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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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Thursday, May 03, 2007

Organization Theory Chapters

Here's a rough manuscript of Chapter Two: A Survey of Empirical Literature on Economy of Scale.

I've also revised considerably my manuscript of Chapter One: A Critical Survey of Orthodox Views on Economy of Scale.

In the next week or so, I should have a revision of the chapter on decentralized production technology, incorporating (among other things) Eric Husman's thoughtful commentary on Kirkpatrick Sale at GrimReader blog. I should also have a manuscript for Chapter Three, an examination of the specific forms of state intervention that promote size and centralization.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Kevin,

Whew! I just finished reading Chapter 1. I am going to have to re-read it so that I can fully grasp all of your arguments, some of which are very subtle.

This is perhaps the most insightful discussion on economies of scale I have ever read- so insightful, in fact, that it is going on my "recommended reading" list. If the rest of the book is as good as the the first chapter, it is indeed going to be a " tour de force."

However, I do have some criticisms, not that you have listen to me-its possible I just don't know what I'm taking about!

First an observation: who exactly is your audiance? Overall, you seem to be writing for the general layman, but in some passages you seem to be aiming more at people who are mostly familiar with your blog/work and Austrian economics. I refer in general to passages where you are quoting from a particular blog; for example, on pages 4 and 5 where you are quoting the wag who responded to Tom Woods. I throughly enjoyed reading this, espicially the part where you say, after quoting the wag, "But then consistency is not exactly the Austrians' strong suit" (even though I consider myself an Austrian!), but to those unfamiliar with the Austrians and the Mises blog, this passage may seem forieng, and as though you are no longer adressing them.

Now for some general criticisms.

What exctly are you saying about advertising? I realize that in a broad sense you are saying (roughly) that because of the states promotion of large industries through transportation subsidies, ect, the bussinesses had to adverise in order to sell their merchendise. However, based on some of your comments and quotes it seems like you are dismissing advertising out of hand, when in fact, in a truly free market, at least in my understanding, advertising would be just another aspect of competion between producers who are trying to gain customers. The problem with advertising today is not with advertising per se, but with system of cartelization and relative "overproduction" that state capitalism promotes.

I am typing this during my break so I am going to bring up only one more point of contention. In the third to last paragraph before your appendix, you give your conclusion regarding what you think a truly decnetralized economy would look like, and in the very last sentence of that paragraph you state "such decentalized economies could quite plausibly provide a comporable standard of living with average work weeks of twenty hours or less."

I see two problems with this paragraph in general. First of all, you did not seem to adress how these communities are going to produce commodities and goods that they want, but cannot produce because they do not have a particular resource-coal or iron ore, for example. One of the nice things about a transportation system (not subsidized) it it does allow communities to enjoy/produce things that are not found in its immediate environment, thus raising its standard of living. I raise this as criticism primarily because it seems that you (might) believe that in the absence of state subsidies, transportation would be limited. I would hope this would not be the case because tranportation systems do increase economic opportunities and the ability to produce. Moreover, history seems to imply that in the absence of state subsidation, transportation systems are indeed built, except they are coordinated through actual supply and demand, and those using them have to internalize the costs of using them. Daniel Klein has many excellent articles on non-subsidized transportation.

Also, regarding your statement "such decentalized economies could quite plausibly provide a comporable standard of living with average work weeks of twenty hours or less." How did you come up with that figure? I am not being argumentive, but it seems you got it out of thin air. Wouldn't it be better to say "the average work week would quite plausibly provide a comparable standard of living for a much shorter work because of the increased effeciancy"?

Anyway, just some thoughts. I know this has been a bit of a rambling mind dump, and like I say I need to re-read the chapter--perhaps then all my criticisms would be answered.


Dave (the ancap)

May 08, 2007 12:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oops, I should have proof-read better! The second to last paragraph should say:

Wouldn't it be better to say something "such decentralized economies could quite plausibly provide a comparable standard of living for a shorter work week because of the increased effeciancy"?

Not much of a difference really, but seems "less out of the blue."


May 08, 2007 12:23 PM  
Blogger Kevin Carson said...

Thanks for the kind words, Dave.

As damning as this sounds for someone writing a book, I never really thought until you asked me about who the intended audience was. My writing has been driven mainly by what I had to say, and the material I put together is just the stuff that contributes to my thought process or in some way furthers the argument. That's probably not a very good marketing strategy.

On advertising, I agree that it would surely exist in a free market society. It just wouldn't be part of a push distribution model. There would probably be less of it, it would be more informative, and the advertising culture surely wouldn't reflect the changes made by Mr. Bernays et al.

I also agree that 20 hours is probably an arbitrary figure. It's just a guesstimate based on a rough assessment of things like how much of retail price consists of oligopoly markup, shipping and distribution costs, and how much "intellectual property," planned obsolescence and purely cosmetic product features add to prices. Then you throw in the amount of time we spend working to feed the useless eaters who don't produce anything. Then you throw in the effects of what Ivan Illich called "radical monopoly," crowding out cheaper modes of living and making it hard to create one's own use values outside the professional cartels, etc. I figure all that probably amounts to at least half of our labor being the equivalent of digging holes and then filling them back up, but I should have used something less impressionistic.

May 11, 2007 11:18 AM  

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