The Alternative Left on US Libertarianism or Minarchism

AC in NC writes:


I’m working from this definition of capitalism: an economic and political system in which a country’s trade and industry are controlled by private owners for profit, rather than by the state.

It seems a little ethnocentric to think that Western Values and Christianity are the primary source of the inclusion of things like compassion and charity in the “profit” that private owners seek. I believe in Natural Law that can be derived independent of, or complementary to, any of the many human belief systems (except Islam absent reformation and other cultish enterprises). It is within the context of Natural Law and a balanced relationship with nature and our fellow man that private enterprise “profit seeking” would include tangible and intangible non-monetary “profits”.

Society works best not by elaborate system of rules but in a social construct where the commonality amongst tribe and transcendental goals hold each to a higher standard where they would be embarrassed to take too great a share within the context of otherwise wealth-maximizing activities which are the key to providing a rising standard of living for all. A perfect example of this is hospitals before they are corporatized back I think in the 60’s or 70’s. Before that hospitals would have a board of community leaders who would’ve felt greatly shamed amongst their fellow citizens were they to not provide health care to the indigent. But once behind the corporate shield, it becomes a different story.

Jim Goodnight locally here with SAS Institute maintains a private company and extends extraordinary benefits and working conditions to his employees maintaining jobs even in downturns. They even go so far is to demand most or all employees NOT take laptops and work extra hours from home.

Elon Musk at SpaceX (although he’s got some leaching off the government crony-capitalist stuff going on) nominally seems to be setting his company up to forego maximum monetary profit to seek his goal of expanding humanity off earth.

We spend something like $10K per person per year on health care in the United States. But this money is spent with virtually no price transparency, virtually no incentive to shop for value, and with virtually no checks on unnecessary costs. Can anyone deny that health care prices would plummet if barriers to competition were eliminated, people re-insured at their own discretion for liability, that $10K was distributed each year to every person in a tax exempt account for spending according to various rules where family could help family or people could “crowdsource” small contributions to atypical expense, with private charities stepping into cover the most tragic cases (or not).

Every health care system results in some kind of explicit or implicit rationing. Rather than some bureaucratic scheme that wastes enormous money on end-of-life care, let people decide amongst themselves what is worthy. Those 10K/person/year accounts would build year after year, would be an asset that could be passed along. The people could pay their own bills, would have an incentive to be healthy, would be denied care and die if they’d made horrible decisions. Providers would get paid without enormous back office paperwork. Unnecessary care would be eliminated because people would push back and not pay for it and Provider Liability (absent criminal charges) would be eliminated and so no one would be prescribing tests and such for fear of lawsuit.

Similar thing with Universities. Anyone can teach themselves anything online today. If it weren’t for the government sanctioned stranglehold of accreditation of colleges, business could be required to treat an independent accreditation business as equal to college degrees. Then an accreditation agency could arise that simply provides testing to ensure that someone has college equivalent skills. But now we tell everyone they must go to college, jam loans down their throat, and send them off to learn gender studies at $200K for 4 years paying some professor $180K a year to teach one class. And no hope of future earnings.

Capitalism is almost perfect requiring only a set of strong constraints around the periphery. Crony- and hyper-regulated capitalism is just devolves into criminal rent-seeking enterprise. However it is still better than more complete central planning approaches. But it still sucks.


I am going to respond to the commenter personally in this comment. AC in NC, you are advocating Libertarianism. There are no barriers to competition in health care. Why would there be.

There are no problems with the government strange hold on accreditation. This was necessitated in the first place because privately run universities were not able to police themselves and regulate themselves. I assume that any private accreditation system would soon devolve into corruption the way the accounting firms have. Private for profit education is complete crap. And it’s utterly unregulated. And a lot of nonprofits like National University are pure shit too. These are also unregulated.

The fact that National is accredited shows that the state is not doing a real great job of accrediting schools. They are accrediting too many crappy schools but that is just as the Libertarians want it. Surely the state having no monetary interest in school accreditation is the only thing that accredit a school. And if the state’s doing a lousy job and letting crap schools slide, I assure that the any private agency or agencies would be even worse. They would have to be according to the laws of capitalism because these would be paid on the basis of how many schools they accredit.

Business is incapable of policing itself. It’s never been able to. This is why the voluntary regulations that business insists on never work. If you make a regulation voluntary, nobody does it. Worse, the firms that agree to voluntarily regulate find themselves at a disadvantate and will be outcompeted by the firms that declined to regulate.

I know you are a Libertarian because you consider an extreme free market to be better than regulated capitalism and you hate the idea of the state doing or regulating anything. Also you invoke crony capitalism over and over. This is what Libertarians do. Crony capitalism is where the state favors some businesses over others. There’s no such thing as crony capitalism. So the only problem in crony capitalism is the existence of the state. However, the state does not favor any one business over another except in the cases of monopolies which it refuges to break up, but Libertarians like that.

Also you have almost religious love for and worship of capitalism. Obviously you can’t see what’s wrong with it. And in some ideal capitalism bullshit which does not exist, the capitalists are going to be real nice and loving and giving and shit.

Yes a few capitalists are being decent but that is only because we socialists have been screaming at them and guilt tripping them forever. True capitalism seeks no constraints on profits ever for any reason. That is why voluntary regulation always fails. So we need socialists in the state to regulate capitalism by putting limits on the profits of businesses.

When is this dream state with all these kindhearted capitalist business owners going to exist? Yes a few business owners are acting decent but only because leftwing socialists have been screaming at them forever. This is not typical in the US and of course it is not typical in the world.

There is no dream capitalism where the capitalists all act really nice and stuff. You think this is the natural, normal state of capitalism. Once again you are advocating Libertarianism. Libertarians and you do not even understand how capitalism works. They think in some perfect free market system everything is going to be all groovy and cool and all the problems of capitalism will just go away. Furthermore in this perfect free market of the Libertarians the market is going to fix everything and all of the problems that we socialists are bitching about.

Look, I wish Libertarianism or pure free market economics could solve all of the problems we socialists bitch about and give us in a sense the world that we dream of, only purely capitalist instead of purely socialist. If this pure capitalism could deliver us everything we want in our socialist dream world, we would all just pack it up, bury socialism and become capitalists in a New York minute. I know I would.

But this has almost never existed and the closest things to radical free market totally unregulated have been severe catastrophes of the worst sort. You guys keep arguing that we have never tried the real pure free market capitalism because there’s always government in there somewhere screwing stuff up. But it probably can’t exist and the closest stuff to that is a place like Somalia. A totally free market with no state simply devolves into warlordism.

You keep talking about putting some sort of corral around your capitalism which implies some limits or regulations but you never tell us what this corral will look like and what limits or regulations will encompass the fences.

You guys are pie in the sky dreamers at best, winking and prevaricating cynics more typically and advocates for nightmarish dystopias at worst.


Filed under Capitalism, Corruption, Economics, Education, Government, Health, Higher Education, Left, Libertarianism, Political Science, Regional, Socialism, USA

29 responses to “The Alternative Left on US Libertarianism or Minarchism

  1. AC in NC


    You are better than to construct strawmen of what my opinions are and skewer them. Yes I have not specified what corral I would place around capitalism. Frankly I thought my post in response to the simple suggestion that Western Christianity is “the” reason that compassion exists in capitalism was long enough.

    If you want to drop the accusatory and dismissive tone and engage constructively we can do that.

    You’ve extrapolated from my remarks an advocacy of libertarianism, of for profit education, of self-regulating businesses, of unregulated markets, and of extreme implementation of a single economic economic approach. Frankly this is insulting and overlooked much of what I’ve written in this post and others.

    Further you are absolutely mistaken that (1) there are barriers to competition in healthcare; (2) crony capitalism doesn’t exist; (3) and that current accreditation organizations (at least the ones I’m thinking of) are not already private (

    As always, I remain open to challenge my views against alternative arguments. But the above was beneath you and you know it. You are better than that.


  2. AC in NC’s post is fallacy followed by fallacy.

    I don’t observe any embarrassment about taking more than ones ‘fair share’. It doesn’t exist. No matter how rigged a market is, not matter what gains someone makes for doing NOTHING, other than holding onto some asset like property, there is no embarrassment. None.

    Where are people embarrassed?

    The median house price in Sydney is a million dollars. Can you believe it? Do you think the vendors selling a house for over a million, which they paid squat all, and did squat all to it, are embarrassed? Show me. Show me ONE PERSON who is embarrassed, and maybe will sell their house below market because they feel the prices are too much.

    Deregulated tertiary education providing a better outcome? We did that in Australia too, and loads of shoddy educational institutes sprung up, doing little more than using their product to help international students get permanent residency. The Unis here, in the fight for cash will pass foreign students almost automatically. The degrees they bestow are worthless, but hey, they got paid. Is “the market” weeding these out? No. Because “the market” is parents in China wanting to have their child live in Australia, and education is the path to residency.

    Capitalists going out of their way to help employees? I’ll admit this exists, to a very limited degree, in exceptional circumstances. The fact that its exceptional proves the rule. BUT, Capitalists will always want a compliant, cheap and plentiful workforce. They might make being a labourer more pleasant, but you’ll be a labourer. You can’t take pride in providing better prison facilities.

    As for “rent seeking”. That is Capitalism at its finest. The end result of a capitalist system is capital seeking to make a profit without having to produce. If you can bypass the “produce something useful” part of capitalism, and go straight to acquiring wealth, then why not? Why bother making widgets to sell to people who need them, when you can manipulate markets, use leverage to build more capital.

    I don’t quite understand how people can be “Capitalists”, when they don’t have capital. Saying that Capitalism is about trade and making useful things for people is like saying that Christianity is about treating others with respect. ie, completely missing the point.

    Capitalists are people who use Capital to create wealth. Libertarians who don’t live off Capital, but off their labour are a joke. They claim to be Capitalists, but they aren’t. They don’t practice Capitalism. They can’t. Yet they claim to be. All over the internet are people who extol the virtues of capitalism, claim to be capitalists, but don’t have capital and sell their labour for a living. It never occurs to them that there is a capitalist system, and THEY’RE NOT IN IT.

    • TRASH

      Australian immigrants seemed to decline in quality-first were American and English people in the 50’s (And some Canadians) who wanted a better life and employment opportunities. They brought some wealth and human capitol.

      Next came the Mediterraneans to Melbourne-Greeks, Italians, Bulgarians-and they seem to thrive as small business owners. They also brought great cooking and mafia activity to some degree.

      Turks and Lebanese, in my opinion, did not bring as much to Australia as the former two. They came with seeming bad attitudes. A hostile religious perspective.

      Asians seem to be in Australia for only one reason: money. They too bring a vicious gang element and heroin.

    • TRASH

      Asians generally see Australia as a place to suck money out of. They have little respect for whites there, whom they view as being from the lower-classes of Britain, American and Europe.

      The Vietnamese heroin importer or Thai masseuse girl or Indian taxi driver sees an efficient system of laws and prosperity with a surplus economy that they can suck money out of.

      Half of them do not want to spend their entire lives there anyhow. They want to make their money and leave.

      Because Australia is nearer to Asia in geography they are not assimilated as swiftly as they would be in the United States or Canada.

      • Western countries don’t need to import the rest of the world. Arguments that some have over whether immigrant X assimilates better than immigrant Y are really moot.

        We don’t need the people. There is no point in bringing them over or throwing open the doors to them. Even if immigrants DID all start businesses, I’d still be arguing for fewer immigrants.

        A society which bases its social and economic system on constant growth is broken. Period. It can’t be sustained, and it shouldn’t be sustained through artificial means because there goes the nation. It’s replaced with a deracinated agglomeration of people who only exist within one space so that the investor class can skim off the top of their numerous transactions.

        Thats all that there here for. Someone has an apartment to sell. Some politician wants to skim tax dollars off another wage. Someone wants the share price of chain retailer to increase because they’re moving more white-goods. In order to do this, we degrade our nation and planet.

        It’s insane.

        And yes, Asians are basically exploiting Australia. Australians know this, but we’re too wrapped up in cheap and easy profit selling off our country to care for our kids future.

        Western civilisation is going down the toilet. I just wish someone else other than the alt-right would make a point of stopping this.

        • TRASH

          ASSEMBLY LINE HUMAN Asians do not even make a show of respecting Australians when they arrive as they do in North America.

          Indians show up and drive taxis illegally. Vietnamese and Thai women walk out the airport onto the nearest street corner to sell their bodies, often for heroin. Lebanese repay the country that accepted them during a Civil War by forming gangs and raping women. Turks behave in the same manner.

          I’m not sure why they would never get away with this in North America. They wouldn’t.

    • AC in NC

      Sorry, my friend. This a post full of nonsense. You start with a declaration about my content and provide nothing to back it up.

      Embarrassment doesn’t exist because the last 100 years policies have destroyed social ties. Everyone must stand independently.

      Real Estate Bubble exist from improper regulation by corrupt government permitting massive riskless speculation.

      No one ever mentioned deregulated teriary education.

      Reverse the policies that destroy social ties (and reverse laws that ensure bottom-line mentality) and you’ll have more partnerhsip between business and labor.

      Rent-seeking is hardly capitalism. Capitalism is private decisions. Rent-seeking requires power either from (1) improper collusion or (2) the police power of the state.

      Capitalism isn’t based on capital, it’s based on private decisions. I don’t see how you can be socialists unless you are social. I don’t see how you can be communist unless you live in a commune. It’s a stupid argument. Capital is nothing more than money and money is nothing more than the accumulated store of of human labor in pursuit of wealth creating or maximizing activities which wealth only having arisen from production of human needs. Anyone can obtain capital by going out and producing more subsistance goods than they consume or by, through division of labor, trading their efficiency improving services for more subsistance goods than they can consume. That’s simply the way it works. Absent them going out and producing life-sustaining goods, two hairdressers alone on an island die because their services don’t improve the efficiency of the collective production of life-sustaining goods in their two-person economy.

      Labor is a practitioner of capitalism exactly as I have show in the preceding paragraph. As a private entity, they have entered into an exchange within the division of labor. It is up to them to bring enough value to the exchange to earn the sustenance and comforts they desire. If they aren’t very good at capitalism that doesn’t mean they aren’t participating.


      • So embarrassment doesn’t exist. That’s the point I’m making. If we were to bring a Libertarian paradise tomorrow, which is what you want, how would people regulate their behaviour? They wouldn’t. They don’t today

        As for the bubble, who is permitting the speculation? The banks are offering interest only loans backed by equity from previous prices rises. They are lending money for people to invest in assets which are historically speaking, way overpriced. This is the market going nuts. Markets go nuts when people see profit, and are willing to pile more money, and banks are willing to lend, and the RE industry is willing to lie and mislead to get more people on. Perhaps you should see a market bubble in action one day…

        Saying that capitalism is about private decisions is misleading. People have been trading long before capitalism. From where did they get this idea? Where did the first homo sapien who thought to swap some meat for a wife get that idea? Adam Smith? You? I think not.

        Humans naturally trade, but saying this is “Capitalism” is like saying that treating people well is “Christianity” and ignoring everything else and neglecting to mention Jesus and hell.

        Would it be capitalism if individual were free to trade, but only goods they produced, or their company produced? Who decides that a landlord is entitled to extract rent? Who decides that the shareholders are more entitled to profit than the employees? WHY do profits go to shareholders and not workers? Who decides that my property is mine some of the time, but not other times? A CEO has to provide shareholders value, but not employees. Why? If you buy a property and it increases in value do to what someone ELSE did and paid for, why is it assumed that you are entitled to all the profit?

        Underneath Libetarianism, is a whole bunch of assumptions and norms which go unquestioned, and unseen. As Thatcher said, There Is No Alternative. We aren’t presented with alternatives. We aren’t even given hints that there could be alternatives. We assume this is the way humanity works and anything else is unnatural or forced. And in doing so, we neglect to see the current system is just as unnatural and forced.

        • AC in NC

          I would say that trading that occurred before formalized economic systems WAS capitalism. Although the definition I glance back at includes “political system” so that needs to be considered in how I’m talking about time before formalizations.

          RE: your 2nd to last paragraph.

          All of those hypotheticals are a result of (1) free market choices subject to (2) whatever bounds have been established by the political system. You’ve stated it elsewhere as bounding capitalism in order to serve it’s master. My concern is always the qualitative results of the bounding. I’m going to use the term “Regulation” for the bounding. I use a device of thinking about “Regulation” as trying to move or control water with your hands. Heavy handed regulation is always doomed to fail like trying to grab water with your fists. Humans are ingenious and can always overcome heavy-handed regulation. The way you control water with your hands is to craft careful regulation that can’t be game and which otherwise leaves the water free inside it’s constraints. You cup your hands, get some water inside, and make it go where you want it to go.

          Just as one example, about 15 years ago I was arguing with a very left-leaning friend about something and he indicated that he thought there should be no corporations. I was somewhat taken aback as I (at that time) was struggling to conceptualize something that different from the status quo. He explained that he was talking about business entities would be formed as Partnerships rather than Corporations. Corporations have arisen due to the choice of the political system with respect to constraint of capitalism. It doesn’t have to be. Although, at heart a corporation is nothing more than a manifestation of Freedon of Assembly with that organization forming based on a Charter. The political system delivers certain benefits like a liability shield but that doesn’t necessarily have to be the case.


    • AC in NC

      And yes Robert, I realize I still haven’t described the corral. I seem to be fending off meta-discussions. I hope you can appreciate that the corral is paradoxically simple in one sense and yet pretty complex in another. It’s not simply mending one thread here or there, but looking at the whole tapestry of how economy and governance is currently failing to serve the people, painting a picture of a different vision, and enumerated the manifold changes that would be necessary to marshall the positive aspects and incentives of “relatively free markets” in a constrained way that are as insulated from the corruption that will naturally arise once interest groups grab power.

  3. Here is a story of someone, under 30, who holds $23 million in property.

    She plans to retire by 30. She didn’t win the lottery, and she didn’t have a million+ per annum salary.

    I would like someone to explain how an individual can make a claim of $23 million dollars of societies productive output, when they’ve never created $23 million dollars of value AND WILL MOST LIKELY NEVER WILL.

    Yet the Free Market Libertarians say this is just some natural trade. I’d like to see the trades where this person created this value, in order to justify their holding of this property.

    This women is not alone. There are others, who having earned 5 figures a year, somehow manage to hold wealth in the millions, despite never creating that wealth, or having any plans to create it.

    Here is another.

    He makes $2 million in rent per annum. Somehow, the capitalist system we have, can justify someone earning 2 million from holding property, when they’ve created nowhere near that value. Not even a magnitude of order less.

    People like this are societies ballast, dead weight we would be better off without. Capitalist celebrate them as heroes, winners. People who produce nothing and take everything.

    • Thank you for these critiques of Libertarianism and even capitalism, comrade. Really appreciate it. I have never been a capitalist fanboy, but only thought that it seemed to work better than the alternatives. In fact, I thought capitalism was pretty disastrous but that it still worked better than the alternatives. So capitalism was like death, disease, and taxes, a necessary evil.

      But that’s nothing like being a fanboy. Even when I have acknowledged the good things about capitalism, I never cheered for it. Anyway, Marx praised capitalism to the skies. He just thought it was unsustainable and that the bad outweighed the good.

      • As much as I rail against Capitalists and the Free Marketeers, I do support a market based economic system over a centrally planned one.

        I don’t have an issue with ‘bounded’ Capitalism, that is, one kept on a leash to bound excess and ensure that solutions which markets can’t provide are still developed and allowed to appear. I would probably still be more Capitalist than Communist.

        But it doesn’t make much sense arguing against the Socialists and Communists, because they aren’t the ones with power. Its the neo-liberal, dog-eat-dog, markets-rule-all types which have power. The University Marxists are far, far from any kind of power, or seizing my home. The pendulum has swing too far to the economic right.

        I’d rather fight someone who’s ideology is perhaps closer to mine, who can exert power and influence politics, than those who’s politics are further, but are far from having any influence.

    • AC in NC

      As I explained earlier, every “Service” in the economy “Produces Nothing”. That’s the same whether it’s my software service, Robert’s counselling, the hypothetical Island exmample’s Hairdressers, or offering rental housing. The services are market exchanges which improve the efficiency within the division labor for others who do “Produce” something or who likewise provide “Services” which offer a similar efficiency exchange with their “customers”.

      A few points.

      1) Wild profits (not these) in real estate are a symptom of the problem not any proximate cause. Globalization and Counterfeiting of Currency by Central Banks since 2007 and Rampant Financial Speculation have created enormous returns which are I think examples of exactly the kind of dead weight you criticize and then government fostered rent-seeking I criticize.

      2) Particularly with respect to Australia, the profits that have arisen in China due to their centrally planned bubble and our governments contemptible offshoring of manufacturing and counterfeited currency and the impending collapse of these bubbles, has Chinese crony-capitalists pouring their gains into property all around the world. Vancouver, NY, Australia, and I’m sure Europe as well.

      3) The exasperation over the nominal values involved is focusing on numbers that don’t really reflect what is being decried in order to magnify what is otherwise very pedestrian transactions without undue returns. The young lady doesn’t claim $23M of productive output, the bank does. She provides a service where she insulates the renter from the problem of downpayment, market risk, and entry/exit fees and receives a return for that service. It’s the same reason any business Rents rather than Buys and why people (although stupidly) Lease rather than Buy cars. The guy is doing the same thing but the $2M is Rents not Profits and over 170 Properties for $35M total property. That comes out to about $220K per property, $1K/month rent, and about $200/month profit. About a 5% return on a very typical urban property in modest neighborhoods. He should be able to get this return in a Bank Account but of course the Central Banks have destroyed any return on savings for average people.

      4) Yes $200K for a property is high in a nominal sense, but that primarily relates to the massive inflation since the early 1970’s when Nixon broke the final link of $USD to Gold. From 1780-1950 the average US Inflation Rate was 0% because Currency was redeemable in a Hard Asset that reflected an underlying relationship with the actual productive output of society (ie: wealth).

      5) Yes is sucks that someone has to go out and earn an assload of money to make all the trades necessary with other service providers in order to live where you live and do something that through manifold layers of services eventually helps someone “Produce Something”. That’s a result of a where we live, how expensive government makes various aspects of our needs through necessary and unnecessary regulations, and what we choose to do.

      6) Essentially all the wealth in the world comes from Natural Resources combined with Human Labor to produce the things that sustain life. All other things, comfort goods and services, are simply “Services” that permit someone to do those other things more efficiently so they can be more productive or permit someone else to be.

      I would encourage all to step a bit outside of each of our lifetime’s experience marinating in the policy we see every day and think about things from a historical perspective. We are in an extreme bubble caused by cheap hydrocarbon energy and governments have experimented with extraordinary market interventions that have created insane economic distortions.

      As I started, alot of the items you rightfully cite as concerns are symptoms, not the problem itself.

      I hope you don’t mind my articulating a differing from yours. I do enjoy the insights I read here and think we each have things to learn from each other. However, I’m pretty self-actualized so if you do that’s OK too.

      I would say I like Robert’s statement above “not being a capitalist fanboy, but preferred to alternatives”. I guess I am a recovering Capitalist (at least as practiced in my lifetime which I think is quite a corruption of capitalism) Fanboy and am always thinking of how to get the best out of it (and government) without the unsavory collateral damage.

      Kind Regards to All. Cheers.

      • Firstly, I should state that I’m not against a market system. I bring up housing as an example which has burned me and my peers. It’s a major social issue, and “the market” hasn’t solved anything. If “The Market” corrects, it still means that people have perhaps had to delay starting their lives, delay children, or have fewer.

        But I digress. An economy as a means to turn inputs (labour, resources, energy) into desired outputs. Markets are a good means of allocating those inputs to outputs. You don’t want to create a million widgets with scarce resources when there is no demand.

        Money/accounting is the result of human beings who want to maximise their intake. Basic biological impulse. We care about how much stuff we have, and we want to try and give the least and get the most. However, if you obtain 100 units for 10 output, someone else is getting stiffed.

        Most reasonable people I assume, would agree that an individuals consumption should be commensurate with their productive output. Libertarians argue this, and I agree, to a degree. I believe there should be exceptions at the top and at the bottom. We can’t expect someone with downs syndrome to satisfy this, so for those who may fail, we balance the equation by having others produce more than they consume, those at the other end of the spectrum, where the opportunity cost is the least.

        Progressive taxation.

        The Libertarian argument, is that this situation (with or without the taxation to stop people starving) happens spontaneously. This argument suggests that this is the natural state of man, and would be the result of allowing the millions of individual free transactions take place, and its all fair and right and just. The only fly in the ointment is ‘initiation of violence’.

        I don’t buy this. I don’t observe a move towards this equilibrium in cases where markets and systems are deregulated. Rather, what happens is that political and social power, wealth and leverage are used to game the system so that people can consume more than they produce. Hence all the excesses by banks, by out of control markets, AND by governments who try to buy votes by promising taxpayers a lifestyle which isn’t supported by their output.

        The natural state of man is one of douchebaggery. It’s people trying to find a way to live off others, and they’ll use any system available to do that. Communism, Market Capitalism, Catholicism, Fascism.

        If it were true that markets were great, they would have spontaneously erupted throughout human history. We don’t see it. We see, at best, trade between groups but there are no individualistic Free Market societies that work on any scale worth a damn. None.

        Ultimately, I see this neo-Libetarianism as hopelessly optimistic as Communism. They both claim that their system is the natural state of man. They both claim that their system will eventually mean we won’t need a state and to be ruled, and that people under this system will somehow spontaneously act differently. They both think that society is based around economy, and if we just change the way the economy functions, all problems are solved. They both seem to believe there is some attainable end-goal, if only the Greedy Capitalists/State Loving Commies just got of out the way. They both assume that people are economically rational. I know people who accumulate property purely for bragging rights. Many senior executives are sociopaths who just want power. The elite today is sacrificing wealth to hold onto power. People deliberately choose suboptimal outcomes for other ambitions.

        In theory, idealistic economic system work. But humans fuck it up. All the time. All the time. Every system will be abused, usurped, warped, degraded and manipulated. Markets are being abused, usurped, warped and degraded. It’s not quite the fault of the market, but the fact that people are in it. But remove all the checks and balances, the controls, the competing systems and other locuses of social power, and you’re just courting disaster.

      • AC in NC

        Good post. I agree with just about everything. A couple points:

        1) I agree “no idealistic system works in practice”. I’m not a “remove checks and balances” guy. I’m a try to create objective, mutually agreed checks and balances that are as immune to corruption as possible.

        2) Money at a more root level is a result of needing to step up one level from barter.

        3) In true free market transactions, no one gets stiffed. The 100 units of value for 10 units of concession only results from defects in a free market transaction (fraud, rent-seeking, …)


  4. GroovyDude

    According to Marx, capitalism is not some ideal state, a la platonism, but a process a la Hegel. Perhaps there was a time when businessmen could be shamed by local communities, but that time has passed and isn’t coming back, because it was just a stage in an evolving market system. As local business fades out, and national too, we end up with international capitalism and empire, which is unaccountable to peer pressure or state regulation. At this point, a reassertion of state power led by the workers is the only way to rein capitalism in, aka The Dictatorship of the Proletariat, aka communism.

    Eventually, the state dies out as the strict discipline it imposes alters humans social systems, which are also processes rather than ideal types, and people can be free to live communally, equitably, and fairly by their own devices. This is socialism in an advanced society, like a return to the primitive socialism of tribes, but at a higher level, thus completing the Hegelian dialectic.

    Note that in Marxist terms, the European welfare state is not socialism, as socialism can only exist after the communist stage, which in turn can only exist after the capitalist stage.

    • I think automation will eventually make Socialism necessary. Otherwise, we will have millions of people whose labour and effort we won’t need. As more and more jobs are being done by machines, a situation where the owners of those machines accrue all the wealth just won’t work for humanity.

      At the moment, we are able to keep people nominally employed through a large number of make-work and “service” jobs, but really, the fact that Capitalism has been in crisis since 2008, that society keeps running, despite underemployment is evidence that the system is just fraying and no longer able to adapt. We create debt to drive demand.

      • GroovyDude

        I agree that automation could force socialism.

        Also as a quick note, I got socialism and communism backward in my comment. Socialism is the dictatorship of the proletariat. Communism is the advanced stateless society that is akin to primitive communism, but at a higher level that completes the upward-tending circle of Marx’s Hegelian dialectic.

        I just got off the night shift so was tired while writing.

        • I view Socialism as a general term which describes a system where the economic/government apparatus is directed for the purposes of society. Vague yes, but this is actually quite different to neo-liberalism, where society is directed and demographically engineered, for the market.

          Socialism, as used by Marxists refers to that pre-Communist phase, and most people don’t distinguish between Marxist Socialism and Socialism in general.

          I’m a Socialist in the sense that markets should be bounded to ensure they it doesn’t turn against their masters, the nation of people whom that market consists of, and that certain ‘market outcomes’ are forced when the nation requires it, and the market fails to deliver. But I’m not a Communist. It shouldn’t be up to intellectuals working in a bureaucracy to determine how many tonnes of wheat should go into cheerios and how much into bread.

        • AC in NC

          “I’m a Socialist in the sense that markets should be bounded to ensure they it doesn’t turn against their masters, the nation of people whom that market consists of, and that certain ‘market outcomes’ are forced when the nation requires it, and the market fails to deliver.”

          Thank you for this post. I think this is very good articulation of exactly where my head is at.

      • GroovyDude

        Also, socialism will have to be forced on the capitalists who run this outdated capitalist system. Although market evolution like automation and globalization, which nearly equalize worker pay worldwide, is an inevitability, and according to Marx inevitably lead to socialism, human agency does not exit the picture. Revolutionary struggle engaged in by desperate people is the means by which the inevitable comes about, and until the working class joins the battle that the capitalists started, progress cannot occur.

        Free will and determinism are reconciled in Hegel and Marx through the following picture: several options are available at each juncture, but until you pick the right one, nothing moves forward, and the overall path forward is predetermined according to the laws of societal development.

    • Thank you for this, comrade. And welcome to the site, if you have not commented here before.

    • AC in NC


      Globalism must be reversed or civilization is doomed to a nightmarish dystopian future. Communism or Communism-ish does work. But ONLY, ONLY, ONLY at a micro-level. Amish, Mennonites, Hutterites.

      The individual violence and deprivation against the individual between global capitalism, communism, socialism whatever varies only in the manner of it’s distribution not in any qualitatively meaningful way.

      I think what we ultimately need is a return to a sustainable localism. In the past, we didn’t have the democratization of enough information and power. A sustainable localism is one where the “planning” simply ensures that regions have economies that are as self-sustaining as possible and preventing businesses externalizing costs. Government policy can create an environment conducive to this just as it created an environment destructive of this.

      Any of the three systems employed globally, I fear, will only result if the misery which I illustrate with the following example in gaming. There are Multiplayer Online (engine based) Games like Evony. You have a 200×200 “world” where you build up your city-state, organize in guilds, and build, war, and expand. There’s a device where you can abandoned a Level-10 city and turn it into a resource farm to be exploited. At the end of the game, whoever spent the most time online and stabbed the most people in the back controls vast swathes of “Dead” world where everyone else has been driven out and only the handful of “winners” control a bleak landscape of “resource farms”. Here’s a picture of one local area but imagine this “worldwide”.

      I think that is analgous of the future unless we reassert the social bonds between neighbors with sustainable localism.


      • From reading some of your other responses, I’m getting the impression you don’t actually fit into the intellectual mould that you might initially appear to belong to. However, I find it difficult to reconcile how one would reach sustainable localism (a worthy goal) from here without great disruption. Considering that starting a new nation isn’t a viable option, how do you reclaim the spirit of mid 20th century pro-middle class, responsible capitalism from this vantage point? In times of crisis, we just lurch further towards centralisation of power.

      • AC in NC

        Oh yes. The disruption is massive. I think I have a conceptualization of how the disruption could be managed although that is a separate question from how the Policy Changes could be effected to intiate the transition.

        I apologize for being coy in not really addressing any elements of either of those aspects. I think I understand the former much more than the latter.

        But I guess I just see two other aspects that preceed those.

        1) Getting people to discuss the possible of something besides lurching down the path were on.

        2) Conceptualizing what we would like to get to

        then you can get to (3) initiation and (4) mitigating disruption.

        • Rather than enhance peoples freedom, I really believe that a pro “Free Market” stance, or AnCap, or Market Libertarianism as popularly espoused, works against people.

          Most people who work for a salary are in a more Socialist type arrangement, than a Capitalist one. Why else is the minimum wage determined by the minimum to live, and not what one actually produces? Office and production floor drones aren’t people who build wealth through allocation of their capital. So in arguing for this, they essentially have people arguing for freedoms they’ll rarely get to use. They will however notice when their job is off shored. It doesn’t make sense to argue for more market freedom, unless you’re going to take a bigger part in the market.

          I suspect this is something you’re well aware of.

          I think this is part of the reason of the rise of the “far right”, the “far left”, “populists” and Trump/Sanders. People want to fight for things they may actually get to use, instead of the theoretical right to build a highway and charge tolls, or the theoretical right to sell farm produce without all the regulations, or for Hillary’s donors to make more money.

          Ultimately, I think the change has to be cultural. Changing the parameters of how our current system works won’t resolve any issues, because the frame of reference that people use to evaluate and rationalise is flawed. Arguing more economic freedom means that people will be freer to use a flawed philosophy and logic to further endanger us.

          Rather, I think we need a reevaluation of things. A kind of Nietzschean uproot of our values system, and this will probably only come through a change in the elite. I see “market logic”, or more commonly called “economic rationalism”, a false rationalism. The automatic assigning of positive value to transactions that most efficiently make wealth has to be discarded. We have to stop assuming that the right produce is that which costs the leasts, the right decisions the one which earns us the most, and be willing to put our own values above the mechanics of economics. We have to learn to treat as a value, being able to reject economic rationalism.

          I’m not sure of this makes sense or not…

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