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Literature Library


The Case for Discrimination

The Case for Discrimination

Walter Block has been writing on the economics of discrimination - and in defense of discrimination, rightly understood - for more than 30 years. This large hardcover collects nearly all of this writing to present a radical alternative to the mainstream view.

His thesis is that discrimination -- choosing one thing over another -- is an inevitable feature of the material world where scarcity of goods and time is the pervasive feature. There is no getting around it. You must discriminate, and therefore you must have the freedom to discriminate, which only means the freedom to choose. Without discrimination, there is no economizing taking place. It is chaos.

The market embeds institutions that assist people in making the wisest possible choices given the alternatives. In this sense, discrimination is rational and socially optimal. For the state to presume to criminalize it based on social and political priorities amounts to a subversion of the market and of human liberty that leads to social conflict.

The empirical detail in this work is as rigorous as the argument is radical. What politics regards as a dangerous inequality, Block regards as perfectly rational given existing realities.

In essence, Block's book is a specialized application of the libertarian perspective on society, as applied to a particular controversy in our times. It is supremely rare in tackling this issue head on, and offering a no-compromise alternative: abolish all anti-discrimination law on grounds that it makes no economic sense and only generates conflict where none need exist.

Will this book cause controversy? Most assuredly. But that it is not its goal. Its goal is the uprooting of a flawed and failed social theory and its replacement by a realistic one that is rooted in a genuine concern for human rights and the good of all.

Updated 9/22/2011