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.

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 »

Mutualizationarianism

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?

Ideas?

MYOB!

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.

Alex Strekal (Brainpolice) asks, “What is Mutualism?”

Charles T. Sprading’s 1930 Mutual Service and Cooperation provides what I think is a pretty useful answer (HT Shawn Wilbur). Read the rest of this entry »

More Things, Horatio

April 22, 2010

I was asked by a few interested people to expand on my last post. There was also some discussion that took place on Facebook around Stephan Kinsella’s reply. At one point in that discussion, Stephan asked me a question that I think gets at the heart of the matter. I thought I would answer it here (with Stephan’s blessing) to kill two birds with one stone.

When we are careful to define capitalism in a non-crony, non-corporatist way, to refer to private ownership of the means of production — and you say you are STILL against it, how can this not be construed as unlibertarian? Please explain.

-Stephan Kinsella, in conversation on Facebook

The short answer is that it should be obvious from the fact that I call myself a “free market anti-capitalist” that I’m not against “private ownership of the means of production,” assuming it entails what I think it entails.  What I’m against are some of the things that you think it entails. But rather than this meaning that we have two different visions of capitalism, I’m assuming that you wouldn’t call my vision capitalism at all. Read the rest of this entry »

Not Your Mama’s Anarchism

February 23, 2010

Gary Chartier, riffing on his riveting book, launches some potentially game-changing language over the bow of absolutist libertarianism.

Property-based anarchism without the NAP? It’s certainly not your mama’s anarchism. I think mutualists especially will find this intriguing because of the Golden Rule language but also because it does so using typically un-mutualist natural rights language. He doesn’t argue for the premises here but they do show off their ability to do some heavy lifting while remaining coherent, which is a type of evidence in itself; and, to steal a phrase from another natural lawyer, its seeming ability to “reconcile…sides of the Liberty debate is itself an extremely good reason for thinking it’s true.”

Is the world ready for Corvus Distribution?

The world better get ready.

Leading By Example

May 8, 2009

I have thirty-eight brains and not one of them thinks you can sign a contract to be a slave, especially now that we have a black President.

These were the words of Eliza Dushku’s character Echo in “Omega”, the season one finale of Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse.

Especially now? Does she mean that especially now that Barack Obama is POTUS, the argument against voluntary slavery is somehow more convincing? If so, I think I’ve been too hard on Obama. If he is capable, simply by assuming power, to make liberty more convincing, perhaps we shouldn’t protest too much. Give him a few more years and we might not have to convince anyone of the obviousness of anarchy.

[And, Joss, you just lost major geek points for throwing in an awkward “We [sic] Won [sic]“ shoutout to the Hollywood Messiah.]

Please check out the first issues of LeftLiberty and the New Proudhon Library, edited by Shawn Wilbur. Take Shawn’s advice and do “a little tree-killing, and probably a coffee- or whiskey-stain or three”.

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