free market ideas

How bosses are (literally) like dictators,” Elizabeth Anderson, Vox, 17 July 2017:

The earliest champions of free markets envisioned a world of self-employment

Why do we talk like [businesses aren’t dictatorships]? The answer takes us back to free market ideas developed before the Industrial Revolution. In 17th- and 18th-century Britain, big merchants got the state to grant them monopolies over trade in particular goods, forcing small craftsmen to submit to their regulations. A handful of aristocratic families enjoyed a monopoly on land, due to primogeniture and entail, which barred the breakup and sale of any part of large estates. Farmers could rent their land only on short-term leases, which forced them to bow and scrape before their landlords, in a condition of subordination not much different from servants, who lived in their masters’ households and had to obey their rules.

The problem was that the state had rigged the rules of the market in favor of the rich. Confronted with this economic situation, many people argued that free markets would promote equality and workers’ interests by enabling them to go into business for themselves and thereby escape subordination to the owners of capital.

No wonder some of the early advocates of free markets in 17th-century England were called “Levellers.” These radicals, who emerged during the English civil war, wanted to abolish the monopolies held by the big merchants and aristocrats. They saw the prospects of greater equality that might come from opening up to ordinary workers opportunities for manufacture, trade, and farming one’s own land.

In the 18th century, Adam Smith was the greatest advocate for the view that replacing monopolies, primogeniture, entail, and involuntary servitude with free markets would enable laborers to work on their own behalf. His key assumption was that incentives were more powerful than economies of scale. When workers get to keep all of the fruits of their labor, as they do when self-employed, they will work much harder and more efficiently than if they are employed by a master, who takes a cut of what they produce. Indolent aristocratic landowners can’t compete with yeoman farmers without laws preventing land sales. Free markets in land, labor, and commerce will therefore lead to the triumph of the most efficient producer, the self-employed worker, and the demise of the idle, stupid, rent-seeking rentier.

Smith and his contemporaries looked across the Atlantic and saw that America appeared to be realizing these hopes — although only for white men. The great majority of the free population in the Revolutionary period was self-employed, as either a yeoman farmer or an independent artisan or merchant.

In the United States, Thomas Paine was the great promoter of this vision… Paine argued that individuals can solve nearly all of their problems on their own, without state meddling. A good government does nothing more than secure individuals in “peace and safety” in the free pursuit of their occupations, with the lowest possible tax burden… Paine was a lifelong advocate of commerce, free trade, and free markets. He called for hard money and fiscal responsibility.

Paine was the hero of labor radicals for decades after his death in 1809, because they shared his hope that free markets would yield an economy almost entirely composed of small proprietors. An economy of small proprietors offers a plausible model of a free society of equals: each individual personally independent, none taking orders from anyone else, everyone middle class.

Abraham Lincoln built on the vision of Smith and Paine, which helped to shape the two key planks of the Republican Party platform: opposition to the extension of slavery in the territories, and the Homestead Act. Slavery, after all, enabled masters to accumulate vast tracts of land, squeezing out small farmers and forcing them into wage labor. Prohibiting the extension of slavery into the territories and giving away small plots of land to anyone who would work it would realize a society of equals in which no one is ever consigned to wage labor for life. Lincoln, who helped create the political party that now defends the interests of business, never wavered from the proposition that true free labor meant freedom from wage labor.

The Industrial Revolution, however — well underway by Lincoln’s time — ultimately dashed the hopes of joining free markets with independent labor in a society of equals. Smith’s prediction — that economies of scale would be less important than the incentive effects of enabling workers to reap all the fruits of their labor — was defeated by industrial technologies that required massive accumulations of capital. The US, with its access to territories seized from Native Americans, was able to stave off the bankruptcy of self-employed farmers and other small proprietors for far longer than Europe. But industrialization, population growth, the closure of the frontier, and railroad monopolies doomed the sole proprietorship to the margins of the economy, even in North America.

The Industrial Revolution gave employers new powers over workers, but economists failed to adjust their vocabulary — or their analyses

The Smith-Paine-Lincoln libertarian vision was rendered largely irrelevant by industrialization, which created a new model of wage labor, with large companies taking the place of large landowners. Yet strangely, many people persist in using Smith’s and Paine’s rhetoric to describe the world we live in today. We are told that our choice is between free markets and state control — but most adults live their working lives under a third thing entirely: private government. A vision of what egalitarians hoped market society would deliver before the Industrial Revolution — a world without private workplace government, with producers interacting only through markets and the state — has been blindly carried over to the modern economy by libertarians and their pro-business fellow travelers.

There is a condition called hemiagnosia, whose sufferers cannot perceive one half of their bodies. A large class of libertarian-leaning thinkers and politicians, with considerable public following, resemble patients with this condition: They cannot perceive half of the economy — the half that takes place beyond the market, after the employment contract is accepted, where workers are subject to private, arbitrary, unaccountable government.


anonymous asked:

so how about that amazingly common notion of the free market of ideas being ideal, eh?

stick the word “free” on anything & people will call it free. “free trade” doesn’t bring violent economic imperialism to mind when you read “free”.

a recent incident on a United Airlines plane flight involving an overbooked passenger has served as an occasion for certain people to begin to rail against the insensitivity of “Capitalism” once again (or what this blog calls Free Enterprise). But the free enterprise system is not just certain segments of itself, it is the entire system of interacting parts; including the free press. Both individual citizens and the free press critiquing the service of businesses before the audience of the general public is the fruit of the Free Enterprise system. The free press is about a free market place of ideas. But there is no free market place of ideas where there is no free market. Without economic independence, there can be no intellectual and political independence.  What defines free enterprise is precisely that there is an open sphere that provides alternatives; including alternative voices and visions. The market does not dictate that businesses will not make imprudent, foolish or immoral decisions. What the market dictates is that these decisions will not survive. The actions of an individual business is not the action of the market; the eventual fate of those actions is the action of the market.

This is far more than can be said for a state run system in which all alternative visions have been banished, and are therefore unable to challenge the official policy..

anonymous asked:

So with the antifa action at that Trump rally today (6/3) a whole bunch of my liberal friends have been whining about how "we shouldn't stoop to their level waaaah". When I interject and point out that this is how fascism must be fought they whine about how we (antifa) are "no better than the fascists!" I know you guys get this a lot, but what's the best and most concise response to use to explain why violence is a sometimes-necessary tool to fight the fash?

Ugh.  We’re seeing a lot of this lately.  So let’s go over a few things, shall we?

Like we said a couple of months ago, liberals - who have demonstrated throughout history that they have no fucking clue what to do about fascism - always seem to trot out the same old tired horseshit about antifa:

-you can’t fight hate with hate;
-if you fight fascism militantly, you’re just as bad as they are;
-nazis should have the right to publicly advocate and organize genocide because “free speech;”
-if we just ignore the fascists they’ll go away;
-shutting down racist events won’t change their minds about their racism;
-the police and the state will protect us from fascists;
-we need to “shine a light” on the racists’ bankrupt ideas, so everyone can see their ideology for what it is, in the free market of ideas blah blah blah

All of which essentially boils down to:

NAZIS AND COPS: we want to beat up minorities. We’re going to do that now.
ANTIFA: we aren’t going to let you.
LIBERALS: uwu don’t fight hate with hate. Antifa is sooo violent.
ME: they’re literal fucking nazis who are beating people up.
LIBERALS: that’s their opinion and you gotta let them. It’s the rules.

& yet you never see liberals confronting WW2 veterans with this “logic,” do you?

As we’ve said before, iberals aren’t exactly experts when it comes to dealing with fascists and their  liberal “strategies” of non-confrontation, “debate,” and giving fascists free publicity are counterproductive, dangerous, and irresponsible,  The people that have been dealing with fascists for decades - and the victims of fascism - know what it takes to stop fascists and racists from doing real harm.  As Holocaust survivor Frank Frison put it: 

“If fascism could be defeated in debate, I assure you that it would never have happened, neither in Germany, nor in Italy, nor anywhere else. Those who recognised its threat at the time and tried to stop it were, I assume, also called “a mob”. Regrettably too many “fair-minded” people didn’t either try, or want to stop it, and, as I witnessed myself during the war, accommodated themselves when it took over … People who witnessed fascism at its height are dying out, but the ideology is still here, and its apologists are working hard at a comeback. Past experience should teach us that fascism must be stopped before it takes hold again of too many minds, and becomes useful once again to some powerful interests.”   

So who’s right about how to stop fascists?  Let’s hear from three different perspectives (starting with Frank)

FRANK FRISON, HOLOCAUST SURVIVOR: “If fascism could be defeated in debate, I assure you that it would never have happened, neither in Germany, nor in Italy, nor anywhere else.”
ADOLF HITLER: “Only one thing could have stopped our movement - if our adversaries had understood its principle and from the first day smashed with the utmost brutality the nucleus of our new movement.”
LIBERALS: No need for violence, just write a really witty editorial about it :)

You decide who’s right.
Be friends with people who disagree with you.

Don’t get me wrong here, don’t be friends with people BECAUSE they disagree with you. I’ve cut people out of my life over disagreements. I’d imagine most of you have. It’s normal and it’s bound to happen.

What I’m trying to say is that you CAN disagree with people on big issues and still be friends. You SHOULD still be friends. After all, don’t we have some common ground as human beings? Can’t we see some sense in opinions that contradict our own? Can’t we look into an opponent and see the same good intentions that we have? What if you’re wrong?

Diversity of opinions is a beautiful thing. I’m not saying you should support people spreading hate speech, harassing people, stuff like that. I’m saying you should support your friends whose only mistake is having a different opinion than the one you have. They may be genuinely wrong in what they believe. They may be genuinely stupid. Who the hell cares?

If someone is doing nothing wrong, but simply THINKING something wrong, I don’t think that is grounds to ditch your friendship. Again, I understand that shit fucking happens. Just don’t deprive yourself of a good friend and that TRUE diversity in the free market of opinions over your ego.

winnieton  asked:

Hey, Hank. A student from my university recently wrote an opinion piece saying we shouldn't vote because the government is a bully and an enforcer that we shouldn't support. He said those who vote are partly to blame for all the terrible things the government does, and the only time he will vote is if it is to get rid of a pre-existing law. He ended it by saying "If you want change, put your arguments on the free market of ideas and see what happens. Good ideas can go a long way." Thoughts?

Some people think that the world is really really really deeply effed and they just can’t reconcile interfacing with the existing system. I think those people are really wrong and that they are often driven more by a desire to feel exceptional than by any actual understanding of reality.

None of us alone are important at all. But together we control the future of the world. This is a great gift and I find that those who turn away from it despite having strong opinions are usually insufferable egomaniacs.


Fucking Vote.

After going through seven years of Magic: The Gathering forum threads I’ve come to the conclusion that fandoms actually do function much better not when “everyone’s opinions can be heard uwu” but when shitheads with shitty beliefs are immediately burned out of the fandom as quickly as possible.

The benefits to ideological tyranny are so obviously enormous, whereas the downsides are basically nonexistent as far as I can see. Literally the only downside is that some people are going to whine about how you don’t support freeze peach. So if you don’t mind dealing with that annoyance, you’re golden.

I’m sorry but there’s just zero evidence that an alternate conception of fandom spaces works. Nada. Zip. Zilch. We just have this obsessive belief that forums and fandom spaces should be principled on a free market of ideas, even though there’s nothing on earth to back that claim up.

In the absence of moderators given the ability to make those calls of COURSE we have a culture based in callouts. I mean @staff won’t even ban actual neonazis from this website SO OF COURSE PEOPLE TAKE MATTERS INTO THEIR OWN FUCKING HANDS. Pretending like that isn’t the structural reality of this website and complaining about callout culture in the abstract as though it developed out of nowhere just plays into reactionary narratives and encourages people to be belligerent shitheads.

anonymous asked:

Hello! I've seen your post/reply concerning liberalism and I wonder, what do you think makes liberalism (as such) incompatible with antifa? I consider myself a liberal and I have always sympathized with antifa (and would like to get involved with it), however I've seen a lot of negativity about liberals and liberalism and it confuses me... Thank you!

Antifa are often subjected to criticisms and attacks from two sides.  On one side, there are fascists and racists - the people from which we expect to be attacked.  But the other side are people that claim to be against fascism and racism and generally see themselves as aligning somewhere on the left, yet seem most intent on attacking antifa if they don’t personally agree with our time-tested strategies and tactics.

These people tend to come at us with the same arguments, over and over:
-you can’t fight hate with hate;
-if you fight fascism militantly, you’re just as bad as they are;
-nazis should have the right to publicly advocate and organize genocide because “free speech;”
-if we just ignore the fascists they’ll go away;
-shutting down racist events won’t change their minds about their racism;
-the police and the state will protect us from fascists;
-we need to “shine a light” on the racists’ bankrupt ideas, so everyone can see their ideology for what it is, in the free market of ideas blah blah blah

A lot of us lump those people and their bullshit arguments together in the category “liberals.”  Mostly because we don’t have time to deal with their fascist-enabling, collaborationist nonsense.  

But maybe it’s not fair for us to call them “liberals?”  Is there a better term that you’d care to suggest?