Race And Libertarianism: Left And Right

by Michael Parish


As of late there been a surge of discussion regarding the role of race in Libertarianism, centered around the theoretical debate between Keith Preston and the ALL. Due to the confusion, both conceptual and practical, it is mired in, I have prepared this piece. This is intended as both a critique of the Left-libertarian conception of race, and as a clarification for the movement generally.

Left-Libertarians refer to “racism” on a regular basis, although they when they do they are referring to it in the abstract, as a mental concept, and not to concrete instances thereof. This is a key conceptual flaw, causing it to be defined in a sense so broad as to lose all meaning. Specifically, they define it as and/or equate it with authoritarianism but this is an ontological fallacy. According to Libertarian theory, authoritarianism is defined as state intervention that directly restricts the individual from the exercise of his or her negative rights. Racism, on the other hand, that rejects individuals in the social sphere because of percieved attributes associated with their race. The former is a form of agency occuring in the physical world; the latter is an idea occuring only within an individual’s mind. Therefore, the ontological distinction between the two could not be clearer.

Because of this distinction, racism is not necessarily a form of authoritarianism but a set of opinions that, if adhered to by individuals in power, could be manifest in a form of authoritarianism; however, this is not predetermined, as it can exist inert within the human mind independent of the state. However, the same can be said of its antithesis, left anti-racism, which the Left-Libertarians adhere to. This can be seen manifested in a number of policies, including but not limited to anti-discrimination law, affirmative action, and “hate speech” and “hate (i.e. thought) crime” legislation, all of which are wholly incompatible with Libertarianism. The reveals to us that the tendency towards statism is a natural human one, instantiated not within any specific ideology but within human nature itself; any ideology can lead to statism should its adherents if so inclined assume institutional power.

The Left-Libertarian will extend his claim by classifying the voluntary organization of individuals into racially exclusive communities as a form of authoritarianism; this is argued on the ground that their implied exclusion of those outside their race is a violation of their right to free movement. However, according to Libertarian theory, if property is privately as the basis for free association, then this includes the right to not associate. Conversely, there is no right in this tradition to not experience discrimination or to enter someone else’s property without their permission. If this applies to private property on an individual basis, then it does also on a collective basis, as the voluntary aggregation of property can be reduced to its individual constiuent parts. Therefore, the voluntary creation of a racially exclusive community is not authoritarian nor do its exclusionary policies constitute a violation of another’s freedom.

In their mistaking this, the Left-Libertarian conflates Libertarianism with liberal humanism, and misuses “authoritarianism” as a blanket term for any form of social organization they disagree with, regardless of its being voluntarily. In doing so, their conceptions of these things cease denoting concrete objects of discussion and devolve into mere abstract concepts, which in turn devolves the clarity of their movement. One function of this is the apparent backslide into the positive rights theory of the statist-left, as indicated by the theoretical fallacy discussed in the previous paragraph. It should be noted that the desire for National Anarchists to secede from the dominant society and create exclusivist communities in the absence of the state should be welcomed by Left-Libertarians; however, their hysterical denunciations of such a proposition appear very much in contradiction to their current adamant exclusion of them from the anti-state movement.

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