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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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Friday, October 07, 2005

Jeffrey Sachs: Useful Idiot

Great profile at Left Business Observer of Jeffrey Sachs, the brains behind the Great "Progressive" Bono and Geldorf Travelling Dog and Pony Show.

Sachs was a key adviser to Yeltsin, during the neoliberal transformation of the Russian economy.

In Poland, like Russia, Sachs wanted to establish corporate capitalism on the American model.

In Poland, Sachs was firmly on the side of rapid transition to "normal" capitalism. At first he proposed U.S.-style corporate structures, with professional managers answering to many shareholders and a large economic role for stock markets. That didn't fly with the Polish authorities, so Sachs came back with a Germanic idea - large blocks of the shares of privatized companies would be placed in the hands of big banks. (As Ellerman recounts it, "Wherever the parade was going, [Sachs] had to be in front.") In both versions the point was to end any hints of worker or social control and institute a conventional capitalist class hierarchy.

In Slovenia, likewise, he had nothing but contempt for "idiots" and "self-management imbeciles."

Of course, it was a foregone conclusion that "any rapid privatization would immediately lead to the creation of a new corrupt elite through massive theft of state property." Post-Soviet elites have acted through the state to accumulate capital in a manner reminiscent of England's primitive accumulation process a few centuries ago (see, for example, this excellent article by Nancy Holmstrom and Richard Smith comparing Russian gangster capitalism to the enclosures and other land thefts in England). And Sachs acted as their useful idiot; of course, he denies any share of the guilt, since he technically didn't actually tell them to steal everything that wasn't nailed down.

Alternative models of market transformation based on "hybrid forms of ownership," like worker self-management of former state enterprises, were advocated by leftish figures like David Ellerman, among others. But right-wingers like Murray Rothbard and Hans-Hermann Hoppe were also numbered among the "idiots" and "self-management imbeciles," arguing that the best way to privatize state industry in the former Soviet bloc was to treat it as unowned property, to be homesteaded by those actually occupying and using it--the labor force. As usual, the libertarian left and right have more in common with each other than with the kind of so-called "liberals" and "conservatives" who appear on Crossfire, half and inch to the left and right, respectively, of the corporate center.

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6 Comments:

Anonymous Wild Pegasus said...

In both versions the point was to end any hints of worker or social control and institute a conventional capitalist class hierarchy.

Is this idiot seriously saying that there were hints of worker or social control in totalitarian communism?

Pass the crackpipe.

- Josh

October 08, 2005 3:04 PM  
Blogger buermann said...

WP - no, he's suggesting that there were hints of worker or social control among the reformers that oversaw the collapse of totalitarian communism.

I would note that the left socdems of the sort who write for the LBO have at least as much in common with libertarians in general as they do with workplace-totalitarian socdems like Sachs and the other neo-whatever cliques.

October 10, 2005 5:02 PM  
Blogger brian said...

Speaking of worker control: saw an interesting article on an Iraqi oil refinery earlier...

October 10, 2005 5:08 PM  
Blogger Kevin Carson said...

Probably just a poor word choice. It would have been better to say "rule out" any hint of worker control as an alternative way of denationalizing enterprises.

October 11, 2005 8:29 AM  
Anonymous Wild Pegasus said...

If it's "rule out", that makes more sense, although he wouldn't be the first "anarcho/libertarian" socialist to defend the Soviet Union or tow its line.

- Josh

October 11, 2005 4:34 PM  
Blogger Larry Gambone said...

"he wouldn't be the first "anarcho/libertarian" socialist to defend the Soviet Union or tow its line."

Bull shit! I have been 37 years in the anarchist movement and have yet to know of any of my fellow anarchs to "tow the Soviet line."

October 12, 2005 8:25 PM  

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