Thursday, July 3, 2014

What Can Hayek Teach Us About Race?

[Editor's Note: The following essay was written by James Padilioni Jr. as part of BHL's "New Voices" program. James is the North American Vice Chairman of Students for Liberty, and a Ph.D student in American studies at the College of William and Mary focusing on the aesthetics and epistemology of identity construction.]

Friedrich von Hayek accepting the Nobel Prize

Libertarianism and racism is a topic that crops up repeatedly. Whether related to discussions of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 or debates over the causes of the Civil War, libertarianism as an American political movement in the 20th century has struggled to articulate a theory regarding questions of race that is conscious of history. Indeed, some libertarians even deny that any such historical contextualization is necessary since libertarianism is a theory about individual rights. A political theory stemming from self-ownership and the protection of individual liberty is incapable of racism, since, as Ayn Rand postulated, “racism is the lowest, most crudely primitive form of collectivism.”

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