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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

Thursday, February 23, 2006

A Clockwork Orange

Chris Dillow, bane of managerialists, has a good one at Stumbling and Mumbling on Nulab's "Respect Action Plan" The document is the British equivalent of the smarmy, patronizing liberal authoritarianism and social engineering we'd associate with the Clintons in this country. Blair and his cohorts figure they need power to operate outside the regular common law system of due process to deal properly with Alex and his droogies. He hasn't yet proposed Pavlovian conditioning with Ludwig van's glorious Ninth in the background, but give him time.

Dillow quotes one passage:

If a group of local children were playing truant from school and hanging around on a street corner, people in deprived areas would be less likely to feel that people would do something about it than those in more affluent areas.

He suggests the reason:

.... it’s to do with power.

What people in deprived areas are deprived of is not (merely) money; in any historic or global perspective, the average tenant in such areas is amazingly prosperous.

Instead, what they lack is a feeling of power. From childhood, through schooling and into meaningless jobs, the poor learn that they have little ability to control or improve their own lives. This leads them to tolerate bad behaviour and littered environments in a way that richer people – who have a (possibly inflated) sense of their power – do not. They just feel that they don’t have the power to change things.

Of course, being managed from cradle to grave by liberal state school teachers and case workers might have something to do with that.

Could it be, then, that one solution to the problem of anti-social behaviour is to give power to the poor, ideally from an early age. If you bring democracy into workplaces, estates and even schools, people will get the impression that they can change things. This will give a sense of empowerment that will encourage people to intervene to counteract anti-social behaviour. The advantage of democracy - proper democracy, not an occasional choice between identical managerialists - is that it, eventually, changes the culture for the better.

Alexis de Tocqueville made just this point. The great benefit of democracy, he said, is that it (in the long-run) creates a civic spirit, and an active interest in improving one’s community....


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