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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

Thursday, October 28, 2010

At C4SS: Kitchen Light Turned On, Cockroaches Object

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

At C4SS: Who Really Cares About Inequality?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

At C4SS: Yes -- The Rent Really Is Too Damn High

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Yours Truly (Inter Alia) in The Freeman

The November issue of The Freeman's out, and among other things it includes:

Kevin Carson. "The Distorting Effect of Transportation Subsidies"

Sheldon Richman. "The Most Dangerous Derivative of All"

Nader aptly points out that corporatists portray themselves as free-enterprisers, which disarms some who truly value free markets and prevents the emergence of effective coalitions in opposition to the policy elite.

Charles Johnson. "There's Too Little Trust in Government?"

So when Dionne reviews a few headlines—the financial-market meltdown, the Gulf oil spill, the coal-mine explosion at Upper Big Branch—he suggests that “It’s hard to argue that the difficulties we confront were caused by an excessively powerful ‘big’ government.”

Really? Let’s try.

“Deregulated” Wall Street collapsed in 2007 after years of unsustainable bubbles and malinvestment by a handful of immensely powerful big players. The real crisis was not just the “crunch,” but the shell game and misallocation that preceded it. The shell game flourished through a private-public partnership between government central banking, cartelized financial industry incumbents, and the industry-connected regulatory enforcers of the government money monopoly. The crash certainly revealed powerful corporations acting recklessly. But how did they get so powerful, and why were they willing to take those risks? Because government has, for decades, as a matter of policy, encouraged their dominance, invited their investments, subsidized their loan markets, put them near the inflation spigot, and subsidized their risk-taking with the promise of tax-funded bailouts. In a freed market, “deregulated” Wall Street’s concentrated wealth and reckless business model would not exist.

James Payne. "Can Government Save Us From Manmade Disasters?" A beautiful response to by-the-numbers right-wing hatchet jobs on Rachel Carson.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

At C4SS: Michael Moore Almost Gets It Right

Richard Blake: The Blood of Alexandria

Richard Blake. The Blood of Alexandria (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 2010).

This is the third installment of Blake's novels featuring the adventures of Aelric, the Anglo-Saxon scholar cum covert operative, in the seventh century. Having survived a change of dynasties in Byzantium in the previous book, Aelric finds himself in this one commissioned as the Emperor's agent in Alexandria. His mission is to negotiate a stable modus vivendi between the parties in Alexandria, in particular through a land reform, in order to secure imperial control of the Egyptian grain supply. Such stability in the rear is imperative, given the situation on the Persian frontier. (The irony of the situation, as the story is recalled from the perspective of Aelric's old age, is that Syria will be regained from Persia only to fall to the armies of Muhammad).

In Alexandria, Aelric confronts an explosive cauldron of rival factions: The old Ptolemaic ruling class, snobbishly provincial Greek creoles who see themselves as more Greek than Alexander, seeks autonomy from Byzantium -- in part to avoid having their large land holdings broken up. The Brotherhood, a resistance organization that may go back to Persian times, seeks to restore native Egyptian rule (the Brotherhood itself is split between Monophysite Christians and pagans who want to restore the Old Religion). And this is all complicated by a split in the Coptic church between Monophysites and orthodox adherents of the Chalcedonian creed.

Aelric's adventures take him into Upper Egypt and nearly to the boundaries of Kush, with archaelogical digs in what Blake hints quite strongly are Atlantean settlements (fiber optic cables and all).

In this story Priscus, the sadomastic head of the imperial secret police in the previous installment, reappears as Aelric's rival in intrigue. But Priscus' character, which came across as rather monochromatically monstrous in the last book, acquires some complexity in this one. Indeed Blake's development of his character reminds me a bit of Theophanes in The Terror of Constantinople. Priscus is still monstrous, make no mistake -- but as the complexity of motivations behind his monstrousness emerges, he becomes far less one-dimensional.

As always, Blake writes with immense historical and classical erudition, while displaying an ability to render 1500-year-old conversations in realistically colloquial English.

Blake, in the persona of Aelric, also displays libertarian sensibilities (from whatever source he may have acquired them). In a debate with a leader of the Brotherhood, who aims to restore the Old Religion and set himself up as Pharaoh, he ridicules the latter's assertion that the native pharaohs ruled Egypt in peace and plenty for ten thousand years with the freely given consent of the governed:

'I'll tell you this, my lad: Phocas himself never put up images of himself standing three times the height of his nobles, nor the nobles three times the height of the poor bloody people who worked to make their lives easy. All government, in every time and place, rests on fraud and force -- the force of soldiers and officials hired by the rulers, and the fraud of the priests who assure everyone that the force is just....

'It has never, I'm sure,' I went on, 'crossed your tiny minds thhat there is in human affairs, as in the world around us, a natural order in which your kings and their priests -- of whatever faith -- have no place.....

'Let us imagine a state of nature,' I said, 'that is, a world in which all are at "perfect freedom to order their actions, and sispose of their possessions and persons, as they think fit, within the bounds of the law of nature, without asking leave, or depending upon the will of any other man".' I was quoting here verbatim from Epicurus -- his Second Letter to Scatodotes of Cyrene. 'This being given, let us suppose that everyone uses his freedom to supply himself with all his needs. Some he will abstract directly from the earth, which is common to all. Others he will acquire by free exchange with others.... All property in this state of natural freedom will be based on the efforts of the possessor.

'Men may gather together to appoint judges for those disputes that cannot be resolved by good will or by individual force of arms. They may further appoint generals for the defence of the whole community. But they'll never voluntarily establish the system described in the Greek histories of your country or shown on your monuments.'

A note of warning: this novel is far more graphic, sometimes appallingly so, than its predecessor. The riots in the native quarter resemble a tableau from Goya. And the torture carried out by Priscus caused me a sleepless night and several days' depression. So if you're at all squeamish, when you get to the part where the kid's about to be put on the rack, you might want to skip to the end of the chapter. It's a passage that puts Clive Barker and Poppy Brite to shame.

At C4SS: The Myth of Immaculate Expertise

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

At C4SS: Civic Engagement is for Suckers

Saturday, October 16, 2010

At C4SS: The “Economic Freedom Index” Isn’t

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

At C4SS: Is the South Fulton Fire Department Really an Indictment of Libertarianism?

Friday, October 08, 2010

At C4SS: Only the Guilty Need Fear? Tell It to Anne Frank

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

At C4SS: Why Self-Organized Networks Will Destroy Hierarchies -- A Credo

Monday, October 04, 2010

At C4SS: An Immoral System Can Only Be Sustained By Immorality

Friday, October 01, 2010

At C4SS: Giving Back With a Spoon, Taking With a Shovel