(Continued from here).
What are the instances in which applied libertopian approaches to public policy can have effects that are on net harmful to freedom?
In my previous post on this subject, I mentioned libertarian opposition to the section of the civil rights act that prohibits private businesses from racially discriminating between their patrons. Briefly, the problem with this position is that in the centuries preceding the passage of the Civil Rights Act, slavery, state-sponsored segregation, toleration of violence against black people, and other unjust policies pervaded throughout the South. The discrimination that blacks faced in the years before the passage of the Civil Rights Act was not the result of a bunch of individual, private decisions. Rather, it was the result of systematic racial oppression. Simply ending the state’s active participation in a racist society would not have fully addressed the problem. Thus, it is legitimate, from a libertarian standpoint, for the state to play an active role in fighting discrimination.
To generalize, in circumstances involving significant historical injustice, a policy that reduces state coercion may not be a good policy for promoting freedom.
I’m not going to get into it now, but I think that there may be a libertarian case for affirmative action (a policy that libertarians almost universally oppose) as way to remedy past injustices.