Sunday, July 12, 2020

Libertarianism and Racism

At my post, How is This Libertarian?, a commenter asks:
Wenzell writes: "For that matter, why is it a concern of libertarians if someone is a racist but does not violate the non-aggression principle?" So, in this instance, how are you explicitly defining this principle? Locke states: "Being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty, or possessions." By this standard, most racist acts would violate liberty (e.g., redlining, segregation, bans on inter-racial marriage, landlord's failure to rent an apartment to those of a certain ethnicity, etc.) In fact, I'd be curious to hear which acts you think do not. But by, say, the Rothbard standard -- "No one may threaten or commit violence ('aggress') against another man's person or property." -- none of the above actions would seem worthy of concern, despite their repression of individual liberty. So, please elaborate which acts of racism do and do not violate your principle? Which acts should be of concern to Libertarians (by your definition) and which should not be?
Well, first of all, Locke adopts a natural rights perspective which I reject ( see: Foundations of Private Property Society Theory: Anarchism for the Civilized Person), but moving beyond that the NAP addresses only physical force against person or property.

That is redlining, segregation and landlord's failure to rent an apartment to those of a certain ethnicity, if done by private individuals, is not a violation of the NAP. In other words, based on the NAP, we should not be coerced by the government to deal with certain other individuals for any reason (or the opposite, coerced by government not to deal with certain other individuals).

I have previously discussed my own prejudices in this context. It is the epicenter of central planning to be micromanaging people's lives who are not physically hurting others or damaging (or stealing) others' property.

The banning of inter-racial marriage suggests a government role in limiting free actions by individuals so should be objected to by libertarians. However, it is a completely different story if such a ban comes, for example, by a religious group or a reception hall owner. The preventing of such banning by private individuals by government would be the violation of the NAP.

Contrary to the commenter's statement, private acts are not violations of the NAP. They are not the "repression of individual liberty" if we take as the starting point individual liberty which means the allowing of free association with those we want to associate with and the ability to block from our lives anyone or groups we choose to for any reason.

This includes the freedom to hate and rant and rave against any group for any reason as long as the NAP is not violated.

I hasten to add that I hold the view that racism is goofy but I am not into thought control and the frightening idea that some thought should be punished, perhaps severely by the government if stated or that those should be punished who choose to keep certain groups out of their businesses or lives.


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