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+2 votes
Capitalists will often argue that when you sign a contract,
any authority an employer has over you is legitimate because you "voluntarily" agreed to it.
Does voluntarily agreeing to something necessarily make it "ok"?
by (380 points)
i've never had an employer ask me to sign a contract, but then again i haven't worked for an employer in over 20 years. does that happen a lot these days as far as you know?
Yes, I had to sign a contract stating I would comply with the rules and regulations of the business, if I did not, I can be terminated. It is usually located in your employee handbook.
i see. well, i wouldn't call that "voluntary".
I wouldn't either. I have tried explaining this, but maybe I am missing something. I came here to seek other answers.
do you have a specific concern about it?

 other than not wanting to sign the fucking thing, i mean. :)
Capitalists will argue that hierarchy and employee/employer relationships are legitimate because they did not force you to sign the contract or force you to work for them.
When you analyze a capitalist economy, you notice that you have no choice but to seek employment. Then, it is just a matter of choosing who to subjugate yourself to.
I'm not sure why they do not understand that.
i think most people simply never question (very deeply) the conditions imposed upon them.

regarding having no choice but to seek employment...

because i hate the whole notion of employers/employment, i engage in it at as little as i possibly can, only enough for any physical needs i have and that i haven't yet found another way to satisfy them. and i keep trying to find more ways to live without money/work. and of course, some employers have more demanding rules and regulations and attitudes than others....but it seems like most of them get more demanding every passing day.
Militant, in my experience capitalists have no interest in either the history of accumulation or in understanding how that history has created the conditions within which our choices for employment are made. By and large, if not always in my experience, pro-capitalists are shortsighted, willfully ignorant, and all-too-ready to equate this narrow range of life with 'liberty,'/ 'freedom' and personal responsibility. The latter usually takes the form of laying the blame of 'failure' and poverty at the feet of individuals not able to cope with the present conditions for a variety of reasons.

I like the question, btw.
Militant and AF...when you say "capitalist", do you mean people who refer to themselves as such, or do you mean generally almost every person you know or meet who simply doesn't question the present system?
"Anarcho" capitalists. "Libertarians".
kinda both, but definitely the emphasis on pro-capitalists pseudo-'anarchs' and conservative minarchist pro-busyness types.
thanks to both of you.

i don't know many people who refer to themselves in any of those terms...

yet almost all the people i talk with give arguments as both of you described if i broach the subjects of employment, money, etc.
i've come across them. they tend to see their views as 'the logical conclusion' if the State were removed. they see this conclusion as a good thing, whereas i don't, nor do i see their conclusion as at all possible without a State, or in any way 'anarchic' or desirable. most other people, as you say, give these types of arguments without much thought, though they usually want to appear 'moral' in the sense that they want some type of regulatory apparatus in order to check the shitty outcomes of their own --logical conclusion.
okay, yeah, i see the difference between the two...although i feel infuriated to pretty much the same degree in either case when discussing that "logic".

1 Answer

+1 vote
It is not contractual relationships themselves that anarchists take heed to, but rather the circumstances of such relations. We look to expand the arsenal of choices accessible to the people, as opposed to deciding among the available.

As an example, the owner of a slave could give the slave a choice to move rocks back and forth or endure whippings on the back; simply because there is a choice available does not entail the likes of a voluntary relationship. The slave picks to move rocks not because they would like to, but rather because it is merely preferable to the alternative.

When capitalists express their enthusiasm for contractual relationships, they do so in comparison to non-contractual-relationships, i.e. forced relationships. As anarchists wish to expand one's access to relations, an argument of these likes would equate to a misrepresentation fallacy, as well as a false dichotomy fallacy.

If, by chance, you are having trouble understanding my response, I would highly recommend BadMouseProduction's "But they have a choice!"; it explains this idea concisely.

@dot Am I allowed to use external links?
by (310 points)
edited by
of course you can use external links.

just please, in an answer, don't rely on the external link to make your case for you.

in a comment, you can do whatever you want.

thanks for asking.