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Bonus Quotation of the Day…

… is from pages 135-136 of the original, 1964 edition of W.H. Hutt’s The Economics of the Colour Bar:

It is difficult to imagine a better illustration than is provided by [apartheid] South Africa of the truth that the fight against colour injustice is actually against the consequences of planning on the collectivist model. Every repression of the Africans has, at the same time, been a repression of the free market. It is so-called ‘central planning’ which has caused African labour to become regarded as a mere source of useful, unskilled, muscular strength. And it is profit incentives which have tended powerfully to raise the material standards of Africans, to develop their latent powers, to raise their status and prestige in a multi-racial society, and ultimately to win for them equality of respect and consideration.

DBx: Being a staunch classical liberal, Hutt was an economist who strongly supported free markets. So one wonders how that small group of ‘scholars’ who are now working hard to besmirch Hutt’s name by accusing him of being a racist can read passages, such as the one above, and in good conscience maintain their insistence that Hutt was a racist.

Either they know that they are lying about Hutt, or they are incapable of comprehending Hutt’s own words. As I prefer to believe that a person’s failings are due to his or her intellectual shortcomings rather than to his or her ethical deficiencies, I suspect that those ‘scholars’ who insist that Hutt was a racist simply, if grotesquely, misunderstand what Hutt wrote.

These ‘scholars’ will attempt to defend their interpretation by pointing to the fact that Hutt supported some restrictions on the franchise. But this fact about Hutt does not support the conclusion that he was a racist.

First, many of Hutt’s arguments were presented in light of what was, when he wrote, politically feasible. One can dispute the accuracy of Hutt’s political judgments on this front (although I suspect that he was quite well-informed). But when a writer is assessing or offering practical suggestions for policy changes to be made in the near future, it is wholly unjustified to interpret concessions that that writer makes to political realities as evidence that that writer is sympathetic to all of the real-world sentiments that make those realities practically unchangeable over the short-run.

Second and more importantly, unlike progressives, classical liberals value democracy only insofar as it is a means of protecting individual freedom. Freedom to make offers to buy and sell on terms that the individual (rather than the collective) chooses – freedom to say ‘no’ or ‘yes’ to such offers as the individual thinks fit – freedom from what Thomas Sowell called “the rampaging presumptions” of arrogant busybodies – freedom to choose with whom one associates, employs, befriends, loves – freedom to express one’s thoughts – these freedoms are far more fundamental than is the freedom to cast ballots in political elections.

As in other contexts, it’s possible to disagree with classical-liberals’ attitude toward the right to vote. But it’s impossible to deny that this attitude toward the right to vote is held by most classical liberals. It is therefore scandalous to conclude that a classical liberal, such as Hutt, was a racist simply because in what he wrote he revealed that he did not hold the right to vote to be as important as do modern-day progressives.

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