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A Scorpion and Turtle Proposition

charleslb
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6/3/2011 5:20:57 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
The "Free Market", a Scorpion and Turtle Proposition

Last night I watched the amusing Matt Damon film, The Informant!, a "dark comedy" based on a true story about the case of a quirky fellow who in the 90s exposed the dishonest price fixing practices of the major players in the corn biz. Sorry free-market fans, but what this brought to mind and drove home for me is the fact that the lower human nature of capitalists most certainly needs to be stringently regulated if capitalists are to be allowed to exist at all!

Of course ultimately our society would be well advised to seek to evolve beyond capitalism altogether, to evolve into a socioeconomic system grounded in ethical, pro-social principles such as "one for all, all for one", the equal value of the life of every human individual, and compassion, but until that day and so long as there is still some degree of capitalism, capitalists must be closely controlled by big bad government.

Well, at least government in theory and to some meager extent functions as an instrument of the will of the people, the people therefore can at least have some imperfect protection from the sordidness of corporate greed, some weak voice in the shaping of their economic destiny and well-being if the government takes more of an active role in reigning in the virtually sociopathic money hunger of the plundering chieftains of big business.

In the movie we see how the owners and executives of the mega businesses that produce and trade in corn and the many products derived from it would, as a matter of regular practice, crookedly collude to fix the prices of their companies' commodities. Now I ask you, if capitalists routinely engage in such unethical behavior under our current system, in which such things are technically prohibited by the law, and punishable by imprisonment, if we were to totally deregulate the economy, totally do away with those regulations that are at least supposed to deter unfair business shenanigans such as price fixing, can we really expect the same capitalists who today clandestinely violate the law of the land to voluntarily respect the principles of the "free market"? Can we really feel safe about putting capitalists who so frequently demonstrate a lack of morality, on the "honor system"?

Hmm? Can we? If we were to convert our society into a genuinely "free market" and capitalists lacked the honor and ethical decency to respect and abide by its working principles, if they began engaging in price fixing and what not, well, how then would "free-market" economic forces operate the way they're theoretically supposed to and ensure the smooth functioning of the system in an effective manner?

Yes, unless I'm way off base, it's reasonable to be concerned that the ability of the market to work the way it's dogmatic true believers assure us it would, the market's ability to generate those vaunted "free-market forces" that are supposed to self-regulate capitalism, will perhaps be seriously compromised by price fixing and some of the other illicit tendencies of capitalists. And without those market forces doing their thing, and with no government regulation either, well, what's the mechanism then that will make the whole system run like the proverbial well-oiled machine, like a well-oiled and uncorrupt machine, trickling down its prosperity in a fair fashion to those who do play by the rules?

Come on, let's finally get real here, isn't it the case that once dishonorably self-interest-driven capitalists start taking full advantage of the unfettered state of affairs that will exist in the free-marketeer's dream society, i.e. once they start employing an un-free-marketarian modus operandi all bets are off as far as free-market capitalism delivering on its theoretical promise goes?

What do I mean, specifically? Well when businessmen and businesses begin utilizing such naughty anti-competitive tactics as dividing territories, refusal to deal, resale price maintenance, dumping, limit pricing, and of course price fixing, once they're in full gear with such high and heavy-handed methods of doing business, of limiting competition and cornering markets, won't the market and its natural laws be impaired to the point of no longer being able to guarantee the common good?

Alas, when capitalists are not playing the game according to Hoyle, or should I say according to Hayek, von Mises, and Smith, and government regulation has been completely removed from the picture, won't the unruly picture that selfish and cheating owners and financiers then paint come to look rather horrific, not only to those of us with no confidence in the "free market" to begin with, but to its boosters as well?

And won't a new order emerge from the unruliness, an order dominated by those individuals who are best at playing the game in an unscrupulous manner, at playing it in a manner that subverts and makes a cruel lie of the freeness of the market? Instead of society becoming a meritocracy in which everyone with ingenuity and a work ethic has an equal chance of rising to the top, won't the top echelon of society become an exclusive, elitist bad boys club of robber barons and malfeasant moguls, a business magnate's mafia operating as a de facto oligarchy?

Isn't it at all conceivable to devout free-marketarians and libertarians that their remedy for what ails the body economic of society could become a precarious prescription for the dictatorship not of the proletariat, but of the plutotariat? There are many, such as myself, who perceive that what we already have right now is the rule of big business, mediated through big government. Our concern is that the establishment of a pure free-market system would merely mean eliminating the middleman of government and ushering in the more direct and absolute rule of the business elite. Is this really such an unrealistic and unreasonable concern?

I sincerely beg your pardon, but please let me ask the question with slightly mocking pointedness, is it really the case that the creation of a "free market" would be a Fukuyamian-like "end of history"? That we would all idyllically settle down to producing and partaking of the economy's aduncance, and that the misbehaving side of human nature that's generated so much negative history would be so checkmated by the freely functioning forces of the market that there would be no more -ocracies and isms, other than capitalism, no more poverty, exploitation, classism and class conflict, imperialism, or greed-motivated wars?

The gorging lions of the business world will lie down with a working class made sheep-like by consumerism and affluenza, and there will be peace and plenty in the valley ever after. A lovely vision, but one that brings to mind the classic old parable of the scorpion and the turtle.

You know the one, the scorpion begs the turtle to transport him across the river. The turtle, however, is understandably leery of taking such a risk. Well, Mr. scheming scorpion reassures Mr. trepidatious turtle that his own self-interest will guarantee that he refrains from using his lethal stinger. After all, if he were to go all scorpion on his ferryman they'd both sink and perish together. Persuaded by this eminently sound logic of self-interest the turtle makes the fatal mistake of agreeing to take the scorpion on as a passenger. In the middle of the river the scorpion of course strikes, and the quite surprised and confused turtle asks "Why would you do such a thing, self-interest should have dictated otherwise?!" To which the scorpion replied with sage simplicity, "It's my nature, I'm a scorpion after all".

The conclusion is located directly below
Yo, all of my subliterate conservative criticasters who find perusing and processing the sesquipedalian verbiage of my posts to be such a bothersome brain-taxing chore, I have a new nickname for you. Henceforth you shall be known as Pooh Bears. No, not for the obvious apt reasons, i.e., not because you're full of pooh, and not because of your ursine irritability. Rather, you put me in mind of an A.A. Milne quote, "I am a Bear of Very Little Brain, and long words bother me". Love ya, Pooh Bears.
charleslb
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6/3/2011 5:21:38 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
Conclusion

The danger of the "free market" is of course that it will give too much, way too much carte blanche and license to the nature of the capitalist. Society and its working class is quite likely to find itself in the same position, and experiencing the same fate as the turtle, stung and sunk by a system in which "enlightened self-interest" and natural economic laws were supposed to make a happily ever after ending a done deal. Mm-hmm, free-marketeers are essentially playing the part of the scorpion in the above fable, and trying to take us all for a potentially doomful ride. May we hopefully be wiser, as a people, that a certain tragic turtle.
Yo, all of my subliterate conservative criticasters who find perusing and processing the sesquipedalian verbiage of my posts to be such a bothersome brain-taxing chore, I have a new nickname for you. Henceforth you shall be known as Pooh Bears. No, not for the obvious apt reasons, i.e., not because you're full of pooh, and not because of your ursine irritability. Rather, you put me in mind of an A.A. Milne quote, "I am a Bear of Very Little Brain, and long words bother me". Love ya, Pooh Bears.
charleslb
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6/3/2011 6:10:05 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
I sincerely do hope that I haven't offended any free-marketarians again.
Yo, all of my subliterate conservative criticasters who find perusing and processing the sesquipedalian verbiage of my posts to be such a bothersome brain-taxing chore, I have a new nickname for you. Henceforth you shall be known as Pooh Bears. No, not for the obvious apt reasons, i.e., not because you're full of pooh, and not because of your ursine irritability. Rather, you put me in mind of an A.A. Milne quote, "I am a Bear of Very Little Brain, and long words bother me". Love ya, Pooh Bears.
charleslb
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6/3/2011 7:04:17 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 6/3/2011 6:10:05 PM, charleslb wrote:
I sincerely do hope that I haven't offended any free-marketarians again.

And I apologize in advance for the inordinate length of the post. That out of the way, I hope we all can stay on topic.
Yo, all of my subliterate conservative criticasters who find perusing and processing the sesquipedalian verbiage of my posts to be such a bothersome brain-taxing chore, I have a new nickname for you. Henceforth you shall be known as Pooh Bears. No, not for the obvious apt reasons, i.e., not because you're full of pooh, and not because of your ursine irritability. Rather, you put me in mind of an A.A. Milne quote, "I am a Bear of Very Little Brain, and long words bother me". Love ya, Pooh Bears.
darkkermit
Posts: 11,204
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6/3/2011 7:49:50 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
Businesses can try to collude, however they will inevitable fail over time. This is due to two reasons. First, if people realize that the businesses are in fact colluding, then greedy individuals searching for a profit, will try to start a business of their own to make large amounts of profit. Eventually, as competitors try to enter the market, the power of colluding will fall, and the likelihood of someone "cheating" and offer cheap profits at the expensive of the cartel will occur.

Second off, why are corporations and businesses evil yet regulators are off the hook? Politicians often create regulations that benefit large corporation, not harm them. Big corporations love regulations since it creates barrier to entry.

Third off, even if the free market creates 'market failures', other alternatives such as communism and socialism create more disastrous outcomes. In practice, capitalism has better outcomes then communism. In theory, communism also fails becomes resources cannot be allocated efficiency since there is no profit motivation. Profits act as signals to which good provides the most utility to users and how to create products more efficiently: "working smarter, not necessarily harder." is the key in business. If there are high profits in an industry, the greedy individuals will enter the market. There are other reasons communism fails, but that's just one.
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Cody_Franklin
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6/4/2011 1:46:10 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 6/3/2011 5:20:57 PM, charleslb wrote:
The "Free Market", a Scorpion and Turtle Proposition

Last night I watched the amusing Matt Damon film, The Informant!, a "dark comedy" based on a true story about the case of a quirky fellow who in the 90s exposed the dishonest price fixing practices of the major players in the corn biz. Sorry free-market fans, but what this brought to mind and drove home for me is the fact that the lower human nature of capitalists most certainly needs to be stringently regulated if capitalists are to be allowed to exist at all!

Everybody is technically a capitalist, because everyone owns capital. The only way to deny this is to deny self-ownership, i.e. the proposition that one owns one's own body, which is sort of incoherent, as one exercises self-ownership in taking any action, typing any post, demanding justice for oneself, etc.

Of course ultimately our society would be well advised to seek to evolve beyond capitalism altogether, to evolve into a socioeconomic system grounded in ethical, pro-social principles such as "one for all, all for one", the equal value of the life of every human individual, and compassion, but until that day and so long as there is still some degree of capitalism, capitalists must be closely controlled by big bad government.

First, compassion and collectivism don't make for very good economics, because ethical and social theory tends to be very normative, where economics is just a social science offering explanatory power and, in some cases, predictive power.

Second, even granting the negative connotations which you ascribe to hierarchical business models, I think you would be surprised at the way in which the market could render those models obsolete. As I've pointed out in several prior discussions, the worker-owned business model is not only more successful in terms of product and market share, but is also better on the micro level, as workers in these models tend to enjoy higher wages and morale (which is where the higher productivity and such originates from). If this is the better business model for everyone involved, it seems that it would win out on a free market over the monstrous hierarchies favored by the statist status quo.

Well, at least government in theory and to some meager extent functions as an instrument of the will of the people

First of all, "the people" isn't an entity. It's a political abstraction which confers power on the dominant pressure group or lobbying organization, and to which all groups are forced to aspire so that they may receive the benefits and privileges associated with being "the public".

Second of all, you are grossly understating the role of corruption in the way the economy functions. You're trying to fault companies and corporations so much that you fail to recognize how those exploitative models are enabled, sustained, and strengthened.

the people therefore can at least have some imperfect protection from the sordidness of corporate greed, some weak voice in the shaping of their economic destiny and well-being if the government takes more of an active role in reigning in the virtually sociopathic money hunger of the plundering chieftains of big business.

Actually, the only means by which "the people" can shape their economic destiny is a free market. Collectives and political constructs cannot act, and majorities have no justification other than guns and jails for substituting their values for the values of those who have not won the privilege of being called "the people".

In the movie we see how the owners and executives of the mega businesses that produce and trade in corn and the many products derived from it would, as a matter of regular practice, crookedly collude to fix the prices of their companies' commodities.

The only reason collusion works is because of entry barriers, subsidies, and bizarre protectionism. The government subsidizes corn and often puts high costs on alternatives, whether it means jumping through unnecessarily extensive and expensive regulatory hoops to meet state-set production standards or putting high tariffs on things like sugar imports, which force companies to turn to whatever is cheaper (e.g. high-fructose corn syrup). That's a really oversimplified picture, but government policies designed either by amateur economists or political jockeys make life really difficult, because good alternatives become expensive, healthy food, for example, becomes unprofitable, and because favored industries usually receive massive subsidies.

Now I ask you, if capitalists routinely engage in such unethical behavior under our current system, in which such things are technically prohibited by the law, and punishable by imprisonment, if we were to totally deregulate the economy, totally do away with those regulations that are at least supposed to deter unfair business shenanigans such as price fixing, can we really expect the same capitalists who today clandestinely violate the law of the land to voluntarily respect the principles of the "free market"? Can we really feel safe about putting capitalists who so frequently demonstrate a lack of morality, on the "honor system"?

If you take the most civilized people on the planet, put them in a well, and tell them that they have to use each other as food, it's only a matter of time before they'll likely resort to violence and cannibalism to fulfill their basic needs. While it might be pleasant to imagine an altruistic world where everyone is willing to forgo his own fundamental needs to preserve the well-being of others, the real world isn't like that. Similarly, people can get along really well, really honestly, until you bring in obstacles like the state, which distort the economy until the only way to really get by is to play by the rules of the system.

Hmm? Can we? If we were to convert our society into a genuinely "free market" and capitalists lacked the honor and ethical decency to respect and abide by its working principles, if they began engaging in price fixing and what not, well, how then would "free-market" economic forces operate the way they're theoretically supposed to and ensure the smooth functioning of the system in an effective manner?

New entrants into the market would work well on that. If you get people all "colluding" to set the price at around what market level would be, there's not a problem. if they fixed prices to where they were above what market level would be, new companies can enter the market and undercut price-fixing cartels while still remaining profitable.

Yes, unless I'm way off base, it's reasonable to be concerned that the ability of the market to work the way it's dogmatic true believers assure us it would, the market's ability to generate those vaunted "free-market forces" that are supposed to self-regulate capitalism, will perhaps be seriously compromised by price fixing and some of the other illicit tendencies of capitalists. And without those market forces doing their thing, and with no government regulation either, well, what's the mechanism then that will make the whole system run like the proverbial well-oiled machine, like a well-oiled and uncorrupt machine, trickling down its prosperity in a fair fashion to those who do play by the rules?

Come on, let's finally get real here, isn't it the case that once dishonorably self-interest-driven capitalists start taking full advantage of the unfettered state of affairs that will exist in the free-marketeer's dream society, i.e. once they start employing an un-free-marketarian modus operandi all bets are off as far as free-market capitalism delivering on its theoretical promise goes?

A point of inquiry about worker-owned businesses. Will your "noble" workers do things like price fixing to make a profit, or does this only apply to hierarchies? You can't have it both ways.
Cody_Franklin
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6/4/2011 1:46:17 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 6/3/2011 5:20:57 PM, charleslb wrote:
What do I mean, specifically? Well when businessmen and businesses begin utilizing such naughty anti-competitive tactics as dividing territories, refusal to deal, resale price maintenance, dumping, limit pricing, and of course price fixing, once they're in full gear with such high and heavy-handed methods of doing business, of limiting competition and cornering markets, won't the market and its natural laws be impaired to the point of no longer being able to guarantee the common good?

No, because free-market theory doesn't rely on the model of perfect competition.

Alas, when capitalists are not playing the game according to Hoyle, or should I say according to Hayek, von Mises, and Smith, and government regulation has been completely removed from the picture, won't the unruly picture that selfish and cheating owners and financiers then paint come to look rather horrific, not only to those of us with no confidence in the "free market" to begin with, but to its boosters as well?

And won't a new order emerge from the unruliness, an order dominated by those individuals who are best at playing the game in an unscrupulous manner, at playing it in a manner that subverts and makes a cruel lie of the freeness of the market? Instead of society becoming a meritocracy in which everyone with ingenuity and a work ethic has an equal chance of rising to the top, won't the top echelon of society become an exclusive, elitist bad boys club of robber barons and malfeasant moguls, a business magnate's mafia operating as a de facto oligarchy?

Honestly, I can just answer "no", because these are simply questions packed to the brim with political rhetoric.

Isn't it at all conceivable to devout free-marketarians and libertarians that their remedy for what ails the body economic of society could become a precarious prescription for the dictatorship not of the proletariat, but of the plutotariat?

That's not an argument against the free market. It's the equivalent of asking any political philosopher "Well, what if some foreign aggressor with a huge army comes and overpowers you? What then?" I mean, yeah, it's conceivable that something bad could happen, but we may as well abandon political theory and philosophy altogether if a criticism like "Well, an army could take over and destroy everything" is taken to be damning.

There are many, such as myself, who perceive that what we already have right now is the rule of big business, mediated through big government. Our concern is that the establishment of a pure free-market system would merely mean eliminating the middleman of government and ushering in the more direct and absolute rule of the business elite. Is this really such an unrealistic and unreasonable concern?

Yes. The government isn't a middleman--it enables, it empowers, it sustains, it funds. Without the state, it is not only basically impossible for businesses to do the kind of questionable things they're doing now, but also pointless for honest businessmen to resort to corruption to get by. People aren't corrupt just because they choose to go into business.

I sincerely beg your pardon, but please let me ask the question with slightly mocking pointedness, is it really the case that the creation of a "free market" would be a Fukuyamian-like "end of history"? That we would all idyllically settle down to producing and partaking of the economy's aduncance, and that the misbehaving side of human nature that's generated so much negative history would be so checkmated by the freely functioning forces of the market that there would be no more -ocracies and isms, other than capitalism, no more poverty, exploitation, classism and class conflict, imperialism, or greed-motivated wars?

Nobody claims that such would be the case.

The gorging lions of the business world will lie down with a working class made sheep-like by consumerism and affluenza, and there will be peace and plenty in the valley ever after. A lovely vision, but one that brings to mind the classic old parable of the scorpion and the turtle.

You know the one, the scorpion begs the turtle to transport him across the river. The turtle, however, is understandably leery of taking such a risk. Well, Mr. scheming scorpion reassures Mr. trepidatious turtle that his own self-interest will guarantee that he refrains from using his lethal stinger. After all, if he were to go all scorpion on his ferryman they'd both sink and perish together. Persuaded by this eminently sound logic of self-interest the turtle makes the fatal mistake of agreeing to take the scorpion on as a passenger. In the middle of the river the scorpion of course strikes, and the quite surprised and confused turtle asks "Why would you do such a thing, self-interest should have dictated otherwise?!" To which the scorpion replied with sage simplicity, "It's my nature, I'm a scorpion after all".

First problem is your lack of a response to the worker-owned business model argument.

Second problem is assuming that almost anyone who is a capitalist, free-market advocate, or businessman must be some sort of corrupt predator willing to do anything and everything to make a little more profit.


The conclusion is located directly below
Cody_Franklin
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6/4/2011 1:54:51 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 6/3/2011 5:21:38 PM, charleslb wrote:
Conclusion

The danger of the "free market" is of course that it will give too much, way too much carte blanche and license to the nature of the capitalist.

And my counterarguments were primarily that A) the status quo's favoring of the hierarchical business model doesn't imply favoring of the same model in a free-market society, and B) everyone is necessarily a capitalist, because everyone is the owner of some kind of capital, the fundamental sort of which is one's very own body.

Society and its working class is quite likely to find itself in the same position, and experiencing the same fate as the turtle, stung and sunk by a system in which "enlightened self-interest" and natural economic laws were supposed to make a happily ever after ending a done deal.

Like I said, the working class does pretty well for itself in worker-owned businesses, which are more profitable/productive, better for morale and pay, and which are fundamentally impossible to actualize absent a market.

Mm-hmm, free-marketeers are essentially playing the part of the scorpion in the above fable, and trying to take us all for a potentially doomful ride. May we hopefully be wiser, as a people, that a certain tragic turtle.

The problem is that you're assuming capitalists are predatory by nature, without taking into account that you can't accurately generalize about all capitalists other than with regard to their necessary characteristics (e.g. "supports private ownership of the means of production), a category within which "predatory and exploitative" are not included. Plus, it doesn't account for why those that do act that way are doing so. You're trying to universally classify that behavior as a primary, without regard to antecedent phenomena which may account for the results against which you protest.
J.Kenyon
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6/4/2011 2:11:05 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
Yawn. Cody, I think you're missing the big picture. Charles is relying on the "magic wand" theory of the state.

Let's say I admit, for the sake of argument, that businesses are run by really terrible people. They collude with each other to fix prices and exploit workers and kill kittens. What makes you think the state will reliably intervene to correct this? Sure, it might in special cases when everyone in the country is pissed off, but in general it won't.

Charles, you're completely ignoring game theory and institutional analysis. Your whole argument can be reduced to "bad things are bad" and "good government is good, we need more of it." Just because you say "x is bad, the government should stop it" doesn't mean it actually happens. Institutions behave according to their incentive structures.
charleslb
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6/4/2011 7:29:14 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 6/4/2011 1:46:17 AM, Cody_Franklin wrote:
No, because free-market theory doesn't rely on the model of perfect competition.

Well, I'm glad for your philosophical camp's sake that free-marketarianism doesn't put too many of its ideological eggs in one creedal basket, such as the "model of perfect competition", because in a free-market free-for-all there would be as much dirty competing as there is dirty fighting in a street fight. That is, totally deregulated free-market capitalism would be street-fight capitalism, to coin a new term; there would be such a lack of respect for the rules of fair play that the ability of "free-market forces" to work the way they're naturally supposed to work would be severely impaired, impaired to the point that your lofty dream of a free-marketarian golden age would become a horrendous flop.

Honestly, I can just answer "no", because these are simply questions packed to the brim with political rhetoric.

Hmm, you can critically seize on the style with which I express this point, but the substance of it remains unrefuted, the question remains: "Instead of (a 'free-market') society becoming a meritocracy in which everyone with ingenuity and a work ethic has an equal chance of rising to the top, won't the top echelon of society become an exclusive, elitist bad boys club of robber barons and malfeasant moguls, a business magnate's mafia operating as a de facto oligarchy?"

That's not an argument against the free market. It's the equivalent of asking any political philosopher "Well, what if some foreign aggressor with a huge army comes and overpowers you? What then?"

Well, if there's some reason to believe that a foreign enemy is going to aggress against you, then the question "What then?" becomes a legitimate one that needs to be taken into serious consideration. And since we do have reasons, such as our empirical knowledge that capitalists often don't play nice, to believe that under unfettered conditons they would aggress against the integrity of the free market, and against workingpeople, I say, since we have plenty of reason to be concerned about such a contingency, we very much should be asking "What then?!"

I mean, yeah, it's conceivable that something bad could happen, but we may as well abandon political theory and philosophy altogether if a criticism like "Well, an army could take over and destroy everything" is taken to be damning.

Nope, this doesn't logically follow at all. What follows is that in our political theorizing we take into consideration realistically possible contingencies and foreseeable negative outcomes, rather than using theory to rationalize away anything inconvenient to the lovely free-market castle we're building in the rarefied air.

Yes. The government isn't a middleman--it enables, it empowers, it sustains, it funds. Without the state, it is not only basically impossible for businesses to do the kind of questionable things they're doing now, but also pointless for honest businessmen to resort to corruption to get by. People aren't corrupt just because they choose to go into business.

Under capitalism the state is, to a serious degree, an instrument of the economic ruling class. Yes, there is a good bit of "relative autonomy", the government does not merely function as a figurehead and flunky of the rich, but it does to a great enough extent that it's not just hyperbole to say that it's largely a "middle man" for the big-time operators of big business.

That is, much of the time when the big bad government that libertarians love to loathe is seemingly doing its thing, it's really doing the thing of the capitalist establishment. When government is engaged in "empowering", "sustaining", and "funding", the reason is that the moneyed majesties of society have a corrupt way of using their considerable money-power to turn government into their private b*tch, who does their bidding to the detriment of the rest of us.

Now I know that the comeback of libertarians is to say that if we had a genuine free-market system, with no government interference, or government, period, then capitalists couldn't very well suborn and transform government into their tool. The rub, though, is that under a libertarian "free-market" system capitalists would be entirely at liberty to thumb their noses at your principles and institute their rule, one way or another. Mm-hmm, they would be in a deobstructed position to set up a government, or its equivalent, and codify their dominance, making a farce and lie of your beloved "free market". Ironically, vis–à–vis your theory, capitalists in a free-market would wish to do this because it would be in their selfish self-interest; and they would be able to do this because you would have given them license to follow their self-interest wherever it leads.

Nobody claims that such would be the case.

Well, if you're not claiming that unfettered capitalism would create an idyllic state of society in which such unfortunate realities as classism, exploitation, the economic disempowerment of workers, and -ocracies would be abolished, then what conditions will the "free-market" remedy that will reasonably ensure socioeconomic "justice for all"? Yes, if the history of the world will continue on as usual under your pure form of capitalism, continue on complete with an exploitative upper class and a disempowered working class, and with some unofficial form of -ocracy, well then, how pray tell are things going to be so radically ameliorated for those of us who aren't at the top of the socioeconomic food chain?

First problem is your lack of a response to the worker-owned business model argument.

Well, it's of course better for workers to own the business that employs them than for them to be mere peons toiling in a corporate latifundia. However, private ownership of the means of production still conduces to a selfish owners ethos that ultimately will not bring about a state of society in which all wealth is equitably distributed, and every human life is equally valued. Any kind of private ownership runs contrary to the spirit of universal brotherhood that society should evolve and strive to found itself on.

The fatal mistake of pro-capitalists, fatal for humankind's potential to grow a more morally-spiritually noble form of civilization, is the cynical belief that since "utopia" is a naive and unattainable thing to set one's site on, therefore we should lower our sites to the lowest common denominator of "self-interest". Pro-capitalists are just too darn willing and too perversely eager to resign themselves to, and to consign all of us to a system that essentially says: "What the heck, greed is ineradicable, and greed is good, let's turn greed loose and make government and the do-gooders get out of the bleeping way!" The worker-owned business model is just another ideological gambit to get us to such a greed-based society, a rationalizing ruse to usher a reinless "free market" in through the backdoor.

Second problem is assuming that almost anyone who is a capitalist, free-market advocate, or businessman must be some sort of corrupt predator willing to do anything and everything to make a little more profit.

No, they don't all have to be predators, it's only necessary that enough of them be predatory, enough of the time, and they will most assuredly wreck your "free-market" utopia.
Yo, all of my subliterate conservative criticasters who find perusing and processing the sesquipedalian verbiage of my posts to be such a bothersome brain-taxing chore, I have a new nickname for you. Henceforth you shall be known as Pooh Bears. No, not for the obvious apt reasons, i.e., not because you're full of pooh, and not because of your ursine irritability. Rather, you put me in mind of an A.A. Milne quote, "I am a Bear of Very Little Brain, and long words bother me". Love ya, Pooh Bears.
charleslb
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6/4/2011 8:53:40 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 6/4/2011 1:46:10 AM, Cody_Franklin wrote:
Everybody is technically a capitalist, because everyone owns capital. The only way to deny this is to deny self-ownership ...

Firstly, we can sophistically play with semantic technicalities and class everyone as a capitalist, but then if we're clever enough we can play that game with just about any term and make everyone out to be everything. Such a point and refuting it doesn't really profit our argument, so I'll proceed directly to your use of the doctrine of self-ownership.

In an ultimate, ontological sense, no one owns anything, everything is a part of an integrative whole, an organic bigger picture in which our radical individuality and individual ownership is illusory. That is, reality is relational, a "mutually originated" gestalt, and the only socioeconomic system consistent with this would be one based on the elimination of privatism and private ownership; on unitive cooperativeness rather than divisive competition; on the socialized production and distribution of economic goods rather than each-man-for-himself capitalism. A society in which economics reflects the interdependent inner nature reality, rather than the superficial Darwinian appearance of a reality driven by self-interest and self-ownership, a society that ethically aims higher than the egoism of free-marketarians, this is the form of society that I advocate, not some nightmarish Soviet-like system that denies human rights in the name of collectivism.

First, compassion and collectivism don't make for very good economics, because ethical and social theory tends to be very normative, where economics is just a social science offering explanatory power and, in some cases, predictive power.

Setting pro-social norms that promote the health of the body politic and body economic is intuitively more sensible than the free-marketeer's counterintuitive advocacy of selfish self-interest as the best and surest principle to found society on. Again, everything from life experience to intuition tells us that self-interest is the best principle not to found, but rather to founder a society on. Be the descriptive value of the science of economics as it may, what societies also need is the prescriptive approach of ethics. If you're a moral nihilist you can dismiss this with whatever pet arguments you hold in reserve for anyone who mentions the M-word (morality), but just as man lives by more than bread alone, so too does a society survive by more than the materialistic selfishness of its members.

Our prehistoric ancestors realized this, for the 100,000 to 200,000 years that humans lived as hunter-gatherers a "fiercely" egalitarianism ethos was the normative ethos, devising a system that sociologists call "reverse dominance", in which no individual is allowed to set himself up in a superior status. That is, our ancient ancestors were made their lives together in politically non-hierarchical, economically communistic communities! Why, because it was what survival and common sense dictated in their circumstances. Our more complex circumstances today have led us astray from the good sense of our hunter-gatherer forbears, but it was those humans who lived together in primitive communism who survived and passed on their genes, so today we all possess the genes of communists, and the genetic potential to overcome the selfishness that seems to stand as an obstacle to a society based upon compassion and "collectivism".

Which is all to say that I disagree with your statement that : "compassion and collectivism don't make for very good economics, because ethical and social theory tends to be very normative", once upon a time egalitarianism and sharing was indeed made normative, and can be again (without returning to a primitive hunter-gatherer state, mind you). Yes, egalitarianism not only worked, it worked for perhaps 200,000 years! Mm-hmm, if an egalitarian system of life could work that long, it can't very well be said to be contrary to human nature. That is, unity and equality, "compassion and collectivism" can most certainly make for good economics, for very sustainable economics in fact.

Second, even granting the negative connotations which you ascribe to hierarchical business models, I think you would be surprised at the way in which the market could render those models obsolete.

I think you would be disappointed to discover how a "free-marke" could render itself obsolete, how it could allow its alpha capitalists to take over and begin running the show.

As I've pointed out in several prior discussions, the worker-owned business model is...

I address the worker-owned model in my reply below (sorry, I got my replies in the wrong order).

First of all, "the people" isn't an entity. It's a political abstraction

Not an entity in certain strict senses of the word, but not quite an abstraction either. Webster's defines "a people" as: "human beings making up a group or assembly or linked by a common interest". The members of a society, and the working-class majority of the citizenry of a society can certainly be said to be a people. If you wish to stick on denying this, on denying that there's such a thing as "we the people" then you simply show how ideological and extreme your individualism is. If you're prepared to conceptually eliminate "the people" from your philosophy, then how ruthless might your philosophy prove to be if ever implemented?!

which confers power on the dominant pressure group or lobbying organization, and to which all groups are forced to aspire so that they may receive the benefits and privileges associated with being "the public".

The dominant pressure group is always the capitalist ruling elite, not the "lower classes" of society. The problem with the system you propose is that it would give them too much permissive freedom to use the pressure and clout that their money would arm them with. Yes, there would be no government for them to pressure, but give them time and they'd establish a new order in which they could apply pressure.

Second of all, you are grossly understating the role of corruption in the way the economy functions.

The government that enables capitalist corruption is puppeteered by capitalists. Would capitalists really cease such behavior in your system, really?

Actually, the only means by which "the people" can shape their economic destiny is a free market.


The only reason collusion works is because of entry barriers, subsidies, and bizarre protectionism...

Yes, blame everything on big government in order to exonerate big business, that's the SOP of free-marketeers. Well, when there are no more politicians in your capitalist garden of Eden there will still be a serpent in the garden, the capitalist himself. You know, the serpent whose beguiling voice is whispering in the free-marketeer's ear: "Set my greed free and all will be right with he world, I promise. And no, my hand is not behind my back because my fingers are crossed, you can trust me, I'm too middle-class in my mores to do society wrong.". As the saying goes, and I have a bridge to sell you.

If you take the most civilized people on the planet, put them in a well, ...

The negativism of libertarianism.

New entrants into the market would work well on that...
A free-marketarian rationalization of price fixing? Can the practitioners of capitalism do no wrong?!

A point of inquiry about worker-owned businesses. Will your "noble" workers do things like price fixing

There will be no incentive for them to in a system based on economic egalitarianism. Will your noble capitalists really and reliably do things like voluntarily play by the unwritten rules of the free market?
Yo, all of my subliterate conservative criticasters who find perusing and processing the sesquipedalian verbiage of my posts to be such a bothersome brain-taxing chore, I have a new nickname for you. Henceforth you shall be known as Pooh Bears. No, not for the obvious apt reasons, i.e., not because you're full of pooh, and not because of your ursine irritability. Rather, you put me in mind of an A.A. Milne quote, "I am a Bear of Very Little Brain, and long words bother me". Love ya, Pooh Bears.
charleslb
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6/4/2011 10:16:32 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 6/4/2011 1:54:51 AM, Cody_Franklin wrote:

And my counterarguments were primarily that A) the status quo's favoring of the hierarchical business model doesn't imply favoring of the same model in a free-market society,

And my counter-counterargument is that in a "free-market" system capitalists would be at even more risky liberty to exercise the money-power of the rich to skew the status quo in their own favor, even if they have to reinvent the wheel of government and once again begin grinding the "little guy" beneath it.

B) everyone is necessarily a capitalist, because everyone is the owner of some kind of capital, the fundamental sort of which is one's very own body.

Oh my, the economic reduction and commodification of human beings down to nothing more than a form of capital. Precisely the sort of attitude that if one were to make the colossal mistake of founding one's society upon it would lead to the dehumanizing objectification of workingpeople and consumers by owners and capitalists. Indeed, the whole libertarian/free-marketarian point of view is just a prescription for an inhumanly capitalist civilization in which everyone is a one-dimensional "economic actor" valuing himself and his neighbors solely as capital and the means to one's own end. In other words, your ideal system will be one that stands in outright violation of the second formulation of Kant's categorical imperative, that we never treat another human being as merely an instrument or object or bit of capital to be used to achieve our own interests. Here we have the fundamental thing that's wrong with your nihilistic libertarianism from a humanistic perspective. This dehumanizing tendency is so fundamentally and grievously wrong that even if all your economic arguments were sound, it would still trump them and render free-market capitalism an undesirable and odious system.

Like I said, the working class does pretty well for itself in worker-owned businesses, which are more profitable/productive, better for morale and pay, and which are fundamentally impossible to actualize absent a market.

Like I said, any form of selfish private ownership only keeps us functioning in a fashion that's anti the interdependent nature of life; that precludes the egalitarianism of the social sharing of society's economic goods, and of the means of producing them; and that keeps us on the slimy slippery slope to capitalism.

The problem is that you're assuming capitalists are predatory by nature, without taking into account that you can't accurately generalize about all capitalists other than with regard to their necessary characteristics (e.g. "supports private ownership of the means of production), a category within which "predatory and exploitative" are not included. Plus, it doesn't account for why those that do act that way are doing so. You're trying to universally classify that behavior as a primary, without regard to antecedent phenomena which may account for the results against which you protest.

Unaltruistic self-interest and outright greed may not be a universal, uniform characteristic of all capitalists, but it's a common enough characteristic to define them for all practical purposes. As for why capitalists are selfish, well, that has to do with what a capitalist really is. A capitalist is not a new, modern category of human being, the capitalist is a primordially old type in new wineskins, as it were. The capitalist is, as I've explored in other posts, an alpha male or female seeking to establish social dominance through the accumulation of economic wealth and superiority. The capitalist's greed is not about money per se, it's about power; money, rather than a caveman's club, is the modern means to power and status. The capitalist is greedy then because he's essentially an unevolved individual who is driven by lower drives.

Alas, free-marketarians seem to fail to realize any of this. What free-marketarians unwisely propose is creating a form of society in which, in the name of non-aggression, we'd be utterly and recklessly freed from all "coercive" restraints to operate according to the law of the jungle, which free-marketarians prefer to call the principle of self-interest, and thereby freed to ironically assert our aggressive-dominance-oriented tendencies. That is, the predictable backfiring of the free-marketarian's principle of self-interest, of the "deregulation" of greed, of pure capitalism, would be the unchecked aggression and tyranny of the capitalist elite. The uber capitalists of such a society would begin creating their own forces of "regulators", i.e. hired guns, like old West land barons, their own systems of coercion, and their own government. We really would end up with the dictatorship of the plutotariat! A fate to be avoided every bit as much as Stalin's sham dictatorship of the proletariat.

Anyone who isn't ideologically locked into libertarian/free-marketarian thinking appreciates the palpable danger of unleashing the greed in human nature, and more pronouncedly, in the nature of capitalists. Well, no one has a good excuse to be ignorant of the dangers of free-market absolutism, for the more deregulation and privatization we get in our society and global economy, the more pain it causes poor and working people, and the more unconscionable it becomes for even those steeped in free-market theory not to see the truth.

What truth? The truth revealed in the suffering of billions of recession victims, in the millions in this country who can't afford adequate health care, in the crushing poverty of billions of Third World citizens, in the heartless policies of politicians who serve the will of corporate campaign-funders and masters, in the frequently unjust treatment of employees, the truth revealed by all of the above is that we can not, not take the chance of creating a society that gives capitalists their druthers with impunity, a society in which they get to have their way with us, with nothing to make them behave except their own understanding of their individualistic, asocial, amoral self-interest.

To put what I'm saying here quite colloquially, free-marketeers essentially advocate letting greedy individuals fly their greedy freak flag out in the open and in everyone's face, in the idealistic hope that the resulting prosperity will just trickle down to us all like proverbial manna. Sorry, I just don't buy the rationality of such a philosophy, a philosophy that says that the ticket to an economic paradise is validating ruthlessly anti-social proclivities such as Scrooge-like selfishness, and denying the legitimacy and existence of pro-social values. But such is the core, the hard-of-heart core tenet of the cold-bloodedly Darwinian libertarian/free-marketarian orthodoxy, and I'm afraid that your libertarianism/free-marketarianism therefore falls quite thudingly flat. Yes, quite nearly flat-earther flat; indeed, it strikes one as being just about as unrealistic and benighted as the belief of flat-eartherists.
Yo, all of my subliterate conservative criticasters who find perusing and processing the sesquipedalian verbiage of my posts to be such a bothersome brain-taxing chore, I have a new nickname for you. Henceforth you shall be known as Pooh Bears. No, not for the obvious apt reasons, i.e., not because you're full of pooh, and not because of your ursine irritability. Rather, you put me in mind of an A.A. Milne quote, "I am a Bear of Very Little Brain, and long words bother me". Love ya, Pooh Bears.
Cody_Franklin
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6/5/2011 3:22:30 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 6/4/2011 8:53:40 PM, charleslb wrote:
At 6/4/2011 1:46:10 AM, Cody_Franklin wrote:
Everybody is technically a capitalist, because everyone owns capital. The only way to deny this is to deny self-ownership ...

Firstly, we can sophistically play with semantic technicalities and class everyone as a capitalist, but then if we're clever enough we can play that game with just about any term and make everyone out to be everything. Such a point and refuting it doesn't really profit our argument, so I'll proceed directly to your use of the doctrine of self-ownership.

The point isn't to play with semantics--it's to point out that all people necessarily have to be capitalists, i.e. in favor of private ownership of capital/property, to be able to successfully claim that anyone should be able own their body, their house, the food in their shelves, etc.

In an ultimate, ontological sense, no one owns anything, everything is a part of an integrative whole, an organic bigger picture in which our radical individuality and individual ownership is illusory. That is, reality is relational, a "mutually originated" gestalt

Only if you approach everything from the perspective of "everything is matter and energy", which is useless for human relations.

and the only socioeconomic system consistent with this would be one based on the elimination of privatism and private ownership; on unitive cooperativeness rather than divisive competition; on the socialized production and distribution of economic goods rather than each-man-for-himself capitalism.

That's a total non sequitur. Socialism doesn't directly follow from a unitary metaphysics.

Also, apply the standard Austrian responses, e.g. your argument contra self-ownership is self-refuting, calculation problem for socialized production, and so on.

A society in which economics reflects the interdependent inner nature reality, rather than the superficial Darwinian appearance of a reality driven by self-interest and self-ownership, a society that ethically aims higher than the egoism of free-marketarians, this is the form of society that I advocate, not some nightmarish Soviet-like system that denies human rights in the name of collectivism.

You do realize that if you deny self-ownership, you'll never be able to have a society, right? People will be able to rape, murder, steal, enslave--all because nobody can be said to have a legitimate claim to their body as fundamental property. You're playing with a constructivist, magic wand view of society, where you can just mix and match pieces at will, and make social relations turn out any way you want them to. Unfortunately, society isn't made of Tinker Toys, and your argument does not function as a magic wand.

First, compassion and collectivism don't make for very good economics, because ethical and social theory tends to be very normative, where economics is just a social science offering explanatory power and, in some cases, predictive power.

Setting pro-social norms that promote the health of the body politic and body economic is intuitively more sensible than the free-marketeer's counterintuitive advocacy of selfish self-interest as the best and surest principle to found society on.

Collectives don't experience health. Individuals do. You can argue all you want for metaphysical collectivism, but I know for a fact that my neighbor doesn't experience pain when I stub my toe or pleasure when I bite into a good burger. Everything may be matter, but perception and experience are localized.

Again, everything from life experience to intuition tells us that self-interest is the best principle not to found, but rather to founder a society on. Be the descriptive value of the science of economics as it may, what societies also need is the prescriptive approach of ethics. If you're a moral nihilist you can dismiss this with whatever pet arguments you hold in reserve for anyone who mentions the M-word (morality), but just as man lives by more than bread alone, so too does a society survive by more than the materialistic selfishness of its members.

That's not an argument against self-interest, especially when one can take the psychological egoist approach and say that every action an individual takes reduces to the satisfaction of a desire. If no one wanted to improve his condition or rid himself of some uneasiness, he wouldn't act. From action, we may always infer selfish motives.

Our prehistoric ancestors realized this, for the 100,000 to 200,000 years that humans lived as hunter-gatherers a "fiercely" egalitarianism ethos was the normative ethos, devising a system that sociologists call "reverse dominance", in which no individual is allowed to set himself up in a superior status. That is, our ancient ancestors were made their lives together in politically non-hierarchical, economically communistic communities! Why, because it was what survival and common sense dictated in their circumstances. Our more complex circumstances today have led us astray from the good sense of our hunter-gatherer forbears, but it was those humans who lived together in primitive communism who survived and passed on their genes, so today we all possess the genes of communists, and the genetic potential to overcome the selfishness that seems to stand as an obstacle to a society based upon compassion and "collectivism".

I prefer a high standard of living, which you won't get in communism. Perfect Communism is great if your only goal is what's necessary to survive--that isn't my goal, though.

Which is all to say that I disagree with your statement that : "compassion and collectivism don't make for very good economics, because ethical and social theory tends to be very normative", once upon a time egalitarianism and sharing was indeed made normative, and can be again (without returning to a primitive hunter-gatherer state, mind you). Yes, egalitarianism not only worked, it worked for perhaps 200,000 years! Mm-hmm, if an egalitarian system of life could work that long, it can't very well be said to be contrary to human nature. That is, unity and equality, "compassion and collectivism" can most certainly make for good economics, for very sustainable economics in fact.

Like I said, it's fine economics if your goal is stagnation and subsistence. We won't have to go back to being hunter-gatherers, sure, but the decrease in standard of living would be pretty significant. You can start your communes, and that's fine--but you can't prevent the emergence of markets without using force, which I think would be an interesting way to act in what's supposed to be a happy and peaceful egalitarian society. I mean, you would have to prevent people from trading at all; otherwise, you'll have markets.
Cody_Franklin
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6/5/2011 3:22:32 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 6/4/2011 8:53:40 PM, charleslb wrote:
At 6/4/2011 1:46:10 AM, Cody_Franklin wrote:
Second, even granting the negative connotations which you ascribe to hierarchical business models, I think you would be surprised at the way in which the market could render those models obsolete.

I think you would be disappointed to discover how a "free-market" could render itself obsolete, how it could allow its alpha capitalists to take over and begin running the show.

You're just assuming that such would happen, though. There's nothing that remotely suggests such would be the case. By the same token, what if the violence that you use to stop self-interest-based markets from forming turns into a state that reduces everyone's standard of living to the bare minimum and starts oppressing everyone?

See, in neither case is it really a reasonable question. You can ask literally any political theorist some generic form of the "Well, what if there's an army bigger than yours that wants to invade and conquer everything" question, but it doesn't advance the discussion at all.

As I've pointed out in several prior discussions, the worker-owned business model is...

I address the worker-owned model in my reply below (sorry, I got my replies in the wrong order).

First of all, "the people" isn't an entity. It's a political abstraction

Not an entity in certain strict senses of the word, but not quite an abstraction either. Webster's defines "a people" as: "human beings making up a group or assembly or linked by a common interest".

But that's not what it actually comes down to.

The members of a society, and the working-class majority of the citizenry of a society can certainly be said to be a people. If you wish to stick on denying this, on denying that there's such a thing as "we the people" then you simply show how ideological and extreme your individualism is.

Well, if the state is supposed to be the instrument of workers, that just means that workers are oppressing everyone else, and often oppressing parts of their own group. As I said before, it comes down to pressure groups and lobbyists all vying for the special privilege of being called "the people". You haven't actually refuted my rejection of the abstracting, moreover: you've simply made an appeal to my ideology, as if that somehow negates my criticism.

If you're prepared to conceptually eliminate "the people" from your philosophy, then how ruthless might your philosophy prove to be if ever implemented?!

That's just an appeal to consequences.

which confers power on the dominant pressure group or lobbying organization, and to which all groups are forced to aspire so that they may receive the benefits and privileges associated with being "the public".

The dominant pressure group is always the capitalist ruling elite, not the "lower classes" of society.

It tends to be that way when states are involved.

The problem with the system you propose is that it would give them too much permissive freedom to use the pressure and clout that their money would arm them with. Yes, there would be no government for them to pressure,

Then how would they pressure anything?

but give them time and they'd establish a new order in which they could apply pressure.

Appeal to probability.

Second of all, you are grossly understating the role of corruption in the way the economy functions.

The government that enables capitalist corruption is puppeteered by capitalists. Would capitalists really cease such behavior in your system, really?

Would they cease puppeteering the government in a society with no government? I believe so.

Actually, the only means by which "the people" can shape their economic destiny is a free market.


The only reason collusion works is because of entry barriers, subsidies, and bizarre protectionism...

Yes, blame everything on big government in order to exonerate big business, that's the SOP of free-marketeers.

I don't blame it only on government. Politicians pass this kind of legislation in return for favors from the businesses they're helping, whether that's some gift, or pack of votes, or campaign contributions. Businesses that get in bed with the state are just as guilty. Though, obviously, there are also some regulations and such that force business owners to get corruptly "creative" if they want to get by.

Well, when there are no more politicians in your capitalist garden of Eden there will still be a serpent in the garden, the capitalist himself. You know, the serpent whose beguiling voice is whispering in the free-marketeer's ear: "Set my greed free and all will be right with he world, I promise. And no, my hand is not behind my back because my fingers are crossed, you can trust me, I'm too middle-class in my mores to do society wrong.". As the saying goes, and I have a bridge to sell you.

You have to presuppose that capitalists are inherently predatory for this story to work.

If you take the most civilized people on the planet, put them in a well, ...

The negativism of libertarianism.

The analogy works.

New entrants into the market would work well on that...
A free-marketarian rationalization of price fixing? Can the practitioners of capitalism do no wrong?!

First of all, I'm not rationalizing price fixing. I'm pointing out that price fixing is an inherently unstable practice.

Second of all, even if I was rationalizing, calling it a rationalization doesn't defeat the argument.

A point of inquiry about worker-owned businesses. Will your "noble" workers do things like price fixing

There will be no incentive for them to in a system based on economic egalitarianism.

Not what I mean. In a free market, would workers, who you allege as being noble and brilliant, engage in practices like price fixing?

What's the incentive for an egoist to join your egalitarian commune, by the way?

Will your noble capitalists really and reliably do things like voluntarily play by the unwritten rules of the free market?

Doesn't matter whether they do. If they do, they prosper. If they don't, they take losses.
Cody_Franklin
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6/5/2011 3:22:36 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 6/4/2011 7:29:14 PM, charleslb wrote:
At 6/4/2011 1:46:17 AM, Cody_Franklin wrote:
No, because free-market theory doesn't rely on the model of perfect competition.

Well, I'm glad for your philosophical camp's sake that free-marketarianism doesn't put too many of its ideological eggs in one creedal basket, such as the "model of perfect competition", because in a free-market free-for-all there would be as much dirty competing as there is dirty fighting in a street fight.

That's not what I mean. By perfect competition, I'm talking about a condition where you've got all these equal firms derping around with a homogeneous product, all charging the same price and going nowhere. In other words, it's stagnation. There's no real development or anything.

That is, totally deregulated free-market capitalism would be street-fight capitalism, to coin a new term; there would be such a lack of respect for the rules of fair play that the ability of "free-market forces" to work the way they're naturally supposed to work would be severely impaired, impaired to the point that your lofty dream of a free-marketarian golden age would become a horrendous flop.

Define "fair play".

Honestly, I can just answer "no", because these are simply questions packed to the brim with political rhetoric.

Hmm, you can critically seize on the style with which I express this point, but the substance of it remains unrefuted, the question remains: "Instead of (a 'free-market') society becoming a meritocracy in which everyone with ingenuity and a work ethic has an equal chance of rising to the top, won't the top echelon of society become an exclusive, elitist bad boys club of robber barons and malfeasant moguls, a business magnate's mafia operating as a de facto oligarchy?"

And my answer to that is no.

That's not an argument against the free market. It's the equivalent of asking any political philosopher "Well, what if some foreign aggressor with a huge army comes and overpowers you? What then?"

Well, if there's some reason to believe that a foreign enemy is going to aggress against you, then the question "What then?" becomes a legitimate one that needs to be taken into serious consideration. And since we do have reasons, such as our empirical knowledge that capitalists often don't play nice, to believe that under unfettered conditons they would aggress against the integrity of the free market, and against workingpeople, I say, since we have plenty of reason to be concerned about such a contingency, we very much should be asking "What then?!"

Would you be asking this question if the private military contractor was worker-owned? Or do you get to plead the case solely against capitalists because it's ideologically convenient?

I mean, yeah, it's conceivable that something bad could happen, but we may as well abandon political theory and philosophy altogether if a criticism like "Well, an army could take over and destroy everything" is taken to be damning.

Nope, this doesn't logically follow at all. What follows is that in our political theorizing we take into consideration realistically possible contingencies and foreseeable negative outcomes, rather than using theory to rationalize away anything inconvenient to the lovely free-market castle we're building in the rarefied air.

Again, not what I mean. What I mean is that anyone can dream up an infinite amount of hypotheticals to challenge some philosophy or other. It's like me asking you what you're going to do if a majority of the people in your commune up and decide one day that their standard of living isn't good enough, and further decide to ransack the cooperative (or whatever distributes resources) and form a market. Maybe it's a consideration in some possible world, but the problem is that you not only have to assume a magic wand theory of society to answer my question--you also have to assume that I have a magic wand to change and reform anarcho-capitalist society however I want. I don't have that power, though, which means that there's little point in answering those questions, as AnCap societies wouldn't be homogeneous, which means that I would be answering solely on the basis of some "representative" hypothetical society which wouldn't actually be representative.
Cody_Franklin
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6/5/2011 3:22:39 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 6/4/2011 7:29:14 PM, charleslb wrote:
At 6/4/2011 1:46:17 AM, Cody_Franklin wrote:
Yes. The government isn't a middleman--it enables, it empowers, it sustains, it funds. Without the state, it is not only basically impossible for businesses to do the kind of questionable things they're doing now, but also pointless for honest businessmen to resort to corruption to get by. People aren't corrupt just because they choose to go into business.

Under capitalism the state is, to a serious degree, an instrument of the economic ruling class. Yes, there is a good bit of "relative autonomy", the government does not merely function as a figurehead and flunky of the rich, but it does to a great enough extent that it's not just hyperbole to say that it's largely a "middle man" for the big-time operators of big business.

That is, much of the time when the big bad government that libertarians love to loathe is seemingly doing its thing, it's really doing the thing of the capitalist establishment. When government is engaged in "empowering", "sustaining", and "funding", the reason is that the moneyed majesties of society have a corrupt way of using their considerable money-power to turn government into their private b*tch, who does their bidding to the detriment of the rest of us.

Indeed. It's a little bit of both, really. Either way, that's why anarcho-capitalists are so vehement about abolition of the state.

Now I know that the comeback of libertarians is to say that if we had a genuine free-market system, with no government interference, or government, period, then capitalists couldn't very well suborn and transform government into their tool. The rub, though, is that under a libertarian "free-market" system capitalists would be entirely at liberty to thumb their noses at your principles and institute their rule, one way or another. Mm-hmm, they would be in a deobstructed position to set up a government, or its equivalent, and codify their dominance, making a farce and lie of your beloved "free market".

And they would accomplish this how...?

Ironically, vis–à–vis your theory, capitalists in a free-market would wish to do this because it would be in their selfish self-interest; and they would be able to do this because you would have given them license to follow their self-interest wherever it leads.

No I haven't. Economic freedom =/= Do whatever

By that token, I'd have to allow wanton murder and theft so that I wouldn't be abridging freedom. That kind of argument merely demonstrates a lack of understanding about political and economic freedom in an anarchistic society.


Nobody claims that such would be the case.

Well, if you're not claiming that unfettered capitalism would create an idyllic state of society in which such unfortunate realities as classism, exploitation, the economic disempowerment of workers, and -ocracies would be abolished, then what conditions will the "free-market" remedy that will reasonably ensure socioeconomic "justice for all"?

First, you still haven't defined "justice". Until you define it, it's just ideological rhetoric.

Second, I didn't say it wouldn't remedy things like exploitation and "disempowerment". I said that no one claimed it would be some idyllic paradise.

Yes, if the history of the world will continue on as usual under your pure form of capitalism, continue on complete with an exploitative upper class and a disempowered working class, and with some unofficial form of -ocracy, well then, how pray tell are things going to be so radically ameliorated for those of us who aren't at the top of the socioeconomic food chain?

I didn't say that things would continue as usual, either. You're trying to pin me under a false dichotomy where the only two choices are "claim that your philosophy will result in a perfect society" or "claim that your philosophy will result in things would remain the same". Again, you're presuming that I have to use the magic wand theory of society so that I can somehow solve everything. I don't know the exact mechanisms that every society will use, especially because of the inevitability of social heterogeneity, but I can give you a priori reasons that a lot of those things won't be a problem, like the fact that workers are, for example, freer to do things like negotiate for different wages and benefits, and get some of their fellow workers to start a business together.


First problem is your lack of a response to the worker-owned business model argument.

Well, it's of course better for workers to own the business that employs them than for them to be mere peons toiling in a corporate latifundia. However, private ownership of the means of production still conduces to a selfish owners ethos that ultimately will not bring about a state of society in which all wealth is equitably distributed, and every human life is equally valued.

No it doesn't. Given that the worker-owned model is better in every conceivable way, e.g. profit, morale, salary, productivity, it's more likely that hierarchical models will be a minority in the market, if not outright obsolete, after the worker model catches. And the workers are all doing it for selfish reasons. If they stood to make less and feel worse in a worker-owned business than in a hierarchical business, you can bet that the laborer won't take a job with the worker-owned for the sake of some altruistic commitment to defeating the tyranny of the capitalist.

Any kind of private ownership runs contrary to the spirit of universal brotherhood that society should evolve and strive to found itself on.

Moral nihilism again: you can't justifiably say that society "should" evolve one way or the other. You're just substituting your personal values for other peoples' values.

The fatal mistake of pro-capitalists, fatal for humankind's potential to grow a more morally-spiritually noble form of civilization, is the cynical belief that since "utopia" is a naive and unattainable thing to set one's site on, therefore we should lower our sites to the lowest common denominator of "self-interest". Pro-capitalists are just too darn willing and too perversely eager to resign themselves to, and to consign all of us to a system that essentially says: "What the heck, greed is ineradicable, and greed is good, let's turn greed loose and make government and the do-gooders get out of the bleeping way!" The worker-owned business model is just another ideological gambit to get us to such a greed-based society, a rationalizing ruse to usher a reinless "free market" in through the backdoor.

Calling it a rationalization doesn't defeat the argument.


Second problem is assuming that almost anyone who is a capitalist, free-market advocate, or businessman must be some sort of corrupt predator willing to do anything and everything to make a little more profit.

No, they don't all have to be predators, it's only necessary that enough of them be predatory, enough of the time, and they will most assuredly wreck your "free-market" utopia.

First, I didn't call it a utopia. Plus, you can't criticize us for preaching utopia while also criticizing us for rejecting "utopia" as unachievable to push a self-interest agenda. Those are two incompatible criticisms, and you can't have them both.

Second, it doesn't change the criticism: you have to assume that a majority of capitalists and free-market advocates are predatory.
J.Kenyon
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6/5/2011 4:10:38 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 6/4/2011 8:53:40 PM, charleslb wrote:
Setting pro-social norms that promote the health of the body politic and body economic is intuitively more sensible than the free-marketeer's counterintuitive advocacy of selfish self-interest as the best and surest principle to found society on. Again, everything from life experience to intuition tells us that self-interest is the best principle not to found, but rather to founder a society on. Be the descriptive value of the science of economics as it may, what societies also need is the prescriptive approach of ethics. If you're a moral nihilist you can dismiss this with whatever pet arguments you hold in reserve for anyone who mentions the M-word (morality), but just as man lives by more than bread alone, so too does a society survive by more than the materialistic selfishness of its members.

*yawn*

Austrian analysis is wertfrei, that is, it doesn't entail any prescriptive norms. It merely describes the sorts of outcomes you get from certain societal arrangements. I could bring up the usual problems with communism, but you'll just dismiss them with a wave of the hand as inconsequential.

And where is your argument for positive rights? I have yet to hear it. You literally have no moral philosophy. You have a list of things you consider good, like helping the wheelchair people and not blowing up foreigners, but what are your underlying principles and how do you justify them? It's just "good things are good" and "bad things are bad" with you.

Also, you do realize most libertarians aren't nihilists, right? Most of us endorse the non-aggression principle, which is a deontological ethical rule. You rail against selfishness and whatnot while extolling the virtues of compassion, but none of this really refutes the NAP. If you can just wave your magic wand and say "the government will take care of it!" why can't I just wave a magic wand and say "we'll have an ancap society full of really nice people." What's wrong with voluntarism, and what incentive does the government have to put your plans into action?

This brings us to what really annoys me. You never apply game theory or institutional analysis to your half-baked political theories. It's just an ipse dixit with you. "Good government is good." "Communism will work because I said so." You want evidence? Well, it worked fine for hunter gatherers. Look at Norway, trollolololololol! It's the flimsiest empirical analysis I've ever seen.

/rant
Cody_Franklin
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6/5/2011 7:00:30 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 6/5/2011 4:10:38 AM, J.Kenyon wrote:
Also, you do realize most libertarians aren't nihilists, right? Most of us endorse the non-aggression principle, which is a deontological ethical rule.

To be fair, I use the nonaggression principle, but conceptualize it politically along a legalistic, contractarian-esque line of thought.
charleslb
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6/5/2011 9:24:44 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 6/5/2011 3:22:30 AM, Cody_Franklin wrote:
The point isn't to play with semantics--it's to point out that all people necessarily have to be capitalists, ...

As per usual, you provide some intelligent feedback, thanks. I don't find any of your arguments to be persuasive, but I do recognize and appreciate their intelligence.
Yo, all of my subliterate conservative criticasters who find perusing and processing the sesquipedalian verbiage of my posts to be such a bothersome brain-taxing chore, I have a new nickname for you. Henceforth you shall be known as Pooh Bears. No, not for the obvious apt reasons, i.e., not because you're full of pooh, and not because of your ursine irritability. Rather, you put me in mind of an A.A. Milne quote, "I am a Bear of Very Little Brain, and long words bother me". Love ya, Pooh Bears.
J.Kenyon
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6/5/2011 10:10:24 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 6/5/2011 9:24:44 PM, charleslb wrote:
At 6/5/2011 3:22:30 AM, Cody_Franklin wrote:
The point isn't to play with semantics--it's to point out that all people necessarily have to be capitalists, ...

As per usual, you provide some intelligent feedback, thanks. I'm not going to respond to your arguments, though, because thinking makes my brain hurt.

K.
charleslb
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6/6/2011 4:29:43 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 6/5/2011 10:10:24 PM, J.Kenyon wrote:
At 6/5/2011 9:24:44 PM, charleslb wrote:
At 6/5/2011 3:22:30 AM, Cody_Franklin wrote:
The point isn't to play with semantics--it's to point out that all people necessarily have to be capitalists, ...

As per usual, you provide some intelligent feedback, thanks. I'm not going to respond to your arguments, though, because thinking makes my brain hurt.

K.

Cheap and dishonest response, dear J.Kenyon, since I did respond to the arguments in his previous reply. And, what's more, I'm about to put up a new post stimulated by Cody's comebacks! But apparently you just can't contain your dislike for me and your desire to cut me down to size. You do realize that people who express that need too much give the appearance of having their own size issues, so to speak.
Yo, all of my subliterate conservative criticasters who find perusing and processing the sesquipedalian verbiage of my posts to be such a bothersome brain-taxing chore, I have a new nickname for you. Henceforth you shall be known as Pooh Bears. No, not for the obvious apt reasons, i.e., not because you're full of pooh, and not because of your ursine irritability. Rather, you put me in mind of an A.A. Milne quote, "I am a Bear of Very Little Brain, and long words bother me". Love ya, Pooh Bears.
Sieben
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6/6/2011 4:40:13 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 6/6/2011 4:29:43 PM, charleslb wrote:

Cheap and dishonest response, dear J.Kenyon, since I did respond to the arguments in his previous reply. And, what's more, I'm about to put up a new post stimulated by Cody's comebacks! But apparently you just can't contain your dislike for me and your desire to cut me down to size. You do realize that people who express that need too much give the appearance of having their own size issues, so to speak.


Charles, none of the anarcho capitalists are afraid that your penis is too big.
Things that are so interesting:

http://www.debate.org...
http://www.debate.org...
charleslb
Posts: 4,740
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6/6/2011 9:55:15 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 6/6/2011 4:40:13 PM, Sieben wrote:
At 6/6/2011 4:29:43 PM, charleslb wrote:

Cheap and dishonest response, dear J.Kenyon, since I did respond to the arguments in his previous reply. And, what's more, I'm about to put up a new post stimulated by Cody's comebacks! But apparently you just can't contain your dislike for me and your desire to cut me down to size. You do realize that people who express that need too much give the appearance of having their own size issues, so to speak.


Charles, none of the anarcho capitalists are afraid that your penis is too big.

Hmm, interesting though that you have this concern on your mind.
Yo, all of my subliterate conservative criticasters who find perusing and processing the sesquipedalian verbiage of my posts to be such a bothersome brain-taxing chore, I have a new nickname for you. Henceforth you shall be known as Pooh Bears. No, not for the obvious apt reasons, i.e., not because you're full of pooh, and not because of your ursine irritability. Rather, you put me in mind of an A.A. Milne quote, "I am a Bear of Very Little Brain, and long words bother me". Love ya, Pooh Bears.