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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/12883/freedom-of-association/

Freedom of Association

June 3, 2010 by

How a person uses the right to associate (and to not associate) is a matter of individual choice profoundly influenced by the cultural context. That a person has the right to make these choices on his or her own cannot be denied by anyone who believes in liberty. FULL ARTICLE by Llewellyn H. Rockwell Jr.

{ 116 comments }

Mike Griffith June 3, 2010 at 9:10 am

A black business denying service to Klansmen is not the same thing as a white business denying service to all black people. So the analogy is flawed.

I don’t think it’s asking too much to require that you agree not to deny service to people based on their race if you want to operate a business in America. I don’t think that’s trampling on the freedom of association at all. I think that’s a reasonable, fair requirement for doing business in America.

If a business wants to deny service to people who are barefoot, to people who are homosexual, to people who are immodestly dressed, to people who are drunk, etc., etc., I have no problem with that. Nor do I see a problem with businesses that won’t allow smoking in their buildings, etc., etc. But to deny service to someone simply because of their race is problematic on many levels and in many ways, in my opinion.

Magnus June 3, 2010 at 9:46 am

I don’t think it’s asking too much to require that you agree not to deny service to people based on their race if you want to operate a business in America. I don’t think that’s trampling on the freedom of association at all. I think that’s a reasonable, fair requirement for doing business in America.

And who are you, exactly, to have this mysterious power to require people to act as you prefer them to?

Who are you to impose “requirements” on others in exchange for their freedom to do business?

Where does this authority to use aggressive violence to bend others to your preferences come from?

Let’s say that you observe someone engaging in behavior that you do not like, or even find repulsive. Although this behavior is non-aggressive, and otherwise justified as an exercise of his rights in his property, how is it that you make the leap to justifying using physical force and coercion to stop it?

I imagine that you acknowledge a person’s rights to choose his friends, yes? His spouse? Do you agree that we are all free to be as discriminatory, prejudiced and irrational in our choice of wife and friends? Let’s say that a white man says he will never marry a black woman. Do you think it just and proper that you can beat him, incarcerate him, take his money and call it a fine, until he relents and decides to marry the black woman that you have chosen for him?

Old Mexican June 3, 2010 at 10:14 am

Re: Mike,

A black business denying service to Klansmen is not the same thing as a white business denying service to all black people. So the analogy is flawed.

Why isn’t the same thing? According to whom, you?

I don’t think it’s asking too much to require that you agree not to deny service to people based on their race if you want to operate a business in America.

I would say it isn’t asking much, except that is NOT what is happening – nobody ASKED business owners, they are simply being MANDATED at GUNPOINT to do so. That’s a big difference.

If a business wants to deny service to people who are barefoot, to people who are homosexual, to people who are immodestly dressed, to people who are drunk, etc., etc., I have no problem with that.

Pretty subjective – I like it this way.

tlpalmer June 3, 2010 at 11:50 am

I would prefer to know if a business did not want my business because of my race, etc, so that I could avoid going there.

I am white in a low income area that is made up mostly of Mexicans. There are businesses that would prefer not to have my business and they let me know by the way I was treated. I would rather have a sign out front warning me to stay away so that I may take my business where it is appreciated.

Of course most businesses have the same attitude as the owner of a company that I worked for in my teens. He told his employees as long as the money was green he didn’t care about the color of his customers.

Abhilash Nambiar June 3, 2010 at 12:34 pm

I have not had any problem in Mexican stores, but in Pakistani stores it is easy to come across a sign that says in big letters ‘WE RESERVE THE RIGHT TO REFUSE SERVICE TO ANYONE’ and being an Indian in a Pakistani store makes you wonder if they are actually referring to you, sometimes they are, but sometimes they just leave the sign to give that impression to Pakistani customers that they may otherwise loose. Perhaps something along that line is taking place in some of the Mexican stores you are visiting.

While I find such behavior to be both immoral, unfortunate and frankly speaking extremely unpleasant, I do not think they should be forbidden by law unless those same people try to lobby for and pass laws to legalize their bigotry. Then forced integration acts like a deserving punishment for forced segregation.

I hope things turn out well for you.

Shay June 3, 2010 at 2:19 pm

I wonder what kind of an impression it would make on such a store owner if you said to him “While I don’t appreciate your refusal to do business with me, I fully support your right to do so.”

Abhilash Nambiar June 3, 2010 at 2:25 pm

Unless you belong to the ‘right race’, it is highly unlikely that you would ever get a chance to say it on his face. If you are and said it, he may forbid you to shop in his store. But if too many people boycott his store because of it, he may experience a sudden ‘change of heart’.

Pure speculation. Too many mays.

Horst Muhlmann June 4, 2010 at 10:37 am

I agree with you. I would rather be told upfront by a bigot that my business was not appreciated because of my race/ethnicity than have the same bigot get my money because he wasn’t allowed to deny me service.

Michael A. Clem June 4, 2010 at 10:49 am

Are you sure that you are unwelcome there, or is it really a matter of it being a different culture? Their apparent offensiveness may be unintentional.

Eric June 3, 2010 at 10:35 am

Interesting that mike thinks it’s ok to discriminate against homosexuals. I think this is the issue that brought this subject to the attention of the country.

Jay June 3, 2010 at 1:02 pm

@ Mike,

I’d like you to explain you position a little more because it doesn’t make sense to me.

It is, in fact, asking too much of anyone to do anything they do not wish to do with their property via coercion. If I own a business and wish to exclude certain people, that is my fundamental right as a property owner. The government does not own my property nor do you or anyone else. All customers can do to help change my policies are patronize or not patronize my establishment. Now, will I lose business because of my racism, ageism, or some other ‘ism? Likely… and if I go out of business for it, it is due to my decisions and choices alone.

I don’t have a problem with people denying service to anyone for any reason… but I do find it funny that you think it is okay to exclude people based on their sexual preference but think it wrong to do so based on a physical characteristic.

Inquisitor June 3, 2010 at 9:08 pm

“I don’t think it’s asking too much to require that you agree not to deny service to people based on their race if you want to operate a business in America. I don’t think that’s trampling on the freedom of association at all. I think that’s a reasonable, fair requirement for doing business in America.”

No, it isn’t. It’s your own arbitrary standard. And, you just asserted the analogy is flawed. Sorry cupcake, that won’t cut it.

Michael A. Clem June 3, 2010 at 9:18 am

Mike, racism has a harder time surviving without government protection and law enforcement officials looking the other way when a minority’s rights are violated. Without such things, a white businessman is going to find it less profitable to deny service to black people, even if it his legal right to do so.

Hard Rain June 3, 2010 at 9:18 am

@Mike Griffith “But to deny service to someone simply because of their race is problematic on many levels and in many ways, in my opinion.”

Um, please elaborate. How are the arbitrary examples of discrimination you’re “okay” with any different when it comes to race? They’re all based on presumptions, and you seem fine with supporting a business owner’s property rights. Why is skin colour any more special a reason than homosexuality or immodest dress?

Jack June 3, 2010 at 9:24 am

“@Mike Griffith “But to deny service to someone simply because of their race is problematic on many levels and in many ways, in my opinion.”

It’s not fundamentally different than any other exclusion rationale. It’s just that your morality says it’s different.

Don’t force your morality on others!

roy June 3, 2010 at 9:42 am

“a white businessman is going to find it less profitable to deny service to black people, even if it his legal right to do so”

Fact.
Read up on the history of public transportation and segregation. Bus co.s wanted black customers and were FORCED to segregate by Jim Crow laws.

Abhilash Nambiar June 3, 2010 at 10:04 am

Mr Rockwell does admit that historically the injustice against blacks was perpetrated mostly by governments. I wonder then if Mr. Rockwell would think of the Civil Rights Act, enacted by a different government as appropriate punishment for those that chose to empower the governments that perpetuated those injustices. ‘Appropriate’ being a subjective his opinion may differ.

Like Hans Herman Hoppe rightly noted, when governments compete, the one that embraces the most liberal values and allows for the most freedom wins out against the more oppressive. I think of that as an improvement. I think it can over time open the intellectual and political space for libertarian ideas to thrive.

Here is where I stand. If death sentence for the murderer is not wrong, then the Civil Rights Act for the Jim Crow Laws can’t be too wrong either. People who use governments to enable oppression deserve to taste their own ‘medicine’. And criticizing those that administered the medicine is plain wrong, or at least stupid. So in a clumsy sort of way the Civil Rights Act administers some restorative justice and thus helps in fullfilling a libertarian agenda.

This is not to say that there are not better ways to manage the issue, but people of that time did the best they could, given their circumstances. Rand Paul could have simply said that he would have done a better (and different) job under those circumstances. One that would not have left generations to grow up with a sense of bitterness and resentment.

Beefcake the Mighty June 3, 2010 at 10:55 am

“If death sentence for the murderer is not wrong, then the Civil Rights Act for the Jim Crow Laws can’t be too wrong either.”

This is an extremely poor analogy. Punishment by death (leaving aside whether the State is qualified in any way to carry out this punishment) for the murderer addresses a specific act (murder) by a specific individual (the murderer). What wrong-doers do “civil rights” laws punish, and for what action? Maybe you’re ok with such laws, but I cannot see any way in which they are even remotely libertarian.

Abhilash Nambiar June 3, 2010 at 11:02 am

What wrong-doers do “civil rights” laws punish, and for what action?

The Civil Rights Act punishes those that empowered leaders who passed the Jim Crow Laws. It punishes those that empower judges who turn a blind eye towards lynching. Hope I have made myself clear.

Beefcake the Mighty June 3, 2010 at 11:05 am

Yes you have, thanks. You are no libertarian, that is obvious. What country are you from, BTW? I’ll remember your position on this the next time the US govt engages in some “humanitarian” mission.

Abhilash Nambiar June 3, 2010 at 11:15 am

I never said it was the best solution. If you take time to read what I wrote, I have said that the Civil Rights Act is a clumsy solution. Libertarian solutions are obviously better. But when people try to solve things through governments, that is as good as things get. Under such circumstances, having a Civil Rights Act is better than having no Civil Rights Act.

Instead of saying Civil Rights Act went too far, Rand Paul could have said, there are better ways of dealing with such issues. That would have made him look good.

Beefcake the Mighty June 3, 2010 at 11:16 am

I read what you wrote; you are clearly a believer in collective guilt and collective punishment. “Clumsiness” has nothing to do with it.

Gil June 3, 2010 at 7:11 pm

For the sake of consistency what say “if you want to make murder a crime then use your own money and PDA to track him down, try him and execute him but don’t do it on my tax dollars”?

Abhilash Nambiar June 3, 2010 at 7:42 pm

Yes, that would be the poor libertarian excuse to let murderers walk. That they where caught using tax dollars. But no libertarian says that. Instead we all thank our lucky stars that some how or other murderers still get caught in this not so libertarian world. But when it comes to other statist laws that allows for outcomes similar to that in a libertarian society, some people sing different tunes. Why not simply appreciate the fact that one has to stick with second best option, for the time-being? I mean if the hasty libertarian gets CRA repealed and the Jim Crow laws make a come back. Would that be any good for libertarianism?

I had uploaded this video clip some time back, which makes the point
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VikLpZ6Al64

Jake June 3, 2010 at 10:24 am

Abhilash,You have a fine point, but you overlook that the “victims” of oppression were the same in both cases. First the state and local governments enacted jim crow laws that victimized the vast majority of the populace of all races, some being forced to endure discrimination and others being forced to discriminate against their wishes. Then the feds during the civil rights movement enacted laws that again oppressed the population as a whole, NOT those few who enacted the jim crow laws. If the feds had come in, arrested the politicians who passed the jim crow laws, and punished those who lobbied for them, you’d have a good point. Instead they (the feds) came in and punished the common person (whether he wanted to discriminate, didn’t want to but did so to comply with the laws, or never did so at all) for the discrimination mandated by the local/state government. It’s the classic tactic of creating a problem (generally by infringing on people’s rights) to justify further infringement upon their rights as the “solution”.

Abhilash Nambiar June 3, 2010 at 10:58 am

The feeling of victimization is subjective, not objective. The society that empowered the governments that passed the Jim Crow Laws did not consider themselves as victims because they lost revenue that they would have otherwise obtained if the businesses in their regions accepted black customers. It is clear who the victims where in that instance.

Furthermore the Civil Rights Act does not victimize people who are already open to the idea of de-segregation. The people who felt most victimized because of it are clearly the bigoted.

So when Rand Paul says that the Civil Rights Act went too far, it appears as if he is speaking for the bigoted or at the least he is trying to excuse their behavior. That is a question mark on his character. Since the Civil Rights Act has an outcome that he personally approves off, he could have kept quiet on it or said that he would have handled it better and left it at that.

I do not think that arresting the politicians who passed Jim Crow laws would have worked at that time. It was a social issue. And unless the social problem was addressed, that society would have continued to groom and empower leaders who held such attitudes. In a very clumsy way, the Civil Rights Acts does address the social issue. I have to emphasize the clumsy part here. It is the clumsiness that is at the root of the resentment today.

Seattle June 3, 2010 at 12:28 pm

So when Rand Paul says that the Civil Rights Act went too far, it appears as if he is speaking for the bigoted or at the least he is trying to excuse their behavior. That is a question mark on his character. Since the Civil Rights Act has an outcome that he personally approves off, he could have kept quiet on it or said that he would have handled it better and left it at that.

I love bacon. If I received a free pound of bacon every week I’d be very happy.

However if the state violates the rights of others to provide me with this bacon, they’ve gone too far, and pointing this out does not make you a “bacon-hater.”

Abhilash Nambiar June 3, 2010 at 1:50 pm

I am not saying that he is a bacon hater. I am saying he appears to be a bacon hater. He could have used better words. He could have said for instance, that there are better more legitimate ways of getting good bacon. One that does not empower a thief. But maybe generating controversy is not too bad. We are after all having a discussion of very good quality.

roy June 3, 2010 at 10:38 am

“Like Hans Herman Hoppe rightly noted, when governments compete, the one that embraces the most liberal values and allows for the most freedom wins out against the more oppressive.”

…unless of course centralization occurs, ending that competition… hence why empowering Feds not a good idea..

Abhilash Nambiar June 3, 2010 at 10:43 am

Read on. I said, ‘it can over time open the intellectual and political space for libertarian ideas to thrive.’ I did not say ‘it will’, because yes, after all the competition is eliminated the previously liberal government can become oppressive. Hoppe noted that too. Which is why libertarians need to be very active.

Silas Barta June 3, 2010 at 11:18 am

The right to exclude is not something incidental. It is core to the functioning of civilization. If I use proprietary software, I can’t download it without signing a contractual agreement. If I refuse to sign, the company doesn’t have to sell it to me. And why? Because it is their software and they set the terms of use. Period. There is nothing more to say.

If you run a blog that accepts comments, you know how important this right is. You have to be able to exclude spam or ban IP addresses of trolls or otherwise include and exclude based on whether a person’s contribution adds value. Every venue on the Internet that calls forth public participation knows this. Without this right, any forum could collapse, having been taken over by bad elements.

What? What’s the matter? … Why are you guys all looking at me like that? Stop it!

Michael A. Clem June 4, 2010 at 8:15 am

LOL!

Abhilash Nambiar June 3, 2010 at 11:59 am

Beefcake the Mighty
I read what you wrote; you are clearly a believer in collective guilt and collective punishment. “Clumsiness” has nothing to do with it.

You could be easily forgiven for believing that. For the record, I do not believe that a crime becomes a non-crime or that it becomes un-punshiable just because a lot of people took part in it. Collective punishment would be punishing you and your family for a crime that your best friend did, even if you never encouraged him or helped him in committing that crime in any way. Had you done that, then you would be tried as an accomplice.

Take to the case of the pro-segregationist politicians who got voted in. Would it be wrong to say that they passed regulations that where criminal under libertarian law? Of course not. What does that make the people who empowered them? Accomplices right? So why should they not bear some of the guilt and the punishment that comes with it?

I have seen democracy compared to mob rule in this forum. Is the mob immune from justice? Does libertarian law grant de-facto immunity to crimes commited by groups?

Matt Palmer June 3, 2010 at 12:35 pm

Abhlash,

There is a huge problem when saying that “the mob” is responsible for the action and punishing everyone indiscriminately (pun intended). Perhaps Gerard Casey’s speech “The Indefensibility of Political Representation” will clarify why what you’re proposing is problematic: http://mises.org/daily/3383

In short, it is neither fair nor logical to blame the entire populace for the actions of their government. Restitution only makes sense when one can name a specific guilty party, the offending actions, and damage for which they are responsible. Saying that all generations of white americans are responsible for Jim Crow and therefore they ought to pay restitution is a vast oversimplication of the matter and works on the faulty assumption that people are actually in control of their governments.

Abhilash Nambiar June 3, 2010 at 1:03 pm

‘In short, it is neither fair nor logical to blame the entire populace for the actions of their government.’

That is just it. The entire populace is not being impacted. The Civil Rights Act negatively impacts only those individuals who previously approved of the discriminatory practices of their state governments.

‘Saying that all generations of white americans are responsible for Jim Crow and therefore they ought to pay restitution is a vast oversimplication’

I never said that nor implied that. I did however imply that those Americans that approved of Jim Crow laws would be put in a state of extreme unpleasantness by the Civil Rights act, and rightly so.

‘works on the faulty assumption that people are actually in control of their governments.’

I never said people are in control of their governments. I said people empower their governments. That is to say they empower people who claim to exercise control on their behalf. Whether or not that is actually true is irrelevant to the point I am making, which is that they empowered them. If you hand a loaded gun to someone who is about to kill, you are not controlling that person, but you are empowering him or her.

Magnus June 3, 2010 at 12:45 pm

What does that make the people who empowered them? Accomplices right? So why should they not bear some of the guilt and the punishment that comes with it?

That’s exactly the problem with your entire way of thinking — crimes cannot be “committed by groups.” Only individuals act. Only individuals have criminal intent.

You repeatedly make the false and indefensible assumption that elected officials somehow “represent” the people who happen to live in some arbitrary geographical area. Or that anyone can “empower” anyone else to violate someone third party’s rights.

Even we ignore your childish idea that the Civil Rights Act could somehow offset or remedied prior bigotry, you completely ignore all the people who were subjected to the CRA who did not “empower” anyone to vote in Jim Crow laws, but who still insist on the right to do business, or not, with whomever they please. What about the people who opposed BOTH Jim Crow and the CRA? Are they not victims of your collective punishment?

Finally, has it escaped your notice that the federal government just happened to choose a “remedy” that grossly expanded its own purported authority, and proportionally undermined the idea that people are born free to dispose of themselves and their property as they see fit? Do you actually believe the nonsense that the CRA was designed to “help” anyone other than the politicians that wrote it? Do you actually think that the government’s trampling on property rights somehow promotes the widespread belief in property rights? Isn’t that like saying they had to destroy the village to save it?

Jay June 3, 2010 at 1:07 pm

Great response, Magnus.

Abhilash Nambiar June 3, 2010 at 1:37 pm

No Jay, it is not. Read my rebuttals and clarifications.

Horst Muhlmann June 4, 2010 at 10:52 am

Yes it is, because your basic premise is factually incorrect.

The Civil Right Act never punished people who were behind/supported/enforced Jim Crow laws. Lester Maddox never went to jail. The last time George Wallace ran for governor of Alabama, he won because he got 76% of the black vote!

Abhilash Nambiar June 4, 2010 at 12:04 pm

Sigh, and now I have Magnus telling me that apparently punishment is inherently and exclusively statist concept and has no place in the libertarian society. If he is right about that, then everything I said is meanignless. If he is right about that.

Abhilash Nambiar June 3, 2010 at 1:33 pm

That’s exactly the problem with your entire way of thinking — crimes cannot be “committed by groups.” Only individuals act. Only individuals have criminal intent.

Only individuals act. But individuals can act in groups and commit crimes as a group that as individuals they are not capable of committing. I recommend you read ‘Murder on the Orient Express’ by Agatha Christie.

You repeatedly make the false and indefensible assumption that elected officials somehow “represent” the people who happen to live in some arbitrary geographical area.
I make the assumption that people who elect the officials do so with the hopes that the elected officials will represent their interest. I also assume that if such politicians passed segregationist legislation and got re-elected, the same voters approved of their conduct.

‘Or that anyone can “empower” anyone else to violate someone third party’s rights.’
Yes they can. It is not legitimate use of power, but it can be done.

What about the people who opposed BOTH Jim Crow and the CRA?
I did mention that the government does a clumsy job of things did I not? But when you have two major factions that are not receptive to libertarian ideas, this becomes the government mechanism through which grievances are addressed and issues resolved.

Finally, has it escaped your notice that the federal government just happened to choose a “remedy” that grossly expanded its own purported authority, and proportionally undermined the idea that people are born free to dispose of themselves and their property as they see fit?

No it has not. It has also not excaped my attention that this government also happens to be the government that is more conducive to the idea of free trade. Take that into consideration as well will you.

Do you actually believe the nonsense that the CRA was designed to “help” anyone other than the politicians that wrote it?
Yes, it was also designed to help those that voted these politicians into power.

Do you actually think that the government’s trampling on property rights somehow promotes the widespread belief in property rights?
Here you have a problem. If the government is trampling on property that you gained because of the legal climate created by segregationist laws, then the question arises as to how much of that property is genuinely yours.

Magnus June 3, 2010 at 2:41 pm

First you say that when people (i.e., voters) purport to “empower” a politician to violate a third party’s rights, this is “not a legitimate use of power, but it can be done.”

Then when I pointed out that there are people who opposed BOTH Jim Crow and the CRA (and that the CRA cannot possibly be justified as a “punishment” for those people), you say that this kind of legislation “becomes the government mechanism through which grievances are addressed and issues resolved.”

So, sometimes you defend the legitimacy of property-violating legislation, and sometimes you recognize that property-violating legislation is illegitimate.

I suppose you distinguish between the two by deciding if you like the outcome. How noble and principled of you.

How can say that one form of property-violating legislation is “not legitimate” but then justify another act of property-violating legislation? Either a legislature has the legitimate power to violate property rights, or it does not. Which is it?

Let’s get your position straight — Is legislation that violates property rights legitimate or not? Do legislators have the legitimate authority to enact and enforce property-violating legislation at all? Or do you think that any and all legislation is legitimate when you agree with it? Are you saying that all legislation must be obeyed even if it is illegitimate?

(This is usually the part of the discussion where the statist-apologist says that the State has more guns and can therefore enforce whatever it says, and that we have no way to resist. If that’s where you plan to go, please don’t. I’m not talking about force. I’m talking about legitimacy.)

Here’s what Lysander Spooner said about legislation, and I have seen no one offer anything that approaches a decent rebuttal:

[Justice] is also, at all times, and in all places, the supreme law. And being everywhere and always the supreme law, it is necessarily everywhere and always the only law.

Lawmakers, as they call themselves, can add nothing to it, nor take anything from it. Therefore all their laws, as they call them, — that is, all the laws of their own making, — have no color of authority or obligation. It is a falsehood to call them laws; for there is nothing in them that either creates men’s duties or rights, or enlightens them as to their duties or rights. There is consequently nothing binding or obligatory about them. And nobody is bound to take the least notice of them, unless it be to trample them under foot, as usurpations. If they command men to do justice, they add nothing to men’s obligation to do it, or to any man’s right to enforce it. They are therefore mere idle wind, such as would be commands to consider the day as day, and the night as night. If they command or license any man to do injustice, they are criminal on their face. If they command any man to do anything which justice does not require him to do, they are simple, naked usurpations and tyrannies. If they forbid any man to do anything, which justice could permit him to do, they are criminal invasions of his natural and rightful liberty. In whatever light, therefore, they are viewed, they are utterly destitute of everything like authority or obligation.

Then you add this little chestnut: “I did mention that the government does a clumsy job of things did I not?”

Clumsy. The CRA was “clumsy.” Legitimate, but “clumsy.” Right.

So, an act of legislation (the CRA), which can only be justified on the grounds that it “punished” the voters who purported to authorize a prior, illegitimate act of legislation (Jim Crow), even though the CRA was and is still being applied to people who never supported Jim Crow (people like me, for example) is what you call “clumsy.”

Dude, just come out and say it — you support collective guilt and collective punishment.

Abhilash Nambiar June 3, 2010 at 4:31 pm

First you say that when people (i.e., voters) purport to “empower” a politician to violate a third party’s rights, this is “not a legitimate use of power, but it can be done.” Then when I pointed out that there are people who opposed BOTH Jim Crow and the CRA (and that the CRA cannot possibly be justified as a “punishment” for those people), you say that this kind of legislation “becomes the government mechanism through which grievances are addressed and issues resolved.”

This is not the gotcha moment that you think it is. I said legislation “becomes the government mechanism through which grievances are addressed and issues resolved.” I never said it was the most effective way of resolving issues. In fact I emphasized time and again the clumsiness of this mechanism and the problems that stem from that fact.

So, sometimes you defend the legitimacy of property-violating legislation, and sometimes you recognize that property-violating legislation is illegitimate.

Not at all. When legislation is passed reverses the property-violating impact of legislation that preceded it. I have a hard time criticizing it.

Is legislation that violates property rights legitimate or not?
No

Do legislators have the legitimate authority to enact and enforce property-violating legislation at all?
Nope, but people think they do. So it may be necessary to work along with legislators.

Or do you think that any and all legislation is legitimate when you agree with it? No, but I hope the reason I agree with this legislation which of course is a reaction to previous legislation of opposing effect is because it better facilitates the emergence of a libertarian society. Besides I see am element of libertarian justice in it, all be it in a clumsy form.

Are you saying that all legislation must be obeyed even if it is illegitimate?

No. But given that you have little choice in that matter, I fail to see the point of asking that question. Personally I prefer a stateless libertarian society. But all stateless societies are not libertarian, so a liberal statist society may be the second best option.

I won’t try to rebut Lysander Spooner as you quoted him here. But in the real world, you have to reconcile what he said with what the majority believes, and that means sometimes accepting less than ideal solutions. But better times will come, I am sure.

So, an act of legislation (the CRA), which can only be justified on the grounds that it “punished” the voters who purported to authorize a prior, illegitimate act of legislation (Jim Crow), even though the CRA was and is still being applied to people who never supported Jim Crow (people like me, for example) is what you call “clumsy.

CRA can be justified for more reasons besides its punitive nature. It has a restorative angle to it too. By opening avenues which had been legally shut out, some people where given access to opportunities that they did not have before and thus given for the first time a decent chance to improve their own life.

Yes sure, clumsy is a word that I am very comfortable using here. Compared to people who actively supported and empowered those that passed forced segregation laws, you where less negatively impacted.

But did you notice one thing? I do not know your age, but notice that none of my arguments apply for the new generation of voters, black, white or other. So as more young people and new voters join the workforce, perhaps it is time that some aspects of CRA come under review.

Now tell me dude, do I actually believe in collective punishment, or is it just punishment of the guilty regardless of number?

BioTube June 3, 2010 at 5:52 pm

Abhilash Nambiar, how would you handle a situation in which somebody committed a crime, but there was no way to prove it wasn’t his twin? The way you accept ‘clumsy’ solutions suggest you’d be happy punishing both. Have you ever heard of the maxim, “better a hundred guilty men go free than one innocent be punished”?

Magnus June 3, 2010 at 8:01 pm

When legislation is passed reverses the property-violating impact of legislation that preceded it, I have a hard time criticizing it.

I’m sure you do have a hard time, because you are demonstrably incapable of identifying logical error and fallacy.

First, your preferences as to the kind of legislation that you will and will not criticize is not an argument. I’m not saying it’s a bad argument. I’m saying it’s not an argument at all. It’s your preference, and it means about as much to me and the rest of the world as if you said you like strawberries and hate blueberries. Who cares, really?

Second, you disqualify yourself for serious discussion when claim is that the CRA can be justified on the grounds that, although it is admittedly an illegitimate invasion of property rights, it is ALSO magically legitimate because it harms people you think need harming. On the one hand you claim the benefit of justice and virtue (“Those people deserve punishment for supporting illegitimate legislation!”) while at the same time you are perfectly willing to support illegitimate legislation. You can’t have it both ways. You can’t promote justice through injustice. You can’t condemn the illegitimacy of legislation as the basis for justifying illegitimate legislation.

Sorry, but that’s what logical people call a self-defeating proposition. It’s like saying “All assertions are meaningless.” Well, by the very act of making that assertion, you purport that it has meaning. It’s self-demolishing. Just like you.

(And you naturally blithely excuse away the harm the CRA does to people who, even under your idiosyncratic “logic,” deserve no such punishment since they never engaged in the act of advocating for Jim Crow laws, calling it a “clumsy” remedy. You would have to believe that, wouldn’t you? You couldn’t maintain your pro-CRA preference otherwise.)

Finally, even you can recognize that the justification used by the politicians is a lie. Forced integration as a remedy for the wrong of forced segregation? Are you serious? Can you not see the common denominator here? Force! The over-arching message here is patently obvious — with both Jim Crow laws and the CRA, government sends a single, unified, consistent message: the State controls your associations.

DC June 3, 2010 at 12:02 pm

No person or group of persons may aggress upon another person or person’s property.

If I want to serve Mexicans, Cubans, Iraqis, Afghanis, or any individual who is a member of any of the over 10,000 racial-ethnic groups who have existed in my place of business, then that is my natural right whether the individual is a legal or illegal immigrant.

If I want to disassociate with any individual who is a member of any particual racial-ethnic group simply because that individual is a member of said group, then that is also my natural right.

The freedom to control oneself and one’s property, to freely exchange with others in order to increase utility tends to break down racism, sexism, homophobia, et cetera.

Race is a political construction which disappears in a free market where individuals are free to associate and disassociate. Not because any one particular individual says so, although many outstanding scholars have made the observation, but rather because the historical record demonstrates the power of the free market to breakdown collectivist prejudices.

Beefcake the Mighty June 3, 2010 at 12:09 pm

“Race is a political construction which disappears in a free market where individuals are free to associate and disassociate.”

Tell that to the poster above (tlpalmer) who is white living in an area where the population is primarily Mexican.

Abhilash Nambiar June 3, 2010 at 12:46 pm

I am optimistic here. Businesses that deliberately cater to people of any single race may have temporary edge. But over the course of time they pay the price for it because business folks that take care of everyone’s needs have better insights that would allow them to expand and out compete. I do not think race as an issue is disappears in a free market. But it does dilute significantly.

Shay June 3, 2010 at 2:28 pm

I think in some cases the market will lead to discrimination, because it serves its customers. Consider a women’s gym or something (don’t even know if these exist, but you get the idea). Maybe many of the Mexican customers to this business prefer only Mexicans, and the business is serving them. If it’s simply an owner who doesn’t like whites/women/gays, then the market will probably eliminate him, because he’s going to be less-efficient than an owner who isn’t pointlessly limiting his market.

Gil June 4, 2010 at 1:30 am

Of course, you meant to say immigrants are always legal and governments (or anyone else for that matter) can’t make an immigrants ‘illegal’, right? However do you think your right to serve illegal immigrants trumps government laws? Are you go to say to the police “while the illegal immigrant is having lunch in my diner you can’t come in and arrest him instead you’ll have to wait for him to leave and enter the public street”? Or, if you have an illegal immigrant who asks for ‘sanctuary’ in your home and you let him earn his keep by letting him work in your diner then the police can’t do a single thing about it because he is always on your private property at any point in time?

J u a n G a r o f a l o June 3, 2010 at 5:16 pm

Translation from ‘libertarian’ newspeak to plain English :

“Freedom of association” = Lame justification for racism and conservatism.

Abhilash Nambiar June 3, 2010 at 5:33 pm

Amen to that. Which is why it annoys me when people try.

BioTube June 3, 2010 at 5:49 pm

Translation from ‘statist’ newspeak to plain English:

“Antidiscrimination” = Lame justification for slavery and tyranny.

Abhilash Nambiar June 3, 2010 at 6:18 pm

Retranslation from libertarian newspeak to plain English:

“slavery and tyranny” = appropriate punishment for slave owners and tyrants.

Todd S. June 3, 2010 at 7:40 pm

“slavery and tyranny” = appropriate punishment for slave owners and tyrants.

Go outside your house right now and show me one person who is or ever was a slave owner.

Abhilash Nambiar June 3, 2010 at 8:08 pm

That is beside the point. Slavery and tyranny are still appropriate punishments for slave owners and tyrants.

But you probably mean to say that slavery and tyranny are bad justifications for anti-discriminatory legislation. But ah, one asks, who but the bigot feels enslaved and terrified by anti-discriminatory laws that prevent prevent discrimination on the basis of gender or race? And what kind of place does such bigotry have in a libertarian society, where they can only get in the way of peace and prosperity? The same place as the people who believe that the earth is flat, I hope. But there are historical reasons why such clumsy solutions needed to be implemented.

prettyskin below has put it succinctly

The constructionists and supporters of Jim Crow laws took away the free will of some. Then, they turned around and took away the free will of all– including their own free will.

So my question is this. Criticizing the Civil Rights Act is nothing new in libertarian circles. But when is someone like Lew Rockwell going to right a stinging criticism of those politicians that laid that are really responsible for the CRA legislation? I am referring of course to those politicians that got Jim Crow laws passed. They have a big hand in making this mess. They are the ones who exploited people’s uncritical faith in government. But to the new generation most of them remain nameless and faceless. Would Thomas DiLorenzo or Thomas Woods write a history book that criticizes them? I hope one day they will. If not them maybe their ideological descendants. Only then can honest reconciliation begin. Only then can the bitterness really start to dissolve.

Dave Albin June 3, 2010 at 8:28 pm

We criticize ALL aspects of the state on here, which would include Jim Crow laws, of course. Have you been here long (maybe you have, I don’t know)?

Arjun Panicker June 4, 2010 at 12:27 am

Abhilash,

You are grasping at straws with your responses. Real immediate effects of a law is not the only consideration given in situations like this. The fact that government can create laws that ban freedom of association bothers this fellow brown skinned Malayali.

J u a n G a r o f a l o June 3, 2010 at 5:43 pm

“From a historical point of view, the injustice against blacks was perpetrated mostly by governments. ”

That is, of course, FALSE. It was perpetrated by slave owners and the “market” for slaves. Granted, some of the slave owners were part of the government , like the ‘libertarian’ Thomas Jefferson, but the majority of slave owners were ‘law abiding’ ‘private citizens’.

Magnus June 3, 2010 at 6:15 pm

Brazil eliminated slavery peacefully, without a war (like the US invasion of the South that killed 600,000 people), merely by refusing to return fugitive slaves to their purported owners.

Slavery is only economically viable with the active support of statist subsidies, which pass the extremely high costs of forcible restraint onto the rest of society. To do that, you need a violent tax system (but that’s redundant, of course, since all states are aggressively violent by definition).

Unlike you and your friend Abhilash, the rest of us have the integrity and sense of principle to refuse to rationalize or apologize for the forms of aggression and violence that please or benefit us.

Abhilash Nambiar June 3, 2010 at 6:21 pm

Unlike you and your friend Abhilash, the rest of us have the integrity and sense of principle to refuse to rationalize or apologize for the forms of aggression and violence that please or benefit us.

Come on. You know there is more to it than that. And even if I did say that ending slavery through violence was ok, which I did not. I would still qualify that by saying that ending slavery without violence is even better.

J u a n G a r o f a l o June 3, 2010 at 6:36 pm

“Unlike you and your friend Abhilash, the rest of us have the integrity and sense of principle to refuse to rationalize or apologize for the forms of aggression and violence that please or benefit us.”

Oh Magnus, dear. Where did I rationalize the “form of aggression that benefits and/or pleases me”? Would you kindly quote the relevant passage? Or else admit that you are making stuff up. Thank you.

Magnus June 3, 2010 at 10:47 pm

Where? Here: “‘Freedom of association’ = Lame justification for racism and conservatism.”

By “lame,” I can only assume you mean “false.”

The right to free association means the right to be free from forced association and forced disassociation. Therefore, if you do not acknowledge the right of free association, then you, by definition, feel justified in using aggression to force people to associate or disassociate with others against their will.

Or, more likely, you feel justified in supporting and/or applauding the statist thugs who exert that force for you. (In my experience, it is the weakest people with the most ineffectual, squeamish and subordinate personalities who squawk the loudest about how state-employed brute squads ought to be empowered with the broadest powers to push people around. Such advocates for ever-increasing state power are typically the least likely candidates for doing the dirty work of actually exercising the state’s physical force on the populace.)

Russ June 3, 2010 at 10:56 pm

“Brazil eliminated slavery peacefully, without a war (like the US invasion of the South that killed 600,000 people), merely by refusing to return fugitive slaves to their purported owners.”

The big problem with this, with respect to the US, was that if the Supreme Court would have ruled against the Fugitive Slave Act, the South would have seceded earlier. Assuming the North let them, the slaves would have run to the North. Unfortunately, one of the big reasons the North was against slavery is that they didn’t want black labor competing with white labor. They didn’t really want blacks in the North at all. Unless all the blacks ran from the North to Canada, something would have to give. Probably it would have been the Fugitive Slave Act being re-instated.

Daniel June 4, 2010 at 10:05 am

What’s wrong with secession?

In fact, the famous abolitionist William Lloyd Garrisson supported secession as a means to thwart slavery.

Peter June 4, 2010 at 11:35 pm

The big problem with this, with respect to the US, was that if the Supreme Court would have ruled against the Fugitive Slave Act, the South would have seceded earlier.

You know, this particular grammatical anomaly is really starting to bug me. It’s “if the Supreme Court had ruled against …, the South would have …”; “would have” in the protasis doesn’t make sense. OK; I feel better now.

Abhilash Nambiar June 3, 2010 at 6:15 pm

Thomas Jefferson was not exactly a libertarian. He did espouse lot of views that are recognized today as libertarian. But the idea has evolved since his time.

Caveman June 3, 2010 at 6:28 pm

Juan, I think the point is that, at the very least, governments enabled slavery. Consider, the Fugitive Slave Acts and the legal rights (or lack thereof) accorded to slaves in the US prior to the Civil War. The “market” is generally amoral. I think most supporters of the free market would readily admit that. However, we’d also argue that the state is immoral. We shouldn’t look to either to guide our ethical decisions.

Dave Albin June 3, 2010 at 8:21 pm

Think of the police (government) using fire hoses from the fire department (government) to spray demonstrators. Or, Jim Crow laws (government) and laws making slavery legal (government). Or, some of the first gun control laws (government) in inner cities to keep guns out of the hands of blacks, even though the police (government) won’t patrol there as much as other neighborhoods. Or, the war on poverty (government) which resulted in increased poverty rates among primarily blacks. Or, a tax code (government) that encouraged middle-class people to flee inner cities to suburbs, leaving behind poor, poverty and crime-ridden, mostly black, neighborhoods, which resulted in lower property tax bases (government) to fund the schools (government) there, etc. I could continue, but you get the point.

Abhilash Nambiar June 3, 2010 at 10:11 pm

Dave, I have lived in both inner cities as well as suburbs. It is not like the 80s. These days the police do maintain a much greater visible presence in the inner cities. Lot of the legislation that you are criticizing is slowly being rolled back, although not uniformly. All actions by the government are not counter productive. It may be inefficient and expensive, but it is not always counter-productive. It is not impossible for the government to learn from its mistakes, even if they are slow learners.

Here is a question for you. Which do you think is better? A government that understand economics and uses it for a nations prosperity? Or a private citizen who understands no economics and messes up because of that?

Dave Albin June 3, 2010 at 11:16 pm

I lived in suburban Philly a few years ago. The Philadelphia Police did indeed have a visible presence, and on the local news would constantly talk about all the well-intentioned things they were doing – all the while, over one murder per day was occurring there. After we moved, I saw a Nightline story about how the Philly cops started stopping and randomly searching (4th amendment out the window) cars, and the murder rate is still essentially as bad as it was before. I think to say “slow learners” is an understatement.

As for your question – the government cannot understand economics and use it for a nations prosperity. They cannot even hope to understand how to run an economy – individuals freely making choices that make each other better off, that’s how to do it.

Abhilash Nambiar June 4, 2010 at 6:35 am

Individuals freely making choices that benefit each other is definitely the best way to do things. But I was referring to less than ideal situations where that option is not available.

Abhilash Nambiar June 3, 2010 at 6:58 pm

BioTube
Abhilash Nambiar, how would you handle a situation in which somebody committed a crime, but there was no way to prove it wasn’t his twin? The way you accept ‘clumsy’ solutions suggest you’d be happy punishing both. Have you ever heard of the maxim, “better a hundred guilty men go free than one innocent be punished”?

Very wrong analogy. It does not map in properly to my argument at all. CRA at least at the time of its inception, only punished the bigot, and not just any bigots, just the bigots who empowered bigoted politicians. Simple bigotry would not have led to the crisis that led to the CRA being passed.

But it does not punish for instance, the business man who always wanted to hire black workers but was not allowed to, but is now forced to. Neither does it punish the rest of society who wanted to live in a more open and progressive environment, but where legally prevented. Ah yes, it did annoy some misguided libertarians who cannot see the big picture or appreciate that fact that we live in less that perfect world where libertarian solutions are not readily accepted. But that is a small price to pay.

The reason I called it clumsy is because people who would where not bigoted to begin with, are now ‘forced into goodness’ if you get what I mean. They are not allowed the choice to be good on their own. Again annoying, but not a critical.

But that aside, today the CRA and its affirmative action tendencies may be creating a new class of victims. The new generation which is far removed from the historical context in which the Act and are thus being wrongly punished for crimes that where committed by earlier generations. Like I already said to Magnus. Perhaps it is time that some aspects of this legislation come under review.

prettyskin June 3, 2010 at 7:37 pm

Alexander Hamilton said, “A power over a man’s subsistence amounts to a power over his will.”

The constructionists and supporters of Jim Crow laws took away the free will of some. Then, they turned around and took away the free will of all– including their own free will.

Thomas Paine, “Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state, an intolerable one.”

Abhilash Nambiar June 3, 2010 at 8:49 pm

Dave Albin
We criticize ALL aspects of the state on here, which would include Jim Crow laws, of course. Have you been here long (maybe you have, I don’t know)?

There is a book here on the Mises store, The Economics of the Colour Bar, it was written in 1964 by William H. Hutt. It is essentially an Austrian analysis of forced segregation in South Africa.

http://mises.org/store/Product.aspx?ProductId=397

But to the best of my knowledge there is no such equivalent on the American segregation. Instead we find books like this

http://mises.org/store/Real-Lincoln-The-P172C0.aspx?AFID=14
http://mises.org/store/Lincoln-Unmasked-P324.aspx

Nothing wrong with that let me assure you. But how about also a book entitled

‘The Economics of slavery in pre-war United States”
or
‘How Slavery destroyed destroyed Capitalism in America’
or
‘How forced segregation destroyed the free market’

Get the idea? Maybe they are already around and I do not know about them. Is so, kindly correct me.

Jonathan Finegold Catalán June 3, 2010 at 9:03 pm
Abhilash Nambiar June 3, 2010 at 9:22 pm

Good catch.

Dave Albin June 3, 2010 at 11:09 pm

You should really read The Real Lincoln, I think it would open your eyes a little.

Abhilash Nambiar June 3, 2010 at 9:57 pm

For Magnus
First, your preferences as to the kind of legislation that you will and will not criticize is not an argument. I’m not saying it’s a bad argument. I’m saying it’s not an argument at all. It’s your preference, and it means about as much to me and the rest of the world as if you said you like strawberries and hate blueberries. Who cares, really?

There are reasons besides preference for which I chose not to criticize a certain legislation. I thought I made that clear.

Second, you disqualify yourself for serious discussion when claim is that the CRA can be justified on the grounds that, although it is admittedly an illegitimate invasion of property rights, it is ALSO magically legitimate because it harms people you think need harming.

Did I say that? I do not think I did, but I can clarify. If the CRA does sometimes result in property rights violation, it is in a less offensive way except of course in the case of the bigots in which case it has an element of justice in it, and if we are talking about bigots that helped enforce forced segregation. Yes, I think such people need to see justice. Don’t distort it by say it ‘harms people you think need harming’. As if I saying that harming someone is a matter of taste for me. It is most certainly not.

On the one hand you claim the benefit of justice and virtue (“Those people deserve punishment for supporting illegitimate legislation!”) while at the same time you are perfectly willing to support illegitimate legislation. You can’t have it both ways. You can’t promote justice through injustice. You can’t condemn the illegitimacy of legislation as the basis for justifying illegitimate legislation.

I do not see legislation that correct the illegitimacy arising from previous legislation as illegitimate. Imperfect yes, illegitimate no. I am more than willing to admit that there are much better ways non-legislative ways of fixing the issue.

Sorry, but that’s what logical people call a self-defeating proposition. It’s like saying “All assertions are meaningless.” Well, by the very act of making that assertion, you purport that it has meaning. It’s self-demolishing. Just like you.

Except of course never said that all assertions are meaningless.

And you naturally blithely excuse away the harm the CRA does to people who, even under your idiosyncratic “logic,” deserve no such punishment since they never engaged in the act of advocating for Jim Crow laws, calling it a “clumsy” remedy. You would have to believe that, wouldn’t you? You couldn’t maintain your pro-CRA preference otherwise.

Well the good guys and gals are punished in the least offensive way. I mean they got a slap on the wrist for doing no wrong. How bad can that be? On the plus side, it released a significant section of the population from legislative bondage and punished those that where responsible for it. In terms of trade off, that is pretty good. Thus my pro-CRA stand.

Finally, even you can recognize that the justification used by the politicians is a lie. Forced integration as a remedy for the wrong of forced segregation? Are you serious? Can you not see the common denominator here? Force! The over-arching message here is patently obvious — with both Jim Crow laws and the CRA, government sends a single, unified, consistent message: the State controls your associations.

I see it of course. The common denominator of force. But I think it is ok to use force against people who use force. Forced integration as a remedy for the wrong of forced segregation makes some sense in that regard. Having said that however voluntary integration and while we are at it voluntary segregation are both much better solutions. In addition to making people feel less bitter, I think it would also be far more effective and enduring. But sometimes the second best option is the only one that is available.

Speaking of second best options as solutions, let me also include death sentence for murder as a second best option. The first best option in this case would a murdered who no longer wants to kill and dedicates the reminder of his life to repaying his debt to the survivors of the deceased. But unfortunately that outcome is easier said that achieved.

Magnus June 3, 2010 at 11:07 pm

On the plus side, [the CRA] released a significant section of the population from legislative bondage and punished those that where responsible for it.

For the 8th and final time, the CRA did no such thing. It “released” no one. It did the exact opposite.

It MAINTAINED and EXPANDED the State’s claim of bondage over the entire populace, by CONTINUING to assert that it had the legitimate power to control, through FORCE, the free, voluntary, peaceful, property-based associations of EVERYONE with everyone else.

And, in case you haven’t seen the contradiction in your position yet, I will explain in for the last time: The State’s illegitimate assertion of the power to control people’s associations is the REASON that Jim Crow laws were wrong IN THE FIRST PLACE.

Therefore, the CONTINUED (and expanded) assertion of that power, which you have already acknowledged to be wrong, must also be wrong. Continuing to engage in a wrongful act can NEVER be a legitimate remedy for itself.

Yep June 4, 2010 at 2:25 am

I’m not sure how you can get any clearer than this.

Abhilash Nambiar June 4, 2010 at 7:40 am

Right the government created legislation that produced an outcome similar to what would have emerged if free people would have went about minding their own business in the first place, to reverse the trend that resulted from previous legislation. It used forced to achieve an outcome that would have otherwise emerged through free interactions and where previously force was used to arrest a tendency that was deemed undesirable by the state. But in doing so, it expanded state power. Which is why the CRA is wrong. Because it expanded state power and that can never be right even if it produced favorable outcomes. Because the State itself is illegitimate. States only have the right to commit suicide. I get that.

But do tell me. Would you object to using tax dollars to capture murderers? The same argument applies here too right? Especially if they are effective at actually catching the criminal. Taxation is an illegitimate act and by using tax dollars to catch criminals they can justify the expansion of state power. We have the right to rob you because we use your money to catch murderers!

And expanding state power is most certainly illegitimate. So continuing to engage in that wrongful act can NEVER be a legitimate remedy for the problem of the state. I agree. But it can provide a useful remedy for the problem of murder, which is right now much more immediate than that the problem of the state.

Yet I have never seen any hard-core libertarian object to laws against murder, simply because the state is involved in implementing it. You would probably say there are better ways of dealing with the problem of crime. That states are not that good at protecting us from murderers. Private security guards can do a better job and they cost less. But you would not actually prevent states from trying to catch murderers would you? I have already said that several times. There are better ways of resolving issues of racial tension other than forced integration legislation. I have been very clear on that.

Having said that though recognize that in the statist world it is necessary to work within the framework that people perceive of as being legitimate. They may change their minds later on, but until then it becomes necessary. Or else you will get no where.

Where I see it heading is that governments in order to expand their power will embrace more and more liberal ideas and in doing so, libertarian ideas will begin to enter and influence the mainstream. Because the state is trying to use these principles to expand its power. I cannot honestly say that it is a bad thing. It is the least oppressive state that wins out. That is a good thing, which is not to say that there isn’t anything better.

Beefcake the Mighty June 4, 2010 at 7:50 am

Have you told us what country you’re from yet?

Abhilash Nambiar June 4, 2010 at 8:55 am

If you can show me that this question is somehow relevant to the discussion, I will be more than happy to answer it.

Beefcake the Mighty June 4, 2010 at 9:15 am

You’re a hypocrite whose nation of origin has obviously committed crimes in the past (and what nation hasn’t), and you’d rather not have your “logic” here applied against you. Hence your reluctance to answer the question.

Abhilash Nambiar June 4, 2010 at 9:54 am

According to the argument I made, you cannot hold me responsible for the crimes of my ‘country of origin’ unless I was a voter there. To be frank, before I discovered libertarianism, I had no interest in politics what so ever. I could never get a handle on it. The whole thing seemed like a big lunatic asylum and voting seemed a most pointless exercise. Come to think of it, I still see voting as a most pointless exercise.

Magnus June 4, 2010 at 10:44 am

the government created legislation that produced an outcome similar to what would have emerged if free people would have went about minding their own business in the first place, to reverse the trend that resulted from previous legislation. It used forced to achieve an outcome that would have otherwise emerged through free interactions

That’s absolute nonsense. You have no idea what would or wouldn’t have happened.

You have no comprehension of the magnitude of the complexity of human society. The idea that a government, through legislation, could re-create, simulate or even remotely approximate the society that would have developed in the absence of prior legislation is … just silly. You’re talking about reversing time, to undo the hundreds of unrecorded decisions that hundreds of millions of people made every single day, each affecting the other, for the nearly 100 years that Jim Crow laws were in effect. That’s no more possible than you could fly to the moon by flapping your arms.

Would you object to using tax dollars to capture murderers?

Yes. The State does, every now and then, actually capture a murderer. Yet I still have the ability to see that the theft called “taxation” is still indefensible.

And I have the ability to see that the State’s method of dealing with violent crime has zero capacity to actually solve the problem, but will inevitably make it worse — it will degrade civil society, increase poverty, perpetuate crime, and thereby encourage even more murders than would have otherwise occurred. Thus, the tax system that manages to catch one murderer contributes to the creation of thousands more. Even in your facile, karmic, offsetting-good-and-evil morality, that’s wrong.

Yet I have never seen any hard-core libertarian object to laws against murder, simply because the state is involved in implementing it. You would probably say there are better ways of dealing with the problem of crime. That states are not that good at protecting us from murderers. Private security guards can do a better job and they cost less. But you would not actually prevent states from trying to catch murderers would you?

First, the law against murder is not the same thing as the process of responding to murders. As Lysander Spooner said, a legislative decree to refrain from murder means nothing, and it may be totally disregarded, since the principle that murder is wrong existed before the legislation, and will exist after it. Legislation can add nothing to it nor take anything away from it.

Second, murder is always and everywhere (by definition) wrong. Racial discrimination (or any other kind) in choosing one’s voluntary associations is never wrong, even if you do not approve of it. Furthermore, killing murderers is not a remedy for murder. It can’t be. No one has the right to punish anyone. Punishment is an inherently and exclusively statist concept. If a murderer (or other violent criminal) must be killed in order to prevent him from harming others in the future, then killing him is justifiable, of course, as a matter of self-defense or the defense of others. But that’s not punishment.

Finally, the idea that forced integration “punishes” those who supported forced segregation is ridiculous. It harms everyone, not just those who supported or even voted for the Jim Crow laws, as I have said.

Also, the remedy doesn’t flow to the right people. Let’s say that A (living in the 1870s) commits the crime of supporting a legislative rule that says that B and C may not associate. Both B and C are the victims here. Then, D comes along in 1965 and says that E must associate with F (who is born in 1966), even though E doesn’t want to. D’s new legislative rule harms E (who had nothing to do with A’s crime of enacting legislation in 1870), and who may even be a property-based anarchist. D’s new rule also gives an unearned benefit to F, who was never a victim of the rule from the 1870s. D’s new rule also does nothing to compensate B and C, who were the actual victims, and who are long since dead.

in the statist world it is necessary to work within the framework that people perceive of as being legitimate. They may change their minds later on, but until then it becomes necessary. Or else you will get no where.

Never. You can rationalize your half-hearted cheerleading for the State all you like, but no, I will never participate in it.

Where I see it heading is that governments in order to expand their power will embrace more and more liberal ideas and in doing so, libertarian ideas will begin to enter and influence the mainstream. Because the state is trying to use these principles to expand its power. I cannot honestly say that it is a bad thing. It is the least oppressive state that wins out.

States will become more powerful by becoming less powerful?

Right. That’s a brilliant insight you’ve got there, chief. Enjoy yourself while you’re waiting for that to happen.

Abhilash Nambiar June 4, 2010 at 12:10 pm

States will become more powerful by becoming less powerful?

There is no real paradox there. The freer the state, the more productive the people become, the better the quality of life they live, the more likely they are to allow or empower those state institutions which help them to function productively, thereby making the state more powerful. Now the state even has the option to channel those resources for its war efforts. You see oppression is not a sign of power. That state that allows the most freedom is indeed powerful.

Do you miss the part where I had said

But did you notice one thing? I do not know your age, but notice that none of my arguments apply for the new generation of voters, black, white or other. So as more young people and new voters join the workforce, perhaps it is time that some aspects of CRA come under review.

Please do not argue against a stand that I did not make. There was no need to bring on the alphabet soup.

You have no comprehension of the magnitude of the complexity of human society. The idea that a government, through legislation, could re-create, simulate or even remotely approximate the society that would have developed in the absence of prior legislation is … just silly.

I had this idea of a society where murders are caught more or less similar to the fashion that they are caught now. By people in uniform, except they work for private agencies. But you seem to be suggesting that a totally different society would emerge, the nature of which none of us can precisely foresee. But what you are saying begins to get even more interesting.

No one has the right to punish anyone. Punishment is an inherently and exclusively statist concept.

Rothbard wrote in one of his book ‘Ethics of liberty’ or ‘For a new Liberty’, I do not remember which, he wrote about private courts performing arbitration, handing sentences and so on. So in your libertarian world there are no courts handing out sentences? There are just lots and lots of ordinary people arranging their lives such that property rights violations are rare if not non-existent? Ok, I can live with that. I must admit I never thought of it that way. I always thought of punishment as having a rightful place in any society.

Could you try to do a better job of convincing me that punishment is inherently and exclusively statist concept? I will be more than willing to listen.

Magnus June 4, 2010 at 1:36 pm

Statists will never allow people to have true freedom. Never. The whole point of statism is to prevent that from happening. The idea of the corporate state was invented for the sole purpose of enslaving people.

Farmers and ranchers used to keep their livestock in tight confinement. Then, they learned that livestock is more productive using modern farming methods called “free-range.” The animals are less stressed, and so they produce better milk, eggs and meat, for a larger profit margin. The farmer, however, has no intention of giving the free-range livestock more liberty for the livestock’s benefit. He has no intention of giving the livestock true freedom. They exist to serve the farmer.

States are tax farms, and “citizens” are the livestock. Statists realized a long time ago that chattel slavery is too expensive. The cost of maintaining people in tight confinement is too high, compared to the profit gained from a slave’s labor. So, chattel slavery was transformed into other kinds of bondage. Today, we live under a regime of free-range slavery, based on debt and taxes rather than auctions and chains. We are sometimes allowed to choose our occupation, and we get to watch a silly play every few years called an “election,” where they pretend to let us choose the figurehead enforcer of our debt-and-tax slavery. But we cannot opt out of the debt-and-tax enslavement system altogether.

As far as the concept of “punishment” goes, it is a concept that only exists where someone believes he has authority over another person. It’s very paternalistic. When a person agrees to submit a dispute to an arbitrator, he voluntarily accepts the validity of the arbitrator’s decision, in advance. The arbitrator has no power other than what the litigant gives him first. The arbitrator has no power to hand out a punishment. He only has the power that is explicitly and voluntarily delegated to him by the people who will be directly affected by the decision.

As Bastiat said, if you want to see where the State does injustice, look for the actions that people could not rightfully do on their own. You can’t delegate a power to someone to do something that you could not rightfully do yourself. I can delegate my power of self-defense to someone else, but he cannot rightfully “punish” people who harm me any more than I can. I can defend myself, of course, from anyone I genuinely and reasonably believe is a threat, and I can recover things that are stolen, and I can take compensation for my losses by force. But none of those things are punishment.

I have no idea what a freer society would look like, any more than a slave in ancient Egypt could have predicted the society of today. He could have never predicted nation-states, corporations and state-sponsored bank cartels. All I know is that economic liberty = economic prosperity, so the explosion in overall wealth would be enormous.

Abhilash Nambiar June 4, 2010 at 2:32 pm

Now it is my turn to say, ‘great response, Magnus.’

Peter Surda June 5, 2010 at 5:12 am

Your argument stems for misunderstanding demarcation of rights. If there is a right to X, it means that the holder of the right is the one who makes a decision whether to X or not to X. If there is a right to free association, it means the people who are the subjects of this right, rather than the state, get to pick who they associate with or not. A different interpretation leads to contradictory constructs and overlapping rights.

Every action whatsover limits the options of other people in some way, therefore this is an insufficient condition to determine whether the action is a violation of rights or not. You need to define the rights in a non-overlapping way first.

Abhilash Nambiar June 6, 2010 at 12:39 am

How about preventing the free association of people who you know will indulge in criminal activity upon such association? Would you oppose the free association of people who will for instance use that opportunity to establish a nation state? Or a labor union? If there is an easy answer to that question I can ask another one.

Would you oppose the free association of people who you think with high likely hood will establish a nation-state or a labor union? Would you oppose the free association of people who where all once gangsters?

Peter Surda June 6, 2010 at 5:01 am

Again you demonstrate the concept of overlapping rights. This is not a normative problem. This is about logic. There is a clear separation between people meeting on their property and people using violence to take over other people’s property. These are separate issues.

If you give the people a right to free association, they it also includes situations where they associate in a way you dislike.

Abhilash Nambiar June 8, 2010 at 3:03 pm

If you give the people a right to free association, then it also includes situations where they associate in a way you dislike.

Agreed. This is why my question was a bit different, in case you did not notice.

I do not think it is a simple case of freedom of association we are dealing with. There used to be sure a government constantly working to skew the results in favor of the group that used to be empowering it. To that extent the legitimacy of the property they claim to be private was also suspect. Today a different group empowers the government.

To say that the government is causing problems is correct of course. But to say that the majority which empowered that government has no part in it, sounds like someone trying to evade responsibility. There was public support for those programs back then. There is public support for the CRA today. This is why Rand Paul got a nice beating today. Back then things would have been different.

The State is this big bully, but as long as people think it bullies for them, they put up with it, no actually they cheer it on. Only when it begins to show signs of cracking do some and just some, not everybody become receptive to libertarianism. While the others will look for a new supposedly more suitable bully. And as long as they look, someone will emerge to fill the vacancy. Someone that the new generation of libertarians will criticize. But that is not getting to the root of the issue which is an attitude that allows for the bullies to decide the rules of the game.

Abhilash Nambiar June 4, 2010 at 8:15 am

Arjun Panicker
Abhilash,

You are grasping at straws with your responses. Real immediate effects of a law is not the only consideration given in situations like this. The fact that government can create laws that ban freedom of association bothers this fellow brown skinned Malayali.

Well it bothers me too. But as long as the people who empower the government thinks that this is a legitimate exercise of power, I think solutions to that problem should also emerge from within that framework. Later on when they change their minds, then better solutions can be implemented. For the record I do not think CRA is a good legislation for all time. But I think it was good for the time in which it was implemented. Today we can do better. Which is what Rand Paul could have said. Today we can do better.

Abhilash Nambiar June 4, 2010 at 11:11 am

Michael A. Clem Are you sure that you are unwelcome there, or is it really a matter of it being a different culture? Their apparent offensiveness may be unintentional.

Culturally speaking Indians and Pakistanis are very much alike, if there are differences, it stems from religion. And that historically creates a lot of tension. So if you have a store where both people constantly frequent, the probability for a quarrel is higher. I suppose if it comes to that, the owner wants to be able to take charge. And then they can tell different people that they have the sign there for different reasons, as long as it keeps them coming back to buy more. But if people can just get along, there would not be need for these games. The good news is Indians outside India and Pakistan are more likely to get along well.

J u a n G a r o f a l o June 4, 2010 at 4:35 pm

Rockwell : “…And why? Because it is their software and they set the terms of use. Period. There is nothing more to say.”

I thought that Rockwell and associates were staunchly opposed to so called “intellectual property”? Maybe they have just changed their minds?
——–
“This is how banks in the last decades came to give out mortgage loans promiscuously: they were trying to throw off regulators looking for any sign of racial discrimination.”

I thought it was a well known fact that the housing bubble was caused by the central bank’s manipulation of the money supply. And that the cartelized ‘private’ banking system was acting in its own self-interest…and profiting from an artificial credit expansion. I doubt that the people who made a living ‘flipping houses’ were poor blacks who got a mortgage thanks to anti-discrimination laws. So…I find Rockwell’s comment to be rather misleading.
——-
Finally the references to Thomas Paine are…puzzling. “Age of Reason” is a deist pamphlet…and a piece of harsh criticism of organized religion. The very same kind of totalitarian organized religion that ‘libertarian’ conservatives support.

Also, quoting Paine out of context, so as to present him as a supporter of discrimination is not a good thing “in my opinion”.
——
Regarding DiLorenzo’s ‘creative’ historical musings, I suggest taking a look at this….

http://radgeek.com/gt/2006/05/25/how_robert/
http://radgeek.com/gt/2005/01/03/robert-e-lee-owned-slaves-and-defended-slavery/

Abhilash Nambiar June 6, 2010 at 12:18 pm

Right, proprietary software is intellectual property. But on the other hand any company that sells software can specify a terms of service that has the effect of a private contract and may at least in the short run have an outcome similar to that of intellectual property. Lew seemed to have mixed the two up to make something of a muddle with this statement

If I use proprietary software, I can’t download it without signing a contractual agreement.

newson June 4, 2010 at 10:45 pm

opposition to ip legislation merely puts the onus of monopoly protection on the proprietor, rather than socializing the exclusion costs. if companies can figure out contractual or technological ways of excluding free-riders, there is be no cause for libertarian criticism.

cartelization of commercial banking and central banking are opposed by libertarians as destructive intrusions by the state into the private arena. further intervention in a (corrupt) model, substituting commercial for political considerations can indeed make an unsatisfactory system even worse. the fact that the further government intervention doesn’t help the group for which it is ostensibly designed should surprise no one.

Magnus June 5, 2010 at 6:24 pm

opposition to ip legislation merely puts the onus of monopoly protection on the proprietor, rather than socializing the exclusion costs. if companies can figure out contractual or technological ways of excluding free-riders, there is be no cause for libertarian criticism.

newson June 5, 2010 at 10:46 pm

for the record, i am not magnus.

Gil June 6, 2010 at 3:07 am

Which I presume you mean to say it’s going to be nigh on impossible for private entities to enforce? Once the I.P. cat’s out of the bad it can’t be put back in? You could say “well a company could make up a contract another” but you know the contract can’t enforce all the third parties who could get their hands on the information and once they do it’s all over the Internet for everyone to see.

newson June 6, 2010 at 5:28 am

stradivarius kept his trade secrets so secret they died with him, resisting reverse-engineering up till this very day. entrepreneurs’ creative talents can also be channeled into protecting their monopoly rents for as long as possible; this will be balanced against the time and capital dedicated to their projects in deciding whether or not to green-light.

Abhilash Nambiar June 6, 2010 at 1:34 am

Magnus,

I thought about it. Your argument is not as air tight as it first seemed. Freedom of association has its limits, even in a libertarian context and even if we assume that punishment is a state construct. I mean in a libertarian society I am sure people would find ways to discourage if not prevent the free association of those that will use that opportunity to organize crimes. No right to free association if you use it to make street gangs, or labor unions or governments or even democratic governments. Freedom of association is not as sacrosanct as you or Lew here make it appear. There are situations in which it can be restricted and that is a good thing. Legislation may not be the best way to go about it though.

And one more thing, I do not see much merit in the argument that people are victims of government policy. The government may not work for the people but people empower the government. If they are victims, they are victims of self abuse, but then again, so are drug addicts. They make their problems through the state, they find solutions through it, until of course it stops working when they come up with a new and improved state. That has been the story so far.

Gil June 6, 2010 at 8:18 pm

Or better yet there’s not right to associate on private land. Either the private owner will allow associate or not but there’s not right per se. Since Libertarianism seeks to abolish public land the right to associate will not exist.

newson June 7, 2010 at 5:09 am

…and presently people enjoy the right to associate in your lounge room without your consent?

David June 6, 2010 at 4:33 am

It was by the force of law that racism (not just slavery) became a part of American society. This is the case in many other societies as well (I have lived in Pakistan, Japan, South Africa, and the Middle East and have seen law create racism there as well.) But let’s stick to America.

I’m not going to use a Libertarian interpretation of history. I’m going to use a Liberal one. I will quote directly from Howard Zinn’s “A People’s History of the United States 1492-Present”:

“In spite of such preconceptions about blackness, in spite of special subordination of blacks in America in the seventeenth century, there is evidence that where whites and blacks found themselves with common problems, common work, common enemy in their master, they behaved toward one another as equals……. Black and white worked together, fraternized together. The very fact that laws had to be passed after a while to forbid such relations indicates the strength of that tendency.” (p.31) Empahsis added.

He then goes on to list several laws passed by government to separate poor white and poor black from 1600-1750 (circa) and the failure of these government actions to separate white and black.

“Only one fear was greater than the fear of black rebellion in the new American colonies. That was the fear that disconnected whites would join black slaves to overthrow the existing order. In the early years of slavery , especially, before racism as a way of thinking was firmly ingrained, while white indentured servants were often treated as badly as black slaves, there was a possibility of cooperation.” (p. 37) emphasis added

So if your “history of racism in America” starts in the post-Confederacy South, you may believe that the government can save us from racism. But if you look just a little further back, to the founding of the colonies you find out that government turned simple prejiduce into ingrained racism ON PURPOSE!!!! You would have to be an illiterate fool to wish for the government to save you from the government.

Abhilash Nambiar June 6, 2010 at 11:53 am

Well of course, simple prejudice, simple aspirations, simple resentments they are the seeds from which major political movements emerge. And who is this government that institutionalizes them and channels these aspirations and prejudices in less than favorable ways? Are they aliens from outer space? I think not. They are people from the very same society, simply managing to arrange things so that their tendencies are properly dealt with. Which is why I do not by the government vs people idea. It is the government of the people, for the people by the people, even if it does nothing good for the people.

David June 7, 2010 at 4:44 am

Abhilash,
You need to pick up a history book on the colonies and read it. Any one. Governments rarely represent the will of the people, and the Colonial government of pre-America CERTAINLY did not represent the will of the people. It was a British ruled colony that imposed racial segregation for the express purpose of fomenting racism and preventing revolt.

What is so hard to understand?

Abhilash Nambiar June 7, 2010 at 9:40 am

I never said the government represents the will of the people. But I have said time and again that people empower their governments. The fact that governments aggravate rather than solve problems, does not change that.

Governments are organic outgrowths of society. Setting up the government takes time and effort and are marked by any society as a turning point – an auspicious occasion – a National Day, Independence Day and so on. People want to believe that after all this effort, they have finally achieved something. Through governments they believe all issues can be resolved and so they try. And if things do not work, they try to fix it within the framework. Revolutions are the exceptions that prove the rule. That is why I do not subscribe to the notion of people vs governments.

Also note the fact that most successful governments are not completely inept at solving problems. They work enough of the time that people keep coming back for more. If you have ever played a slot machine you will know what I am talking about. In the long run you will loose all you have, but the machine lets you win enough of them time that you keep coming back for more.

These are old habits, they die hard.

David June 7, 2010 at 10:00 pm

Well I think it’s pretty obvious that you and I will never agree so I’m moving on:

“Governments are organic outgrowths of society.”
No. Read ‘The State’ by Franz Oppenheimer

“Setting up the government takes time and effort and are marked by any society as a turning point – an auspicious occasion – a National Day, Independence Day and so on. ”

Nope. Holidays commemorating the rulers are a tradition of the ruling elite going back to the beginning of conquest. It has nothing to do with the setting up of government. It is the LEGITIMIZING of government.

“Through governments they believe all issues can be resolved and so they try.”

Who is “they?”

“And if things do not work, they try to fix it within the framework.”

Again, who is “they?”

Revolutions are the exceptions that prove the rule.

What rule? In regards to what?

“That is why I do not subscribe to the notion of people vs governments.”

‘Anatomy of the State’ by Rothbard crushes this nonsense.

“Also note the fact that most successful governments are not completely inept at solving problems.”

No one claims they are. Even a broken clock is right twice a day. So let us congratulate them on not completely sucking at every moment of their existence, while we ignore their crimes.

“They work enough of the time that people keep coming back for more.”

What choice do people have? Governments have, by defiinition, a comparative advantage in force and violence in a given territory. Only a fool would fight against that. However, people still escape their governments all the time. I would know. I left America years ago.

“In the long run you will loose all you have, but the machine lets you win enough of them time that you keep coming back for more.”

The State is not infinite.

Anyway, thanks for all the nonsense that had nothing to do with the original point. The colonial government ingrained racism in America. It has nothing to do with the Tea Party, Rachel Maddow, or the 1964 Civil Rights Act. It is a factor of American life because The State thrust it upon its subjects against their will. To characterize those who wish to roll back The State as racist is such an unreal contradiction that it borders on absurd.

Abhilash Nambiar June 8, 2010 at 8:16 am

You have totally missed the point I was trying to make. Every government exists because it has the tacit if not the active support of the people it is governing over. When that is gone, that government collapses. This is true even in a totalitarian state like the Soviet Union. That is the rule that I was referring to. Governments derive power from the consent of the governed tacit, if not active. So revolutions are the exceptions that prove the rule.

You have a hard time recognizing who ‘they’ are? They refer to the governed of of course. I thought I made it obvious.

Then I find this nugget

What choice do people have? Governments have, by defiinition, a comparative advantage in force and violence in a given territory. Only a fool would fight against that. However, people still escape their governments all the time. I would know. I left America years ago.

Remember the revolutions I had mentioned? People have an option. They do not frequently invoke it because they prefer a bad situation that they are familiar with. If only a fool would fight against the government, then all those that fought against the colonial British government (and won) are fools. People who brought down the communist governments in USSR, Poland, East Germany, etc., are fools. Now that is nonsense. Where did you run to escape governments I wonder. Every civilized corner of the world has a government.

The State is not infinite.
On this I can agree. They have a limit too. When it gets breached, you have a crisis and maybe a revolution?

For the record I never claimed that Rand Paul was a racist and to the best of my knowledge neither did Rachel Maddow. But you must realize that neither Rand Paul or his father can be against The State. So how can you support them?

Now I have to make time to read the two books that you recommended. Rothbard was not able to convince me on Intellectual Property so we shall see.

David June 9, 2010 at 12:03 am

“But you must realize that neither Rand Paul or his father can be against The State. So how can you support them?”

I actually asked Ron Paul that when I met him in his office in DC to chat. I’m a nobody but he agreed to meet me on my birthday to talk about liberty. It’s another story, but let me say that the guy is a genuinely wonderful person in real life. He was incredibly kind to me.

He related how he went in to Congress in the 70′s hoping to change our destructive monetary policy but failed. His decision upon going back in again was that he wanted to talk about liberty with young people and he didn’t have any other idea about how to go about that. He stated flatly that he had no faith in government and that we (the U.S. government) are just doing what the Soviets did. He was very worried about our future.

I get that and I accept it. I support Ron because he is a great and courageous man that wants me to have my own life. I guess it’s possible, that if every politician understood and accepted the limitations of State power like Ron does, we could have a legitimate government. However, I don’t think that’s possible and neither does he.

That’s all I can explain. I don’t have any political answers, I just know when I’ve been screwed over.

Wish you the best and thanks for the great coversation.

John June 9, 2010 at 4:08 pm

“Governments are organic outgrowths of society.”

Let me ask, is it bad for a people, through the agency of their government to establish and protect a national ethnic, and by definition exclusive, identity? Many libertarians would say yes, on the basis that doing so infringes on individual freedom.

Since you seem to find political collectivism acceptable, as shown in your defense of CRA, it’s not clear why you would see this as a bad thing. So I am curious as to why you think that the pre-CRA system was bad? Again, some Libertarians would say that it was so because in protecting the collective good of European America, it violated the individual freedoms of non-Europeans. But you seem to have no problem with violating individual freedoms, on the basis of the collective.

John June 9, 2010 at 2:32 pm

Abhilash Nambiar’s argument is as follows:
1) Laws which limit individual freedom of association are illegitimate; this establishes that Jim Crow, etc. laws were wrong.
2) While CRA limits individuals freedom of association and is, on the basis of 1), illegitimate, it is not wrong, because it is justified, or made right by, something else.
3) The CRA is justified because it acts as a collective punishments for some (whites) who limited the individual freedoms of others.

To justify CRA, Abhilash has to appeal to a non-liberal/libertarian sense. A sense of collective good and wrong, which supersedes individual rights. In doing so, he opens the issue of whether and to what extent Jim Crow, etc. can be said to have been wrong. Jim Crow, etc. after all was justified on the basis of protecting the once collective European identity of this nation.

If violations of individual freedom visa via CRA are can be justified on the basis of the collective, why couldn’t violations of individual freedom visa via Jim Crow be justified on the basis of the collective. This really comes down to Abhilash seeing historic white America as bad and contemporary multicultural America as good. On what basis?

Abhilash Nambiar June 11, 2010 at 12:04 am

MY THOUGHTS HAVE EVOLVED DURING THE COURSE OF THIS DISCUSSION. HERE IS A SUMMARY. PLEASE READ FULLY BEFORE COMMENTING.

If a solution to a problem (say Jim Crow) is develop within the system. It looks like THE CRA. That is not to say that there are not better ways of solving the problem today. Back then things where different. This whole idea of ‘collective good (or punishment)’ makes no sense to me what so ever. My argument was that the CRA was appropriate punishment for individuals who empowered government to violate property rights through Jim Crow laws. And also that to those that did not do so, it does not appear punitive, except in rare circumstances. I was not arguing for collective punishment, but individual punishment regardless of the number involved. The whole white vs multicultural America and polylogistic arguments that underly it have no appeal to me what so ever.

But Magnus pointed out to me that punishment was a state concept. That in a libertarian society there can only be action taken to protect private property and voluntary arbitration. But then I pointed out that freedom of association too has its limitations. That freedom of association can only be a derivative of private property rights and thus free association cannot be used to formulate best ways of violating other people’s property rights.

What does that mean for my initial pro-CRA argument? I am not sure. One group wants to institutionalize forced segregationist legislation and the other wants counteract it by enforcing forced integrationist legislation. So maybe through forced integration, only the capacity to force segregate was contained and in doing so property rights had a better chance of being protected. But that is a maybe. What if racial cohesion plays an important part in the protection of private property? But what if racial cohesion also plays a big part in the violation of private property? Where is the trade off? The free market answers these questions better.

If you where forced to pick between the two which one would you pick? You go by personal preference right? Or you go by that which produces in your view the most favorable outcome?

I had argued that CRA only mimicked that outcome that a free market would have resulted in. Magnus replied that human interactions are too complicated to even consider that government legislation can simulate an outcome similar to a free market and that it is silly to think that. His argument is not without merit. Nevertheless I have what I think are good reasons to believe that a libertarian society would more likely be racially integrated society.

Money is race-neutral, libertarian ideology is race-neutral and private property is race-neutral. Race preference in a libertarian society would be a matter of personal taste only. The people who will merge in positions of leadership and influence would be those that understand issues in a manner that transcend such barriers. So people with such biases will outcompeted (not banished).

Perhaps the CRA did something like that. It suppresses those with racial biases from reaching into positions of power and influence as well as undermined their support base. In doing so people who could work towards a more common ground came to power. Businesses that they supported (or shall we say supported them?) grow in size and power, not just within the US, but around the world. And today it is not just the US, the whole world is becoming multi-ethnic and multi-cultural as globalization drives the process forward (much to the worry of right wing groups worldwide). The Mises institute is frequented not just by Americans but people all over the world, never would have happened in the pre-CRA would. And here we are talking to each other. Now had the CRA actually tampered to make the free market less productive, had it eventually destroyed the free market, then this will not have been the outcome.

But of course this is admittedly the argument from favorable outcome and stems from my personal belief that the government through CRA is simulating some aspect of the free market that was suppressed for a long time. Having said that I do not want to try and place CRA above criticism. If any government program has the potential to destroy freedom and the CRA most certainly does. Hopefully the new generation will find ways to develop better solutions, one that does not require any government to initiate force on our behalf.

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