The white supremacist origins of "public choice theory," the bedrock of contemporary libertarian thought


Originally published at:


Tabarrok and Cowen unwittingly confirmed what critics have long maintained: libertarianism is a political philosophy shot through with white supremacy.

Sexism, too. I’ve had encounters on-line over the years with self-described Libertarian men who also supported anti-choice (as in abortion rights) politicians and organisations. These types were rare (although they’re very common in the MRA/PUA/Red Pill environs), and when pressed on the apparent deep contradiction in their views they’d always drag out what amounted to an informal and bogus variation on this “public choice theory” (in addition to the usual view of sexual relationships first and foremost as an economic transaction). That racism is also deeply entwined with this theory as put into practise makes sense.

[ETA: It’s quite clever, using the language of choice to create policies that continue denying it to minorities and women.]


They’d try that sometimes, too, but it was easy enough to demolish that argument by noting that women with full cognizance and more than a few cells could also be victims of aggression in the context of reproduction.

Not wanting to hear stories about women being damaged by the decisions that the men in their lives forced upon them in regard to pregnancy, they’d quickly move on to rationales like this where they had more cover in the rhetorical weeds.


It’s not “Might makes right”, it’s “vote with your dollar”. They’re two completely different things, I assure you.

edit: that wasn’t intended to be a reply to you, whoops.


Until we legalize the mercs, at least :slight_smile:

…wait, we already have? Shit.


They prefer the term “law enforcement” thank you very much.


Wow. This is a new low for the design of terrible headlines.

This is trying to vilify specific political ideas by association without even discussing their content.

Public choice theory encompasses a really important idea: That narrow economic special interests (“the milk lobby”) have much more ability to focus lobbying resources than counter-special-interests. This is key to explaining some otherwise weird public policy results (“dairy is a food group”).

The summary reads like “Hitler was a vegetarian” with an expectation that people don’t know what vegetarianism is.


Taking that choice away violates women’s rights.


Barry Goldwater voted against civil rights legislation.


I really don’t see a difference. Money is a different sort of might. It is just a way of measuring how much might a person has in reserve.


Agreed, you would think that a libertarian would embrace the theory of treating a woman the same as a blood donor. If a person cannot be forced to donate blood, why should she be forced to donate her womb?

It does remind me of the National Socialist policy of rewarding mothers, saying in as unsubtle a way as possible that a woman’s job was to make more cannon fodd– I mean, workers and warriors and future mothers.


All I can figure is that women are seen as fundamentally different in some socially conservative libertarian thought, less worthy of equal rights and autonomy.

This is all post-Randian and post-Goldwater libertarianism. I’m sure that our friend @the_borderer will remind us, there are vastly different kinds of libertarians. Emma Goldman used to call herself libertarian and she was very much pro-birth control and pro-free love.


That’s why I use the big L to describe that kind of extremist.


They must realize many abortions are a medical issue, right? Just like cutting a guys arm off and removing it because it has gangrene are two different things.

As a libertarian (to some, to others I’m a statist) I can’t see how one can fully hold both values at the same time. Or at least hold one value on a personal level, but support the legality. In short, there are a lot of things one doesn’t have to agree with but still support others to have that right.

For example, one can be pro-life in the sense of wanting to reduce purely elective abortions (which would require supporting education and free BC programs), and yet still keep purely elective abortions legal.


Roger that!






Like intergrated schools.


Well, he knows because he’s studied economics… /s


So the idea of regulatory capture is racist? Because that’s a public choice idea. Buchanan, Tullock, Stigler – these people are serious thinkers, who’s ideas I think you actually use to advance some of your arguments. – Is it too much to ask that you take some time to understand these before you blast them?

And how do you, personally, build your defense of an individual’s rights? Upon Marxism? That simply doesn’t work. Ask Solzhenistsyn.