May 31, 2014

DAVID BERNSTEIN: Why aren’t there more black libertarians? Libertarian opposition to big government.

Since the 1930s, well before an organized libertarian movement existed, African Americans–whose politics once tended toward the individualistic–have thrown their lot in with, and tied their political and economic aspirations to, the growth of government, especially the federal government, and the government’s willingness to treat African Americans as one of many interest groups deserving of government assistance Not all African Americans bought into this, of course (Zora Neale Hurston was an early critic), but it’s sufficiently mainstream that many African Americans believe that any attack on “Big Government” is, implicitly, an attack on them and their collective aspirations. That is not an easy barrier for libertarians to overcome, no matter how sincerely we believe that everyone, including and perhaps especially African Americans, would be better off with a more limited government, and no matter how sensitive we might be to the way libertarian rhetoric is sometimes tone deaf to the history of racism in the U.S. In short, the problem is more the substance of libertarian beliefs than the style of how they are presented.

Read the whole thing.

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