Monday, May 24, 2010

When Theory and Reality Collide

Well, libertarian hero Rand Paul is off to a rough start.

He was asked his opinion about the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  He gave a nuanced answer based upon property rights theory as understood by libertarian natural law (and our founding fathers).  It resounded badly in the ears of a nation marinated in statist progressivism for the past 100 years, and the hooting loons on the left are having a field day. 

Equating a defense of property rights with racism is the same as calling anti-war people un-American.  It doesn't follow.  Someone can choose to be racist with their property, but all defenders of property rights are not racist. 

Racism and Civil Rights: Theory colliding with reality

The Civil Rights Act gave all people the same rights under our government and its accommodations, an obviously great good.   It also constrained the rights of private property owners to decide who they allow on their property, a fundamental violation of one of the unalienable rights of man, and one more abuse of the commerce clause.

A person has a natural right to do whatever he wants with his property as long as he does no harm to others.  Being a racist and barring certain people from your establishment is mean and un-Christian, but it does not harm those who are barred.  Libertarians argue that it ultimately harms the proprietor because he has narrowed his pool of customers and workers.

However, history shows us that societies can easily continue to discriminate until stopped from doing so by force.  So we have a conundrum.
Irony Bites
The 1964 Civil Rights Act satisfies our struggle for equality for all human beings, while also violating our god-given rights. 
So, upon applauding the act, I can thereafter only do a poor William F. Buckley imitation and stand athwart government social tinkering and shout "Enough!  No More!"

But the social meddlers march on, and that is the problem.  Allowing a government to violate a fundamental right for a good purpose erodes the bulwark and that particular right is now lost.  How is it OK to condone government violation of rights in one case but condemn it in others?

Ironically, progressives are making a classical, Thomas Carlyle conservative argument
Modern-day progressives want government to regulate private behavior, and private property, for the good of society.  It is a very un-liberal cry for a Hobbesean Leviathan constituted in the Federal Government. 

Here is the problem with that
Conservatives and liberals end up abusing the power of the Leviathan for base partisan purposes when they win control of government, cramming their narrow ideologies down everyone's throats every 4 or 8 years.  It is rule by caprice that disrespects our unalienable rights that the founders sought to protect.

Classical Liberalism (and Libertarianism) Rejects the Leviathan
The philosophers of the enlightenment (Classical Liberals), Locke and Rousseau among them, posited than man's rights are inherent and inviolable because they come from God (or nature, if you prefer).   No earthly power may abridge them.  This was a radical idea, and it is the idea upon which the founding fathers created this nation.

So we are now in a position where private property is declared a "public accommodation" and the state of Colorado can ban smoking in bars and restaurants.  They ignore the power of citizens who don't like the smell of cigarettes to go somewhere else.  Ideas such as banning salt and sugar are toyed with, and this all constitutes a verifiable slippery slope.  Who knows where it will end?

Further Reading:  WSJ - Paul Remarks Have Deep Roots


tha malcontent said...

It always amuses me when the leftwing guys try to tell us what the right thinks.

Christopher - Conservative Perspective said...

I was wondering when you would get around to Rand Paul.

About the only thing in this post I might disagree with is in the wording in where you start:

"Here is the problem with that,
Conservatives and liberals"

I would change Conservative to republican.

Other than that I agree.

Silverfiddle said...

Christopher: You pick a valid nit, but it could be argued that conservatives do it just as much as liberals.

Also, I hope everyone understands I am not trashing the Civil Rights Act. I am simply pointing out that there are no magic bullets, just trade-offs.

Fredd said...

I watched that interview with George StepOnAllofUs, and Rand looked like a deer caught in the headlights.

I think he will still eek out a W, despite his kook daddy. Libertarians just can't seem to keep their feet out of their mouths.

Rational Nation USA said...

Good pints Silverfiddle and well made.

I tend to agree with Chris to a degree. It is why I use the term independent conservative. At one time I used the term true independent conservative but took some heat for that one.

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