In the Crossfire
This week, unfortunately, I've learned of unpleasantness from the usual gangs of idiots, both right and left.
On the right, Shawn Wilbur informs me, the ongoing Wiki wars on anarcho-capitalism (editing disputes involving the articles on anarchism, anarcho-capitalism, and mutualism, etc.) produced this gem:
Value is subjective. There is no objectively correct price of anything, and therefore the mutualist (and Marxist) theory of exploitation/profit is pure fantasy. Tucker and Proudhon maybe had an excuse since economics was in a primitive state back then. But Kevin Carson is simply a lunatic.
Ah, simple as that, is it? Well, except for the matter that none of the advocates of the labor theory of value or any other cost-of-production theory ever said there was an "objectively correct price of anything," or anything remotely like it. This commenter knows as little about what Bohm-Bawerk had to say, as he does about what Marx and Ricardo said, about the issues in contention. He simply appeals to the subjective theory of value as received dogma, without really even understanding what it is--kind of like the attitude that Bohm-Bawerk criticized among advocates of the labor theory of value: "quotations from authorities," and "protesting and dogmatising phrases," rather than a reasoned explanation. The smug reference to the "primitive state" of economics "back then" is a dead giveaway. It's clear we're dealing with an economic subspecies of Nietzsche's Last Man: "Formerly, everyone was mad. We have invented economic truth," says the Last Man, and blinks. Reminds me of James Taggart's bland assurances that "all the best minds are agreed..."
As for the idiocy of the left, Nigel Meek of the Libertarian Alliance informs me of his negative experiences at the Anarchist Bookfair. He referred me to this message board, on which one commenter ("Refused") included among the "highlights" of the Anarchist Bookfair:
....Lazlo_Woodbine harassing the capitalist Libertarian Alliance folks until they ran away.
A proud moment. I can imagine an SA thug expressing similar satisfaction in the Biergarten after a day's work. Well done!
In response, "rkn" wrote:
Shame TotalLiberty didnt go with them.
This is especially puzzling. Total Liberty, as Jonathan Simcock has pointed out to me, is not even a specifically market anarchist publication, non-capitalist or otherwise--although a disproportionate number of its contributors are individualist anarchists. Probably something to do with the fact that Nigel operated out of the Total Liberty stall in years past. So even associating with the dreaded capitalists calls one's ideological purity into question--even when, as in this case, the capitalist libertarian guest distributed mainly pamphlets by non-capitalists like yours truly and Joe Peacott. So we're back in the world of junior high school: "Suzi isn't my friend, and if you talk to her you're not my friend either." This petty bullshit reminds me of nothing so much as the jockying for space at the Cool Kids' table in the cafeteria.
The real irony is that rkn, earlier in the thread, expressed these sentiments:
For the negative note - its sad that the bookfair attracts so many anti-socials who hang around in the entrance/outside drinking themselves into oblivion and smoking. I really dont think this does anything for the bookfair....
Because as the bookfair is largely a image promotion kind of event i think it does nothing for it (especially considering its relationship with venues) for people to behave in any sort of way which could be considered anti-social by joe public who actiing on stereotypes are hyper-sensitive to these kind of things.
But having a bunch of punks in Circle-A (TM) t-shirts (do they sell those things at Abercrombie & Fitch) run off anyone who doesn't meet their high standards of ideological purity--well, that's just fine for the Bookfair's public image. Having a range of anarchist opinion that runs the entire spectrum from A to B is just hunky-dory. I don't guess "joe public" is at all "sensitive" to a bunch of self-proclaimed lovers of freedom acting like brownshirts.
And by the way, there was only one representative of the Libertarian Alliance--Nigel Meek--and he walked away, not ran. So whatever Woodbine may have been crowing over his pint, he wasn't exactly covered in martial glory.
What's especially shameful is the contrast between the intolerance of these yobs, and the kindness of the Libertarian Alliance, in their respective attitudes toward heterodox opinions. The LA, which I don't think it an overgeneralization to call a pro-capitalist organization, has printed a wide range of pamphlets by avowed anti-capitalists like me and Joe Peacott, and has been kind enough to promote them at their own LA Conferences as well as events like the Anarchist Bookfair. Sean Gabb and the late Chris Tame repeatedly solicited me to write pamphlets on various topics I'd discussed, knowing ahead of time I'd be writing from an anti-capitalist perspective. Nigel Meek put considerable labor into editing and formatting my manuscripts, and contributed his time in distributing them at recent Anarchist Bookfairs. Ken MacLeod, a science fiction writer whose future history scenarios reflect a unique blend of free market libertarian and post-Trot politics, is still (I think it's fair to say) far from being what you'd call pro-capitalist. But even back in his days of comparatively unmixed leftishness, he likewise met with nothing but patience and kindness from his first meetings with Libertarian Alliance members in the Alternative Bookshop, along with an openness to exploring their areas of agreement and disagreement. The contrast between their civilized behavior and that of this Woodbine wretch speaks for itself.