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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, June 02, 2010

At C4SS: In a Truly Free Market, BP Would Be Toast


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Various valid points in the article, particularly on the role of the (cpaitalist) state in protecting capitalist corporations.

The problem with the analysis is, I would suggest, that the solution is retroactive and so not really a solution at all. Sure, it would be possible to sue a company for the damage done but that is the problem -- the eco-system has been destroyed.

Would an individualist anarchy be able to deter people and companies going potentially dangerous things, for example, drilling in the gulf? After all, the company may think that the profits make it worthwhile and they may underestimate the dangers. How would others object?

They could sue afterward but, as I said, the damage has been done. Eco-systems are hard to repair and the assets of the owners may not cover the costs.

Similarly, in the case of wilderness, how would it be protected? If people can "homestead" anything which is "unowned" (i.e., untransformed by labour) then, surely, wilderness areas cannot be protected because, by definition, no one "values" them (for if they did, they would labour on them and so stop them being wilderness).

In short, can eco-systems and the inter-connectedness of human and non-human life fit into an individualistic system?

And I should note that Shawn makes a lot of good points too.

An Anarchist FAQ

June 03, 2010 6:57 AM  
Blogger Kevin Carson said...

Thanks for the comments, Iain. I responded to Shawn's comment under his post.

Your critique of tort law/insurance premiums for acting only ex post is valid, but I don't think there's any system that would address pollution ex ante. The regulatory state was supposed to prevent risky behavior ex ante, and we see how that turned out. If the point is to "deter people... doing potentially dangerous things," by definition the approach is of behavior modification based on the anticipated consequences of one's actions ex post. And I expect the threat of a "corporate death sentence" with all assets liquidated to pay the full cleanup costs and economic damages from a big spill (in addition to cleaning out the bank accounts of execs personally guilty of deliberate criminal negligence) is at least as effective as the threat of a fine from the EPA for inadequate safety measures.

There's no system in which the operations would not be carried out by human beings with a tendency to underestimate long-term cost and risks compared to short-term gratification.

Re homesteading wilderness, I think the Ricardian/Georgist view is pretty much on the mark. Marginal wilderness areas are homesteaded only by landless people who have been excluded by the political appropriation of land, and the holding of more fertible and more favorably situated land out of use. If there were no artificial property rights in land in Brazil, say, and arable land were fully utilized by peasants, slash-and-burn development of the rainforest wouldn't be an issue.

June 03, 2010 10:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Insurance companies take the kind of adversarial attitude toward the insured that liberals only wish government regulators took toward regulated industries."

The solution is clear! Government-mandated Universal Liability Insurance for all corporate persons!

June 03, 2010 4:26 PM  

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