Bryan Caplan  

Somin on Libertarians and Jim Crow

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Econ Blog Humor... Incorruptibly Evil...
Here are Ilya Somin's interesting observations on my recent bleg, reprinted with his permission.


Bryan, David Bernstein probably knows more about this than I do. But here are a few examples:

1. Moorfield Storey, one of the early leaders of the NAACP and a big player in Supreme COurt victories such as Buchanan v. Warley, was a libertarian: http://reason.com/archives/2007/11/27/the-party-of-jefferson

2. Milton Friedman briefly denounced Jim Crow in Capitalism and Freedom and argued that school choice could help undermine it (108-18).

Despite these examples, and a few others like them (e.g. - Ayn Rand's denunciation of racism), I think it's fair to say most libertarians of this era did not give Jim Crow the attention it deserved, and a few were even on the wrong side of the issue on states' rights grounds. It's noteworthy that Hayek and von Mises almost completely ignored the issue, so far as I know, though that may be a result of their unfamiliarity with US racial issues.

BTW, I blogged about this issue here: http://www.volokh.com/2010/06/30/conservatism-libertarianism-civil-rights-and-circumstances/

And here: http://www.volokh.com/2010/05/21/libertarianism-federalism-and-racism/

One other person you may want to note is South African libertarian economist W.H. Hutt, who was in the US during much of the 1960s, I think, and wrote against racially discriminatory laws in both the US and South Africa (though more the latter, I think, publishing his classic book on the Economics of the Colour Bar in the early 1960s (I think 1964). Here's a link to it:

http://www.mises.org/books/colour.pdf


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Vipul Naik writes:

Very interesting, thanks!

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