Friday, March 1, 2013

Coercive Collusion in the Three Estates: Rape Culture Edition

Friend of EE and my personal pal Dr. Sarah Skwire of Liberty Fund wrote a... let's call it provocative... essay at Bleeding Heart Libertarians on the relationship of libertarians to organizations that cover up instances of rape. Judging by some of the subsequent commentary, it seems to me that interpretations have been diverse. I read it as an institutional critique. I don't feel comfortable speaking for libertarians, but I think I've earned a little authority to speak on behalf of euvoluntaryists. And here's what I see.

Human nature is mostly exogenous. People are beatific, venal, graceful, corrupt, honest, and picaresque as nature permits. The charity of the parson will see an empty belly filled as surely as the chicanery of the cutpurse will see a wallet vanished. The extent to which bad people are held to task for their bad acts arises jointly from a solemn rule of law (see yesterday's post on meta-EE and the Constitution) and from estate collusion. When a single estate circles the wagons round sexual predators, this should alarm euvoluntaristic sentiments. If an organization is able to shield its members from prosecution for felony violations of the penal code, in what sense can any contracts with this organization be euvoluntary? Rape cover-ups seem like pretty strong evidence that coercion suffuses the organization.

But how can this be? Is not the primary role of the state to protect constituents against violence? Before we set to immanentizing the eschaton, consider that whatever problems might exist with organizational sclerosis increase in severity as coercive power within the organization is legitimized. The lab coat effect is weakest (but still not completely absent) in arms-length transactions low on the authority/subversion scale. Prestige and outright estate collusion strengthen elites' ability to evade the law. The offender who preyed on fast food employees over the phone wasn't quietly shuffled between university departments or assigned a new diocese. He faced trial by jury. Euvoluntarists should be wary of institutions that would have protected a guy like this from criminal investigations and the rule of law.

The reason euvoluntaryists worry about the scope of the state is that corruption lurks in the nooks and crannies of too big an English muffin. A government that focuses solely on the things it can reasonably be expected to do well will shrivel the smelly grottoes in which the wretched hide. Elite collusion denies justice.

Not very euvoluntary, no matter how you slice it.

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Do you have suggestions on where we could find more examples of this phenomenon?