Saturday, November 29, 2008

A Left-Rothbardian Business Model?


This is the kind of work environment I was endorsing in a previous post.

Hat tip to Neverfox, on the GOTG board.

(For some stupid reason the embedding has been disabled, so I can't just post it on my blog.)

Friday, November 28, 2008

Still Debating (Well, More Like Discussing) Mutualism

Here, here, and here, for whoever's interested.

UPDATE: It turns out that I am officially on Franc's "ignore" list:

"I'm putting you on ignore. I am tired of your attacks and your constant straw men. Even though we keep indulging you, you obviously have ZERO intention of engaging in dialogue beyond your preconceived notions and things you quote on the Internet. I am really fed up with you."

It's the same line I hear at the end of every dinner party.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Block and Huebert's Horrid Article On Long

I don't agree with everything Roderick Long wrote in his Cato Unbound article, but Block and Huebert's response to it is just plain awful.

They begin the article by claiming "There is no such thing as corporate power." Ain't that a relief?

Long writes that "Corporate power depends crucially on government intervention in the marketplace."

But what does he mean by "corporate power"? A corporation is merely a group of individuals who have entered into a particular type of business relationship. The corporate form allows them to be known collectively by their business's name instead of their own names. And it allows them to enter into contracts under which they limit their own liability – something which is perfectly legitimate under libertarianism. (Objectivist historian Robert Hessen has made this point well in his book, In Defense of the Corporation, and see our article, "Defending Corporations," forthcoming in the Cumberland Law Review.)

The corporation, therefore, has no power to speak of.

Instead, only the state has power.

Any idiot can tell you "corporate power" means. In a nutshell, it's the ability of corporations to make people accept shitty jobs and products.

Yes, only the state has (coercive) power. But it is that power that leads to corporations having power. That's all that Long was pointing out, so they seem to be admitting he's right.

There is nothing special or different about government privileges for corporations – so why does Long single them out?

Yes, there's nothing at all especially significant about the about Blackwater, Halliburton, the corporatist Fed, etc. Move along, folks! Nothing to see here. Oh, and try not to wince while taking it up the ass.

They deny that there's anything at all suspicious about Wal-Mart getting huge tax breaks that other companies don't get.

It might be otherwise if corporations avoided taxes while actively urging the government to tax its competitors – but Long doesn't mention that.

Of course not! For they would never, ever lobby for that kind of thing.


At the outset, we will concede that Wal-Mart has been guilty of some serious wrongdoing over the course of its existence. For example, it sometimes has used eminent domain to take land for its stores, which is inexcusable. Also, it for a time favored the minimum wage law. See here Lew Rockwell’s incisive critique of Wal-Mart’s fall from grace in this regard.

Yes, Wal-Mart has indeed been responsible for "some" serious wrongdoing. They receive an obscene amount of subsidies, steal other people's land, and have a thing for slave labor. An April 2005 Strike-the-Root article chronicled some of Wal-Mart's lust for statism, concluding: seems Wal-Mart, with its blatant government coercion, pork, and bribes, has little or nothing to do with the free market, but could be the poster child for state capitalism.

What is so funny is that Block and Huebert link to Rockwell's article on how Wal-Mart supported a minimum wage increase to wipe out smaller competitors through state violence. But not long before this, they implied Wal-Mart would be unlikely to "[urge] the government to tax its competitors."

Now, it's undeniable that most of the people who hate Wal-Mart are a bunch of whiners who hate success, and that it definitely took a large degree of skill for it to get the point it's at now. And when I need a bunch of cheap crap, it's the first place I'll stop. But to cherish it as some heroic exemplar of the "free market" is worse than a joke.

Look, when (some) left-libertarians make asinine predictions or embrace Luddism (consciously or not), there's nothing wrong with pointing it out. I do it all the time, often just to see if any of them will respond in an entertaining fashion. But this article goes overboard and confirms a lot of the worst stereotypes about "right-libertarians."

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Debating Mutualism

I've been discussing mutualism all weekend, in this thread and this thread. In the first one, Franc gets pretty pissed at me! Fun stuff all around.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Collectivist/Statist Mentality Explained

The Motivations of Political Leftists, by John J. Ray, is a great read. I do strongly disagree with him on a number of things--Ray is most definitely a conservative, and so there is a lot of right-wing rubbish in it. But in the areas where he's criticizing statism and collectivism, it's really good.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Bringing Spooner's Vision To Life...Realistically

Both Spooner and Tucker thought (largely correctly, in my view) that the prevailing wage system and workers' lack of control of their means and conditions of labour were objectionable features that were in large part sustained by various sorts of government intervention in the economy on behalf of the wealthy.
-Roderick Long

Some time ago, I linked to an excellent article laying down the basics of Lysander Spooner's political philosophy. Spooner was rightfully concerned about the authortarianism of the modern employer-employee relationship, and sought to fix it. Although he considered it an absolute natural right for people to sell and purchase labor, he basically wanted to aim for a system of self-employed people, worker cooperatives, and independent contractors.

In today's industrialized world, aiming for an economy made up of pure worker cooperatives and nothing else is hopelessly doctrinaire. Nonetheless, I feel that there are still ways in which Spooner's views can be brought to least to the greatest extent realistically possible (we can't return to the 19th century, no matter how badly some anarchists would like to).

Notice that in the segment above, I said "pure" worker cooperatives, not de facto worker cooperatives. A business can take on many features and aspects of a worker cooperative without every employee being a 100% equal owner or manager. Employees can be treated as partners on equal footing without a business being a "pure" cooperative. So a business can be "cooperative" in many ways without being a "pure" cooperative. David Ellerman, Mr. Economic Democracy himself, makes exactly the same point in his book The Democratic Worker-Owned Firm:

The worker-owned cooperative has historically been an all-or-nothing creature. It tends to assume a workforce that already understands and appreciates the rights and responsibilities of democratic worker ownership. A more practical compromise is a hybrid structure that can initially accommodate less than 100 per cent or even minority worker ownership—but where that portion of worker ownership is organized on a democratic cooperative basis.

Businesses can come up with other ways of experimenting with workplace democracy as well, such as "broader sharing of information and authority," involving them in management and decision-making, etc.

This would allow for businesses to maintain economies of scale and specialization, while at the same time incorporating many of the benefits of pure cooperatives. Thus, we should strive for businesses that are as cooperative as possible, and encourage worker input and participation, so that everyone is able to experience maximum autonomy and dignity and nobody is ever put into a "wage slavery" position.

Businesses can also contract certain--perhaps many--tasks out to cooperatives or hybrid models.

There are huge benefits of making the employer-employee relationship "egalitarian," instead of one party being treated like the property of the other. First, it discourages statism by making work less like a Communist dictatorship. Second, it is good for the self-esteem and psychological wellbeing of the workers in those firms. Third, it is good for society as a whole because of the two previous things.

In individualist-anarchist land we should strive for all relationships to be as anti-authoritarian as possible. Reforming the modern workplace is a good start.

Note: an excellent article about workplace democracy in Argentina can be found here.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

ROFL! Market Anarchist Website Destroys Families!

I'm not really a hard-core fan of Stefan Molyneux's Freedomain Radio. I think there's some excellent stuff on it (my favorite podcast is the one where he gives a fictitious speech to "the troops"), and I agree with many of his views, but I don't listen to him religiously or anything. I was always a bit put off by all the anti-family stuff on his site.

Now I know why....DAMN!

(Hat tip to the Mises forum.)

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Libertarian Party's Lame-Ass Website

I know that most of us could give a crap about the LP, but I do. Not because I think they'll ever get elected for anything, or that they deserve to, but because it was the "gateway" through which I eventually became a market anarchist, and through which many others to come will (hopefully) become market anarchists. As we're all aware, it has gone in an increasingly crappy direction. A good start would be having a website that isn't so freakin' lame.

A few complaints:

1) The logo. Wtf? It's awful. It looks like a moon made out of cheese is swinging behind the statue of liberty or something. The older logo is way better.

2) The text: "Smaller government, lower taxes, more freedom." Fucking YAWN. That is so boring, cliched, and vague that literally anyone could claim to believe in it. Ask Barack Obama if he believes in those things, and he'll say "yes." Hell, if someone asked Hitler if he believes in "more freedom," he would have said yes. Everybody claims to believe in "freedom," even (especially?) when they advocate the exact opposite.

3) The "blog" is lame as hell. The LP used to allow people to leave comments on it, but that's changed ever since most of the party got pissed at the LP's direction and nominees. Now the posts are completely uninspired and nobody can even leave comments or feedback.

4) The platform. It is perhaps the most sad part of all. When I was a young conservative back in the day, exploring the LP site for the first time, the radical plank demanding the total abolition of taxation energized me on the spot and got me all excited. Now it doesn't even take a firm stance against the war on drugs. There is now only one measly sentence on victimless crimes, just barely condemning them. Don't even get me started on the rest of the platform. It is Republican-lite at its lightest. If the Ron Paul and Bob Barr campaigns taught us anything, it's that principled radicalism excites, while "mainstreamism" bores the snot out of everyone.

5) The press releases are terrible, focusing on petty issues (mostly ones Republicans agree on) while mostly ignoring the frightening war-torture-bombing-police state built up by conservatives. When the press releases go after the Iraq war at all, it's not because it's a murderous imperialist crime, but because it's a "waste of taxpayer dollars." (If Obama started building concentration camps, would our first criticism be that it's a "waste of taxpayer dollars?") The LP has utterly failed to address the impeachment of war criminals Bush and Cheney.

The site sucks, guys. Clean it up.

Friday, November 14, 2008

OT But Hysterical

I nearly fell off my chair laughing the first time I watched this:

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Obama Already Working On Building A Fascist State

So now he is working on an "Auto Czar" to direct the auto industry (I really wish I was making this stuff up), along with a program to mandate servitude to the state.

Just wait until this Nazi gets in ain't seen nothin' yet.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

How Big Or Small Would Firms Be In Ancapistan?

Since this issue is being argued back and forth by libertarians (see here, here, and here), I figured I'd throw my own opinion out there.

As any regular reader of my blog knows, I think most "left-libertarian" predictions are pretty asinine. In left-libertarian la-la land, laissez faire will result in all of us working in small, luddite, sorry-ass co-ops with a bunch of peasants. Nobody is to become too big or successful (or happy) because those things are "scary." So we work in these dinky, shitty little co-ops that have no electricity or plumbing, and we feel guilty about whatever success we have.

In "right-libertarian" land, things are the reverse. Corporations will all be huge snarling monsters (beasts, even) that will stomp the living crap out of the working class and the environment without undue delay. They will all be huge and powerful and manly and hierarchical and unforgiving, because huge corporations kick mighty ass. (Cue right-libertarians high-fiving each other next to the beer keg.)

Which viewpoint is more right? My answer: Who knows and who cares?

Who cares how big or small businesses will be? There are no "businesses," anyway. In the end, there are only *individuals* buying and selling goods and services as they see fit. There are no "corporations," just people trading things. "Businesses" are an illusion, so worrying about their "size," or demanding that they be big or small, is nonsensical.

The entire world could be considered one really "big" business. Or, it could be considered billions of really, really small businesses--with every individual being his own "business" with his own skills for hire.

So the whole debate is pretty silly once you deconstruct it.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Why See The Movie When You Can Live It?

As we all know by now, they're making Atlas Shrugged into a film. But considering that the United States' current political and economic situation is already following her novel to a tee (bail-outs, corporatism, totalitarian government taking away people's rights, goofball intellectuals praising collectivism, etc), do we really need it to be a movie? Seems to me that we're already actors in it!

The only difference is that in Rand's book, the government actually showed some restraint.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Lysander Spooner's Philosophy

A great essay on it, here.

On another note..

One thing that is interesting is how many social anarchists label Spooner as "anti-capitalist" for some of his criticisms of wage labor (most of these criticisms were discussing wage labor in the context of *state* capitalism, but some were not).

Ancaps Sam Konkin and David Friedman (among others) both made similar criticisms of wage labor, yet neither of them are hailed as "anti-capitalists," like Spooner is. And Spooner's conception of natural rights is basically the same as Rothbard's, which is why I think it's politically accurate to call him an anarcho-capitalist--albeit a "left-leaning" one.

Why do the collectivists want to claim Spooner so badly? My guess that they can't stand the thought of not being able to "have" a famous abolitionist.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Just Ordered A New Book!

America Gone Wild, by Ted Rall. This ought to be a freaking hilarious read.

Anyone who is vehemently denounced by Malkin, Hannity, O'Reilly, the crowd at Little Green Footballs, et all is obviously doing something right.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Like A Rock (In Terms of Dumbness)

This woman was just a hair away from the presidency. Let that sink in for a minute.

(I suppose it runs in the family.)

Capitalist Authoritarianism and How To End It

"Capitalism" is, rightly or wrongly, associated with the current economic system. While many individualist anarchists use the term in a strictly economic sense, based on very well-defined notions of legitimate property rights, no such system and no such property rights exist or have ever existed in the real world (all individualist anarchists, past and present, support “capitalism” by the standard contemporary dictionary definition).

Under our present system, a great many capitalists have become the equivalent of feudal lords and tyrannical oligarchs. This is because of the control they have over the state, the mechanism through which they are able to exploit the rest of the population. These capitalists use every trick in the book (state-aided land grabs, subsidies, patents, intellectual “property”, protectionism, the federal reserve system, the military industrial complex, eminent domain theft, anti-strike laws, regulatory cartelization, and so on) to maintain and perpetuate their power. Thus, although it is not “free market” in any sense of the phrase, it is fair to call the current system a capitalist plutocracy, as it is a plutocracy run by number of capitalists.

"American conservatives... exhort the backward countries on the virtues and the importance of private foreign investment from the advanced countries, and of allowing a favorable climate for this investment, free from governmental harassment. This is all very true, but is again often unreal to the undeveloped peoples, because the conservatives persistently fail to distinguish between legitimate, free-market foreign investment, as against investment based upon monopoly concessions and vast land grants by the undeveloped states. To the extent that foreign investments are based on land monopoly and aggression against the peasantry, to that extent do foreign capitalists take on the aspects of feudal landlords, and must be dealt with in the same way...."
-Murray Rothbard

As Benjamin Tucker pointed out, this plutocracy is responsible for much of the existing crime:

We make war upon the State as chief invader of person and property, as the cause of substantially all the crime and misery that exist, as itself the most gigantic criminal extant. It manufactures criminals much faster than it punishes them. It exists to create and sustain the privileges which produce economic and social chaos. It is the sole support of the monopolies which concentrate wealth and learning in the hands of a few and disperse poverty and ignorance among the masses, to the increase of which inequality the increase of crime is directly proportional. It protects a minority in plundering the majority by methods too subtle to be understood by the victims, and then punishes such unruly members of the majority as attempt to plunder others by methods too simple and straightforward to be recognized by the State as legitimate, crowning its outrages by deluding scholars and philosophers of Mr. Ball's stamp into pleading, as an excuse for its infamous existence, the necessity of repressing the crime which it steadily creates.
-Benjamin Tucker

Notice how Tucker mentions “methods too subtle to be understood by the victims.” This is exactly the case. Most people simply have absolutely no idea just how extensive, secretive, and ruthless this process is. Most people have no idea just how long it has been going on for, or just how many current land titles and riches are stolen. So when they see injustices taking place, they assume it is the result of not enough statism.

These privileges often lead to authoritarian employment relations ("the subjugation of labor to capital"). In the unlikely event of them being abolished, modern “wage slavery” would come to an end and employment would simply become a mutually beneficial transaction. In our current plutocracy, employment is about as “consensual” as a salad-tossing session in prison with Bubba.

However, if authoritarian employment relations did somehow manage to take place under a total free market with perfectly just property titles, we should still actively oppose it and call for non-statist solutions and alternatives. Again, I don’t think all employment is inherently authoritarian, but a great deal of it currently existing is. This is especially true under our current system where corporations can team up with dictatorships to put workers in sweatshops and assassinate labor organizers. While it is difficult to imagine a modern market economy devoid of any employment, we should support and encourage worker autonomy to the highest degree possible.

The labor theory of value and corresponding goofy “revolt” against “interest, rent, and profit” that all too many anarchists engage in is a pointless distraction from the real problem: statist corporations and the obscene levels of power they possess, along with the authoritarian social relationships created through such power.

How to end this system of plunder? Take a guess.

*This post has been edited a bit, so that it flows better.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

An Election That Will Go Down In History...

...for the tyranny it leads to.

Barack Obama will destroy the already-fucked US economy, expand the US empire, and continue to strip away our freedoms. The most disgusting part of his victory is the wretched nationalism it has whipped up in liberals and conservatives alike. They're "so proud that we live in a country where something like this could happen!" Having a dictator who is a member of a minority group is apparently an improvement. I'm tearin' up already!

The People(TM) have spoken, and they want a Mugabe America.