Thursday, May 20, 2010

what right and left libertarians understand, plus Martin and Malcolm

In a free society, we all have to be free to think, say, and do things that other people oppose, so long as those things do not hurt others. That means you can't expect to solve all of a society's problems by passing laws against them. Opposing a law does not mean you support its target. It means you've asked a question that indiscriminate lovers of laws rarely do: Will this law make society a better place?

When I was a kid, civil libertarians said, "Your right to swing your fist ends at the tip of another person's nose." But now, the political correctness crowd says, "Don't swing your fist because some people who swung fists hit noses."

The line between a polite society and a repressed society does not exist.

Rand Paul is learning about the culture shock between libertarians and restrictionists now. Since I'm a left-libertarian (anarcho-commie-christian-sufi-etc.), I don't agree with his conclusion: it seems to me that if a private individual wants to operate a public business, the individual has obligations to the public: You should serve everyone, or you should expect the government to open a competing business right next door that serves everyone with better products and prices than yours.

But I sympathize with Paul. His position is intellectually consistant with his belief in smaller, less-intrusive, more-capitalistic government. Even if he could magically repeal the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which he's not going to do given that he supports 9/10s of it and that it's not on his agenda, we live in a different world now. A racist business would find few customers today.

The mainstream media is attacking Paul's disagreement with neoliberal antiracism for a simple reason: it lets them avoid his relevant positions, his opposition to the war and his support for legalizing marijuana.

Still, in general, I agree with Ta-Nahesi Coates: The Proud Ignorance of Rand Paul. Paul should've been ready for the question.

Malcolm and Martin, closer than we ever thought doesn't have anything new for folks who know a little about either, but it's nice, just for the picture, and it may be relevant: they met when they came to listen to the debate over the civil rights bill.

Malcolm X had his doubts about the bill:

This especially resonated for me: "I don’t see how passage of the bill will affect job opportunities for black people, when there’s no law now that can create opportunities in employment even for white people. The whole system in this country, the economic system, is such that jobs are scarce. Automation is limiting jobs, it’s decreasing jobs, and if, as automation eliminates the job opportunities, legislation will not create job opportunities. All it will do is bring about friction and hostility between the two races."

ETA: Rand Paul has learned his lesson: