In the many discussions I’ve been in where I’ve argued against capital hiring labor and in favor of labor hiring capital, inevitably someone poses a question like the following:

“This contract [wherein labor hires capital] can say just about anything, stipulating how the capital is used down to any detail. How is this different from an employment contract?”

Well, if the details in question go as far as being functionally identical to employment, it wouldn’t be very different. In fact, it would be an employment contract. What makes a contract an employment contract isn’t that the words “Employment Contract” are written at the top. What a contract is or isn’t is going to be a matter of the reality of the situation it brings about. So if employment contracts are not seen as valid contracts in a given society, then they can’t “say just about anything, stipulating how the capital is used down to any detail.” It’s not about avoiding the “magic words” but about actually eliminating the renting of people, explicitly or through legal gamesmanship.

Distinguished Capitalists

October 30, 2011

After initially disagreeing with me (by defending the idea that capitalism is fundamentally about “private ownership of the means of production” or POOTMOP), Stephan Kinsella conceded that for a system with “private ownership of the means of production” to count as capitalism, it must have certain features (emphasis mine):

If society adopted some kind of bizarre model with no firms, no division and specialization of labor, no significant accumulation of capital, I guess I would not call it capitalist.

Kinsella has now elaborated on that idea, fully embracing (along with Marx) the notion of “capitalistic patterns of ownership and control” as distinct from “a free market in land and the means of production,” including  “employers and employees and employment.” He sees the link as inevitable (as may, arguably, Marx and unlike me*) but at least we seem to agree that POOTMOP, by itself, is too vague to distinguish what capitalists mean by “capitalism” from what they don’t.

Glad that’s cleared up.

* I not only see it as not inevitable but unlibertarian and thus precluded conceptually by the term “free market.”

A Force Much Fiercer

August 31, 2011

If an armed band of brigands is determined to take your land, or your crops, or your resources, or impress you and your friends and family into slavery, or establish some other kind of permanent control or direction over all of you, you can hardly prevent them from doing so just by ignoring them. You have to repel them and defeat them.

Now I suppose you can succeed here and there in repelling and defeating threats by adventitiously banding together temporarily into an organized, rule-governed unit for that limited purpose, and then dissolving back into a less organized form of existence. But the threats are persistent and many, and it’s both inefficient and ineffective to keep forming and dissolving units of organized power only when threats arise. For one thing, you will want to deter threats from acting against you in the first place, rather than continue paying the high price of only banding together and acting once threats have arisen, and have begun to do their damage. The practical thing to do is to preserve the band as an organized society; to debate, refine and improve the rules under which you live and organize your cooperative activity and common life; and to establish settled practices for keeping these rules and in place. And then you are a government.

Nope. This is the problem underpinning Dan Kervick’s whole line of thinking here (along with that of people like Gus diZerega and others in the state-as-self-organizing-network camp). He has convinced himself that anarchism is the lack of persistent institutions or organizations because he seemingly defines governments or states as any persistent institution or organization. Either that or he thinks this is the case in matters of large-scale defense. But why should we accept this? I find that to be a weird way to think of it.

If you’re going to tell an anarchist that they don’t really oppose the state if they support any kind of “organized, rule-governed unit” for defense (as Kervick suggests is prudent), then it probably helps to know what they mean by a “government” or “state”: Read the rest of this entry »

I Am an Anarcha-Feminist

November 19, 2010

Take some time out from your TSA protest or your next debate over the Lockean proviso to check your privilege, dudes. I’ll begin.

I am privileged because of my sex. I could choose to be defensive or learn. I choose to learn. I sometimes think and act in a sexist way and this is not compatible with anarchism. I can do something about it. I can not derail others trying to do something about it. I will repeat these words:

I, for one, hate men. Not all of them, but lots of them. And I hate them precisely because they act like men are supposed to act. I.E. because they are controlling, exploitative, rude, callous, and/or violent, just like they were brought up to be. I hate men who act like that and I hate myself when I realize that I’ve acted that way. I don’t think it’s because I’m a neurotic bundle of self-loathing or because I’m aiming to become one; it’s because I think that all of us men have a long way to go to break ourselves out of habits and beliefs that keep us from acting like decent human beings as often as we should. We grow up thinking that we have the right to do a lot of fucked up stuff and then we usually go on to do it at some point or another. Often at many points throughout our lives.

There are many men that I love and mostly trust but I love them and mostly trust them for the demonstrable steps they’ve taken away from the way that men are normally expected to act. And I’m doing what I can to help the efforts to change those expectations and those actions—in myself, and in others when I can reach them—but I can’t say I blame a woman at all if she doesn’t like most men or doesn’t necessarily trust our motives straight off the bat.

- Charles “Rad Geek” Johnson

I am an anarchist.

I am a feminist.

I will not choose between them.

It is not possible to choose between them.

I am an anarcha-feminist.

Trial and Error

August 4, 2010

“If we freed markets, we’d have equality.”

No, not quite.

“If we freed markets, we’d have the best chance at equality.”

Perhaps, but not quite there.

“There is a unity of virtue in pursuing equality with freed markets.”

Yes. I like that much better.

#kanyenewyorkertweets on Twitpic


July 21, 2010

So this man took the initiative to “establish property rights to abandoned land through [his] own sweat equity,” offered a service to willing customers, got rid of an eyesore, and hurt no one? And the response of the state is to call him a “transient” and put him in jail? (CHT Brad Spangler)

Why shouldn’t I take the message to be “We will not tolerate it when ‘poor people do the things that poor people naturally do, and always have done, to scratch by.’“? It’s almost like they want poverty, isn’t it?

Oh, and if you’re already an anarchist and you don’t grok why what this man did was OK, you don’t grok anarchism. I’ll take my licks.

Nanny State

June 7, 2010

It can be a very effective technique in debate to take your opponent’s statement and reword it to make your own point. Steven Landsburg shares with us what he would have written if he had been the writer for a New York Times article on New York State’s proposed minimum wage law for nannies (emphasis added):

New York state may soon become the first state to restrict employment opportunities for nannies.

The state Senate passed a bill this week that would prohibit New York’s approximately 200,000 household workers from accepting any position that does not include paid holidays, overtime pay and sick days.

Opponents say the step will bring unnecessary hardship to thousands of women—and some men—who have found employment because of labor markets that operate freely, except for constraints imposed by the federal minimum wage.

Yes, if only they wouldn’t pass this minimum wage law, we could get back to the free market. As Kevin Carson might say, “Jesus, vulgar much?”: Read the rest of this entry »

Counter Culture

May 23, 2010

Allison Kilkenny writes:

The free market can’t provide solutions to many social problems. As Oliver Willis (sarcastically) put it, “instead of boycotting [the] bus, rosa parks should have been an entrepreneur and started her own bus service. let the market decide.” Therein lies the problem with Libertarian [sic] philosophy. Social minorities aren’t in a position to start their own businesses, and they are frequently at the mercy of state and private business policies. We can’t all be the CEO of BP. Most people live on the other end of the social spectrum, like the poor fishermen, standing on the Louisiana coast, waiting for the oil to hit the shore.

First things first. Repeat after me: Rand Paul is not a libertarian (or a big-L Libertarian, for that matter).

Next, a history lesson. Rosa Parks was standing up to state laws, not the bus company per se. It was precisely the existence of the government’s laws that prevented the free market from having any chance of working in this case. Read the rest of this entry »

Charles Johnson, Gary Chartier, Steven Horwitz, Sheldon Richman, and Roderick Long at APEE's Free-Market Anti-Capitalism panel in Las Vegas, 13 April 2010

What a Bunch of…

May 1, 2010

I’ve always had my doubts about Francois Tremblay, although other anarchists tried to talk me out of it. But now it seems that my suspicions were in fact warranted. Look at this page criticizing C4SS’ first online course. You’re going to double-take when you see this:

Can anyone now doubt of their evil intentions, to propagate capitalism and portray it as Anarchism?

Now keep in mind, his blog is called CHECK YOUR PREMISES. And his main approach here is to jump to conclusions! There is absolutely no indication that he bothered to ask anyone involved with the course or that he watched the introductory lecture that provides extensive qualifications about the choice of text. In fact, he completely overlooks the work of Gary Chartier, the instructor, opposing capitalism. Can anyone now doubt his evil intentions, to propagate disinformation and portray it as fact?*

* I, of course, don’t think Francois has evil intentions. This was parody designed to show the absurdity of this kind of intellectually lazy attack on people doing good, solid work for anarchism. If I had a few bucks (people used to say “nickel” but inflation…) for every assigned text in school that had nothing to do with the instructor’s own views, I take my wife out for a long session at Kaito Sushi. Osusume wa nan desu ka.

Here’s Gary, from the intro lecture:

The point of the course is to introduce you to anarchism, not exclusively or primarily the variety of anarchism laid out by the Tannehills…Again, we are using this book…not because it’s perfect but because it’s a useful conversation starter and is readily available. You can question and you can challenge the Tannehills…as much as you like. We are not reading a sacred text; we are exploring one illustrative proposal. And your goal, especially in a course about anarchism, is not to submit to the authority of the author…Your goal is to think critically and reflectively…

What a wonderful idea!


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