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IPFS News Link • General Opinion

Racism, Sexism, and Slavery

• By Walter E. Block

It has come to my attention that many Loyola students will not enroll in my classes, will boycott my public lectures, will have nothing to do with me, because they think I favor slavery and am a racist and a sexist.

I would like to take this opportunity to clear up this matter.

Am I a racist? This all depends upon how that term is defined. If it means lynching blacks, burning crosses on their front lawns, assaulting them, then, of course, I am not. These are all violations of the libertarian non-aggression principle (NAP) and are uncivilized to boot. On the other hand, I believe there is strong evidence attesting to the fact that whites have made greater contributions to baroque music than blacks, and that the reverse holds true regarding jazz. Similarly, blacks are better runners than whites, and whites are better swimmers than blacks. Also, Orientals, on average, have the highest IQs, whites come next and then blacks. It is my contention that all people who base their views on readily available evidence are racists in the sense of acknowledging these facts.

Am I a sexist? If this means that I think men have a right to molest, rape, women, then, again, of course not. This is a violation of the NAP. On the other hand, I maintain that not all women always tell the truth, about anything. I believe there is strong evidence that the male female wage gap stems not from discrimination, but from unequal on-the-job productivity levels, stemming, mainly, from disparate shares of time spent on household tasks and child-rearing. There is a virtual zero wage gap, zero, between childless never-married men and women. While virtually all abilities are equal, on average, between males and females, the former have a much larger variance (men outrank women in STEM Nobel Prizes, chess grandmaster-ships, but also in homelessness, incarceration in jails, mental institutions), which accounts for the glass ceiling.

What about slavery? My reputation in this regard is based on an interview with the New York Times. I was trying to explain libertarianism to them. I emphasized that voluntarism was crucially important to the NAP. Rape and ordinary sexual intercourse may look alike, but one is voluntary, the other is not. The same with a punch in the nose. It is legitimate in the boxing ring since both parties consented, but not otherwise. It is the same with slavery. If someone (an adult) assents to it, slavery is legitimate. Actual slavery, of course, was not voluntary, since the victim did not agree to any such thing. It was therefore evil and pernicious. Why might a person volunteer to become a slave? One possibility, extreme masochism (don't knock this; our Jesuit tradition recommends toleration). Another, to save his child's life. My son, God forbid, has an illness the cure of which would cost $5 million. I'm poor. If someone offers me that amount of money to become his slave, I'd willingly sell myself to him, since I value my son's life more than my own freedom.