In today’s disgusting news, Harvey Weinstein, Hollywood big shot, is a serial abuser of women who wanted to work in show business. He’s been fired by his own company for this. We are now having another national conversation about sexual harassment. We can only hope that this one will do some good. Keep this in the back of your mind as I discuss Milton Friedman; I’ll come back to it.
threatened promised you another post about Friedman. This post should extend my post on Becker, since I’m assured that Friedman’s 1962 essay is simply a “popularization” of Becker and thus Friedman certainly wasn’t guilty of merely making stuff up to support his free-market ideology. I want to return to these ideas by revisiting Friedman’s essay and think about its implications. To what extent does Friedman base his policy proposals on Becker’s evidence? Second, to what extent does Friedman embrace an antiracist policy for the sake of combating racism as an end in itself–rather than to further some other policy agenda?
Gary Becker argued that the gap in wages between white and black workers constituted discrimination
In response to my last point, it has been pointed out to me that I need to deal with the work of Nobel Prize-winning economist Gary Becker, whose 1957 book The Economics of Discrimination is, I’m told, a huge “counterexample” to my claim. Leaving apart that I carefully qualified my statement regarding libertarian silence on race—thus a single counterexample doesn’t really mean much—I will give you some first thoughts about Becker’s book.
Someone was wrong on the internet the other day. It was me. I was wrong. Howlingly wrong. You couldn’t even see right from where I was standing, that is how wrong I was. I apologize. Behold! My head is at your feet and I am but dust!
It was on Twitter (surprised?) where I was having a lively exchange with some critics of my work on this blog when I wrote:
Libertarians were silent on de jure segregation in ’50s &’60s. I’ve looked. I found nothing. Not. A. Word. Black people didn’t count.
Aha! Phil Magness, with a flourish usually reserved for magicians producing a rabbit from a top hat you would have sworn was empty, immediately produced not one, but two quotations wherein libertarians remarked that legalized segregation was wrong. In other words, it is if I said “All crows are black” and Phil produced not one but two white crows! Take that lefty!
Properly humbled, I will now offer a new claim I am prepared to defend:
Libertarians were all but silent about civil rights and race in the Civil Rights era. I’ve looked. I found almost nothing. In one of the biggest struggles for freedom in the 20th century: libertarians did almost nothing.
The Strange Parallels Between a Noted Libertarian’s Writings and Those of the Antisemitic Right
In those pre-PC days it was apparently OK to use a cruel nickname
While not a household name as much as Ayn Rand and Milton Friedman are, Floyd Arthur Harper (1905-1973), who wrote under the name F.A. Harper and who was known to his friends by the ungenerous nickname “Baldy,” was an important figure in the post-World War II libertarian movement. Baldy Harper is remembered more for his organizational prowess than his writings, but comparing his writings to that of the racist right of the 1950s shows how much the libertarian rhetoric of “freedom” served the ends of the racist right.
Jacob Levy of McGill University has a thoughtful post entitled “Black Liberty Matters.” Levy forthrightly and forcefully recognizes the troubled history of libertarianism’s entanglement with racism. He correctly notes that “Now, libertarian, individualist, and market-liberal ideas, concepts, slogans, and advocates aren’t alone in having a history that is entangled with white supremacy. Hardly any set of social ideas in American intellectual history lacks such an entanglement.” Levy reminds us (or reminds me, anyway) that the real opposition is not between libertarianism vs. non-libertarianism but racism vs. anti-racism.
Levy’s essay also helps me clarify what my own project is and is not about. For me, this paragraph was especially stimulating. He frames it in the context of Nancy MacLean’s Democracy in Chains. He’d read a few reviews and found them “entirely persuasive about Democracy in Chains’ details and core claims alike.” In conclusion he wrote:
I don’t want the convincing intellectual victory over Democracy in Chains to fool us into thinking that there’s no problem. I don’t want the forceful, true, statement that libertarian principles are incompatible with white supremacy to fool us into overlooking a morally compromised history and sociological and psychological patterns about how those principles turn into general political discourse.
Now, regular readers know that there has been no “convincing intellectual victory” over MacLean’s book, a point I will return to at the end of this post. For now I want to ask if it is really the case that “libertarian principles” really are incompatible with white supremacy because we seem to have a paradox.
It was pretty nice if you like this kind of thing.
I’m back from Hawai’i where I didn’t spend any time at all thinking about Murray Rothbard or Willis Carto. I’m ready take on the alt right again. Let’s wade in right up to our armpits, shall we?
Here’s a little scenario:
Major Right Wing Figure (MRWF): “Here is Something Horrible I believe.”
Proud Right Wing Racist (PRWR): “I believe something Something Horrible too! In fact, MRWF got Something Horrible from me and is furthering my racist agenda!”
Liberal Social Justice Warrior (LSJW): “OMG, everyone, MRWF got Something Horrible from PRWR and PRWR actually thanked MRWF for carrying out the racist agenda!”
MRWF: “How DARE you say that your filthy hippie LSJW! In fact, YOU are the real racist for pointing that out!!
This is a common script we see played out over and over these days. Trump, the current occupant of the dump we call the White House, tweeted a gif of him hitting Hillary Clinton with a golf ball. Hilarious, right? Turns out, however, that Trump didn’t make the gif himself (surprise!). It was a retweet from from a racist account called, get ready to hold your sides from laughing, “fuctupmind.”
Conservative website, The Daily Caller, has posted a piece by Peter Brimelow on how the Great and Powerful Trump has reduced immigration. Peter Brimelow runs a site called “Vdare” dedicated to white supremacy. It isn’t the first time the Daily Caller has helped the white supremacist cause, and it probably won’t be the last. The Daily Caller was founded by Tucker Carlson, cable TV’s number one draw and widely admired by white supremacists himself.
“I have one job on this lousy ship! It’s stupid, but I’m gonna do it, OK?!”
The machine has taken over, I’ve set up a series of reading assignments for you to be released at timed intervals by computer itself. This is the fourth:
The machine has taken over, I’ve set up a series of reading assignments for you to be released at timed intervals by computer itself. This is the third:
“Greetings, Professor Falken….”
The machine has taken over, I’ve set up a series of reading assignments for you to be released at timed intervals by computer itself. This is the second:
- Voting against Trump means you never have to say, “I’m Sorry.”
- Next time someone says liberal arts education is useless, tell them about Derek Black.
“It could easily be accomplished by a computer…”
The machine has taken over, I’ve set up a series of reading assignments for you to be released at timed intervals by computer itself. This is the first:
- David Duke and Donald Trump: Game knows game.
- Read this excellent symposium on Nancy MacLean’s Democracy in Chains. John is far too midwestern to quote from it, but I’m a mad computer so I’ll give you this highlight:
More generally, libertarianism has had an unfortunate recurring tendency to attract or ally with racists of varying stripes. From Reason magazine’s 1970s flirtation with Holocaust deniers to the paleolibertarianism of Murray Rothbard and Lew Rockwell (the latter purportedly author of Ron Paul’s race-baiting newsletters in the 1980s) to the clear interest in “race realism” evident in the comments sections of today’s libertarian blogs and publications, this history is not pretty. While many libertarians fully embrace racial equality and disavow this aspect of the movement, a history excavating this relationship (perhaps the one now being written by John P. Jackson, Jr., who has also written the most compelling defense of Democracy in Chains), would be both important and timely.