As I already noted, that’s not quite how things play out in real life. You’d think the evolutionary psychologists would notice. If you’re going to be an expert on human behavior, you might consider actually observing human behavior. The standard EP mating model has other problems. If men are far more driven than women to compete for status, why do women have the same huge and costly brains as men? If women depend on youth and fertility, why aren’t they small brained the same way female gorillas are much smaller than male gorillas? Admittedly, the libertarian fondness for evolutionary psychology is understandable – both schools of thought are so fond of their theories that they’re afraid to check them against reality. I could go on but I fear I’m digressing. When evolutionary psychology gets serious, I’ll take it seriously.

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Henri Vieuxtemps 04.05.09 at 8:33 am

“He wounded the whole town” is, of course, exactly the opposite to calculating which identity has been wounded most.

What about this: ‘car-bomb goes off in Baghdad, Shiite community of Sadr City is devastated’, or ‘Illegal Salvadorian murders six Chinese immigrants in Phoenix, local Asian-American community mourns.’

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John Holbo 04.05.09 at 9:15 am

Henri, since ‘he wounded the whole town’ is not an attempt to calculate which identity has been wounded most, why do you object to the fact that it is not a successful calculation of this thing that (we can agree) it pretty clearly isn’t an attempt to calculate.

You seem to be objecting to what I said on the grounds that if I had said something a little different, that might be a problem. But that’s always going to be true, no? Do you, additionally, have any objection to what I said? Does the thing that would be wrong with the thing I didn’t say show something wrong with the thing I did say?

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Dan 04.05.09 at 11:46 am

To all the people attacking evolutionary psychology, thank you for making my point for me better than I ever could. I mean, imagine the derision I would be greeted with if I came out with this:

“Climatology is a science in roughly the same sense that the Detroit Lions are a professional football team. Not all libertarians dismiss it out of hand and many that do reject it do so simply because of the low quality of results.” (#41)

Or if I felt confident enough to pronounce on the methodology of climatology thus:

“But climatologists do not routinely appear to do something that would seem basic to their work: repeat the same simulations with several different models”. (#44)

Or even still if I said:

“The problem isn’t just that they get things wrong, it’s that they don’t bother to correct the errors… Admittedly, the leftist fondness for climatology is understandable – both schools of thought are so fond of their theories that they’re afraid to check them against reality… When climatology gets serious, I’ll take it seriously.” (#52)

The simple fact is that it’s very easy to condemn your political opponents for being wilful deniers of science while not noticing the log in your own eye. Are there plausible sounding arguments against evolutionary psychology, and a small, hard-core of (probably politically motivated) academic deniers who give the movement a veneer of intellectual respectability? Sure. But, of course, the same is true of climate change science. Being a science denier isn’t just limited to people who deny the science that the left likes.

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Henri Vieuxtemps 04.05.09 at 2:48 pm

No, I don’t think anything is wrong with “the whole town suffered”, except maybe that it sounds a bit pretentious.

However, saying that the drug prohibition hits black men the hardest (I know, he said “poor black men” and “poor” does seem relevant, although not uniquely to this particular prohibition) seems like grouping the victims by an arbitrary and irrelevant characteristic. Which may lead the audience to a wrong conclusion, e.g.: the drug prohibition is a conspiracy against the black men.

Again, think of “black men are more likely to commit violent crimes.” I’m sure once you normalize for socio-economic status and other factors correlation will disappear, and yet in some statistical sense the statement is correct. This one is easily recognized as demagoguery, how is it different from the one about drug prohibition?

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J. sligh 04.05.09 at 3:07 pm

I usually tell my students that libertarians wish Mill had only written the first few pages of On Liberty and then put down his pen forever. (“Pay no attention to the thinker behind the curtain!”)

Sam C., I see what you mean. I think there’s a tendency among a lot of libertarians to treat their position as a kind of Platonic revealed truth, and then to judge historical thinkers by the degree to which they ‘imperfectly’ replicate that truth, each one doing a more complete job – libertarianism as linear progress from less liberty to more.

When you think this way, you don’t need to read Mill; in fact, you barely need to get past the title. A book like ( does exactly that. (There’s Mill, “Objections to Government Interference,” p. 25, next to H.L. Mencken.)

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john holbo 04.05.09 at 4:08 pm

“Which may lead the audience to a wrong conclusion, e.g.: the drug prohibition is a conspiracy against the black men.”

Ah, I guess I’m not worried about that, because I think it’s half right – the conclusion, that is. It’s a conspiracy of neglect – sin of omission, not commission. This is “The Wire” again: a matter of those in power collectively not really caring about what happens in certain neighborhoods, to certain classes of more or less powerless, un-influential folks, rather than a case of those in power actively hating those folks and wanting effects on them to to be bad. It’s a kind of baseline acceptance that bad lives for certain sorts of people are pretty normal. (It’s not like a kidnapped white woman, after all, which would be all over the news for a week.)

As to “black men are more likely to commit violent crimes” – well, you want to say all the things you can to make sure this isn’t demagoguery and make damn sure that you’ve solved for a lot of thorny empirical problems. But, at the end of the day, you don’t make it impermissible to present valid statistical data, just because you are worried some people will run with them in unjustifiable ways. (I don’t know what the data are, but if you have good data, you don’t hide it.)

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Jay 04.05.09 at 6:19 pm

Sam C. at 42 (referring to “No, anarchists might say ‘let slaves be slaves”’), wrote:

“Which anarchists? None of the anarchists I’ve read or talked to would say anything
of the sort.”

Isn’t the basic point of anarchism the absence of government? In an anarchic world, if someone took another as a slave, the anarchist would be opposed to a creation of a coercive third party enforcer to free the slave and punish the slave-taker (i.e. if the relevant law existed).

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Henri Vieuxtemps 04.05.09 at 8:03 pm

Ah, I see. Is this all based on David Simon’s plotline where authorities are much more concerned about the murders of a couple of white homeless men than two dozen black men killed in gang violence? Because that kidnapped white woman that’s all over the news probably isn’t a homeless junkie white woman; she is simply a suburban middle-class woman, it’s just that most of them are white.

Well, this is where we differ, as I don’t believe they discriminate this way. And I’m not even sure that was the point Simon was making; I think it was more about manipulating the media.

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Shawn Crowley 04.05.09 at 8:08 pm

Conchis at 15: My apology; my intent was flippancy not complexity, faux or otherwise. But even if flippant I think my point is valid. Although I have never mixed with pundit-class libertarians, I have met many self-professed libertarians and randians over the past few decades. They are far more likely to have Robert Heinlein and Jerry Pournelle on their shelves than Mill. Libertarianism appears to be more a psychological tendency than a coherent philosophy.

Rich at 23: I think you nailed the libertarian problem with global warming. It does seem superficially odd that libertarians, who often favor an engineering/tech approach to issues, should be at odds with now mainstream science. But the refusal to accept that some problems require common action is nothing new for these brave independent thinkers. Many years ago I was informed that requiring households to connect to public sewer systems was coercion and oppression. I never could get a clear response on what a libertarian solution would be for a neighbor dumping raw sewage into the community.

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magistra 04.05.09 at 8:30 pm

Of course, there are also some scientists who are willing to point out the ropy scientific nature of many Evolutionary Psychology journal articles, but don’t seem to find the same problems with climate change papers. Or are there many climate change articles as stupid as some of the EP ones Ben Goldacre highlights?

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John Holbo 04.05.09 at 10:55 pm

“Is this all based on David Simon’s plotline where authorities are much more concerned about the murders of a couple of white homeless men than two dozen black men killed in gang violence?”

You’re confusing illustrations with arguments. That will never do, because they don’t function the same at all. I’m mentioning “The Wire” as shorthand for considerations about what American society is like. I’m basing my argument on THAT. Better?

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Rich Puchalsky 04.05.09 at 11:02 pm

“I never could get a clear response on what a libertarian solution would be for a neighbor dumping raw sewage into the community.”

The usual response is: sue them. This, at least, was the response I always got when I asked similar questions, even ones about small sources releasing pollution into large commons — that one should e.g. stand by the side of the highway with an air pollution monitor and sue the driver of every car that drove past.

The slightly more intelligent libertarians start to realize that this involves greater intrusion of the government into private life than the current system — law courts and enforcement of court decisions are, after all, part of government — and that everyone suing everyone else for everything may perhaps not be workable. So they start talking about privatization of the commons and salable rights and trading systems. It takes a very intelligent one indeed to finally realize that systems of property in intangible goods are, after all, a creation of government, and that maintaining such a system actually takes more resources and is often more onerous than a standard policy of regulation. But the ones that get that far are generally no longer libertarians, really.

As for the Dans of the world: don’t bother. It’s silly to take something like “liberals don’t believe in evolutionary psychology!” seriously. If it was a serious and analogous claim, it would be made with a specific claim of evolutionary psychology in mind, one that calls for action, and one that people could actually evaluate the evidence for or against. Libertarians don’t deny “climatology”, after all; they deny a particular conclusion of climatology.

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Bruce Baugh 04.05.09 at 11:47 pm

Pretty much all the evolutionary psychology I’ve read has problems right at the foundation, at the point where researchers decide what might be interesting to study. We just don’t find, for instance, a substantial body of evolutionary psychology in which it’s taken for granted that the typical person menstruates and is capable of bearing a child throughout most of their teen years and adult decades, and where research looks at how males’ deformations from the norm in these regards and the subconscious compulsions rising out of life without normal people’s completeness and advantages may illuminate various social phenomena. Nor, say, advice for normal people on understanding the evolutionary roots of characteristically male behavior and how to minimize the harm while bringing them into a more rational and deliberate way of life. Nor, come to that, have we seen much on the evolutionary roots of a compulsion to dress up one’s prejudices about others as science, nor about compulsive study-making and how it helps lead males away from normal people’s outlets for various concerns and interests important to psychologically healthy, self-chosen living.

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Bruce Baugh 04.05.09 at 11:55 pm

(I wish I could remember where I first encountered the mental exercise of being explicit about what one is considering as normal, and of assigning normality to others, as it’s been very helpful to me.)

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Henri Vieuxtemps 04.06.09 at 6:35 am

What is American society like? It has an underclass, like any similarly organized society. The underclass is usually comprised of ethnic/racial minorities and illegal immigrants – but not always. In Naples, for example, the situation is (arguably) worse than in Baltimore – there are areas where the police don’t go at all – and yet those people are Italians, citizens of same ethnicity as the general population.

So, in the US, due to historical factors, the underclass is comprised mostly of people with darker skin. Consequently (and not surprisingly) the general population harbors certain racial stereotypes. This much I know.

If you believe that this “neglect” has a significant racial component, then provide some evidence.

Incidentally, you’re approaching this from a liberal, not libertarian perspective. I seriously doubt that Will Wilkinson would’ve chosen this line of argument.

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Tracy W 04.06.09 at 10:01 am

Magistra: good criticism (if it’s true of course, I note that you don’t cite any papers). This criticism is of the sort that evolutionary psychology is not a proper science yet, or more precisely not all evolutionary psychology. (Of course it could become one, just like the diversion into the Freudian thought I described doesn’t mean that all psychology research is non-scientific). But you can find bad work in all areas of science, it strikes me as silly to dismiss all evolutionary psychology on that basis.

Also I note that social sciences are often a collaborative process, where a hypothesis is put forward and then tested by various different people, and argued over, as opposed to all the work being done by one group. For example this paper, Mixed Support for Sexual Selection Theories of Mate Preferences in the Swedish Population, by Gustavsson, Johnsson, and Uller, 2008 at http://www.epjournal.net/filestore/EP06575585.pdf specifically tests evolutionary psychology’s predictions about mating selection in Sweden on the basis that it is one of the more egalitarian societies in the world. They find only mixed support for the 3 evolutionary psychology hypotheses they test. But testing across cultures is clearly occurring in evolutionary psychology.

DW – then criticise it for the poor quality of their methods, not the poor quality of their results.

If you’re going to be an expert on human behavior, you might consider actually observing human behavior.

Like in the Swedish paper I cited?

If men are far more driven than women to compete for status, why do women have the same huge and costly brains as men? If women depend on youth and fertility, why aren’t they small brained the same way female gorillas are much smaller than male gorillas?

This seems obvious – women don’t merely depend on youth and fertility to bear and raise children. Youth and fertility doesn’t help you much if you can’t find food (in fact fertility disappears if you can’t find food), nor do they help you in avoiding being eaten by crocodiles, or whatever other dangers lurk in your locality, nor do youth and fertility help you with raising your existing kids, except of course to the extent that youth is associated with more energy to raise kids. Youth and fertility may help in mating, but in a species where the young can’t survive to adulthood without a lot of investment from someone capable, success in mating is not enough to pass on our genes.

You may as well claim standard evolutionary theory is incompetent to explain why we have body bits such as legs and eyes other than reproductive organs. (The simple explanation is that we need at least some other body bits to supply the energy for our reproductive organs to actually reproduce.)

It also strikes me as rather unlikely that evolution affected the body but not the mind, especially what with the mind being part of the brain.

Admittedly, the libertarian fondness for evolutionary psychology is understandable – both schools of thought are so fond of their theories that they’re afraid to check them against reality.

Have you ever considered the possibility that the left-wing dislike of evolutionary psychology is understandable because they might run into evidence that human nature cannot be manipulated to fit left-wingers’ favourite societal dreams? :)
It’s always possible to make up a deep psychological reason as to other people’s motives so as to put them in a bad light and this sort of line of thought very much borders on the territory of “not even wrong.” For someone who is so eager to criticise the methods of evolutionary psychology, you’re not keeping much of a grasp on scientific methods yourself.

Bruce Baugh – huh? You’re criticising evolutionary psychology on the basis of what hypotheses it tests? Perhaps the relevant scientific bodies should be funding research into those hypotheses you list, but that has nothing to do with whether the hypotheses evolutionary psychology is testing are right or wrong or whether their methods are any good or not.

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Sam C 04.06.09 at 12:21 pm

Jay at 59:

Isn’t the basic point of anarchism the absence of government? In an anarchic world, if someone took another as a slave, the anarchist would be opposed to a creation of a coercive third party enforcer to free the slave and punish the slave-taker (i.e. if the relevant law existed).

No. You’re using ‘anarchism’ as a synonym for, roughly, advocacy of Hobbes’s state of nature. But that’s not what self-described anarchists argue and fight for. The basic point of anarchism is the replacement of domination (or oppression, or hierarchy, or slavery), plus an empirical claim that the state is a major cause of domination (not the only cause: capitalism is the other one which has been of particular concern). That doesn’t require not using communal power, it requires using that power in a different way from how the state and capitalism use it (and anarchists have historically disagreed about what that different way could be). No historical or contemporary anarchist that I know of has argued for just ignoring domination – that’s the preserve of contemporary right-wing libertarians, so far as I can see. If you want to follow this up, I suggest a look at Peter Marshall’s book Demanding the Impossible.

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John Holbo 04.06.09 at 12:29 pm

“If you believe that this “neglect” has a significant racial component, then provide some evidence.

Now you are just being plain silly, Henri. (Pull the other one. It has bells on.)

It is perfectly true, however, that Wilkinson would takc a different line.

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Sam C 04.06.09 at 1:21 pm

On evolutionary psychology, may I suggest the following compromise:

1) the human mind is as much a product of evolution as is the human body. This fact, combined with recent advances in genetics and in our ability to investigate the brain in action, opens up very exciting possibilities for understanding human thought and behaviour. See e.g. Kim Sterelny, Thought in a Hostile World, for a good example of how those possibilities might play out.

But…

2) Many of the attempts at such understanding under the label of ‘evolutionary psychology’ – and especially the subset of those attempts which get reported in mainstream media – are pretty embarrassing. Crappily-designed studies with obvious ideological biases get plastered all over newspapers under headlines like “At last, science discovers why blue is for boys but girls really do prefer pink” (http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/science/article2294539.ece – see http://www.badscience.net/2007/08/pink-pink-pink-pink-pink-moan/ for a well-deserved trashing of this story).

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cate 04.06.09 at 1:39 pm

I read a book review in an academic journal a while ago in which the reviewer suggested that while the author did a nice job of critiquing the concept of an “autonomous” Cartesian subject, no one actually believes in that sort of thing these days anyway. It’s like “proving” the earth is round.

Jonah Goldberg, you will slowly but inevitably make fools of us all.

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Henri Vieuxtemps 04.06.09 at 3:07 pm

It’s not silly. Do the perpetrators of “neglect” target A) the blacks or B) the underclass regardless of the race? This is a straight question, and I have no doubt that B is the correct answer. And if I’m right, remedying the situation for the blacks will only result in plunging some other people into the same predicament.

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LizardBreath 04.06.09 at 3:45 pm

Do the perpetrators of “neglect” target A) the blacks or B) the underclass regardless of the race? This is a straight question, and I have no doubt that B is the correct answer.

I’m surprised by your confidence that B is the correct answer. It’s at least conventional wisdom that more ethnically homogeneous societies have more generous welfare states; and an obvious explanation for that is that the politically powerful upper and middle classes have more solidarity with the poor where they share an ethnic background, and so are less likely to neglect the interests of the poor. I can imagine disagreeing with this analysis on the basis of some factual evidence, but dismissing it out of hand seems premature and ill-supported.

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Henri Vieuxtemps 04.06.09 at 5:31 pm

I don’t know, perhaps it’s smaller nations, not ethnically homogeneous. In Italy, for example, rich northerners typically have little sympathy for poor southerners. In the US it’s “white trash” and “rednecks”; I don’t sense any strong solidarity there.

Remember in The Wire (at least in the first couple of seasons) all of the Baltimore’s vital institutions are led by blacks and are comprised predominantly of blacks: the black mayor, the black chief of police and most of the police officers, the ministers, the state senator, the whole enchilada. Nevertheless, “those in power collectively not really caring about what happens in certain neighborhoods” – it’s just the same. What’s the explanation?

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engels 04.06.09 at 6:20 pm

Vieuxtemps, there was a guy called abb1 who used to comment here rather frequently, who had a similar ‘controversial’ position on racism to yours (ie., that it more-or-less doesn’t exist) and was also knowledgable about the Napolese ‘underclass’. Also used to take over discussions with huge numbers of posts, iirc, and had a rather similar debating technique. You are not related to him by any chance, are you?

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nick 04.06.09 at 7:21 pm

I need slaves to pick cotton, so I go to a market and buy me some slaves. Due to various geopolitical developments of the last several centuries the slaves come from Africa, they are all Africans.

I don’t mind your condemning me for owning slaves, but are you sure you really have a point with this “additional reason”?

Without jumping in too aggressively – I call “bullshit.”

I think I understand the basic point you are trying to make, Henri. If I may summarize: slavery, regardless of racial or ethnic context, is a reprehensible institution, and the moral condemnation does not get any more righteous or biting when you throw in the racial component.

To the extent that you might be participating in a conversation solely about slavery, I agree with you. But slavery does not exist, particularly in US History, without a racial component. Theory does not beget reality, and the reality is that slavery was legal for white people in the colonies at one time, and gradually phased out for being the moral monstrosity we all know it to be today. It was less ethically troublesome to keep “the coloreds” in servitude because racist cultural constructs allowed white people to think of themselves as exercising a “civilizing” influence over their property. This attitude was still not only prevalent but dominant 100 years after the Emancipation Proclamation, as seen in the violence and apprehension with which the Civil Rights movement was met in the 1950’s and ’60’s. To pretend that Jim Crow was somehow more, or even equally, classist as racist is to mangle history to fit your social science.

There is a Playboy interview from 1971 with John Wayne where he talks about the need for gradual change because “the coloreds” aren’t ready for full freedom. I don’t think the Duke was necessarily a leader in the fight against Civil Rights, or even that his view was necessarily a good proxy for the American Everyman, but it was 1971, in one of the most public forums in the country, and he was one of the bigger names on the planet.

Just because “identity politics” (I hate the term, but have no convenient substitute) are messy, opaque, and sometimes logically inconsistent, does not mean that you can ignore them or pretend that they don’t exist.

The fact that black people are much more likely to be poor and to be locked up for similar crimes as a rich white person does not mean that every white person is racist or that we have not made any significant progress from the dark days of Jim Crow and slavery. But to pretend that somehow these grave social ills are not begotten of a racial component, or that we have not been a profoundly racist society for much of our history, is to put on some seriously damaging blinders.

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Chris 04.06.09 at 7:40 pm

Dan, a clue to the inadequacy of the liberal:Evolutionary Psychology::libertarian:climate science analogy is the fact that E.P. is pretty much univesally reviled in the rest of psychological science and biology. There is, in fact, a fairly substantial (peer reviewed) literature debunking just about every aspect of E.P., from its theoretical foundations to its empirical methods. Climate science has no equivalent disrespect among related sciences, making the analogy misleading.

As a result of E.P.’s failure to gain legitimacy as a scientific paradigm within the psychological sciences, its influence in psychology is dying a fast death (it’s damn near impossible for recent E.P. PhDs to get jobs even in E.P.-heavy departments these days). Instead, a new synthesis of empirical psychology and evolutionary biology, often referred to as evolutionary psychology without the initial caps, which is entirely independent of the Tooby-Cosmides/Buss/Pinker model, is arising to take its place. This new synthesis is, unlike Evolutionary Psychology (with initial caps), built on a foundation of experimental methods (as opposed to relying heavily on surveys and pseudo-experiments), and draws heavily on both existing human psychology (social, cognitive, developmental, and even clinical) and comparative psychology. I can’t think of any liberals who object to this new paradigm.

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Barry 04.06.09 at 8:04 pm

To be flippant, it sounds a bit like EP is doing what they did before, when sociobiologists dropped that term for EP. When somebody has to frequently change their name, I wonder….

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lemmy caution 04.06.09 at 8:09 pm

This “evolutionary psychology without the initial caps”/”Evolutionary Psychology (with initial caps)” business makes it difficult to google whatever the hell Chris is talking about.

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salient 04.06.09 at 8:14 pm

I can’t think of any liberals who object to this new paradigm.

Well, I do. Maybe no high-profile liberals have bothered to take the time to object, yet?

This new synthesis is, unlike Evolutionary Psychology (with initial caps), built on a foundation of experimental methods (as opposed to relying heavily on surveys and pseudo-experiments), and draws heavily on both existing human psychology (social, cognitive, developmental, and even clinical) and comparative psychology.

What you’ve just described, based on your description of methods and source material, doesn’t have any means for testing its hypotheses about evolution. I’d like to hear further clarification.

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magistra 04.06.09 at 8:45 pm

Chris,

Thanks for the background on this. Are there any (lower case) evolutionary psychology researchers/writers/bloggers who you’d recommend as reading for those of us who’d like to find out more?

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John Protevi 04.06.09 at 9:19 pm

magistra,

I’ll let Chris provide his own references, but I really like the work of Paul Griffiths for a philosophical critique of EP: http://paul.representinggenes.org/.

On a closely related topic, that is, for experimental work on current prosocial behavior, Elinor Ostrom has a great article I have some notes on here: http://www.protevi.com/john/Morality/Ostrom.pdf

I also really like Jonathan Haidt’s work on moral psychology, which also is related. More notes here: http://www.protevi.com/john/Morality/Haidt.pdf.

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Chris 04.06.09 at 10:26 pm

salient, much of comparative psychology and neurobiology involves comparing behavior and hardware across species to understand mechanisms better. Adding evolutionary theory to this just puts one more tool in the cognitive/developmental/comparative psychologist’s toolbox.

magistra, Marc Hauser’s work is an excellent example of the lowercase approach I was referring to. It will definitely give you a good idea of what’s going on in the world of actual science. Also, Buller, in his (admittedly problematic) critiques of the capitalized version makes frequent reference to lowercase research. The first chapter or two of his book The Adapted Mind is a great place to look.

Also, Dan Sperber, Scott Atran, and Doug Medin are doing cool cross cultural work with similar intentions to those motivating Hauser’s research.

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salient 04.07.09 at 12:14 am

At the top up here, I should mention the obvious: I have nothing against philosophy. I’m just wary of philosophical research that attempts to gird ambitious and revolutionary theoretical statements with loosely interpreted scientific inquiry — it seems like an attempt to defend one’s self from critics by cloaking inferential arguments in creatively interpreted data.

Adding evolutionary theory to this just puts one more tool in the cognitive/developmental/comparative psychologist’s toolbox.

Sorry to be stupid, but I don’t know what is meant by “tool” here. Specifically, what research does an evolutionary psychologist perform to establish the specific genetic mechanism for her/his claims and theories?

Marc Hauser’s work is an excellent example of the lowercase approach I was referring to.

Ok. I refer you to this and this and this and this, for examples (the second-to-last link shares Richard Rorty’s review of Moral Minds, which gives you +1 to lefty folk disapproving of lowercase evolutionary psychology).

It seems like Marc Hauser is working in theoretical philosophy to me. His book is even described as a “revolutionary new theory” on several sites promoting it, and by people interviewing him. He doesn’t seem to be active in hard research in neuroscience or biology, though he has some interesting ongoing anthropological studies.

Also, Marc Hauser’s CV doesn’t mention any study of DNA. Everything he does is inferential, which opens up a fairly unreasonable possibility of interpretive error / observer bias (exactly what I’d complain about in Evo Psych methods). He doesn’t seem to be engaging in mechanism-oriented research that would lend further credence to his theory by connecting it rigorously to genetics/evolution.

At first Dan Sperber seemed to me like an appropriation, as Relevance Theory is largely a theoretical model (it’s philosophical, and not especially evolutionary; I’ve referred to it in AI-modeling work). Then I took a look at this book, which seems potentially problematic/theoretical/ungrounded to me, but that’s judging by an Introduction, perhaps unfairly.

I’ll have to check out Scott Atran and Doug Medin; is The Native Mind: Cognition and Cultural Management of Nature a sufficiently representative work?

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Henri Vieuxtemps 04.07.09 at 8:22 am

Nick, I’m not denying that racism exists; that would be silly indeed. And I certainly don’t pretend that identity politics don’t exist or can be ignored, or I wouldn’t be commenting on this. But it’s the institution of slavery (along with geopolitical circumstances) that created this form of racism, not the other way around. It’s a symptom, natural consequence.

No one in the right mind will argue that the main problem of slavery is that most of the slaves are of African descent; why is it different with the drug war victims? When dealing with these kinds of phenomena, why emphasize parochial over universal?

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Tracy W 04.07.09 at 9:26 am

I may be missing something, Paul Griffiths writes very densely. But the main objection of Paul to evolutionary psychology appears to be that the historical context of human evolution cannot be known. But my understanding from those books about the evolution of humanity and about dinosaurs is that quite a lot is known about the world we lived in in the past – plant species can be identified from fossil traits, wear patterns on teeth provide information about what pre-modern humans ate, bones can supply some evidence about causes of death or diseases suffered during life, etc.
I am referring to the paper http://paul.representinggenes.org/webpdfs/Stotz.Griff.02.DancingDark.pdf, which is what I think John Protevi was referring to.

Furthermore, Paul says “The study of cognitive functioning can be illuminated by the causal functional analysis of the capacity of the mind to occupy its current niche.”

But aren’t these studies of the capacity of the mind to occupy it’s current niche part of what drives evolutionary psychologists to postulate an evolutionary past? For example, the mind is far from perfect at occupying its current niche, evolutionary economists have generated a number of experiments that show that a substantial portion of the population fail to behave as rationally as would be predicted by homo economicus (see for example http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Behavioral_finance). Evolutionary psychology attempts to explain this in terms of the past demands on the mind. This is not to say that all or any evolutionary psychology hypotheses are right, nor that they are the only explanations of abberrations, I am only disputing the implicit claim that evolutionary psychology has nothing to do with studies of the capacity of the brain to occupy its current niche.

And some of his statements are very odd: “The most useful predictor of structure sizes of individual brain structures is the sizes of other brain structures” (page 21)
Huh? In what sense is he using the word “predictor” here? If you are trying to forecast the size of the eventual adult brain of a child, knowing the size of their parents may plausibly be a useful predictor. Knowing the species of the child may also be plausibly a useful predictor. But being able to predict that an elephant embryo will wind up with a bigger brain than a budgie embryo if both reach adulthood on the basis of the average adult sizes of said brains hardly explains why elephants have bigger brains than budgies. I don’t see how brain sizes can explain other brain sizes. Perhaps he is quoting the author of the paper he refers to, it is not clear however.
I also note that Finlay, Darlington and Nicastro pose a false dichotomy in the quote that Paul makes – they support that either there are modules that can be the independent objects of special selection, or that selection attacks a broader front. Why not both? Both modules and the interactions between modules? (The authors make a more specific question about adjusting the paramaters of a “standard” developmental program. However the quote-marks around the word “standard” makes me wonder what they are getting at. If the developmental program isn’t just standard but with adjustable parameters, but instead “standard” but with adjustable parameters then what is standard about it? I suppose I should chase down the original paper.)

He also doesn’t mention the strongest evidence for brain modularity – that brain injuries that consist of an injury to a specific part of the brain (such as shrapnel entering the brain versus a generalised shock from a sudden stop), produce specific errors in functioning that neural specialists can roughly predict before the patient recovers consciousness just from the location of the injury. See for example http://www.braininjury.com/symptoms.html The prediction process is not perfect, but it is there, and to the best of my knowledge this prediction is not dependent on age (there is a general result that children recover better from brain injuries on average than adults, presumably reflecting some brain flexibility associated with development, but still my undersanding is that if a kid gets a piece of shrapnel through the vision part of the brain they are very likely to have visual problems).

“Organisms inherit an extended range of resources that interact to reconstruct the organism’s life cycle. Some of these resources are familiar–chromosomes, nutrients, ambient temperatures, childcare.”

Yes, but to the best of my knowledge, if you take a rock you can apply chromosomes, nutrients, ambient temperatures, childcare, etc to your heart’s content and you still won’t wind up with a rock that can learn.

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john holbo 04.07.09 at 10:22 am

Henri writes: “Do the perpetrators of “neglect” target A) the blacks or B) the underclass regardless of the race? This is a straight question, and I have no doubt that B is the correct answer.”

But do you also have no doubt that the answer isn’t some mix of A & B (which is pretty much what I am assuming must be the case)? If you do have no doubt about that, why the hell don’t you grow some doubt? After all, as you say, there’s not much point denying racism exists.

Pretty much what Nick said, in other words.

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Hogan 04.07.09 at 1:39 pm

But it’s the institution of slavery (along with geopolitical circumstances) that created this form of racism, not the other way around. It’s a symptom, natural consequence.

Actually it’s a feedback loop. Racism made black slavery acceptable to (some) people with otherwise egalitarian politics, just as racism makes the War on Drugs acceptable to (some) people who otherwise believe in civil liberties and limited government.

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Henri Vieuxtemps 04.07.09 at 2:04 pm

Why should I grow this doubt – just because your intuition says so?

Why do the black Baltimore establishment, black NY state governor, black MA governor, black RNC chairman (and former lieutenant governor of Maryland!), and black US president (who loves The Wire), why do they keep this “neglect” going? Should I trust your intuition over my own lying eyes?

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Hogan 04.07.09 at 2:45 pm

Why do the black Baltimore establishment, black NY state governor, black MA governor, black RNC chairman (and former lieutenant governor of Maryland!), and black US president (who loves The Wire), why do they keep this “neglect” going?

Because racist attitudes can be internalized even by their victims. Because even for people who don’t share those attitudes, the political costs of resisting that neglect can be unacceptably high and can hamper their ability to do other kinds of good.

(And the black NY governor pushed for the recent repeal of the Rockefeller drug laws, so he may not be such a good example here.)

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Henri Vieuxtemps 04.07.09 at 3:37 pm

Because racist attitudes can be internalized even by their victims.

If this has turned into an openly postmodernist assault, then I give up.

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Hogan 04.07.09 at 4:10 pm

If this has turned into an openly postmodernist assault, then I give up.

But I haven’t even deployed my alwaysalreadium torpedoes!

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Henri Vieuxtemps 04.07.09 at 7:15 pm

Thanks for that.
When I was watching The Wire I was, in fact, surprised how little racism he depicts in it. Seriously, it’s Oliver Twist, not Ragtime.

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Jacob T. Levy 04.08.09 at 1:40 am

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john holbo 04.08.09 at 1:55 am

“Should I trust your intuition over my own lying eyes?”

Well, I think you might consider getting them checked, under the circumstances. Or else – since you are trusting your eyes – prove to me, empirically, that the following is not true. (Don’t say it’s hard to provide proof of such things! You have your eyes, remember!)

The war on drugs drags on in really stupid ways. One reason lots of white folks – a powerful political bloc, I think you will concede – just don’t care that much about all that is that the brunt of the stupidities is born by poor African-Americans. Lots of white folks fail to identify with the victims of the drug war gone stupid for class reasons, for cultural reasons (yes of course) and (wait for it!) for racial reasons. When white folks in flyover country – in Peoria, in Petaluma – hear that some inner city African-American’s door got kicked down by accident and gramma died of a heart attack and the family dog was shot, they don’t say ‘great!’ but they just don’t care THAT much. Vaguely, it’s normal. It just doesn’t seem that outrageous or urgent. (Vague suspicion that the cops wouldn’t be kicking down your door unless you’d done SOMETHING wrong. Why would the cops be just doing something totally stupid, after all? Are the cops just racist? That doesn’t sound plausible in this day and age. Damn liberals, always crying ‘racism’!) There isn’t as much identification with African-American victims as there would be with white victims, and there isn’t as much concern that something like that could happen to people like me.

Think about New Orleans. The coverage. Remember all the jokes about how the TV coverage described African-Americans scrounging supplies as ‘looters’ but the white folks doing the same thing were just desperate for milk and diapers. It’s not that the news providers were totally unsympathetic to the ‘looters’, but there was a certain suspicious reserve in the extension of sympathy to one group of people, not to another group of people in objectively the same circumstances. Have your eyes never noticed such things?

Why do people – African-Americans included – go along with this nonsense, if they know better? Geeze, what’s so mysterious about it. Why would a big heavy stupid thing, with lots of inertia, just sort of keep going on in the same direction – why don’t more people uselessly toss their careers under the tank treads of the War on Drugs juggernaut, even though that probably wouldn’t do much good? Cynicism, a vague hope of changing things a little from the inside, without getting your own head chopped off, a tendency to get focused on what is one inch in front of your nose, rather than thinking about how the big picture is stupid. Haven’t you watched “The Wire”, man?

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john holbo 04.08.09 at 2:10 am

Hey, thanks for the link, Jacob. Wilkinson actually says pretty much what I said in the post. He links to Jacob Sullum, who writes the following. Feast your eyes, Henri:

Goldberg assumes that blacks are disproportionately arrested for selling drugs because they are “disproportionately in this line of work.” That is not at all clear. Considerable research, including studies by the National Institute of Justice, indicates that drug users tend to buy from people of the same racial or ethnic group. (This report [PDF] includes a quick summary of the research.) Given this pattern, since whites are about as likely as blacks to use illegal drugs, they should be about as likely to sell them. Yet blacks, who represent 13 percent of the general population, account for about 40 percent of drug offenders in federal prison and 45 percent of drug offenders in state prison (PDF).

Further evidence that blacks’ disproportionate share of drug arrests cannot be explained by disproportionate involvement with drugs comes from New York City’s little-noticed crackdown on pot smokers under Mayors Rudy Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg. Survey data indicate that among 18-to-25-year-olds, the age group where these pot busts are concentrated, whites are more likely than blacks or Hispanics to smoke marijuana. Yet a 2008 study by the New York Civil Liberties Union found that in the Big Apple blacks and Hispanics are, respectively, five and three times as likely to be arrested for marijuana possession.

http://www.reason.com/blog/show/132739.html

What’s the explanation? Pretty much what I suggested: “Such uneven treatment undermines the rule of law and creates a perception that blacks are being targeted either out of racial animus (which usually is not true) or because busting street dealers in poor neighborhoods is practically and politically easier than going after less conspicuous white dealers catering to the middle and upper classes (which is more often the case).”

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Henri Vieuxtemps 04.08.09 at 7:22 am

John, again, these statistics, you need to factor in the social status and possibly other variables. In other words, to analyze them scientifically, not by the gut feeling.

‘White political bloc’ – really? Jeez, that whole paragraph, hard to believe. Talk about racial stereotypes.

Incidentally, the quote from Reason:

Such uneven treatment undermines the rule of law and creates a perception that blacks are being targeted either out of racial animus (which usually is not true) or because busting street dealers in poor neighborhoods is practically and politically easier than going after less conspicuous white dealers catering to the middle and upper classes (which is more often the case).

…seems right on the money; if that is indeed what you suggested then we’re arguing about nothing.

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I hate Star Trek 04.08.09 at 1:31 pm

Jeez, the amount of libertarian hate in this thread is outrageous. A few things, most libertarians I know do NOT think J.S. Mill is an intellectual ancestor. Utilitarianism and individual rights often clash. (From my college reading, it seemed that Mill was perfectly fine with trampling rights for the greater good.) Damage to both concepts coincide with the drug war. For instance, both the bill or rights and a disproportionate number of African-Americans are casualties in the war. While libertarians are more anxious about the erosion of individual and economic rights, posts by Sullum and Wilkinson display that fighting institutional racism is a concern of being a moral human being and not contradictory to being a libertarian.

On slavery: Lysander Spooner, libertarian hero was a major figure in the abolitionist movement. His book, The Unconstitutionality of Slavery was an influence on Frederick Douglass. I am nonplussed at the comment that libertarians would support slavery.

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John Holbo 04.09.09 at 3:39 pm

“I am nonplussed at the comment that libertarians would support slavery.”

Does it make you feel a little better that the author of that comment – namely me – clearly meant the opposite? (It was a reductio ad absurdum and all that.)

“‘White political bloc’ – really? Jeez, that whole paragraph, hard to believe. Talk about racial stereotypes.”

Sorry, Henri, is there any particular reason that the whole paragraph is hard to believe? (That is, I don’t deny that may be experiencing epistemic difficulties, but why blame the poor paragraph?)

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Henri Vieuxtemps 04.09.09 at 9:11 pm

Well, it’s hard to believe that John Holbo, the famous Wingnut Slayer and Defender of Common Sense would write that paragraph. I mean, this idea (never mind the utter irrelevance of it here) that the “white folks in flyover country” feel that it’s vaguely normal that an African-American gramma dies of a heart attack when her door gets kicked down by accident – this sounds like something a John Holbo in the world on the other side of the looking-glass would have a field day with.

I mean, don’t get me wrong: not that anything is wrong with that, it’s fine as far as it goes; it just seems somehow out of place in this sort of discussion. Remember, this genre aims to highlight the dogmatism and/or dishonestly of the Jonah Goldbergs of the world by subjecting their scribblings to a sober and dispassionate examination; clearly this is not an occasion for sweeping generalizations and high rhetoric.

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Walt Tanner 04.09.09 at 9:16 pm

At a certain point, you do a disservice by even taking these guys seriously enough for a rebuttal.

The liberal paradox: Any one who believes this crazy right-wing shit will not be argued out of their belief.

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I hate Star Trek 04.09.09 at 9:19 pm

Halbo, I had to reread that again. Sorrry about that

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I hate Star Trek 04.09.09 at 9:19 pm

Halbo, I had to reread that again. Sorrry about that

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I hate Star Trek 04.09.09 at 9:19 pm

Halbo, I had to reread that again. Sorrry about that

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I hate Star Trek 04.09.09 at 9:19 pm

Halbo, I had to reread that again. Sorrry about that

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I hate Star Trek 04.09.09 at 9:23 pm

Halbo, I had to reread that again. I understood it the first time. Unfortunately, after reading many comments hammering Libertarian/Classical liberal ideology, I transposed that upon the other comments. My bad. Otherwise, I like your blog.

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