Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., libertarian


It’s still fashionable in America to celebrate the birthday of the Reverend, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  It’s a wonderful thing that the Civil Rights Movement is still taught in schools, but quite terrible how the statist agenda behind the curriculum has re-written the history books to portray the federal government as the ultimate savior and champion of civil rights.

Somehow, charlatans like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton have successfully erased much of the original history and spun the narrative that the Democrats and high social spending are the ticket to prosperity for the struggling black community.

On the contrary, some of the driving forces in the Civil Rights Movement came from the Republican Party, which was far more libertarian in the age of Goldwater than today’s collection of crypto-fascists who campaign on such humanistic and moral principles as “Anybody but O-bozo!” 

The rest of the major forces behind the movement came from Christian pacifists, anarchists, and other militant black-liberation factions like the Nation of Islam.  The moderate factions of the movement were Republican, and their beliefs are much closer to the platform of today’s Libertarian Party.

Let it not be forgotten that the federal government was the driving force that created the problems leading to the violence and oppression that made the Movement necessary.  It’s reasonable and accurate to call this movement a part of historical libertarian revolution.

Learn from this oral history of libertarianism and black liberation:

"There is a natural prejudice which prompts men to despise whomsoever has been their inferior long after he has become their equal; and the real inequality which is produced by fortune or by law is always succeeded by an imaginary inequality… implanted in the manners of the people…  France was formerly a country in which numerous distinctions of rank existed, that had been created by legislation.  Nothing can be more fictitious…" (Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America)

The Royal English and colonial governments institutionalized slavery in British North America, and the U.S. federal government institutionalized it at the time of national independence. Following the Thirteenth Amendment and Reconstruction, the states used the power of government to institutionalize segregation.  Yes, racist people were the problem, but their political and military power was artificially boosted by using government to oppress their victims.

"…I am in agreement with the objectives of the Supreme Court as stated in the Brown decision.  I believe that it is both wise and just for negro children to attend the same schools as whites, and that to deny them this opportunity carries with it strong implications of inferiority.  I am not prepared, however, to impose that judgment of mine on the people of Mississippi or South Carolina …  I believe that the problem of race relations, like all social and cultural problems, is best handled by the people directly concerned." (Senator Barry Goldwater, The Conscience of a Conservative)

Goldwater is NOT saying “Let them eat cake” but instead arguing that, 1) segregation is wrong, and 2) that using the federal government to coerce state governments into complicity sets a dangerous precedent for the next issue or action the federal government wants to impose on the whole country, in violation of the Tenth Amendment.

"We have waited for more than three hundred and forty years for our constitutional and God-given rights.  The nations of Asia and Africa are moving with jet-like speed toward the goal of political independence, and we still creep at horse and buggy pace toward the gaining of a cup of coffee at a lunch counter." (MLK, “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”)

And so, a social and cultural problem in Montgomery was handled by the people directly involved.

"Montgomery blacks called a mass meeting… There was a vote to boycott all city buses.  Car pools were organized to take Negroes to work; most people walked.  The city retaliated by indicting one hundred leaders of the boycott, and sent many to jail.  White segregationists turned to violence.  Bombs exploded in four Negro churches.  A shotgun blast was fired through the front door of the home of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the twenty-seven-year-old Atlanta-born minister who was one of the leaders of the boycott.  King’s home was bombed.  But the black people of Montgomery persisted, and in November 1956, the Supreme Court outlawed segregation on local bus lines." (Howard Zinn, A People’s History of the United States)

The protestors had an intelligent grasp of economics as human action, and they used the libertarian concept of voluntary association to peacefully bring the city government to its knees.  Activism and pressure at the local level are an activism tactic proven successful by the Libertarian Party.  Moreover, accumulating that kind of political and economic power at the local level is a good spring-board for targeting issues and tyrants at the state level.

"Eisenhower offered the first civil rights law since Reconstruction, the Civil Rights Act of 1957…  Most Southern Democrats opposed the bill, and Southern Democrat governors would not support the law, leaving enforcement to the federal government, which was not equipped to police every precinct in the South…  More widespread change depended on hearts and attitudes." (Larry Schweikart and Michael Allen, A Patriot’s History of the United States)

This is when the Civil Rights Movement’s leaders knew that government action was only going to get them so far.  Hence, as the movement grew into a nationwide movement, activists reverted to the successful tactic of civil disobedience.  While some worked hard to decriminalize freedom, others simply went out and practiced it.

"We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.  Frankly, I have never yet engaged in a direct-action movement that was “well timed,” according to the timetable of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation… Oppressed people cannot remain oppressed forever.  The urge for freedom will eventually come.  This is what happened to the American Negro." (MLK, “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”)

While Dr. King was a pacifist—and he was fully in his right to take on that lifestyle—his pacifism didn’t save him from being murdered by a racist who gave no damn about homicide laws.  Other leaders like Malcolm X stressed the Second Amendment for black self-defense.  X said, “If the white man doesn’t want the black man buying rifles and shotguns, then let the government do its job.”  Let black Democrats remember that in today’s age of gun control and police brutality.