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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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Wednesday, January 19, 2005


FREE MARKET: That condition of society in which all economic transactions result from voluntary choice without coercion.

THE STATE: That institution which interferes with the Free Market through the direct exercise of coercion or the granting of privileges (backed by coercion).

TAX: That form of coercion or interference with the Free Market in which the State collects tribute (the tax), allowing it to hire armed forces to practice coercion in defense of privilege, and also to engage in such wars, adventures, experiments, "reforms", etc., as it pleases, not at its own cost, but at the cost of "its" subjects.

PRIVILEGE: From the Latin privi, private, and lege, law. An advantage granted by the State and protected by its powers of coercion. A law for private benefit.

USURY: That form of privilege or interference with the Free Market in which one State-supported group monopolizes the coinage and thereby takes tribute (interest), direct or indirect, on all or most economic transactions.

LANDLORDISM: That form of privilege or interference with the Free Market in which one State-supported group "owns" the land and thereby takes tribute (rent) from those who live, work, or produce on the land.

TARRIFF: That form of privilege or interference with the Free Market in which commodities produced outside the State are not allowed to compete equally with those produced inside the State.

CAPITALISM: That organization of society, incorporating elements of tax, usury, landlordism, and tariff, which thus denies the Free Market while pretending to exemplify it.

CONSERVATISM: That school of capitalist philosophy which claims allegiance to the Free Market while actually supporting usury, landlordism, tariff, and sometimes taxation.

LIBERALISM: That school of capitalist philosophy which attempts to correct the injustices of capitalism by adding new laws to the existing laws. Each time conservatives pass a law creating privilege, liberals pass another law modifying privilege, leading conservatives to pass a more subtle law recreating privilege, etc., until "everything not forbidden is compulsory" and "everything not compulsory is forbidden".

SOCIALISM: The attempted abolition of all privilege by restoring power entirely to the coercive agent behind privilege, the State, thereby converting capitalist oligarchy into Statist monopoly. Whitewashing a wall by painting it black.

ANARCHISM: That organization of society in which the Free Market operates freely, without taxes, usury, landlordism, tariffs, or other forms of coercion or privilege. "Right" anarchists predict that in the Free Market people would voluntarily choose to compete more often than to cooperate; "left" anarchists predict that in the Free Market people would voluntarily choose to cooperate more often than to compete.

Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson, The Illuminatus! Trilogy (New York: Dell, 1975) pp. 622-23


Blogger Kevin Carson said...

Ah--so you're drizzten! Thanks a lot.

I (and Wilson) use "capitalism" in a somewhat archaic way, but I don't get too bent out of shape on semantic distinctions.

I really like your post on universal healthcare as corporate welfare, BTW. In his Labor Day 2003 speech, Dick Gephart specifically described a central purpose of his federal health insurance benefit as increasing the competitiveness of large corporations that currently provide health insurance, against smaller non-insurers and against companies in foreign countries with a national health system. Corporate liberalism, and nothing but!

January 19, 2005 9:28 AM  
Blogger Kevin Carson said...

That's a valid point. But I don't think Wilson was attempting a thorough definition of state--just one that treated the aspects of it involved in privilege. I agree it's certainly not broad enough for a general purpose definition.

January 23, 2005 9:27 PM  
Blogger meambobbo said...

The funny part of this definition is that it says nothing about how coercion can be ridden from society. It acknowledges the free market requires freedom from coercion. Government imposes some coercion, but the norm rationale is that it can successfully prevent more coercion that it itself produces. Ultimately, we cannot ever fully avoid it. The free market is a myth as a real trading condition, but it is perfect as a goal for humanity, peace, and prosperity.

If people simply realized that complaints to the government about quality of life were to be solved by the government taxing, printing, and spending unbacked money to attempt to buy something that the free market cannot currently provide, they might realize how serious government waste is, and how beautiful a more free market would be...

June 13, 2007 9:30 PM  
Blogger James said...

hi wildpegasus. You wrote

> "That's not good enough as an explanation. A criminal gang exercises coercion directly and can grant privileges. No one thinks a criminal gang is a state, even though the state may be a type of criminal gang. The definition of state needs to mention something about being the ultimate adjudicator or the ultimate source of law in a society."

Robert Anton Wilson (in an article called "Never Whistle While You're Pissing") clrified this further...

"Human society can be structured either according to the principle of authority or according to the principle of liberty. Authority is a static social configuration in which people act as superiors and inferiors: a sado- masochistic relationship. Liberty is a dynamic social configuration in which people act as equals: an erotic relationship.

In every interaction between people, either Authority or Liberty is the dominant factor.

Families, churches, lodges, clubs and corporations are either more authoritarian than libertarian or more libertarian than authoritarian.

It becomes obvious as we proceed that the most pugnacious and intolerant form of authority is the State, which even today dares to assume absolutism which the church itself has long ago surrendered and to enforce obedience with the Church's old and shameful Inquisition.

i Every form of authoritarianism is, however, a small "State," even if it has a membership of only two. Freud's remark to the effect that the delusion of many men is religion can be generalized: The authoritarianism of one man is crime and the authoritarianism of many is State.

Benjamin Tucker wrote quite accurately:

i Aggression is simply another name for government. Aggression, invasion, government are interchangeable terms. The essence of government is control, or the attempt to control. He who attempts to control another is a governor, an aggressor, an invader; and the nature of such invasion is not changed, whether it be made by one man upon another man, after the manner of the ordinary criminal, or by one man upon all other men, after the manner of an absolute monarch, or by all other men upon one man, after the manner of a modern democracy.

Tucker's use of the word "invasion" is remarkably precise, considering that he wrote more than fifty years before the basic discovery of ethology. Every act of authority is, in fact, an invasion of the psychic and physical territory of another.

September 11, 2008 7:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Kevin, good work.

The link to buy "Mutualist Political Economy" is broken, and the "Homebrew Industrial Revolution" image does not show up. Might want to fix those.

September 16, 2012 2:44 PM  

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