The Problem with Juneteenth

by | Jun 19, 2024 | Headline News | 0 comments

Do you LOVE America?


    This article was originally published by Connor O’Keeffe at The Mises Institute. 

    Today is Juneteenth. One hundred fifty-nine years ago, on June 19, 1865, Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Texas and declared that all slaves in the state were free. The following year, in 1866, residents of the town where Granger had issued the order celebrated the anniversary as “Jubilee Day.” Eventually, the name changed to Juneteenth, and in 1979, it became a Texas state holiday. Then, in 2021, President Joe Biden signed a bill designating Juneteenth as a federal holiday.

    The West’s abolition of chattel slavery was one of the greatest victories for liberty in our civilization’s history. Using an anniversary like today to celebrate the achievement and reflect on why it was necessary in the first place—or how it could have come about better—should be a rare point of unity in today’s politically fractured America.

    But in the years since Biden signed the so-called Juneteenth National Independence Day Act, the holiday has become increasingly co-opted by progressives in media, academia, and politics as a way to push for radical policies like collective reparations or the exclusion of white people from celebrations.

    Because of that, most of the rhetoric we see from those promoting Juneteenth sidesteps the actual issue of slavery. They do so because adherents of modern progressivism do not actually believe in self-ownership, the antithesis of slavery.

    Only libertarians have a consistent commitment to self-ownership. We believe that nobody has the right to another’s labor. Nobody can justly claim ownership over another’s body or the fruits of their labor. Progressives do not believe this.

    Modern American progressivism can be defined by its commitment to what are called positive rights. Where negative rights entail an obligation not to do something, like murder or stealing, positive rights refer to the supposed right to be provided with something, like education or healthcare. When backed by the force of law, positive rights produce a legal system where electing not to use your labor toward some specific end is tantamount to a rights violation—which, therefore, warrants the use of force to compel that labor involuntarily.

    These days, the coercion underlying progressive programs is shifted from the service provider to the working professionals taxed to pay for them. The average American works the equivalent of thirty-eight days a year exclusively to fund government programs. For those with higher incomes, that number is closer to sixty-five days. The only problem progressives have with this violent expropriation of wealth through taxation is that there’s not enough of it.

    It is ironic that Americans are forced to work to fund a paid day off for federal employees to celebrate the end of involuntary labor. Much more absurd, however, is that much of our taxed income these days is—with the enthusiastic support of the progressive establishment—being sent to the Ukrainian government, which is quite literally enslaving young men and forcing them to fight against the Russians.

    And, although it is not active at the moment, the House of Representatives recently passed a bill to automatically register young men for the draft with little to no pushback from progressives.

    While detailing the brutality of slavery in colonial Virginia, Murray Rothbard wrote that the essence of slavery is that “human beings, with their inherent freedom of will, with individual desires and convictions and purposes, are used as capital, as tools for the benefit of their master. The slave is therefore habitually forced into types and degrees of work that he would not have freely undertaken.”

    Progressives have demonstrated, through action and rhetoric, that they do not actually find the essence of slavery to be unjust. Their opposition to American chattel slavery is genuine, but it tends to boil down to it being racist.

    Only libertarians have a consistent, principled, and ongoing opposition to slavery in all its forms and degrees. The abolition of chattel slavery was a major triumph for human liberty that’s worth commemorating. But we have a lot further to go—thanks in no small part to those most aggressively celebrating today.

    Abolitionists Understand True Freedom: It’s Time For The Rest Of Us To Understand It Too


    It Took 22 Years to Get to This Point

    Gold has been the right asset with which to save your funds in this millennium that began 23 years ago.

    Free Exclusive Report
    The inevitable Breakout – The two w’s

      Related Articles


      Join the conversation!

      It’s 100% free and your personal information will never be sold or shared online.


      Submit a Comment

      Commenting Policy:

      Some comments on this web site are automatically moderated through our Spam protection systems. Please be patient if your comment isn’t immediately available. We’re not trying to censor you, the system just wants to make sure you’re not a robot posting random spam.

      This website thrives because of its community. While we support lively debates and understand that people get excited, frustrated or angry at times, we ask that the conversation remain civil. Racism, to include any religious affiliation, will not be tolerated on this site, including the disparagement of people in the comments section.