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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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Sunday, September 18, 2005

Upaya: the Market vs. the Market

Excellent post on the meaning of "the market" at Upaya, based on this article by Fred Foldvary.

There are at least two ways to think about what is and what isn't part of the market. On the one hand, you have the Rothbardian idea that market is just the sum total of all voluntary human activity. That means hippie communes, charities, revolutionary workers collectives, and so on would count as market institutions. On a narrower conception of markets, the market is constituted by the total of commercial exchanges in a society.

When libertarians express an easy "let the market handle it" attitude, many non-libertarians will reasonably assume that this means "let for-profit commercial exchange handle it." And that might not be a very good or a very attractive idea. For instance, getting utilities out of the hands of government is a good idea, but should they be transferred to big utilities corporations (who are likely very well connected politically) or should they be turned into consumer co-ops? From a libertarian perspective these are both shifts from state to market. Indeed, as radical libertarians (left, right, or center) will be quick to point out, the consumer co-op solution is probably the more free market solution. And yet, the consumer co-op might be considered by some to be more of a "community-based" (read: grassroots and cooperative) rather than "market-based" (read: corporate, greedy, and competitive) solution. Foldvary helps to point out that the sphere of non-coercive, voluntary social activity includes commercial exchange, but also charities and "association in equality." Hence, it seems useful to think and talk in terms of voluntary coordination, rather that (always) "the market."

Indeed another problem, especially among mainstream right libertarians, is too much emphasis on the first two and not the third. "Government welfare sucks? Leave it to private charities, they'll be more humane and more efficient!" This is probably true. But what about mutual aid societies, neighborhood assemblies, land trusts, co-ops, tenant's unions, independent labor unions, neighborhood watch and cop-watch, alternative media, community gardens, LETS systems, barter networks, mutual banks, open-source information, etc.? It may be better to be dependent on a private charity than a government bureaucracy, but what about individual and community independence through the association of equals?

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9 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

http://corner.nationalreview.com/05_09_18_corner-archive.asp#076901



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Monday, September 19, 2005

A LIBERAL BLEG [Jonah Goldberg]
Attention you hearty liberal Corner readers. This is a good faith question. I want to know why you think big corporations are "rightwing." I have heard many arguments, and with very, very, few exceptions I find them unpersuasive or insufficient. I am eager to learn what I am missing. I'd like to hear you make the case. Please, no sophistry, circular arguments or rank assertion. Specificity, examples and defined terms would be very helpful. I'm not particularly interested in the argument that corporations are bad for the environment and therefore they are rightwing. I'm not necessarily dismissing that argument, it's just that I've heard it so many times before. Please send honest and thoughtful responses to JonahResearch@aol.com. Send dishonest and unthoughtful responses to Ramesh. I'm also interested in articles which have made this case.
Posted at 04:35 PM

September 19, 2005 1:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

http://corner.nationalreview.com/05_09_18_corner-archive.asp#076901



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Monday, September 19, 2005

A LIBERAL BLEG [Jonah Goldberg]
Attention you hearty liberal Corner readers. This is a good faith question. I want to know why you think big corporations are "rightwing." I have heard many arguments, and with very, very, few exceptions I find them unpersuasive or insufficient. I am eager to learn what I am missing. I'd like to hear you make the case. Please, no sophistry, circular arguments or rank assertion. Specificity, examples and defined terms would be very helpful. I'm not particularly interested in the argument that corporations are bad for the environment and therefore they are rightwing. I'm not necessarily dismissing that argument, it's just that I've heard it so many times before. Please send honest and thoughtful responses to JonahResearch@aol.com. Send dishonest and unthoughtful responses to Ramesh. I'm also interested in articles which have made this case.
Posted at 04:35 PM

September 19, 2005 1:43 PM  
Anonymous Sparrow said...

Leaving aside the strange double-post above, I have to say that Upaya is correct. It might be better if left-libertarians used the term "network" rather than "market," given the destruction of the latter by capitalism. Some on the left are beginning to look at future social organizations of free and equal persons in terms of networks rather than traditional structures like the market or representation. See, for example, Hardt and Negri.

September 19, 2005 1:52 PM  
Blogger buermann said...

I think the strange double post might have been a suggestion that Kevin explain it to Goldberg, to which I should say he'd be able to explain it to that nitwit if anybody could. But it'd be much the same as explaining how modern liberalism is rightwing, the terms of the debate being what they are.

September 19, 2005 5:28 PM  
Blogger : JustaDog said...

Why don't you people ever examine countries that practice socialism - like Germany?

Maybe because the unemployment rate is over 11%?
Maybe because the extreme tax burden due to bloated social programs?
Maybe because their citizens are getting SICK of the socialist system?

Sorry - but socialism is a sick failure.

September 19, 2005 7:02 PM  
Blogger freeman said...

That was a great post by Upaya. The market is not just about commercial, for-profit exchanges. My view of a free market takes all voluntary arrangements into account.

Justadog: This is a free market anarchist site. Your ranting about state socialism is absolutely irrelevant.

Please read before you comment - it'll save ya some embarrassment. Then again, that may be too much to ask for a neocon.

September 19, 2005 7:42 PM  
Blogger Bill said...

Justadog,

erm, Germany isn't Socialist by any stretch of the imagination. Socialism is about common ownership, the abolition of the wages system and of markets and money, in favour of the free association of producers and free access to the fruits of society. Kevin Carson considers that small markets can achieve much the same thing. No one here advocates welfare, or nationalisation.

Bill - Socialist.

September 20, 2005 12:49 AM  
Anonymous Richard said...

Regarding Justadog

Maxspeak has an interesting post regarding Justadog's claim that Germany has an 11% unemployment rate

http://maxspeak.org/mt/archives/001616.html#more

September 20, 2005 9:50 AM  
Anonymous P.M.Lawrence said...

I'd put in two caveats, since even community groups can get trapped in mindsets and become despotic. Co-operative approaches have historically worked best when they were downstream operations adding value to individual agents higher up, like the Australian Rice Growers (other sorts have less conclusive track records). And, the important point is to promote people out of needing that kind of support, rather than merely finding other means of providing it. That just tempts those to grow on what they feed on too, with similar incentives for supportive care rather than cure.

September 25, 2005 12:22 AM  

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