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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, June 01, 2006

How to Achieve Prosperity with "Market-Friendly Policies"

By the way: isn't Indonesia one of those "market-friendly" countries that sweatshop employers gravitate to? You know, where sweatahop employers are doing locals a favor, because sweatshop labor beats the "best available alternative"? Anyway....

Workers at the giant PT Musim Mas oil palm plantation and processing plant in Pelalawan, Riau Province in Sumatra formed an independent union in October 2004, seeking to negotiate the implementation of legal minimum standards for plantation workers and fair treatment for contract workers. The company's response was to dismiss trade union officers, sack 701 union members, forcibly evict these workers and their families from their plantation housing and expel their children from school.

In order to destroy the union the company finally orchestrated the arrest and conviction of the key union officers. Five of these leaders were sentenced on February 3 to 14 months to two years in prison. A sixth is on trial now.

Headquartered in Medan, Musim Mas operates the world's largest palm oil refinery, and is a prominent member of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil. The jailed unionists are prisoners of conscience, imprisoned solely for their trade union work, which the company and the authorities are attempting to criminalize. International support is urgently needed. Send a message to the government of Indonesia to free the Musim Mas 6.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

"In order to destroy the union the company finally orchestrated the arrest and conviction of the key union officers. Five of these leaders were sentenced on February 3 to 14 months to two years in prison."

That's the clincher. Shame on them (the company).

But forcibly evicting people sounds awful too, even if it is strictly within their rights. In cases like that, pictures are worth a thousand words; public opinion formed from news and images of forcible eviction due to union organizing efforts would help the cause of the workers.

Succesful corporate-climbing individuals should not be the only ones allowed to play "hardball" when looking for the better offer.


June 01, 2006 11:50 AM  
Anonymous Wild Pegasus said...

I'll go out on a limb and suggest that Musim Mas didn't purchase their orchid land at fair market prices from the rightful previous owners.

- Josh

June 01, 2006 5:27 PM  
Blogger Jeremy said...

This is somewhat unrelated to the topic, Kevin, but if you haven't seen the documentary The Take about unemployed workers forming cooperatives to take over factories abandoned by multinationals, you HAVE to see it. It is amazing and a testament to everything you've been saying.

June 01, 2006 9:12 PM  
Blogger Kevin Carson said...


Good observation. The old "open-mouth sabotage" is a very effective form of asymmetric warfare, and workers ought to use it more. Certainly a lot of companies that have "dooced" blogging employees have gotten much more negative publicity than they ever dreamed of. It's good to keep reminding them that their "human resources" are not the only ones being watched.

On a very tangentially related note, I'd recommend watching the great indie film "Matewan," about the West Virginia Coal Wars of the 1920s. There's a scene where the striking miners get evicted from company housing and move to a tent city outside of town. Some hill people come down out of the woods and offer their friendship ("You'uns are welcome to any birds and squirrels and suchlike you see, but we'd take it kindly if you let the hogs be--they're likely ourn."). Turns out they had an animus against the mining company because they were the original white settlers in the area; when the mining company came in later with the benefit of lawyers, it obtained title to their good farming land with no trouble at all.


That's OK, the businesses in our local industrial park didn't, either. Of course, I'd probably wind up in jail for trying to organize them, too.


I've been meaning to watch The Take ever since I saw Jesse Walker's review of it.

June 01, 2006 10:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The conservatives' "framing of the issues" predetermine the bounds of public dialogue; they prescribe what will be discussed as well as proscribe which alternative solutions and perspectives will be excluded from "reasonable, mainstream" dialogue.

But the conservatives have only discovered the dishonest, deceptive dialectical tactics of Hegel that Marx and other statist collectivists used to push their cases in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries.

It's all about taking advantage of most people's rhetorical epistemological naivete. People who have facts (axiomatic or particular) and logic on their side have only two-thirds of the rhetorical formula, sometimes the weakest parts.

Argument without "context tracking" is helplessly subject to whatever the implied, generally assumed context might be, which could be completely and viciously false and misleading. "Package dealing, context dropping, context shifting, context exclusion, issue framing" are all dialectical methods of dishonest rhetoric and epistemology. Such methods are used to frame a discussion to advantage one's own predetermined biases and to exclude others' arguments.

Reliable knowledge that withstands all tests of truth is stable like a three legged stool, it depends on the three classes of knowledge: 1) factual (axiomatic and particular), 2) logical, and 3) dialectical context tracking.

Independent sources that support the dialectical, contextual tracking aspect of human knowledge include Sciabarra's and Jayne's works. Sciabarra critically reviews and compares Aristotle, Rand, Hegel and Marx. Jayne's observations that infants not only learn to integrate sensory data into concrete objects (as Rand might say) but also to recognize "patterns," contexts and environments in which the concretes exist, act and interact. Not only is this pattern recogniton usually an "auto-conscious" function of "hard wired" human psycho-epistemology, it's also an ability to distinguish differences between changing or alternate patterns, contexts and environments. It's one of humans' survival abilities, the ability to analyse environments and patterns for manipulative improvement, opportunity acquisition and risk avoidance.

The "auto-conscious" (my term) or "sub-conscious" automatic epistemologic functional (Jayne's terms) nature of human mentality are easily unnoticed by most people, precisely because it is normally an automatic, sub-conscious mental function. This is also the "back door" by which deceptive activists insinuate false contextual frames into many people's subconscious evaluational habits. Most contextual premises are rarely consciously critiqued for veracity, they often assume their validity via non-conscious channels which could include emotional, associational connections, authority figure or respected peer validation. This is the battle ground of the "framers" and "meme" warriors.

This is the secret battle for the sub-conscious premises for public dialogue and validation.

Chris Toto

June 03, 2006 10:36 PM  
Blogger Jesse said...

I've been meaning to watch The Take ever since I saw Jesse Walker's review of it.

You must be thinking of someone else -- I haven't even seen the movie. (Though it's possible I posted somone else's review to the LL list.)

June 06, 2006 6:32 AM  
Blogger Kevin Carson said...

Chris Toto,

Given the fact that you're also a fan of Chris Sciabarra's "dialectical libertarianism" in Total Freedom, it's interesting that you use the term "dialectic" in an almost directly contrary sense to his. The latter is pretty close to the kind of context-keeping you refer to here.


Oops. It must have been a link you posted on LeftLibertarian.

June 07, 2006 9:43 PM  

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