Libertarianism is a philosophy of individual freedom. Or so its adherents claim. But with their single-minded defense of the rights of property and contract, libertarians cannot come to grips with the systemic denial of freedom in private regimes of power, particularly the workplace. (...)
That is what we are about to argue, but it is based on months of discussion with the Bleeding Hearts. The conversation was kicked off by the critique one of us—Corey Robin—offered of libertarian Julian Sanchez’s presignation letter to Cato, in which Sanchez inadvertently revealed the reality of workplace coercion. Jessica Flanigan, a Bleeding Heart, respondedtwice to Robin. Then one of us—Chris Bertram—responded to Flanigan. Since then, theBleeding Hearts have offered a series of responses to Chris and Corey.
Life at Work
To understand the limitations of these Bleeding Hearts, we have to understand how little freedom workers enjoy at work. Unfreedom in the workplace can be broken down into three categories.
1. Abridgments of freedom inside the workplace
On pain of being fired, workers in most parts of the United States can be commanded to peeor forbidden to pee. They can be watched on camera by their boss while they pee. They can be forbidden to wear what they want, say what they want (and at what decibel), and associate with whom they want. (...)2. Abridgements of freedom outside the workplace
In addition to abridging freedoms on the job, employers abridge their employees’ freedoms off the job. Employers invade employees’ privacy, demanding that they hand over passwords to their Facebook accounts, and fire them for resisting such invasions. Employers secretly film their employees at home. Workers are fired for supporting the wrong political candidates (“work for John Kerry or work for me”), failing to donate to employer-approved candidates, (...)3. Use of sanctions inside the workplace as a supplement to—or substitute for—political repression by the state
While employers often abridge workers’ liberty off the job, at certain moments, those abridgments assume a larger function for the state. Particularly in a liberal state constrained by constitutional protections such as the First Amendment, the instruments of coercion can be outsourced to—or shared with—the private sector. During the McCarthy period, for example, fewer than 200 men and women went to jail for their political beliefs, but as many as 40% of American workers—in both the public and private sectors—were investigated (and a smaller percentage punished) for their beliefs. (...)Libertarians at WorkDespite this systemic abridgment and denial of freedom in the workplace, libertarians have a difficult time coming to terms with it. Which is ironic given that Robert Nozick cited the following example in his classic article “Coercion”—on page 2 no less—as so obvious an instance of coercion as to scarcely require explanation or elaboration: “You threaten to get me fired from my job if I do A, and I refrain from doing A because of this threat….I was coerced into not doing A.” (...)
Tuesday, October 25, 2016
Publicada por Miguel Madeira em 14:10