Rand Paul, Meet Max Weber

Jason Kuznicki

Jason Kuznicki is a research fellow at the Cato Institute and contributor of Cato Unbound. He's on twitter as JasonKuznicki. His interests include political theory and history.

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25 Responses

  1. Jaybird says:

    I think that the excesses of the Civil Rights Legislation weren’t as bad as the wolvishness of the racism wearing the sheep’s clothing of “liberty” and “state’s rights”.

    Much of the legacy of racism is that many racist policies were *CODIFIED* into law and *UPHELD* by the Supreme Court.

    There were many awful, awful things about Dred Scott but here, to my mind, is one of the worst: it was in line with established precedent.

    Plessy v. Ferguson, the Jim Crow laws, the State Supreme Court decision from Virginia v. Loving… these are wicked things done by THE STATE. Passing laws to overturn them and overruling bad (unconstitutional) laws is perfectly understandable.

    But neither should we be surprised when it works so well making people better in this one arena, that it gets picked up again, and then again, and then again, and then again to keep making people better.Report

  2. Mike Farmer says:

    Not to worry. This afternoon on CNN, Wolf Blitzer counseled the young political novice, Rand, on the proper expression of ideas, and they cleared up the concern that young Rand wants to segregate lunch counters. It turns out that Rand is not a racist and would have voted for the bill. God forbid we debate property rights as they relate to 2010. Oh, by the way, I’m not a racist and I have always favored freeing the slaves. I’ve stood up bravely for ending slavery, segregation, not killing puppies with hammers, and I stand firmly and bravely against child-abuse.Report

  3. deb says:

    Interesting how the freedom of whites to discriminate against blacks is the only type that seems to count for some self-professed libertarians.Does the use of violence and the threat of violence to deprive blacks of all of their rights as citizens deprive anyone of freedom? Or does freedom for blacks–or women, or people with disabilities–just not matter? Libertarianism, humanism, anarchy–they all amount to the same thing when you look at them closely: “Laws? We don’t need no stinkin laws! People will naturally do the right thing because they are naturally good! Just get rid of all the laws, and paradise will ensue.” I grew up in Jim Crow, pre-Civil Rights Acts Mississippi and I got news: it wasn’t evolving. Not the least bit. White people there loved Jim Crow and they NEVER would have ended it. Without the intervention of the federal government–representing the more enlightened parts of the nation–Mississippi would be the same now as it was in the 1950s.Report

    • Mike Farmer in reply to deb says:

      Wow, you really know your libertarianism. People will naturally do the right thing? I don’t even know where to start. It’s this micky mouse understanding of libertarianism that gets me depressed. I don’t stay depressed long, though, just shake it off and move along. Some days I just feel like giving up, giving up thinking, and just going with the flow, holding hands in a circle of light-beings and simply floating.Report

      • greginak in reply to Mike Farmer says:

        @Mike Farmer, perhaps the “mickey mouse” understanding of libertarianism stems from high profile guys like R P being comprehensively clueless and , to put it mildly, grossly insensitive to the people who were helped by the CRA. Paul talked about how hard freedom is when he wouldn’t have been the one to suffer the pains of jim crow. At the least, humility is a good thing.Report

        • Mike Farmer in reply to greginak says:

          Please explain, comprehensively, how Paul is “comprehensively clueless and , to put it mildly, grossly insensitive to the people who were helped by the CRA.”Report

          • greginak in reply to Mike Farmer says:

            @Mike Farmer, The various Civil Rights Acts started the process of freeing black people from generations of oppression. Blacks started to be able to have recourse and actual protection from the law. They could start to live the American Dream they had fought for. Saying the acts were wrong and he wouldn’t have supported them is spitting in the face of the what fought, and died, for and what freed them. That is insensitive, pretty much on the level of making holocaust jokes at a synagogue.

            Let me count the ways in which he was clueless. He favors property rights over the civil rights of others. Okay, i can see where that comes from libertarian thought and in itself i’m not criticizing here. But the thing is, the property rights he is siding with were gained, in many ways, through the oppression of blacks. He’s not just siding with the powerful, but the powerful he is siding with gained some of their power based on the backs of the people he won’t side with.

            He may say he is against racism but he doesn’t seem to want to admit the extent of segregation. Yeah great he would have marched with MLK and wouldn’t eat at a lunch counter that wouldn’t serve blacks. The prize of the civil rights era was not a freaking tuna sandwich at some f’ing lunch counter. it was the destruction of jim crow. And jim crow could only be destroyed by the law. That was the aim of the civil rights era, each protest was aimed at the ultimate goal, but paul doesn’t seem to get what it was about. Not only that but he doesn’t show any understanding of the extent of segregation. Pretty philosophy didn’t end redlining or open up college admissions, etc.

            So just to be clear about his cluelessness: he doesn’t show any understanding of what MLK et al were trying to do, side with oppressors and refuses access to solutions to help the oppressed based on protecting the rights of the oppressed.

            Oh yeah, he is weeps tears over the hard part of freedom being allowing racists to be jerks. Well yeah, but the thing is , he wasn’t suffering from that hard freedom. the pain was all born by others. Its nice to talk about suffering when you don’t have to do it.

            And finally this is just bonus dumb not related to civil rights. He offered a suggestion to improve the unemployment rate in hard hit parts of Kentucky by having a complete tax holiday for a year. So how does Randolf think schools, cops, fire department, road paving crews, courts, etc are paid for????

            Oh okay one more. Heres a quote from Randy

            ” But also maybe welfare should have a local person, a man or woman who sits down across the counter from them and says “What are you doing to find work?” and gives them some tough love and says “Go to work!” It can work, you know. We’ve tried the other way, just coddling people and giving people everything. Why don’t we try just getting them to work?”

            Because its late i’ll just quote the reason why this is stupid from Paul Waldman at Tapped

            “Rand Paul is apparently under the impression that when you go on welfare, you don’t have to talk to any “local person” (also known as a “bureaucrat”). I guess he thinks you just stroll down to the office and snag your big fat check from a box sitting by the door. The truth, of course, is that being on Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), as “welfare” is now known, isn’t such a walk in the park. First of all, it’s a block grant administered by the states — so it turns out, Paul’s wish for a “local person” has already been granted!”

            And there are time limits and work or school requirements for getting that aid. Paul doesn’t seem to know much about the things he is talking about.Report

            • greginak in reply to greginak says:

              @greginak, I blame the typos on the government making me stay up late.Report

            • Mike Farmer in reply to greginak says:


              He didn’t say he would have been against the Civil Rights Act, so that sort of destroys your position. In several interviews, it’s apparent that he sees where it was necessary due to extraordinary circumstances, but that he has problems philosophically with government telling businesses how they can run their businesses. You are getting the media version. The left doesn’t want to debate property rights, they only want to catch someone in a racist trap and destroy all opposition to statism.Report

    • Jaybird in reply to deb says:

      @deb, does the use of the state to make sure that African-Americans are unarmed disturb you?

      How about the use of the State to pass the Jim Crow laws? How about the use of the Supreme Court to uphold these laws?

      Should we just wait for the representatives and Supreme Court to grow up and finally pass a Civil Rights Act?Report

  4. Shawn says:

    It is also non-sense for Paul to say that he opposes the Federal Civil Rights laws on public property, but would have marched with King. The whole point of the marches was (i) to draw attention to the racist laws that were on the books and racists practices that were commonly carried out but invisible nationally, (ii) to force the Feds to enforce existing Civil Rights laws and (iii) to put pressure on the Federal government to pass new Civil Rights laws. Had he joined King, what exactly would he be marching for?Report

  5. Some Popes says:

    Do libertarians really need to jump through hoops like that to justify support for the Civil Rights Act? “Complex set of tradeoffs” my sweet bippy.Report

    • Jason Kuznicki in reply to Some Popes says:

      @Some Popes,

      Some of us in fact do take property rights claims seriously, and we are obliged to take them seriously even when they are asserted by despicable people. Make an exception for them — violate only their property rights — and we aren’t in a situation of equal justice anymore.

      Of course, the obvious reply, and the correct one, is that Jim Crow wasn’t equal justice either. Fight fire with fire, if you have to. Just know what you’re doing beforehand.Report

      • B-Rob in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

        @Jason Kuznicki,

        Interesting. The right to own property is enshrined in the Constitution. As is the right to enjoy equal protection of the law. Yet the segregation laws that Rand seems to have no beef with prohibited property owners who wanted to integrate from doing just that. Conversely, rather than have a “state of nature” where Joe Bob Racistdude excludes minorities, they decided to capture the legislature, enshrine racism in law, and use the police to enforce those laws. So Rand would oppose the CRA as an “attack” on property rights, but he has no problem, apparently, with the segregation laws diminishing the property rights of Blacks and integrationist Whites, or with using the state to enforce racism. Because THAT, my friends, is what the CRA overturned: state imp0sed, state enforced racism as “custom.”

        Lastly, it is oh so easy for those among us who would never be the victim of discrimination to call it “no big deal” justifying a law. But protecting the lunch counter of a racist from infiltration by sandwich-demanding Negroes? Those preferences, of course, are so important that they must be protected in law, laws that would prohibit Blacks from “forcing” a lunch counter owner to serve him on equal terms with Whites. In short, I am thinking that Rand is just not learned enough to understand history or law, or to grasp the policy implications of the “libertarianism” he espouses.Report

      • B-Rob in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

        @Jason Kuznicki,

        And another thing about property rights. Libertarians are no more “serious” about property rights than a hard-core Bible thumper protesting a new strip club opening up or an environmentalist opposing clear cutting. Y’all just have different values. The Bible thumper would use zoning laws to keep a strip club from opening in a shopping mall, while the environmentalist would use the same law to prohibit timber harvesting in a suburb. But your “it’s my land and I will do with it as I please” theology is not workable because your combination strip club/timber harvesting business will generate noise, traffic, and water run off that impacts other people. So there must be some trade off between your ability to make a buck and the neighbors’ ability to enjoy their property. So maybe you have to chose one function, or maybe use the land for a different use. Or find land elsewhere that is more suited to your proposed strip and cut operation. Life sucks that way. But we are not animals, free to do as we please. We have laws on the books to regulate property uses. Likewise, if the restaurant owner does not want to feed everyone who behaves and pays, he can always move to another country that lacks such “constraints on freedom.” The beauty of America: you can always leave if it does not suit you.Report

  6. Mike Schilling says:

    Make an exception for them — violate only their property rights — and we aren’t in a situation of equal justice anymore.

    It’s perfectly equal justice to say that no one can discriminate among potential customers based on race. Calling that “unequal” is like opposing laws against fraud because they discriminate against the dishonest.Report

    • Jason Kuznicki in reply to Mike Schilling says:

      @Mike Schilling,

      If we say that no one may discriminate based on race, we have placed a significant restriction on the use of property. We have also transferred power to those who can now claim discrimination. These may be just in the long term, and I think that obviously they were.

      But it took a great deal of foresight to anticipate this, and not to see — as Barry Goldwater did — just the creation of a lot more state intrusion into ordinary life, on shaky constitutional grounds. Not only that, but this intrusion was absolutely not an ex ante certain remedy for the evil it aimed at. The worst-case scenario of the CRA would have been that it created these extra government powers, and that the (thoroughly state-based) Jim Crow regime continued as well.

      We now know it didn’t happen that way, but in 1964? It would have been a much harder call. It seems very clear to me that back then (though certainly not now), there was room for an honest non-racist to oppose the 1964 Civil Rights Act.Report

      • B-Rob in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

        @Jason Kuznicki,

        “If we say that no one may discriminate based on race, we have placed a significant restriction on the use of property. ”

        Really? Is this true? A restriction significant enough to merit compensation under the due process clause? Er, no. Because someone would have to tell me how requiring someone to serve sandwiches to everyone, not just to the 70% of the population you approve of, harmfully impacts you.

        You also wrote “there was room for an honest non-racist to oppose the 1964 Civil Rights Act.” I am not so sure. What were the options? Status quo (state imposed segregation, using force of law and extrajudicial terror) versus the statute. By opposing the CRA, you are, in fact, saying that the status quo was preferable to the changed world where everyone with money gets to buy a sandwich. So make the case as to why we were somehow “more free” when police and terrorists imposed a sandwich-free existence on Black people. Because THAT was the state of the world where Goldwater cast his lot with Maddox; not some libertarian utopia where racist sandwich sellers kept to their own White patrons, while non-racist sandwich sellers sold to everyone.Report

      • Mike Schilling in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

        @Jason Kuznicki, there was room for an honest non-racist to oppose the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

        And not notice that 90% of the people standing on his side were racists whose only interest in either the Constitution or States’ Rights was to defend their racism? That would have taken an extraordinary amount of cluelessness.Report

    • Jaybird in reply to Mike Schilling says:

      @Mike Schilling, there was a recent discrimination case in England.

      A hip hairdo place where hip people went to get their hair did had a work application from a Muslim lady who wore her hair covered. Not a full veil, but a hair veil. She didn’t get the job and sued.

      The shop owner said something to the effect of “this is a hip place where funky people go to get the cutting edge hair styles and people need to see that their stylist is funky too. It’s an experience.”

      Well, the veiled lady sued.

      Crazy libertarians would say something like the following: A lady should be able to hire or fire whomever she wants because it’s her business. She took the risk, she rented the space, she is the entrepreneur. The veiled lady only showed up and applied for a job and now she’s entitled to thousands?”

      I don’t know what the enlightened and progressive response would be.Report

      • Jason Kuznicki in reply to Jaybird says:


        There are all sorts of very reasonable accommodations in anti-discrimination law. Racial discrimination in casting for theater and movies is often permitted, and I can only imagine that being able to see the hair of your hair stylist ought to be one too. Can’t say I’ve looked into it though.

        Incidentally, I was once denied admission to a lesbian bar in Paris because I wasn’t female. I was in a group of three — me, another guy, and a lesbian.

        “But we’re both gay,” I told the bouncer. She just shook her head. Then I kissed the other guy on the lips, but she still wouldn’t let us in. We went somewhere else.Report

      • Mike Schilling in reply to Jaybird says:

        @Jaybird, A lady should be able to hire or fire whomever she wants because it’s her business. She took the risk, she rented the space, she is the entrepreneur.

        And given that hiring one of those people would drive away all of her good, white customers, honestly, what’s the only smart thing to do? Which is precisely why the CRA was needed. To say that 100 years after the Civil War ended it took foresight to see that a federal remedy was needed is, well, stunning.Report

    • @Mike Schilling, Without getting into the property rights question, the problem is that you can demand that no one discriminate based on race, but it is extremely difficult to prevent this from happening. People discriminate consciously and subconsciously, explicitly and implicitly, directly and indirectly. Anti-discrimination laws make it far more difficult to discriminate explicitly, no doubt about it, and where it is done explicitly now there is quite often a legitimate business reason (for example, Hooters is able to get away with discriminating against men in their hiring of waitstaff for obvious reasons, although it took a surprising amount of often highly amusing lobbying before the EEOC agreed) but it’s still (and always will be) quite easy to discriminate without expressly informing the discriminated-against individual that you are practicing discrimination. Subconscious and conscious discrimination thus become virtually indistinguishable . The result of all this is the biggest part of why Title VII/ADA litigation is so expensive – you need to get statistical evidence, which the employer is going to make very difficult for you to obtain; you need to gather up all sorts of witness testimony to demonstrate that the supervisor had a real hostility based on race/sex/age….much of which is going to have to be testimony from people who still work for the employer; and so on.Report