Answering no third solution: contracts do not magically create ethics.

David Z., of no third solution, thinks he can reinterpret Block’s Corollary (i.e. the argument that belief in property logically entails belief in criminal activities like sexual harassment, and so on, being justified as long as they occur on the criminal’s property) in a way that somehow proves capitalism right. Here is the reasoning used by David to show the correct “anarcho”-capitalist view on these matters:

To the extent that Block believes an ambiguous employment agreement grants the employer unlimited license to molest his employees, absolutely he is a raving ass…

If she did not agree to be sexually harassed because these terms were not presented to her, then there was no meeting of the minds, and on general principles of law and reason, the uninvited and unwelcome intrusion into her personal space—indeed her being—is in-fact coercive, and worthy of derision…

If she did agree (in which case it’s not harassment), and later decides she is no longer satisfied with the arrangements, then no the employer is guilty of no specific wrongdoing, and yes she ought to leave.

Let’s make this clear. David’s whole objection to sexual harassment, or, we assume, any other breach of a person’s rights in the workplace is… that the contract is too vague! Apart from that, he sees absolutely nothing wrong with sexual harassment!

This sort of vulgar, simplistic simulacrum of “moral reasoning” that “anarcho”-capitalists spout whenever they are cornered highlights very well the hollow nature of their ideology, and ultimately its subjectivist underpinning. For the “anarcho”-capitalist, price is purely the result of desire expressed as paying or accepting amounts of money (subjective theory of value), and morality is purely the result of desire expressed as contracts. No real-life consideration ever enters their picture; no principle, apart from “to the strongest go the spoils.”

In David’s worldview, if there is an agreement (i.e. desires are aligned with each other), then the very nature of the action changes. “[I]t’s not harassment” any more. The sexual harassment of a boss on her secretary becomes foreplay, we suppose. And if she refuses to have sex with the boss, why, she should be fired. That’s only reasonable, isn’t it?

Sexual perversions aside, other people’s desires do not change the nature of an action. At our current workplaces, we are forced to accept the partial or complete surrender of our right to privacy, freedom of speech, freedom of association, freedom of movement, and some other freedoms so basic that we don’t even think about them (such as the right to choose our own clothes). We sign contracts clearly stipulating these and other indignities. Does this make attacks against free speech, privacy, and so on, moral? By what magic does a piece of paper transform the very facts of reality that make something unethical, into something ethical?

Certainly few people actually want to have their rights taken away. But we have no choice but to accept this state of affairs if we want to work. There may be a voluntary component (no one, after all, forced me to sign my employment contract at gunpoint), but there is no choice and no consent possible. Consent cannot exist without viable alternatives.

Let us be clear. “Anarcho”-capitalists tout voluntaryism as the alpha and the omega of ethics. But any Anarchist should reject this view. The concept of voluntary action without consent, theoretical freedom without actual freedom, in short of contractual anomie, is a bitter joke and the opposite of what Anarchists stand for.

Voluntaryism is only workable, if at all, in the idealized version of capitalism proposed by Austrian economics and “anarcho”-capitalists, as discussed by Walter Block. Benevolent overseers will steal even more surplus from the workers to compensate himself from having to swallow his pride in foregoing pinching women’s butts. What a fantastic world we are presented with, what social progress this would engender! And this is supposed to be an Anarchist ideal?

No, don’t be fooled by lunatics like Walter Block and David Z. This has nothing to do with Anarchism. It is the Anarchism part of “anarcho”-capitalism that attracted me to that fraudulent ideology, and it is the Anarchism part that got me out of it. Capitalism is the fraudulent part, that which contradicts and hollows out any principles that the Anarchism part may bring to the table.

David Z. also argues that using the Block quote against “anarcho”-capitalists is a straw man.

Does it boil down to “property” at some level? Kind of, but not really. At least not entirely, as Tremblay presumes. “Property” is not the whole story, nor is it even a crucial determinant in evaluating this scenario. Block is wrong, not because of his belief in property rights, but because an argument resting solely on this premise is as stupid as a football bat.

This is pure hypocrisy on David’s part. Property is the whole story. Without the property claim, there would be no reason to try to measure what limits can be put on the owner’s sovereign control, since no such sovereignty would actually exist. It is only because a property claim exists that he can indulge in such fantasies as determining when it is all right for a single man to engage in criminal activities on his own property.

It merely shows that there is no difference between the claims of a monopoly of force called “government,” and a monopoly of force called “propertarian.”

David Z. also contends that I am defining the Block Corollary as “a singular, authoritative “anarcho-capitalist” ethos.” I agree with him that doing such a thing would be ridiculous. Indeed, I do know that most “anarcho”-capitalists do not defend sexual harassment (although, yes, some actually have defended Block’s position in the past). But this only shows how utterly incoherent their position is. If property is valid, then sexual harassment must be valid as well. If sexual harassment is invalid, then property, and “anarcho”-capitalism, are nonsense.

For another refutation of David’s amoral subjectivist propaganda, see Does private property facilitate sexual harassment?, by Division by Zero.

8 thoughts on “Answering no third solution: contracts do not magically create ethics.

  1. David Z September 30, 2009 at 23:05

    Your obstinance knows no bounds…

    he sees absolutely nothing wrong with sexual harassment!

    Yes, “sexual harassment” is wrong, always and everwywhere. 100% of the time. Unconditionally. But the nature of the action is what matters, and in this case what matters is whether there is a meeting of the minds.

    Is it “sexual harassment” when I blow a kiss to my wife? Of course it’s fucking not. If I do the same thing to a total stranger, or to a co-worker, (especially if done repeatedly and without regard for his/her feelings) of course it is. And it doesn’t matter whether it happens on private property, or public property, or communally possessed property. This is why I say “property” is only tangential to the problem under examination.

    The nature of the relationship defines the ethics of the action, viz., the same action under different circumstances is ethical (or not). The “contract” doesn’t create ethics and I don’t argue that it does, but it certainly formalizes (although it is not a necessary condition to establish) the relationship.

    Is there a crime comitted every time someone makes an unwelcome sexual advance? Yes, indeed. This isn’t going away. Do I believe (as you apparently do) that this sort of thing diminishes as the castes that separate society dissolve? Of course, I do. And of course, this is something that I want to realize.

  2. Francois Tremblay October 1, 2009 at 03:25

    Oh hey, you came back for a second round.

    “Yes, “sexual harassment” is wrong, always and everwywhere. 100% of the time. Unconditionally.”

    I must conclude from this statement that you are either trolling me or have a sense of bravado beyond that of a normal man. You obviously do believe that “sexual harassment” is right, as long as it conforms to your (and the ancaps’) addle-headed criterion of “voluntary.”

    “But the nature of the action is what matters, and in this case what matters is whether there is a meeting of the minds.”

    Desires have nothing to do with the “nature of the action.”

    This is like the STV debate all over again. Subjectivists trying to equate reality with desires.

    “And it doesn’t matter whether it happens on private property, or public property, or communally possessed property. This is why I say “property” is only tangential to the problem under examination.”

    You certainly don’t believe that what is not justified in public is also not justified on private property… unless you don’t believe in property at all, in which case you wouldn’t be arguing on the propertarian side. If property means anything, it is that of an exclusive and unlimited control which is allowed to an “owner” and no on else. Denying this is playing with words.

    “Is there a crime comitted every time someone makes an unwelcome sexual advance? Yes, indeed. This isn’t going away. Do I believe (as you apparently do) that this sort of thing diminishes as the castes that separate society dissolve? Of course, I do. And of course, this is something that I want to realize.”

    Fine rhetoric, but you’re not putting your money where your mouth is.

    Why don’t you change your ideology to align with this, instead of the propertarian nonsense you’ve been espousing? Let’s talk about a classless society and how to achieve it. Let’s drop this whole property bullshit. Are you with me or not?

  3. alleee October 1, 2009 at 14:09

    Harassment is harassment, and no one agrees to it.

    Prostitution is not harassment until someone does something not agreed to, like…violence or…harassment.

    Prostitutes, if they’re smart, do the trick in their own place, because they know that a lot of assholes think the rules change in theirs.

  4. David Z October 1, 2009 at 22:50

    Franc, I’m sincerely not trolling you.

    Why don’t you change your ideology to align with this, instead of the propertarian nonsense you’ve been espousing?

    It’s always open to revision, and you know this.

    Let’s talk about a classless society and how to achieve it. Let’s drop this whole property bullshit. Are you with me or not?

    Indeed, I am.

  5. George Donnelly October 5, 2009 at 16:11

    It merely shows that there is no difference between the claims of a monopoly of force called “government,” and a monopoly of force called “propertarian.”

    The difference is that the former is based on aggression and the latter is not.

    If property is valid, then sexual harassment must be valid as well.

    Wrong. The woman owns herself. This negates your argument (as I understand it).

    BTW couching this thing in terms of “sexual harassment” is stupid. That’s a made up term created by the state in the 90’s to justify more of their nonsense. Please use a different word. How about aggression?

  6. Francois Tremblay October 6, 2009 at 01:20

    “The difference is that the former is based on aggression and the latter is not.”

    Wrong. Both are based on aggression and are ultimately reducible to force.

    “Wrong. The woman owns herself. This negates your argument (as I understand it).”

    Stating that the woman owns herself, from the propertarian perspective (certainly not from my perspective, since I don’t believe in self-ownership), does not deny Block’s Corollary. It merely restates it, since the owner also owns himself, which, according to prop theory, is the basis for his claim of ownership on the building and the woman’s labour.

    “BTW couching this thing in terms of “sexual harassment” is stupid. That’s a made up term created by the state in the 90’s to justify more of their nonsense.”

    Get the fuck out of here.

  7. Jessie James September 16, 2012 at 23:09

    I can’t wait to finish reading this! The first statement concerning voluntaryism is complete rubbish…more to come I hope :)

    • Francois Tremblay September 17, 2012 at 00:06

      That’s it, there’s nothing more forthcoming. Why?

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