Simple Democracy Versus Racial Justice In The USA – OpEd


I spent a large amount of my research time in the 1970s and early 1980s engaged in studies of race and economics in the USA, especially in the South. Among the conclusions I reached as a result of this work is one that pertains to l’affaire Nancy MacLean.

MacLean loves simple majority rule, and of course she hates every aspect of racial discrimination and oppression.

Unfortunately for her, in U.S. history, she has to choose one or the other. In the South, where the great majority of U.S. blacks lived between 1865 and the 1960s, the general run of white people held views that adversely affected the well-being of black people—to put it mildly.

The best friends the blacks had among the Southern whites were members of the local ruling class—big landlords, merchants, manufacturers, railroad operators, and so forth. Absent the domination of local politics by these oligarchs, the economic conditions of blacks would have been much worse.

Given the operation of the type of simple democracy that MacLean adores, the South would have been an immeasurably worse hell for blacks that it was—and it was plenty bad as it was.

This article was published at The Beacon.

Robert Higgs

Robert Higgs is Senior Fellow in Political Economy for The Independent Institute and Editor of the Institute’s quarterly journal The Independent Review. He received his Ph.D. in economics from Johns Hopkins University, and he has taught at the University of Washington, Lafayette College, Seattle University, and the University of Economics, Prague. He has been a visiting scholar at Oxford University and Stanford University, and a fellow for the Hoover Institution and the National Science Foundation.

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