On Discrimination


ON DISCRIMINATION
By Christian Robitaille

The following is a translation of a speech delivered in French on the 5th August 2017 at the occasion of the 2nd edition of the Montreal Free Market Seminar.

Today, I will talk about a phenomenon that is increasingly decried as unfair or evil by Canada’s and Québec’s mass media and by the most vocal leftists of our society. I will talk about discrimination. However, I will not talk about it in a conventional way, i.e., by decrying as unjust any form of discrimination whatsoever and by demanding that the State intervenes in order to reduce or eliminate it. Rather, I will take advantage of the fact that I am speaking in front of a civilised audience to talk about the true nature of discrimination and to show that it is, in and of itself, a useless concept insofar as one seeks to find in it the ultimate criterion of injustice.

To be as complete as possible, this presentation will be divided in three distinct, but interrelated parts. First, in order to understand properly what discrimination is and what it implies in terms of justice, a few basic remarks on scarcity, property, and freedom of association will be necessary. This part of the presentation will thus investigate the nature and implications of discrimination from a philosophical and ethical point of view. Second, a few economic implications and clarifications will be discussed in order to understand what role and impact discrimination can have in a free society (i.e., a stateless society) and in an unfree society (i.e., a statist society). Last, I will try to explain from a sociological point of view why, despite all their negative effects, we still have State laws against many kinds of discrimination. I will thus provide you with an interdisciplinary analysis in which libertarian (Hoppean-Rothbardian) political philosophy, Austrian (Misesian) economics, and cognitive (Boudonian) sociology will allow you, I hope, to better understand what is discrimination and what are its most important logical implications.

I. Philosophy: scarcity, property, and discrimination

Let me first explain how—based on the work of great libertarian thinkers such as Murray N. Rothbard and Hans-Hermann Hoppe—we can reject discrimination as the sole criterion for qualifying an action as unjust.

Our external world is a world in which scarcity exists. If I wear this particular tie, you cannot wear it at the same time; if I drink this bottle of water, you cannot use the water it contains; if you spend your time with your wife and children every evening, you do not spend it with your boss and colleagues; and so forth. Who decides, then, to what purpose a particular means (such as the tie, the bottle of water, or your body) should be allocated? Should I be the one using this bottle of water, or should you?

From this, we can see rather easily that scarcity implies the possibility for us to enter into conflict with each other. As Hoppe writes, “Only scarcity makes it possible that different interests and ideas can be attached to and invested in one and the same stock of goods. Conflicts, then, are physical clashes regarding the control of one and the same given stock of goods. People clash because they want to use the same goods in different, incompatible ways.”[1] If I want to use a bottle of water to drink and you want to use the exact same bottle of water to wash something, a conflict arises. Only one of these two incompatible goals can be achieved with this bottle of water. The question that naturally arises from the recognition of this fact is the following: do we dispose of any means allowing us to avoid or resolve universally any potential conflict or are we doomed to live in a perpetual state of conflict and chaos? Luckily for us, such a means exists. Indeed, the respect for property rights constitutes a way—indeed, the only way—to avoid or resolve peacefully any type of conflict.

Many thinkers have recognised this solution before, but it is the great libertarian philosopher Hans-Hermann Hoppe that has demonstrated with the most clarity and rigor that, to avoid or resolve conflicts between actors on scarce resources, it suffices that everyone respects the natural property right that every individual has on his body and on goods that he was the first to acquire or produce.[2] If I produced a particular bottle of water, then I am the only one in the world who has the right to decide to which particular end the bottle will be used. I can choose to give it to you or to sell it to you, but this choice is mine only. Insofar as I respect your natural property rights and that you respect mine, then any conflict becomes in principle impossible or can be easily resolved.

But if the respect for private property implies the absence of conflicts between actors (or the possibility to resolve them easily), it does not solve the fundamental problem facing every property owner, i.e., the necessity to choose what he wants to do with his property. Because every property right is exercised over a scarce thing, it is simply impossible to simultaneously do every conceivable thing with this good; one has to choose which of these possible uses one considers to be the most important. This fact can be immediately understood after hearing the famous (French) expression: “one cannot have both the butter and the money from selling the butter.” Indeed, either I use the butter to cook or I exchange it against money, but I cannot realise both of these two distinct ends with the exact same amount of butter. We can clearly see that, even if universal respect for natural property rights allows a resolution of conflicts between actors, property-owners are still confronted to a scarcity-related problem and must thus exercise their judgement in order to decide what they will do with their bodies and goods. The actor will choose how to use his body and goods according to his preferences.[3] At any given time, I cannot both use my house to spend a quiet evening with my family and invite all my friends to come drink, smoke, talk, and eat. If I prefer to spend a quiet evening with my family, then I will discriminate againsti.e., exclude—every other individual on Earth in order to use my property according to my preferences.

Now, would it be possible for an actor to avoid any kind of discrimination whatsoever? The answer is simple: no. Suppose that the owner of a house is a radical adept of anti-discrimination, i.e., he would prefer to never discriminate against anyone or to never be confronted to any kind of discrimination on his property. Even he is constrained by scarcity; even he must exercise the choice of inviting certain people and excluding certain others. On the one hand, if this radical anti-discriminator wishes that his house remains free of any kind of discrimination internally, he will be forced to, at the very least, exclude any discriminator from his house. He will therefore have to discriminate against discriminators and discrimination, which is an obvious contradiction. And on the other hand, even if he tries to avoid discrimination, what can he do? He could decide to accept everyone in his house until it becomes physically impossible for any additional individual to enter. But even here, he exercises a form of discrimination because he excludes individuals based on the criterion of whether or not they arrived early enough. We clearly see that discrimination is unavoidable; even a radical adept of anti-discrimination must discriminate only to try to be the anti-discriminator he wishes to be. I used the example of a house, but these remarks are obviously generalisable to any other form of property because the simple fact that there exists a property owner implies an exclusion on decision-making processes related to the uses of his property.[4] This is because, as should be clear by now, the concept of discrimination is implied by the category of action; if one could always avoid discrimination, one would not be an actor at all since one would not need to choose between various alternatives to increase one’s subjective wellbeing. In light of this, it is obvious that every person who declares himself to be absolutely against discrimination—i.e., any individual who claims to use discrimination as his sole criterion to judge an action as unjust—can be nothing other than a fraud, an ignorant, or an idiot.

If everything I just said seems to be evident to you, I apologise, but one only needs to take a look at the website of the Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse du Québec (which could be translated to The Human and Youth Rights Commission of Québec) to realise that these trivialities are far from understood. It is indicated, for instance, that “[a]ll forms of discrimination are prohibited under the Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms, and, therefore, prohibited in Québec.”[5] Of course, many exceptions exist when one takes a look at this Charter (for instance with regards to insurance contracts), but this statement demonstrates nonetheless that it is necessary to explicitly state the obvious nowadays.

In any case, we obviously see now that discrimination per se cannot be used as a criterion of injustice because it is a necessary part of any action and that, therefore, every conceivable action would be, in light of this criterion, unjust (which is absurd). Now, if discrimination as such cannot be used as the sole criterion of injustice, there exist of course specific forms of discrimination that are just and other forms that are unjust. We must find which criteria—which qualificatives—would allow us to distinguish between a just discrimination and an unjust discrimination.

If the ultimate goal of justice is to universally avoid or resolve conflicts between actors, then the only criterion of justice must be the following: only discrimination that results from the application of a natural property right is just.[6] The corollary of this proposition is the following: any discrimination that results from the breach of a natural property right is unjust. Indeed, as was explained earlier, the only way to universally avoid or resolve conflicts over scarce resources is to respect each other’s natural property rights. I do not have the time to explain the proof of this;[7] suffice it to say here that it is an intuitive solution. That a particular individual is the owner of his body and the goods that he is the first to acquire or produce (or that he receives from an exchange) allows a universal avoidance of conflicts precisely because these processes of acquisition presuppose the absence of conflicts. Hoppe writes: “as the first appropriator he cannot have run into any conflict with anyone in appropriating the good in question, as everyone else appeared on the scene only later. All property must go back, then, directly or indirectly, through a chain of mutually beneficial and hence likewise conflict-free property-title transfers, to original appropriators and acts of original appropriation.”[8] In other words, I am the legitimate owner of my body because I am the “first” (in fact, the only one!), as it were, to occupy it and that, therefore, I did not expel anyone from it. Likewise, if I am the first to use a rock or a tree from nature, I did not take anything from anyone. In brief, it is intuitive to think that, if our criteria of justice should be grounded on the idea that we must define rules of conduct allowing for the universal absence or resolution of conflicts, only the absolute respect for natural property rights as defined earlier could serve as the ultimate criterion to decide if a form of discrimination is just or unjust.

All this being said, what forms of discrimination, concretely, could be qualified as just or unjust?

  1. Any discrimination (whether ageist, intolerant, racist, antiracist, nationalist, multiculturalist, sexist, homophobic, heterophobic, transphobic, liberal, conservative, and so forth) that occurs on a private property according to the owner’s preferences is just.[9]
  2. Conversely, any discrimination that occurs on a private property according to any non-owner’s preferences (coercively imposed) is unjust. This includes, it goes without saying, any case in which the State imposes discriminatory measures on its citizens’ private properties.

(One more case should be studied, i.e., the case of public property. This case is more complicated and is heavily debated, even in libertarian circles. We can come back to it during the Q&A session if you are interested. Suffice it to say here that I am convinced, for my part, that the best approach to determine if a form of discrimination is acceptable or not on public property is to ask ourselves the following question: would the legitimate owners of this particular public property—i.e., net taxpayers—generally be in favour of such discrimination? If the answer is yes, then I believe that the “second best” option for libertarians is to support this kind of discrimination. If the answer is no, then libertarians should not support it.[10])

Moreover, this criterion of justice and injustice does not merely apply to discrimination or exclusion; it applies also to associations. Thus, as a corollary to the two forms of discrimination aforementioned, there also exist two forms of association:

  1. Any association of individuals (based on any criterion) that is made on a private property according to the owner’s or group of owners’ preferences is just.
  2. Conversely, any forced association, i.e., every association made on a private property according to the preferences of third parties (and that is imposed on the owner), is unjust. This includes any case in which the State imposes anti-discrimination laws (implying forced association) on its citizens’ private properties. For instance, forcing Christian bakeries to make wedding cakes for homosexual couples would enter in this category of forced association.

I have thus far exposed which forms of discrimination and association are legitimate in light of the most appropriate criterion of justice, i.e., the supremacy of private property rights. Every owner can legitimately associate himself to whomever he wants and discriminate against whomever he wants on his property. Any attempt by a third party (including the State) to force him to associate or to discriminate against anyone is unjust.

Now that this is clear, let us take a comparative look at the economic consequences of what has been said in both a free society (i.e., a society in which discrimination and association are free) and in a statist society (i.e., a society in which discrimination and association are imposed).

II. Economics: logical consequences of what has been said

In a completely free society (i.e., a stateless, anarcho-capitalist society), every type of discrimination and association is used in order to avoid social conflicts or social nuisances. I do not associate with individuals I judge to be social parasites and I associate with those individuals I judge to be agreeable and who bring me a net benefit from a subjective point of view (subjective in the sense that they do not necessarily need to bring me a monetary benefit; a friendship would be a good example of two individuals bringing non-monetary benefits to each other).

From an aggregate point of view, this type of society in which association and discrimination are free is a society in which social harmony tends to prevail. By voluntarily segregating each other, groups that dislike or despise each other can quietly live in peace, separately, without ever having to interact. The homophobe does not associate with the homosexual and vice versa; the anti-racist does not associate with the racist and vice versa. In brief, anyone may live in peace according to his own particular lifestyle (at his own cost, of course), having as his only constraint not to bother those who disapprove of it on their property.

Private clubs, families, neighbourhoods, and other communities of interest can associate with individuals sharing similar values and exclude every individual they despise whenever it is in the interest of their members to do so (i.e., when it coincides with the common preferences of their members). A Catholic Church will discriminate against radical promoters of atheism, and radical atheists will exclude Catholics from their associations. It is in their mutual interest not to interact. If Catholics want to express their faith without having to endure any disturbance from hostile individuals, it is only normal that they will insist on the necessity for individuals going at Church to, at the very least, not openly promote atheism. In a free society, all types of association and discrimination are rational in the sense that they are the product of deliberations on what specific rules should apply in order to respect the particular values of property owners or groups of property owners. They are also harmonious in the sense that, if an individual does not wish to interact with atheists or Catholics or any other type of individuals, he may do so and does not need to enter into conflict with individuals that, on their own properties, live a different lifestyle or hold radically different values. The radical atheist does not interact with the Catholic, and this is a good thing. Indeed, if this were not the case—i.e., if groups that are hostile to each other were forced to interact—violence and conflicts will likely prevail in society.

Now, commercial relationships in a free society are also characterised by forms of association and discrimination that are rational in the sense that any commercial discrimination will be grounded on reasons linked to the consumer’s preferences. We often hear economists claim that discrimination is not profitable; that if a property owner refuses to serve a homosexual couple or to hire a woman, he will have to “pay the price” of his “bigotry” because he will tend to lose clients or to be less productive. This is not completely true. For instance, a Christian bakery refusing to make a wedding cake to homosexual couples might, it is true, lose clients. But it is also possible that many traditionalists will choose to buy more at this bakery. Likewise, a homosexual bar that discriminates against hostile homophobes will without any doubt be more profitable—even if it renounces to the homophobes’ money—than a homosexual bar that does not discriminate against hostile homophobes. The net effect of discrimination is therefore not as clear as one might think. Everything depends on the consumers’ preferences. The commercial choice to discriminate against one particular group or not is simply an entrepreneurial choice which, as any entrepreneurial choice, is made under the constraint of uncertainty (in particular about the future preferences of various potential consumers). This results from the fact that the profitability of a decision rests on the reactions of all potential consumers to the type good or service that is produced.

With respect to the employment of labour, once again, discrimination can be profitable or not depending on the type of labour that is necessary and the consumers’ preferences. Indeed, those of you who were present during the speech I delivered last year on the effects of subsidies will remember that any factor of production tends to be bought or payed according to its discounted marginal value product (i.e., the additional anticipated revenue associated to each particular factor taken individually and adjusted to time preference).[11] Thus, every entrepreneur will take the decision to discriminate against various types of factors of production in order to use other types of factors based on their productivity. For instance, to take a silly but obvious example, if I am the owner of a strip club for gentlemen, it makes sense that I discriminate against old fat men when hiring strippers. The productivity of an old fat man as a stripper is negative (i.e., he will make me lose money if I hire him). Of course, if I discriminate against beautiful young ladies in their twenties, then my discrimination is inappropriate from the point of view of the consumers and I will have to pay the price of my discrimination (which is likely to be quite high in this context). But it is clearly false, in light of this, that any form of discrimination is unprofitable.

Nevertheless—and this is probably what most economists mean when they say that discrimination is unprofitable—a general principle can be outlined from what has been said: every discrimination (or absence of discrimination) which underpays or overpays a worker relatively to his discounted marginal value product (productivity) will have to be paid for by the employer. Indeed if, for the same job, a man has a productivity of 15$/h whereas a woman has a productivity of 10$/h, and their employer insists to pay them both 15$/h, then he will obviously have to assume the price of his “tolerance.” Likewise, if their productivity is exactly equal, but the employer insists on discriminating against women (for instance), then he will have to assume the extra cost of discrimination because his competitors can attract his underpaid workers (e.g., if I pay a woman 10$/h, but her productivity is 15$/h, then my competitors can offer her a salary between 11$/h and 15$/h to attract her, and I will lose a productive worker). This example illustrates that, in a free economy, any group having an inferior average productivity than another group for a given task will tend to receive, on average, a comparatively inferior salary. And this is normal since the indirect goal of the producer is to provide the consumer with goods he desires at the lowest possible cost. This is the only way for the producer to realise a profit in a free market. Of course, comparative average productivities can change depending on the task to accomplish.

In brief, in a free society, every commercial discrimination is either grounded on the consumers’ preferences or assumed by the producer (who then becomes, as it were, the consumer of a workplace adequate to his preferences).

Let us now introduce the State in this picture and see in which manner it perverts this harmony and destroys this supremacy of the consumers.

The State has the power to force individuals to associate with each other or to discriminate against some particular groups. Forced association is when the State forces some property owners to associate or include undesirables or parasites on their property; forced discrimination is when the State forces some property owners not to associate or not to include some individuals or groups of individuals on their property. We can immediately see how the previous harmony of interests is perverted. Powerful interest groups can now force their enemies to accept or serve them. They can also force their enemies not to associate with whom they want. Interest groups can now quite simply exercise their influence in the mass media in order to benefit from some public support, and then it becomes relatively easy to convince politicians to produce laws against certain types of discrimination or association. The most influential interest groups—and therefore the content of laws—might change over time (for instance, it used to be illegal for homosexuals to associate whereas it is now practically illegal not to support every single aspect of the weird and clearly anti-libertarian agenda of the homosexual lobby[12]), but the general consequences are the same. In both cases, social conflicts tend to increase rather than diminish because those who hate each other are forced to associate and those who like each other are forced to dissociate.

With respect to commercial relations, we have seen that any private discrimination or association is grounded on the consumers’ preferences. It is thus clear that any interference with private commercial discrimination or association will negatively affect the consumers. If the State forces a Christian bakery to serve wedding cakes to homosexual couples, then this bakery loses its raison d’être, i.e., its singular characteristic that it produces goods for clients who respect, at least to a large extent, Christian precepts.[13] Some Christians would prefer to associate only with bakers who respect the traditional view of marriage by only producing cakes for decent heterosexual couples, but such laws make it impossible; the subjective wellbeing of these consumers is thus reduced. To take an “opposite” example, if the State forces a homosexual bar not to discriminate against homophobes, then this bar also loses its raison d’être, and the bar will either have to adjust or close. From an aggregate point of view, the whole society is made poorer by such laws because many consumers are consequently deprived of the liberty to acquire the exact good or service they want since no producer is allowed to produce it.[14]

Likewise, forcing discrimination or non-discrimination with respect to the employment of workers implies a reduced productivity. Indeed, we have seen that every entrepreneur chooses to discriminate or not against different types of workers depending on the latter’s discounted marginal value product. If I am forced to hire an old fat man as a stripper, to re-use my previous example, then my consumers will likely be very unhappy and will stop buying my product. I will have to re-orient the purpose of my club or close. This silly example illustrates quite well what distortion these sorts of laws create. They force consumers to spend their income on their second best (or nth best) alternative rather than on what they would truly enjoy.

To sum up—and I think by now you have understood the general principle—every commercial discrimination or association (in the choice of employees or consumers) is based on entrepreneurial reasons and seeks to improve the consumers’ wellbeing. Thus, any forced commercial association or discrimination implies a reduction of a society’s wellbeing. Last year, I told you that a society cannot subsidise itself into prosperity. This year, I tell you that a society cannot be prosperous by forcing association or discrimination. The only manner to promote prosperity is hence to advocate the total repeal of any State law forcing association or discrimination. Moreover, as the required reading I suggested argues,[15] this is also the only manner to promote civilisation because free association and dissociation allows society to reward (through voluntary associations) virtuous individuals and punish (through ostracism) parasites and undesirables. In brief, the road to prosperity and to civilisation must be free of any law forcing association or discrimination on private property.

III. Sociology: the motivational causes of anti-discrimination laws

If everything I just said looks so easy to understand (and could easily be derived by reading the available works of Hoppe, Rothbard, Block, etc.), the question which immediately comes to mind is the following: why do laws forcing association or discrimination exist?

Indeed, only looking at relatively recent history, from Jim Crow laws in the United States to contemporary Canadian laws forcing multiculturalism and anti-discrimination, the State always seemed to be able to impose associative or dissociative norms of conduct within society. Given the present Canadian context, allow me to concentrate my analysis on anti-discrimination laws.

It is rather easy to understand why the owners and agents of a tool of control such as the State’s ruling class seek to impose their will on the property of their fellow men. However, it is well recognised since at least Étienne de la Boétie[16] and David Hume[17] that the powers of the State can only last if the population under control does not oppose them too vigorously, i.e., if the beliefs of the population are such that a majority of them is indifferent or supportive of the State’s policies. It is hence more difficult to explain why the population in general does not seem to be vigorously opposed to the anti-discrimination policies of the contemporary Canadian State.

Cognitive sociologist Raymond Boudon has correctly recognised that every actor has seemingly good reasons—true or false—to believe in what he believes.[18] To explain these beliefs, then, one simply needs to find in the present historical context what incites the Canadian population to tolerate liberticide laws forcing association or restricting discrimination.

Most individuals delegate naturally the creation of sophisticated opinions to experts. I do not have time to study medicine in order to diagnose myself, so I trust a physician to provide me with an informed opinion on my health condition. Likewise, most people (including politicians) do not have the time, capacity, or desire to think about social problems. They therefore delegate to columnists, radio hosts or teachers the task of presenting complete opinions that are easy to understand and which they can make their own thereafter. But columnists, radio hosts, and teachers also do not have the time, desire, or capacity to make the intellectual effort to build a complete theory allowing them to present sophisticated opinions to the population in general. They thus delegate this task to a “superior” level, i.e., to first-hand intellectuals (university professors or affiliated researchers). The task of these intellectuals with respect to the creation of theories that will subsequently be vulgarised and popularised by the propagandists aforementioned is hence of major importance. They are those who ultimately create the false justifications that make the population supportive of anti-discrimination laws.

Intellectuals have themselves two interdependent types of “good reasons” to hold beliefs associated to the cultural Left (such as elements of the anti-discrimination ideology). The first type of “good reasons”—and without any doubt the most obvious of the two types—is instrumental (or materialistic). That is, very few intellectuals would—or even could—be remunerated or recognised by entities other than the State.[19] They hence have an instrumental interest in making sure that the State remains healthy and extends its powers. To do this, they need to formulate theories that legitimise the State and its coercion. A way to do this is to erect anti-discrimination as an absolute virtue and to conduct a Holy War against property owners refusing to comply.

However, this is not the only possible way to increase the powers of the State—and historically, alternative theories such as fascism or classical communism have also allowed the State to legitimise its coercion and to increase its powers. This type of “good reasons” is therefore insufficient to explain why contemporary intellectuals are now elaborating theories based on the anti-discrimination ideology specifically.

The second type of “good reasons,” which renders the explanation more complete, is not instrumental but rather cognitive and axiological (to follow Boudon’s typology). That is, their theories are founded on facts and judgements that make sense to the intellectuals’ eyes given their social context. Since childhood, contemporary intellectuals are in a social context in which the cost of tolerance is negligible or null. When parents can afford to have a son who becomes a sociologist or anthropologist, their financial situation must not be too terrible. Rich neighbourhoods can be (and have increasingly been over time, due to easier processes and technologies of migration) internally diverse without suffering the consequences that arise in poorer neighbourhoods under similar conditions. Likewise, good private schools and universities are composed of relatively intelligent and relatively rich individuals, and this tends to be true regardless of their ethnic origin, race, sexual orientation, physical appearance, nationality, or other characteristics. The very best individuals of all groups are assembled there. It is very easy to become an advocate for absolute tolerance and to believe that everyone should be as tolerant as oneself when one has only ever been in such social contexts; and the average differences between different groups are indeed largely invisible to intellectuals in their everyday life.

But if it has been easy for an intellectual to tolerate almost everyone, then he has no good reason to believe that others shouldn’t follow his example. The intellectual will then combine this idea that tolerance is underrated in society with his desire to increase the powers of the State (for the instrumental reasons aforementioned). In other words, the intellectual will try to orient the increase in the powers of the State towards the achievement of the purpose of generalising tolerance. And thus are born the most absurd theories of the social sciences. These beliefs can then easily be transmitted to the propagandists because they usually enjoy a similar social context as the intellectuals. More resistance, it is true, can be expected from the general population. However, in the same way that I will accept to use an unintuitive remedy if my physician recommends it, many individuals will decide to accept the opinion that tolerance must be implemented by all possible means if social “experts” say so. After all, it is often reasonable for most people (at least in many aspects of their lives) to refer to experts in order to exercise their judgement on something. Extending this usually good principle to political affairs is then, from their point of view, not unreasonable.

The tolerance cult—which dominates our medias, university campuses, elementary and high schools, most of our “think”-tanks, etc.—can thus increasingly generalise itself to the population. As a consequence, conservatives and traditionalists are losing the cultural war, whereas neo-Marxist lobbies are winning it.[20] Unfortunately, once culture is modified, it becomes even easier to convince the population that the “oppression” of some individuals must be eliminated by law. And finally, it becomes possible for the State to impose without much resistance liberticide laws forcing dissenting property owners to associate or discriminate against their will.

***

In conclusion, let me state the three most important elements of this presentation:

  1. Discrimination is unavoidable and is therefore an inadequate criterion of injustice.
  2. Free discrimination and association allow society to prosper and to civilise itself, whereas forced discrimination and association render society comparatively less prosper and more primitive.
  3. The Canadian population implicitly “supports” forced association because it has been provided with false “good reasons” to support it. We should therefore, as libertarians, propagate true “good reasons” to oppose it (such as those I exposed here) to bring Québec and Canada on the road to prosperity and civilisation. Let us become a leading example for the rest of the world to follow.

Thank you for your attention.

Notes

[1]H.-H. Hoppe, “Of private, common, and public property and the rationale for total privatization.” In Libertarian Papers, vol. 3 (1), 2011, p.2.

[2] See Hoppe, op. cit. (2011); idem, A Theory of Socialism and Capitalism (Auburn: Ludwig von Mises Institute, [1988] 2010), chap. 2 and 7; idem, The Economics and Ethics of Private Property (Auburn: Ludwig von Mises Institute, [1993] 2006), chap. 11-15; idem, “The Ethics and Economics of Private Property.” In E. Colombatto (ed.), The Elgar Companion to the Economics of Private Property (Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, 2004). See also M. N. Rothbard, The Ethics of Liberty (New York and London: New York University Press, [1982] 2002), chap. 8; N. Stephan Kinsella, “What Libertarianism Is.” In idem and J. G. Hülsmann (eds.), Property, Freedom, and Society: Essays in Honor of Hans-Hermann Hoppe (Auburn: Ludwig von Mises Institute, 2009).

[3] See Mises, Human Action: A Treatise on Economics (Auburn: Ludwig von Mises Institute, [1949] 1998), p. 97 f.

[4] See Hoppe, Democracy: The God That Failed – The Economics and Politics of Monarchy, Democracy, and Natural Order (New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction Publishers, 2001), p. 209 f.

[5] See http://www.cdpdj.qc.ca/en/droits-de-la-personne/pratiques/Pages/discrimination.aspx. Retrieved the 16th August 2017.

[6] On how classical liberalism implies the right to discriminate, see Walter Block, “Discrimination: An Interdisciplinary Analysis.” In Journal of Business Ethics 11 (4), 1992, p. 242.

[7] Those interested in such a proof should read Hoppe’s argumentation ethics (Cf. Hoppe, op. cit., [1988] 2010, chap. 7; idem, op. cit. [1993] 2006, chap. 11-15) or Rothbard’s natural rights defence of libertarianism (Cf. Rothbard, op. cit., [1982] 2002).

[8] Hoppe, op. cit. (2011), p. 3.

[9] As Walter Block (op. cit., 1992, p. 242) notices, it is not because some types of discrimination are just (i.e., cannot be legitimately prohibited by law) that they are necessarily moral or nice.

[10] For an opposite view held by other libertarians (i.e., the view according to which until a public property is privatised, no legitimate discrimination can occur on it), see Block, op. cit. (1992), p. 248 f.

[11] See Rothbard, Man, Economy, and State with Power and Market (Auburn: Ludwig von Mises Institute, 2009), pp. 456-65.

[12] Note that the homosexual lobby is to be distinguished from (at least some) homosexual individuals. In a time in which not stating the obvious might get you into trouble, I reluctantly chose to explicitly state this truism with my apologies to intelligent readers.

[13] As you may know, this is a real example. A Christian bakery of Oregon refused to make a wedding cake for a lesbian couple in 2013. In 2015, it was reported that they might have to pay 135,000$ to this couple for “emotional suffering.” They are currently appealing this decision. See Todd Starnes, “Christian Bakers face $135K Fine for Refusing to Make Cake for Gay Wedding”, New York Post, 26th April 2015. One may legitimately wonder why many homosexuals make such a big deal out of this sort of things. A decent person would simply ask another baker to do his cake. But since the media and many homosexual activists are seeking to bring wider attention on the definitely anti-libertarian contemporary homosexual (or, as they ridiculously call themselves nowadays, the LGBTQQIAAP) lobby’s agenda, these uninteresting stories become more and more discussed within Western societies and lawsuits are increasingly initiated. Knowing that you can now be “oppressed” by being denied cake, we might as well expect many children to start suing their parents for oppression and emotional damage.

[14] On the economic consequences of forced association, see Block, op. cit. (1992), p. 247.

[15] It consisted of a French translation of a short German article by Hoppe. No English translation seems to be available. See Hoppe, “La vertu de la discrimination.” In liberpedia.org (translation of “Die Tugend der Diskriminierung.” In Junge Freiheit, 15th July 2005).

[16] Étienne de la Boétie, Discours de la servitude volontaire (Paris : Bossard, [1549] 1922).

[17] David Hume, Essays and Treatises on Several Subjects (Dublin: J. Williams, 1779), pp. 29-33.

[18] See Boudon, Raison, bonnes raisons (Paris : Presses Universitaires de France, 2003); idem, Essais sur la théorie générale de la rationalité (Paris : Presses Universitaires de France, 2007); idem, « La théorie générale de la rationalité, base de la sociologie cognitive. » In F. Clément and L. Kaufman (eds.), La sociologie cognitive (Paris : Maison des sciences de l’homme).

[19] See Mises, op. cit. ([1949] 1998), p. 90; Rothbard, “Anatomy of the State.” In idem, Egalitarianism as a Revolt Against Nature and Other Essays (Auburn: Ludwig von Mises Institute, [1974] 2000), p. 63 f.; Hoppe, “Reflections on the Origin and Stability of the State.” Libertarian Alliance (2008).

[20] See Sean Gabb, Cultural Revolution, Culture War: How Conservatives Lost England and How to Get It Back (London: Hampden Press, 2007).

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2 comments

  • A very fine presentation.

    I did find one thing a little strange. When talking of the radical atheist and the Catholic, the speaker seems to imply that these two individuals will exclude each other from their interactions unconditionally. That isn’t necessarily so. Even though the two may not be able to find any common ground in a religious context, there is no reason why they shouldn’t interact in other contexts, if they wish. For example, they may work together, or blog together, or be client and supplier, or even be friends. I think what may be missing here is the idea that all of us are not members just of a single society (such as a church), but each of us can be a member of many societies. And that each of us may choose to accept atheists, or Catholics, or Muslims, or Hindus in some contexts, but not in others.

    When I look up the word “discriminate” in the dictionary, one of the meanings I find is: “to use good judgement.” With this definition, there’s a case to be made that any failure to discriminate may be unjust!

    • Ironically, by attacking discrimination, the liberal-Left are killing diversity.

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