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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

Friday, July 28, 2006

The Corporate State: Libertarian Enemy Number One

Hat tip to Keith Preston. "What Is the Enemy?" by Sheldon Richman:

...the great threat to liberty is the corporate state, otherwise known as corporatism, state capitalism, and political capitalism....

Libertarianism is radical not conservative, and laissez faire protects no vested interests. Libertarians once were highly sensitive to this point. The great 19th-century champions of the market, such as Benjamin Tucker and the contributors to his Liberty magazine, thought of themselves as “free-market socialists” because they wanted no part of “capitalism,” which they viewed as the historical system in which government intervenes in behalf of capital and to the detriment of common workers. The word still denotes that for many, perhaps most, people....

On the international stage, this danger is writ large. The United States is assumed to favor free markets (“capitalism”), so when it meddles in other countries, supports dictators, and encourages (or imposes) interventionist economic measures, that is seen as consistent with the free-market philosophy. Resentment against those policies becomes resentment against the free market. This has done untold damage to the libertarian cause where it should have flourished. If capitalism means feudalism (stealing land from peasants), virtually forced labor in factories and mines, and wholesale violations of civil liberties (including torture), who would want any part of it?

Similarly, if capitalism at home means a system rigged in favor of cartelized industries and a nearly prohibitive regulatory/tax morass for small and would-be competitors, who needs it?

In other words, U.S. policy for years has made anti-capitalism appealing to millions of people at home and abroad by associating capitalism with corporatism and imperialism. These people should be libertarians.

And some "libertarians" have made anti-capitalism appealing to millions by associating capitalism with corporatism and imperialism. For example: ASI agitprop like the piece linked in my previous post, which is conservative and does protect vested interests.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'll bet you lying, thieving mutualists are just waiting to take my apartment next trip to the store...

July 28, 2006 4:35 PM  
Blogger Larry Gambone said...

Of course we are, and yo Mamma too...
First rate article, Sheldon!

July 28, 2006 8:07 PM  
Blogger Kevin Carson said...

I'd like to think I'm as enterprising as the next lying, thieving mutualist. But why would I want to take your apartment on a trip to the store, even if I could?

July 28, 2006 10:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's just what lying, thieving mutualists tend to do. I mean they have to live somewhere while they run their biotech firms!

July 28, 2006 10:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What we mutualists like to do best, is to steal property from unsuspecting proprietors.

In fact that is what drew me to mutualism. I learned alot about this brand new movement
after reading George Reisman's blog.

July 28, 2006 11:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd say a house is in use as long as the people who (presumebly) lives there are returning. Mutualism tells you to do what you want as long as you don't get in their way (which you would do if you occupied the house as they were returning, it's like walking in the way of a moving car on the highway, forcing it to brake or chrash).

July 29, 2006 8:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kevin and Mr. Richman are right on as usual, except for perhaps not pushing this thesis far enough.

True libertarians are socialists, in the original Proudhon sense of the word, pre-Marx collectivism. We favor the empowerment of equally free civil society and the "death of politics,' the extinction of political power and privilege. Proudhon's "socialists" were for free social power and opposed political institutional power. In fact, the origin of the word libertarian was coined to differentiate Proudhon's individualistic socialism from Marx' oxymoronic pro-politically empowered "socialism."

Traces of Proudhon's anti-statist 'libertarian socialism' live on in works by Tucker, Oppenheimer, Nock and Hess among others. See Hess' 'The Death of Politics' and "Community Technology" for a labor friendly libertarian mutualism.

Chris Toto

July 29, 2006 5:33 PM  
Blogger Sheldon Richman said...

Thanks, Kevin and those who liked the article--although that "Mr. Richman" comment really hurt. Was that a reference to my age? :-)

July 30, 2006 2:31 PM  

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