The 1619 Project’s Ignorance of Individual Rights, and Illogical Trust in the State

by | Sep 3, 2019

The 1619 Project’s Ignorance of Individual Rights, and Illogical Trust in the State

by | Sep 3, 2019

The New York Times has embarked on an endeavor that has people either shaking their heads in disbelief, or heralding it as “stunning, and brave.” What they’re calling the “1619 Project” (referring to the year the first African slave, possibly an indentured servant, was brought to the newly established colonies), seeks to paint the picture that slavery in America is responsible for its prosperity. As, many articles and podcasts have already been written and released refuting these accusations (one here on the Libertarian Institute addresses most of the implications rather well), the disregard for two main tenets of liberty should not be overlooked.  

Radical Disregard for the Individual 

During the reprehensible period of slavery in this country’s history, it should not go without notice that the institution, and industry, had a radical disregard for the individual except in how well that “piece of equipment” could perform its duties, and behave. The slave had no worth as one of “God’s creation,” or didn’t possess “unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”  This contradiction should be called out, and constantly is, by people who would look upon the 1619 Project with approval. After that they go off the rails.  

Upon calling out the hypocrisy of the founding of the country, rightly mind you, the 1619 proponent seeks to lump every single slave into a group that deserves “justice.” Ignoring the fact that history very rarely makes a group whole, they overlook that an individual wronged has always been an easier example to present for people to see where an injustice has taken place. One who is intent on shining a light on the inequity of forced servitude would do far better singling out their ancestor and telling their story, making them “real” to the audience you are trying to sway. 

All of this excludes the fact that you would have to comb through the population to actually find someone willing to defend slavery in the South (AND the North), so what is the purpose of this project other than to re-frame history, or as a primer for some future movement or government program. Again, others have written and spoken on these possible motives, but to not bring one up here that has been spoken of by all of the Democratic candidates for president in 2020, would be malpractice. That, of course, would be reparations. 

The idea that a group of people could demand recompense for a situation in which they were in no way harmed is madness. Many libertarian writers, including Murray Rothbard, most notably in The Ethics of Liberty, have written that if an individual could prove that their ancestor had a piece of property stolen from them, then it would only be proper that they take their rightful property. The issue with the reparations talk being bandied about now is that it presents itself as a nebulous indemnification, one in which no proof need be presented other than skin color.  

And who would make the decision to repay these proxy “victims?” 

The Insanity of Trusting the State 

Capitalism isn’t responsible for slavery. Cotton isn’t either. Slavery existed in the colonies and was written into the Constitution by the monopoly on force and violence in a given region, namely, the State. Examples could be shown where slavery existed absent of the structure of governance that was used in the colonies, and the subsequent country created under the founding documents, but the examples that would be used from tribal Africa might insult some of the 1619ers. Africans in Libya are today selling into slavery their fellow Africans, but since this was caused by U.S. policy under the “cool president,” the 1619ers have nothing to say about this. But they should.  

African individuals are being kidnapped and traded in open slave markets in the 21st century due to governmental policies. The worst things done in history since the blueprint for the modern nation state was drawn have been carried out by these organizations. They extort, imprison, enslave and murder under the pretense of legitimacy. This is who they are and it is very rare that they deviate from this unless said country is small (see Switzerland).  

Going back to the reparations mentioned in the previous section, the question is raised; who will be in charge of this “program” and its distribution? Answer: the very same State that did the enslaving in the first place. The group the people endorsing the 1619 Project accuse of “systematic racism.” To search for logic in this reasoning is a fool’s errand. If there were any people who should be open to hearing the message of how a free market and Voluntaryism could increase liberty, while protecting individual rights, one would think it would be them.  

But no, they hold on to the trope that “the State is there to take care of me” while accusing this imagined “human rights organization” of being the successor, or possible inspiration, for Nazi Germany. Again, logic is as absent as their “rightful” claim to someone else’s property or sympathy for an event they were not present for. 

About Peter R. Quiñones

Peter R. Quiñones hosts the Free Man Beyond the Wall podcast. He released his first book, Freedom Through Memedom – The 31-day Guide to Waking Up to Liberty in November 2017. It reached #4 in the Libertarian Section on Amazon. He has spoken at Liberty Forum in Manchester, New Hampshire and is one of the Executive Producers on the documentary, “The Monopoly on Violence."

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