Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Leave It To De Coster

To make mutualism almost sound appealing.


Neverfox said...

Tell Karen that Nebraska called. They want their straw back.

First of all, I don't believe that "Why Work?" ever claims to be a mutualist organization. It seems that De Coster had a bone to pick with mutualists, went out to find some provacative stance on "wage slavery" and called it "mutualist". This is intellectually irresponsible, particularly with regard to readers who may be unfamiliar with mutualism. She has Kevin's blog in her blog roll yet she sounds like she hasn't spent on moment reading about mutualism.

I really get a kick out of her use of language like "nor is it "slavery" to receive wages from an employer with whom you have drawn a contract". Well, yes that's true. Getting something you agreed to get isn't bad. Wow, that's deep. But it's a red herring.

Her article simply takes for granted that if she can eliminate the analogy to slavery on grounds of voluntarism and extent (both valid flaws in any comparison of employment and slavery), that the matter is settled. How about the question of what exactly production is, how the results of production are imputed to the various parties and factors, and how the contracts involved play a role in that? These are all important questions but she doesn't seem to ever think they are worth examining. She simply begs the question that employers obtain the necessary separation from their employees through this contract to place themselves in the contractual role of the firm and the employees are simply external factor providers; it's as if labor is like a rented shovel.

She wonders about how anything would get done "without the production of workers who trade their skills and knowledge for money". Well, Karen, all labor is a "trade" of skill and knowledge for money or more specifically value, whether it comes from being rented or not. If doing some labor makes some raw inputs X into some more valuable Y, the there is this thing call "selling" that tends to turn Y magically into money or other goods the person may value more. Or we could all just stand around kicking rocks waiting for a capitalist to magically rise from the dust ex nihilo.

And her diatribe against "people who have no ambition to work" is simply hilarious given the common promise of achieving leisure for all through initial work that gives way to letting the accumulated capital work for you. Also, it completely overlooks the fact that no one in a free society could make any income without having labored first. It would be impossible for anyone to both not labor and also achieve the ability to live without charity. Even bartering would be impossible if you needed to grow your stock of value sufficiently to overcome spoilage. So it simply doesn't follow that not working for someone means not working or not desiring to work. That's just poor logic.

Isn't the goal a society based on voluntary cooperation, not the voluntary alienation of rights.

anarcho-mercantilist said...

I agree with Neverfox that Karen filled her article with strawman arguments. She did not clearly explain what she meant. But that does not mean that I support the anarcho-syndicalist notion of "wage slavery."

Some of the "left-libertarians" such as Brainpolice, Brad Spangler, and FSK, use a different definition of "wage slavery." I agree with their notion that since the current system does not represent the "free market," the state enslaves workers by income taxes and other regulations. However, I oppose semantic trickery of redefining "wage slavery" in attempt to appeal to the "social anarchists."

Cork said...

While I'm still a neo-individualist-anarchist (ancap), I think there's plenty of bullshit to complain about in the job market. I went to the forums on the whywork site, and actually agree with much of what was said there.

And what's wrong with wanting to enjoy life to some extent, instead of working all day long? As my dad always told me, nobody lies there on their death bed and says, "Man, I wish I would have worked more hours."

Rorshak (1313) said...

Good lord, I could even get past "justification for not working".

She sounds like a bitter old person who bitches for the sake of bitching. "EEEHH! You damn kids these days just don't want to work!"

Cork said...


Agreed. There's nothing inherently wrong with wages.