Still Stuck in the 1960s

Just saw this post and discussion among my left-libertarian former colleagues, now adversaries. I’m not a Rand Paul fan, and I supported his father mostly because he takes a more or less straight Rothbardian line on foreign policy (i.e. to the left of Chomsky). Rand seems to be more of a professional politician type, and compromises more on the big issues. I’m against running for federal offices anyway, unless it’s done for the purpose of agitating for secession by regions and localities (e.g. the positions of Larry Kilgore, the RPN, or the Quebecois Bloc).

But what I found most interesting was the amount of attention given in the comments section to sit-in protests against segregated lunch counters in the 1960s. As if that’s something anarchists in 21st century America need to be worried about.

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7 replies »

  1. Well. The primary reason I mentioned the sit-in movement was that Maddow kept specifically bringing it up to beat Paul over the head with it. If she wants to make a point about recent history, I don’t think it’s weird to mention some actual historical data. I personally find that when some episode in recent history is very important to somebody, you can usually get further by showing them how that episode has a different lesson from the one that they took from it, rather than just telling them that they’re wrong to care about anything that’s not happening right now at this very instant.

    Also, whatever the status of segregated lunch counters may be these days, it may also be worth mentioning if you think that there might be other social problems right now, or in a future free society, which similar forms of grassroots social activism might help to address. I think history’s worth talking about for its own sake; but it’s also worth talking about because you might be able to learn something from it. Like how to resist pervasive forms of discrimination or oppression without having to depend on laws or bureaucracies. Seems like that might be a helpful lesson for an Anarchist to learn.

  2. Well, that’s more or less where I suspected you were coming from.

    I have mixed feelings about things like sit-ins and boycotts. Many these strike me as busy-body, do-gooders trying to tell other people what to do. Right-wing Christians who want to boycott bookstores that sell adult books, for instance. At one point some idiotic “family values” group wanted to boycott Wal-Mart for having made a donation to a gay group (as if that’s the primary problem with Wal-Mart). I don’t recall all of the details. I’ve seen plenty of comparable stuff from the Left over the years. I don’t think boycotts are necessarily “un-libertarian” but they do go against my individualistic sensibilities.

    I would maintain that those who discriminate privately are within their rights, and sit-ins amount to obtrusive trespassing on private property. Of course, there’s always gray area. In the Jim Crow south, for instance, discrimination was often REQUIRED by law. The bus company that MLK boycotted for example was actually prohibited legally from desegregating, if I recall all the history correctly.

    I don’t even enthusiastically oppose all antidiscrimination laws. As long as we have states, the only fair way is for all citizens to have access to government services, jobs, institutions, etc. As long as we have the corporate-dominated economy, I don’t see any real injustice in laws saying that General Motors can’t refuse to hire, say, Mormons or blacks just because they’re Mormons or blacks.

  3. I vigorously oppose gay antidiscrimination laws because the low gay fertility rates make gays far better tenants and workers. By renting to gays only, a homeowner can discriminate againt children about 80% of the time, avoiding much wear and tear on rental housing. By hiring gays, employers can save hugely on maternity leave, childcare, and spousal and child health benefits.

  4. Keith,

    I believe in the past you have stated that you support antidiscrimination laws as they apply to large, state-supported and maintained corporations (because they are state-supported and maintained) while simultaneously opposing them for small businesses, local communities, and other small scale institutions. Believe it or not, this has been my position as well.

    One alternative I devised in lieu of state nondiscrimination enforcement was simply decentralization and local autonomy. Allow the groups most at risk for discrimination sovereignty over their own enclaves and bottom up control of all therein (i.e. “Harlem control of Harlem schools” as the Black Panthers used to say.) At the same tme, taxes and regulations could be lifted from those in such areas, allowing them greater opportunities for independent economic development within their communities without having to bother with the corporate system in the first place.

    Honestly, the question of anti-discrimination legislation has always been a tricky and precarious tightrope for me. The libertarian part of my mind favors property rights and freedom of association (and has a strong aversion to government restrictions on such) while the left part favors progress and mobility for vulnerable segments of society. Naturally, I have found it quite difficult to reconcile the two (I don’t want to wind up an archo-social democrat of the Chomsky variety.) So, my proposition in the previous paragraph was my best attempt at such a reconciliation.

    Incidentally, I don’t see major corporations discriminating, at least to a great extent, even in the abscence of civil rights legislation. I don’t think they’d risk that given the protests, boycotting, media controversy, and social ostracism that would be bound to ensue.

  5. Quagmire,

    Your views are nearly identical to mine. I could have written your last post.

    “Incidentally, I don’t see major corporations discriminating, at least to a great extent, even in the abscence of civil rights legislation. I don’t think they’d risk that given the protests, boycotting, media controversy, and social ostracism that would be bound to ensue.”

    Actually, it is in many corporate environments where political correctness is most rabid. The only place where it is worse is in academia or the mass media/entertainment related industries. For instance, some years back I was training to be a manager in a major convenience store chain, and we had to go through a rather extensive amount of “sensitivity training” in terms of how not to offend customers, suppliers, etc. of different ethnic, cultural, or religious backgrounds, including watching comically ridiculous training films that could have been put together for some kind of “teaching tolerance” seminar sponsored by the SPLC. Believe it or not, you actually find this kind of stuff in police departments and the military as well.

    The last thing anybody today who cares about their social status in mainstream society wants to be labeled is “racist.” It’s like being called a Communist during the Cold War or a homosexual in the 1950s.

    The problem that I have with Chomsky is not that he thinks social security, minimum wage laws, and environmental protections are necessary within the context of the system we actually have. It’s his endorsement of full-on liberalism in the form of his support for the U.N., strengthening international law, international governmental bodies and so forth. That’s totally irreconcilable with anarchist principles of any kind. Has he ever heard of simple neutrality, e.g. Sweden, Switzerland, Costa Rica, Liechtenstein, et.al. ad nauseum? The Rothbardians and paleo-libertarians (and perhaps even the Buchananites) are much more anarchistic on this question than Chomsky. Noam also supports gun control, affirmative action, “humanitarian” military intervention (he really should know better on that one), the standard educrats line on public schooling, and on down the liberal line. Worse of all, he’s adopted the SPLC/Bill Clinton line on the evil right-wingers who shamefully bash government and have the audacity to thing the government is an oppressive institution.

    You can be a radical leftist or even a Marxist without endorsing the positions that Chomsky does (see Alex Cockburn, for instance).

    You know, on the race issue, I always think it’s funny when my critics and enemies try to put the “racist” label on me. I’m the one who favors generous land and financial reparations to African-Americans and American Indians for the sake of achieving full economic self-sufficiency, political autonomy, and cultural self-determination. I also favor full legal amnesty for most of the millions of people held in the U.S. prison-industrial complex, a grossly disproportionate number of whom are blacks, Hispanics, AmerIndians, Muslims, Rastafarians, native peoples, homos/trans, etc.

    Likewise, I remember the left-libertarians crying about my supposed lack of sympathy for the downtrodden, even though I’ve published volumes of material attacking the police state, prison-industrial-complex, legal industry, therapeutic state, drug war, etc. and a great deal of material upholding rights for prisoners, druggies, hookers, street people, the homeless, runaway street kids, mental patients, Appalachian white trash, members of weird cults, even gang members whose associational rights come under attack by the state and so forth. This is way, way, way more radical than all of the liberal and leftist do-gooders who are always crying about lack of “gender parity” in law firms, or “institutionalized racism”, or denial of “marriage equality” and other crapola.

  6. Alan,

    I oppose anti-discrimination laws for gays for the simple reason that it’s not necessary. Gays on average are more academically successful than non-gays, and are likely to have higher incomes and higher standards of living than heteros, all other variables being equal. Their more frequent childlessness is a big factor in that, of course. Gays on average perform better on IQ tests as well and are more likely to show aptitude in a wide number of fields. The idea that gay people in 21st century North America are comparable to beleaguered blacks in the Jim Crow South or present-day inner-city housing projects is lunacy.

  7. My old friends the left-libertarians are discussing this question here:


    I still can’t see how this is a major issue today. If anything, the most pervasive discrimination is against those with un-PC views, not against the groups traditionally favored by the Left. For instance, a few years back there was a case not far from me where a white man was fined (or maybe it was a civil suit, I forget which) $15,000 for refusing to sell his house to a black woman. I’m sure that was financially devastating for him, as he was your typical blue collar “white trash” type. If anything, we need to be doing sit-ins in favor of the right to privately discriminate.

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