I got a really interesting question in the comments on my last post, Why No One Takes Feminism Seriously.
“Why [do] you, as a libertarian, hold the notion that free markets would contribute to the liberation of women from patriarchy more so than a Marxist approach?”
Oh man. I guess first I want to admit that my highest value isn’t the liberation of women from patriarchy. Yeah, I know. You don’t need to kick me out of feminism. Mehgan Murphy already did.
My goals are broader. I want human connection and prosperity. Patriarchy, in my own personal morality, isn’t bad in and of itself. It’s bad in that it inhibits human connection and prosperity.
I defined patriarchy on my feminism page. But I think I learned from the Twitter fight that prompted that post (besides that my concern for men’s well-being makes me an MRA) is that my definition of patriarchy differs considerably from sex-negative feminism’s definition.
For me, patriarchy is a way to describe the ways in which sexism poisons interactions. Human beings’ highest potential is to love each other. It causes us to “other” people based on gender, and othering inhibits our ability to empathize. Sexism inhibits our ability to see others as equals, as fully human. People cannot connect with people they don’t recognize as fully human in the same way they can with people they respect as equals.
When people claim that the striving for women to be seen as fully human has degraded the quality of the relationship between the sexes what they mean is that the dependent relationship is melting away and the power dynamic has shifted. But they are absolutely wrong that this has resulted in a distance between men and women, only that some men have struggled to love women as equals instead of caring for them as pets.
So patriarchy poisons all interactions, in my opinion. But it poisons the business relationship in fact, or as close to fact as we can get. There is tons of evidence that sexism hurts a society economically. First, economic growth is tightly correlated with greater opportunity for women to participate in work outside the home. It’s almost like telling half the population that they aren’t supposed to contribute to material prosperity makes a society poorer.
Now let’s talk about how free markets promote human connection. *brb, masturbating* Ahem. Okay.
Free markets are pure theory, and in reality all exchange exist on a spectrum of freedom. The opposite of autonomy is coercion, but coercion comes in many formats. Whatever word we want to use, threat of violence, force, command, the idea is that there’s something other than *pure* desire for the outcome prompting the decision. There’s desire for the outcome plus fear of something else that’s influencing the decision. Obvious: Taxes are coerced. You don’t pay, you go to jail. Obvious: Rape at gunpoint. Not obvious: Don’t get a job without an adequate social safety net, go without food. Are you really *choosing* to get a job in an economic system in which not getting one leads to food deprivation? Sure, no one person is holding a gun to your head. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t consequences to your inaction that couldn’t be prevented by people banding together to ensure no one goes hungry.
People really want there to be a bright line between freedom and coercion but it just doesn’t actually exist.
So, when I say free markets I mean the mythical situation in which scarcity has been solved and human nature doesn’t require any coercion to enforce property rights.
So what I support in this situation in which scarcity exists and experiments in statelessness are nascent is freer markets.
Call me crazy, but my enjoyment of interactions is pretty tightly correlated with how much I feel like I’m participating in them of my own free will. I like fucking more than getting raped and buying things more than paying taxes.
You know, and I also feel closer to my sex partners than I do to my rapists and closer to my cashiers than to the IRS agents who won’t take “I’m an anarchist” in lieu of a check.
It’s also cool to work on ending scarcity. When people exchange freely, they tend to choose to make exchanges that benefit them. And when people get to keep the property they acquire through voluntary exchanges, they tend to innovate new ways to use their property to make more property. When this happens innovation occurs. It’s the only way to get more stuff you want out of the stuff you have.
I actually believe that some day coercion will be mostly gone. Maybe totally gone. But definitely mostly gone. We’re going to solve scarcity. Falling fertility rates plus innovation creating more food out of less land and less labor means we’ll soon have way more food than is required to sustain life at almost no cost.
On the other hand, you have Marxism, which means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. So why do I support freer markets over a Marxist approach?
I’ll admit that some aspects of Marxism in practice will definitely work against patriarchy more effectively in the short term than freer markets alone. I mean the Soviet Union was pretty damn progressive when it came to women in the workforce.
Freer markets alone won’t end patriarchy. I do think that freer markets aren’t really freer unless they’re also less bigoted. That’s why I’m a market anarchist and not an anarcho-capitalist. I do not as freely interact and exchange with people when their bigotry prevents them from recognizing my full humanity. Bigotry then is a coercion, telling people to expect things of me based on my skin color or gender and incentivizing me to “act feminine” or “act white” or get penalized instead of just acting human and exchanging with other humans.
But ultimately I support freer markets over a Marxist approach because I don’t like getting raped or paying taxes and I’d rather end scarcity soon than never. Whatever Marxism might offer in promoting “women’s issues” is totally overwhelmed by the harm it does to everyone’s freedom and everyone’s prosperity. And, therefore, everyone’s ability to love each other and connect. Like, okay, let’s just say in Marxism no one is going hungry. That isn’t how it works but let’s say it is. Working hard for a low standard of living where equality is forced on everyone (except of course the party leadership and those connected to it) might not be a patriarchy (thought it always has been in practice) but that doesn’t make it a place I want to live.
I guess what it comes down to is that at this point in time, scarcity and government are greater oppressors of women than anything that can be described as patriarchy that is not also scarcity and government. And freer markets work WAY better at fighting scarcity and government than Marxism.