Sunday, September 1, 2013

Civil Rights, Civil Liberties, and Free market

“Free markets and civil liberties are the same. You can’t just pick one and not the other...”(Jose Shnanderson on Twitter). The Civil rights movement that culminated with Martin Luther King’s I have a dream speech and the decolonization of Africa was a fight for justice, if justice encompasses the principles of righteousness and equitableness.

For a movement to be known as a Civil Rights movement, it follows that the past generation of black leaders in America where leading in the demands for civil liberties. The leaders in the Caribbean and Africa who at the same time where leading in the demands for civil liberties for black people in Africa. It is no coincidence that these movements occurred at the same time.

Nobody just stands up and demands civil liberties, what are people in actuality demand when they ask for civil rights, when they demand equal rights and justice. When somebody demands civil rights, they are demanding in actual fact to be treated as not less than a human being. They are demanding that the law treat them as it treats anybody else, that nobody has fewer rights under the law.

Civil rights ensure that everybody is treated equally by the law, if one can vote, so can another vote. The civil rights movement of the past was guided by the principle that the question of race should never be a factor in how the law treats anybody. The concept of the civil rights movement in principle can never be detached from the concept of civil liberties, though seemingly broader in nature, at the core of civil rights has to be the principle of civil liberties, one is demanding the same civil liberties as another human being, in effect civil liberties guarantee that all are human and all have the same rights and protections from the law.

The concept of civil liberties ensures the law treats us all the same. The process of the civil rights movement is to demand civil liberties for all. The free market is more than just about the right to make money, a free market can never operate in an arena where there are no civil liberties. The free market cannot exist without the concept of equality before the law, a pillar of civil liberties. Equality before the law ensures that what anybody else can do, all others can do it. You cannot have a free market without that concept that is what is behind competition in the economy. If A can do an economic activity, so can B, as long as A is a legal body. Therefore if the state can do an activity, B can also do that activity, how can the state be more equal than the general citizenry that it claims to represent?If the state can own property then other citizens can own property.

The state cannot be more equal than the citizens, the state is run by citizens, it would by logical deduction mean that the citizens running the state have more rights than other citizens. That is why wise people ensure that the people have a right to be armed, the right to bear arms, because the state cannot have greater rights than everybody else, if the state can bear arms, surely the people can too if there is any respect for civil liberties.

One cannot at the same time demand civil liberties, demand civil rights, and at the same time demand that the state have more rights than individuals, it is illogical. Sure people do it, but by that very action, they are being illogical. One cannot at the same time talk of civil liberties, demand freedom and say people must be disarmed, the state should have a monopoly on the right to arms. Even if the state is the most benevolent state, the fact that it has more rights than the people suggests an illogical setup, what happens when the citizens who run the sate are no longer benevolent.

People with proper civil liberties intact understand that everybody is entitled to legally be equal with another person. One cannot at the same time for example demand civil rights and attack the concept of civil liberties, by demanding that the state somehow have more rights than the other citizens who are not a part of running the state.

One cannot at the same time demand civil rights and attack the concept of the free market. The free market is an offshoot of equality before the law, it is an offshoot of civil liberties. Civil rights is about demanding civil liberties for all, then those who advocate civil rights cannot at the same time attack the free market, it is illogical. The free market can only be based on the concept that if one can do an activity, all can do that activity, that is how you get competition. Being based on civil liberties, the free market essentially says all are human beings and are capable of being active in the economic process in the manner that best suits them. To claim to believe in the free market and refuse civil liberties is insanity. One is essentially being a con artist.

These concepts of civil rights, civil liberties, and the free market take great maturity to accept, only an immature mind splits them and tries to make them different issues when they are essentially the same issue. To believe in civil liberties and the free market is to believe in human beings, is to accept all as human beings and capable given opportunities by the law, given opportunities by culture. Civil liberties are a culture, people who truly believe in civil liberties must also believe in humanity and individuals, there are some individuals capable of a certain activity, there are some who are not, but all must be equal in front of the law.

One who truly believes in the free market and is not using it as a smokescreen for some other believes they have accepted by logical extension that all human beings are potentially capable.

Bhekuzulu Khumalo
Twitter - @bhekukhumalo

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Bhekuzulu Khumalo

I write about knowledge economics, information, liberty, and freedom