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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 24, 2005

Cooperative Economics at B.C. Politics

B.C. Politics is well worth checking out--especially the New Economics page.

I especially recommend "Towards a New Economics for British Columbia," by Peter P. Dimitrov (Part I; Part II).

And check out this excerpt from Helena Norberg-Hodge's "Foreword" to What Everybody Wants to Know About Money:

Despite massive public awareness campaigns and educational efforts, the environment continues to deteriorate from year to year, communities and families fragment, ethnic conflict, poverty, crime and violence continue to grow, and democracy slips away Economic globalisation is having a disastrous impact-socially, politically and environmentally. But globalisation is far from a natural process: it is occurring because governments are actively promoting it and subsidising the framework necessary to support it. What is needed now is fundamental shift in direction towards economic localisation.

Many people find it difficult to imagine a shift towards a more local economy. 'time has moved on,' one hears: 'We live in a globalised world'. Many such misconceptions can make the shift towards the local seem impractical or utopian. An emphasis on the local economy, for example, can easily be misconstrued as meaning total self-reliance on a village level, without any trade at all. But the most urgent issue today is not whether people have oranges in cold climates, but whether their wheat, their eggs, their milk - in short , their basic food needs - should travel thousands of miles when they could all be produced within a fifty-miles radius. The goal of localisation would not to eliminate all trade, but to reduce unnecessary transport while encouraging changes that would strengthen and diversify economics at the community as well as national level.

Another stumbling block is the belief that people in the south need access to Northern markets in a globalise economy to shift them out of poverty, and that a greater degree of self reliance in the North would therefore undermine the economies of the Third World. The truth of the matter is that a shift towards smaller-scale and more localised production would benefit both North and South - and facilitate meaningful work everywhere. The globalised economy requires the South to send a large portion of its natural resources to the North as raw materials; its best agricultural land must be devoted to growing food, fibres and flowers for the North. Rather than further impoverishing the South, producing more ourselves would allow the South to keep more of its resources, labour and production for itself. Globalisation means pulling millions of people away from sure subsistence in a land-based economy into urban slums from which they have little hope of ever escaping.


Anonymous Anonymous said...


do you know about the re-localization and agraria project at community solutions who sponsor the national peak oil conference?



Catholic Distributist Robert Waldrop will be one one of the presenters...

Robert Waldrop was born and raised on a working farm and ranch in southwest Oklahoma. He is the founder of the Oscar Romero Catholic Worker House in Oklahoma City, a community which is interested in sustainable living and urban agriculture, and maintains an extensive website network of simple, sustainable and frugal living resources. He is also the founder and President of the Oklahoma Food Cooperative and the moderator of the peak oil internet discussion group, "Running On Empty." He is the author/editor/publisher of the Better Times Almanac of Useful Information.

Robert will talk about the development of local food systems, which will be critical when the petroleum-dependent global industrial food system collapses. He will share his lessons from organizing the Oklahoma Food Cooperative, explain the role of urban agriculture, and enumerate the personal changes necessary for adapting to a local food system.

August 25, 2005 7:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The environment is not deteriorating year-by-year; in fact, it is improving.

Just because food could be produced locally doesn't mean that it should be. Indeed, it's unlikely that most large cities could support themselves with only local produce: the population would starve.

While governments do subsidise international trade, they subsidise everything. I would think that the subsidies are a small fraction of long-distance trade.

There is very little link between the poverty of the south and the wealth of the north. Moreover, poor countries that have liberalised have enjoyed explosive growth in wealth. Hong Kong, South Korea, and Taiwan were all quite poor relatively recently. They liberalised, and now they are rich. Angola is poor, has never liberalised.

While it's true that poor countries send raw material to rich countries, the rich countries send back money in return. That's called "trade". That much of the trade wealth ends up in the hands of a corrupt few in the south is not a problem with the north, nor with trade, but with the politics of the south.

- Josh

August 27, 2005 1:08 PM  
Blogger Kevin Carson said...


The environment is improving in terms of the more visible pollution identified by old-style conservationists; the Cuyahoga river isn't on fire, and the smokestacks aren't belching out as much smoke. But what about accumulating levels of dioxins and other mutagens from plastic manufacture and chemical agriculture?

I'd guess they could be fed by the districts immediately surrounding the big cities, if they adopted the latest bio-intensive techniques for organic farming. And certainly a nation of peasant proprietors could feed the cities using such techniques, if they were actually given back the land taken from them for cash crops. That ADM and Cargill "feed the world" is a myth.

I don't think you're counting all the subsidies, direct and indirect, to international trade. Not only direct subsidies to exports, but subsidies to long distance transportation, intellectual property [sic] laws, and the political and military role of western states in keeping compliant governments in power in Third World countries.

Oh, and let's see....
1) Most of the Third World is post-colonial; 2) colonizing governments played a huge role in their conversion to economies oriented toward export of cash crops and raw materials; 3) the production of much of those exports takes place on land expropriated from peasants who might otherwise be feeding themselves on it; 4) western colonizers systematically destroyed the civil society on which any successful post-colonial political culture could be based; and 5) there is intense collusion between many of the expropriating governments and western corporations. Other than that, the north has nothing to do with Third World poverty at all!

August 28, 2005 9:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If those dioxins and mutagens are causing serious health problems, it's escaped me. People died of pollution in the old days: clouds of poisonous gas choked people to death, lungs went black from coal fires, people drank dysentery-infected water, horse shit and garbage were thrown onto the street, etc.

I don't know what "bio-intensive" means (it sounds good, like "organic", but probably means nothing, like "organic"), but I don't think you're going to feed millions of city-dwellers
with small family farms. There isn't the economy of scale to produce the surplus for sale. This isn't to say that I support taking family farms or anything - obviously I don't - but you're not going to feed Vancouver with a 100-mile radius of family farms. Doubly so once the suburbs start growing.

Intellectual property is not a subsidy, it is a recognition of just holding. America grounds its IP laws in utilitarian concerns, but European countries do not, and rightfully so.

As for the "Blame the West for Everything" nonsense, let me point out that the south has been independent for mostly 50 years in Africa, and almost 200 in South America. There's been more than enough time to enact land reform, liberalise trade and individual liberty, shoot the communists, shut down state enterprises, etc. They haven't done it. These places were poor before the West got there and they're poor now. The West can hardly be blamed for Paraguay's poverty in 2005.

Moreover, despite the evil West, Asian countries have done quite well in liberalisation and economic growth. Singapore, Hong Kong, South Korea, and Taiwan weren't much richer than Angola 60 years ago, and now they are very rich. New republics formed from the ashes of the Soviet Union like Estonia, Kazakhstan, Czech Republic, etc. are doing quite well thanks to waves of post-communist liberalisation. Instead of the blame game, these countries liberalised and prospered.

- Josh

August 30, 2005 12:39 PM  
Blogger Kevin Carson said...

Intellectual property [sic] is a form of state interference with the right of private property: namely, my right to use my own property to arrange material elements or information in a particular configuration. To prevent me from doing so, the state must invade my tangible property and prevent me doing what I want with it.

"Politically independent"? Yeah, it's a good thing the West hasn't been politically engaged in those countries since their nominal independence--you know, propping up corrupt dictatorships, overthrowing governments, etc. Implementing a land reform was a good way to get classified as a "communist" or "communist-infiltrated" regime.

And several of those Pacific Rim economies you mention have Georgist policies on land, which doesn't exactly fit the Catoid stereotype of a "free market" economy. Japan and its satellite economies also initially industrialized the same way the U.S. did: protection of infant industries and ignoring other countries' "intellectual property."

August 30, 2005 7:46 PM  
Blogger Kevin Carson said...

BTW, on biointensive farming:




August 30, 2005 7:50 PM  

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