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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

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Weekly Digest

Since I've got a lot of stuff backlogged in the hopper, the next couple weeks' digests will include large amounts of old stuff. I couldn't just delete it all, though, because it's really good.

Ecodema on some 180 closed factories in Argentina, reopened and run by workers. They employ over ten thousand. Also at Ecodema, a link to the international Committee on Workers' Capital, which promotes the democratization of capital.

The future is unwritten links to an anarchist critical of Hugo Chavez from the Left: "Socialism to the Highest Bidder."

The biggest consequence of Chavismo is that it has relegitimized the state and its political class, at the total cost of all gains made in extra-parliamentary struggle over the course of the 90s.... [T]he crisis of the last decade created a situation where only a non-traditional politician using leftist rhetoric could possibly have salvaged the crumbling state.

At Strike the Root, Fred Reed on why universities should be abolished:

To the extent that universities actually try to teach anything... they do little more than inhibit intelligent students of inquiring mind.... The professor’s role is purely disciplinary: By threats of issuing failing grades, he ensures that the student comes to class and reads certain things. But a student who has to be forced to learn should not be in school in the first place. By making a chore of what would otherwise be a pleasure, the professor instills a lifelong loathing of study....

Perhaps once universities had something to do with the mind, the arts, with reflection, with grasping or grasping at man’s place in a curious universe. No longer. Now they are a complex scam of interlocking directorates. They employ professors, usually mediocre, to sell diplomas, usually meaningless, needed to get jobs nobody should want, for the benefit of corporations who want the equivalent of docile assembly-line workers.

I missed Richard Garner's thoughtful criticism of Left-Libertarian or Left-Rothbardian class theory when it first came out. And Walter Block recently published his own critique of the Left-Rothbardians (focusing on Roderick Long and Charles Johnson), along with Hoppe and Rockwell and others on the Right, in defense of his own version of plumb-line libertarianism.

Eric Husman of Grim Reader has a good series on management theory: "The New Workplace"; "Flow"; "Putting Out"; "Federated"; "Communal--emh"; "Peer Groups"; and "Inside Contracting." Of course, everything about kaizen, self-directed teams, lean production, and the like, must be taken with a grain of salt, as I intend to argue in a future post. A lot of it sounds like what might be the seeds of a libertarian, self-managed, decentralized economy, if the structural bulwarks to authoritarianism were removed; but integrated into the existing system of state capitalism, they instead become what Mike Parker and Jane Slaughter call

Dave Pollard Roundup. He links to a Wendell Berry article on "the intrinsic wisdom of small, self-sufficient, local intentional communities."

Pollard also writes, in "Creating the Jobs We Want":

If we want meaningful work we are going to have to collaborate with the rest of the world's Disposable Citizens to create it. We are going to have to build a wholly new economy, one that will undermine and then replace (and be fiercely opposed by the beneficiaries of) the existing dysfunctional 'market' economy.

Unfortunately, he adds, the publik skools are designed largely to keep people devoid of initiative and dependent on authority figures, so that nothing like this will happen.

Pollard also posts on information flow within large, top-down organizations and on the information politics within organizations, and advocates a "peer-to-peer expertise finder" that sounds an awful lot like Illich's learning nets.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not to put too fine a point on it, but Pollard thinks that life was better when we were cavemen:

These are all, of course, lies, designed to keep us all from realizing the truth: That life was simpler, richer, happier and more resilient in 'prehistoric' gatherer-hunter times and has, with some major ups and downs, been getting worse for most ever since; that unconstrained growth is unsustainable and threatens all life on Earth, and as a consequence the sixth great extinction of life on our planet is already well underway

I'll be the first to say that many aspects of modern civilization are defective, including stalinist centralization and frequent war, but that doesn't mean life was better when we were hunter-gatherers. Surely the steam-engine, the polio vaccine, and homogenized milk have had some good effect...

August 16, 2006 3:41 PM  
Blogger Kevin Carson said...

I don't agree with Pollard on the primitivist stuff, either (likewise Kirk Sale). But whatever his position on the merits of hunter-gatherer society, he doesn't really treat it as a model of social organization we can return to. He sees centralized industrial society, rather, as something to be worked through on the way to a fairly high level of decentralized technology.

August 17, 2006 10:01 PM  
Anonymous P.M.Lawrence said...

Curiously enough, and pretty obviously not by coincidence, all three of those examples represent solutions to problems that were themselves products of progress.

Steam engines came in to supplement a shortage of animal transport during the Napoleonic Wars, and a need to transport fossil fuel long distances to urban centres.

Polio vaccines are necessary to prevent large scale outbreaks of Polio, rare outside modern urban environments (there used to be much milder attacks, earlier in life).

Homiogenised milk is necessary in order to help preserve milk, not a big issue if you live close to the suppliers.

August 19, 2006 12:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Alright then, in that case let me name instead the light bulb, the printing press, and longer lifespan.

And I resent the implication that the steam-engine was invented primarily for the use of transporting fossil fuels. It's my understanding that the first industrial application was in pumping water from mineshafts. And even if we assume arguendo that it's primary use in practice for a long time was fossil fuel transport, I still think the invention of a technology that involves any kind of affordable, long-range transport of goods in a free-market context has some considerable benefits.

August 19, 2006 2:25 PM  

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