Ilana Mercer: Cathy Reisenwitz Redux: Steigerwald, Oy Gevalt!

Cathy Reisenwitz Redux: Steigerwald, Oy Gevalt!
By ilana mercer

It used to be that Justin Raimondo was more discerning about the women he welcomed into the fold. Here is how Mr. Raimondo welcomed this writer:

A major confetti-throwing welcome on the occasion of Ilana Mercer’s first regular column for Ilana is a principled longtime libertarian, and literally an international figure: she’s an ex-Israeli, ex-South African, and ex-Canadian, now a permanent resident of the U.S. And it isn’t only her prose that’s beautiful. She’s opinionated, she can write, and she’s a lot of fun. Give her a warm welcome by checking out her column.

“Respect,” as Ali G.—the creation of comedic genius Sacha Baron Cohen—would have said.

I sincerely hope Mr. Raimondo is not losing his grip on this important outfit. For no sooner had contrarian libertarians celebrated the voluntary departure of “regimist” Cathy Reisenwitz from libertarian activism —than one of Raimondo’s new columnists unleashed herself on this writer, rabbiting on about racism. Just like Reisenwitz.

This is ironic, because, Mr. Raimondo—a life-long, creedal libertarian—had smoked Reisenwitz out for libeling Ron Paul, Murray Rothbard, Lew Rockwell and Hans-Hermann Hoppe as racists. I don’t expect Justin to defend me too; he and I have had a fractious relationship (although I was under the impression that some respect for each other’s commitment to liberty accounts for the détente). I do expect Justin to call off his hound-dog. No boot; just Kibbles ‘n Bits (it’s for her own good).

The paper trail of one Lucy Steigerwald is short, the prose turgid, the topics well-trodden, the angle never original. Nevertheless, this second-hander has enough to say about my column (begun in Canada, circa 1998). What It has to say is terribly predictable, tedious and, now, time-consuming (opportunity costs mounting).

Long-time readers of this space will have figured out what it is that I’m being fingered for. A bit of hyperbole has gotten me into hot water. For asserting that “whites don’t riot and loot” (from “Eric Garner 100% Innocent Under Libertarian Law”), I am said to be swimming is very polluted waters. The dodo Steigerwald has diagnosed me as suffering “certain propensities for racist generalizations.” Strictly speaking, I should have anticipated the response of tinny automatons like Steig whatshername, and written that “whites are less likely to riot and loot than blacks.” In any event, corrective feedback to that effect would have been appreciated and acted upon. Instead, I find myself fending off a bloodhound scenting for her prey: “Fee-Fi-Fo-Fem, Steigerwald Has Smelt The Blood Of A ‘Racist.'” Oy gevalt! Once started, nothing will stop the “fee-fi-fo-fem’s frenzy” of a Steigerwald (who has twice now maligned me).

Steigerwald’s worldview belongs to a tyrannical, joyless tradition. The hateful habit of policing what people say for political propriety; snidely intimating that they are somehow defective on those grounds alone and deserve to be purged from “polite” company; scrutinizing literature, music, art, television or comedy for signs of so-called sexism, racism, elitism, homophobia, anti-Semitism and meanness—this belongs squarely to the tradition of cultural Marxism. “Political correctness, especially in libertarian circles, is cultural Marxism masquerading in libertarian clothing,” warns Hans-Hermann Hoppe. It is “[a]n intellectual joke, indicating the loss of all common sense and, propagated by self-described libertarians, seriously harmful to the intellectual reputation and further development of libertarianism and libertarian scholarship.”

Indeed, what kind of libertarian polices speech for propriety, and alights on those who violate standards set by the PC set? An excuse for a libertarian! Like left-liberals, “lite libertarians”—they’re the kind that is afflicted with the same spineless conformity; a deformation of the personality euphemized as political correctness—are incapable of appreciating a script or book; a painting or symphony; a stand-up routine, if only because the material and its creator violates the received laws of political correctness. As far as promoting the demonstrably false racism meme—what speech is racist, what slip of the pen (like mine) or tongue deserves outing; which feelings are bigoted; the kind of humor that is off-color; the fears of The Other that are verboten—this kind of left-libertarianism is indistinguishable from left-liberalism on this front.

On the matter of my alleged “propensities for racist generalizations,” here’s my reply, taken almost verbatim from “Into the Cannibal’s Pot: Lessons for America from Post-Apartheid South Africa” (pp. 41-42):

My answer to those who’d fault me for daring to make broad statements about aggregate group characteristics, vis-à-vis crime [or rioting], … would be as follows: Generalizations, provided they are substantiated by hard evidence, not hunches, are not incorrect. Science relies on the ability to generalize to the larger population observations drawn from a representative sample. People make prudent decisions in their daily lives based on probabilities and generalities. That one chooses not to live in a particular crime-riddled county or country in no way implies that one considers all residents to be criminals, only that a sensible determination has been made, based on statistically significant data, as to where scarce and precious resources—one’s life and property—are best invested.

For me, the road to freedom lies in beating back the state, so that individuals may regain freedom of association, dominion over property, the absolute right of self-defense; the right to hire, fire, and generally, associate at will. As a paleolibertarian, however, my idea of liberty is never propositional–it is not a deracinated principle, unmoored from the realities of history, hierarchy, biology, tradition, culture, values. The paleolibertarian grasps that liberty has a civilizational dimension, stripped of which the libertarian non-aggression axiom, by which we all must live, cannot endure.

Race is never an organizing principle in my work. You have to be an idiot to say so. I am, however, a bit of a misogynist. And for good reason.

ILANA Mercer is a paleolibertarian writer, based in the United States. She pens WND’s longest-standing, exclusive paleolibertarian column, “Return to Reason.” She is a contributor to the preeminent libertarian site Economic Policy Journal and to Junge Freiheit, a German weekly of excellence. Ilana is a fellow at the Jerusalem Institute for Market Studies, an award-winning, independent, non-profit, free-market economic policy think tank. Ilana’s latest book is “Into the Cannibal’s Pot: Lessons For America From Post-Apartheid South Africa.” Her website is She blogs at


  1. “this belongs squarely to the tradition of cultural Marxism. “

    Yes. But I believe that they in turn got it from the Puritans, which is why this is such an Anglosphere (and particularly American) phenomenon. The new regime is the latest manifestation of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, not Soviet Russia.

  2. Ian – Plato was not a Puritan (at least not a Christian one – there being no Christians at the time). And nor was “Political Correctness” or “Critical Theory” created in the United States. Also nonconformist Protestants are not all bad anyway – yes they were bad (in part) in Massachusetts, but the people who left to create Rhode Island (where there would be religious tolerance for people they did NOT agree with) were also nonconformist Protestants. Would you call Roger Williams and co “Puritans” also?

    How about the people around the Leeds Mercury newspaper in the early 19th century – the voluntarist types?

    What evidence is there that Karl Marx (or the later Frankfurt School Marxists – heretics actually in some ways) were influenced by British or American Puritans – is there any evidence at all?

    He may have, indirectly, been influenced by Martin Luther (Paul Johnson is only one of many to have pointed out that some sections of Marx’s writings seem to have been taken from Luther – sometimes almost word-for-word), but Martin Luther was not British (let alone American).

    Still back to the actual post………

    I do not see the point in arguing that the Rothbardians were “racist”.

    After all what is the actual problem is that they are (or “were” in the case of the late Murray Rothbard) dominated by a fanatical hatred of the West, especially Britain and the United States – the “history” that Rothbard (and the Rothbardians after him) pushed was, and is, a sick joke. Libertarianism should not be based on a tissue of Rothbardian “historical” nonsense – this is not a sound foundation for libertarianism.

    Rothbard (and the others) are fine (more than fine) when discussing economics or the history of economic thought. But they are bleeping useless (to put it mildly) when they discuss the American Civil War, or the First World War, of the Soviet invasion of Finland – or Korean War or ….. (well on and on).

    Whether Rothbard was a “self hating Jew” rather misses the point. Rothbard did not hate Israel in isolation – he hated Israel as part of his general hatred of the West (especially Britain – he even supported the IRA, and the United States).

    The hated of Israel by the Rothbardians is NOT a special hatred (as it would be with real anti-Semites) it is part of a general hatred of the West.

    This hatred does NOT invalidate the economics and history of economic thought by Rothbard and others.

    Any more than the hatred of Jews invalidates the music of Wagner.

    And, by the way, the political collectivism of Plato does not automatically invalidate the rest of his philosophy. As Arthur Herman points out in “The Cave and the Light” – it is not quite so simple as to say “Aristotle correct, Plato wrong” (about everything), things are a bit more complicated than that.

    As for war………

    The central Rothbardian fault is to assume the enemy out of existence.

    The process is always the same with him and with his followers….

    Is the West (Britain, America, Israel – whatever part of the West they are attacking) perfect? The answer is obvious – NO IT IS NOT.

    But they then jump to the conclusion that the enemy (in X war) must be in the right.

    In real life one does not get perfect options – and peace is often not an option either.

    The idea of choosing between real life options was not something that Rothbard’s mind seemed able to cope with. Although he claimed to be a follower of Aristotle he acted like a follower of Plato – if something was not like one of the pure “Forms” he was not interested.

    For example a Rothbardian will, quite correctly say, that the United States had an income tax and fiat money during the Civil War – and violated civil liberties.

    But it will not occur to them as important that the Confederacy had a higher (and more Progressive) income tax, had more fiat money inflation, and violated civil liberties far more.

    Ditto every conflict since.

    It is always a comparison not of two real things – but of America (or Britain or …) against an ideal Platonic form – not the “shadows on the cave wall” (actual reality to us “unenlightened ” people).

    “Surprise” – we do not measure up well. But the Rothbardian assumption that, therefore, the enemy are in the right (and the war must really be a conspiracy of evil Anglo American bankers or what not) is utterly false.

    As for the Rothbardian argument that a war is only just if private property is not violated in fighting the war…….

    That is fine if you are prepared to be happy with the piece of paper the campaign manager offers “The Candidate” in the film of the same name.

    The piece of paper with the two words “you lose” written upon it.

    Sometimes war is the least bad alternative (the other alternatives being even worse) and war can not often be won by means Platonic angels would approve of.

  3. It’s hard for me to drum up much enthusiasm for anyone who lingers in the company of the likes of Raimondo, but I have to say that her piece on “lite libertarianism,” to which Miss Mercer links in the column posted here, is wonderful.

    . . .

    Just to be clear, Miss Mercer says that Raimondo condemned “libeling Ron Paul, Murray Rothbard, Lew Rockwell and Hans-Hermann Hoppe as racists.”

    But then, Raimondo belongs to the faction that believes in defensive war, for sure, except that in the case of the U.S. or any other Western or Western-minded country, especially the UK and Israel, “the cause is never just and the time is never now.” This attitude of course he shares with Rothbard, Rockwell, and Paul, though I don’t know about Hoppe.

  4. Julie – Ron Paul has sadly declined, he was not always a puppet (the Ron Paul of the 1980 Republican Convention was utterly different).

    As for people who think the good guys (or the less bad guys) were the Slave Power in the Civil War (the killing started in “Bleeding Kansas” long before Lincoln was elected – and the idea that the war was not “really” about slavery and whether it would expand into the West, is a legend invented by Woodrow Wilson and co and then pushed by Rothbardians), oh well….

    Ditto those who, de facto, side with the Keiser in the First World War, Hitler in World War II, the Communists in Korea and Vietnam, the IRA in Ireland, the PLO and Hamas in the Middle East – and on and on.

    Opting out of world struggles does not mean they do not matter – it just means the enemy win.

    And the United States (or any other country) can not survive in a world dominated by hostile forces.

    When Britain declined the United States took up the burden – the countries that depended on Britain for their defence depended on the United States instead.

    If the United States continues to decline – the world will face disaster, utter disaster.

    This Rothbardians seem incapable of understanding this.

    To them such powers as Russia, China or the forces of Islam (Sunni and Shia) are just misunderstood friends – utterly different from what they actually are.

  5. Perhaps the countries that depended on Britain, and now depend on the US, for their defense should stop depending on others for their defense and start seeing to it themselves.

  6. Thomas has a point – for example why on Earth does South Korea need the United States against North Korea? The South Korea economy is more than ten times the size of the North Korean economy. True, back in the 1930s and 1940s, it was the northern part of Korea that was the relatively wealthy bit – the south was a poverty stricken backwater with hardly any industry and so on. But almost 70 years of socialism in the north have changed that a bit……

    Also I should have pointed out that Aristotle never really frees himself from the totalitarianism of Plato – I have recently been rereading Aristotle’s Politics (for the first time in about 20years) and it is truly awful. The state is supposed to control just about everything – education, who you marry, everything.

    Hayek pointed out (for example in the “Constitution of Liberty” and “Law Legislation and Liberty”) that there is a massive change in how educated Greeks viewed the concepts of the polis and law – the generations of Plato and Aristotle (and later) viewed everything “top down” with the lawgiver planning everything (with the objective of making people happy by making them live the good life), but that was not how previous generations of Greeks had seen concepts such as “law”.

    Previous generations of Greeks had seen these concepts more in the way that Romans before the decline of the Republic viewed them – and as even some Emperors, such as Marcus Aurelius, viewed them.

    We (Paul Marks is hiding behind the word “we”) view the Classical world as a sort of lump – but it is not, having the books “The Meditations” by Marcus Aurelius and “The Politics” by Aristotle side by side – they are from different mental universes (even though they were written in the same language). And it is not just a question of time period – the thoughts of Romans of the time of Aristotle would have been even more alien to him than the thoughts of the (Greek educated) Marcus Aurelius are centuries later.

  7. Poor Chris Tame to have his legacy sullied by crap like this and worse! The Libertarian Alliance is no longer libertarian but under the control of racists and bigots and Mercer is no improvement.

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