Posts filed under no third solution

Re: Considering Redistribution of Property

“I have no idea whether this is enough to appease the communists, the mutualists, the uber-left libertarians. I hope it would be, primarily because I’m simply not sold on the idea that individuals shouldn’t have the right to own and acquire productive assets, at least not on any moral grounds.”

Well, sure, but which anarchists are trying to sell that idea? Maybe some of the commies (although, remember, most anarcho-communists do believe in, or at least nod at a principle which declares, the right of individuals to withdraw from communist arrangements if they desire; the idea is usually that they imagine communist arrangements would be so obviously superior that nobody but a few lone weirdos would want to, and that even if those lone weirdos somehow amassed enough resources to build a factory under private proprietorship, that nobody would want to toil in it). But in any case, I certainly don’t know of any mutualists or “uber-left libertarians” who think that individual people shouldn’t have the right to own and acquire productive assets. If you do, I’d like to hear some names and quotations.

Of course, there is a separate question, as to what forms of organization and what levels of centralization of control over machinery and technology, would be most likely to flourish within a market freed from government privileges and increasingly distant from the shadow of past government subsidies. That question is interesting and important, but separate from the moral question of what individual people ought to have the right to do or not to do. For what it’s worth, though, I think it would be absolutely wrong to claim that, on the predictive (as opposed to the normative) question, mutualists ad “uber-left libertarians” somehow imagine that there wouldn’t be any individual ownership of capital in a freed market. Actually, the position is generally that individual ownership of capital would become much more widespread than it currently is, because forms of collective ownership that currently dominate the market (e.g. large centralized corporations) would be undermined by the collapse of state privilege. To take an example, as I understand it, Carson’s view (for example) is that vastly more productive assets would be owned individually in a free society than are today, because he envisions that, absent government intervention in favor of large centralized operations, a much larger portion of production would be carried out within households and small family shops.

Re: August Carnival of Market Anarchy

You say: “Labor Unions, as we know them, are largely the product of politics and pull, and were (at least in theory) implemented as a countervailing force to Big Business.”

Labor unions as we know them are largely the product of politics and pull, but labor unions per se predate the existence of government patronage to unions. In fact, about half the history of the American labor movement (from the founding of the Knights of Labor in 1869 to the passage of the Wagner Act in 1935) was carried out not only without any form of state recognition and privilege, but in fact in the face of massive police, militia and military violence against organizers, strikers, and people who just happened to be in the wrong crowd at the wrong time. During this period, many of the powerful labor unions were much more, not less radical — the Wobblies were resolutely anti-war, pro-immigration, often anarchist, etc. Reason being that the Wagner system was deliberately constructed in order to subsidize bureaucratic conservative unionism as against its radical competitors, and the effects of the World War II command economy, combined with the Taft-Hartley act, was to make heavy-handed government regulation of permissible union goals and union methods the price for the government patronage. (Anti-union libertarians who, rightly, complain about the privileges that government grants to union bosses almost never discuss how closely regulated unions thus “privileged” are.) The purpose was to capture and domesticate a labor movement that the New Dealers viewed as an increasingly dangerous revolutionary force, to convert their bosses into junior partners and their rank-and-file into loyal foot-soldiers in the tripartite planning system of the new corporatist state.

Aahz’s uncritical identification of official, government-recognized unions with “labor unions” just as such, and his erasure of six and a half decades of state-free radical labor organizing, is just vulgar libertarianism running in reverse: the conflation of actually-existing, state-regulated unionism — unions “as we know them” — with unionism per se, followed by an uncritical attack on unions as somehow incompatible with, or unsustainable on, the free market, without stopping to consider whether, just as there might be viable business models for putting capital to use other than corporate capitalism as we know it, there might also be viable organizing models for unionizing workers other than conservative, pro-state unionism as we know it.