Libertarians get medieval on women

From Al Jazeera:

Debates on birth control in the US show how modern conservatism is just a neoliberal gloss on medieval

Corey Robin
07 Apr 2012

Brooklyn, NY – There’s recently been an eruption in the United States over the question of birth control. The controversy was initially prompted by the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which mandates that employers provide insurance that covers birth control prescriptions. Earlier this year, right-wingers began to charge that that provision of the ACA threatens religious freedom – the freedom of employers, like universities and hospitals that are run by the Catholic Church, not to be compelled to pay for their employees’ birth control. A compromise was quickly reached.

But that didn’t stifle the controversy. It has continued to play a major role in the Republican primaries, and states like Arizona are now moving toward legislation that would not only exempt employers from having to provide birth control if they have religious or moral objections to it, but would also allow those employers to interrogate their employees about why they use birth control.

If employees submit birth control prescriptions for insurance coverage, their supervisors will have the right to ask them if they intend to use the birth control for health-related reasons (such as hormone control) or for contraception.

Mises on women and feminism

This whole debate recently led Mike Konczal, a blogger at the Roosevelt Institute, back to Ludwig von Mises’ classic 1922 text Socialism. Mises was a pioneering economist of the Austrian School, whose political writings have inspired multiple generations of libertarian activists in the US and elsewhere.

Mike took a special interest in the fourth chapter of Socialism, “The Social Order and the Family”, in which Mises has some retrograde things to say about women and feminism. This led Mike to conclude – prematurely, it turns out – that Mises was against birth control, which he wasn’t, but as I made clear in the comments thread to Mike’s post, Mike’s larger point – that Mises was neither in favour of women’s sexual autonomy nor was he in favour of other kinds of autonomy that would free women from the dominion of their husbands – still stands.

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