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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, October 11, 2006

Link Digest

**At Oligopoly Watch, "Price Fixing for Executive Salaries" attempts to explain "the circular way in which CEO salaries are set" by arguing that "there has been created an artificially small supply of CEO candidates."

**At Positive Sharing, Alex Kjerulf declares war on homework:

There is not one single study that shows that homework helps kids learn. At the same time kids have less and less time to just be kids - time spent on homework has gone up 50% since 1981.

In the comments, Chris Corrigan writes:

Schools already steal six hours or more a day from a child’s life. If they can’t do what they need to do in six hours, it is not my child’s responsibility to gives them more time. Homework is not for kids to learn, it’s for schools to shift the responsibility. Teachers don’t get marked on how useful classroom time is, but kids get marked on whether they did their homework or not. THat means a lot of classroom stuff that isn’t working is allowed to congtinue as long as kids do their homework....

Homework robs children of the time they need to develop real skills and passions. When I was in school for example, I taught myself music theory and theology during my grade 11 year. I wasn’t taking either of these subjects at school, and I set aside a lot of homework to learn them. I failed several exams in Christmas 1985 because instead of studying, I was writing four part harmony arrangments of Queen songs and reading Martin Buber. Both of those experiences have stayed with me long after I can even remember what classes I took at school that year.

But that's just the point. One of the central functions of schools is to teach kids that only tasks assigned them by teachers or bosses have any real importance; tasks they choose for themselves are trivialized as "hobbies." From pre-K on, kids learn never to do anything without first asking whether it will show up on their resumes or earn them a gold star from an authority figure.

**Via Ender's Review. James L. Wilson's parable about globalism (obviously so far-fetched as to be of no possible relevance to the real world):

Because of the transportation costs, the price of an imported foreign widget in Kleptopia would be about the same as a locally-produced one, even though the production costs in Plutopia were much lower. To the wealthy merchants and bankers of the port cities, importing widgets wasn't worth the expense and risk. Like everyone else in the country, they stuck with domestically-produced widgets.

The King of Kleptopia loved his country and wanted it to be great in the eyes of the world. And he wanted to improve the lives of his people, and bring them greater prosperity. So he resolved to develop the commercial and manufacturing sector. He announced that he would use "public funds" - that is, taxes people like Adam paid - to promote economic growth. He would finance a fleet of merchant ships to encourage trade - and a naval fleet to protect those ships and to make sure overseas markets were "secure." He would also build a network of quality highways - including one that would go right by Adam's town.

The merchants and bankers were delighted. With the government subsidies, they would now build great ships. And the highways built for them meant the entire country became their "market." They could now go across the sea, buy shiploads of widgets, bring them back, sell them in every town in Kleptopia for 25% less than the domestic price had been, and still make a tidy profit.
**At Harold Jarche's blog (a great find in itself). "Small Schools, Loosely Joined."

I propose small schools, loosely joined:

* With access to the Internet a one-room school would have to reach out to the rest of the world and not be wrapped in the confines of the industrial school. Schools would have to seek out partnerships and not be isolated islands.
* Communities of learning online could be developed to link learners in several schools and even in different countries.
* No teacher would be able to “master” the subject matter, so teachers would become facilitators of learning, which is what they profess to do anyway .
* Small schools would be integrated into the community and there would be a sense of ownership by the community, not the education system.
* Most children would be able to walk to school, therefore eliminating busses, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and encouraging exercise.
* Children and parents could have more than one school to choose from.
* Sales of industrial school buildings could be used as financial capital for the transition.

**Sheldon Richman writes on "Libertarian Class Analysis" for the Future of Freedom Foundation. His piece includes this interesting quote from John Bright on the Corn Laws:

I doubt that it can have any other character [than that of] ... a war of classes. I believe this to be a movement of the commercial and industrial classes against the Lords and the great proprietors of the soil.

This is a good reminder that the early classical liberals, in denouncing the political classes, viewed the statist ruling class in the same broad sense as Brad Spangler: not just the formally defined members of the state who held the gun, but the nominally "private" plutocracy who filled their bags under cover of the state's gunmen.

**Via Chris Dillow, Hetan Shah's and Jonathan Rutherford's embarrassing effort on the need to replace the "work ethic" with the "care ethic"; it reads like the kind of gushing I'd have produced in seventh grade, in between bouts of bad adolescent poetry. Dillow rips them a new one ("makes me embarrassed to be a leftie"). And in the comments, Rad Geek writes:

It used to be, back in the day, that the Left exhorted working folks to form fighting unions, co-ops, and mutual aid societies in order to help counteract both routine exploitation and the dangers of economic downturns. The idea being that when working folks united, they were more powerful than the bosses and more reliable for each other than the functionaries of the welfare state.

This sort of statist nonsense, endlessly celebrated and agitated for by most of the contemporary Left, poses as ameliorating exploitation within the existing market system. All it actually does is transfer control over more workers' lives to the civil service bureaucracy, and further regiments the economy under the dubious command of the managerial State. All in all it's pretty weak tea compared to the good old end of the industrial republic of labor and the good old means of building a new society within the shell of the old through the economic means of mutual aid and direct action.

**More anarchist classics online thanks to Roderick Long: two essays, both entitled "Why I am an Anarchist," by Benjamin Tucker and Voltairine DeCleyre, respectively; “The War Method of Peace,” by Ezra Heywood; and a great article by Voltairine DeCleyre, “The Philosophy of Selfishness and Metaphysical Ethics,” attempting to transcend the egoist/moralist divide in individualist anarchism.

**Via Ender's Review. Matt Taibbi on the tenacious watchdogs of the Fourth Estate:

In a month when Katie Couric redefined the "scoop" as an advance glimpse of celebrity idiot-spawn Suri Cruise, and investigative journalism according to muckracking icon 60 Minutes meant sappy profiles of Howard Stern and Bill Romanowski, it made all the sense in the world that the denouement of a spectacular tale of massive government waste and fraud would go completely unnoticed by virtually the entire journalism community.

(That would be the F-22 Raptor corporate welfare project). It's odd the way infotainment prolefeed seems to coincide with abuses of power. Any time the oligarchy is up to something and wants to distract our attention, it seems some white chick disappears or something. That's why my first reaction to turning on CNN and seeing some crap or other about Anna Nicole Smith was "Bush must have done something really evil."

**Roderick Long applies libertarian class analysis to the question of war:

In weighing the costs of military intervention, a libertarian must include that system of interlocking political, economic, and cultural forces which the 19th-century industrial-radical libertarians called "militancy" and which some Randians today call "neofascism."

According to libertarian class analysis, which traditionally identifies capitalists as the chief enemies of "capitalism," there is a mutually reinforcing dynamic between corporate pressure politics, foreign imperialism, and domestic oppression; the business lobby drives military adventurism, which leads at home to the mobilization and regimentation of society and the erosion of civil liberties, as government assumes emergency powers that are never fully undone after the emergency.

**At Mises Blog, Stephan Kinsella gets into the fray over limited liability in response to these old posts: "Sean Gabb Gives the Corporatists Nine Kinds of Free Market Hell" and "Corporate Personhood." Gabb, in turn, responded with "Thoughts on Limited Liability."

**A great collection of bibliographic resources on left-libertarianism (the Steiner/Vallentyne/Ellerman kind, not the agorist kind) at Stumbling and Mumbling.

**Via Sara Robinson at Orcinus. "President Clinton Jails 938,000 Illegal Enemy Combatants." One of the few upsides to electing Hitlery in 2008 is that the Freepers will start fearing their government again, instead of worshipping it like they do now.

**Shawn Wilbur has a pamphlet online, based on Westrup's interpretation Tucker's interpretation of Greene: "How to Escape the Coin Monopoly" (1895). And Roderick Long continues to put chapters of Francis Tandy's Voluntary Socialism online.

**Arthur Silber writes on the Military Commissions Act:

There is no question that the Military Commissions Act, given the language it now contains, grants -- in principle -- full dictatorial powers to the executive. As I explained in the earlier essay, the executive and certain entities it controls can designate anyone, including any American citizen, as an "unlawful enemy combatant." That person can then be imprisoned for the rest of his life, with no recourse whatsoever. Period.

That is absolute power over every single one of us. Absolute. Consider the word, and what it means. Your life is no longer yours. It is the executive's, to dispose of as he chooses. I must repeat an earlier point: it is most likely that this power will not be exercised to the full extent possible, or anything close to its full extent, any time soon. The exercise of that power will come, if it does, in stages.

He also quotes Jim Henley on the likely mission creep.

**A reader writes to Joe Bageant:

A few days ago, I was reflecting that as I sit in my new $150,000 house with central air conditioning, I am annoyed by imperfections in the wallboard finish, while many people within a mile of me live in far worse housing in need of real repairs. And I had a strong impulse to somehow put together a volunteer effort to improve their housing. And then it hit me: These people are in the construction trades! And they all have satellite dishes outside their houses--a massive loss of both money and time. Whatever is missing that makes their house run-down, it's not something I can give them.

And Bageant replies:

...fear of change, plus a long history of conditioned ignorance, struggle for money (which is why your neighbor sees fixing drywall as something he does for money, not for himself) keeps the working poor stuck.


Blogger Charles Johnson (Rad Geek) said...

On the theme of anarchist texts recently put online, I recently added an online edition of General Idea of the Revolution in the Nineteenth Century (trans. by John Beverly Robinson) to the Fair Use Repository. I was pretty surprised to find that it wasn't available anywhere else on the web, actually.

October 13, 2006 1:23 AM  
Blogger Shawn P. Wilbur said...


Hooray! for the "General Idea" e-text. Nice work.

October 13, 2006 9:44 AM  
Blogger Mupetblast said...

This Link Digest thing is great. Your blog scavenging abilities are extremely helpful.

October 15, 2006 4:15 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I use del.icio.us too. It would be a lot easier than doing the manual link digest post, but it does limit the comment space you can use.

The cool parts are the integration with Firefox, and the possibility of embedding your del.icio.us links in your blog template and your Feedburner feed, if you have one. I also like the ability to have a network of other people's links and add that to your rss reader.

Here is my del.icio.us page if you need an example.

October 15, 2006 6:37 PM  
Blogger Kevin Carson said...


Your e-text deserves a big "Hell, yes!" General Idea is one of P's most important texts, and is mostly missing from Dana Ward's wonderful Anarchist Archives. Thanks!

Thanks to Dain and Jeremy for the compliment to the links digest. As for del.icio.us, I'm generally a pretty slow adopter of new technology, but I might get around to it someday.

October 16, 2006 11:57 AM  
Blogger Kevin Carson said...


When I wrote the last post on CEO compensation, I was trying to remember where I'd seen the information in your comment above. I'll edit you in!

October 16, 2006 11:59 AM  

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