Private Limitations Of Liberty
Libertarians like to claim only government limits liberty. But that's not what people experience. First world government is actually a minor source of repression and loss of liberties. Private organizations, particularly business, employers and the workplace are the major sources of repression and limitations of liberty that we experience most frequently and heavily. For example, all lynching was private. See also: Corporate Threats to Liberty.
- Adhesion Contracts (1 link)
- Almost all consumer contracts nowadays are adhesion contracts, standard forms which you can accept or not accept. No negotiation. They are used to remove rights of consumers to judicial remedies (through enforced arbitration and prohibition of class-action lawsuits) and entrap employees through non-compete and non-disclosure clauses. This is a case where restricting freedom of contract (to contract away rights) retains other freedoms for the consumer.
- Algorithmic Prison (21 links)
- The algorithmic prison idea is that big data allows business and government to deny us loans, jobs, right to travel, etc. without our knowing why or being able to contest and change the data. This also makes us very vulnerable to dirty tricks.
- Arbitration (7 links)
- Libertarians promote privatization of justice through arbitration. Supposedly it is more economical, but it is obviously biased towards employers who require workers to give up rights to take disagreements to court. It is also a common method for business to keep customers out of courts.
- Contract (3 links)
- Private contracts decrease liberty by creating duties. Sometimes the results are noxious, such as contracts for slavery, non-compete clauses, unconscionable clauses and other surrenders of basic rights. Law regulates contracts by standardizing some, prohibiting others or by making them unenforceable.
- Contract Feudalism [More...]
- Contract Feudalism describes the increasing power of employers over employee's lives outside the workplace.
- Freedom and Money [More...]
- G. A. Cohen points out the elephant in the room: property restricts freedoms of others, and money is the bribe needed to enjoy those freedoms. In this respect, the poor have much less freedom than others.
- From Territorial to Functional Sovereignty: The Case of Amazon [More...]
- "[Major digital firms] are no longer market participants. Rather, in their fields, they are market makers, able to exert regulatory control over the terms on which others can sell goods and services... persons will be increasingly subject to corporate, rather than democratic, control."
- How Your Employer Uses Perks Like Wellness Programs, Phones And Free Food To Control Your Life [More...]
- Don't assume those benefits are just for you. Employers have their own reasons for offering them, too.
- Keynes on Laissez-Faire [More...]
- Gavin Kennedy writes: "‘Laissez-nous faire’ is not advocated as a universal principle for merchants and their customers; it was a very partial principle for merchants only... [Mill and mine owners] wrapped themselves in laissez-faire flags to wipe up the blood of their employees when they demanded their own freedoms and not those of their labourers or their customers."
- Lavatory and Liberty: The Secret History of the Bathroom Break [More...]
- "Many workers in the United States aren’t able to exercise their right to pee on the job -- due to lack of government enforcement -- and it wasn’t until 1998 (!) that they even got that right, thanks to the federal government."
- Libertarian Mugged by Reality [More...]
- Alex Beinstein, a U. of Chicago student, gets a job and loses his libertarianism.
- My Life as a Retail Worker: Nasty, Brutish, and Poor [More...]
- " I didn’t realize the stamina that would be necessary, the extra, unpaid duties that would be tacked on, or the required disregard for one’s own self-esteem. I had landed in an alien environment obsessed with theft, where sitting down is all but forbidden, and loyalty is a one-sided proposition. For a paycheck that barely covered my expenses, I’d relinquish my privacy, making myself subject to constant searches."
- Noam Chomsky Explains Exactly What's Wrong with Libertarianism [More...]
- "Well what’s called libertarian in the United States, which is a special U. S. phenomenon, it doesn’t really exist anywhere else -- a little bit in England -- permits a very high level of authority and domination but in the hands of private power: so private power should be unleashed to do whatever it likes. "
- Privacy Rights (5 links)
- Libertarians only want privacy rights against government based on property rights. This empowers corporations to invade your privacy and financial secrecy for the wealthy as well. Europe is far ahead of the US in protecting our information.
- Private Government (7 links)
- Most workplace governments in the United States are dictatorships, in which bosses govern in ways that are largely unaccountable to those who are governed. They don't merely govern workers; they dominate them. These are feudal forms of tyranny and coercion.
- Reclaiming the Politics of Freedom [More...]
- "[The politics of freedom] views the state the way the abolitionist, the trade unionist, the civil rights activist and the feminist do: as an instrument for disrupting the private life of power. The state, in other words, is the right hand to the left hand of social movement."
- Republicans Sink Bill to Prevent Abuse in Teen Behavior Schools [More...]
- This is an unregulated, private, capitalist industry that grossly violates human rights. But libertarians want to identify government as the problem, not the free market.
- Slavery (25 links)
- Slavery is a free-market, capitalist phenomenon. Slavery has almost always been abolished by acts of government that regulate the market, making it illegal. 19th century slaveowners defended their property rights in slaves in "economic freedom"-like terms that are unmistakably libertarian, differing only slightly in terms of who had natural rights. Some modern libertarians continue to make cases for slavery, such as Robert Nozick, Walter Block, Murray Rothbard and David Friedman. The private prisons that libertarians endorse (and traditional "hard labor") are really an opportunity to revive slavery. The only way to eliminate prison slavery is for government to regulate against it.
- The liberty of local bullies [More...]
- Noah Smith points out how libertarians are oblivious to commonplace coercion that isn't from government. Which makes it a favorite of local bullies who wish blessings upon their bullying.
- The Unfreeing of American Workers [More...]
- "You might say, with only a bit of hyperbole, that workers in America, supposedly the land of the free, are actually creeping along the road to serfdom, yoked to corporate employers the way Russian peasants were once tied to their masters’ land."
- Wage Theft (6 links)
- The simplest way for a capitalist to make more money is to not pay employees what he has promised and what he is legally obliged to pay. That's wage theft, and it is epidemic. Donald Trump exemplifies this problem, and is notorious for non-payment.
- We can't let John Deere destroy the very idea of ownership. [More...]
- "Over the last two decades, manufacturers have used the DMCA to argue that consumers do not own the software underpinning the products they buy -- things like smartphones, computers, coffeemakers, cars, and, yes, even tractors."
- Who Has More of Your Personal Data Than Facebook? Try Google [More...]
- "Google gathers more personal data than Facebook does, by almost every measure -- so why aren’t we talking about it?"
- Worse than Wal-Mart: Amazon’s sick brutality and secret history of ruthlessly intimidating workers [More...]
- "Amazon’s system of employee monitoring is the most oppressive I have ever come across and combines state-of-the-art surveillance technology with the system of “functional foreman,” introduced by Taylor in the workshops of the Pennsylvania machine-tool industry in the 1890s."
- You Prevent Private Coercion With Labor Market Regulation [More...]
- Megan McArdle calls a firing "private coercion." Matt Bruenig replies: "The legal framework that provides safeguards to protect individuals from private coercion is called labor and employment law. "
If a minister, known for his piety, should declare that in his opinion a certain man was an unbeliever, the man’s career would almost certainly be broken. Another example: A doctor is skilful, but has no faith in the Christian religion. However, thanks to his abilities, he obtains a fine practice. No sooner is he introduced into the house than a zealous Christian, a minister or someone else, comes to see the father of the house and says: look out for this man. He will perhaps cure your children, but he will seduce your daughters, or your wife, he is an unbeliever. There, on the other hand, is Mr. So-and-So. As good a doctor as this man, he is at the same time religious. Believe me, trust the health of your family to him. Such counsel is almost always followed.
Alexis de Tocqueville
The state needn't punish men and women for their heresies; the private sector will do it for them. That's why during the McCarthy years so few people went to jail. Two hundred tops. Because it was in the workplace that Torquemada found his territory: some twenty to forty percent of employees, monitored, investigated, or otherwise subject to surveillance for their beliefs. The ruling elites in this country have always understood what Hamilton wrote in Federalist 79: "In the general course of human nature, a power over a man's subsistence amounts to a power over his will."
Corey Robin, "The Personnel is Political"
All forms of society grant freedoms to, and impose unfreedoms on, people, and no society, therefore, can be condemned just because certain people lack certain freedoms in it. But societies have structurally different ways of inducing distributions of freedom, and, in a society like ours, where freedom is to a massive extent granted and withheld through the distribution of money, that fact, that money structures freedom, is often not appreciated in its full significance, and an illusion develops that freedom in a society like ours is not restricted by the distribution of money. This lecture exposes that illusion.
G. A. Cohen, "Freedom and Money"
[S]ocial relations abhor a power vacuum. When state authority contracts, private parties fill the gap. That power can feel just as oppressive, and have effects just as pervasive, as garden variety administrative agency enforcement of civil law. As Robert Lee Hale stated, “There is government whenever one person or group can tell others what they must do and when those others have to obey or suffer a penalty.”
Frank Pasquale, "From Territorial to Functional Sovereignty: The Case of Amazon"
Most workplace governments in the United States are dictatorships, in which bosses govern in ways that are largely unaccountable to those who are governed. They don't merely govern workers; they dominate them. This is what I call private government.
Elizabeth Anderson, "Private Government: How Employers Rule Our Lives", p. xxii.
For all this vast and sparkling intellectual production, though, we hear surprisingly little about what it’s like to be managed. Perhaps the reason for this is because, when viewed from below, all the glittering, dazzling theories of management seem to come down to the same ugly thing. This is the lesson that Barbara Ehrenreich learns from the series of low-wage jobs that she works and then describes in all their bitter detail in her new book, Nickel and Dimed. Pious chatter about “free agents” and “empowered workers” may illuminate the covers of Fast Company and Business 2.0, but what strikes one most forcefully about the world of waitresses, maids, and Wal-Mart workers that Ehrenreich enters is the overwhelming power of management, the intimidating array of advantages it holds in its endless war on wages. This is a place where even jobs like housecleaning have been Taylorized to extract maximum output from workers (“You know, all this was figured out with a stopwatch,” Ehrenreich is told by a proud manager at a maid service), where omnipresent personality and drug tests screen out those of assertive nature, where even the lowliest of employees are overseen by professional-grade hierarchs who crack the whip without remorse or relent, where workers are cautioned against “stealing time” from their employer by thinking about anything other than their immediate task, and where every bit of legal, moral, psychological, and anthropological guile available to advanced civilization is deployed to prevent the problem of pay from ever impeding the upward curve of profitability. This is the real story of life under markets.
Thomas Frank, "The God That Sucked"
... the place where [adults] pass the most time and submit to the closest control is at work. Thus, without even entering into the question of the world economy's ultimate dictation within narrow limits of everybody's productive activity, it's apparent that the source of the greatest direct duress experienced by the ordinary adult is _not_ the state but rather the business that employs him. Your foreman or supervisor gives you more or-else orders in a week than the police do in a decade.
Bob Black, "The Libertarian As Conservative"
There isn’t some a priori theory that tells us whether we are more at risk, relatively, of being busybodied by our neighbor or excessively nose-counted by the state. Or killed by a soldier of the state, or lynched by a voluntary local association of neighbors wearing pillowcases on their heads.
John Holbo, "Thinking About Groups"