Monday, January 16, 2012
Martin Luther King, Jr.: Anti-Rights Leader
By Thomas Stelene
America regards Martin Luther King, Jr. as a crusader who continued the Founders' work. Americans view him as a martyr for freedom and honor him with a holiday; people from all sides of the political spectrum revere him and laymen respect him. Nobody questions King's supposed belief in liberty for all.
But how many people know what King actually believed? Evidently, very few, because King's beliefs are incompatible with America's founding principles. He states in his book Why We Can't Wait that the collectivistic cliché "no man is an island" will in the future "find its truest application in the United States."
King's "civil rights" movement caused the loss of individual freedom, not the expansion of it. This is demonstrated in King's view of private segregation as "oppression." Granted segregation was psychologically "oppressive" because it was anti-individualistic and thus caused blacks to have anxiety, resentment toward whites, and such. But in itself, private segregation does not violate anyone's political freedom. Only force and fraud can infringe freedom. Private segregation involves neither.
A restaurant owner has the right to set the terms of how his property may be used and he has the right to associate with whom he pleases. His decision to segregate or even prohibit blacks, whites, drunkards, albinos, or whoever, is his right because it is his restaurant (the soundness of his reasoning is another matter). Those people are free to go elsewhere. They are free to try to persuade him to change his mind. They are also free to boycott and peacefully demonstrate.
It is pounded into our heads that "discrimination" oppresses minorities. According to Webster's Universal Dictionary of 1936, "discriminate" means "to distinguish; to observe the difference between; to select from others." In Webster's New World Dictionary of 1974, "discrimination" has an additional meaning: "a showing of partiality or prejudice in treatment; specif., action or policies directed against the welfare of minority groups." Before the left's politics corrupted our language, there was no mention of "minorities" nor any implied evaluation that discrimination is "bad" because such politically-charged commentaries were rightly regarded as non-essential to the definition.
Collectivists hate even legitimate forms of discrimination. Discrimination means individual value judgment, so they vilify it. They want universal sameness: an end to individual thought. That is part of their basis for so-called "civil" rights.
King established "civil rights" as a solution to "discrimination." The term "civil rights" invokes the context of society, as if these are a specific category of rights. The fact is that King's "civil rights" violate real rights.
Ayn Rand defined rights as "the freedom to take all the actions required by the nature of a rational being for the support, the furtherance, the fulfillment and the enjoyment of his own life." Rights only apply to freedom of action. "Man holds these rights, not from the Collective nor for the Collective, but against the Collective -- as a barrier which the Collective cannot cross." And most importantly, a right "is that which can be exercised without anyone's permission." That means a man does not need others in the exercising of his rights; he only needs protection from them.
When a white refuses to hire or promote a black because of race, or when a white property owner practices segregation or prohibition of blacks on his property, King claimed that blacks' "civil rights" were violated. But how can these be violations of a black man's freedom to act? No man has a right to be hired. No man has a right to be promoted (unless there's a violation of a contract). No man has the right to trespass.
Anything that is called a "civil right" cannot be exercised independently. Unlike a proper right, "civil rights" require that there be others for the agent to act upon. "Civil rights" are the supposed "rights" of the Collective against man. "Civil rights" deny the right of property use and the right to freely associate, which is the denial of the right to act on one's thoughts.
Another of King's bad ideas is the notion that economic and political power are the same. Rand attributed that mistake to "evading the difference between trade and force." But what would happen to "civil rights" if employers went on strike, like the "civil right" to not be "discriminated" against in hiring? Could any "civil rights" be exercised? No, they could not even exist because they demand that other men provide something to the man exercising his "civil rights."
What if failing businessmen coalesced into a new "civil rights" movement, asserting their right to stay in business and claimed people were violating their "civil rights" by refusing to buy their products and services? After all, consumers are "discriminating" against them, thus causing them to face bankruptcy. Obviously a "civil rights" law for entrepreneurs would give them a privileged status and allow them to exploit consumers.
But that is exactly what "civil rights" are -- legal privileges to exploit others. Furthermore, "civil rights" keep the alleged beneficiaries in a state of dependence because the implication is that in order to have rights other men are needed. As Rand said, "You don't gain independence by starting on a subsidy." "Civil rights" negate independence. Genuine rights affirm independence.
King claimed "civil rights" are supposed to address the inequalities stemming from "discrimination," so that we are all equal, like the Declaration of Independence says. But "all men are created equal" is meant in a political context, not any other. It means that the people's servant, the government, must treat them as equals. Men are unequal in intellect, character, and wealth, but those inequalities should be irrelevant to proper government. "All men are created equal" does not mean that government must force men to treat or view each other as equals. That government would be a dictatorship.
"Civil rights" obfuscate rights with alleged "needs" and wants. Egalitarian collectivists like King concocted government-enforced claims on others in the form of collective "civil rights" to ostensibly guarantee equal outcomes.
Everyone has the right to pursue needs and wants, but there is no right to the automatic satisfaction of them at the expense of the rights of others. Rights pertain to individual actions, which may or may not produce the actor's desired results, depending on his ability, intelligence, etc.
King demonstrated his utter contempt for individual merit and individual rights when he demanded that blacks be given special treatment and compensation from the government. King wrote: "The payment should be in the form of a massive program by the government of special, compensatory measures" including racial quotas in hiring. He predicted that inevitably "a broad-based legion of the deprived, White and Negro, will coalesce and restructure an old order based too long on injustice." He called for a "Bill of Rights of the Disadvantaged" that would expand those "compensatory measures," meaning, unearned privileges, to any other groups regarded by collectivist-egalitarians as "oppressed."
Under King's morality, political freedom is impossible. Those who claim to have "civil rights" claim the legal privilege to exploit others. When these victims do not comply, the privileged scream that their "civil rights" were violated. When people lack the necessary philosophical knowledge to differentiate between genuine liberty and its opposite, they will accept the fraud of "civil rights."