- Jul 2013
- Nashville, TN
That's PAT Buchanan. We're discussing James Buchanan, the public choice, Nobel Prize winning economist.
Buchanan was deeply committed to ideas that many people consider profoundly anti-democratic. Democracy — as taught in middle school civics classes — allows and encourages citizens to come together and use the public sphere and electoral system to pass new legislation. Buchanan consistently argued that this should be made almost impossible.
For example, if an employer did not want to hire someone because of her race or gender identity, Buchanan would oppose government action to remedy this situation, because it would force the racist or sexist employer to do what he does not want to do. Buchanan would be absolutely fine with the government not doing anything about private schools that exclude people with brown skin, banks that do not loan to LGBT folks, Airbnb hosts who refuse to rent to Asians or firms that do not hire Latinos. If an employer tells an employee that he will get promoted only if he agrees to have sex with her, the employee would have no legal remedy, because under Buchanan’s way of thinking, the employer is simply making an offer that the employee is free to refuse. Some people still make this kind of argument today.
Note that Buchanan here embraced “order” and insisted that something must be done about students who have not done anything illegal but merely disregard “ordinary rules of conduct” and “disrupt others,” which are of course part of peaceful civil disobedience. Buchanan called human beings “animals” and “child-men.” Elsewhere, he called people “parasites.” This is a kind of dehumanization and disrespect that is plausibly inconsistent with democratic values, which imply a minimum degree of respect for those whom one disagrees with.
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