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Sep 18 2012

Fire brigades

Thanks to the Atheism+ debate, I’m getting to learn about something called “equity feminism” versus “gender feminism.” The difference seems to revolve around the degree of activism required. I’m new to this particular debate, so take what I say with a grain of salt, but I thought I’d put my initial impressions out there so I can see what people say in response.

The equity feminist seems to be saying, “Look, I know that women are equal, and so I don’t personally discriminate against them, and that should be good enough. We don’t need to be gender feminists and try to make society better for women in general.” If that’s not an accurate assessment, feel free to inform me where it goes astray, but if it is, then I have to say I don’t think that equity feminism is sufficient, and I can explain why, using the analogy of the fire brigade.

The problem with equity feminism as I’ve described it above is that sexual harassment and other social inequities won’t go away just by virtue of a majority of people abstaining from them. There are, and probably always will be, those who actively promote abuse because it gives them some kind of advantage and/or pleasure. You have to deal with those who are actively causing harm, and not just refrain from bad behavior yourself.

It’s all very well respond to fires by saying, “I just won’t start any fires,” but if you have an arsonist in the city, and you wake up one night to find your roof blazing, you’re not going to want a bunch of people come running up and merely refrain from starting more fires. You need a fire brigade to come up and actively combat the fire that’s already there.

I say fire brigade instead of fire department because the brigade is a closer analogy. We didn’t used to have government-funded fire departments, we used to just band together and pass the buckets, both out of sympathy for the victim and out of the knowledge that fires spread, and that our own house could be next. In other words, it’s not just an emotional sense of community—there’s self-interest involved as well.

It’s the same way with sexism, and all the other forms of social injustice. They’re fires, and we have arsonists actively involved in spreading them. If our only response is to say, “Well, I’m just not going to be one of the arsonists,” we’ll end up living in ashes. We have to get actively involved in eliminating the inequities, the same way we would actively quench the fires. It’s not a question here of some kind of “gender feminism” seeking to create a society that unjustly favors women (and other minorities), but rather targeting the inequities that already exist, and eliminating them.

You don’t have to be the one that rushes into the burning building, but you should be willing to help pass the buckets back and forth. It’s part of the price of belonging to the community, and community is a good thing.

65 comments

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  1. 1
    Dunc

    There’s also the rather important point that, even without anybody actively seeking to maintain systems of discrimination, you’re still going to suffer from systemic discrimination because the institutions of society were established at a time when discrimination was the norm. For example, even if people no longer own slaves, the skewed wealth distribution which results from pre-existing slavery can persist for a very long time indeed. Absent active measures to combat it, social stratification (on whatever axis) tends to be self-perpetuating.

    Think of it like a social form of Newton’s First Law.

  2. 2
    trisstock

    Whilst I agree with this analogy wholeheartedly, I fail to see what this has to do with atheism for it to fall under the banner of atheism+.

    1. 2.1
      Deacon Duncan

      Just this: Atheism+ seeks first of all to be a place within atheism where all atheists can meet and interact and work together with other atheists without fear of being marginalized because of what they are.

  3. 3
    Nepenthe

    I don’t know that this is a fair characterisation of the difference between equity feminism and “gender feminism”. (Scare quotes because it’s a term that was invented by self-proclaimed equity feminists to describe those other, bad feminists.) The catchphrase for equity feminists is “equality of opportunity, not equality of outcomes”. Basically, their schtick is to remove explicit legal barriers to women’s equality, but any other sort of activism or cultural criticism is going too far. Essentially, while women can legally work outside the home and don’t have to get married, etc., we all know that traditional gender roles and power structures are best, because biology and stuff, amirite?

    Example: An equity feminist will claim that the unequal representation in STEM is due to natural female inability to do analytic thinking and natural differences in interest, while a “gender feminist” will note things like “chilly climate” and policies that–while de jure equitable–put an increased burden on women as an alternative to the fluffy ladybrains hypothesis. An equity feminist will say that the STEM problem is already fixed; women are technically allowed to be scientists and professors, and any additional intervention is inequitable because it favors women over men.

    Shorter: the difference is not degree of activism, it’s a fundamental disagreement about what the problem is and thus what type of activism is appropriate.

    That said, I understand the confusion. Equity feminists, for understandable reasons, try to keep their actual rationale under wraps since the fuzzy ladybrain hypothesis is currently not in vogue among, I dunno, people who think about things.

    Disclaimer: Haven’t actually made in through the origin of this dichotomy, Christina Hoff Summers’ Who Stole Feminism? as I’m allergic to bullshit and just the back cover gave me hives. I’ve read excerpts and some writing by other equity feminists.

    1. 3.1
      davidjanes

      An equity feminist will claim that the unequal representation in STEM is due to natural female inability to do analytic thinking and natural differences in interest, while a “gender feminist” will note things like “chilly climate” and policies that–while de jure equitable–put an increased burden on women as an alternative to the fluffy ladybrains hypothesis.

      I am also rather new to this entire idea, and the initial explanation of equity feminism doesn’t seem to imply this at all. Then again it wouldn’t be the first time that someone dressed up an ugly idea in fancy words. I could definitely see a case that the effects of systemic discrimination in fact nullify the first clause of “equality of opportunity, not of outcomes”. If the system is still loaded against someone in a de facto case, then we aren’t there yet, right?

      Unless what the equity feminists are stating is that we are there, in which case I see your point in full. I’m just trying to understand how the completely common sense idea that under equal opportunity there will not be equal success somehow leads to “we have done enough.”

      1. M can help you with that.

        That’s one of the things that gets me about the “equality of opportunity” bit (which I seee so often regarding gender, etc.) — I rarely see it deployed for any reason other than opposing equality of opportunity. It comes up whenever people born to wealthy and/or white and/or well-connected families have better access to education/jobs/etc.; it happens when women are discouraged from entering certain fields or seeking certain kinds of work or recognition.

      2. Stephanie Zvan

        davidjanes, you may find that your confusion resolves if you understand that “We have done enough” came first. The rest is backfill.

      3. Nepenthe

        Basically they’re stating that we are there mostly. Equity feminists argue that sex discrimination by private entities is morally acceptable. They’re generally classical liberals/libertarians who believe that true oppression only comes from the state. The role of feminism is to ensure legal equality and to convince women to stop acting so silly and pull themselves up by their bootstraps in order to combat sex discrimination in the private sector (eg. sexual harassment, differential hiring and evaluation).

        For a more detailed explanation with cites, see the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy liberal feminism article.

      4. smrnda

        You beat me to it, the idea that only the State can oppress and that if every single private employer on earth refused to pay a woman anything but minimum wage for *proper lady work* that this would be ‘freedom’ to a libertarian and the State stepping in to change things would be ‘tyranny’ or even ‘slavery.’

        Libertarians either believe ‘it’s only bad if the government does it’ or, go even further and ‘the government doing anything is just bad.’ It’s defining the term ‘oppression’ to suit themselves so they can tell you you aren’t oppressed.

      5. TwoPiDeltaIJ

        You have made a strawman of the classical liberal/libertarian position by stating:

        true oppression only comes from the state

        when the actual position is that a government always generates oppression as a side effect of whatever else it is doing. The fact that oppression by private entities exists is still not something a libertarian wants, they just do not justify using the state to stop it (because it will generate the unintended consequence of oppression somewhere else in the society).

        If you read the article you linked to you will see that equity feminism does not make the claim that feminists should not work to equalize women’s privilege in private interactions it just does not require that everyone does it. This is where we get back to the fire brigade analogy, if your town is big enough, not everyone is required for passing buckets. They might not be passing buckets for a lot of reasons, and at the next (or last) fire they might be (or might have been) there to pass the bucket. The city does not shun people for not passing the bucket every time there is a fire because it has grown to a size where it does not need (or it is unwieldily to have) everyone to pass buckets every time. So, if we ever get to a point where any time legal discrimination against a gender or sexual orientation/identification is squashed in court every time it comes up (and we are not there) then civil litigation or arbitration can do the rest as people choose to continue to be social activists.

        If you want to read more of an argument about equity feminism, the blog linked under my nym has a post or two from when this came up on Stephanie Zvan’s blog and someone asked me to converse with them on my blog.

      6. Nepenthe

        The fact that oppression by private entities exists is still not something a libertarian wants, they just do not justify using the state to stop it.

        And you can tell that equity feminists take non-state oppression seriously because of how they discuss it. Rape? Totally rare, hardly a problem at all. Date rape? That’s just a woman being persuaded. (You know how flighty women are!) Pay differential? That’s because women make bad choices, like being the bearers of the overwhelming preponderance of reproductive, household, and family labor in our culture. (Ignore those statistic controlled for choice factors behind the curtain.) Etc. Etc. Etc.

        Notice two important things from that summary. First, activism not directed at the state is not universally supported in equity feminism, it’s not accounted for in the theory, and it’s not even particularly popular. Second, all the non-political “activism” suggested is predicated on the idea that it is women who must change, not the culture at large and absolutely not men, showing a profound lack of understanding of how systems of non-state power function. (Mentoring and learning to negotiate aggressively is great and all, but means jack-shit if when I leave my mentor’s office my boss makes a joke about giving him a blowjob and then calls me a bitch when I do that proper “masculine” negotiating.)

        Equity feminism is about making sure that there’s no organized fire brigade, arguing that there’s no fire in the first place, and pointing out that fire is actually pretty great anyway.

        I skimmed your blog entries. All I can say is keep your day job.

      7. TwoPiDeltaIJ

        While it may be true in a sense that ‘the trees are the forest,’ as it were, it is not the whole point and it does not condemn the conditions (necessarily) from which ‘the trees’ arise. I assure you I am sometimes appalled by the thoughts and actions of people with a classical liberal bent, but usually the fault is not in the world view its self but in its application (or interaction) with the world in those instances by those people. I argue with those people about their ideas also. This is not to pretend that I am not a kind of libertarian, because I am, but to point out that it is not a monolithic world view, because it is not and you seem under the impression that it is. This relates in that the idea of equity feminism is an expression from an interpretation of libertarianism, but it is not its self libertarianism.

        I am not defending the actions of people who minimize rape (and you did not really need to list date rape separately because of the word rape already includes non-consensual and coerced sexual acts like date rape to me at least…) or the differential in paychecks for the same or similar jobs, nor I am sure myriad other things you think I believe are OK. Link to where I said any of those things are fine legally or morally, or that people who promote those ideas are model citizens. Nor did I claim it was because “bad choices, like being the bearers of the overwhelming preponderance of reproductive, household, and family labor in our culture.” As tends to happen, you are saying that some of those people who claim this view (maybe even a lot of them) said something (which you have slightly exaggerated for the sake of more impassioned sounding rhetoric) so *all* people who have that viewpoint (classical liberalism of one sort or another) which informs the ‘equity feminist’ label must agree with this list of things you think are terrible as OK or at least defensible. Regardless of the terribleness of the things in your list you should work on your ability to argue against ideas and not people, especially people who do not agree to be collectivized as you have done. Aside from that, careful reading will point out that the equity feminist label is built on voluntary consent to act for people unbiased from inherent traits but does not demonize freely adopted traits (like deciding to be the primary caregiver to children). I will make a further comment on this later.

        First, activism not directed at the state is not universally supported in equity feminism, it’s not accounted for in the theory, and it’s not even particularly popular. Second, all the non-political “activism” suggested is predicated on the idea that it is women who must change, not the culture at large and absolutely not men, showing a profound lack of understanding of how systems of non-state power function.

        Of course any given idea (aside from libertarianism) is not universally supported by libertarians, for further examples pick any group you want and see if you can say they all agree to be activists about some thing that some of them say is a consequence of their group identity. I do not see this as a valid criticism. You note that activism not directed at the state is not opposed in equity feminism but might not be popular (though elements of the view have continually manifest themselves in the Libertarian Party platform in the US since it was formed). Your second point is related to your first. Since the position is only well defined in its reference to state positions on unequal treatment based on gender (amongst other things) of course it factionalizes beyond that. This is the same problem within atheism that has led to A+. Not recognizing that this is an inherent problem of activism under a broad label is your failing not mine or the ‘equity feminists.’

        I skimmed your blog entries. All I can say is keep your day job.

        I have noted your opinion, though I do not think very many people have it as their profession to have a free blog on which they continue arguments with people in lieu of derailing threads about other things on other blogs I certainly do not have it as mine.

        So, back to the delayed point:

        Equity feminism is about making sure that there’s no organized fire brigade, arguing that there’s no fire in the first place, and pointing out that fire is actually pretty great anyway.

        No, equity feminism is about making sure there is no state opposition to volunteer fire brigades. If not demanding that everyone believes what you believe and does what you would like them to do is the core of the problem, there is not point in arguing with you. If you are ok with people not believing what you believe and choosing willingly not to do what you would like them to do (or what you think is in their best interest) then I do not see how you have a problem with equity feminism.

      8. davidjanes

        The fact that oppression by private entities exists is still not something a libertarian wants, they just do not justify using the state to stop it (because it will generate the unintended consequence of oppression somewhere else in the society).

        Boy is that a logical mess. What they would need to demonstrate, even if their hypothesis that state intervention always generates oppression were true, is that the oppression generated by the state was worse than the oppression that it was intended to stop.

        I just don’t see how the society that we currently have in any way passes Rawls’ definition of a just society, and Rawls is generally considered to be a liberal.

      9. Nepenthe

        @TwoPi

        Dude, when did I say “I am, in this post, arguing specifically against TwoPiDeltaIJ and his easily accessible and well thought out viewpoints which he has just described”. We are not talking about you. We are talking about equity feminism. So you don’t minimize rape and pretend that “date rape” is silly ladies gettin’ flighty? Great. You’re a partly decent human being. Have a cookie. Other equity feminists do these things, because it’s the only way they can excuse themselves from having to care about rape etc.

        Not everything is about you.

        No, equity feminism is about making sure there is no state opposition to volunteer fire brigades.

        And here’s where equity feminists and the other people, who I like to call actual feminists differ. Equity feminists stop there. Actual feminist also want the state to allow fire brigades, but actual feminists do the work of building fire brigades. Equity feminists are attempting to stop other people from forming fire brigades, though through shaming, torturing data, and other sorts of cultural manipulation and not through the state. Huge difference.

      10. Nepenthe

        And no, it doesn’t make any sense, for the same reason that libertarianism doesn’t make any sense.

      11. davidjanes

        Thanks for the cites. I’ll read it tonight. I am still terribly confused about how their conclusion follows from their premises.

      12. Dalillama, Schmott Guy

        It doesn’t. That’s a major stumbling block in trying to comprehend libertarian positions. Their premises are wrong, their conclusions are wrong, and the logic they follow to get from one to the other is wrong too.

    2. 3.2
      No Light

      Thank you so much. Hugs, and fistbumps, and puppies, and big shiny server arrays, and suchlike. I was beginning to think I’d lost the plot!

      And yeah, “gender feminism” is another Randroid/MRA/general dbag paranoid invention that implies that “I just want to be treated like the default humans” means “RARR KILL ALL MEN AND ABORT MALE BABIES AND RULE THE WORLD!”.

      As for H**f-S*****s she gives me instant, intractable reverse peristalsis (Emesis Katiroiphus) and bleeding eyes (Ocularis Schlaflyus).

      Maybe, some day, there’ll be a cure.

  4. 4
    embertine

    Absolutely.

    Equity feminism seems to suffer from Spherical Cow Syndrome to me. Let’s assume that women have equality of opportunity… except that we don’t, thanks to the cultural pressures, stereotype threat etc. as mentioned above.

    The cow is not spherical, and it doesn’t help feminism in the real world to pretend that it is.

  5. 5
    dustinarand

    I have a couple of observations about your post.
    1. I don’t think people fit neatly into just two camps with respect to their feelings on gender equality. Probably most of us see gender inequality not as one thing but rather as a whole bunch of discreet social and cultural problems that require different solutions, and finding those solutions may mean leaning more heavily on a certain philosophical attitude here, another philosophical attitude there.
    2. I don’t think the fire brigade is the best analogy, because unlike fires, there really isn’t universal agreement on what should be done about various gender inequalities. Imagine if you had this raucus debate within the fire brigade about whether the proper way to put out fires was just to turn a high power hose on them, which would usually (but not always) put out the fire while preserving the surrounding structures, or whether we should just demolish all the surrounding structures in a three-block radius (at great expense but with a near guarantee of putting the fire out). That sense of unease with respect to how much society needs to change to accomplish our goals, and how much can and should be preserved, makes this debate much harder to resolve than simply trying to decide whether to affirmatively put out fires.

  6. 6
    vickychase

    I was surprised to find that there was more equality in New Testament times than we have been lead to believe. Until I found a new book, Cover-Up: How the Church Silenced Jesus’s True Heirs, I had not ideaof how prominent women were in the early church. For instance, I had never heard of the New Testament apostle, Junia, possibly because the church tried to turn her into a male: Junius (there’s no such name).But what’s fascinating is that the Jewish followers of Jesus, the subject of the book, seem to have influenced later groups such as the 10th century Cathars and the later Lollards where women as well as men played leading roles. Although this is not the main thesis of the book, the author has thoughtfully provided an appendix covering the subject of empowered women starting with Jesus’s women disciples (such as Mary Magdalene). I think this is a very exciting read. I found it at: http://tinyurl.com/69cazll.

  7. 7
    kagekiri

    Ugh, yeah, freaking equity feminists. Got into an argument with one where he claimed I was white-knighting to start the argument, then said because women were graduating at a higher percentage than men that men needed the help more than women and therefore feminists were discriminating against the poor, uneducated men.

    I pointed out that the fact they still made way less and were still hired disproportionately meant that we still had sexism, then he tried to claim there WAS equal opportunity and pay discrepancies were just because women took maternity or got married and stopped working and were thus less good/reliable workers.

    He finally shut up when I pointed out, yet again, that the studies showing major sexism in pay already accounted for any reasons besides out-and-out sexism for the pay difference. Women simply do not get the same bang for the buck choosing careers over having families that men do; we’re not there yet.

    It was almost like the facts “unfairly” promote “gender” feminism more than equity feminism (which apparently blends quite well with MRA BS, which is an indictment in and of itself)!

    1. 7.1
      No Light

      Yeah, they remind me of the totally-not-racist “race realists” who say “No more racism! Black president!”.

      They have exactly the same attitudes, “I’m totally not racist, I’ve never killed a black dude and I only use n”***r in all-white company. I’m one of the good guys!”

  8. 8
    tacotaco

    Should we then expand selective service to include women, or does equity feminism become good enough when the military is involved?

    1. 8.1
      Dalillama, Schmott Guy

      No, we should abolish Selective Service entirely, as it’s involuntary servitude not associated with a criminal conviction and thereforeclearly contrary to the 13th amendment: “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction. “

    2. 8.2
      Nepenthe

      It’s funny, because, theoretically at least, the Selective Service is one of the few de jure forms of sex discrimination left in the US–the sort that equity feminists would recognize–so your post is doubly stupid. I’ve personally not seen any who’ve written on the topic. Then again, I don’t see much writing on the topic period, because the US instituting a draft again is roughly as probable as my cat being elected dogcatcher.

  9. 9
    Scott Reese

    Ooooo, got this one!

    “Should we expand selective service to include women?”

    Yes, now go tell your local congressman to get hot rewriting that.

    Next question, I’m getting good at these.

  10. 10
    mattisironen

    Equity feminism = putting out the house on fire, gender feminism = putting the neighbourhood to the torch instead.

    1. 10.1
      Deacon Duncan

      Really? You think gender feminism consists of abusing and disadvantaging women on an even larger scale? That seems odd.

      1. mattisironen

        No, I think it consists of disadvantaging men in order to compensate for both perceived and real disadvantages faced by women.

      2. Deacon Duncan

        But do you agree with the basic principle of (a) identifying the real disadvantages faced by women and (b) taking action to replace male privilege with genuine gender equality?

    2. 10.2
      chaos_engineer

      Equity feminism = putting out the house on fire, gender feminism = putting the neighbourhood to the torch instead.

      This is a good attempt at an analogy, but it looks like the house represents society. So I don’t see what the “neighborhood” is or why gender feminists would want to put it to the torch.

      Maybe we can fix it…how about: “Equity feminism = putting out the fire and telling the residents they should move back in immediately. Gender feminism = putting out the fire, demolishing the parts of the building that are no longer fit for human habitation, and rebuilding with a stronger emphasis on fire safety.”

  11. 11
    Jay

    “Thanks to the Atheism+ debate, I’m getting to learn about something called “equity feminism” versus “gender feminism.” The difference seems to revolve around the degree of activism required. I’m new to this particular debate, so take what I say with a grain of salt, but I thought I’d put my initial impressions out there so I can see what people say in response.

    The equity feminist seems to be saying, “Look, I know that women are equal, and so I don’t personally discriminate against them, and that should be good enough. We don’t need to be gender feminists and try to make society better for women in general.””

    Why would you waste your time writing this blog post about straw equity feminists?

    Have you read the books and articles of Christina Hoff Sommers?

    Have you read the materials of Jean Bethke Elshtain, Elizabeth Fox-Genovese, Noretta Koertge, Donna Laframboise, Mary Lefkowitz, Wendy McElroy, Camille Paglia, Daphne Patai, Virginia Postrel, Alice Rossi, Nadine Strossen [ACLU], Joan Kennedy Taylor, Cathy Young, and evolutionary psychologist Steven Pinker.

    It certainly sounds from your first two paragraphs you haven’t looked at any of the primary sources.

    How did you do your research?

    “The equity feminist seems to be saying, “Look, I know that women are equal, and so I don’t personally discriminate against them, and that should be good enough. We don’t need to be gender feminists and try to make society better for women in general.”

    This is NOT what equity feminists are saying? Name three primary sources you read that give you this impression of equity feminism.

    “If that’s not an accurate assessment, feel free to inform me where it goes astray, but if it is, then I have to say I don’t think that equity feminism is sufficient, and I can explain why, using the analogy of the fire brigade.”

    Do your own damn work boy from outer space.

    You found the energy to straw man a branch of feminists, why waste the time masturbating this post of yours out when you could have found some very interesting, very intriguing, very enlightening EVEN if you disagree with them readings from these people?

    What the hell are you? What the hell is Free Thought Blogs!?

    1. 11.1
      Deacon Duncan

      Hi Jay,

      I am not “researching” this per se, I’m reacting to what I’ve heard so far. If you feel that there’s a side to the story that I’m missing here, feel free to present and/or defend it. Perhaps those who are unsupportive towards equity feminism are more willing/able to present their side where I can see it, and therefore have made their points more accessible to people like me. If so, now’s you’re chance to even the score.

      1. Jay

        Oh please. It’s incredibly trivial to learn about equity feminism.

        Papers: http://www.aei.org/search/Christina+Sommers+Feminism+and+American+culture

        You can buy Sommers’ book in hardback, used, for a penny at Amazon.
        http://www.amazon.com/Who-Stole-Feminism-Women-Betrayed/dp/B0007O1JQS

        You can do the same for blogs and books by Cathy Young or Camille Paglia or any of the author’s I’ve mentioned above.

        Videos from Sommers are easy to find at AEI or on YouTube. Cathy Young writes for Reason and the Boston Globe and maintains her older blogs and articles at her website. Donna Laframboise blogs. Wendy McElroy blogs. Camille Paglia has many columns available from Salon. Virginia Postrel blogs.

        Your deflection that somehow equity feminists hide their writings from you when gender feminists have made them easy to obtain is disingenuous and actually insults your own intelligence.

        What you apparently have been reading is one straw equity feminist after another. Accounts of equity feminists by its opponents.

        If you want to learn about Marxism would you ignore what Karl Marx has to say and only listen to Ron Paul and then say, well, it was easier to find Ron Paul’s essays then Karl Marx’s.

        Would you claim that by reading only material made available by conservatives that somehow you understood liberal philosophy?

        “The difference seems to revolve around the degree of activism required” — by your second sentence you’ve gone totally off the rails.

        There is plenty of primary source material about equity feminism available for free on the Internet.

        And for less than $4.00 each, price + shipping (eligible for prime) you can start reading books written by the intellectuals of equity feminism. Or visit a library.

        Truly, this blog post and your response to me insults Free Thought Blogs.

      2. Jay

        Why is my second post in moderation!? This would seem to violate your moderation policy.

      3. Jay

        Okay, I gather I have a comment still in moderation perhaps because it contained two links.

      4. Deacon Duncan

        Thanks for the links, I hope to have time to look them up this weekend. As you may have noticed I haven’t had time to tend to my blog these days and am able to give only cursory attention to both the comments and my posts. I’m sorry you’re not happy with my responses thus far, but I’m afraid I’m not giving a lot of things the attention they deserve. I expect the situation to improve in mid to late October, and possibly on weekends between now and then.

      5. Jay

        I honestly don’t know how any blogger can give the time most bloggers give to their blogs. I don’t think those links are going anywhere soon.

        Thank you for looking at them, when you get the chance.

  12. 12
    smrnda

    TwoPiDeltaIJ

    This assertion:

    “when the actual position is that a government always generates oppression as a side effect of whatever else it is doing. The fact that oppression by private entities exists is still not something a libertarian wants, they just do not justify using the state to stop it (because it will generate the unintended consequence of oppression somewhere else in the society).”

    Here’s a few problems with this statement. First, it seems to be saying that any restriction placed on private entities by the government is oppression. I disagree since I don’t think making it illegal to demand sexual favors in exchange for employment is oppressing the employers or a law against beating your kids is oppressing parents. It is oppressive for a factory to dump toxic sludge in a nearby river – it is not oppressive for the government to make them stop.

    The other part of the assertion is that if government intervenes to stop oppression by private entities, it will only create oppression somewhere else. The problem is it’s viewing all restraints on anyone as if they are equal in terms of level of oppression. If the government passes laws that businesses must have fire exits and that workers must not be chained to machines, this liberates the workers from the oppression of their employer, but I cannot see this law as creating oppression in any meaningful way. If you think a law prohibiting employers from chaining workers to machines is oppressing employers, your views would be too ridiculous for me to waste my time arguing against.

    In the end, it seems like libertarians realize that oppression can come from the government or private entities, they just arbitrarily decide that one ought to be completely forbidden without providing any rationale for why.

    And within some level I can accept people choosing to behave in ways that I don’t like, but like all things, this isn’t a binary either/or one or the other thing. I weigh any calls for new legislation or government intervention against the size and severity of a problem. I weigh individual liberties against the degree of harm a person might inflict on others. We balance these things all the time – to me, libertarianism is based on just dismissing all government interventions as worse than the problems they are solving, and given the shit treatment of workers by their employers, I can’t take it seriously.

    If anything, political power is something that should be balanced against economic power, since economic power is largely undemocratic but political power ought to be accessible to all.

    1. 12.1
      davidjanes

      In the end, it seems like libertarians realize that oppression can come from the government or private entities, they just arbitrarily decide that one ought to be completely forbidden without providing any rationale for why.

      I think you have nailed it. Government == bad is a postulate of their system, not a theorem.

  13. 13
    TwoPiDeltaIJ

    Deacon Duncan,
    As a sort of equity feminist (though I dislike the term), I would not make the argument that ‘equity’ feminists are right and ‘gender’ feminists are wrong or the other way around (not the least of which is because I am not sure what a coherent definition of ‘gender’ feminist is). Nor do I agree that equality has been reached (legally or socially) and so the feminists of any sort should put down their metaphorical guns and go home. My whole interest in the conversation comes from this line of the post:

    If that’s not an accurate assessment, feel free to inform me where it goes astray, but if it is, then I have to say I don’t think that equity feminism is sufficient…

    I disagree with the initial assessment for setting up the analogy. I think the more accurate analogy is one I have already given in the comments (about not preventing the fire brigade from forming). Is that enough from the equity feminists (to try to stay out of the way of the A+ style feminists while still combatting inequality within the legal system)?

    ——————

    davidjanes and smrnda,

    You had one sort of common objection which I will address all at once rather than as separate replies, where:

    What they would need to demonstrate, even if their hypothesis that state intervention always generates oppression were true, is that the oppression generated by the state was worse than the oppression that it was intended to stop. –davidjanes

    and

    The other part of the assertion is that if government intervenes to stop oppression by private entities, it will only create oppression somewhere else. The problem is it’s viewing all restraints on anyone as if they are equal in terms of level of oppression. If the government passes laws that businesses must have fire exits and that workers must not be chained to machines, this liberates the workers from the oppression of their employer, but I cannot see this law as creating oppression in any meaningful way. If you think a law prohibiting employers from chaining workers to machines is oppressing employers, your views would be too ridiculous for me to waste my time arguing against. –smrnda

    So, there are a few common misunderstanding about libertarian ethics held by you two, evident from these statements. First is that you have made an assumption that libertarian ethics are consequentialist like progressive liberal ethics. This is sometimes the case, as I said before, there are a lot of ‘flavors’ of libertarian, but in many of the larger libertarian demographics it is not true. If the meta-ethic is not consequentialist but rather based on principles (or axioms) then it does not require that it weigh levels of oppression to render a verdict as to which actions or ideas to oppose and which to support since it is a very simple test of ‘does it violate these principles to the best of my understanding of them?’ which is evaluated at every event. I can not tell you what the construction of the other people arguing with you about equity feminism have as the basis of their libertarianism (if they have a clear one). I can tell you that I apply my ethics in something more like an axiomatic way where I revise/add/subtract axioms as I reason further positions requiring their modification (or creation or annihilation).

    Now, on to answering individual arguments.
    davidjanes:

    I just don’t see how the society that we currently have in any way passes Rawls’ definition of a just society, and Rawls is generally considered to be a liberal. Who is arguing that the current set of societies are libertarian (or dominantly progressively liberal)? Who is saying that our current society is just (by Rawls’ rather progressive liberal standard or a libertarian one)? As far as I know, not even the so called equity feminists hold that position. As a reasonable approximation of one, I certainly do not hold that view.

    I think you have nailed it. Government == bad is a postulate of their system, not a theorem.

    It is actually a result of earlier axioms and comes up when the questions of value and time preference are explored. On a different note, I think you use ‘==’ wrong. This typically (to the best of my knowledge) indicates an interrogative statement not a declarative one.

    smrnda:
    First, my ‘assertion’ was to clear up a misunderstanding and the actual statement of the underlying principle is formed another way, though it does end up with that as one of its results. Second, to a libertarian (broadly, and this does not actually fit the full spectrum of libertarianism) all actions taken against the will or consent of the involved parties are coercive. That is, they are an attempt to modify behavior to fit some standard. If the standard is not agreed to by the consenting parties and the behavior is not aggressive* then stopping the behavior is aggression (and thus oppression). Now, that requires an understanding of what a libertarian means by aggression. Namely, any act which will harm a non-consenting individual through physical or psychological coercion. This leaves out economic coercion (on purpose) and that is a perfectly valid place to have an argument about libertarian ethics. If you add in economic coercion as aggression you loose property rights and usually become an anarcho-syndicalist (essentially the economic opposite of an anarcho-capitolist). If you recognize economic coercion but maintain some property rights, usually that is referred to as mutualism. Libertarians in the US political party sense are drawn from all of those groups, and several more besides, but they also have another group, the people who like ‘small government Republican’ style economic views and governing style coupled to socially liberal ideas (namely that it is not the governments business what you do with your body or the body of other consenting individuals). That demographic is the largest, and the least ‘pure’ in its meta-ethical grounding, but probably what you find yourself arguing against most often. That is *not* the position I hold (though I do agree with them socially). I am a voluntarist, which has a simple definition (and a specific non-aggression principle that is slightly different from some of the others), I think it is morally objectionable to force people to comply with my wishes for them (or their behavior), except when it is to stop an act of aggression or defend myself from aggression. So, with all of that out of the way, we can go through your list of objectionable behavior and see which things are actually things I think are oppression and which are people stopping aggressive acts.

    …[1] making it illegal to demand sexual favors in exchange for employment is oppressing the employers or a [2] law against beating your kids is oppressing parents. It is oppressive for [3] a factory to dump toxic sludge in a nearby river…

    1) All non-consensual sexual acts are aggressive (under all libertarian NAPs) and thus attempting to stop them is within the NAP and to some kinds of libertarian even OK for the government to do (i.e. minarchists, and the Libertarian party constituents). 2)libertarians have differing views on children’s rights but they come down to two major camps: a) Children are never capable of consent and thus parents hold their rights in stewardship so any punishment or renumeration would not just be for an aggressive act (like physical violence) but also for abusing the stewardship of the rights. b) Children who can withhold or give consent are their own rights holders and are empowered to defend their rights (and be defended by others) when the rights are violated. Children too young to understand what consent means with regards to behavior revert back to case a). So, in any event, intervening in a parent abusing a child violates the NAP and stopping it if possible is morally justified. 3) If the factory owners own the river, and all the area that the water in that river which is contaminated will reach then they are abusing their own property and it is ‘oppression.’ If the caveats are not satisfied (and they probably would not be) then stopping them is stopping aggression and justified with the NAP.
    So, if all of these scenarios are ones in which a libertarian agrees intervention is permissible (or necessary) then why do they not want it to be a government that does it? Well, as I said, some of them are actually OK with a government doing it, but since I raised the point that not all of us are I will explain why not. The simple answer is that the non-minarchist/Republican-light libertarians do not agree that majority rule is a moral authority. If a government has no moral mandate to operate, then what it is doing to continue its operation is immoral (namely the charge is that ‘taxes are theft’ or the more extreme ‘taxes are slavery’ by say, your average anarcho-capitolist). I do not really want to get into the detail of why they hold that belief, since this is already a very long post and that would probably double the length, but if you are interested feel free to reply and ask for the justification and I will gladly make it here or elsewhere.

    In the end, it seems like libertarians realize that oppression can come from the government or private entities, they just arbitrarily decide that one ought to be completely forbidden without providing any rationale for why.

    This sentence started so well. The decision is not arbitrary, but like many things you would have to go look for the answer (or ask a libertarian of one of the more philosophically bent varieties). There are hints as to why in what I have written above.

    And within some level I can accept people choosing to behave in ways that I don’t like, but like all things, this isn’t a binary either/or one or the other thing. I weigh any calls for new legislation or government intervention against the size and severity of a problem. I weigh individual liberties against the degree of harm a person might inflict on others. We balance these things all the time – to me, libertarianism is based on just dismissing all government interventions as worse than the problems they are solving, and given the shit treatment of workers by their employers, I can’t take it seriously.

    The binary decision is this one: Will you use force to compel someone who is acting peacefully in a way you disagree with (or even abhor) to change their behavior? If yes ( please go think about your answer), then I am sorry but glad we are on different continents. If no, then you do not hold a position incompatible with that of a libertarian and the rest is arguing about the details of positions.

    I would basically wrap this up by saying that I think the only libertarians you run into are of the Republican-light variety but there do exist other schools of thought and you both seem quite ignorant of the positions you are arguing against. I do not mean that as a pejorative, it is simply apparent to many libertarians reading your responses (if we were not such a small population on FTB) that you ‘do not speak the language,’ and in the same way that libertarians usually irritate the social justice community here when arguing with them without bothering to learn to argue using their jargon, you will probably only irritate any libertarian you argue with rather than engage them. I encourage you, for your edification, to study a little more deeply the ideas you are convinced are wrong (recall how well the average atheist is versed in several religions vs. their theist counterpart). If nothing else, you will be better equipped to argue with them. I have tried to explain here some of where I think we are having a misunderstanding.

    1. 13.1
      davidjanes

      Yet you are perfectly willing to use a consequentialist argument* to justify the equity feminist position on government intervention? Sorry, I’m not buying it. You don’t get to use one framework to argue and then run from it when it doesn’t back your conclusions that easily.

      *I refer to: The fact that oppression by private entities exists is still not something a libertarian wants, they just do not justify using the state to stop it (because it will generate the unintended consequence of oppression somewhere else in the society).

      Which is entirely consequentialist in its reasoning of why some oppressive behavior is to be tolerated and uncorrected.

      1. TwoPiDeltaIJ

        Yet you are perfectly willing to use a consequentialist argument* to justify the equity feminist position on government intervention? Sorry, I’m not buying it. You don’t get to use one framework to argue and then run from it when it doesn’t back your conclusions that easily.

        It was not a consequentialist argument, it was axiomatic though I understand the confusion, I did not phrase it well.

        To restate the argument, my claim was that government intervention will probably stop the oppression you want stopped (though a private entity could do the same job) and that the government intervention will use aggression (cause oppression) in some other way while fixing the problem you wanted addressed.

        For this to be a consequentialist argument as you have suggested it is, I would need to be arguing that the intent is not a problem with the government intervention but that the unintended outcomes were my objection. I infect *do* have a problem with government intervention regardless of intent, not just the outcome even though I freely admit that the government intervention can (sometimes) fix the initial problem. That being said, there are a lot of consequentialist libertarians (for example this is the difference in von Mises or Rothbard constructed anarcho-capitolism). I could attempt a consequentialist libertarian defense of your other objections if you like, but not being one it will take me longer to write up.
        ———
        tldr; Just because an idea is good does not mean that I want a government to do it. This is an outcome from axiomatic ethics, not consequentialist ethics. The corresponding statement from a consequentialist view is more like ‘if it is a good idea someone other than the government will try to do it and the government would be abusing its power to unduly fix the market for this solution/service by attempting to performing it instead.’

      2. davidjanes

        To restate the argument, my claim was that government intervention will probably stop the oppression you want stopped (though a private entity could do the same job) and that the government intervention will use aggression (cause oppression) in some other way while fixing the problem you wanted addressed.

        Ah, I see. Now explain to me how this private entity can do the same job without causing oppression. Please use specific, non-trivial historical examples, not hypotheticals.

      3. TwoPiDeltaIJ

        Ah, I see. Now explain to me how this private entity can do the same job without causing oppression. Please use specific, non-trivial historical examples, not hypotheticals.

        Well, the obvious example that springs to mind are volunteer fire fighters or fire brigades. They are easy to rationalize to insurance companies who can provide money for training and equipment for them to operate. This in fact is how many fire fighting groups have formed historically. They oppress no one since the interaction is entirely voluntary and consensual.

        For a look from the UK, here is a a non-trivial historical example.

        The Great Fire of London, in 1666, changed things and helped to standardise urban fire fighting. Following a public outcry during the aftermath of probably the most famous fire ever, a property developer named Nicholas Barbon introduced the first kind of insurance against fire. Soon after the formation of this insurance company, and in a bid to help reduce the cost and number of claims, he formed his own Fire Brigade. Other similar companies soon followed his lead and this was how property was protected until the early 1800s.

        His system was not perfect, but it was a first iteration. The same idea continued to improve. For example, the Auckland volunteer fire brigade started in 1854 and was at least partially funded from insurance companies. There are rather a lot of historic examples of this all over the world.

        So, I have now demonstrated a private entity doing the job we now do largely publicly. I have explained why it does not have the side effect of oppression. I cited one of the most famous historical examples.

      4. smrnda

        I never intended to advance ‘consequentialist’ arguments and if I need to read some thousand articles to understand why libertarians reject any sort of government actions I’m just not going to reject what I consider a sensible viewpoint to read through a mountain of what seems like nonsense any more than I’m going to read 10 more pro-religion books. Every Catholic I meet tells me that last 20 people I read were too this or that and I need to read another book or brush up on this other theologian, or read another encyclical. Unless a viewpoint strikes me as compelling, I’m not in favor of investing the time any more than I have investigated all religions.

        If your point is that the only sort of ‘force’ is violence, then of course, if I’m going to starve unless I agree to have sex with an employer in exchange for a job I’m not really being *forced* to do so, but this makes my ‘choice’ a meaningless abstraction.

        I think we would disagree on whether or not someone was just ‘peacefully’ doing something I disagree with or whether it was oppression. If an employer fires a worker once they find out the worker is an atheist, I don’t think this is just someone peacefully doing something I disagree with. Property claims have always been enforced through violence (think of the fact that the US is mostly owned by white people.) It’s just that if the violence occurred long enough ago the stolen property somehow starts to look legit.

        On an example of peaceful actions I might argue are not peaceful, I don’t think parents should have a right to force children to attend religious services. I’d argue that because of the inequality there’s nothing ‘peaceful’ about it – one side has power, the other side doesn’t. If an employer forces workers to work in dangerous conditions that could be made safer BUT the employer is too cheap, this (to me) is not peaceful actions I disagree with but a kind of approved violence, and I think the government should intervene.

        I don’t have it in me for longer posts, but seriously, I came to the positions I hold after thinking a lot about the issues. I also came to my views after I did some time slumming around with poor people, who of course only have the freedom to choose who is exploiting them that particular week, so to me, libertarianism is overall about the same as feudalism. I’m sure that you’ll want to defend your belief system, but I get the same thing from religious people too.

      5. TwoPiDeltaIJ

        I never intended to advance ‘consequentialist’ arguments and if I need to read some thousand articles to understand…

        To the first part, OK, but that is what you were doing. To the second part, OK, but I do not think all that much work is really required. If you are feeling really lazy and are a redditor you can wander into r/Anarcho_Capitalism or any of the other libertarian subredits and just ask for someone to walk you through the economic and social views, alternatively I am happy to answer questions here or on my blog. I will make my original suggestion more specific though. Aside from the options already listed, I would say reading something like ‘The Machinery of Freedom’ or for a much shorter and less thorough introduction this, which is a short FAQ. I did not intend to imply that the Republicanesque libertarians of the US Libertarian party are wrong or not real libertarians, just that they hold different views in some cases from what I was suggesting.

        If your point is that the only sort of ‘force’ is violence…

        No, I already explained that it was not.

        I think we would disagree on whether or not someone was just ‘peacefully’ doing something I disagree with or whether it was oppression.

        Well, I have given fairly clear ways of figuring out if I consider something aggressive behavior (not peaceful). You are certainly free to disagree with my definition, but then its not a definition I am asking (or requiring) you to abide by. For instance I do not consider it an employers business what the religious (or areligious) preferences of their employees are, but I am fine with the idea that employment contracts are simply contracts like any other. If the employer has the contractual right to terminate employment for that reason (or any other) and you agree to it, then I do not object to it except when it is the government who is the employer (because I maintain that it is not permitted to have a religious preference). Property rights are complicated, and there are a lot of views as to how to justify them and the ownership of land and natural resources is even more complex because of this I do not think this is really the venue for hashing out exactly what is a legitimate claim to property other than to say that bodily integrity (self ownership) is the foundation of most property rights within libertarianism.

        On an example of peaceful actions I might argue are not peaceful, I don’t think parents should have a right to force children to attend religious services. I’d argue that because of the inequality there’s nothing ‘peaceful’ about it – one side has power, the other side doesn’t. If an employer forces workers to work in dangerous conditions that could be made safer BUT the employer is too cheap, this (to me) is not peaceful actions I disagree with but a kind of approved violence, and I think the government should intervene.

        Your first example requires that we agree over the rights of children (as I already explained). If children are autonomous and have self ownership then you are clearly perfectly correct. If they are not, then it is less clear. I am an anti-theist, but I am not sure how moral or ethical it would be for me to claim that religious people can not practice their religion (minus the usual caveats). The employer employee example involves consenting parties and a contractual agreement. The usual objection is something along the lines of ‘but if they do not take that job…then what will they do?’ which is an argument from incredulity regarding a market’s potential to adapt.

        I don’t have it in me for longer posts, but seriously, I came to the positions I hold after thinking a lot about the issues. I also came to my views after I did some time slumming around with poor people, who of course only have the freedom to choose who is exploiting them that particular week, so to me, libertarianism is overall about the same as feudalism. I’m sure that you’ll want to defend your belief system, but I get the same thing from religious people too.

        You make a lot of implicit assumptions about my views and experiences in this. I honestly do not care if you ever become a libertarian, I am mostly just tired of people putting up straw-libertarians to hack at when the core idea is not that complicated (so presumably it should not be so easy to get wrong so often).

  14. 14
    Dalillama, Schmott Guy

    Just because an idea is good does not mean that I want a government to do it.

    Or, in other words:

    Government == bad is a postulate of [the] system.

    1. 14.1
      TwoPiDeltaIJ

      If by postulate you mean “a thing suggested or assumed as true as the basis for reasoning, discussion, or belief” then no. The idea that government should not be the thing to take action is not the postulate, but a consequence of earlier axioms in the construction of the meta-ethic. Which I have already explained. You can continue to assert otherwise, but you will still be wrong (and you are still using the double equals symbols incorrectly).

      So no, your statement is not a correct paraphrasing of mine (in that it does not preserve content and meaning while increasing brevity).

  15. 15
    smrnda

    The double equals means two things being equal in many programming languages. if A == B then A is the same as B.

    From reading your posts, TwoPi, it seems that your ethics are based on axioms. I kind of accept some of what I would term ‘basic human rights’ but my view is more based on harm – people ought to have certain rights to ensure their quality of life, but that beyond that, behaviors which are adequately harmful can be legally sanctioned. If we’re starting from these totally different beginnings, we wont’ find much common ground. If a person’s action harms no one, people should let it be. If it harms people only when it’s truly consensual (like say, martial arts competitions) then I’d say it’s not my business, but when I doubt that it’s truly a voluntary arrangement between two equal parties,then I think it’s time to intervene. I don’t think workers in China are choosing their conditions of employment the way that 2 people who want to do karate are choosing to do something potentially risky.

    Sorry if I’m lumping you in with Republicans or others that you feel you are distinctly different from. If I had a lot more time I would look into many more viewpoints, but my time is limited and I can only read so much.

    Though I have to say, this one I have to comment on:

    “The usual objection is something along the lines of ‘but if they do not take that job…then what will they do?’ which is an argument from incredulity regarding a market’s potential to adapt.”

    History gives us plenty of examples of people who had to take terrible jobs, offer sex for employment, or work in dangerous conditions that could have easily been made better. Workers in other nations can choose starvation or maltreatment – if I hadn’t gotten out of my own bubble, I might have believed that nobody ever *had* to take a job, but I’m a privileged and educated person, not someone living in a third world country who is being told that if I get pregnant I’ll be fired, and if I don’t work, my existing children will starve. If I’m incredulous that, for the vast majority of people on this planet can simply pass up one job and hope for another, it’s just that I see no evidence that persuades me.

    1. 15.1
      Nepenthe

      Why are you talking about the real world? It’s only the theoretical world that matters. There all parties have equal power in negotiating and enforcing contracts, except obviously the government, which is oppressive/aggressive by definition and is totally distinct from private entities. If you would just stop paying attention to the actual world, with it’s messy, unpleasant examples and data, then libertarianism and equity feminism will make way more sense.

      1. smrnda

        I should totally do that, but with the level of inattention to the real world I might get hit by a bus or fall out a window.

      2. Nepenthe

        Only if it’s a government window.

      3. smrnda

        Or only a government bus. A bus operating by the private sector isn’t going to hit anybody, and if it does they freely entered the street when the bus was coming…

  16. 16
    TwoPiDeltaIJ

    smrnda,

    The double equals means two things being equal in many programming languages. if A == B then A is the same as B.

    It also has the meaning in several programing languages (and other logical representations) of testing the equality of A to B. Without context (for instance, assuming I am a java* interpreter) the statement loses meaning for the sake of brevity. *I am guessing that java is one such language, though it is not one of the ones I write in, so I would not know, you can substitute any of your many programming languages which fit the criteria. In any event, the word postulate was definitely being misused.

    From reading your posts, TwoPi, it seems that your ethics are based on axioms. I kind of accept some of what I would term ‘basic human rights’ but my view is more based on harm – people ought to have certain rights to ensure their quality of life, but that beyond that, behaviors which are adequately harmful can be legally sanctioned. If we’re starting from these totally different beginnings, we wont’ find much common ground.

    I would argue that most people’s ethics are axiomatic, the differences arise when you look at how axioms are chosen and discarded. You are suggesting a consequentialist method of sorting ‘good’ axioms from ‘bad.’ This is a perfectly valid way to go about it, though as I have already pointed out a rather large section of the people who call themselves something under the libertarian umbrella term have consequentialist ethics which diverge from yours significantly. I am not arguing that popularity makes them right, just that rather a lot of them have also spent time and effort to arrive at those positions and to dismiss them out of hand (or continue to beat straw versions of their positions as you and Nepenthe seem wont to do) is disrespectful of the people and not just their ideas. The example of factory workers in china is a good one. I will go ahead and take the position that while their working conditions are horrible by western standards, it was through those horrible working conditions that the west got to where it is, and China is wandering down that path. The Chinese people (in as much as they are free to choose what they do) do not have to be factory workers in terrible factories but for many it is better than their alternatives and thus worth it to them (and worth it to Americans also due to how cheaply that allows for manufacturing of imported goods). If the arrangement were not at least tacitly mutually beneficial it would not happen without one side forcing the other into it. The US does not have to import chinese electronics or small plastic manufactured goods, we certainly could produce them here, but the cost of doing it here is higher because labor costs are higher (due to more labor options which are deemed better than working in a Barbie doll/Nike/iPhone factory). The Chinese are not rounding up citizens and putting them in factory work camps due to lack of interest. So, I think it appears at least that both sides think they benefit from the arrangement and so I see no reason to force them to change it based on what I would prefer they do.

    Sorry if I’m lumping you in with Republicans or others that you feel you are distinctly different from. If I had a lot more time I would look into many more viewpoints, but my time is limited and I can only read so much.

    This is not an uncommon problem when talking about libertarian ideas with non-libertarians. I do not expect you to know (or care) about the distinctions between agorists and minarchists. I do think a passing familiarity with the ideas behind classical liberalism and non-aggression or zero aggression principles is not too much to ask for someone who states unequivocally that people holding those views are wrong to do so and then lists off a series of examples of perceived failings which do not necessarily contradict with libertarian views.

    History gives us plenty of examples of people who had to take terrible jobs, offer sex for employment, or work in dangerous conditions that could have easily been made better. Workers in other nations can choose starvation or maltreatment – if I hadn’t gotten out of my own bubble, I might have believed that nobody ever *had* to take a job, but I’m a privileged and educated person, not someone living in a third world country who is being told that if I get pregnant I’ll be fired, and if I don’t work, my existing children will starve. If I’m incredulous that, for the vast majority of people on this planet can simply pass up one job and hope for another, it’s just that I see no evidence that persuades me.

    First this presumes that in the past there are examples of the kind of libertarian societies that I am advocating for (which is not the case). Second the need for a job (for any of those reasons) is what has driven free markets as far away from feudalism as they have come. Third you presume I have not ‘left my bubble.’ While I will not give you details for the sake of pseudonymity I am currently (and not for the first time) living on the other side of the world from the culture I was born in. I have experienced the fruits of communist labor, and markets which are considerably more socialized than the US. They are not pleasant. I am not saying that the US is some kind of golden libertarian paradise for both the laborer and the employer, it is in my view deeply flawed, but you do not get to dictate to me that from your experience more regulated markets are ‘better’ when mine directly contradicts that. Though on that note, I have a friend whose family lives in rural China. Do you know what they pay government fines/fees with? Whicker baskets. When was the last time the US government office you dealt with let you pick how you paid them? So, to your last point, I have not been and do not intent to persuade you to be a libertarian. I would like it if you chose to degrade some idea you understood and disagreed with instead. If you want to be (or feel you are required to be) a progressive liberal, that is fine by me but I would like the option to opt out of the violence inherent in that position.

    ————–

    Nepenthe,

    Dude, when did I say “I am, in this post, arguing specifically against TwoPiDeltaIJ and his easily accessible and well thought out viewpoints which he has just described”. We are not talking about you. We are talking about equity feminism.

    Bro, when the idea being questioned was one which seemed to talk about me (not personally but as an example of a person holding the idea) is when I decided to talk about me. I am (so far as I can tell) what you and others mean when you say ‘equity feminist’ which is what I said when this was brought up before on other FTB pages. On those posts I also tried to figure out who it was that was creating the caricature that you so loathe because it is not me or any of the libertarians I have ever met or read the writings of (with an exception for Rand). But my understanding of it seems to differ greatly with your caricature of it, so I pointed that out.

    And here’s where equity feminists and the other people, who I like to call actual feminists differ. Equity feminists stop there. Actual feminist also want the state to allow fire brigades, but actual feminists do the work of building fire brigades.  Equity feminists are attempting to stop other people from forming fire brigades, though through shaming, torturing data, and other sorts of cultural manipulation and not through the state.

    Not in my explanation or even in the article (which is from a biased source) does it say that. It says some equity feminists stop there and the rest are unwilling to force them to go further. So, if it is not enough for a feminist to fight against legislative (and judicially created common law) discrimination, what are you willing to do to force them to go further? If the answer is anything other than plead or ridicule then you are a tyrant. Huge difference.

    1. 16.1
      No Light

      The Chinese people (in as much as they are free to choose what they do) do not have to be factory workers in terrible factories

      Actually that’s incorrect. Look up “laogai”. China has the world’s largest prison population and many of them work twenty-hour days producing consumer goods for export to America.

      Rageh Omaar’s ’21st Century Slavery’ (free to watch on YouTube) has an episode devoted to laogai.

      1. TwoPiDeltaIJ

        You are assuming a motive. American prisoners make many things also, for instance military uniforms. Are you implying that China is arresting people solely to have them manufacture things because the demand is so high and the supply of labor so low it can meet it no other way, or is the authoritarian regime in China simply using people it doesn’t like in a way that it thinks benefits it most?

      2. No Light

        Dude, your comprehension skills are appalling. Why do you keep implying things that aren’t there? You did it further up, acting as if someone was criticising you personally, rather than criticising a view that they didn’t even know that you held!

        Right, I’m going to try again. Focus.

        You – nobody is forced to work in factories in China.

        Me – Some people are.

        OK? With me so far?

        1) The Chinese laogai prisoners are not making uniforms or mailbags. They are making consumer goods such as Christmas decorations, clothing, and tv merchandise.

        2) It is FORCED labour. Around the clock, with prisoners sleeping under their workstations, and only eating if they meet their quotas by a certain time.

        American prisoners have certain rights, the Chinese do not. Laogai inmates often have to work naked, or go for days without sleep or food, or endure interrogations while they aren’t working. Torture is common, as are random executions that serve as “lessons” to the other inmates. The State also “encourages” family and friends of prisoners to disown them.

        3) American citizens know what is a crime and what isn’t. They are entitled to due process and representation. US citizens have the rights of free speech, free association and freedom of religion. That is not the case in China.

        So, someone doing hard labour in a US prison is likely to be a violent criminal, whereas Chinese prisoners enduring forced labour may not even be aware of their “crime”, or it may be something nebulous like being accused of criticising the regime. The Chinese justice ministry’s own literature states:

        “The nature of the prison as a tool of the dictatorship of the working classes is determined by the nature of state power”.

        Also, US prisoners are typically paid for work, Chinese are not.

        Laogai prisoners rarely receive sentences. They’ll be kept as long as the State wants to keep them.

        Nowhere at any point, here or in my earlier comment, did I remotely suggest that China is kidnapping people to fill the laogai, as you so disingenuously suggested.

        However, the regime does profit enormously from countries like the US importing goods made by forced labour. They will make goods to order for the US market, even though it’s illegal (via UN convention) to import anything produced by forced labour/slavery. That’s the issue at hand here, and a simple enough refutation of your claim that nobody is forced to do factory work.

        So I have to ask, do you believe the Chinese laogai system is morally right, and do you concede that there are indeed a substantial number of Chinese factory workers who are not there by choice?

      3. TwoPiDeltaIJ

        No Light,
        Bro, I think you might be the one having some comprehension problems. I am not at any point arguing that China is a great country by any metric (other than maybe size, ability to pay fines in random objects, and rare-earth element content which would be really odd ‘greatness’ claims). I was pointing out that the claim of ‘exploited private workers in chinese private factories’ is poorly thought out. If you are irritated by their totalitarian state and its abuse of ‘its’ people, we are on the same side of that issue (though to steal from the common atheist phrase, I just believe in the de-legitimacy of at least one more government than you do). Of course China has nebulous criminal law and an atrocious judicial system, it is a totalitarian state. You can not force economic growth on the scale they do, or promise domestic tranquillity like they do without proactively forcing people to behave the way the state wants them to. That is one of my points.

        What I did say was that the people choosing to be factory workers instead of farmers or work in some kind of service industry were doing it because they thought it was a better choice for them. The US is not forced to buy these things but the quality is just high enough and the price is just low enough that people in the US think it is a better deal for them. When both sides think they are getting a good deal I have no problem with the transaction and asked why anyone else should.

        So, my argument was actually something like:

        previous person — chinese factory labor for our consumer goods is exploitation
        me — many chinese people want to work in places like foxcon, etc. and the jobs are to those people comparatively better than their other choices
        me — So, why should we tell them not to do that?
        you — But China is awful to its prisoners who make things in factories!
        me — Many countries (including the US) have their prisoners make things, but that was not my point. I asked you if you were trying to undercut the economy argument by suggesting that the labor demand was so high that China was meeting it artificially through what passes for a judicial system there.
        you — That was totally your point, you are bad at reading comprehension, and you asked me a question which I will give the least fair reading to and misinterpret.
        me — No, that was not my point, I was talking about the economic argument of ‘exploited’ workers in developing countries not human rights issues.

        Did you follow it when put that way? Great.

        As a parting note:

        Why do you keep implying things that aren’t there?  You did it further up, acting as if someone was criticising[sic] you personally, rather than criticising[sic] a view that they didn’t even know that you held!

        When you (in general, not specific) make collective statements like ‘libertarians think X and it is bad because Y’ and then a libertarian walks up and says ‘you have that wrong, I am an example of you having that wrong because Z.’ You made what was taken as an insult to a group rather than to a person or idea, due largely to poor framing. If you want to insult me personally, fine go at it. If you want to insult the idea of classical liberalism fine, go ahead. When you start to say that everyone in those groups thinks something and one of us pops up to disagree with you, your previous statements are at that point automatically wrong, so you might as well take the correction with some grace. Now, when you do insult me personally, or the idea of classical liberalism which I hold, I will speak up about it. I will be civil and I will follow the rules of conduct for the place that I am in. You can ask no more of me than that in this regard.

      4. No Light

        1) Not a dude.

        2) I am not American (thank fuck) therefore there is no need for you to point out my incorrect spelling of words like “criticising”.

        3) You’re talking up a fantasy. You’re an electric sheep in the dreams of a Randroid.

        You make declarative statements and then, when called on them, use hundreds of words to point out things that were never there.

        When you’ve founded your great libertarian society, and it has flourished and prospered, then I’ll consider it. But for now, it’s just a bunch of lonely nerds who read Rand, lapped up Friedman’s damaging drivel, and got comfort by imagining themselves sat on piles of money and surrounded by happy, smiling slaves.

        When your message is essentially “MAH TAX DOLLARS!!!”, don’t be surprised when people laugh, and tell you your privilege is showing.

        Some of us are glad that we have state fire brigades. Literally and metaphorically.

      5. TwoPiDeltaIJ

        No Light,
        1) I was mostly responding to being called ‘Dude’ which I do not think fits me, it is not a label I would choose for myself, so I respond with ‘Bro’ no matter who is talking who calls me ‘Dude’ which also might or might not fit and is equally scorn filled.
        2) I am not a resident of the US either, but it is the usual base case for these discussions which is why I reference it explicitly. It also happens that I (and most people here, presumably including you) are fairly familiar with ‘how stuff works’ in the US.
        3) I am not talking any more of a fantasy than you are by dreaming of a totally discrimination free world. I do not expect to get everything I want, though I have to say that again you are assuming some things that are not in evidence. I am not a Rand libertarian, and I am not an Objectivist.

        My declarative statements were fairly mild. I agreed to take the position that factory work in china was good for the chinese who chose to do it and good for US (and worldwide) consumers who want cheaper things because it fulfills the desires of both parties to their satisfaction. My declarative statements previous to that were corrections to a straw representation of libertarian thought. I have had to then spent a lot of words to try and alleviate some of the misunderstanding of people who admit they have not done much reading on the topic.

        You are welcome to be glad of your state fire brigades (real and metaphorical) and I did not ever say you could not have them (quite the opposite in fact), just that under some conditions they might not be needed or desired (at least by me).

      6. noelplum99

        TwoPiDeltaIJ
        there was still no need to pick him up for using the british english spelling of criticise.

      7. TwoPiDeltaIJ

        Ok, thats fair criticism I guess.

  17. 17
    noelplum99

    Two points to make.
    Firstly, I don’t like your analogy. Maybe it makes sense in the USA but in the UK we call organised state funded fire provision ‘fire brigades’. As a firefighter i can assure you of this.
    Secondly, and taking my pedants lifetime membership cap off.
    Like you, I am not entirely sure of the distinction between eqiuty and gender feminism but what I DO think is the split you describe does not represent the real schism between the two main positions.
    I uphold the principle of equality of opportunity and of treating people as individuals and not according to the average characteristics of some group to which we belong. Some feminists don’t seem to like that and prefer to constantly drag us back to viewing people as groups.
    This is the important bit. Espousing equality of opportunity does not assume *we are there already*. The difference between the two groups is that some of us do not assume that equality of outcome follows from equality of opportunity. Is it really beyong the realm of possibility that women really couod, statistically, be more inclined toward caring professions, linguistics and human resource posts; tham men could simply be more naturally inclined towards disciplines like engineering and maths.
    Personally, i couldnt give a damn what the sex breakdown is on any of these disciplines, as long as anyone who does feel inclined to a calling feels unemcumbered by society to do so.
    Sure, there are likely cultural pressures that push women into nursing and men into firefighting. Let us fight these. But please let us not assume in advance, then work to perhaps falsely engineer, a 50/50 representation in every field on the basis of a false belief in the tabula rasa.
    Jim (np99)

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