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
- Name: Kevin Carson
- Location: Northwest Arkansas, United States
Sunday, December 24, 2006
Thursday, December 14, 2006
P2P as Contested Term
"Peer production" is an excellent example of such a contested term. Here, via his P2P Blog, is an essay by Michel Bauwens on the dialectical nature of peer-to-peer practice as it currently functions within the global economy: "P2P and the Corporation."
In a sense corporations have become thoroughly inter-subjective in their nature. But the ownership structure of corporations does not reflect this social and cooperative nature of contemporary production....
To protect its ultimate aim of making profit corporations are organized on a feudal basis. Corporations are not democracies, but feudal organizations whether in the older bureaucratic format of the industrial era or the management by objectives of the cognitive era. Objectives are produced in a top-down format.
In the current neoliberal and deregulatory phase capitalism has created a hypercompetitive environment based on speed.... It has tremendously increased the pressure on individuals with its elusive search for zero time (no wastage of time). Stress and related illnesses are growing by the day and working hours have increased in the United States. Production and productive behavior has left the factory and office to infiltrate the daily lives of everyone. Learning has to take place 'after hours'. The safe heaven of a fixed salary is increasingly being replaced by precarious and short-term contracts.
A corporation is not based on the common good, unlike P2P processes.
This is why the relationship between peer to peer, which it needed by the system to function effectively, and capitalism, is inherently problematic and rife with tensions....
P2P and Open Source production processes are increasingly making new and better 'products' than their for-profit counterparts.... This is why I argued that the corporation, beholden to its shareholders, is not the cutting edge of social change, but rather a field of tension and contradiction between the cooperative nature of work and its private appropriation, between the demand for cooperative and synergetic working practices and the feudal nature of its power structure.
Contra Reisman: A Compendium of Posts
Georgism, Tuckerism, and Property Issues: A Compendium of Posts
Joe Peacott on Property
An Extended Free Association Rap Loosely Inspired by Frank Chodorov
Knapp on the Land Question
The Perils of Utilitarian Property Rights Theory
George and Tucker
Almost Thou Persuadest Me: Or, Why I Am Not (Quite) a Georgist
Rothbard on Feudalism and Land Reform
James L. Wilson on Left-Libertarianism
Venezuelan Oligarchy's War Against Land Reform: Death Squads Target Peasant Organizers
George vs. Tucker, Part II
Two Interesting Posts on Property
The Mechanics of Anarcho-Georgism
Property Law in a Stateless Society
Free-for-All on South Central Farmers
Monday, December 11, 2006
The Mutualist (1826): Building the Structure of the New Society, Etc.
1st Remark—A violent and sudden separation from society is always detrimental to the public and the individual. Has it ever been calculated how much the removal to New- Harmony of all its actual inhabitants has cost them? And how many friends of the System have been kept away by not having the means to remove there[?]... This sum saved and put into common stock could have afforded a capital for two or three Communities to being with any where. One thousand individuals at least have preferred to stay at home, or been unable to leave it, principally on this consideration. It is for them that the remark is intended: let them choose n place or placer of cooperation much nearer o at hand, and thus by saving a great expense of removal, be able to throw more in common stock.
2d Remark.—What need of a definite number of members in order to cooperate? why 50 or 1000?—Cannot 5 or 10 or 20 or 50 families cooperate also on a small scale any where, as easily if not as effectually, and by gradual additions increase their number? They can surely and by setting a good example to their neighbors of good intent and brotherly friendship, do much on behalf of themselves and social cause. If they cannot procure all they want among themselves at first, whatever they exchange or perform or produce is so much gained, and the rest they can purchase as if they were in general society. Let therefore mutual societies be formed every where, whenever there are several families willing to help each other, and thus form the nucleus of a future Community.
3d Remark.—Why cannot mutual societies exist in large towns, where are the best markets for labor, and in the midst of actual society? What need of moving or buying large tracts of land, building expensive palaces, at the outset? Why not put their property, skill, funds, labor and resources in common, rent houses and stores, live like brothers, qualify themselves by mutual instruction, establish schools, profess, and create all needful conveniences, until they can by their own labor create sufficient wealth to become land holders, great proprietors and manufacturers?...
12th Remark—Mutual labor can be exerted in as many ways as individual labor, and with the additional advantage of unity of interest and cooperation. In the concentrated communities, gardening, agriculture, manufactures, instruction, and recreations, appear to form the circle of labor. But why are commerce, transportation, improvements, to be neglected? Mutual societies ought to trade (if not for profit) to exchange the exuberant for the needful. No company could better than they, build vessels or steamboats, pave roads, dig canals, and use them to run stages, wagons, lines. This would produce the threefold advantage of being profitable labor, of showing to the people at large how useful cooperation can be made, and to scatter everywhere the seeds of the mutual system.
Free Market Anti-Capitalism: A Compendium of Posts
R.A. Wilson on Property
Joe Peacott on Property
Capitalism Without Capitalists
Knapp on the Land Question
May Day Thoughts: Individualist Anarchism and the Labor Movement
George and Tucker
Individualist Anarchists in the First International, Etc.
James L. Wilson on Free Markets
Socialist Definitional Free-for-All, Part I
Socialist Definitional Free-for-All, Part II
The Utility of Disutility
R.A. Wilson: Privilege and Unequal Exchange
William Greene on the Labor Theory of Value
William Greene: Individualist Anarchists in the First International
Larry Gambone: Recovering the Socialist Tradition
Larry Gambone: Before "Socialism" Became "Government Ownership"
A Market Without Capitalists
J.S. Mill, Market Socialist
Christopher C. Toto, RIP
Libertarian Politics and Strategy: A Compendium of Posts
Libertarian-Green, Libertarian Right-Left Alliances: A Compendium of Posts
Orcinus on the Rural Strategy
Engagement With the Left on Free Markets
The Dialogue Continues
Thomas Woods on the Decentralist Left
Fred Foldvary on Green Taxes
Corporate Capitalists Don't Want Free Markets
Thomas L. Knapp Joins the One Big Union
George Monbiot Gets It Ass-Backward
James Weinstein, RIP
Rothbard Article Online; the Rothbardian Left Continues
Quotations from Chairman Sam
Libertarian-Green Tax Reform Alliance
Followup: Libertarian-Green Tax Reform Alliance
Libertarian Forum: A Resource for UnCapitalists?
James L. Wilson on Left-Libertarianism
Dan Sullivan on Green-Libertarian Alliance
A Constitutional Congress for the Managed Populations of the Imperial Core
Brad Spangler on Anarcho-Syndicalism
You Don't Need a Weatherman....
SEK3 on Libertarian History
In Solidarity With the Students and Workers of France
Roderick Long: Rothbard Memorial Lecture
A Strategic Green-Libertarian Alliance
Signs of Hope in Unlikely Places
Libertarian-Left Electoral Alliance Version 2.0
Libertarian-Left Alliance Once Again: This Time, Health Care
Vulgar Liberalism, the New Class, and Publik Skools' War on Independent Thought: A Compendium of Posts
Another Triumph for Victim Disarmament
Deja Vu All Over Again: Homeschoolers Under Attack
The "Progressive" Myth of Gun Control
Two Cheers for Thomas Frank
Those "Anti-Business" Liberals at Work
Another Publik Skool Atrocity
There's a Soccer Mom Born Every Minute
Destroying the Capacity for Independent Thought
George Monbiot Gets It Ass-Backward
Better an Honest Enemy
Robin Hahnel on Social Democracy
Liberal Goo-Goos vs. Left-Libertarians
Free Time, Scheduling, Schooling and Independent Thought
Goo-Goo Historical Mythology
Follow-Up: Goo-Goo Historical Mythology
Bill Kauffman on Human Resources Processing Factories (aka Publik Skools)
A Swell Argument for Gun Control
What Government Schooling Hath Wrought
Vulgar Liberalism Watch (Yeah, You Read it Right"
Follow-Up: Vulgar Liberalism Watch
Monbiot: One Step Back
Quotes on Nanny Statism
Me, Too: Or Why the "Loyal Opposition" is Long on Loyalty, and Short on Opposition
Sam Smith on Liberals and Urban Planning
Phaedrus on the Church of Reason
Gatto: The True History of Public Education
The Trained Dog Ethic
NWA Times: Publik Skools are Big Business
Ford's in His Heaven, All's Right With the World
Managerialism and the State
Stamping Out Ownlife
Vulgar Liberalism Watch, Part 2
Jeffersonian Ends Through Hamiltonian Means
Vulgar Liberalism: Big Business and Its Useful Idiots
Thursday, December 07, 2006
Another Link Digest
...is the unhappiness the poor feel about the consumption of the rich really just envy?
Maybe not. There are two other hypotheses. One is that there are genuine consumption externalities. For example, if the rich drive hummers and big SUVs, they make roads more dangerous for the rest of us. Or perhaps their demand raises the prices of positional goods, such as houses in nice areas.
The other possibility is that "envy" is, in fact, a sense of injustice. Most people don't much begrudge a lottery winner or top sportsman his fortune. Instead, what looks like "envy" is instead a discomfort that some people's wealth is unjust.
2. Travis Bradford on the decentralizing potential of solar power:
Solar is different from other energy technologies in that it delivers energy at the point of use, directly to the end user. That allows it to circumvent the entire supply chain. It's not another option for a utility, it's a competitor to a utility -- the first time utilities have really had a competitor....
This also happened in computers. We went from large, centralized mainframes with dummy terminals to a distributed hybrid architecture.
Solar is slowly going to begin to unwind the existing utility economics, to the point where utilities decide they have to get in or they risk losing their core business -- exactly the transformations we've lived through in the last 20 years.
3. Roderick Long writes on the potential for libertarian-green cooperation, a worthy addition to the body of literature on the subject.
4. In similar vein, Brad Spangler makes an intriguing case for market anarchism as a legitimate heir of the classical socialist movement.
5. On tasers, Sam Smith asks:
Seriously, can anyone explain to me why these weapons [tasers] are allowed for police use? They seem to have enough of a problem with their guns 'accidentally' discharging, 'accidentally' killing people with choke holds, 'accidentally' killing them with lethal levels of chemical Mace, and 'accidentally' smashing into vehicles during high speed car chases, killing the occupants. Do we really need to be giving them yet another means for 'accidentally' murdering people on top of the too many they already have at their disposal?
6. Jeremy Weiland at Social Memory Complex writes on Sweden's answer to the Rockefeller family, which controls a major portion of the "cooperative" sector.
7. Dan Sullivan at Saving Communities writes on privilege:
Behind all issues lies the problem of privilege -- legal mechanisms that give some people artificial advantages over others, enabling them to enrich themselves at the expense of others.
8. Alex Kjerulf of Positive Sharing quotes a living example of just how hellish contract feudalism can be from the perspective of the serf--and the guy's actually proud of it!
You can forget lunch breaks. You can’t make money for a company while you’re eating lunch . . . if you don’t put in the hours, someone just as smart and clever as you will. Fact of life: the strong survive.
[If you ignore this] you might just end up as roadkill - lying dead by the side of the corporate highway as others drive right past you.
I have always made a habit of walking around early and late to personally see who’s pumping it out. If they are getting results and working harder than everyone else, I promote them.
9. Jonathan David Morris on "desk rage":
Workers are being aggressive towards each other? Slacking off? Stealing? Abusing sick days? Great! I’ve always felt the desk job environment is unnatural—even inhuman. What this news tells me is thousands of fellow human beings believe it’s unnatural and even inhuman, too.
Take poor productivity, for instance. The very tone of the phrase, “poor productivity,” strikes me as negative spin.
When was the last time you got a new job? How much did your new employer pay you? Most companies want to pay their employees the least amount of money they’re willing to work for. This isn’t because those companies are devious cheapskates; it’s just the basic idea behind having employees.
Poor productivity is the same thing in reverse. Employees are extracting the most amount of money from the least amount of work. This is a bad thing? Why?
10. This quote from St. Disgruntled ("the patron saint of hate") is a perfect summation of Fish! Philosophy:
you've got all my time. you've got my energy. my physical and mental abilities churning out crapload after crapload of work. now you want my enthusiasm, too? you want me to come in everyday and smile JUST SO YOU DON'T HAVE TO FEEL GUILTY THAT YOU'RE SUCKING THE LIFE OUT OF ME? wow. that's fantastic. i'll get right on that.
11. Via Ender's Review. Matt Taibbi writes on the great "progressive" sweep of Congress:
Meanwhile, Jeff Greenfield on the Democratic talking points (change, new direction, Baker-Hamilton): "They look to be very focus-group-tested for maximum appeal." He says this approvingly....
A friend of mine a few weeks ago wrote me a letter suggesting that reporters come up with a list of press behaviors worth banning before the 2008 elections. One good one, I think, would be commending candidates for successfully manipulating voters and the media with crude fakery and bullshit. In other words, anytime a panel expert like Greenfield says something like "McCain's handlers have clearly done a great job at getting their man to sound more genuine in rural areas," he should have to do thirty hours of community service, ladeling out soup somewhere to paraplegics or something. "They look to be focus-group-tested for maximum appeal" seems worth a double sentence....
Listening to any Democrat rattle off his talking points tonight is like having a jerk-off session with a chat room robot....
Are there really people out there who get off on this shit? Have we sunk so low that people actually respond emotionally to these robo-speeches?...
1:53 a.m. When Missouri's Claire McCaskell comes on the air to claim victory, I take one of the steak knives from my room-service tray and hold it to my throat, vowing to slice myself open and pull my tongue through my neck-hole if the words "new direction" escape her lips.
12. Maxspeak comments on the new Congressional majority's infatuation with Robert Rubin and Alexander Hamilton, two names that we hates forever. And in the same vein, via walk into eternity: "How Democrats won the election by stealing wealthy voters from the GOP." The title says it all.
13. Via Lenin's Tomb. Those "brave Hungarian freedom fighters" so celebrated in 1956, had they actually been in this country, would probably have been investigated by the HUAC. They were libertarian communists who wanted to replace Stalinist state capitalism with "socialism from below"--you know, workers' councils and all that.
14. Ron Paul on the "NAFTA Superhighway":
This superhighway would connect Mexico, the United States, and Canada, cutting a wide swath through the middle of Texas and up through Kansas City. Offshoots would connect the main artery to the west coast, Florida, and northeast. Proponents envision a ten-lane colossus the width of several football fields, with freight and rail lines, fiber-optic cable lines, and oil and natural gas pipelines running alongside.
This will require coordinated federal and state eminent domain actions on an unprecedented scale, as literally millions of people and businesses could be displaced. The loss of whole communities is almost certain, as planners cannot wind the highway around every quaint town, historic building, or senior citizen apartment for thousands of miles.
15. Chris Dillow, in response to a critic, explains "Why I Bang On" about managerialism. Commenter "dearieme" was moved to write:
Managerialism isn't about ""knowledgeable leadership": it's about ignorant boss-ship. You appoint a man head of a car company because he use to run a croissant company - you argue that knowing about cars, and the market for cars, is unimportant. What matters is that he's a LEADER, in the sense that if you weren't paid to, you'd never take his opinions seriously. He's also PROFESSIONAL, which means that he's got the right sort of haircut and suit. Pah!
16. Via Ross Heckmann on the mutualists email list, on who benefits from the financial crisis:
The financial crisis that we now face was created by design. It is intended to destroy the labor movement, crush the middle class, quash Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, reduce our foreign debt by 50 or 60%, force a restructuring of America's debt, privatize all public assets and resources, and create a new regime of austerity measures which will divert more wealth to the banking and corporate establishments.
The avatars of neoliberalism invariably use crooked politicians to spawn enormous "unsustainable" debt so that the nations' riches can be transferred to ruling elites. It works the same everywhere. It's a form of corporate colonization, only this time the victim is the good old USA.
17. Via Brad Spangler. "The Left, the Market and the Struggle for Socialism."
To truly build a powerful revolutionary left, we must recognize that the market is not simply synonymous with Low Road capitalism.
The market is an achievement of human civilization that both predates capitalism and will persist for a long time even if capitalism is replaced by another system. It is truly system neutral - a place where politics and different values contend for influence and hegemony. Capitalism has taken the power of the market as a tool for its influence to new heights, and demonstrated the cruelty of its “market reality.” A socialist society would use the power of the market to extend democracy and promote sustainable development....
Of course, we have corporate enemies that must be exposed and blocked; but there are important tactical and strategic corporate allies in the business community that we must align with and bring into our movement.
These include part of the 8 million privately held small companies that must find local solutions and partnerships if they are to survive. This includes innovative technology people and environmentalists that truly are inventing essential new technologies for the next century. And this includes leaders in the investment community truly committed to sustainable development.
18. Lenin's Tomb on the idealistic rhetoric of ruling class ideology, versus its reality:
The empire prefers weak states, of course, dictatorships with few of the traditional capacities of modern bureaucratic nation-states, ones that are bought off by the IMF, World Bank, DEA and CIA, ones with weak legitimacy and little accountability to the domestic populace. Hence, you help a general to power in Indonesia, let him butcher a million people, carve up the economy in private sessions with leading multi-national CEOs, encourage the general's family to skim billions off the top of 'development' loans based on exorbitant estimates for construction plans that go nowhere. Even if the CIA or MI6 didn't put you in power, once you take the money you start to factor it into the national and personal budgets, and your sovereignty is compromised. What's more, if you're obliged to integrate into the global economy on empire's terms (accepting neoliberal reforms etc), you have to devise an infrastructure adequate to the demands of investors - and once you're committed to that offer, it is rather difficult to pass and enforce laws restricting environmental or labour practises, or that curtail what would ordinarily be considered criminal behaviour. This logic inevitably extends back into the heart of empire. Having developed the institutions and techniques of covert criminality, one expects that these will acquire a weight of their own within the imperial centre. The CIA, for instance, routinely works to corrupt federal prosecutors and law enforcement agents where it must.... Similarly, having worked to create business opportunities for domestic capitalist elites overseas, one doesn't stop relating to them domestically. Commercial spying is an aspect of most intelligence agencies' work, and those with experience in state sectors are highly prized assets in the private sector; the state sustains important sectors of capital (especially those associated with its imperial practises, ranging from high finance to semiconductor manufacturing) so that the process of state rule is integrated with the processes of capital accumulation. Now, often highlighting corruption is a means of preserving the furniture aboard the titanic, so that one misses that the system is at fault - but I am merely undertaking the marxist task of pointing out how corruption of this kind is in fact part of the imperial system, an aspect of the techniques of state rule. Of course small-time crooks getting in over their heads are sometimes excellent prophylactics: whether it's Richard Perle shaking down the sheikhs or John DeLorean making off with billions of dollars, the public lesson is that such corruption is an anomaly, rather than an integral part of the social fabric.
19. Rad Geek links to an interview with court intellectual John "Unitary Executive" Yoo, who obligingly admits that he's the devil.
20. I've stumbled onto a great new blog, How Many Miles from Babylon, by homesteader Eleutheros (his Blogger profile lists his occupation as "free man"). Along with its subsidiary blogs Free Man's Garden and Free Man's Table, the writing style and subject matter both remind me a bit of Nathan Lytle's essay "The Hind Tit" in the Nashville agrarian manifesto I'll Take My Stand.
21. Via Battlepanda:
WASHINGTON -- Former FDA Commissioner Lester Crawford pleaded guilty Tuesday to conflict of interest and false reporting of information about stocks he owned in food, beverage and medical device companies he was in charge of regulating.
Crawford admitted to falsely reporting that he had sold or did not own stock when he continued holding shares in the firms governed by rules of the Food and Drug Administration. Beginning in 2002, Crawford filed seven incorrect financial reports with a government ethics office and Congress, leading to the charges.
Battlepanda adds, "Of course Crawford is working at a lobbying firm now...."
22. Ed D'Angelo's book Barbarians at the Gates, an analysis of the neoliberal and postmodern capitalist ideologies as they affect libraries, is now available in print.
23. Beautiful slam of Tom Friedman, who's apparently been talking out his ass:
During a CNBC interview with Tim Russert in late July, the acclaimed savant made a notable confession: “We got this free market, and I admit, I was speaking out in Minnesota - my hometown, in fact - and guy stood up in the audience, said, ‘Mr. Friedman, is there any free trade agreement you’d oppose?’ I said, ‘No, absolutely not.’ I said, ‘You know what, sir? I wrote a column supporting the CAFTA, the Caribbean Free Trade initiative. I didn’t even know what was in it. I just knew two words: free trade.’”...
Tim Russert didn’t bother to pursue the fact that one of the nation’s leading journalists had just said that he fervently advocated for a major trade agreement without knowing what was in it. “But beyond Russert’s negligence,” David Sirota wrote at the time, “what’s truly astonishing is that Tom Friedman, the person who the media most relies on to interpret trade policy, now publicly runs around admitting he actually knows nothing at all about the trade pacts he pushes in his New York Times column.”
24. Roderick Long reviews Barbara Ehrenreich's excellent Nickel and Dimed. Unlike most libertarians, who he says seldom mention it without a sneer, Long (by his own account familiar with the life Ehrenreich explored) finds her account of life in the bottom wage tier pretty much on the mark--including "the arbitrary and humiliating petty chickenshit tyrannies of employers." Unfortunately, she has little grasp of what makes life so unpleasant for the working poor, or of how much of it results from state intervention on behalf of the plutes rather than from the "market." Long proposes, as a remedy, an end to such intervention, along with working class solidarity--the pre-Wagner kind:
On the one hand, this means formal organisation, including unionisation – but I’m not talking about the prevailing model of “business unions,” conspiring to exclude lower-wage workers and jockeying for partnership with the corporate/government elite, but real unions, the old-fashioned kind, committed to the working class and not just union members, and interested in worker autonomy, not government patronage. (See Paul Buhle’s Taking Care of Business for a history of how pseudo-unions crowded out real ones, with government help.) On the other hand, it means helping to build a broader culture of workers standing up for one another and refusing to submit to humiliating treatment.
These two solutions are of course complementary; an expanded economy, greater competition among employers, and fewer legal restrictions on workers makes building solidarity easier, while at the same time increased solidarity can and should be part of a political movement fighting the state.
25. Via Ender's Review, some good material on no-knock raids, police informer corruption, and the militarization of police forces: Radley Balko and William Grigg.
26. Via Meir Israelowitz, by private email, links to an article on increasing attempts by former owners to reclaim worker-managed factories: "Workers without bosses at a turning point." Never mind the question of whether the worker-occupied enterprises were state capitalist, and therefore ought to be expropriated by workers on Rothbardian grounds. And never mind even more radical leftist property theories. What I wonder is this: Shouldn't it be enough for most radical free market believers that 1) the occupied factories were abandoned because the property at the time wasn't worth the labor of selling it in a collapsed economy; 2) the firms that abandoned it were bankrupt; and 3) among the victims of the defaulting bankrupt firms were the workers who were owed back wages?
27. Another mutualist classic online, thanks to the indefatigable Shawn Wilbur: William Henry Van Ornum's Money, Co-operative Banking and Exchange (1892).
Cockroach Caucuses and Local Corporate Welfare: A Compendium of Posts
Northwest Arkansas Blogging: More Welfare for Wal-Mart
There's a Soccer Mom Born Every Minute
Jane Jacobs Letter to Bloomberg
Local Corporate Welfare: Kelo, TIF Districts, and Cockroach Caucuses
Northwest Arkansas Blogging: Corporate Welfare for Wal-Mart
Mutual Aid in New Orleans; The Real Looters Go Unpunished
New Orleans Cockroach Caucus: A Prequel
New Orleans: The Looting Continues
Northwest Arkansas Blogging: Close Call
The Dirty Little Secret Behind At-Large Representation
Art Hobson, Sprawl, and the Free Market
Morning News of Northwest Arkansas: Corporate Welfare Pimps for Wal-Mart
Washington Bullets, "National Security," Globalization: A Compendium of Posts
Sympathy for the Devil
I'd Hate to See What Malevolent Hegemony Would Look Like
Another Manufactured Revolution
More Looting (er, "Free Market Reform") in Iraq
More on the World Bank
On People Power, Real and Imagined
Maxspeak on Thomas Friedman
More Corporate Looting in Iraq
Buermann on CAFTA
Chomsky: Neoliberalism as Statism
Jeffrey Sachs, Useful Idiot
Vulgar Libertarianism Watch, Part XV: Lula and Chavez and Morales, Oh My!
A Free Market Attack on Sweatshops
Privatization is Theft
You Won't Have Your Sweatshop Employers to Kick Around Anymore