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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

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Iraqi Oil

Some time ago, in late August, Jim Henley asked me for an opinion on the status of the oil industry under the new Iraqi regime. Under the proposed new constitution, all existing oil wells are the common patrimony of the "Iraqi people," but those developed in the future will belong to the governments of the regions developing them (which happen to be almost entirely Kurdish or Shia). So the Sunnis will be muscled out of any future development of the oil industry. Here's how a CSM article described the problem:

Iraqi constitution must deliver oil to Sunnis, or it won't deliver stability
By Edward P. Joseph and Michael O'Hanlon

There are two big problems, however. First, the temporary constitution promulgated in early 2004 under Paul Bremer specifically assured Sunnis that Iraq's natural resources belong to "all the people of all the regions and governorates of Iraq," and further underscored that oil revenue would be distributed equally and fairly through the national budget. Effectively the Kurds are demanding all the autonomy protections afforded them by that interim document while trying to remove the key resource-distribution provision important to the Sunnis.

Second, if successful, this Kurdish action will establish a precedent that Shiites may seek to emulate in the south, where almost all the rest of Iraq's oil is found. The Sunnis would probably see such a constitution as a deal struck between Shiites who will eventually dominate Iraq's central institutions and Kurds who covet eventual separation - and one that deprived them of their fair share of Iraq's national resources as well.

....Without a fair deal ensuring that most Iraqi oil revenue is treated as a national resource, to be distributed proportionately to regions on a per-capita basis, it is hard to see how the Iraqi constitution can defuse Sunni Arab paranoias - and hard to see how it can serve the broader goal of creating a stable democratic Iraq.

Jim pointed out that the mainstream libertarian solution would be to put the wells under private ownership, and discard the idea of oil as property of the "people of Iraq."

The standard libertarian diagnosis here is, of course, that by putting the oil wealth in "public" hands you're really putting it in the hands of whichever gang manages to control the levers of state power, and that a compound change would obviate the problem entirely: 1) private ownership of all wells and fields, combined with 2) dropping the notion that oil fields found under the sands of Iraq somehow "belong to all Iraqis."

I know enough about Mutualism now, I think, to conclude that you'd reject the orthodox diagnosis as "vulgar libertarianism," but not enough to guess what you think WOULD work in such situations.

Well, golly, I'd kind of like to know myself. I delayed attempting an answer, because I had no clear idea of what the answer was. I should add, for the record, that I don't necessarily dismiss the "orthodox diagnosis" as vulgar libertarianism--not all of it, anyway. If "public hands" means "state hands," then the orthodox diagnosis is a pretty accurate statement of the problem. The question is whether society's ownership of a commons can be enforced by a non-state mechanism, through voluntary association and federation. And if "private ownership" can be stretched to include the idea of the commons as a legitimate form of property, or of worker homesteading of the formerly state-owned oil industry, then I'm fine with it. I don't much like the idea of auctioning it off at sweetheart prices to politically connected asset-strippers, though, on the Milton Friedman/Jeffrey Sachs model.

My initial inclination was to support homesteading of the industry by its workforce, combined with some kind of Geolib severance fee going to something like the Alaska Permanent Fund. Putin has been toying with the idea of such natural resource severance fees, as described in this Counterpunch interview with Michael Hudson. Of course, treating oil resources as a common raises all sorts of other puzzling questions, such as: how do you establish the territorial limits of the "community" to which common resources belong? If Iraq is just an artificial state cobbled together at Versailles from a grab bag of Ottoman provinces, why should some "Iraqi people" jointly own resources actually occupied by Kurds and Shia Arabs?

Well, I'm not much closer to figuring it out. But I turned my attention back to the issue after reading this article, (recommended by brian in the comment thread on an earlier post). I'm not sure how much it helps to resolve the overall problem, but it's about Iraq, and oil, and has a suitably Rothbardian flavor.

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13 Comments:

Blogger JoeTKelley said...

Kevin,

I would like to form an association with you in the effort to figure things out however there seems to be a general lack of connectivity. The questions concerning ownership of any kind are well thought through by Josiah Warren and Stephen Pearl Anderson. From their scientific minds some fundamental principles have been identified and once these principles are understood the viewpoint becomes much clearer. A problem still exists once a clear picture of the whole, supported by basic simple principles, is known or rather better known. That problem is falsehood. We all suffer from it. Some of us embrace it as if without it our lives would melt away like the wicked witch of the west.
Eliminating falsehood requires a powerful force of will. One powerful force of will such as the Robinson Crusoe example cannot solve the problem of eliminating falsehood for others in isolation. Connectivity and coincidental mutual common interest inspiring a negotiated process of discovery is required. Once that combining of individual will power into a common mutually beneficial will power has been accomplished the end result, I think, would resemble “Equitable Commerce”.

I offer this:
http://mysite.verizon.net/res0l0yx/OSG/Home.htm

And particularly this:

http://mysite.verizon.net/res0l0yx/OSG/Interest.htm

In the effort to inspire our combination toward negotiated mutual discovery.

Air is energy. One person doesn’t own air. Why should oil be any different? This is not to say that one person living over a vast oil supply can be morally shot if that person doesn’t give up and submit to collective will power. Will power commanding force of reason is one thing; while bayonets thrusting into bodies are something else entirely. Knowing the difference is a function of government where self-government is recognized as a sovereign reality.
Responsibility is individual or there is no responsibility at all. (Josiah Warren)

October 14, 2005 6:53 AM  
Blogger Kevin Carson said...

I like your OSG site. If you think the proprietary software community has its panties in a bunch over Linus Torvalds, wait till you see the reaction when proprietary government has to deal with open source competition.

Speaking of Stephen Pearl Andrews, I look forward to seeing the second half of Science of Society online. Any chance of that happening any time soon? I have vague plans to get a CD burner and put together a mutualist library CD-Rom with textfiles of Proudhon, Warren, Andrews, Spooner, Tucker, etc., and SOS would be a key text to include.

October 14, 2005 8:57 AM  
Blogger Matthew said...

I remember some months back when you were talking about Georgist-style local taxes or penalties against polluters, and I raised a couple of questions about how that would work, especially in an anarchist society. I've been talked around on that issue; I'd now love to see that kind of policy, whether applied first by government or by the community. (I wrote a bit about a local issue that could benefit from this here.)

But resource ownership is a much thornier issue. Specifically, there's the problem that left-anarchists and other socialists bring up about whether a free market society would inevitably decline back into exploitative capitalism.

Adam Smith's maxim that government is a conspiracy of the rich against the poor is certainly appropriate here. In a mutualist/anarchist society, most people would live within a broad band of middle/working class income levels, the lower rungs brought up and the higher ones brought down by the levelling forces of cooperativism and the increase in worker power. But if the workers themselves are the ones who have an overabundance of power, in one concentrated location, there's a powerful incentive to abuse that power. Even a cooperative or syndicate of workers could effectively decide to pull up the drawbridge, pay themselves very well in the local currency, and live like blue collar kings. No sharing with those outside. Even very nice, moral people can convince themselves that they deserve to live better than others, who may simply have not been lucky enough to work at an oil well, or a nickel mine, or what have you.

The real danger would be in the later years, if the first group of workers decided to hire outside freelancers to work at an expanded operation, thus creating a class structure.

The oil well problem is one of the two or three major problems with anarchist theory today, and it's good to see someone is thinking about it.

October 14, 2005 9:29 AM  
Blogger Adem D. Kupi said...

Frankly, I think you're getting close at this part:
"If Iraq is just an artificial state cobbled together at Versailles from a grab bag of Ottoman provinces, why should some "Iraqi people" jointly own resources actually occupied by Kurds and Shia Arabs?"
Exactly. If the Sunnis aren't actually occupying the oil fields, there's no reason why they should have control over them.
Just because historically, the sunnis have had disproportionate power in the artificially zoned region by virtue of being "sunni", doesn't mean that that situation should continue.
To the extent that the Sunnis have a right to the oil, well, hell, so do Iranians.
The whole earth belongs to all of us in usufruct - other than distributing all rent (including oil profits) equally over the whole earth, the only other option is some sort of mutualization of property. Which will leave the sunnis pretty much in a small patch of farmland in the middle of the 'nation' of Iraq.

October 14, 2005 9:52 AM  
Blogger JoeTKelley said...

Guys,

I can send a CD containing digital images of each page from my copy of The Science of Society to whoever would like a copy. My e-mail is linked on my web site. Presently my energies are invested in OSG and my sense of priority has not inspired the continuation of posting the text of Andrews’ valuable work.

The Oil situation illustrates many otherwise confusing issues into one clear picture. These times will prove the merits of wisdom competing against falsehood.

Example:

http://tinyurl.com/a3oj6

Please consider reading the above and this too:

http://tinyurl.com/b9vet

My “spin” my or may not help ignite a more common appreciation for wisdom and defeat the overdependence upon falsehood. Reality is such that wisdom requires effort on the part of each individual. The more who find it the greater will be the power of wisdom. Call it collective credit. I like to think of this “spin” as balanced purpose.

Imagine a market, and industry, built upon one product. The product is as close to the ideal energy efficient home as possible. The prototype example is a home built partway underground leaving the southern face (northern hemisphere location) full of glass and solar panels. The home includes a green house for producing food and other sources of energy capital such as sugar (sugar is now processed into alcohol in Brazil according to my friend who lives in Brazil; gas stations now have both gasoline and alcohol pumps).

The home includes a wind powered generator that supplies more than double the already minimizes electric current required to run the house including running small production machinery like my brothers CNC mill. The extra electricity is sold back to the grid to whoever is willing to purchase the extra energy and or the extra electricity is use to make hydrogen stored below ground like a septic tank. The home includes a dispenser for hydrogen delivery into bottles and cars. The wind generators already exist and are powering homes now, sugar is already making alcohol, solar panels already exist and are powering homes now, underground or Earth Berm houses already exist now and do not require heating and cooling, energy buy back markets already exist, hydrogen cars already exist, home hydrogen generators already exist, hydrogen is made from water and hydrogen cars exhaust water.

If the computer market is possible where the prototypes cost millions and now one costs 300$, then, an energy efficient home market can become a reality too.

As oil availability declines and oil prices inevitably rise, then, energy efficient homes will increase in value in direct proportion.

What is needed is individual wisdom to control the remaining energy contained in people and oil directed toward wise investment sooner rather than later.

The power of a collective falsehood grows in proportion to panic.

Read Solzhenitsyn. Wisdom concerning falsehood is found in that wise man’s hard earned words.

I am just a node in the matrix.

October 14, 2005 10:37 AM  
Blogger JoeTKelley said...

Check it out:
http://tinyurl.com/bd8q4

The power of a collective falsehood can be greater than the power of oil. Without the former that later is relatively insignificant.

October 14, 2005 2:27 PM  
Blogger Kevin Carson said...

Matthew,

That's a nice article on pollution tax.

Your critique of resource-privileged regions is a lot like the Georgist critique of mutualist occupancy-based ownership of resources like mines, but a level higher. One solution might be Bill G.'s proposal of federated communities exercising social ownership of such resources at a bioregional level. An anarcho-geolib, I suppose, would organize it as a federation of voluntary local mutual defense associations, with resource rent distributed to individuals as a Citizen's Dividend through whatever voluntary association they designated.

On the degeneration of co-ops, the problems might be solved in their fundamental bylaws by making member-ownership a condition of employment and making ownership shares non-marketable.

Adem,

From a political standpoint, that presents a problem insofar as one ethnic group suffers a major loss in wealth as a result of breaking up the Iraqi state. I share the Geolibs' concern that defining common ownership at too local a level privileges the people lucky enough to be born on top of valuable stuff. What the practical solution is, as I said, I'm not sure.

Joe,

Your energy system sounds great. A lot of stuff that is dismissed as "uneconomical" if organized as an industry for its own sake, like biomass, is economical if only organized as a secondary industry using the byproducts of primary industries. For example, a farmer might economically process his own animal and food waste into fuel on site, and reduce his fuel needs by that amount; likewise, heat exhaust from a small factory might be useful for colocated housing. The problem is the mentality that thinks any form of energy production requires a stand-alone facility like a giant wind-farm, rather than people simply making creative use of their own waste at the point of production.

And please, Please, PLEASE send me a copy of your Andrews' SOS file!

October 14, 2005 5:46 PM  
Blogger brian said...

Y'know, it's the height of irony that in a confrontation between oil workers effectively operating abandoned property & a heavily government-favored corporation, we refer to the 1st party as "against privatization" instead of the latter...

October 14, 2005 7:47 PM  
Blogger Tex MacRae said...

Kevin,

It looks like the Molinari Institute is working on The Science of Society as well. Maybe a collaboration would be helpful.

October 15, 2005 11:37 AM  
Blogger JoeTKelley said...

Tex,

That site is working slower than mine. The Molinari site has an instructive exchange between Stephen Pearl Andrews, Horrace Greeley, and Stephen Pearl Andrews.

Thanks for linking the site. I thought I had sent them an e-mail once without getting any feedback. I see now they have other networked connections to join.

I am sending a copy of the text to SOS to Kevin. My CD copy was hand copied on my wife’s office copier. Each page came from The Australian Library in two shipments at the cost of 60 or so dollars U.S. That Library has a copy of the book. I have since found and purchased hard bound book copies of both Warrens “Equitable Commerce” and Andrews “The Science of Society”.

It is not reasonable to associated Warren and Andrews with anarchists. Neither ever spoke of being anarchists and history records their extensive efforts to command the reigns of government. Both men did so a great risk. Words either have an agreed upon meaning or words are inadequate to help govern mutual negotiation. Anarchism, socialism, capitalism, liberalism, etc. are examples of words that serve falsehood and little else. Those words govern the actions of people down dead ends. Those words complicate simple concepts: No Harm, Equitable Commerce, Liberty, Freedom, etc.

The people, who do manage to distort the meaning of words, including me, and you; have a really hard time distorting the simple words. The difference in the ability to change the meaning of words originates in individual motive. If everyone were inspired to cooperate then words would be almost free from distortion. Warren and Andrews would fall into the category of those inspired by cooperation. I have yet to find either man claim to be an anarchist. They have since been labeled; kind of like the labeling attached to the friends of Liberty in early American history. The friends of liberty were once labeled Anti-Federalists – levelers – regulators – etc. Finding the origin behind the distortion of words can be instructive. Those same friends of Liberty were called rebels before they fell out of fashion.

"Public influence is the real government of the world." (Josiah Warren, 1841)

Josiah Warren used the wisdom he gained in active participation in the process of accurately processing the available information toward knowledge and he published his findings, including the publication of experiments conducted to test his findings thereby influencing the real government of the world. Those are his words above.

When the word government is meant to communicate usable wisdom toward prosperity, then, government becomes a word used to govern that specific desired influence. When government is so defined, then, government becomes, in practice, a useful tool toward that end i.e. prosperity. When government is used to falsify a hidden agenda used by the few to gain at the expense of the many, then, government becomes a word that is synonymous with the word crime. Government can be the active avoidance of the causes of crime. One huge cause for crime is falsehood.

"Any man who has once acclaimed violence as his METHOD must inexorably choose falsehood as his PRINCIPLE." Solzhenitsyn 1970

The understanding of the relationship between crime and falsehood was a common influence in early American history:

“SOME writers have so confounded society with government, as to leave little or no distinction between them; whereas they are not only different, but have different origins. Society is produced by our wants, and government by our wickedness; the former promotes our happiness POSITIVELY by uniting our affections, the latter NEGATIVELY by restraining our vices. The one encourages intercourse, the other creates distinctions. The first is a patron, the last a punisher.”

Has anyone read “Men against the Sea”?

Nature dictates necessity. Can a human being take nature to court for crimes against humanity? Nature is true. Nature is absolute truth. Stick your hand in the fire. Stand under a 1000 pound bomb falling on Dresden or an atom bomb in Hiroshima.

Can human beings take another human being to court for crimes against humanity? What exactly is the court trying to find? Is it true that falsehood is the greatest human punisher and the greatest crime against humanity?

Honor used to be a valuable form of capital. Someone known to spread falsehood, at one time, was an undesirable public influence. Alexander Hamilton died for honor.

What is the true meaning behind the words “Poetic Justice”?

October 16, 2005 6:55 AM  
Blogger JoeTKelley said...

Tex or anyone,

That site is working slower than mine. The Molinari site has an instructive exchange between Stephen Pearl Andrews, Horrace Greeley, and Stephen Pearl Andrews.

Thanks for linking the site. I thought I had sent them an e-mail once without getting any feedback. I see now they have other networked connections to join.

I am sending a copy of the text to SOS to Kevin. My CD copy was hand copied on my wife’s office copier. Each page came from The Australian Library in two shipments at the cost of 60 or so dollars U.S. That Library has a copy of the book. I have since found and purchased hard bound book copies of both Warren’s “Equitable Commerce” and Andrews’ “The Science of Society”.

It is not reasonable to associated Warren and Andrews with anarchists. Neither ever spoke of being anarchists and history records their extensive efforts to command the reigns of government. Both men did so a great risk. Words either have an agreed upon meaning or words are inadequate to help govern mutual negotiation. Anarchism, socialism, capitalism, liberalism, etc. are examples of words that serve falsehood and little else. Those words govern the actions of people down dead ends. Those words complicate simple concepts: No Harm, Equitable Commerce, Liberty, Freedom, etc.

The people, who do manage to distort the meaning of words, including me, and you; have a really hard time distorting the simple words. The difference in the ability to change the meaning of words originates in individual motive. If everyone were inspired to cooperate then words would be almost free from distortion. Warren and Andrews would fall into the category of those inspired by cooperation. I have yet to find either man claim to be an anarchist. They have since been labeled; kind of like the labeling attached to the friends of Liberty in early American history. The friends of liberty were once labeled Anti-Federalists – levelers – regulators – etc. Finding the origin behind the distortion of words can be instructive. Those same friends of Liberty were called rebels before they fell out of fashion.

"Public influence is the real government of the world." (Josiah Warren, 1841)

Josiah Warren used the wisdom he gained in active participation in the process of accurately processing the available information toward knowledge and he published his findings, including the publication of experiments conducted to test his findings thereby influencing the real government of the world. Those are his words above.

When the word government is meant to communicate usable wisdom toward prosperity, then, government becomes a word used to govern that specific desired influence. When government is so defined, then, government becomes, in practice, a useful tool toward that end i.e. prosperity. When government is used to falsify a hidden agenda used by the few to gain at the expense of the many, then, government becomes a word that is synonymous with the word crime. Government can be the active avoidance of the causes of crime. One huge cause for crime is falsehood.

"Any man who has once acclaimed violence as his METHOD must inexorably choose falsehood as his PRINCIPLE." Solzhenitsyn 1970

The understanding of the relationship between crime and falsehood was a common influence in early American history:

“SOME writers have so confounded society with government, as to leave little or no distinction between them; whereas they are not only different, but have different origins. Society is produced by our wants, and government by our wickedness; the former promotes our happiness POSITIVELY by uniting our affections, the latter NEGATIVELY by restraining our vices. The one encourages intercourse, the other creates distinctions. The first is a patron, the last a punisher.”

Has anyone read “Men against the Sea”?

Nature dictates necessity. Can a human being take nature to court for crimes against humanity? Nature is true. Nature is absolute truth. Stick your hand in the fire. Stand under a 1000 pound bomb falling on Dresden or an atom bomb in Hiroshima.

Can human beings take another human being to court for crimes against humanity? What exactly is the court trying to find? Is it true that falsehood is the greatest human punisher and the greatest crime against humanity?

Honor used to be a valuable form of capital. Someone known to spread falsehood, at one time, was an undesirable public influence. Alexander Hamilton died for honor.

What is the true meaning behind the words “Poetic Justice”?

October 16, 2005 6:58 AM  
Blogger JoeTKelley said...

Tex or anyone,

That site is working slower than mine. The Molinari site has an instructive exchange between Stephen Pearl Andrews, Horrace Greeley, and Stephen Pearl Andrews.

Thanks for linking the site. I thought I had sent them an e-mail once without getting any feedback. I see now they have other networked connections to join.

I am sending a copy of the text to SOS to Kevin. My CD copy was hand copied on my wife’s office copier. Each page came from The Australian Library in two shipments at the cost of 60 or so dollars U.S. That Library has a copy of the book. I have since found and purchased hard bound book copies of both Warren’s “Equitable Commerce” and Andrews’ “The Science of Society”.

It is not reasonable to associated Warren and Andrews with anarchists. Neither ever spoke of being anarchists and history records their extensive efforts to command the reigns of government. Both men did so a great risk. Words either have an agreed upon meaning or words are inadequate to help govern mutual negotiation. Anarchism, socialism, capitalism, liberalism, etc. are examples of words that serve falsehood and little else. Those words govern the actions of people down dead ends. Those words complicate simple concepts: No Harm, Equitable Commerce, Liberty, Freedom, etc.

The people, who do manage to distort the meaning of words, including me, and you; have a really hard time distorting the simple words. The difference in the ability to change the meaning of words originates in individual motive. If everyone were inspired to cooperate then words would be almost free from distortion. Warren and Andrews would fall into the category of those inspired by cooperation. I have yet to find either man claim to be an anarchist. They have since been labeled; kind of like the labeling attached to the friends of Liberty in early American history. The friends of liberty were once labeled Anti-Federalists – levelers – regulators – etc. Finding the origin behind the distortion of words can be instructive. Those same friends of Liberty were called rebels before they fell out of fashion.

"Public influence is the real government of the world." (Josiah Warren, 1841)

Josiah Warren used the wisdom he gained in active participation in the process of accurately processing the available information toward knowledge and he published his findings, including the publication of experiments conducted to test his findings thereby influencing the real government of the world. Those are his words above.

When the word government is meant to communicate usable wisdom toward prosperity, then, government becomes a word used to govern that specific desired influence. When government is so defined, then, government becomes, in practice, a useful tool toward that end i.e. prosperity. When government is used to falsify a hidden agenda used by the few to gain at the expense of the many, then, government becomes a word that is synonymous with the word crime. Government can be the active avoidance of the causes of crime. One huge cause for crime is falsehood.

"Any man who has once acclaimed violence as his METHOD must inexorably choose falsehood as his PRINCIPLE." Solzhenitsyn 1970

The understanding of the relationship between crime and falsehood was a common influence in early American history:

“SOME writers have so confounded society with government, as to leave little or no distinction between them; whereas they are not only different, but have different origins. Society is produced by our wants, and government by our wickedness; the former promotes our happiness POSITIVELY by uniting our affections, the latter NEGATIVELY by restraining our vices. The one encourages intercourse, the other creates distinctions. The first is a patron, the last a punisher.” (Thomas Paine, 1776 – before the declaration of independence)

Has anyone read “Men against the Sea”?

Nature dictates necessity. People either cooperate to govern nature including their own nature or they create necessity with crime. Falsehood lubes the process of crime.

Can a human being take nature to court for crimes against humanity? Nature is true. Nature is absolute truth. Stick your hand in the fire. Stand under a 1000 pound bomb falling on Dresden or an atom bomb in Hiroshima.

Can human beings take another human being to court for crimes against humanity? What exactly is the court trying to find? Is it true that falsehood is the greatest human punisher and the greatest crime against humanity?

Honor used to be a valuable form of capital. Someone known to spread falsehood, at one time, was an undesirable public influence. Alexander Hamilton died for honor.

What is the true meaning behind the words “Poetic Justice”?

October 16, 2005 7:05 AM  
Blogger JoeTKelley said...

Please excuse the editing process. I have a hard time dealing with this blogger software.

Note: The Word Verification system was first adopted to defeat transfers of false information.

The people at PayPal were being robbed by people such as the "Russian Mafia". Thousands of dollars tranfered electronically through data mining software. Someone at PayPal came up with the human visual requirement software and defeated falsehood with digital government.

October 16, 2005 7:12 AM  

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