In the Mutualism group on Facebook, a user posted the following Proudhon quotation:

‎”Every possessor of lands, houses, furniture, machinery, tools, money, &c., who lends a thing for a price exceeding the cost of repairs (the repairs being charged to the lender, and representing products which he exchanges for other products), is guilty of swindling and extortion.” – Proudhon

The quotation was accompanied by a skeptical set of examples (following Proudhon’s list) meant to appeal to the reader’s intuition and, I presume, lead them to conclude that Proudhon was full of it and that there is nothing wrong with charging for the use of something you own. The upshot is that today’s mutualists, if they agree with Proudhon, are full of it too. Read the rest of this entry »

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.”


October 29, 2010

I just read a great post by George Donnelly on reciprocity and mutualization. So I got to thinking. There should be a whole school of anarchism built around these ideas. It just needs a name, like all good schools of anarchism. Something cooperative sounding, you know? Mutualizationism? Mutualizationarianism?


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

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 »

The Vulgar Alarm Clock

March 27, 2010

As a market anarchist, I appreciate the general spirit of this story. But could it have been any more vulgar? TWC (the owners, that is), General Mills, major auto makers, Middle East oil, the banking and insurance industries, Fed-Ex…what do any of these have to do with the free market? Also, there was an odd mention of tap water (state-provided, no doubt) and public schools, which doesn’t exactly “sweep the leg” of the opponent.

Bryan Caplan writes:

Most libertarians condemn the public’s anti-market reflexes. Left-libertarians reply, in essence, is: “It’s only natural for the public to condemn the unholy alliance of big business and big government that passes for ‘the free market’ nowadays.”

The key problem with this position: Normal people think that government is the solution, not the cause, of monopoly problems.  Before I studied economics, I repeatedly heard about government’s struggle against monopoly – and never heard that government might be part of the problem.  I’ve been arguing about monopoly for two decades – and teaching about monopoly for the last thirteen years.  As far as I can tell, the idea that government habitually creates monopolies on purpose is largely limited to free-market economists and the hard left.

It’s a perfectly valid argument. There’s only one problem. I don’t know of any left-libertarian that actually argues anything close to the “in essence” reply Caplan claims: that left-libertarians say that normal people are largely against the free-market because they are aware that it is really an “unholy alliance of big business and big government.” Read the rest of this entry »

Underdog Daze

February 7, 2010

Tom Naughton can’t decide between cheering for the Colt or the Saints today. I completely understand because I’m in the same position. I’m a regular fan of neither but they are both likable, talented teams. While I love pro football, it’s not quite as fun to watch when you don’t have a side to cheer.

I’m originally from Louisiana and have always thought the Saints were cool. But I also appreciate the Colts more from a pure football perspective. Peyton Manning is a great example of intelligence in the game. On the other hand, Reggie Bush is pure excitement. Or I could let my wife’s favorite criteria decide: the Saints have better uniforms. I’m torn.

But Naughton thinks there is at least one good reason not to pick the Saints: Read the rest of this entry »

Generic Reasons

February 2, 2010

Taking this with the appropriate grain of salt (the author has an obvious incentive to make the claims he does), this is a wonderful analysis of exactly why any “health care reform” that doesn’t include the abolition of the FDA and other regulatory monopolies in favor of a competitive system of regulation and tort is not serious about health care reform. It also makes clear the difference between “free market” and “freed market.” When opponents of free markets talk about the free market, what they work with are things like the current generic prices (what could be more free market then manufacturers competing over an off-patent molecule?) because things like the FDA are just taken for granted. It’s time we had a real discussion about the costs of health care instead of the same old generic talk.


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