So I posted that quote from Walter Block about sexual harassment being AOKed by property theory… and I have been told of the publication it’s from, The Libertarian Forum. I thought, well, maybe in context it seems more rational. As it turns out, I was totally wrong. It is actually worse than the quote indicated.
But the sad thing is, it really shows the logical consequences of the belief in property. Once you accept that much degree of control over other people’s actions, then you can justify any degree of control. “Anarcho”-capitalists will complain that Block’s ravings are not indicative of their beliefs, but they will remain utterly unable to explain why he’s wrong without contradicting their own beliefs (in fact, some ancaps who have talked to Noor about this have said that they agree with Block, which shows how utterly bankrupt their ideology is). Please keep in mind that Walter Block is one of the foremost representants of the ancap ideology.
(bold is mine, and all remaining errors are the fault of Acrobat Reader)
Another type of pinching or sexual harassment is that between a secretary and her boss. Although to many people, and especially to many people in the women’s liberation movement, there is no real difference between this pinching and the pinching that occurs on the street, the fact is that the pinching that takes place between a secretary and her boss, while objectionable to many women, is not a coercive action. It is not a coercive action like the pinching that takes place in the public sphere because it is part of a package deal: the secretary agrees to all aspects of the job when she agrees to accept the job and especially when she agrees to keep the job. A woman walking along a public sidewalk, on the other hand. can by no means be considered to have given her permission, or tacitly agreed to begin pinched. The street is not the complete private property of the pincher, as is the office. On the contrary, if the myths of democracy are to be given any credence at all, the streets belong to the people. All the people. Even including women.
There is a serious problem with considering pinching or sexual molestation in a privately owned office or store to be coercive. If an action is really and truly coercive, it ought to be outlawed. But if pinching and sexual molestation are outlawed in private places, this violates the rights of those who voluntarily wish to engage in such practices. And there is certainly nothing coercive about any voluntary sex practices between consenting adults. The proof of the voluntary nature of an act in a private place is that the person endangered (the woman, in the cases we have been considering) has no claim whatsoever to the private place in question, the office or the store. If she continues to patronize or work at a place where she is molested, it can only be voluntary. But in a public place, no such presumption exists. As we have seen, according to accepted theory at least, the public domain is owned by all, women included. It would be just as illegitimate to assume that a woman gave tacit agreement to being molested on the public street because she was walking there as it would be to assume that she gave tacit agreement to an assault in her own house, because she happened to be there.
There are many other cases of actions taken against women that are not strictly speaking, coercive. Or more exactly, there are many other instances where many women feel put upon, but where there is no coercion at all involved such as referring to women with sex organ-linked expletives. the sexual double standard mores; many rules of etiquette such as the ones concern who proceeds whom out of the elevator. the encouragement of the mental capacity of boys and discouragement of girls, the societal opprobrium of women participating in “men’s” athletic activities; the pedestals that women are placed upon. There are two important points to be made with regard to these insults and other exacerbations which do not constitute coercion. 1) Although considered reprehensible by many, none of these actions actually constitute coercion, therefore it would be illegitimate to outlaw them. Any attempt to outlaw them would involve the mass violation of rights of other individuals in the society. After all, it is the right of free speech that gives us the right not to utter things that everyone agrees with – which do not need free speech protection in any case, but the right to utter reprehensible things, things in poor taste, boorish things. 2) To a much greater degree than realized by many, certainly to a much greater degree than realized by many who consider themselves advocates of women’s liberation, these reprehensible but non-coercive actions are engendered by reprehensible coercive activities. Were these coercive activites to cease, the free market would tend to rid us of many of these reprehensible but non-coercive acts.
Let us consider the case of bosses pinching secretaries and see how the market would tend to eliminate such unwanted activity, were the coercive and reprehensible activity of taxation to support government bureaucracy eliminated. In order to see this, we must first understand what the labor economist calls “compensating differentials”. A compensating differential is an amount of money just necessary to compensate an employee for the psychic losses that go with a job. For instance, consider two job opportunities. One is in an air-conditioned office, with a good view, with pleasant surroundings and pleasant companions: The other is in a damp, dank basement, surrounded by evil smelling fellow workers. Now there is some wage differential large enough to attract most people into accepting the less pleasant job. This will vary for different people, depending upon their relative tastes for the working conditions in the two places. There might even be a negative compensating differential for those who prefer the basement job. They would be willing to take a salary cut rather than move to the office job.
The same analysis can be applied to the case of the office pincher. On the assumption that all women would prefer not to be pinched, and that bosses vary in their desires to so indulge, there will be a whole range of wage rates paid to otherwise equally productive secretaries, depending on the proclivity of their bosses to engage in sexual harassment. There will be a positive relationship between the amount of sexual harassment and the wage rate that the bosses find thay must pay. But now contrast the boss of a private business with the boss in a government bureaucracy. Even on the assumption that both bosses on the average have the same proclivity to engage in sexual harassment, it is clear that the private boss will have to pay for his little gambols, while the public one will not. The secretaries of both private and public pinchers will have to earn more than the secretaries of the non-pinchers. The compensating differential. The main difference between the private and the public pincher is that the extra money comes out of tax monies for the latter and out of his own money for the former. Even in the case of a private boss-pincher who is not the ultimate owner of the business, the same applies, only now slightly more indirectly. The ultimate owner of the business, in addition to losing money if he himself is a pincher, also loses money if any of his executives are pinchers. So in addition to having a monetary incentive to cut down on his own pinching, he also has a monetary incentive to try to stop all the bosses in his company from so doing.
This might not seem like much of an incentive to stop pinching. But it is an improvement over the public case where these disincentives are completely lacking. This way of looking at the problem, however, has more merit than might be readily apparent. One reason pinching does not come to an abrupt end even in the private market is because many women are by no means unalterably opposed to being pinched, as we have been assuming. But the analysis can be applied to the more realistic cases where women are being harassed and mistreated and do object.
Feel free to reproduce this Block quote in part or in total, in any media you can get your hands on. Spread the word. Digg it!
NOTE to all the ancaps who are itching to reply that “sexual harassment is a form of aggression and is simply wrong”: that’s exactly our point. Capitalist property theory allows any form of injustice as long as it’s done “on one’s property.” Insofar as property theory entails that sexual harassment, and other such aggression, is validated, it necessarily contradicts justice. In order for you propertarians to refute us, therefore, you can’t just say “sexual harassment is just wrong”: you need to show that property theory does not entail that sexual harassment is validated. The fact that sexual harassment is not acceptable is a problem for the propertarians, not for us.
The sexual harassment problem was not reversed by capitalism, but by a radical movement (feminism). Block’s childish theory was proven wrong.
For further analysis of this Block quote, see the entry “More baloney…” on Bowers of Paradise and the entry Does private property facilitate sexual harassment? on Division by Zero. Also see more horrid Block quotes at the Voluntary Property Blog.
For more ancap bigotry, see Stephan Kinsella Lies To Defend Bigot Hoppe, as well as the many other entries written on other blogs on the subject of Hans-Hermann Hoppe’s bigotry and its widespread support in the ancap camp.