Coerced association: the state mandates it

Lew Rockwell has a great article about the Civil Rights Act of 1964:

It seems incredible that in the last days, a fundamental right of the whole of humanity, the freedom of association, has been denounced by the New York Times and all major opinion sources, even as a national political figure was reluctant to defend his own statements in favor of the idea, and then distanced himself from the notion. Has such a fundamental principle of liberty become unsayable?

Or perhaps it is not so incredible. An overweening government, in an age of despotism such as ours, must deny such a fundamental right simply because it is one of those core issues that speaks to who is in charge: the state or individuals.

We live in anti-liberal times, when individual choice is highly suspect. The driving legislative ethos is toward making all actions required or forbidden, with less and less room for human volition. Simply put, we no longer trust the idea of freedom. We can’t even imagine how it would work. What a distance we have travelled from the Age of Reason to our own times.

Referencing the great controversy about the 1964 Civil Rights Act, Karen De Coster put the issue to rest by turning Rachel Maddow’s question on its head. She demanded to know whether a white businessman has the right to refuse service to a black man. Karen asked: does a black businessman have the right to refuse service to a Klan member?

I don’t think anyone would dispute that right. How a person uses the right to associate (which necessarily means the right not to associate) is a matter of individual choice profoundly influenced by the cultural context. That a person has the right to make these choices on his or her own cannot be denied by anyone who believes in liberty.

The right to exclude is not something incidental. It is core to the functioning of civilization. If I use proprietary software, I can’t download it without signing a contractual agreement. If I refuse to sign, the company doesn’t have to sell it to me. And why? Because it is their software and they set the terms of use. Period. There is nothing more to say.

If you run a blog that accepts comments, you know how important this right is. You have to be able to exclude spam or ban IP addresses of trolls or otherwise include and exclude based on whether a person’s contribution adds value. Every venue on the internet that calls forth public participation knows this. Without this right, any forum could collapse, having been taken over by bad elements.

We exercise the right to exclude every day. If you go to lunch, some people come and some people do not. When you have a dinner party, you are careful to include some people and necessarily exclude others. Some restaurants expect and demand shoes and shirts and even coats and ties. The New York Times includes some articles and excludes others, includes some people in its editorial meetings and excludes others.

When business hires, some people make the cut and others do not. It is the same with college admissions, church membership, fraternities, civic clubs, and nearly every other association. They all exercise the right to exclude. It is central to the organization of every aspect of life. If this right is denied, what do we get in its place? Coercion and compulsion. People are forced together by the state, with one group required at the point of a gun to serve another group. This is involuntary servitude, expressly prohibited by the 13th amendment. One presumes that a freedom-loving people will always be against that.

As Larry Elder says: “This is freedom 101.”

What about the claim that government should regulate the grounds of exclusion? Let’s say, for example, that we do not deny the general right of free association, but narrow its range to address a particular injustice. Is that plausible? Well, freedom is a bit like life, something that is or is not. Slicing and dicing it according to political priorities is exceedingly dangerous. It perpetrates social division, leads to arbitrary power, mandates a form of slavery, and turns the tables on who precisely is in charge in society.

[…]

And this is precisely why racialists, nationalists, and hard-core bigots have always opposed liberal capitalism: it includes and excludes based on the cash nexus and without regard to features that collectivists of all sorts regard as important. In the imagined utopias of the national socialists, the champions of commerce are hanged from lampposts as race traitors and enemies of the nation.

That’s because the market tends toward an ever-evolving, ever-changing tapestry of association, with patterns that cannot be known in advance and should not be regulated by federal masters. In contrast, government’s attempts to regulate association lead to disorder and social calamities.

http://www.lewrockwell.com/rockwell/freedom-of-association145.html

Indeed; all of this is absolutely true, and I agree with it.

Government has no business forcing association or preventing association by law. Which puts into sharp relief the next part of this post.

It seems like the arguments questioning the logic of forcing anti discrimination by asserting that the state does not force people to enter restaurants or forbid people from engaging in boycotts are deflated in one aspect. It is indeed illogical that the state forces restaurants to serve but does not force patrons to enter… actually, they DO force people to trade with each other, and forbid boycotts.

In the USA, the Federal Government has enacted a law that forbids people from boycotting Israel.

What they are saying is that american firms are FORCED to deal with people that they may, for whatever reason, prefer not to deal with.

From the ‘Bureau of Industry and Security’, a department with a distinctly un-American name:

Antiboycott Compliance

The Bureau is charged with administering and enforcing the Antiboycott Laws under the Export Administration Act. Those laws discourage, and in some circumstances, prohibit U.S. companies from furthering or supporting the boycott of Israel sponsored by the Arab League, and certain Moslem countries, including complying with certain requests for information designed to verify compliance with the boycott. Compliance with such requests may be prohibited by the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) and may be reportable to the Bureau.

Boycott Alert

U.S. companies continue to report receiving requests to engage in activities that further or support the boycott of Israel. U.S. companies may receive similar requests in the future. If you have questions, please call (202) 482-2381 and ask for the Duty Officer or you may contact us by email.

This is a law that forbids private companies from refraining from association.

Antiboycott Laws:

During the mid-1970’s the United States adopted two laws that seek to counteract the participation of U.S. citizens in other nation’s economic boycotts or embargoes. These “antiboycott” laws are the 1977 amendments to the Export Administration Act (EAA) and the Ribicoff Amendment to the 1976 Tax Reform Act (TRA). While these laws share a common purpose, there are distinctions in their administration.

Objectives:

The antiboycott laws were adopted to encourage, and in specified cases, require U.S. firms to refuse to participate in foreign boycotts that the United States does not sanction. They have the effect of preventing U.S. firms from being used to implement foreign policies of other nations which run counter to U.S. policy.

Primary Impact:

The Arab League boycott of Israel is the principal foreign economic boycott that U.S. companies must be concerned with today. The antiboycott laws, however, apply to all boycotts imposed by foreign countries that are unsanctioned by the United States.

Who Is Covered by the Laws?

The antiboycott provisions of the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) apply to the activities of U.S. persons in the interstate or foreign commerce of the United States. The term “U.S. person” includes all individuals, corporations and unincorporated associations resident in the United States, including the permanent domestic affiliates of foreign concerns. U.S. persons also include U.S. citizens abroad (except when they reside abroad and are employed by non-U.S. persons) and the controlled in fact affiliates of domestic concerns. The test for “controlled in fact” is the ability to establish the general policies or to control the day to day operations of the foreign affiliate.

The scope of the EAR, as defined by Section 8 of the EAA, is limited to actions taken with intent to comply with, further, or support an unsanctioned foreign boycott.

What do the Laws Prohibit?

Conduct that may be penalized under the TRA and/or prohibited under the EAR includes:

  • Agreements to refuse or actual refusal to do business with or in Israel or with blacklisted companies.
  • Agreements to discriminate or actual discrimination against other persons based on race, religion, sex, national origin or nationality.
  • Agreements to furnish or actual furnishing of information about business relationships with or in Israel or with blacklisted companies.
  • Agreements to furnish or actual furnishing of information about the race, religion, sex, or national origin of another person.

Implementing letters of credit containing prohibited boycott terms or conditions.

The TRA does not “prohibit” conduct, but denies tax benefits (“penalizes”) for certain types of boycott-related agreements.

Note the double talk, the act does not prohibit conduct, but penalises for agreements. Later on the page says:

Penalties:

The Export Admnistration Act (EAA) specifies penalties for violations of the Antiboycott Regulations as well as export control violations. These can include:

Criminal:

The penalties imposed for each “knowing” violation can be a fine of up to $50,000 or five times the value of the exports involved, whichever is greater, and imprisonment of up to five years. During periods when the EAR are continued in effect by an Executive Order issued pursuant to the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, the criminal penalties for each “willful” violation can be a fine of up to $50,000 and imprisonment for up to ten years.

Administrative:

For each violation of the EAR any or all of the following may be imposed:

  • General denial of export privileges;
  • The imposition of fines of up to $11,000 per violation; and/or
  • Exclusion from practice.

Boycott agreements under the TRA involve the denial of all or part of the foreign tax benefits discussed above.

When the EAA is in lapse, penalties for violation of the Antiboycott Regulations are governed by the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA). The IEEPA Enhancement Act provides for penalties of up to the greater of $250,000 per violation or twice the value of the transaction for administrative violations of Antiboycott Regulations, and up to $1 million and 20 years imprisonment per violation for criminal antiboycott violations.

[…]

http://www.bis.doc.gov/complianceandenforcement/antiboycottcompliance.htm

Amazing isn’t it? It does not prohibit conduct, but puts you in GAOL for doing it, removes your ‘export privileges’ (doing business is a privilege?), imposes incredibly large punitive fines, and finally (I presume) can revoke your license too practice your trade.

Absolutely immoral and illegitimate.

On the other hand, you have many states that enforce a boycott of Israel, which is an illegitimate and immoral denial of the right of association.

Not only do all of these countries violate the right of association, but they are violating the right of individuals to freely enter into contracts.

If someone wants to draw up a contract that contains a boycott clause, it is the absolute right of the parties to agree to this. Period. Obviously, the mandating of the insertion of such clauses is a clear violation; you should be able to remove or add clauses as both parties see fit.

Take a look at a representative sample of the clauses:

Office of Antiboycott Compliance

Examples of Boycott Requests

Following are recent examples of boycott requests that have been reported to the Office of Antiboycott Compliance. These examples are illustrative and not exhaustive. Companies should call our advice line (202) 482-2381 with questions concerning these or any request to comply with restrictive trade practices or boycotts.

BAHRAIN

Prohibited Boycott Condition in a Purchase Order:

“In the case of overseas suppliers, this order is placed subject to the suppliers being not on the Israel boycott list published by the central Arab League.”

Reportable boycott condition in an importer’s purchase order:

“Goods of Israeli origin not acceptable.”

Reportable boycott condition in a letter of credit:

“A signed statement from the shipping company, or its agent, stating the name, flag and nationality of the carrying vessel and confirming … that it is permitted to enter Arab ports.”

Prohibited Boycott Condition in a Contract

“Israeli Clause:
The Seller shall not supply goods or materials which have been manufactured or processed in Israel nor shall the services of any Israeli organization be used in handling or transporting the goods or materials.”

Prohibited Condition in a Contract

“The Contractor shall comply in all respects with the requirements of the laws of the State of Bahrain relating to the boycott of Israel. Goods manufactured by companies blacklisted by the Arab Boycott of Israel Office may not be imported into the State of Bahrain and must not be supplied against this Contract. For information concerning the Boycott List, the Contractor can approach the nearest Arab Consulate.”

Prohibited Condition in a Letter of Credit

“Buyer shall in no way contravene the regulations issued by Bahrain Government and or Israel Boycott Office. Buyer shall not nominate a vessel blacklisted by the said office.”

BANGLADESH

Prohibited Boycott Condition in instructions to bidders on a contract

“No produced commodity shall be eligible for … financing if such commodity contains any component or components which were imported into the producing country from Israel and countries not eligible to trade with … the People’s Republic of Bangladesh. The equipment and materials must not be of Israeli origin. The supplier/bidder who are not black listed by Arab boycott of Israel will be allowed to participate in this bid.”

IRAQ

Prohibited Boycott Condition in a Questionnaire

“1. Do you have or ever have had a branch or main company, factory or assembly plant in Israel or have sold to an Israeli?”

“2. Do you have or ever have had general agencies or offices in Israel for your Middle Eastern or international operations?”

“3. Have you ever granted the right of using your name, trademarks royalty, patent, copyright or that of any of your subsidiaries to Israeli persons or firms?”

“4. Do you participate or ever participated or owned shares in an Israeli firm or business?”

“5. Do you render now or ever have rendered any consultative service or technical assistance to any Israeli firm or business?”

“6. Do you represent now or ever have represented any Israeli firm or business or abroad?”

“7. What companies in whose capital are your shareholders?” Please state the name and nationality of each company and the percentage of share of their total capital.”

“8. What companies or shareholders in your capital? Please state the name and nationality of each company and the percentage of share of their total capital.”

“N.B. The above questions should be answered on behalf of the company itself and all of its branch companies, if any.”

Prohibited Condition in a Contract

“The Contractor shall, throughout the continuance of the Contract, abide by and comply in all respects with the rules and instructions issued from time to time by the Israel Boycott Office in Iraq.”

Prohibited Condition in a Trademark Application

“Requirement for the registration of pharmaceutical companies:

Certification letter regarding the boycott of Israel (i.e., do not comprise any parts, raw materials, labor or capital of Israeli origin).”
“Requirement for the Registration of Medical Appliances, Disposables producing companies, and Laboratory diagnostic kit manufacturers:

Certification letter regarding boycott of Israel.”
Prohibited Condition in a Purchase Order

“Supplies of our purchase order should never be consigned or shipped by steamers included on Israel Boycott list.”

Prohibited Condition in a Contract

“The bill of lading shall bear a note that the vessel delivering the cargo is not on the “Black List” and does not call at Israeli ports.”

KUWAIT

Prohibited Boycott Condition in a Custom’s document

“[The vessel entry document asks the ship’s captain to certify that,] no goods, dry cargo, or personal effects listed on the document of Israeli origin or manufactured by a blacklisted firm or company are to be landed as they will be subject to confiscation.”

Prohibited Boycott Condition in Letter of Credit

“We hereby certify that the beneficiaries, manufacturers, exporters and transferees of this credit are neither blacklisted nor have any connection with Israel, and that the terms and conditions of this credit in no way contravenes the law pertaining to the boycott of Israel and the decisions issued by the Israel Boycott Office.”

Reportable Boycott Condition in Letter of Credit:

“Importation of goods from Israel is strictly prohibited by Kuwait import regulations; therefore, certificate of origin covering goods originating in Israel is not acceptable.”

Prohibited Condition in a Purchase Order

“All shipments under this order shall comply with Israel Boycott Office Rules and Regulations.”

Prohibited Condition in a Purchase Order

“Goods must not be shipped on vessels/carriers included in the Israeli Boycott list.”

Prohibited Condition in a Contract

“The vendor (as person or organization) or his representatives should not be an Israeli national. So the vendor should not be owned, managed, or represented by any companies that carry an Israeli nationality and there should not be any sub-contractors that carry Israeli nationality.

The vendor should not involve any person or representatives that carries the Israeli nationality in importing or exporting the software or hardware mentioned in this contract and its appendices and the vendor should provide all documents that support the above information.”

LEBANON

Prohibited Boycott Condition in Power of Attorney from Lebanese firm

A Lebanese firm sent a power of attorney affidavit to appoint a local agent in Iraq to a U.S. firm. The affidavit asked that U.S. firm answer a series of questions concerning the Arab boycott. These questions included whether the firm had a plant in Israel, has sold to Israel, had offices in Israel, owned shares in an Israeli firm, had provided services for an Israeli firm, or had granted any trademarks, copy or patent rights to Israeli persons of firms.

Reportable Boycott Condition in letter of credit:

“Certificate issued by the shipping company or its agent testifying that the carrying vessel is allowed to enter the Lebanese port…”

LIBYA

Prohibited Condition in a Letter of Credit

“Original commercial invoice signed and certified by the beneficiary that the goods supplied are not manufactured by either a company or one of its subsidiary branches who are blacklisted by the Arab boycott of Israel or in which Israeli capital is invested.”

Prohibited Condition in a Contract

“The Second Party shall observe the provisions of the Law for Boycott of Israel or any other State which the provisions for Boycott are applicable and shall ensure such observation from any other sub-contractor. In case of contravening this condition, the First Party shall have the right to cancel the contract and confiscate the deposit by mere notice by registered letter without prejudice to his right of compensation.”

Prohibited Condition in a Contract

“Boycott Provisions:
The Contractor shall observe and comply with all the provisions and decisions concerning the boycott to Israel or any other country the same is valid. The Contractor shall secure the respect of such boycott by any other party he might have subcontracted with him.”

Prohibited Condition in a Certificate of Origin

“The goods being exported are of national origin of the producing country and the goods do not contain any components of Israeli origin, whatever the proportion of such component is. We, the exporter, declare that the company producing the respective commodity is not an affiliate to or mother of any company that appears on the Israeli boycott blacklist and also, we the exporter, have no direct or indirect connection with Israel and shall act in compliance with the principles and regulations of the Arab boycott of Israel.”

[…]

http://www.bis.doc.gov/antiboycottcompliance/oacantiboycottrequestexamples.html

Did you know that if you have a stamp from Israel in your passport, none of these countries will issue a VISA?

In the USA, it is clearly illegal for a greengrocer to require a wholesaler to only provide products that do not come from Israel. The law says that it is illegal to participate in foreign boycotts, but how can anyone separate a foreign boycott from a USA led boycott? If the terms are exactly the same, and a foreign boycott started first, then how could you prove that your domestic boycott is not an extension of a foreign one?

The people who drafted this law knew that the constitutionality of this law would have been challenged immiediately if it had been an outright ban on boycotting, so they put it in the context of foreign boycotts to get around that pesky piece of paper.

It’s an interesting question.

There are certain trades, like the gem trade, where people from these two supposedly separate spheres, who publicly are unalterably opposed, do business together as if they were members of the same family.

They make agreements on a handshake, where vast amounts of money are involved, and everyone behaves like rational human beings.

This is what happens when you remove the malevolent influence of the state. Without the state interfering, on both sides, people behave rationally and manage to live together without conflict.

This is the truth, it always has been the truth, and the only people who are against the sort of peace that we all expect are the statist collectivists who, with their foul and artificial divisions of humanity, cause every act of violence in the world.

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One comment on “Coerced association: the state mandates it
  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Beautyon, Beautyon. Beautyon said: Government has no business forcing association or preventing association by law: http://bit.ly/agz32D BOYCOTTING ISRAEL IS ILLEGAL IN USA?! […]

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