The Choice We Don’t Face

by | Sep 1, 2020

Despite what some people suggest, our choice today is not between black lives and private property. Quite the contrary: respect for black lives logically entails respect for all persons, their possessions, and their peaceful projects. The first property right is self-ownership: one’s property in oneself. (The abolitionists called slave traders and owners man-stealers. Get it?) Do the rioters not know that black people also own shops and other businesses? Or are those owners considered acceptable casualties in the struggle? And have those owners been asked to consent to that demeaning status?

Further, no one has spelled out the practical connection between rioting and looting on the one hand and the achievement of respect for black people by the police on the other. Far from an obvious connection, the disconnect is clear. If society faces a choice between civil unrest and Hobbes’s Leviathan, I have no doubt which one most people, including most black people, will choose. That situation will hardly usher in a blissful time of respect for black people’s or anyone else’s lives by the police.

Sheldon Richman

Sheldon Richman

Sheldon Richman is the executive editor of The Libertarian Institute and a contributing editor at Antiwar.com. He is the former senior editor at the Cato Institute and Institute for Humane Studies; former editor of The Freeman, published by the Foundation for Economic Education; and former vice president at the Future of Freedom Foundation. His latest books are Coming to Palestine and What Social Animals Owe to Each Other.

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