What IS libertarianism, anyway? A libertarian defines it

From the Volokh Conspiracy, a libertarian blog:

[David Bernstein] Explaining the libertarian position on antidiscrimination laws

Posted: 02 Apr 2015 02:37 PM PDT

With the recent and continuing hulabaloo over conflicts between antidiscrimination laws and freedom of religion, the charge inevitably arises that anyone who is opposed to, or even skeptical of, antidiscrimination laws that apply to private parties–which means most people who identify themselves as libertarians–is effectively not pro-liberty, but pro-discrimination. I therefore thought it was a good time to reprint my rebuttal of that argument from Cato Unbound, published in 2010, below.

The most serious charge has been that libertarian skepticism of antidiscrimination laws that apply to private entities reflects, at best, insensitivity to race discrimination.  One blogger, reflecting a significant swath of progressive sentiment, argued that no matter how committed to racial egalitarianism any individual libertarian claims to be, “Libertarianism is a racist philosophy. Libertarians are racists.”

This is a rather odd criticism. For both philosophical and utilitarian reasons, libertarians are presumptively strongly opposed to any government regulation of the private sector It naturally follows that libertarians presumptively oppose restrictions on private sector discrimination.  It’s hardly an indication of racial animus, or even insensitivity, for libertarians to enunciate the exact same position on antidiscrimination laws that they take in all other contexts.

My bolding. If I had the capacity, I’d bold twice Bernstein’s phrase, “the private sector.” (Does it strike anyone else that Bernstein is unapologetically mealy-mouthed in his arguments? Maybe that, too, is a hallmark of libertarianism.)

What does “the private sector” mean? Or rather, who is the “private sector”? The Koch brothers, for two–they were founders of the libertarian “think tank” called the Cato Institute. And if you read the New Yorker’s portrait of John Mackay, the czar of Whole Foods (a store I boycott), you’d pick up hints, within his voluble wild and crazy statements that he, too, is a libertarian. Why? Because it justifies his bad behavior as a CEO.

If you read the second sentence I bolded, you’ll notice that Bernstein is attempting to justify the new Indiana and Arkansas legislation permitting business people to discriminate against people who offend their “religious principles.” (By definition, “religious principles” should mean something like universal morality and ethical treatment of everyone, but no. Religions have lowered their “moral” principles to permit acting on fear and hatred. Go, religions! Of which I have no part.)

So what IS a libertarian? Naomi’s definition: A very very rich person who owns a monstrously successful business and wants the government out of its business. That is, no regulations (see David Bernstein, above), and no taxes (interpret David Bernstein, above). Just “get out of my fucking way and let me do whatever I want to make a pile of money and use it to take over democratic governance.”

Libertarianism is a consciously constructed, falsely pleasant euphemism for the very scary Neu Wannsee Conference. (See, me, at various links like this one, for explanations.)

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