Today’s warning: “SEXUAL HARASSMENT under socialism“, Glenn Reynolds, The Instapundit, 4 April 2009 (link). Reynolds points us a sad story posted by Bryan Caplan (Assoc Prof Economics, George Mason U), Library of Economics and Literature, 4 April 2010 — an excerpt from Eugen Richter’s Pictures of a Socialistic Future (the punch line is at the end of the post):
In old days, in the stillness and purity of the maternal home, the young maiden used to carry on her business as a milliner, selling her wares for the most part to a house in a large way. Now she saw herself obliged to work in a big sewing establishment, and to spend the whole day with a number of women and girls, many of whom had habits and principles not at all to her mind. Her chaste maidenliness was often shocked at a good deal of the talk, and at the familiarities between the girls and the male managers. Sundry complaints she made only tended to make her position still more unpleasant. Her personal attractions likewise soon drew upon her an amount of offensive attention from one of the head managers. An abrupt repulse on the part of Agnes only subjected her to those petty annoyances and harassments in her work by which a mean nature seeks its revenge.
I make no manner of doubt that there was plenty of this sort of thing under the old system. But at least there was then this advantage, that people could make a change if anything did not suit them. Nowadays, however, many of the managers seem to look upon their workgirls as little better than defenceless slaves, who are delivered over to them. Many of the higher placed officials see all this well enough, but as they themselves act not a whit differently as regards the abuse of power, they are very lenient in respect of all complaints made to them. Under such circumstances the near relations, or lovers of maidens whose honour is thus menaced, have often no other resource left than to take the law into their own hands. The result of this state of things is, that cases of personal chastisement, manslaughter, and even murder are frightfully on the increase. (emphasis mine).
This makes my blood boil. Damm socialists! We own thanks to Eugen Richter for documenting life in that socialist hellhole … of Germany in 1891 (when it was published). From his bio at Wikipedia:
He was the most influential leader of the German Progress Party (Deutsche Fortschrittspartei), since 1884 of the German Freeminded Party (Deutsche Freisinnige Partei), and since 1893 of the Freeminded People’s Party (Freisinnige Volkspartei). Beside that he was one of the greatest critics of the policy of Otto von Bismarck as well as the National Liberal Party and the Social Democrats.
Otto von Bismark, evil socialist. The introduction to this book by Thomas Mackay describes it as “a clever little satire.”
“Happily there is no problem so weighty, so profound, or so important, that its discussion cannot be relieved by a touch of humour. Herr Richter’s humour, his translator remarks, is Teutonic. This means, we apprehend, that the mock-heroic vein in which his narrative is couched is admirably preserved throughout. This, indeed, is its great artistic merit.”
This story, as written and as seen today, has many levels of irony. I’ll leave analysis of it to others.
There are already a 150 links to this story. They’ll be a thousand more by nightfall. Yes, the Internet can make us stupid — if we don’t watch our sources, and reward known propagandists with our readership.
Update: for more about Caplan’s views read “The Myth of Bryan Caplan’s Seriousness“, Steven White, The American Prospect, 20 July 2007 — “Libertarians gather to hear the case against letting the ignorant, irrational masses decide the direction of society.”