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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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Sunday, December 21, 2008

How to Kick Your Friends in the Teeth

My first commentary piece for C4SS.

8 Comments:

Anonymous P.M.Lawrence said...

It needs more proof-reading, e.g. "self-mangement". Also, it's not clear from the text what "Disaster Capitalism" is or is about, or who wrote it (by implication, probably but not certainly Naomi Klein).

Which brings me on to a deeper issue. I'm not sure who the audience for this piece is. Anyone who already knows about "Disaster Capitalism", for instance? But they are already familiar with what the piece covers. For them, it would be valuable as a reminder and/or lead in, with other material following - but there isn't any.

But the piece takes too much for granted to work for people who aren't already familiar with the area it is presenting. For them, it would be more useful to have shorter words and sentences, with fewer technical terms and those explained where first introduced (I know there aren't many, but it's still a lot for people coming to this for the first time). The whole should be backed up with more concrete examples.

So it really only works as a minor critique of Naomi Klein for insiders, not building on that or reaching others.

December 21, 2008 3:41 PM  
Blogger littlehorn said...

I've read this just earlier. It's all very good. I find that C4SS doesn't have that much commentary available. At first, I wondered if I wasn't missing anything. Is there some kind of secret passage somewhere ?

As for Klein's totally absurd claim that ideologies should be held accountable, you could draw several other implications:
Ron Paul must be arrested at once, before he blows up a clinic.
All Muslims, Christians, Jews, Atheists, Agnostics, etc. must ask for your forgiveness this instant.

I'm sure you guys can find more.

December 21, 2008 6:13 PM  
OpenID JFM said...

Broadly speaking, I agree with P.M. Lawrence's comments on the
audience. I understood it and thought it was a reasonable comment,
but that's having heard Klein interviewed on "Democracy Now!" when the
book came out. Have you sent her a link to this or a copy of it? If
not, I think you should. I'm not sure she's aware of
left-libertarians as such, just of some right-libertarians who aren't
entirely vulgar.

December 22, 2008 6:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not sure what the problem is.

Klein, in the quote provided, talks of the "far libertarian right" and does not mention markets of any sort (free or otherwise). She mentions "the ideologues of the… far economic right" and their "sacred texts: The Road to Serfdom, Capitalism and Freedom, Free to Choose."

Now, if she did attack the "free market" then why not quote where she did, rather than provide a bulk of text where she is attacking the "libertarian" right? Is there such a quote and, if so, then why did you not quote that?

Unless, of course, you are equating attacks on the so-called "libertarian" capitalist-right with attacks on "left-wing free market advocates"? If so, then that is a worry...

So since when did attacking Hayek and Friedman mean attacking Tucker?

Iain
An Anarchist FAQ

December 22, 2008 7:53 AM  
Anonymous P.M.Lawrence said...

Iain, try to look at what you just wrote through the eyes of someone coming to all this for the first time:-

- "far libertarian right". What's that? And what's a libertarian anyway?

- "the ideologues of the... far economic right". OK, it's a little clearer now, though I'm not sure what an ideologue is. A libertarian is a kind of Republican (US)/Conservative (UK)/Liberal (Australia)/... (delete where inapplicable) who is into economics.

- "sacred texts: The Road to Serfdom, Capitalism and Freedom, Free to Choose." What are those, and can you give me a fifty word summary for each of them?

- "So since when did attacking Hayek and Friedman mean attacking Tucker?" Who? And if all this is only about which clique is in and which is out, does any of it matter anyway?

Do you get it now?

By the way, I first came across the term "libertarian" when Poul Anderson used it as a small scale "MacGuffin" in an SF novel, with a character saying how he had always "voted the straight libertarian ticket" to show how ordinary he was. Not explaining the term "libertarian", making it seem like background, was part of the novelists' trade. And if you don't follow the term "MacGuffin", think about that too, and about why I chose to ask you to think about it when I could simply have explained it with far fewer words.

December 22, 2008 2:44 PM  
Blogger Kevin Carson said...

Thanks for the feedback, PML. I'll take it under consideration when writing the next commentary piece.

Littlehorn, I'm afraid what you see is all there is to it.

JFM: I emailed Klein's agent a link to my original review of her book, which he'd sent me as a review copy. Never heard back from him.

Iain: Klein comes across to me, at least, as attacking the entire free market ideology without qualifications. And I have a big problem with her basic premise: that adherents of any ideology are morally responsible for the actions of other people who appropriate its language and symbolism. It just strikes me as a fundamentally idiotic, logically incoherent argument.

December 29, 2008 5:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Klein comes across to me, at least, as attacking the entire free market ideology without qualifications."

She refers to a specific group of people, the "far libertarian right." Unless you equate them with all supporters of markets I fail to see the problem. Also, is she aware of mutualism? You attack her for failing her friends, but is she aware that they exist?

"And I have a big problem with her basic premise: that adherents of any ideology are morally responsible for the actions of other people who appropriate its language and symbolism."

So, are you saying that the Republican right, mainstream right-wing "libertarians" and such like have falsely appropriated the language and symbolism of Milton Friedman and von Hayek? That the Adam Smith Institute, for example, has nothing in common with the ideas of "Capitalism and Freedom"?

"It just strikes me as a fundamentally idiotic, logically incoherent argument."

Again, Klein is clear on whom she is discussing. She mentions them by name. What you term "vulgar libertarians" but which most people think of as "libertarians", namely "the ideologues of the… far economic right". Are you really saying that neo-liberalism has no intellectual links with the ideas of Milton Friedman and von Hayek?

So, just to repeat myself, I fail to see what the problem is. She is attacking the mainstream "libertarian" right, people who have been cheer-leading neo-liberalism for the last four decades of so, people who find it possible to praise Pinochet, and so on. I still fail to see how her comments warrented your article.

Finally, in terms of P.M.Lawrence's comments, I could explain every single thing I write so that people who are not familiar with the issues, ideas and people involved can understand them. I could, but I don't have the time. Hopefully people who are new with look up the words used and people named for themselves, if they are interested.

Iain
An Anarchist FAQ

January 05, 2009 5:52 AM  
Blogger Kevin Carson said...

Iain, your mileage may differ, but my impression is that for Klein "far libertarian right" is one word.

Certainly Friedman and Hayek had a vulgar streak, but it didn't exhaust their thought; it also includes principles that if consistently applied would be destructive of the kind of corporate plutocracy the ASI champions.

And in any case, Klein didn't just say that the corporatists had applied some of the actual ideas of Friedman and Hayek. She said, as a general blanket rule, that the adherents of any ideology are responsible for anything done in the name of that ideology. I stand by my original statement that that claim is asinine.

January 07, 2009 6:49 PM  

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