CONFESSIONS OF A
BLACK LIBERTARIAN:
Socialism Sucks, The Welfare State
Should Be Abolished
And The Race Industry Dismantled

Traditionally, the socialist movement has always empathised with the aspirations of blacks and other ethnic minorities. Immigrants (whatever their colour) tend to be attracted to the left wing parties which form a broad coalition of pressure groups fighting for the rights of the “oppressed”. However, with the rise of the black middle classes, more and more are looking towards conservatism. Indeed, traditional West Indian values have always been more in tune with conservatism: strong family ties, discipline etc. Even so, there are those who feel conservatism doesn’t go far enough and want to sell off the state completely. These “free market anarchists” are known as Libertarians. Libertarians want to privatise not only schools, the coal industry and the railways but the police, the prison service, the rain forests, the whales... In short, they want everything to be privately owned. They also want to abolish all censorship, obscenity laws, anti-discrimination legislation and gun control and to legalise prostitution and hard drugs. The Libertarian movement has a strong American-British axis, and, as might be expected, most of its advocates are white. But not all of them.

Kevin McFarlane, a member of the British-based Libertarian Alliance, is one of the movement’s more active black members. 33 year old Kevin is a former public schoolboy who has a BSc in civil engineering and an MSc in offshore structures. After postgraduate studies at Cranfield Institute of Technology he entered the offshore industry as a structural engineer. His interests include philosophy, science and political philosophy. He commutes from Milton Keynes to his London office. He has also just published a pamphlet Real Socialism Wouldn’t Work Either in which he presents a devastating critique and refutation of Marxian socialism. Admittedly this has been done before, but it is fair to say that if Kevin McFarlane had been around in 1848 when the Communist Manifesto was published, Karl Marx would not have been taken quite so seriously, and this would undoubtedly have saved hundreds of millions of people from unnecessary suffering, tyranny, starvation and death.

We met Kevin in London and asked him about his interest in Libertarianism, what attracted him to the movement and why blacks in particular should support it.

“I became a Libertarian more or less by accident. I’m a fan of Rush, and one of their albums, Twenty-one Twelve was dedicated to Ayn Rand.” [Ayn Rand is the high priestess of Libertarianism.]

“This was in 1979; at the time I was a mild socialist. A couple of years later I discovered some books by Ayn Rand in a Lincoln bookshop and thought, ‘Ah, I’ve heard that name before.’ I have certain disagreements with Rand now but she enabled me to go onto bigger and better things.”

“Like writing a definitive refutation of Marxism which unfortunately came 150 years too late? It’s very good, how did you come to write Real Socialism Wouldn’t Work Either?”

“It took me quite a long time to settle on the title; the idea I had was to try to intellectually disarm the revolutionary Marxist groups in the West who had always said over the years that Eastern Europe is not real socialism. I tried to dissociate my essay from what had gone on in Eastern Europe and thought I’d try to analyse the real socialist position and refute that instead.

“The general theme of the essay is to point out that many of the problems which socialists attribute to capitalism are the sort of problems which they couldn’t actually hope to eliminate in any alternative type of society which wants to aspire to the same sort of living standards and to social freedoms, civil liberties and that sort of thing, that was the main theme running through it.”

“This article is for a black paper. There’s a tendency among whites to think of blacks as one-dimensional as far as politics is concerned, ie that they are concerned only about race and racial issues.”

“I haven’t written anything about race yet.”

“Bearing that in mind, the usual claim socialists make is that they are going to liberate the blacks from racism and class oppression, that sort of thing. Yet you’re saying that blacks should not support socialism. Why not?”

“The principal reason they should not support it, is because socialism is wrong and it’s not in their interest to actually support it. It’s not in anyone’s interest to support it.”

“A lot of people - especially socialists - would say ‘Well, he would say that wouldn’t he? He’s an engineering graduate, part of the white system, an Uncle Tom even’. What do you say to that?”

“I just look at myself as an individual, I don’t think of myself in terms of race at all.”

“It’s true that blacks have a better deal in our society than they used to have; the world heavyweight champion is the highest paid sportsman in the world, many black sports stars are big earners, there are blacks in music and the media, and, recession aside, there are increasing numbers of black entrepreneurs and a thriving black middle and professional class. All the same, many blacks still have (or feel they have) a raw deal in Western (ie white) society. The usual cry is that racism is keeping the blacks down. You don’t go along with that at all?”

“Obviously racism has an effect on the achievements of blacks but it’s clearly not an insuperable barrier. By racism I mean discrimination against a person on the basis of his or her colour. There will always be a certain amount of racism in society, given that there will be, a free market increases the costs of that sort of behaviour, whereas the sort of society we have at the moment, a mixed economy with lots of government controls: equal pay for equal work legislation, that sort of thing, doesn’t.”

“Are you saying you don’t believe in equal pay for equal work?”

“I think it should be left up to the employers to decide how much they want to pay and whether they want to discriminate or not.”

“So if I were a prospective employer and I said, right Kevin, you’re hired, but I’m going to pay you four thousand a year less because you’re black, what would you say?”

“I wouldn’t like it very much, I’d probably try to get a better deal elsewhere. Just take an example, if you have supposedly minimum wage legislation in a supposedly racist environment, then firstly, a minimum wage will increase the number of people who want to work for a racist employer and at the same time reduce the number of jobs that he can actually offer. Then, if he does have a racial preference, he can show it by choosing whites instead of blacks, whereas in a free market, those people who would be prepared to employ blacks at a lower rate would have a competitive advantage. In the long run, the rates would tend to even out more.”

“Not all employers are white but a lot of blacks would like to start their own businesses. Do you think there’s a case for more positive assistance to black entrepreneurs?”

“I don’t really believe in positive discrimination or anything like that; the best thing to do is make the market freer?”

“Are you saying that in a totally free market there would be equal opportunity for all?”

“I don’t like the term ’equal opportunity’”.

“A level playing field?”

“Yes, that’s much better, I suppose.”

“You say also you want to abolish the welfare state. That may be fine for Oxbridge graduates (like yourself), who can afford private medicine, but what about the average guy in the street, black or white? What does the destruction of the welfare state have to offer him?”

“It’ll tend to make everyone both wealthier and more free. That appears not to say very much, but there’s not very much else that you can say, really.”

“What about an ordinary working man who needs an expensive coronary operation, say. If he can’t afford it, he’ll die.”

“Healthcare in the US is certainly more expensive, but there is a misconception that they do have a free market when in fact it is very strictly regulated. But even if there is a free market there’ll still be situations in which people will not be able to afford operations. The answer to that is tough, basically. You can’t always get everything you want.”

“So you’d be prepared to let people die?”

“Basically people will have to rely on voluntary charity, that sort of thing.”

[Charity is by definition voluntary, if it’s compulsory, it’s not charity but socialism. Kevin McFarlane is in no doubt as to which he prefers.]

“Libertarians also generally favour the legalisation of drugs, including hard drugs. Considering that we’ve been literally deluged with anti-drug propaganda, what they say is considered rather unfashionable. What about those nasty people who sell drugs to our children?”

“I think it’s possible that some people might want to sell drugs to children, but I don’t think many would. And of course, if there were no tax on them at all, there wouldn’t be that much profit in them.”

“Shouldn’t people be protected from their own stupidity?”

I think people should be free to try to persuade people not to consume these things, but that’s about as far as it should go. From what I understand, these illegal drugs are actually far more dangerous because of their illegality; you can’t monitor the strength and the consistency of what you’re taking, which makes it more likely that you’ll overdose.”

“You want ganja legalised as well?” [Incredibly he didn’t realise what the word ’ganja’ meant.]

“Marijuana.”

“Yes, I don’t see why not.”

“Can we talk a little bit about the race relations industry?”

“I don’t follow the race relations industry that much; all we need basically is that blacks should be protected by enforcing the criminal law. In other words, there shouldn’t be any special category for racial attacks and things.”

“What about verbal abuse?”

“This relates to the whole issue of free speech. I believe in free speech, but I also believe in private property rights. Basically it’s up to the owners of property to determine who can say what on their property. People would be free to say whatever they want provided they’re doing so with their own property or that they have obtained permission from somebody else.

“The situation becomes rather more complicated on public property. Since the streets are actually publicly owned, which means in theory that they are owned by everyone, there’s a bit of a dilemma. The racist should have the right to march on the street and spout his racist views. At the same time, “anti-racists” and people who are being verbally abused, have a right not to be verbally abused. So in this situation the government doesn’t have any choice but to allow orderly behaviour, so it will tend to side with the views that are amenable to the majority, it will tend to outlaw these things.”

“Are you saying you wouldn’t ban the National Front? Before they disappear up their own exhaust pipe?”

“I wouldn’t ban the National Front, but given the existence of private property it does seem appropriate that there should be restrictions on their behaviour on public property.”

“You wouldn’t ban their party?”

“No. I wouldn’t ban their newspapers or anything like that.”

“You’re not opposed to their printing caricatures: anti-black propaganda, all muggers are black, things like that? Why not?”

“The best way to oppose bad ideas is to produce better ideas. I don’t think that banning and prohibition actually works.”

“If say you walked into a public house and the landlord refused to serve you, obviously on account of your ethnic origin, would you report him to the race board?”

“No.”

“What would you do?”

“I would leave and go elsewhere.”

“Which means that the landlord is paying the penalty in the marketplace, which is the correct place to pay it. In fact Kevin, if he refused to serve you, he wouldn’t serve me either, and most of my friends feel the same way. But you want all race relations legislation scrapped?”

“Insofar as it relates to private property, yes. I think the situation regarding public property is more problematic.”

“What about apartheid? Naturally you’re in favour of opposing the South African white minority government and supporting the ANC?”

“I think our attitude should be to oppose both the South African government and the ANC. Our attitude to that should be that we should keep on trying to persuade people of the virtues of a free market.”

“Apartheid is actually a form of socialism?”

“Yes, in a way, but obviously not socialism in the sense that Marxists would mean it.”

“So tell us in a nutshell why the black working class and indeed the working class generally should support Libertarianism?”

“They should support it because it is probably the most consistent political system that’s so far been devised.”

“And because it’s the only one in which people don’t kill each other to impose their views on other people. Finally Kevin, why are you a Rush fan? Rush are a rock band, and surely rock is white man’s music?”

“I just happen to like them.”

Real Socialism Wouldn’t Work Either by Kevin McFarlane is available from the Libertarian Alliance at two pounds post free. The Libertarian Alliance publishes pamphlets on a wide variety of subjects including censorship, crime, drugs, economics, environmentalism, gun control, philosophy, race and sex. Their address is 25 Chapter Chambers, Esterbrook Street, Pimlico, London SW1.

[Unpublished from November 1993.]


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