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Mutualist Blog: Free Market Anti-Capitalism

To dissolve, submerge, and cause to disappear the political or governmental system in the economic system by reducing, simplifying, decentralizing and suppressing, one after another, all the wheels of this great machine, which is called the Government or the State. --Proudhon, General Idea of the Revolution

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Location: Northwest Arkansas, United States

Friday, April 29, 2005

An Update on My Project

I've just posted a working outline for my research project on the anarchist theory of organizational behavior at Mutualist.Org. Comments?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Damn, I still gotta finish reading "Studies in Mutualist Political Economy" at some point. Maybe this summer. "Sigh"....grad school + job = not enough time to catch up on my reading.


April 29, 2005 4:25 PM  
Blogger Kevin Carson said...

Wow--it's a pretty sad commentary on the educational system when school keeps you from reading! I remember what it was like, though. The fastest way to turn something interesting into a chore, was to take a course in it or choose it as the topic for a paper.

April 29, 2005 4:58 PM  
Blogger Adem D. Kupi said...

I like this. It gets at the real, personal reasons for most people to become anarchists.
I tend to focus more on the effects of monetary policy when I look at these problems, but that's my strong suit.
I'll post something on it soon, and perhaps you will want to incorporate some of it, or it will inspire other investigations.
But yeah, I can't wait to see it fleshed out.
The Goodman sections sound really interesting. One of the things I find particularly detestable about modern society is the formalization of judgement as it applies to the labor market - the "credentialing" elitism. I've seen offers for freelance writers that seem more concerned with the writer's resume, than actual writing samples.
And somehow, having a degree has been equated with intelligence. In my own personal experience, very few people leave college because they were too stupid to finish.

April 29, 2005 7:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, I can assure you that reading your material is much more elightening than neoclassical and keynesian marco theory.:)

Did you ever have to endure a course in mainstream macroeconomics, Kevin? I mean, the professor is a nice enough guy, but I've read so much bullshit this sememster it's amazing. (The book we're using is co-authored by Ben Bernanke.) At first I spent the bulk of my time trying to make sense of the material. After that I discovered it was easier just to memorize it. It's almost enough to make you want to quit school, and go watch reality TV.

April 29, 2005 7:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oops...last comment was mine.


April 29, 2005 7:50 PM  
Blogger Kevin Carson said...

Many thanks, Adem and Matt.

I took a macro 101 class in college (poly sci major) from an Ibo instructor from Nigeria. Like most Ibo I've met, he was an over-the-top, Type-A workaholic, but he got the material across pretty well.

I also read a basic into text (from a neoclassical perspective) on macro- and micro-econ as part of the general preparation for researching my book. It was Heilbroner's "The Economic Problem," so I was just about foaming at the mouth over some of his classless, technocratic liberal nonsense like "we owe the debt to ourselves."

April 30, 2005 4:02 AM  
Anonymous christoto said...

Hi Kevin,

I'm not sure where or if this should "fit in," but you may want to include a section wrt to the repression of innovation, invention, etc.

Corporatist concentration and combination necessarily leads to a "funnelization" of decision making control of the use of resources which is organic with increasing the distance between decision makers from the "opportunity context," where the "point of production producers" match up resources with future product goals. This model shuts out innovative thinking for satisfying ultimate market wants with alternative resources. It shuts out, ad hoc, nimble "here and now" context sensitive flexibility. Instead of innovation being a widespread, broad, ever-present "flavoring" driving a seething, ever more competitive product market mix, the consumer is confronted with a much more limited choice than could be otherwise, without corpocracy.

Corpocracy also drives a tunnel vision mind-set, where if a certain approach to satisfying market wants doesn't fit its traditional mold, like the hyper-energy wasting, high distance distribution costs, hyper concentration of resource control and production, the alternative approach is often never even considered. The development of alternative energy sources-practices-processes, alternative construction materials-practices-processes are all wasted. For example, modern construction technology has the capability of making Leggo like self-assembly kits for people to build their own houses, which people could snap together themselves and save huge labor, speculator, and mortgage debt-ransoming costs. But corpocracy never focuses on this kind of technology investment to leverage simple Labor up to a high value advantage. It rarely invests Capital to help Labor help itself, even for a tidy return. It prefers advantaging the equipment intensive, the finance intensive players in the construction industry.

Yet another aspect of corpocracy control of production is the unending boredom of bland or even offensive esthetics. Most houses, despite not being modular, seem stamped from the same cookie cutter. The vernacular is crushed out in favor of the institutional. Many manufactures look so similar, often shoddy, one would not purchase them except that most other choices have been suppressed.

Human innovation and invention is part of human nature. Doing the best we can with what is on hand, doing more with less, creating beauty out of rough raw materials, making the best out of the opportunities in present context is what we're about. When a society institutes a small elite in charge of production, instead of a broad based market democracy, there MUST be a decrease in innovation; there must be an opportunity loss due to missed innovation, to missed increasing efficiencies via rematching resources to market demands.

Similarly, patent monopoly suppresses competition by alternative innovation. While the incentives for a few patent innovations increase, this represents a vertical incentive coupled with a horizontal repression. This concentration of rewards to fewer innovations multiplies the potential for social disruption because the financiers of more concentrated investment are more liable to be more remote from the community to be impacted. Patent monopoly enhances rewards to trample over externality costs to be foisted on a community. Concentration of finance to reap concentrated rewards tramples on the co-operative investment "buy-in" of the community. Successful innovations require not only the inventor but a community that chooses to adopt it. Successful innovation is less likely to run into Luddite opposition when it is more human scale, more within the reach of the whole community to invest, to share in the evaluation process and the benefits, when it is not compelled due to privileged advantage and repression of alternatives.

Essentially, corporate monopoly and concentration of decision control of resources and production makes the same mistake for which Popper, Hayek and Mises criticized Socialist Centralized Command & Control economies. Such concentrated control ignores the "knowledge problem." Corporate decision makers have no special synoptic knowledge. The corporate bureaucracy can't possibly know what the "hands-on" producer is noticing, thinking. This is the other end of the spectrum from the market price calculation problem. Yes, corpocracy does have access to market price calculation, but their remoteness from direct production searching for alternative resources and processes denies them real world contextual cost and opportunity information. An example of this is the difference between the ("12th Floor") bureaucratic General Motors approach and the Deming modelled Toyota approach to auto production.

This might prove to be a weak chink in the armor of corporatism, that may provide opportunities for mutualist endeavors.

chris toto

May 06, 2005 1:29 PM  
Blogger Kevin Carson said...

Wow, Chris--that's a lot of insightful comments.

One thing I haven't dealt with much in the past, but plan to in this project, is the way the state raises entry barriers by promoting capital-intensive forms of production. By subsidizing R&D, depreciation allowances, etc., it promotes forms of production with very high start-up costs, and thus promotes "sticky" oligopoly pricing by artificially reducing the number of firms in a market.

It's interesting you should mention modular housing, because I just read something similar a few days ago in Illich's *Tools for Conviviality* as an example of "radical monopoly." I'm surprised he didn't grasp the essential role of the state in the general phenomenon.

I pointed to something similar in my discussion of the "crowding out" effects of drug patents, state credentialling, etc., in a post a few weeks ago. The state, by subsidizing centralized forms of production, long-distance transportation, professional credentialling, etc., renders lower-tech methods less usable. Transportation subsidies have the effect of increasing the distance between places, and thus making foot and bicycle transport less viable.

May 06, 2005 2:25 PM  

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