Liberty and Racial Discrimination: Responding to David Duke
An earlier post of mine concerning members of Stormfront who are publicly supporting Ron Paul generated some very heated responses and a number of comments from people who are part of various movements that are generally tarred as being racist. Some of them made some very good points, and others raised questions that I think warrant an answer. This post is intended to acknowledge the good points and to answer those questions, especially the ones which were raised by David Duke.
The first point was made by commenter Drena who said,
I’m not sure if it’s a good idea to equate modern white supremacists with Nazism. The Nazis were anti-capitalist, protectionist, and in favor of central economic planning. There is nothing to stop a white supremacists from actively supporting laissez-faire capitalism. It is quite a leap to assume that because a person who thinks that his race is superior to another race, that he is in favor of Nazi economics. Nazis were economic fascists who just happened to be white supremacists. Modern day white supremacists may be more sophisticated than you think.
This is true, to a point. It’s quite possible to be a person who discriminates racially, but because you respect the rights of others and refuse to aggress against the people against whom you discriminate against. And certainly, I don’t have any problem with such forms of racial discrimination. I consider it to be stupid, but a person can chose whom he or she does business with, and I won’t try to prevent him or her from exercising his or her freedoms in ways that I consider stupid.
I say it is possible, but does not seem to happen much in practice. People who wish to practice racial discrimination often want to practice aggression against those whom they don’t approve of. Sometimes it’s out of an unwillingness to respect the rights of the people whom they don’t like, such as the Stormfront poster who claimed that the only thing certain black members of Congress were good for was target practice. Often, though, it’s the result of the economic disadvantage that people practicing racial discrimination place themselves in.
At this point, I should digress to define discrimination. A lot of people have no understanding what it is, other than being told that it is bad. Discrimination is the act of judging someone by a quality they possess.
When is Discrimination Economically Beneficial?
Now, some discrimination is justified. For example, if a person wanted to hire someone to prepare a new translation of the 1001 Nights from Arabic into Swahili, he would almost certainly refuse to hire anyone who didn’t speak both languages. This form of discrimination against people who do not speak both Swahili and Arabic is entirely appropriate.
When is Discrimination Economically Harmful?
On the other hand some forms of discrimination are economically disadvantageous; for example, if the person refused to consider any candidate who wasn’t blond haired and blue eyed, he would be discriminating against people for reasons that have nothing to do with their abilities to do the job.
Why is this harmful?
Effects on the ‘victim’
For the “victim” of the discrimination, a dark-haired job applicant, the harm is quite obvious, since he cannot get the job. In fact, if such discrimination is endemic, he would have to settle for a job that does not fully take advantage of his wealth-creation potential, and thus his earnings will be less, his life less-fulfilled, etc. I should point out, though, that our dark-haired translator is not truly a victim; he has not been aggressed against – rather, an employer has merely declined to hire him.
Effects on the ‘oppressor’
But what harm to the employer?
Well, in my blatantly contrived example, he has limited his pool of applicants dramatically – whereas there might be fifteen applicants in the city who know both languages, there might only be one or two blond ones. The two guys can charge a much higher price for doing the work than they could command competing against a larger pool of talent. Additionally, the blond guys might not be the best in the field, and the employer could end up producing a very poor quality translation, and have to sell fewer books at a lower cost, reducing the return on his investment.
Effects on the ‘beneficiary’ of the discrimination
What about the blond Arabic/Swahili translator? Well, he might get a cushy job, but if the discrimination is widespread, the economic inefficiencies described above means that he will pay more for goods of less quality than he would in a society that did not discriminate against non-blonde people.
Using Government to Evade Economic Costs
The disadvantage suffered by those who practice racial discrimination was the historical impetus behind many Jim Crow laws. A racist who refused to hire black laborers had to pay a premium for his labor, while his less picky competitor would pay a discount for black workers and be able to undercut the racist. These people, unable to compete without sacrificing their cherished desire to racially discriminate often call for laws to prevent their competitors from taking advantage of the untapped pool of workers.
Note that this only applies if the racial discrimination is unwarranted. If one’s race truly is a determinant of one’s abilities, than the guy who uses race as a determinant in deciding whether to do business with someone could be making a great decision. In such cases, the person who refused to racially discriminate would be the one at a competitive disadvantage. I personally feel that racial discrimination is, generally, a dumb idea, as evidenced by the many laws passed to promote segregation and racial discrimination throughout history (and not just in the U.S.).
Now these laws were acts of aggression against innocent people. Primarily these laws targeted the freedom of association preventing people from conducting business with whomever they wish, for example when a school is forbidden from hiring black teachers., or a businessman is forbidden from hiring a black foreman or a bus company is required to segregate its customers by race.
Make no mistake, these laws are collectivist. In the end, they force people to trade goods and services not with the partners they would prefer, but with other people selected for them by the state. It really does not matter that the selection is performed impersonally.
The Difference Between Modern ‘White-Nationalism’ and German Nazism
Which now brings me to a point made by many respondents who posted comments to the effect that they were not “white supremacists” but rather “white nationalists”, and that their views diverged very radically from that of the German NDASP (the original Nazi party). This is true, to a point. I noodled around on a couple of ‘White Nationalist’ sites and found a movement that is not monolithic. I found a variety of political positions that ranged from the paleo-libertarian to stuff that was fairly socialist (although the authors probably did not realize it). The common theme is best described on the website of David Duke in this article:
Nationalism is a complex phenomenon that is not always immediately easy to grasp. It is a whole ideological viewpoint that affects all aspects of one’s every day political, cultural, economic and social life. As Anthony D. Smith defines it in Nationalism in the Twentieth Century, it is “…the ideological movement for the attainment and maintenance of autonomy, cohesion, and individuality for a social group, some of whose members conceive it to be an actual or potential nation.”
A nationalist argument is a political doctrine built upon three basic assertions:
- There exists a nation with an explicit and peculiar character
- The interests and values of this nation take priority over all other interests and values.
- The nation must be as independent as possible. This usually requires at least attainment of political sovereignty. [Breuilly, 1982. p 3]
In accordance with the above definitions, one can see that our own movement to ensure the survival of the White race is a nationalist movement. This is even more strikingly evident when one considers Aryan Nation’s own slogan: “Your race is your nation.” This slogan is an obvious statement linking racial and nationalistic arguments and ideals.
Nationalists make explicit distinctions between the nation, which is a social group, and the State, which is a government that rules over one or more nations. Therefore, nationalists often state that nationalism is love of one’s people, whereby patriotism is love of the State. It is important to understand this difference between nationalism and patriotism since most arguments against nationalism are patriotic attempts to ensure the survival of a particular State.
With the above understanding of nations and States, we Whites can examine our own situation better. Phrasing our position in terms of the basic nationalist arguments, one can state that we Whites are a nation, that the interests and values of that nation take priority over all others and that we must be as independent as possible. Therefore, we must embark on a program leading towards greater sovereignty and security for our nation. We must not let ANY government impose policies and programs that are harmful to our nation’s interests.
Contrast this with the German NDASP, which held that the state was society. In Mein Kampf, Hitler wrote
What makes a people or, to be more correct, a race, is not language but blood. Therefore it would be justifiable to speak of Germanization only if that process could change the blood of the people who would be subjected to it, which is obviously impossible. A change would be possible only by a mixture of blood, but in this case the quality of the superior race would be debased.
The State is only a means to an end. Its end and its purpose is to preserve and promote a community of human beings who are physically as well as spiritually kindred. Above all, it must preserve the existence of the race, thereby providing the indispensable condition for the free development of all the forces dormant in this race. A great part of these faculties will always have to be employed in the first place to maintain the physical existence of the race, and only a small portion will be free to work in the field of intellectual progress. But, as a matter of fact, the one is always the necessary counterpart of the other.
… the supreme purpose of the ethnical State is to guard and preserve those racial elements which, through their work in the cultural field, create that beauty and dignity which are characteristic of a higher mankind. As Aryans, we can consider the State only as the living organism of a people, an organism which does not merely maintain the existence of a people, but functions in such a way as to lead its people to a position of supreme liberty by the progressive development of the intellectual and cultural faculties.
The bulk of Mein Kampf is a group of policy prescriptions as to what the state should be doing to preserve the race, describing a totalitarian system where little is left to individual preference. Additionally, the NDASP had a well-documented propensity for aggressive violence, something which the modern White Nationalist movement officially rejects.
Is White Nationalism Economically Compatible with Libertarianism?
So, are White Nationalists economically libertarian? Not by any stretch of the imagination; the common theme in all the White Nationalists literature I read was a desire to interfere with the freedom of others. One primary focus was on the subject of illegal immigration. It is one thing to refuse to do business with an immigrant; that is any free person’s right. It is quite another thing to call for laws that prevent a neighbor from doing business with an immigrant. White Nationalists oppose driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants, call for fines and occasionally for the imprisonment of people who hire illegal immigrants.
And it is not the illegality of the immigration that is the issue either. If White Nationalists were solely concerned with respect for the law, they would not be concerned with freeing the political prisoners in Germany who are imprisoned for illegal scholarship, namely for flaunting the laws limiting Holocaust scholarship to state approved positions.
Not a single White Nationalist website I reviewed ever argued that the U.S. government should increase the number of slots for legal immigration.
No, when confronted with a person who desires to leave Mexico, purchase a plane ticket from an airline, fly to Atlanta, rent an apartment from a property owner, find employment in a factory, all of which are peaceful transactions that any individual should be free to do, the vast majority of White Nationalists cheerfully and openly call upon others to thwart these peaceful transactions at every turn. They want armed men to prevent him from stepping off the aircraft, from being allowed to rent the property, from being allowed to enter an employment contract with the factory, from driving on public roads, etc. They wish to force all these transactions to be constrained for people who aren’t members of the White race. This is, in fact, a light form of collectivism.
Are Ron Paul‘s Policies Economically Compatible with Libertarianism?
Now, Ron Paul, despite his recognition that racism is a form of collectivism, and despite approvingly quoting passages in Human Action that call for the freedom of people to move openly and without limit across borders does seem to agree with White nationalist aims on this issue, which is insightfully analyzed here:
It’s time for a little honesty about Ron Paul, particularly his position on immigration. While Ron Paul is all the rage in libertarian circles right now (for some very good reasons), on certain issues he is more of a right-wing populist or paleo-conservative. Whenever he “deviates” it’s in the socially conservative direction, on issues such as immigration.
Immigration restrictionist policies (immigration quotas, illegalizing immigrant jobs, publicly-funded walls, federal control of state’s borders, etc.) are government interventions, economically and otherwise, and therefore are outside of the realm of libertarianism. Interventionism X (welfare) does not justify intervention Y (police statism and protectionism). Ron Paul is appealing to the sentiment of right-wing populists like Pat Buchannan on this issue. Aside from those who follow Hans Herman Hoppe’s immigration position, and many Ron Paulians, no libertarian in their right mind supports immigration restrictionism.
Like all anti-immigrationists, Ron Paul uses the welfare state (the real problem) as an excuse to persue other government interventions such as publicly funded walls and mass-deportation. His vote for things such as publicly funded walls should be pointed out as unlibertarian by any libertarian with two cents. The fact that people suck off the welfare state is not an excuse to forcibly remove them from their own property or illegalize their jobs. Domestic citezens are “guilty” of just the same, on a much larger scale than immigrants ever will be.
Furthermore, the arguement is nonsensical in that for the most part illegal immigrants do not qualify for those government services; it is the legal citezens who do, and it is the legal citezens who are at least partially responsible for supporting it. There is no moral difference between a legal citezen and an “illegal” sucking off of the welfare state. All of the welfare-related complaints about illegal immigrants apply equally to domestic citezens. Under this logic, therefore, domestic citezens should be deported and have their jobs illegalized as well.
Ron has fallen into the trap of interventionism on this issue. Mises’s critique of interventionism applies here. That is, interventions are proposed as a solution to past interventions, rather than a repeal of the previous intervention. The initial intervention is the welfare state. But, while he has tried his best to oppose the welfare state, Ron Paul falls back on supporting new interventions as a “solution”: government-funded walls, immigration quotas and deportation. If one seriously thinks that this is going to solve “the problem”, then one is fooling oneself. In practise, this will result in a further march towards a police state, more growth in federal funding, and meanwhile immigrants will still get through “illegally”, just like before.
As a result, I can see why the more mildly interventionist members of the “White Nationalist” movement could support Ron Paul.
Should Ron Paul be elected, and should he become the leader of a dominant political faction, he will some day face the question of whether to make immigration into the United States easier or not. Absent a welfare state, the economic argument is clear: the freer people are to move around, the wealthier they and those they interact with become. I suspect that Ron Paul will bow to the economic argument. He certainly will have plenty of originalist cover; from the list of grievances justifying the secession of the United States from English rule:
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands
Of course, I cannot be certain of this. The canny Ron Paul is playing his cards close to his chest, and I could well be wrong.
The Challenge Thrown Down by David Duke
Which now brings us to some questions that David Duke raised:
I would like to ask people on this thread to honestly answer this question:
Do you think it would be good or bad for conservative and libertarian political principles if Americans of European descent became a minority of the American population?
We know European heritage and culture is under constant attack in the media and political establishment.
Would it not be a tragedy to lose our European heritage and traditions in the United States of America?
How many of you will answer these questions honestly?
Isn’t it fear of disapproval of the media establishment that keeps so many people from speaking the truth outloud?
When you answer the questions honestly, you will realize why a landslide of White voters supported me in elections for Governor and U.S. Senator.
If you really want to read the Liberty Papers of our founding fathers, you see that along with the principles of liberty that they believed in, they also believed in the preservation of the White race.
Before I answer these questions I would like to make an observation. Let us take a look at some of the ways our freedoms are under attack by the government:
- Our right to arm ourselves is being heavily curtailed.
- We have limitations on how many radio stations, newspapers, television stations we can own.
- We have massive restrictions on our freedom to contract and conduct our business.
- The government completely ignores the ‘Castle’ doctrine in pursuit of the war on some drugs.
- The government routinely passes ‘moral’ legislation such as hate crime laws and laws that forbid private discrimination on the basis of protected categories.
- We have a government that forces people to join and pay dues left-wing unions.
How the Racists Betrayed America
If one looks at the Supreme Court position on the Constitutionality of these laws, one finds that the impetus behind the oldest variants of these laws, the situations that often established the constitutionality of them, was a racist one.
The first gun-control laws were meant to keep freed black men from owning guns. The original excuse for the drug war was hysteria concerning white women having sex with black jazz musicians. The first laws abridging freedom of the press where intended to enforce ‘community’ standards, including laws against agitating for suffrage of blacks. The laws forcing people to not discriminate based on race are found to be a legitimate function of government based entirely on the same ‘power’ that permitted laws that forced people to discriminate whether they wanted to or not.
However, Mr. Duke, you are right in claiming that your views are far more closely aligned with those of the founding fathers than mine. Some, like Benjamin Franklin, were even more hardcore than you, with his opposition to permitting “ruddy-complexioned” Germans from immigrating to the U.S. This is not to their or your credit. Where the principles of the Declaration of Independence were betrayed, the motivation was generally a racist one. In past generations, white Americans were quite willing to betray or give up the freedoms hard-won by their ancestors rather than extend them to black people, Chinese people, Mexicans or Filipinos.
After the damage wrought to American society by your intellectual forebears, the thorough manner in which they undermined the principles of liberty in this country, I can’t get worked up about Mexicans coming here. Even if they were socialists, they are hardly worse than the native socialists, mercantilists and segregationists who betrayed the principles that our ancestors fought the American Revolution for.
Sweeping Back the Tide: The Futility of White Nationalism
Even worse, the principles you are agitating for are dumb. The “traditional white culture” you are defending is a chimera. The product of millions of interactions, culture is constantly evolving as people come up with new traditions and discard old ones. In fact, many “old” traditions are relatively new, with their evangelists inventing a past to give the new traditions historical authority. Freezing a culture, or attempting to “preserve” it is as futile as building a house out of sand. Furthermore, your attempts to preserve it will deprive your children of some measure of a better life from their perspective. The things they consume will be less satisfying and more costly and they will be poorer as a result.
If you limit yourself to peaceful attempts to persuade people to be conserve and hew to their parents’ traditions, then I wish you luck on your quest, even though I consider it to be incredibly futile. If, however, you wish to use the compulsion of government to force people to preserve older traditions, and thus prevent them from adapting and improving their culture to new ideas, new friends, and new technologies based on what they think makes them the most happy, then I will oppose you.
My Answers to Mr Duke’s Questions:
Do you think it would be good or bad for conservative and libertarian political principles if Americans of European descent became a minority of the American population?
I think it wouldn’t really matter. The fact is that there is nothing inherently libertarian about white people. Nor is there anything inherently unlibertarian about non-white people.
We know European heritage and culture is under constant attack in the media and political establishment. Would it not be a tragedy to lose our European heritage and traditions in the United States of America?
If you mean the old traditions of the Castle doctrine or Irish Brehon law, then yes, it has been a tragedy to lose them. However, if by tradition you mean maintaining the primacy of Christianity, or monogamy, or square dancing, then no, it’s not a tragedy.
The fact is, people discard traditions when they no longer feel them to be useful. People adopt new traditions because they like them or feel them to be useful. For example, what we celebrate as Christmas today, would be unrecognizable to the Romans who inaugurated Saturnalia as a solemn religious holiday. Over the centuries its observance has ranged widely – from austere holy day to a wild orgy of excess to being ignored and back again. The trappings of the holiday come from the Middle East, from Greece, from Italy, from France, from Germany, from England among numerous lands. I have a friend whose traditions now include preparing Southern Indian dishes for the Christmas dinner – a tradition spreading like wild-fire in his extended family because they love the cooking (and can, in a pinch, buy ready made dishes from an Indian restaurant on Christmas). You may view this as a debasement and a cheapening of the culture. I see this as people living happier lives.
So long as people are free to chose what they do and how they do it, being prevented only from actions than injure the persons or property of their fellows, I am content.
It is certainly true that the necessity of adjusting oneself again and again to changing conditions is onerous. But change is the essence of life. In an unhampered market economy the absence of security, i.e., the absence of protection for vested interests, is the principle that makes for a steady improvement in material well-being.
– Ludwig Von Mises, Human Action