(Anderson 2005) Adventures in contract feudalism

Anderson, Elizabeth. Adventures in contract feudalism. Left2Right. 2005 Feb 10. Available from: http://left2right.typepad.com/main/2005/02/adventures_in_c.html. Accessed 2012 Jul 6. Archived by WebCite at http://www.webcitation.org/68xz3IdYY.

Anderson further examines “contract feudalism”, a concept she had introduced in “How not to complain against taxes (II): against natural property rights”, with reference to the case of an employer who had tried to prohibit his employees from smoking at any time or place, even at home. Citing Adam Smith, Anderson credits industrial capitalism with reining in the arbitrary subjection of some persons to others that was characteristic of feudalism. Capitalist bosses were subject to constraints of efficiency that conflicted with the “pride” that motivates arbitrary domination, and the separation of home from workplace gave workers a refuge. Labor unions further limited the ability of bosses to be completely arbitrary. Nevertheless, Anderson maintains that contract feudalism is still a danger under capitalism, and limitations on freedom of contract are necessary if it is to be prevented. Employers should not be allowed to ban smoking at home, not because smoking itself is a right (it is not), but because workers inalienably possess “the right to conduct one’s life outside of work independently of one’s employer’s arbitrary will”, and this right should be protected by force of law.



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