Race and Ethnic Conflict

Changing Course: Civil Rights at the Crossroads, by Clint Bolick (New Brunswick: Transaction Books, 1988). Bolick chronicles the change in the American civil rights movement from its roots in natural-law theories of human rights to advocacy of state control. The real civil rights problems today are state barriers to voluntary action.

Markets and Minorities, by Thomas Sowell (New York: Basic Books, 1981). The best overall treatment of the economics of race.

The State Against Blacks, by Walter Williams (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1982). Looks at the two-sided nature of the welfare state, consisting on the one hand of restrictions on economic opportunity (e.g., minimum wage and licensing laws) and, on the other, of subsidized leaf raking jobs and welfare payments to buy the loyalty of the oppressed. A very important work combining economics, history, and political analysis.

The Economics and Politics of Race: An International Perspective, by Thomas Sowell (New York: William Morrow, 1983). Another important work by one of the leading social scientists looking at race.

The Other Side of Racism: A Philosophical Study of Black Race Consciousness, by Anne Wortham (Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 1981). An important study by a sociologist of racism and race relations, arguing that racial harmony is attained through individual rights and the spontaneous order of a free society.

"Racism, Slavery, and Free Enterprise: Black Entrepreneurship in the United States Before the Civil War," by Juliet E. K. Walker in Business History Review 60 (Autumn 1986). Shows how, even under the oppressions of bondage, slaves exhibited entrepreneurial alertness and creativity. An important work in social history; also isolates the entrepreneurial function and reveals it as an "ideal type" independent of property ownership. Shows how the existence of markets ameliorated the effects of a nonmarket institution.

"Southern Labor Law in the Jim Crow Era: Exploitative or Competitive?" by Jennifer Roback in University of Chicago Law Review 51 (Fall 1984). Shows how state power was used to achieve what was unachievable in the market: segregation and racial subjugation.

"The Political Economy of Segregation: The Case of Segregated Streetcars," by Jennifer Roback in Journal of Economic History 46 (December 1986). Examines the case of streetcar segregation and shows how state coercion was necessary to overcome the natural integrating force of the market.

Competition and Coercion: Blacks in the American Economy, 1865-1914 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1980). Higgs shows that, despite the barriers of discrimination and the legacy of slavery, blacks in the American South after the Civil War were able to improve their economic condition through the institutions of the market; government intervention, in the forms of "Jim Crow Laws" and other attacks on the market, attempted to slow or reverse this progress.

Forbidden Grounds: The Case Against Employment Discrimination Laws, by Richard A. Epstein (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1992). Epstein provides a powerful argument for repeal of "anti-discrimination" laws governing the private workplace.

The Economic Consequences of Immigration, by Julian Simon (Cambridge, Mass: Blackwell, 1989). Simon refutes myths about immigration and shows how open borders and free trade lead to more harmony among nations and groups.

Return to [Selected Issues] [Guide to Classical Liberal Scholarship][IHS homepage]