Why Harvey Weinstein is a Threat to Liberty.

Disclaimer: Please note that in this article I do not presume Harvey Weinstein’s innocence or guilt in relation to several allegations of rape that he currently faces.

I am going to be perfectly honest, if you asked me a week ago who Harvey Weinstein was I would have said that I didn’t know. Nevertheless, this powerful movie mogul has dominated the news this week for his depraved sexual antics.

So far several big Hollywood stars including Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie and Carla Delavigne have come out as victims of Weinstein’s unwanted advances. However, the reason why this story had gotten so much traction is that it taps into something much more powerful.

The fabled ‘casting couch’ system whereby female actresses swap sex for access to the film industry has been well known for decades. Yet this flurry of allegations does seem to represent a crucial turning point. The ramifications of which are unclear. There is something inherently vile about men like Mr Weinstein who abuse their position for sexual gratification. But Why?

The reason why Harvey Weinstein has attracted so much vitriol is that he was clearly abusing his position.  The sexual exploitation and harassment of women (mostly) by people in powerful positions is unfortunately not limited to Hollywood.

Of course, people are already calling for a change in legislation. They claim that these incidents are inevitable when our society is dominated by men. The purpose of this article is not to discuss that assertion. I merely want to point out that legislation is not the right tool to address this issue.

For obvious reasons statistics in this area are hard to come by. But this is a problem that too many women have to put up with.

Culture is something that we should take very seriously. Many libertarians assume that if a libertarian-leaning government has been put in place, then a free society will eventually be established. However, my contention is that if a society is not receptive to libertarianism it will not work.

The values of freedom, egalitarianism, mutual respect and competence define liberty. However, without a strong state to help it, libertarianism cannot be imposed from above. To a certain extent, a society will already need to be operating on libertarian principles before a decisive political change occurs.

The cavorting of Harvey Weinstein makes a mockery of these principles.  We are right to be angry at people who make women (it is mostly women) pass through such a humiliating ordeal. Mr Weinstein should be condemned in the strongest conceivable way.

What makes this issue more frustrating is that so many women felt like they were consigned to a code of silence. The idea that these victims should speak out and seek justice is not a radical left-wing message. Nor am I siding with certain groups and condemning all powerful men with the ‘toxic masculinity’ label.

On the contrary, encouraging people to stand up for their individual sovereignty is something that needs to happen in order for a free society to take root. By speaking out and condemning Mr Weinstein in the media and in the law courts; we keep the legislators out of our boardrooms, offices and film studios.

For the sake of freedom, I sincerely hope that more of these stories come to light in the near future. Culture is powerful, much more so than government writs. In order to create a more egalitarian and civilised society, we should encourage people to speak out against such ghastly abuses of power.

  14 comments for “Why Harvey Weinstein is a Threat to Liberty.

  1. goldmund
    Oct 15, 2017 at 5:17 pm

    In what way did Weinstein abuse his position of power (assuming that you’re referring to his trading of sex for casting opportunities)?

    What are we condemning Weinstein for? Physically assaulting women or asking women to massage him naked if they wanted a job? or both?

  2. Oct 15, 2017 at 6:47 pm

    I assumed it was implicit when discussing the Harvey Weinstein controversy that sexual harassment of any kind should be criticised.

    From reading your comment the only conclusions I can draw are that you believe Mr Weinstein is the blameless victim of a nasty smear campaign. Or that you think the ‘casting couch’ system is a perfectly acceptable state of affairs….

    Please correct me if I am mistaken.

  3. Paul Marks
    Oct 15, 2017 at 8:49 pm

    There is a lot to think about here.

    Not the least the nexus between Hollywood and “Progressive” politics – which goes back a long way (see “Red Star Over Hollywood” and other works).

    The life of Harvey Weinstein is rather like a squalid version of an Ian Fleming “James Bond” villain – a rich capitalists who allies with the Reds, and puts his enterprise at their disposal. In return the Barack Obamas (and all his other “Progressive” friends) carefully covered up his crimes – or quietly ordered other people to ignore them.

    Sadly Mr Weinstein is not an isolated example – there are many like him. They are “capitalists” in the sense that they are big business people, but they support the statists (and, in return, the statists wink at their crimes).

    Still Hollywood is a particularly dangerous example – because it is not just money, it is the propaganda impact of Hollywood films and television shows.

    More government spending and more regulations are shown as “the answer” in most Hollywood films and shows (whilst conservative scripts get “the spike”). The left complain endlessly about the brief “Black Listing” of Communist script writers in the early 1950s – they are much quieter about the hidden “Black Listing” of pro smaller government script writers from the 1930s to the present.

    Imagine going to Harvey Weinstein (or one of his cronies) with a script that showed that a government spending scheme was counter productive, or that higher taxes were not a good thing, or that more regulations made things worse not better.

    It would be pointless to do so – the Weinstein type would just laugh in your face. “Tell them that it is a good script – entertaining, that it will gets a lot of bums-on-seats”.

    Now there is the thing – THEY DO NOT CARE.

    You could give them a cast iron pledge that the film or television show would make lots of money – but if they considered it “anti Progressive” they would spike it anyway.

    “But their personal conduct contradicts their professed beliefs – for example their feminism is contradicted by their raping of women”.

    They do do not care about personal conduct – they are collectivists, statists. In their ideal world big businessmen (like themselves) would be killed – there is a self loathing (not just simple corruption) in the “Red Capitalist”.

  4. goldmund
    Oct 15, 2017 at 10:16 pm

    I’m cautious to not throw the baby out with the bathwater so to speak.

    Asking for sex in return for a job or a film opportunity is perfectly acceptable in a society of voluntary cooperation. You or others may not wish to want to engage in such relationships or find them immoral by your own values, but I don’t consider them to be a threat to liberty.

    The real threat to liberty is when we use subjective, emotive words like harassment and exploitation, to

    a) to portray the solicitation of hitherto voluntary transactions as being non-voluntary and in doing so open up the way for yet more government interference in the working relationships of, and relationships between, men and women

    b) draw a moral equivalence between those relationships (or an attempt to initiate them) and cases of rape that involve clear physical coercion after he was told to stop.

    Mr Weinstein is, I understand, accused of the latter as well as simply trying to get girls to sleep with him for casting parts.

    Other than that, I don’t really have no opinion on whether he is a victim or monster or otherwise. At least, not one I feel anyone here really cares hearing about.

  5. Oct 17, 2017 at 9:47 am

    @goldmund: I have as much time for the rewriting of history as I do for guys that hassle girls – none at all.

    Yes, it is important to remember that properly-defined consent probably has been given on the casting couch many times. Also remember that girls are fighting to have their autonomy respected, that their fight has reached an historic peak in intensity, and that there is nothing wrong about their objective.

    It seems they are using unacceptable tactics, and it is right to say so, but as I have said before: “when you are talking about other people’s genitals it ‘s right to be sensitive about their feelings”.

    Saying it would be “perfectly acceptable” is only accurate within the extraordinarily narrow scope of law and policing issues. You have failed to consider the everyday meaning of the words “perfectly acceptable”.

    • goldmund
      Oct 17, 2017 at 2:11 pm

      I have a great deal of sympathy for women that find themselves in a room with guys like Weinstein but unfortunately feelings and sensitivities have a tendency of turning into policy decisions that encroach on freedoms.

      The current hysteria about male “exploitation” (where have we heard that word before?) is at risk of leading to illiberal legislation that threaten voluntary arrangements and, ironically, reduce female autonomy, which is what the article was warning against.

  6. Oct 17, 2017 at 9:48 am

    @jordan: the creation of an “egalitarian” society is not an objective I support.

    • Jordan Lee
      Oct 17, 2017 at 7:35 pm

      I was wondering if anybody would pick me up on that.

      Egalitarianism like ‘equality’ can be a slippery concept. The way that I use the term above refers to the access to opportunities rather than forced equality. The pursuit of happiness- emlhasis on ‘pursuit’. Perhaps meritocratic would have been a better word to use.

      In theory, a liberal spciety does not have to be egalitarian in that sense. However, my contention is that it wouldn’t stay liberal for very long….

  7. Nico Metten
    Oct 18, 2017 at 6:51 pm

    Would you say that the existence of prostitution is a threat to liberty? I don’t think so. If exchanging sex for money is no threat, than why is exchanging sex for film roles?

    There is more to society than liberty. But whether prostitution is a threat to liberty is a different question than whether you like it or not. Weinstein should not be prosecuted for asking for sexual favours. But he should maybe be shamed. Whether he should or should not be shamed however, has nothing to do with libertarianism. It goes beyond that.

    • Jordan Lee
      Oct 18, 2017 at 7:30 pm

      Just for the record- I do not want to see Weinstein banged up for sexual harassment. Only that he is publicly disgraced.

      You are technically right, on paper Libertarianism does not concern itself with the private affairs of individuals.

      However, I personally do not think that asking young girls for sexual favours in return for a job is a liberal way of doing things. It goes against meritocracy and civility.

      Surely if we want to build a society on voluntary interactions; we would rather they be genuinely voluntary rather than done through gritted teeth?

      No liberal culture= no libertarianism. In my humble opinion.

      Also for the record, I am not opposed to prostitution.

  8. Paul Marks
    Oct 19, 2017 at 10:17 am

    Men like Harvey Weinstein do not exercise self restraint because they do not believe it is up to the individual to control their own conduct – they believe this is a matter for the collective.

    And now they are being torn to pieces – by the very forces they have subsidised and pushed for many years.

  9. Steve Kerby
    Oct 20, 2017 at 11:34 am

    It would be interesting to know how many wooden actresses and insipid scripts we might have been spared if the Weinsteins of this world were not involved in the ‘casting’ process. That is almost certainly un-quantifiable, but in a perfect world we might hope for less. What is certain is that, the less ‘media moguls’ who obviously think “what’s the point of being a studio boss, if you can’t nail a few starlets?”, the better it will be for good business, good films, genuine talent and a more pleasant society.

  10. Oct 21, 2017 at 12:25 pm

    Steve, I couldn’t agree more.

    This is a point I wanted to make but for various reasons didn’t. Giving people positions for ‘what they are willing to do’ instead of their ability is totally antithetical to capitalism. This is true for other industries as well as Hollywood.

    Let’s hope the Weinstein revelations are just the beginning.

    • goldmund
      Oct 23, 2017 at 1:28 pm

      Could it not be defined as the intersection of the two ; what people are “willing to do/give up” with “what people can do” ?

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