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Libertarian Individualism denies society exists; Personalism reaffirms the existence and need of the human community.

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“There is no such things as society, only a collection of individuals.”—Attributed to Margaret Thatcher

During the May 29, 2014 second pm hour Steve called at 24:05 minutes into the program offering some counter arguments against Ayn Rand’s form of radical individualism.

“We need to come up with a meme to push back on the Ayn Rand thought virus and I have two ideas. One is to point out that you cannot separate the good of the individual from the good of society. They are both legitimate ethical values. And to do so is to commit what is know in logic as a false dichotomy, or false dilemma. And the second is related to something David Hume, the philosopher, referred to as the “Is, Ought Gap”. And it is simply you cannot do any rational argument that will get you from the way things are to the way things ought to be. In other words, ethics and politics are purely humanistic that serve the good of we the people. And that is the only rational basis for ethics and values. “

Hartmann: “Let me break this down into common English language. Maggie Thatcher started this whole thing in 1978 when she got elected as Prime Minister. Her Party won Parliament and made her Prime Minister of England. And she said famously, “There is no such thing as society, there is only a collection of individuals.” And this was a reflection of Ayn Rand’s Objectivist Theory that there is no such thing as society, that we don’t exist as society, that we are all individuals: every individual strives for there own best interest, self-interest, their most selfish interests, that somehow will magically produce the most good. Turns out that no country in the world ever successfully tried—this is called Libertarianism—it has never worked. And every time it has been tried it has failed miserably. Alan Greenspan tried it with our banking system back in 1993 to 2007. It didn’t work out so well…what you are saying is not only is it absurd, but that there is such a thing as society. And society is made up of individuals. And individuals and society are interdependent with each other. And we need to acknowledge that interdependence, and nourish it with things like good public education, a reasonable safety net, and social security.

Steve: “Yes, society is a legitimate category. To deny it is like denying the category of music and saying it is just a bunch of individual notes, or there is no such thing as cities, it is just a bunch of individual buildings. It is absurd.”

It is the concept of the atomistic individual that is the abstraction, not society. If there is no such thing as society, then there is no such thing as a market since there are only buyers and sellers according to this skeptical nominalistic reasoning. Hobbes, Locke, Hume, and the philosophies of existentialism all use the concepts of “individual” and “individualism,” so that it is a highly ideological term that ranges from philosophies of atheistic enlightened egoism to theistic existentialism.

I cannot find the source of Thatcher’s exact words as given and is mostly likely a paraphrase of other documented quotes. Regardless, it is Thatcher’s meaning that is important and there are a number of quotes that express this emphasis on the atomic individual as primary in society. The ideological elevation of the individual, and nominalistic skepticism is characteristic of Libertarianism, Free-Market Ideology, and Neo-Liberalism. We can find this egocentric doctrine stated by both Thatcher and Ayn Rand.

“They're casting their problem on society. And, you know, there is no such thing as society. There are individual men and women, and there are families.” Margaret Thatcher

“There is no such thing as society. There is living tapestry of men and women and people and the beauty of that tapestry and the quality of our lives will depend upon how much each of us is prepared to take responsibility for ourselves and each of us prepared to turn round and help by our own efforts those who are unfortunate.”-- Margaret Thatcher

“Since there is no such entity as 'the public,' since the public is merely a number of individuals, the idea that 'the public interest' supersedes private interests and rights can have but one meaning: that the interests and rights of some individuals take precedence over the interests and rights of others.”— Ayn Rand

“If a life can have a 'theme song' -- and I believe every worthwhile one has -- mine is a religion, an obsession or a mania -- or all of these -- expressed in one word: Individualism.”— Ayn Rand

A systematic analysis of the atomistic egocentric individual can be found in Thomas Hobbes’ (1588-1679) book, Leviathan, wherein he describes the self-interested economic man and a theory of the State. Hobbes’ philosophical anthropology of human behavior has a familiar ring with today’s popular version of Libertarian philosophy represented by Ayn Rand. The Leviathan’s theory of state is linked to a belief in the intrinsic competitive nature of human beings. For Hobbes the natural condition of men is “war of all against all” for without the nation-state each person has a right to everything, but a world with such self-interested human beings seeking advantage would be chaotic in which commerce is impossible since no one would secure against violence from another. In order to avoid this natural state of war for advantage the self-interested rational human being accepts a social contract by which all persons give up some freedom for state protection from another. This state could have the form of a Monarchy, Aristocracy, or a Democracy.

In Hobbes’ Leviathan the state is not founded on universalistic morality, nor on political human rights, but on non-traditionalist human economic self-interest. Norms are not completely arbitrary because there are some unchanging laws of nature on which norms can be based. In this case normative laws are derived from the biological competitive nature of human self-interest according to Hobbes. This view is called "biological naturalism" by Popper. Man is only an accumulating machine seeking power over others. Arendt writes of this Hobbesian accumulator,

“A being without reason, without the capacity for truth, and without free will—that is, without the capacity for responsibility—man is essentially a function of society and judged therefore according to his "value or worth ... his price; that is to say so much as would be given for the use of his power." This price is constantly evaluated and re-evaluated by society, the "esteem of others," depending upon the law of supply and demand. Power, according to Hobbes, is the accumulated control that permits the individual to fix prices and regulate supply and demand in such a way that they contribute to his own advantage. (Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism, Harvest Book, Hb244, Kindle Loc. 3330-3343.).

The Hobbesian economic man is intrinsically anti-social who forms the basis of an inherently unstable community that is only designed to assist in exploiting other members and accumulating power over others for there is nothing else to connect private individuals in society except competition and human convention. He has no ethical responsibility for his beaten competitor- the poor. Both the unfortunate poor and the shameful criminal are indistinguishable and expelled from society as undesirable. Hobbesian power philosophy has been adapted to popular Libertarian sects in America. Libertarianism and Neoliberalism embrace this anthropological view of the self-interested human as a capital-accumulating machine. Libertarian anti-society doesn’t exist on any other foundation than self-interested advantage, possessive individualism, competition, individualist economic contractualism, and ethical egoism if not crude materialistic nihilism. Hobbes does not deny the existence of society, only that in its natural state society is disorganized war.

For Hobbes there are no absolute values. Where there is no social covenant, no act can be called unjust. Hobbes writes in the Leviathan, “…the notions of right and wrong, justice and injustice, have no place. Where there is no common power, there is no law, where no law, no injustice. Force and fraud are in war the two cardinal virtues.” And there is “…no dominion, no mine and thine distinct; but only that to be every man’s, that he can get: and for so long as he can keep it."

David Hume (1711-1776) views society as primary since the individual first exists as a member of a group for “Man, born in a family, is compelled to maintain society from necessity, from natural inclinations and from habit.” (Of the Origin of Government, Hume, 1777). The family is “the first and original principle of human society” (A Treatise of Human Nature, Hume, 1888). The concept of government is based on the family-society model of social relations.

Agreeing with Hobbes, Hume understands society as having great utility for humanity, and justice is artificial in the sense it is based on self-interest and public utility. “Society provides a remedy for these three inconveniences. By the conjunction of forces, our power is augmented: By the partition of employment, our ability increases: And by mutual succour we are less exposed to fortune and accidents. It is by this additional force, ability, and security that society becomes advantageous.”(An Enquiry concerning Human Understanding, Hume, 1751).

Hume believes government is an invention, not a social compact as John Locke claims. As a hard empiricist, Hume denied Lockean ethics that claim Natural Law is base on universal categorical moral law derived from Reason. Hume believed government arose from war and human utility. Hume rejected the Lockean state of nature thesis that the original social contract is an actual historical event by which humans voluntarily agreed to form an organized society to protect freedom and political rights. There is no empirical evidence of any such natural state. Hume wrote,

“it is utterly impossible for men to remain any considerable time in that savage condition which precedes society, but that his very first state and situation many justly be esteemed social. This however, hinders not but that philosophers may, if they please, extend their reasoning to the supposed state of nature; provided they allow it to be a mere philosophical fiction, which never had, and never could have any reality. …This state of nature, therefore, is to be regarded as a mere fiction.” (A Treatise of Human Nature, Hume, 1888).

To be consistent with this quote Hume would also have to reject Hobbes’ theory of the state of nature as war a historical fiction, or philosophical parable. David Hume’s close friend Adam Smith postulated a similar primordial state of nature by postulating a Smithian “Economic Man” as a bartering savage. One wonders if Hume would also criticize the bartering savage as a fiction along with Hobbes’ state of war and Locke’s claim historical social compact. (See footnote in post # 2 below explaining the rejection of Adam Smith’s bartering society as a state of nature.)

All of these theories of society and government discussed view the individual as an isolated economic unit of activity driven by self-interest, competition, distrust, and greed. The view of the individual driven by utilitarian and hedonistic principles is a gross oversimplification of human motivation and ethical behavior. William Kingdon Clifford (1845-1879) professor of mathematics at University College, London, was critical of this scientific conception of the individual. Historian of philosophy, Frederick Copleston, wrote in summary of Clifford’s views,

“…the concept of the human atom, the completely solitary and self-contained individual, is an abstraction. In actual fact every individual is by nature, in virtue of the tribal self, a member of the social organism, the tribe. And moral progress consists in subordinating the egoistic impulses to the interests or good of the tribe, to that which, in Darwinian language, makes the tribe most fit for survival. Conscience is the voice of the tribal self; and the ethical ideal is to become a public-spirited and efficient citizen. (Fredrick Copleston, S.J., A History of Philosophy: Modern Philosophy, Bentham to Russell, Vol. 8, Part I, Doubleday, 1967, page 135.)

Philosophy has treated the human being as an individual instead of a person. The French Philosopher Emmanuel Mounier (1905-1950) was an important leader of the French Personalist Existentialist movement that attempted to rescue the person in “a reaction of the philosophy of man against the excesses of the philosophy of ideas and the philosophy of things.” Philosophy has joined natural science in dehumanizing the human as objects in a physical world. Mounier blames rationalism, materialism, behaviorism and positivism for treating human beings as mere things.

Mounier does not present Personalism as a system and avoids systematization. What makes personalism very difficult for some to understand is that they are trying to find a system, whereas personalism is perspective, method, exigency (Be Not Afraid, p. 193). Human existence is characterized by the principle of unpredictability, and creative freedom. A Person is not merely a material object, nor pure spirit, but rather wholly body and spirit. Personalism resists reductionist materialism that only recognizes human ability as labor to be exploited in a narcissistic society of competitive nihilistic drones. The person only exists as a member of community, as a ‘we’, and only in this social context morality is meaningful. Remove community and one also removed morality: this view of ethics is similar to Hobbes’ and Hume’s conceptions of justice and duty dependent on society, and social contract.

Mounier said the 1929 Economic Depression inspired his journal, Esprit. In October 1936 Esprit published the Personalist Manifesto, which offered a definition of the concept of the person:

“A person is a spiritual being constituted as such by a manner of subsistence and of independence in being; it maintains this subsistence by its adhesion to a hierarchy of values, freely adopted, assimilated and lived, by a responsible self-commitment and by a constant conversion; it thus unifies all its activity in liberty and develops, moreover, by means of creative acts, its own unique vocation.”

“We shall apply the term personalist to any doctrine or any civilization that affirms the primacy of the human person over material necessities and over the whole complex of implements man needs for the development of his person.” (Manifesto, p. 1) Mounier described Personalism as a “philosophy of engagement,” a “fighting science” in a call to action against tyranny. Mounier lived his philosophy causing the Vichy Nazis to arrest him and shutdown his journal, Esprit, for his Resistance activity in 1942.

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Footnote to post # 1

Barter society is a Smithian myth.

Anthropologist David Graeber questions the historical existence of Adam Smith’s pure-barter society.

In Adam Smith’s account, money is therefore guided into existence by an invisible hand of necessity and human nature: one particular commodity will begin to rise above all the others – Gold, eventually, but substitutes are possible – and will eventually begin to be desirable not only because of its own intrinsic use-value, but because of its value relative to all the other commodities for which it can be exchanged. To the extent, therefore, that everybody else wants that commodity, it will begin to serve as the master-commodity, exchangeable for everything, and will then take on a very particular role as universal currency, the lubricant for humanity’s natural propensity to trade and exchange.

Graeber is only the latest anthropologist to point out that this story is pure wish-fulfillment, that no such pure-barter society has ever existed, and that we have a deep and rich historical record of what people actually did in non-money economies: go into each other’s debt. And it makes a simple kind of sense. In rural communities where people live side by side for their entire lives — working and eating and trading together, as they have for the majority of human history – people begin to depend on each other, rely on each other, even enjoy each others’ company. They begin to act like neighbors rather than competitors; they begin to worry about maintaining their status and well-being in a community whose status and well-being suddenly also becomes, as a result, a matter of their own self-interest; and they begin to think of human relations as a thing to be fostered for mutual benefit and long-term stability (rather than plundered and exploited for personal enrichment). They begin to give away whatever their neighbor needs when their neighbor needs it, secure in the knowledge that the debt will be repaid; eventually you will need my pigs and eventually I will need your cloth. So why bother to bother about trading them at the same time? ? David Graeber’s Debt: My First 5,0000 Words by Aaron Bady

And economist Karl Polanyi has essentially the same position in his historical research of truck and barter of the Smithian “Economic Man” and questions the “paradigm of the bartering savage”.

We have good reason to insist on this point with all the emphasis at our command. No less a thinker than Adam Smith suggested that the division of labor in society was dependent upon the existence of markets, or, as he put it, upon man’s “propensity to barter, truck and exchange one thing for another.” This phrase was later to yield the concept of the Economic Man. In retrospect it can be said that no misreading of the past ever proved more prophetic of the future. For while up to Adam Smith’s time that propensity had hardly shown up on a considerable scale in the life of any observed community, and had remained, at best, a subordinate feature of economic life, a hundred years later an industrial system was in full swing over the major part of the planet which, practically and theoretically, implied that the human race was swayed in all its economic activities, if not also in its political, intellectual, and spiritual pursuits, by that one particular propensity. Herbert Spencer, in the second half of the nineteenth century, equated the principle of the division of labor with barter and exchange, and another fifty years later, Ludwig von Mises and Walter Lippmann could repeat this same fallacy. By that time there was no need for argument. A host of writers on political economy, social history, political philosophy, and general sociology had followed in Smith’s wake and established his paradigm of the bartering savage as an axiom of their respective sciences. In point of fact, Adam Smith’s suggestions about the economic psychology of early man were as false as Rousseau’s were on the political psychology of the savage. Division of labor, a phenomenon as old as society, springs from differences inherent in the facts of sex, geography, and individual endowment; and the alleged propensity of man to barter, truck, and exchange is almost entirely apocryphal. While history and ethnography know of various kinds of economies, most of them comprising the institution of markets, they know of no economy prior to our own, even approximately controlled and regulated by markets. This will become abundantly clear from a bird’s-eye view of the history of economic systems and of markets, presented separately. The role played by markets in the internal economy of the various countries, it will appear, was insignificant up to recent times, and the changeover to an economy dominated by the market pattern will stand out all the more clearly. Polanyi, Karl (2001-03-28). The Great Transformation: The Political and Economic Origins of Our Time (pp. 45-46). Beacon Press. Kindle Edition.
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Good post, Antifascist! It will take me awhile to understand it fully, but I like the parts I do understand. When it comes to bartering versus currency, I think that they both have their place. I view bartering as appropriate in casual dealings with "inexpensive" items and the use of currency when dealing with more complex exchanges, especially those requiring merchants to travel long distances to obtain and deliver stuff ordered by a customer.

micahjr34
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Feb. 7, 2011 4:57 pm

I also like your take on individualism. I dislike the notion that it is possible to have a society where the individual has no impact on the lives of the community of people, and that the community has no impact on the lives of the individuals that comprise it. However, one problem that I can forsee here is with the matter of individual perspective. Since individuals will observe and interpret events from different perspectives, they are bound to act on those observations and interpretations differently. While so, in such a case the individuals can still make the choice to seek out a common end with those observations and interpretations being used as a means to that end. This is exactly what newspapers do, or at least what they could be doing nowadays: unite different ideas into a common thesis, antithesis, and synthesis!

micahjr34
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Libertarian rhetorical tacticians insist on comprehending every social process as occuring between two individuals. Any expansion of a theoretical model beyond that number of persons (say, three) would be to open the door to the idea that a third party might have an interest in the interaction between the other two.

The complexity of social life which produces a number of relationships with their attendant understandings and agreements eventually yields a functionary role for the individual (not for the person, since the whole person is not involved in each relationship). These functionary roles are defined by comprehending them in respect to particular processes which a given institution is designated to perform. These institutions interact with each other and therefore the relationships between individuals cannot be comprehended without reference to a level of abstraction which describes the behavior and interaction of these institutions. In fact, the current institutions of society have evolved alongside each other for some time.

"It is the concept of the atomistic individual that is the abstraction, not society." And moreover it is an empty abstraction. It seems that conservatives such as Thatcher intuitively sense that the family is a more intimate personal reality and therefore that it can serve a sort of non-societal foundation for their ideas about social and political life. But it seems that this sort of doubles back on them and the idea of family as a discrete unit survives only as an ideological axiom. For example, a couple of years ago I read an article published anonymously by a mother who confessed that she did not love her daughter. She went at length to explain that she had two daughters, her first who got good grades and did fairly well at extracurricular activities and so forth and a second who was more robust than the first and absolutely succeeded in every endeavor spectacularly. She sensed the inferiority of the first daughter right from the get-go, and as fate would have it her second daughter proved an answer to her prayers. Her second daughter she loved because she fulfilled her motherly ambition to produce offspring whose functionary capacities equalled her own egotistical precepts.

nimblecivet
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Thank you micahjr34 and nimblecivet for your comments.

Micahjr34, I found another quote from Graeber on bartering. Classical economic theory holds to the Barter Myth claiming exchange among persons spontaneous started as barter in early cultures, then over time money appeared as a medium of exchange, and then credit. Dr. Graeber’s historical study of ancient cultures show that widely accepted scenario is exactly backwards! Also, I wrote a review of Graeber's book, Debt: The First 5,000 Years, here at post #1408 that goes more into the history of money and barter.

We did not begin with barter, discover money, and then eventually develop credit systems. It happened precisely the other way around. What we now call virtual money came first. Coins came much later, and their use spread only unevenly, never completely replacing credit systems. Barter, in turn, appears to be largely a kind of accidental byproduct of the use of coinage or paper money: historically, it has mainly been what people who are used to cash transactions do when for one reason or another they have no access to currency. (David Graeber, Debt: The First 5,000 Years, Kindle Loc: 845-848).

nimblecivet, your comments about Libertarian rhetorical tacticians and social interaction is excellent. You stated it beautifully! Thank you for your contribution!

I noticed also how Thatcher and Libertarians spokespersons often backtrack on the individualist theme a bit and mention the family as an afterthought. Thatcher said, “They're casting their problem on society. And, you know, there is no such thing as society. There are individual men and women, and there are families.” This is because they have to stick to their other ideological meme of family values.

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Myth #1: Libertarians believe that each individual is an isolated, hermetically sealed atom, acting in a vacuum without influencing each other.

This is a common charge, but a highly puzzling one. In a lifetime of reading libertarian and classical-liberal literature, I have not come across a single theorist or writer who holds anything like this position.

The only possible exception is the fanatical Max Stirner, a mid-19th-century German individualist who, however, has had minimal influence upon libertarianism in his time and since. Moreover, Stirner's explicit "might makes right" philosophy and his repudiation of all moral principles including individual rights as "spooks in the head," scarcely qualifies him as a libertarian in any sense. Apart from Stirner, however, there is no body of opinion even remotely resembling this common indictment.

Libertarians are methodological and political individualists, to be sure. They believe that only individuals think, value, act, and choose. They believe that each individual has the right to own his own body, free of coercive interference. But no individualist denies that people are influencing each other all the time in their goals, values, pursuits, and occupations.

As F.A. Hayek pointed out in his notable article, "The Non Sequitur of the 'Dependence Effect,'" John Kenneth Galbraith's assault upon free-market economics in his best-selling The Affluent Society rested on this proposition: economics assumes that every individual arrives at his scale of values totally on his own, without being subject to influence by anyone else. On the contrary, as Hayek replied, everyone knows that most people do not originate their own values, but are influenced to adopt them by other people.[1]

No individualist or libertarian denies that people influence each other all the time, and surely there is nothing wrong with this inevitable process. What libertarians are opposed to is not voluntary persuasion, but the coercive imposition of values by the use of force and police power. Libertarians are in no way opposed to the voluntary cooperation and collaboration between individuals: only to the compulsory pseudo-"cooperation" imposed by the state.

Myth and Truth about Libertarianism

As a sidenote, neither Thatcher nor Rand were libertarians.

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“They're casting their problem on society. And, you know, there is no such thing as society. There are individual men and women, and there are families.”

If our planet had only human "individuals" living as democrats in sovereign repulics, and no human "society" as it is now, the Earth would be a very moral place, and "popular opinion" would be a non-issue because "society" would always have the desire for human beings' best possible development as everyone's inspiration.

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NeoLiberals, and Libertarians shift definitions of such terms from conventional use to argue tautologies and non-sequiturs. Libertarians are famous for talking in tautologies, using linguistic sophistry, using selective strategic skepticism, and repeating the same talking points that have been addressed and refuted so I will let you indulge in your Libertarian assumptions. You refuse to read, or acknowledge any response, but just repeat the same old script, rinse, and repeat so it really isn't a discussion or debate but an endless talking-points loop.

Socrates never referred to himself as an objective idealist, but that is the metaphysic he is famous for teaching (Theory of Forms). Hume was an empiricist, Hobbes was an empiricist, Locke was an empiricist, but that does not mean they agreed on every point. That Libertarianism.org cites Ayn Rand as a founder of Libertarianism should give you a clue to her thinking. That both Paul Ryan and Ayn Rand hold to a minimalist state Laissez-faire market ideology should answer your question. Ayn Rand is notorious for not associating with other political movements--building a firewall--simply to avoid defending other political ideologies (Conservatism) consistent with her own that may fall out of favor in the future.

And although some Libertarians may not agree, Thatcher called herself a Libertarian.

Thatcherism is often described as a libertarian ideology. Thatcher saw herself as creating a libertarian movement,[16][17] rejecting traditional Toryism.[18] Thatcherism is associated with libertarianism within the Conservative Party,[19] albeit one of libertarian ends achieved by using strong and sometimes authoritarian leadership.[20] British political commentator Andrew Marr has called libertarianism the "dominant, if unofficial, characteristic of Thatcherism".[21] However, whereas some of her heirs, notably Michael Portillo and Alan Duncan, embraced this libertarianism, others in the Thatcherite movement, such as John Redwood, sought to become more populist.[22][23][Thatcherism]

Libertarianism is a confused mixture of contradictory schools of interpreted thought such as ethical utilitarianism (Bentham), Act-utilitarian Consequentialism (Friedman), Traditionalist Consequentialism (Hayek), Teleological Libertarianism (Rand), Contractarian Libertarianism (Rawls), natural laws, private property, Austrian economics (Hayek/Fiedrich von Mises), self-regulating markets theory, Hobbesian Egoistic Possessive Individualism, and Anarcho-Captialism (Nozick).

So there is no Libertarian essence, which your questions constantly assume, but rather a “family resemblance” of mixed philosophical schools as I have said before. This definitional ambiguity is another feature Libertarians exploit to conceal paradigmatic contradictions. Talking point Libertarians are often ignorant of what schools of interpreted thought they are mangling, and what combinations of mangled philosophies they are mechanically repeating so they become a trolling moving target to avoid any ideological critique to the point that they cannot even identify their own positions.

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Quote Antifascist:

NeoLiberals, and Libertarians shift definitions of such terms from conventional use to argue tautologies and non-sequiturs. Libertarians are famous for talking in tautologies, using linguistic sophistry, using selective strategic skepticism, and repeating the same talking points that have been addressed and refuted so I will let you indulge in your Libertarian assumptions. You refuse to read, or acknowledge any response, but just repeat the same old script, rinse, and repeat so it really isn't a discussion or debate but an endless talking-points loop.

Libertarians are not neoliberals. You shouldn't lump what they do with what we do. Can you give me one or two examples of what you claim we engage in?

Quote Antifascist:

That Libertarianism.org cites Ayn Rand as a founder of Libertarianism should give you a clue to her thinking.

When did libertarianism.org become the arbiter of what is and what isn't libertarianism? I'm not saying that I and the libertarians I cite are THE authorities.

Quote Antifascist:

That both Paul Ryan and Ayn Rand hold to a minimalist state Laissez-faire market ideology should answer your question.

This might be one of the most inaccurate things I've ever seen you write. Paul Ryan is a big-government conservative. His so-called budget alternative INCRESED the size of goverment. His increase was smaller than the increase proposed by his supposed political adversaries. In Washingtonspeak, it is called a cut. Ayn Rand was definitely more consistent in her adhernce to free market economics. However, she was pretty pro-war. And libertarians are completely anti-war.

Quote Antifascist:

And although some Libertarians may not agree, Thatcher called herself a Libertarian.

Thatcherism is often described as a libertarian ideology. Thatcher saw herself as creating a libertarian movement,[16][17] rejecting traditional Toryism.[18] Thatcherism is associated with libertarianism within the Conservative Party,[19] albeit one of libertarian ends achieved by using strong and sometimes authoritarian leadership.[20] British political commentator Andrew Marr has called libertarianism the "dominant, if unofficial, characteristic of Thatcherism".[21] However, whereas some of her heirs, notably Michael Portillo and Alan Duncan, embraced this libertarianism, others in the Thatcherite movement, such as John Redwood, sought to become more populist.[22][23][Thatcherism]

I didn't say Margaret Thatcher might have called herself a libertarian. I'm saying that she wasn't a libertarian. Just as you claim to be an anti-fascist doesn't mean that you are. And even if you are an anti-fascist, it doesn't really mean anything. I'm against fascism. What are you for?

The UK Libertarian Alliance can vouch for my claim here and here.

http://libertarianalliance.wordpress.com/2011/08/28/margaret-thatcher-th...

Quote Antifascist:

Libertarianism is a confused mixture of contradictory schools of interpreted thought such as ethical utilitarianism (Bentham), Act-utilitarian Consequentialism (Friedman), Traditionalist Consequentialism (Hayek), Teleological Libertarianism (Rand), Contractarian Libertarianism (Rawls), natural laws, private property, Austrian economics (Hayek/Fiedrich von Mises), self-regulating markets theory, Hobbesian Egoistic Possessive Individualism, and Anarcho-Captialism (Nozick).

So there is no Libertarian essence, which your questions constantly assume, but rather a “family resemblance” of mixed philosophical schools as I have said before. This definitional ambiguity is another feature Libertarians exploit to conceal paradigmatic contradictions. Talking point Libertarians are often ignorant of what schools of interpreted thought they are mangling, and what combinations of mangled philosophies they are mechanically repeating so they become a trolling moving target to avoid any ideological critique to the point that they cannot even identify their own positions.

There is definitely different philosophical foundations to libertarianism. I am a natural Rights Rothbardian. However, the politics of libertarians are very similar. There are minarchists, limited government libertarians and anarchists, zero government libertarians who maintain that all goods and services, including defense, courts, roads and police can be provided for voluntarily on the free market.

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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Lysanderspooner wrote

Libertarians are not neoliberals. You shouldn't lump what they do with what we do. Can you give me one or two examples of what you claim we engage in?

I wrote, "Libertarians and neoliberals..." and this is a good example of the way you often argue. "Libertarians are not neoliberals" is at least true by the fact the two names are spelled differently—trivial but true. What is not trivial, but true is both Libertarians and Neoliberals agree on Free-Market theory, do not support labor unionization, and support privatization. So did you just argue another tautology? If Libertarians are A, and neoliberals are non-A, then A is not non-A. And if both Libertarians and neoliberals argue contradictions why not lump them together? I will give an example below.

Lysanderspooner wrote

When did libertarianism.org become the arbiter of what is and what isn't libertarianism? I'm not saying that I and the libertarians I cite are THE authorities.

They may not be the arbiters, but they are Libertarians so I will let you Libertarians sort it out.

Lysanderspooner wrote

This might be one of the most inaccurate things I've ever seen you write. Paul Ryan is a big-government conservative. His so-called budget alternative INCRESED the size of goverment. His increase was smaller than the increase proposed by his supposed political adversaries. In Washingtonspeak, it is called a cut. Ayn Rand was definitely more consistent in her adhernce to free market economics. However, she was pretty pro-war. And libertarians are completely anti-war.

You are confusing the proposition "Paul Ryan is a Libertarian" with the proposition "Paul Ryan is a consistent Libertarian." Libertarianism is contradictory and when a contradiction is revealed like when a Libertarian increases government functions, or use violence to enforce voluntary contracts they are suddenly disowned by their own ideological colleagues. Libertarians consistently use the old "“No True Scotsman Logical Fallacy.” It’s their beard and butter. When faced with a counter-example of contradictory Libertarian behavior they change the subject to exclude the specific case. Here is an example:

Person A: "No Scotsman puts sugar on his porridge."

Person B: "I am Scottish, and I put sugar on my porridge."

Person A: "Well, no true Scotsman puts sugar on his porridge."

Just replace “Scotsman” with Libertarian.

Lysanderspooner wrote

I didn't say Margaret Thatcher might have called herself a libertarian. I'm saying that she wasn't a libertarian. Just as you claim to be an anti-fascist doesn't mean that you are. And even if you are an anti-fascist, it doesn't really mean anything. What are you for?

See, you committed the “No True Scotsman Fallacy” again. The term “Antifascist” is a meaningful term. It means one does not agree with, or is opposed to fascism. Would “anti-Libertarianism” mean anything? I am for Personalism, not Libertarian Individualism as I explained in the above posts.

Lysanderspooner wrote

The UK Libertarian Alliance can vouch for my claim here and here

Oh, is UK Libertarian Alliance now the arbiter of what is and what isn't libertarianism and Libertarianism.org is not?

Lysanderspooner wrote

There is definitely different philosophical foundations to libertarianism. I am a natural Rights Rothbardian. However, the politics of libertarians are very similar. There are minarchists, limited government libertarians and anarchists, zero government libertarians who maintain that all goods and services, including defense, courts, roads and police can be provided for voluntarily on the free market.

That is what I said. That is why Thatcher is labeled a Conservative Libertarian and why she carried on a campaign of privatization in Britain. What free market? The free market in Libertarian Land?

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Antifascist
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Rather than respond to each of your quotes (it gets cumbersome), I respond as a list.

1. I don't think Neoliberals support a free-market. Libertarians do support the right of people to organize into labor unions just like we support the right of all people to enter into voluntary associations. What we don't support is legislation that interferes with the employer-employee relationship. We also don't support law enforcement looking the other way when unions commit violence or threaten those who would be willing to work for less than the unions think is just. Libertarians do not support what goes under the name of "privatization". If tax dollars are involved, it's not privatization. If the function being privatized is not a legitimate function of government (by minarchist standards), then we don't want it privatized, we want it abolished. Concentration camps are immoral, for example. We wouldn't favor having them run by private businesses, we favor their abolition. First class mail delivery is a service people want. We don't support a postal monopoly.

2. Paul Ryan isn't a libertarian is any way, shape or form. The libertarians who favor the most government are minarchists. They support a government limited by a Constitution. The only functions they would favor are Defense (not Empire), Courts, Police and maybe Roads. Does this sound like anything like Paul Ryan. Paul Ryan supports the entire welfare/warfare State. It's not a fallacy to say that Paul Ryan isn't a libertarian. Please show me a definition accepted by at least a significant percentage of libertarians that would allow for Paul Ryan. Where does Ryan stand on abolishing Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare, the War on Drugs, the War on Terror, farm subsidies, etc?

3. Thatcher, like Reagan, used free-market rhetoric but their record didn't match their words.

http://original.antiwar.com/justin/2013/04/09/the-thatcher-paradox/

I realize there are many definitions of libertariansim, but one who INCREASE the size, scope and power of government can't be considered a libertarian by any definition. If they could, there would be no reason to have a definition.

4. I don't think anti-fascist is that meaningful. You could be a libertarian or a communist and be an anti-fascist. Being an anti-libertarian is a little more meaningful because it is synonymous with being a statist.

5. You cherry-picked my comment about who defines libertarians. I did say that I can those I cite aren't the arbiters, either. But words have meaning. And I can logically defend my definition of libertarianism without falling into contradictions.

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LysanderSpooner
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm
Quote LysanderSpooner:

Rather than respond to each of your quotes (it gets cumbersome), I respond as a list.

1. I don't think Neoliberals support a free-market. Libertarians do support the right of people to organize into labor unions just like we support the right of all people to enter into voluntary associations. What we don't support is legislation that interferes with the employer-employee relationship. We also don't support law enforcement looking the other way when unions commit violence or threaten those who would be willing to work for less than the unions think is just. Libertarians do not support what goes under the name of "privatization". If tax dollars are involved, it's not privatization. If the function being privatized is not a legitimate function of government (by minarchist standards), then we don't want it privatized, we want it abolished. Concentration camps are immoral, for example. We wouldn't favor having them run by private businesses, we favor their abolition. First class mail delivery is a service people want. We don't support a postal monopoly.

2. Paul Ryan isn't a libertarian is any way, shape or form. The libertarians who favor the most government are minarchists. They support a government limited by a Constitution. The only functions they would favor are Defense (not Empire), Courts, Police and maybe Roads. Does this sound like anything like Paul Ryan. Paul Ryan supports the entire welfare/warfare State. It's not a fallacy to say that Paul Ryan isn't a libertarian. Please show me a definition accepted by at least a significant percentage of libertarians that would allow for Paul Ryan. Where does Ryan stand on abolishing Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare, the War on Drugs, the War on Terror, farm subsidies, etc?

3. Thatcher, like Reagan, used free-market rhetoric but their record didn't match their words.

http://original.antiwar.com/justin/2013/04/09/the-thatcher-paradox/

I realize there are many definitions of libertariansim, but one who INCREASES the size, scope and power of government can't be considered a libertarian by any definition. If they could, there would be no reason to have a definition.

4. I don't think anti-fascist is that meaningful. You could be a libertarian or a communist and be an anti-fascist. Being an anti-libertarian is a little more meaningful because it is synonymous with being a statist.

5. You cherry-picked my comment about who defines libertarians. I did say that those I cite aren't the arbiters, either. But words have meaning. And I can logically defend my definition of libertarianism without falling into contradictions.

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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

LysanderSpooner,

I do recognize that there are different types of Libertarian person. I also recognize your definition of Libertarianism, I will not try to define it for you. Concerning individualism, I was arguing a point against that and I hope that I did not confuse the matter. If I did then I will gladly post another point that is less vague. I also invite others to correct me if my posts here were too vague so as to be misunderstood.

micahjr34
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Feb. 7, 2011 4:57 pm

Current scholars, ranging from Marxists to Straussians, consider Thomas Hobbes rather than Locke as the founder of systematic individualist, natural rights theory. For a refutation of this view and a vindication of the older view of Hobbes as a statist and a totalitarian see Williamson M. Evers, "Hobbes and Liberalism," The Libertarian Forum (May 1975): 4–6 [available in PDF]. Also see Evers, "Social Contract: A Critique," The Journal of Libertarian Studies 1 (Summer 1977): 187–88 [available in PDF]. For a stress upon Hobbes’s absolutism by a pro-Hobbesian German political theorist, see Carl Schmitt, Der Leviathan in der Staatslehre Thomas Hobbes (Hamburg, 1938). Schmitt was for a time a pro-Nazi theorist.

Footnote From Rothbard's Ethics of Liberty

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LysanderSpooner
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

LysanderSpooner,

As stated on a different thread I support an arrangement that supports "states rights" for giving people the right to live in a state that has an economic and political perspective most agreeable to them. Instead of arguing who is right or wrong in their beliefs, I would first like to find a way for them to coexist, at least partially. I myself would like to be a resident of a state that supports democracy, workers rights, etc. However, instead of saying that you are wrong, I would like to say that I hope there is a state in the union of the USA that you can find compatible enough with your beliefs for you to live there. Given enough time, the truth will manifest itself by how well different states function.

Note: I am not advocating utopianism. Just because people can coexist by living in different states with different policies does not mean that things will always flow smoothly.

micahjr34
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Feb. 7, 2011 4:57 pm

Jesus. What a load of crap here. I don't know where to start.

The Libertarian state professes that individuals can do anything except force others to do something. But even then, the Libertarian state must have a system of justice and syxstem of defense, and must tax for this, create warrants, compell witness testimony - all of which violates the freedom of the individual. That is why I often say that Libertarianism is a contradiction. And further, instead of government programs to protect workers, consumers, voters, it is all left to the courts. To me, this is no solution at all, and so far from protetcting individual freedom, Libertarianism destroys it.

Liberalism is the best way to protect people's individual freedom.

So that is one part of the argument. Now let us look at economics - a separte part of the argument.

What is a 'Libertarian economics'? Is it feasible? Will it work?

A lot of Libertarians argue that the free market competitive market where people are maximizing their individual utility, is the best economic system. Or, as Thom Hartman explains:

"every individual strives for there own best interest, self-interest, their most selfish interests, that somehow will magically produce the most good. "

But Economists, however, already know the cases where this fails, when there are externalities or other market imperfections. Psychologists know this is false because they know that self interest is pathological.

Libertarians, however, should also know this can also be false, since there have been so many attempts by private people to create non-market solutions such as worker owned businesses, utopian societies, unions and charitable groups.

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Dr. Econ
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Increasing the debt of the government was part of the plan to destroy it, something I am sure LS is aware of. You could call defense a government service, but it is not "government" in the proper sense. But distinctions like that don't matter to libertarians as long as they have a valid syllogism or two in hand for use in undercutting any appeal to morality on the part of those who have a somewhat different take on the problematic aspects of taxation.

nimblecivet
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

I think we've been through a period where too many people have been given to understand that if they have a problem, it's the government's job to cope with it. 'I have a problem, I'll get a grant.' 'I'm homeless, the government must house me.' They're casting their problem on society. And, you know, there is no such thing as society. There are individual men and women, and there are families. And no government can do anything except through people, and people must look to themselves first. It's our duty to look after ourselves and then, also to look after our neighbour. People have got the entitlements too much in mind, without the obligations. There's no such thing as entitlement, unless someone has first met an obligation."

She is making the obvious point that a society is composed of individuals. To give a hand out to one you must take from another.

As far as the "barter" point, that may work well in small comunitites where everyone knows each other, the same can not be said about the large society we live in today.

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gumball
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Dec. 12, 2013 11:02 am
Quote Dr. Econ:

Jesus. What a load of crap here. I don't know where to start.

The Libertarian state professes that individuals can do anything except force others to do something. But even then, the Libertarian state must have a system of justice and syxstem of defense, and must tax for this, create warrants, compell witness testimony - all of which violates the freedom of the individual.

That's exactly the argument anarcho-libertarians make against minarchists (limited government libertarians)!! Bravo. I'm not a minarchist. All "government" services have been at one time or another, in one country or another, been provided for by entrepeneurs on the free market.

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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Doc, let us be clear about the load of crap, and not what Anti and micah, nimblecivet and others of the non-Libertarian 'persuasion' have been presenting. It is an excellent course in relevant philosophy, and my take is that Hume gets it closest to the bone. There is that persistent "liberal" mistake about our "good human nature" meaning that we are "moral individuals," when that is not a "moral context" in the first place. So what Hume gets right is that we need one another to be good, and that our moral context as human beings is more interdependence than autonomy.

In fact, what we find in human development is that maturity is marked by the integration of social realism into the Self. The Me gets to appreciate that it is pluralism and interaction that brings out individuality and not autonomy. All of us who realize this symbiosis have a stake in the liberty and justice of the others, not just our own ego and narcissism driving some great market system to grind out its moral bottom line in the theology of Economic Man. Yes. theology, damn it! Economics ought to stop trying to make us into its objects.

I like Raj Patel's short dismissal of Economic Man in THE PRICE OF EVERYTHING. It is the enclosure of the soul, and Anti's post is dead on target about what "personality" means in terms of relationships and mutuality compared to the rat race or deadly game of economic musical chairs. How we care for the losers in these games is the measure of our own souls. Soul Paupers of the Right would push this Mess of Pottage even if Faust were not looking for a mortgage without that Satanic Balloon Payment.

I keep telling the Libertarians that they have to get it human sometime, and LS simply never gets the box individualism puts him and his cult companions in. And let us be very clear, this did not show up with Ayn Rand. Not even with Hayek. DeToqueville's early analysis of America was that "individualism" was rampant and "social realism" a fragile, if even present, shell in a country that was on the move. While freedom and individual initiative, and democracy itself was his concern, his analysis contained very serious issues Americans have yet to resolve around the individual and society in America.

To keep it brief, the logic of individuality and the value of freedom of speech, conscience and physical liberty in a community makes sense when the symbiosis of pluralism is our consciousness. When we discover that sharing and caring is what makes for a Great Country and that being the Richest Assholes in History is more indictment than credit. We work way too much, too long and too hard, with too little left for living a life. What is this Dream? Even the idea of escaping poverty and necessitous work for the country club and coupons needs to be more than golf and cocktails and bullshit about the poor. Job Creators ought to be ashamed of our new virtual slavery. No public education, just job training for the cogs and clones. But with that little bit of sugar to allow one or two to succeed so we can point to how the system works. 9/11 was all about solidarity, but the results have been "united we stand, but if you fall you are shit out of luck."

Hedges keeps coming back to the reality and power of love in our lives and what goes haywire when it is lacking or perverted. Sex is only the tip of this pathology. Hardness of heart kills.

drc2
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Apr. 26, 2012 12:15 pm

Dr. Econ,

What you just read I posted before I had to conceded to you that in the current situation our country is in, my position on "states rights" is flawed because the States as they currently are, they are not willing to shoulder the burden that the Federal Government does. My concept of "States Rights" has to be treated as an abtract theory, not a concrete reality. I just posted that concession way earlier today. As I said in that other post, I recognize that both the States and private charity as they both currently are, are not ready for a government where the States can take care of it citizens the way the federal government can if they wanted to.

Taken out of that context, what I said on this thread does seem like "crap" as you put it. I did not go about altering my posts because if I did alter my posts every time I changed into a different position, no one here could correct for past mistakes that I made. I welcome your criticism, and if you want to consider my post here to be "crap," then do so. I just needed you to know that position has already changed and that if my posts here within different threads were taken in temporal context that would be made plain. I'm sorry that I took up your time. Please have a nice day!

micahjr34
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Feb. 7, 2011 4:57 pm

Gumball,

I must argue that there is a difference between taking care of self needs and being "selfish." Selfishness in its connotation implies a desire for self that is contemptuous, insensitive, or inconsiderate toward others.

As for your point that barter would not work in large societies, I would like to ask,"Why not?" The only intense counter against barter is that it would be difficult to determine applicable taxation amounts. However, that is a moot point because such bartering happens all the time. When I was much younger it was no big situation to see people exchange a book for a cd for example, or even exchange one video game for another.

micahjr34
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Feb. 7, 2011 4:57 pm

Antifascist,

I just would like to tell you thanks for the information. From your post, it appears that my understanding of barter is flawed, in that modern culture seems to be staunch in presenting the use of currency as more developed than barter. I personally think that barter can be more humane than currency when a person goes to a different country and finds that the national currency is very unstable or near worthless. The people work just as hard, but the value of their labor becomes less and less as their nation's currency bounces around like a tennis ball.

micahjr34
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Feb. 7, 2011 4:57 pm

Dr. Econ,

I apologize for going mad dog on you like that. I realize that if I would like other people to tell me the truth as they see it, I must give them some slack concerning offensiveness. If you think that my posts or anybody else's posts are like "you know what," then that is what you are going to have to say.

I thank you for your constructive criticism. Thank you for exploring the problems that can develop in dealing with Libertarians. Have a nice day!

micahjr34
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Feb. 7, 2011 4:57 pm

Dr. Econ wrote...

The Libertarian state professes that individuals can do anything except force others to do something. But even then, the Libertarian state must have a system of justice and syxstem of defense, and must tax for this, create warrants, compell witness testimony - all of which violates the freedom of the individual. That is why I often say that Libertarianism is a contradiction. And further, instead of government programs to protect workers, consumers, voters, it is all left to the courts. To me, this is no solution at all, and so far from protetcting individual freedom, Libertarianism destroys it.

I think you, Dr. Econ, identified the first and most fundamental contradiction of all versions of Libertarians: the conflict between individual freedom (autonomy) and the regulation behavior by civil society (heteronomy). If a sect of Libertarianism allows for any government regulation, then there is a conflict with their stance on human autonomy; if a sect rejects all civil regulation, then there is the problem of Hobbe's "War of all men, against all men." (The Citizen, Hobbes, 1651, Chapter I. Of the state of men without Civil Society) which brings about the very use of force Libertarians claim to abhor. Their rejection of Democracy leaves them no way out of this contradiction.

drc2 wrote...

All of us who realize this symbiosis have a stake in the liberty and justice of the others, not just our own ego and narcissism driving some great market system to grind out its moral bottom line in the theology of Economic Man. Yes. theology, damn it! Economics ought to stop trying to make us into its objects

Great statement drc2! And the discipline of economics should stop pretending to be just a positivistic science, and admit that economics is really "political economy" which includes the interactions between economic production and societal political processes.

As Galbraith said about conservative economic theory...

The modern conservative is engaged in one of man’s oldest exercises in moral philosophy, that is the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness. It is an exercise, which always involves a certain number of internal contradictions and even a few absurdities. The conspicuously wealthy turn up urging the character-building value of privation for the poor. John Kenneth Galbraith (1908-2006) in “Stop the Madness,” Interview with Rupert Cornwell, Toronto Globe and Mail (6 Jul 2002).
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Antifascist
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Libertarians are not against regulation, as long as it is non-coercive. Libertarians maintain that each individual can do whatever he wants, provided he doesn't initiate force against his fellow man. That does not mean,however, that there are not consequences to those actions. Indiviiduals are free to boycott or ostracize others who do things they don't agree with. For example, a gay person doesn't have to buy a wedding cake (to use a current example) from a baker who is against gay marriage. Likewise, members of the clergy don't have to perform a gay marriage if it violates the tenets of their religion. If progressives think that McDonalds or Walmart aren't paying their employees enough or that they are using slave labor in China, they are free not to do business with them. If conservatives object to a 'free love" commune, they don't have to join. I could go on and on. The point is that whlle society is not an entity, there are stil social consequences for our actions. When the word society is used metaphorically in this way, libertarians have no objection. We just don't think that society has rights, only individuals do.

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LysanderSpooner
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Then you shouldn't have any problem with government since government is inherently non-coercive. Democracy is the functioning of individuals to provide non-coercive regulation. Libertarianism is an anti-social attitude which promotes violence in order to deprive others of the means to a livelihood and thereby coerce others into a subservient relationship. Libertarians' theory of non-violence rests on the principle that peace cannot be achieved until total domination of one party over the other has been accomplished, eliminating the potential of the oppressed to make choices which will in any way contradict the will of the oppressor. Libertarian's theory of non-violence is not a principled stance, but one which rests upon the notion of might-makes-right. Lacking an understanding of moral philosophy, libertarians argue for eliminating the function of the state in ensuring that laws and regulations are complied with and instead suggest that the individual interests simply pay others to induce violence or commit violence themselves. Libertarian hide this fact by claiming that whatever they believe they are entitled to by use of violence is a moral right in some abstract sense which society is obligated to respect, though it is obvious that a lack of respect for other's rights to live peacefully is why government is necessary to protect individuals from libertarians.

nimblecivet
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Quote LysanderSpooner: Libertarians are not against regulation, as long as it is non-coercive. Libertarians maintain that each individual can do whatever he wants, provided he doesn't initiate force against his fellow man.

That is impossible, because you don't know is committing force agianst who.

It is also impossible because you have to make abandoning children illegal as well.

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Dr. Econ
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Quote Dr. Econ:
Quote LysanderSpooner: Libertarians are not against regulation, as long as it is non-coercive. Libertarians maintain that each individual can do whatever he wants, provided he doesn't initiate force against his fellow man.

That is impossible, because you don't know is committing force agianst who.

It is also impossible because you have to make abandoning children illegal as well.

I think you are being deliberately obtuse. No libertarian, including me, has ever said that all initiation of coercion will end in a libertarian society. We are saying that the only thing that should be against the law, whether government or private, is the initiation of force. That is, if someone initiates force against you, you have the right to defend yourself and you have the right to go to some kind of court system to get restitution.

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LysanderSpooner
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Quote drc2:...I like Raj Patel's short dismissal of Economic Man in THE PRICE OF EVERYTHING.

You mean, the Price of Nothing? I have it on my desk. His book is a somewhat scatttered but usefull description of many of the market failures that exist in the real world. The unemployed, the firm that loses the war of competition, the commons, the air, the internet, the view, all have a marginal price of zero, and the market can't handle it. Most economic courses have a course on such 'externalities'. It is kind of well known.

Quote drc2:.... It is the enclosure of the soul, and Anti's post is dead on target about what "personality" means in terms of relationships and mutuality compared to the rat race or deadly game of economic musical chairs.

That is something a bit different, more due to the psychological effects of selfish behavior. That is generally not taught in economics classes but should be. I have seen studies on this effect on children, and it is truly frightening it has on the effects of the mind.

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Dr. Econ
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

What LysanderSpooner has consistently argued is that force is the only legitimate means of establishing what libertarians call "rights". This is why libertarians view private property as an absolute right even while acknowledging that it is obtained and maintained by the use of violence. This was established when LysanderSpooner argued that "possession is 9/10s of the law" while discussing whether slavery should have been abolished. LysanderSpooner argued that if northerners wanted to free some slaves, they could have bought them from the southerners who bred them. While claiming after the fact of slavery having been abolished that libertarians are "against" slavery, they attempt to claim the moral high ground by arguing that the only appropriate response to slavery would have been to not shop at stores which sell goods made by slaves. Also, libertarians such as LysanderSpooner and jrodefeld have argued that only a particular form of violence, which is threatening others with "trespassing" on land held by force and the threat of violence (what they call "homesteading"), is a legitimate way of obtaining property rights AND justifying the genocide of other people who have a different social and economic culture. This is not to minimize the importance of violence to the libertarian in establishing a permanent class-system of oppression whereby only those rights which can be maintained by membership to the master race are respected. But at this point the only question in my mind is whether the libertarians showing up here are working for the Aryan Nations, the KKK, or some other kind of Christian-identity/white supremist organization, or are just working for them on a sort of contractor basis.

Again, it can't be stressed enough that libertarianism is the initiation of force in order to defy any peaceful, democratic form of social life. Libertarianism is NOT a pacifist or even peace-promoting philosophy, it is deeply rooted in the western conceptions of society being established and ordered by a dominant class which achieved its position by being successful in the struggle to succeed by force and the "law of the jungle."

nimblecivet
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

I agree nimblecivet. Libertarian think tanks like the Cato Institute are front organizations for reactionary political forces subsidized by a powerful oligarchy. Philosopher Hannah Arendt described totalitarian front groups in the following way.

The front organizations surround the movements' membership with a protective wall which separates them from the outside, normal world; at the same time, they form a bridge back into normalcy, without which the members in the prepower stage would feel too sharply the differences between their beliefs and those of normal people, between the lying fictitiousness of their own and the reality of the normal world. The ingeniousness of this device during the movements' struggle for power is that the front organizations not only isolate the members but offer them a semblance of outside normalcy which wards off the impact of true reality more effectively than mere indoctrination....

The world at large, on the other side, usually gets its first glimpse of a totalitarian movement through its front organizations. The sympathizers, who are to all appearances still innocuous fellow-citizens in a nontotalitarian society, can hardly be called single-minded fanatics; through them, the movements make their fantastic lies more generally acceptable, can spread their propaganda in milder, more respectable forms, until the whole atmosphere is poisoned with totalitarian elements which are hardly recognizable as such but appear to be normal political reactions or opinions. The fellow-traveler organizations surround the totalitarian movements with a mist of normality and respectability that fools the membership about the true character of the outside world as much as it does the outside world about the true character of the movement. The front organization functions both ways: as the façade of the totalitarian movement to the nontotalitarian world, and as the façade of this world to the inner hierarchy of the movement.

Even more striking than this relationship is the fact that it is repeated on different levels within the movement itself. As party members are related to and separated from the fellow-travelers, so are the elite formations of the movement related to and separated from the ordinary members.... The member of a militant group, on the other hand, is wholly identified with the movement; he has no profession and no private life independent of it. Just as the sympathizers constitute a protective wall around the members of the movement and represent the outside world to them, so the ordinary membership surrounds the militant groups and represents the normal outside world to them.

A definite advantage of this structure is that it blunts the impact of one of the basic totalitarian tenets—that the world is divided into two gigantic hostile camps, one of which is the movement, and that the movement can and must fight the whole world—a claim which prepares the way for the indiscriminate aggressiveness of totalitarian regimes in power. Through a carefully graduated hierarchy of militancy in which each rank is the higher level's image of the nontotalitarian world because it is less militant and its members less totally organized, the shock of the terrifying and monstrous totalitarian dichotomy is vitiated and never full realized; this type of organization prevents its members' ever being directly confronted with the outside world, whose hostility remains for them a mere ideological assumption. They are so well protected against the reality of the nontotalitarian world that they constantly underestimate the tremendous risks of totalitarian politics. (Arendt, Hannah, The Origins of Totalitarianism ,Harvest Book, Hb244, Kindle Loc: 7535-7567.).

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Antifascist
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm
Quote micahjr34: on states rights....

The 'state's right' argument seems sort of reasonable in the abstract - in the American context it seems a bit unseemly, since we have had such a horrible history of states rights when it comes to segregation and slavery. But clearly, one could argue that the larger the administrative unit, the more difficult it is to mangage, audit and oversee. Also, the more power, the more corrupt.

But, on the other hand, the smaller the unit, the weaker. What if instead of a national government, we only had state governments, some slave and some not. The non-slave states would be of little help to the slave states in liberating their slaves. And the slave states would be comparatively stronger in keeping their states slave states. Slavery might have lasted many more decades than it did. In fact, if the US was still part of Britain, slavery would have ended in the US even sooner!

But the same is true of many liberal causes. Liberals fought hard for the 8 hour day, the 40 hour week, the minimum wage. If we had to go from state to state, again, it is likely we would have lost against the larger corporate power. Another example is defense. One reason we are a single nation is that we can be powerful, and protect ourselves from various enemies. Our nation has the greatest military power on earth.

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Dr. Econ
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm
Quote LysanderSpooner:... No libertarian, including me, has ever said that all initiation of coercion will end in a libertarian society. We are saying that the only thing that should be against the law, whether government or private, is the initiation of force. That is, if someone initiates force against you, you have the right to defend yourself and you have the right to go to some kind of court system to get restitution.

The government must initiate force in order to know who is initiating force. Therefore, it is imposible to have a government that has that the only thing that should be against the law is the initiation of force.

So what are the laws of your Libertarian state? Will you initiate force to construct a system of justice, or will you allow the inititation of force to take place from individuals on another without a system of justice? Whatever choice you make, there will be force.

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Dr. Econ
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An Alternative to Capitalism (since we cannot legislate morality)

Several decades ago, Margaret Thatcher claimed: "There is no alternative". She was referring to capitalism. Today, this negative attitude still persists.

I would like to offer an alternative to capitalism for the American people to consider. Please click on the following link. It will take you to my essay titled: "Home of the Brave?" which was published in the OPEDNEWS:

http://www.opednews.com/articles/An-Alternative-to-Capitali-by-John-Steinsvold-130326-864.html

John Steinsvold

“We have met the enemy and he is us.”Pogo quotation by Walt Kelly.

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John Steinsvold
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Apr. 16, 2011 6:55 pm
Materialism and Misery :The Major Weapons of Neo-Liberalism

by GRAHAM PEEBLES

We live under the omnipresent shadow of a political/economic system, which promotes materiality, selfishness and individual success over group wellbeing. It is a model of civilisation that is making us miserable and ill. Dependent on continuous consumption, everything and everyone is seen as a commodity, and competition and ambition are extolled as virtues. Together with reward and punishment this trinity of division has infiltrated and polluted all areas of contemporary life, including health care and education.

…Those who love material objects are less inclined to love other people and the natural environment. So says Tim Kasser of Knox University, Illinois in ‘The High Price of Materialism’ after various studies. Love of objects strengthens the desire principle, causing fear and dissatisfaction, giving rise to anxiety, stress and unhappiness. Desire entraps: insatiable, it breeds fear and is the underlying cause of discontent and all manner of associated sufferings. “Abandoning all desire and acting free from longing, without any sense of mineness or sense of ego one attains to peace.” [Bhagavad Gita 11, verse 71] Such perennial truths expressed by the Buddha, Christ and other visionary teachers as well as Krishna are ignored in the search for immediate happiness derived from sensory pleasure.

The neo-liberal model promotes such short-term artificial goals: goals that strengthen desire, greed and dissatisfaction, pre-requisites for encouraging consumerism and materialism and the perpetual expansion of the ubiquitous ‘market’. In a detailed study by Baylor University, associate professor of psychology and neuroscience Jo-Ann Tsang found that materialistic people “are more likely to focus on what they do not have and are unable to be grateful for what they do have, whether it is their family, a nice house or a good job.” Contentment is the natural enemy of the system; discontent is it’s life-blood, serving well the ‘Masters of Mankind’ as Adam Smith famously tagged the ruling elite and their ‘vile maxim’ – “all for ourselves and nothing for other people.”

In ‘The Good Life: Wellbeing and the New Science of Altruism, Selfishness and Immorality’, Graham Music refers to a study at Berkeley University that seems to demonstrate Smith’s truism. “The higher up the social-class ranking people are, the less pro-social, charitable and empathetically they behaved … consistently those who were less rich showed more empathy and more of a wish to help others.” [The Guardian] Self-centered behavior, motivated by reward, not only erodes any sense of community and social responsibility, it breeds unhappiness. Music, a consultant child and adolescent psychotherapist at The Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust in London, makes the point that our “monetised western world is going to make us more and more lose touch with our social obligations.”

With its focus on the material – including the physical aspect of our-selves – the ‘monetised’ system encourages vanity, selfishness and narcissistic behavior. Further strengthening division, separation and aloneness, feelings that are in opposition to the underlying truth of human unity. “All differences in this world are of degree, and not of kind, because oneness is the secret of everything.” [Swami Vivekenanda] This is the view repeatedly enunciated by those great men – divine men some would say – who have freed themselves of all limitations and have shared their wisdom with us.

Article continues

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Antifascist
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Libertarianism is ONLY a political philosophy. It is only concerned about when force is permitted in society. (The answer is only in self-defense) How people choose to live their lives is interesting and important. But libertarianism does not address these matters. This is a common misconception held by non-libertarians, and many libertarians.

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LysanderSpooner
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

LS wrote...

Libertarianism is ONLY a political philosophy.

Libertarianism is NOT ONLY a political philosophy. It is an ideology that has derivative economic policies that parallels it's political philosophy as being compatible or incompatible like Free-Market Ideology, Privatization of government functions, the role of government, enforcing civil contracts, property rights, liberalization of financial regulation, labor law, military spending, consumer protection, trade, taxation policy, and other domestic fiscal policies. The alleged separation between economic theory and political philosophy is superficial, academic, economically strategic, unrealistic, and contradictory. Would you say classical Marxism only a politicial philosophy because it is against human exploitation and for revolution? It is clearly political and economic.

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Antifascist
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Quote Antifascist:

LS wrote...

Libertarianism is ONLY a political philosophy.

Libertarianism is NOT ONLY a political philosophy. It is an ideology that has derivative economic policies that parallels it's political philosophy as being compatible or incompatible like Free-Market Ideology, Privatization of government functions, the role of government, enforcing civil contracts, property rights, liberalization of financial regulation, labor law, military spending, consumer protection, trade, taxation policy, and other domestic fiscal policies. The alleged separation between economic theory and political philosophy is superficial, academic, economically strategic, unrealistic, and contradictory. Would you say classical Marxism only a politicial philosophy because it is against human exploitation and for revolution? It is clearly political and economic.

Of course, one's political philosophy doesn't occur in a vacuum. Libertarianism, once adopted, will have certain economic ramifications. But they are a result of libertarianism, not the philosophy itself. Libertarianism demands a "free market" but not any particular kind of economic organization. The "free market" is not a school of economic thought like Keynesiansim, Marxism, Chicagoism and Austrianism. Also, be careful not to equate free-market with capitalism. A free-market just means that all economic relations are voluntary. It does not dictate what kind of arrangement people will engage in. Therefore, a commune as well as a typical capitalistic factory are both consistent with the free market.

If the nature of Marxism requires certain government policies, then I agree that they can't be separated. Can one be a Marxist on economics but still a libertarian? I think not. But one can be for a "socialistic" economy and still be a libertarian. They would just have to achieve their result peacefully. I think they actually call themselves libertarian socialists.

Let me quote Rothbard, who was an eminent Austrian Economic and an anarcho-libertarian. (Note: These are two separate categories. One can be a libertarian and know nothing about economics)

Myth #2 Libertarians are libertines: they are hedonists who hanker after "alternative life-styles."

This myth has recently been propounded by Irving Kristol, who identifies the libertarian ethic with the "hedonistic" and asserts that libertarians "worship the Sears Roebuck catalogue and all the ‘alternative life styles’ that capitalist affluence permits the individual to choose from."2 The fact is that libertarianism is not and does not pretend to be a complete moral, or aesthetic theory; it is only a political theory, that is, the important subset. of moral theory that deals with the proper role of violence in social life. Political theory deals with what is proper or improper for government to do, and government is distinguished from every other group in society as being the institution of organized violence. Libertarianism holds that the only proper role of violence is to defend person and property against violence, that any use of violence that goes beyond such just defense is itself aggressive, unjust, and criminal. Libertarianism, therefore, is a theory which states that everyone should be free of violent invasion, should he free to do as he sees fit except invade the person or property of another. What a person does with his or her life is vital and important, but is simply irrelevant to libertarianism.

It should not be surprising, therefore, that there are libertarians who are indeed hedonists and devotees of alternative life-styles, and that there are also libertarians who are firm adherents of "bourgeois" conventional or religious morality. There are libertarian libertines and there are libertarians who cleave firmly to the disciplines of natural or religious law. There are other libertarians who have no moral theory at all apart from the imperative of non-violation of rights. That is because libertarianism per se has no general or personal moral theory. Libertarianism does not offer a way of life; it offers liberty, so that each person is free to adopt and act upon his own values and moral principles. Libertarians agree with Lord Acton that "liberty is the highest political end" – not necessarily the highest end on everyone's personal scale of values.

There is no question about the fact, however, that the subset of libertarians who are free-market economists tends to be delighted when the free market leads to a wider range of choices for consumers, and thereby raises their standard of living. Unquestionably, the idea that prosperity is better than grinding poverty is a moral proposition, and it ventures into the realm of general moral theory, but it is still not a proposition for which I should wish to apologize.

And Walter Block, another Austrian economist and anarchist (who was a socialist)

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LysanderSpooner
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LS, your value is to prove, at least to me, that your whole trick bag is idiocy. You just define away all the things you wish would not be there, but you have no humane social thinking other than "leave me alone." Commitments involve being bound to a future together, so that would bring coercion at some point. Children inherit their parents' decisions, so we begin with a given that is hardly equal or even, and proceeding from there you have no way to account for the structural inequalities of your "free individuals." It is the old Oliver Twist point on the rich and the poor being equally free to steal or starve.

I have suggested to you Libs that your "private property" bs needs a personal cap. When one's private property becomes leverage over the freedom of others, as when one is coerced by neccitousness to sell one's labor and time to another for a mess of pottage or less, the employer is using structual coercion, not freedom. If you want to try to insist that each person should have a personal "castle" as a civic right, then you would need to guarantee everyone such property or admit that those without are not free.

I could go on, but as others have noted, you cannot escape the fatal metaphysics of autonomous individualism as not true to human nature or the moral life. We are interdepenent by nature, not by some extension beyond our nature. Our social bonds are not some intrusion upon our essential individualism, but our social bonds should be mutual rather than dominator in nature to be true to our interdependence. Within mutual social relationships, each person's individuality and gifts are honored and supported rather than crushed by others. Individuality is real, but individualism is a fiction. Society is real, not just some fuzzy collection of autonomous individuals. Pluralism and symbiosis are not found where individualism undercuts bonding. Teamwork, unit solidarity and not leaving anyone behind, those great military virtues, also happen to be real social values when applied to peacemaking and social progress. Freedom continues to be for all, or none, as Paine said.

drc2
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Apr. 26, 2012 12:15 pm

drc2 wrote...

Individuality is real, but individualism is a fiction.

I really like that concise statement of truth.

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Antifascist
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Quote LysanderSpooner:

Libertarianism is ONLY a political philosophy. It is only concerned about when force is permitted in society. (The answer is only in self-defense) How people choose to live their lives is interesting and important. But libertarianism does not address these matters. This is a common misconception held by non-libertarians, and many libertarians.

Hah! Libertarianism is sold the way they sell conservative economics: people compete, prices fall, innovation grows! Labor competes, wages fall, productivity rises! Simply protect people's property and contracts, and all will be well.

Psychologists find that competition and the emphasis on the individual is pathological, and thus this model cannot work.

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Dr. Econ
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I do not believe in absolute and 100% freedom, but I do believe that freedom is a good virtue to strive for. The people of the USA can practice freedom where applicable, only taking it away when it is used by one person to hurt another person AND when there is a situation created by an unforseen event that hurts a person in the process of exercising their rights. What is incomplete about Libertarianism is that it deals with people hurting other people, but does not delve into the matter of when people are hurt by the system of how things work that happen with no deliberate thought by any other person.

micahjr34
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Feb. 7, 2011 4:57 pm

Well, actually I realize that this abstraction is flawed because it is difficult to distinguish between deliberate and undeliberate actions when people hurt one another, even if the "system" is flawed. Oh, well! Back to the drawing board!

micahjr34
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Feb. 7, 2011 4:57 pm
Quote Dr. Econ:
Quote LysanderSpooner:

Libertarianism is ONLY a political philosophy. It is only concerned about when force is permitted in society. (The answer is only in self-defense) How people choose to live their lives is interesting and important. But libertarianism does not address these matters. This is a common misconception held by non-libertarians, and many libertarians.

Hah! Libertarianism is sold the way they sell conservative economics: people compete, prices fall, innovation grows! Labor competes, wages fall, productivity rises! Simply protect people's property and contracts, and all will be well.

Psychologists find that competition and the emphasis on the individual is pathological, and thus this model cannot work.

In a free market economic system, real wages rise.

"Labor historians and activists would doubtless be at a loss to explain why, at a time when unionism was numerically negligible (a whopping three percent of the American labor force was unionized by 1900) and federal regulation all but nonexistent, real wages in manufacturing climbed an incredible 50 percent in the United States from 1860-1890, and another 37 percent from 1890-1914, or why American workers were so much better off than their much more heavily unionized counterparts in Europe. Most of them seem to cope with these inconvenient facts by neglecting to mention them at all."

Forgotten Facts of American Labor History

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LysanderSpooner
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Yeah, like the forgotten influx of European finance in the post-Civil War national expansion, etc. Or the fact that there was a lot going on in Europe that had negative impacts on economies and helped drive a lot of immigrants to come to that Statue of Liberty promise. They also brought unionization from their European experience, and had to fight and die against the guns of the corporate bosses.

Like most of your arguments, this one is built on sandcastles.

drc2
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Apr. 26, 2012 12:15 pm

Crises of Imagination, Crises of Power: Capitalism, Creativity and the Commons by Max Haiven on what the financial sector and its logic are doing to corporations, to governments, and to the way we live and think.

Click to Play Interview

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Antifascist
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Thanks. Being up early today, I could sit back and listen, and smile. I had a few "I wish I had published that" moments where I know I have said what he said. Imagination is what I associate with the developmental stage of "Self-Dependence." It marks the transition from "Counter-Dependence" and Doubt to something beyond "he said, she said or Prof. X said" to what one affirms and owns as "oneself." The intellectualized aspects of one's transition in the context of higher education are markers for a much deeper personal growth and development. In our social construct, the transition from child to adult.

I have treated economics as metaphysics from the time I hung out at the Stanford School of Business under the 'badge' of chaplain. I had already sought ordinary language rather than theological jargon for conversations on campus, the engaging the theoretical methodology and way of thinking of the people I was with made sense to me. "Reality" is the Mystery of Reality, and don't forget it. Haiven's "Art History and Critical Issues" or something close, but the art history position is important to seeing this economic language with higher hermeneutical illumination. I always love having brilliant people confirm and expand what I have been thinking. Particularly early in the morning.

I cannot wait for some Rightie to pick on the Asst. Prof. title, and it appears he is not an "economist," at least he is not part of any economics department or hired on that badge. He may well have insights as a critic, but no bodges, no stinking bodges. Man, it was a brilliant interview from Haiven's side, and what he ties together is unlikely to impossible to come from within the circle of economics and the institutions of our financialized world. Trying to get them to rethink money and debt is not likely to come from reasonable discourse. Cracking foundations and falling power towers may get their attention, but which way would that lead 'them?'

Lots more to discuss here. Thanks.

drc2
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Apr. 26, 2012 12:15 pm
Quote LysanderSpooner:

In a free market economic system, real wages rise.

"Labor historians and activists would doubtless be at a loss to explain why, at a time when unionism was numerically negligible (a whopping three percent of the American labor force was unionized by 1900) and federal regulation all but nonexistent, real wages in manufacturing climbed an incredible 50 percent in the United States from 1860-1890, and another 37 percent from 1890-1914, or why American workers were so much better off than their much more heavily unionized counterparts in Europe. Most of them seem to cope with these inconvenient facts by neglecting to mention them at all."

Forgotten Facts of American Labor History

Really? You don't think it had anything to do with:

1) Manufactures had to pay wages high enough to keep people off the farms
2) tariffs rising to 50%?
3) The fact that the american worker did not have to compete with the entire rest of the world because capital was relatively immobile, risky and much of the world was underdeveloped

How do you square productivity rising 50% since the 1980's while wages did not increase at all? There was no increase in labor standards - in fact, unionization kept falling to something like just a few percent of private sector workers.

Also, why are you looking at manufacturing wages but comparing it to unionization overall?

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Dr. Econ
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

At 24:00 into the KPFA Berkeley interview

Interviewer: What do you make of the argument that capitalism is getting closer to measuring the underlying value of things, better, such that crisis like the ones seen recently will become rarer?

Max Haiven: Would that it were so, but it would seem that they are not becoming rarer in the least, I mean, what we've seen even in the last fifteen years has been this wave after wave of major financial crisis with terrible human impact. I mean if we look at the dot com crisis, crisis of the Asian Tiger economy, if we look at the sub prime lending crisis, if we look before that earlier than that even at the Savings and Loan crisis, if we look at the crisis that has recently occurred because of debt in the Euro zone, these are crisis that are happening again and again. And I think what we are seeing is not the progressive perfection of markets, we're seeing in fact only the perfection of capital's ability to displace its crisis onto people, onto communities.

..."capital's ability to displace its crisis onto people, onto communities." And, to get back to the crisis of imagination in the title of Max Haiven's recent book, people do not have the tools at their common disposal, through a common media of communication that culturally grasps and shares in some decipherable way what's going on, to imagine this utterly sociopathic institutional process. Media's yet another element of the commons that's been financialized, privatized, and drawn into this gorgon of capitlalist institutionalism. KPFA, of course, being one tiny rogue element of that, with this very program, "Against the Grain" as their flagship metaphor for what a citizen supported media can do.

To continue:

Max Haiven: So for instance, the Euro zone debt crisis... sure, it didn't end up crashing the global economy as it easily could have, but it's being borne at a terrible cost by the people, for instance, of Greece, who are seeing their social programs gutted and privatized, who are seeing their health care system collapse, who are seeing their public safety eviscerated, who are seeing whole university departments being shut down, in the name of averting a broader crisis of capitalism. So as long as we only look at the financial economy in an extremely limited way, perhaps there's an argument that there's been an incredible advance in financial technologies. But once we zoom out and look at this on a global level and look at what's happening to communities I think what we are seeing is only that capitalism is becoming much more advanced at privatizing its crisis.

I mean, one aspect of this too is that the perfection of markets that measure the real world has really occurred through an incredible technologization and mathematisization of finance. So in the last forty years we've seen this incredible development of a new array of highly complicated mathematical formulas for risk management, and the integration of those formula into incredibly sophisticated trading algorithms, which have led us to the situation that was recently outlined in Michael Lewis's popular book Flash Boys. Where in fact, I mean, according to him, and he's of course no anti capitalist critic of the financial sector, the entire financialist sector is rigged by these large firms and companies, which have access to these incredibly powerful computers which can execute trades in a fraction of a second. In fact, by some estimates, sixty to seventy percent of all global financial exchanges are now executed by computers without any human oversight at all.

I don't think James Cameron was imagining that particular machine scenario when he imagined the Terminator series with its war between humans and machines as it's core plot. I don't know if that's a crisis of imagination or not, when we can't imagine a correlate metaphor for the power of these transcendent financial ruling institutions that use these powerful computer systems to essential run all the rest of the capitalistic "neoliberal" global institutions. Seems like it is. I mean, the idea that we aware, conscious, sensitive, empathetic, ethical, and moral biological beings are at war with something machine-like and utterly bereft of those qualities is there in that exciting action-packed fiction, but the very essential nature of it is far from being portrayed. And without that it's difficult to imagine exactly what we are in the midst of in our daily lives.

Max Haiven: So you can call that an advance in the way that capitalism measures the value of the world, but it is quite a terrifying one, with great and terrifying consequences.

The machines don't need to take control of the nuclear arsenals as pictured in Cameron's Terminator series. What's happening is much more difficult to embed in such a metaphor. It's nothing nearly so dramatic and spectacular to behold. The destruction occurs out of sight, within the structures of the capitalist institutions that rule the human community systems, each with their financially-based infrastructures we all live in, and in a much more mundane and everyday way as we give up governing controls over our education, food raising and distribution, policing and security, long term social security, and health care.

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.ren
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Apr. 1, 2010 7:50 am

No More Presidential Immunity!

Thom plus logo When Richard Nixon committed multiple Felonies, including accepting bribes in cash in the White House, Jerry Ford chose to pardon him.

When Ronald Reagan committed treason in 1980 to get elected, Attorney General Bill Barr shut down the investigation in 1992 with five pardons.
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