Sunday, March 8, 2015

Ayn Rand and Murray Rothbard were All Wrong!



Just ask Nelson Hultberg:

In conclusion, Ayn Rand gave libertarianism a spectacular beginning, and Murray Rothbard was certainly a brilliant economist. But the primary philosophical thrusts of these two thinkers are totally wrong for the cause of liberty.

I will get to exploring some of his reasons shortly; however it seems rather bold to state that these two contributors to libertarian thought (despite Rand’s protests, she did contribute to libertarian thought) could be “totally wrong for the cause of liberty.”  Ayn Rand has sold millions of books; Murray Rothbard’s philosophy undergirds two of the most popular liberty-oriented websites of today, LewRockwell.com and Mises.org. 

To the extent there even exists a liberty movement today, most adherents would point to one or both of these two as foundational to their arrival on this underpopulated spot on the political spectrum.  But, according to Nelson Hultberg, they are “totally wrong.”

If Hultberg wants to put out such a significant and controversial claim, he better back it with overwhelming evidence.  Let’s take a look, shall we?

NB: I come at this with an already jaded opinion regarding Mr. Hultberg’s views on freedom and liberty.  One of many reasons: he advocates that the Fed can be managed, to hold to a 4% growth of money.  Pure folly.

In order to build credibility, Hultberg offers several favorable recommendations for his book on this topic, including one from Mark Skousen: "The Golden Mean is an extremely important book that...is destined to be a classic."  NB: having a recommendation from Skousen only adds to my doubts that freedom is the objective; the reasons are too many to list.

OK, now let’s get to Hultberg’s views:

This is the paramount question that we as libertarians and conservatives must ask: Have Rand and Rothbard given us an undergirding philosophy of rationality upon which to fight for freedom? Or have we launched a freedom movement upon a ship resplendent in sail, but possessed of a leaky hull and faulty tiller?

I guess Rand is the leaky hull and Rothbard the faulty tiller?

Everyone, I'm sure, is familiar with the idea of a political spectrum…. The notion of a political spectrum with three poles of left, center, and right has come to us as a legacy from Aristotle's idea that virtue consists of the "rational course" that lies between two opposite and natural extremes of defect and excess.

I will play along. 

As examples, Hultberg offers:

The virtue of courage is the rational mean between the defect of cowardice and the excess of rashness. Ambition is the rational mean between sloth and greed. Likewise with liberality and self-control. These virtues are all means between defect and excess…. You see here the basic triad that Aristotle defined – vice, virtue, vice.

Hultberg follows this with a few examples of the “rational mean” of his own:

What is so beautiful about Aristotle's doctrine is that it shows all the noblest and most desired values of our existence to be means – such as loyalty, faith, love, peace, order and freedom. All the things we value most in life are "means" between two opposite vices.

“The things we value most in life”…let’s see: regarding a wife that one might value, one extreme would be for a very intelligent, hard-working, beautiful wife; this as opposed to the other extreme of an imbecilic, lazy, ugly wife.  So, I guess I would most value…a non-descript blob?  Regarding money that one might also value, one extreme is to have an easy job that pays more money than imaginable, and the other extreme is to have a back-breaker of a job at $5 an hour.  I choose the office typist job for $12, I guess.

Let’s look at a couple of Hultberg’s examples:

Strife-Peace-Humdrum: isn’t there only strife and peace?  Is there more peace than…peace?

Slavery-Freedom-Anarchy: again, is there more freedom than freedom?

Hultberg is stretching very far to try to convince – stretching so far that I am tempted to stop here.  But I won’t.  Try as he might, he can’t deter me from wanting to understand why Rand and Rothbard are “totally wrong.”




He then applies this thinking to the political spectrum as he sees it:

        (Excess)                                                (Mean)                                          (Defect)
TOTAL GOVERNMENT              LIMITED GOVERNMENT                NO GOVERNMENT
      Socialism              Welfarism            Capitalism              Anarcho-             Anarchism
      Communism                                                                     Capitalism
      Fascism

Doesn’t Hultberg realize that limited government, his desired “mean,” was tried in the most fertile soil ever available to it in the history of the world, and it didn’t last one generation?

When we combine Aristotle's Doctrine of the Mean with Locke's contractual theory of limited government, we gain an irrefutability of political theory that has never before been achieved in history…

I guess he does realize it.  Yet this is his goal.

I see the spectrum as something much simpler: I have authority over my life and property, or others have authority over my life and property.  What is the “mean” between these two extremes?  Limited government (an impossibility) is only one form of “others” having authority over my life and property.

So Hultberg has lost me for a second time already.

Yet, I press on.  I will focus on two of these: capitalism and anarcho-capitalism, as this is where Hultberg’s point will be won or lost, given his construct.  Hultberg identifies the Laissez Faire America of the 19th century as an example of “capitalism” (which he also labels “constitutional republicanism,” but why capitalism requires constitutional republicanism he does not explain); he identifies customary law societies of the early Middle Ages as an example of “anarcho-capitalism.”

This is already confusing.  I will start by assuming that by “government,” Hultberg means the formalized monopoly of violence that has been prevalent through a decent part of man’s history.  The problem is that there are other types of governance – of the family, of the culture, of the church, of a community, of the market.

Capitalism cannot exist without governance (nor can any other form of human interaction), but it can exist without government as Hultberg means it: in other words, with governance but without government it would be called anarcho-capitalism. 

Hultberg even identifies that such a system existed in the Middle Ages (I would say not exactly anarcho-capitalism, but a foundation that if built upon would likely have left both Rand and Rothbard in obscurity).  Does he know that this system thrived for centuries during the Middle Ages – far longer than his limited-government capitalism?  When were those Alien and Sedition Acts passed?  In how many decades did this “constitutional republicanism” turn on itself and result in the deaths of 700,000 of its citizens?

This then is the total political-economic spectrum that makes up reality. You can't go any further left than communism, and you can't go any further right than anarchism. All systems fit in between these two extremes of total government and no government.

Again, what is meant by government?  The Middle Ages had plenty of government – it just wasn’t a coercive monopoly; the closest thing to a “sovereign” was the law.  It certainly wasn’t the king.  Rothbard’s anarcho-capitalism also offers plenty of governance – mostly by the market, but also not disallowing governance by other voluntary societal institutions.  (I have written about one such possible societal structure here, expanding on institutions already functioning in society.)

Hultberg goes on to identify the “mean” – capitalism – with objective law and equal rights; anarcho-capitalism and anarchy are identified as holding arbitrary law and special privileges.

As we see with this portrayal of the spectrum, all ideological systems, other than laissez-faire capitalism, are either excessive or defective because they evolve into some level of arbitrary law and special privileges.

To the extent capitalism (constitutional-republicanism) ever offered objective law and equal rights – well, I have yet to find a single moment in history where this was so.  As to anarcho-capitalism (the Middle Ages), law was most-certainly not arbitrary; it was a system that lasted for up to a thousand years and more in some parts of Europe. 

Certainly there were special privileges in the Middle Ages – what did you negotiate and to what or whom did you swear your oath?  The law followed the individual, not the geography.  What is less arbitrary and more objective for the individual than this – being bound by his oaths?  Yes there were serfs, yet serfs were not slaves – slavery being a key feature of the period lauded by Hultberg.  And serfs carried a far smaller burden for their lord than just about any of the individuals ever burdened with the load of a constitutional-republic.

What anarcho-libertarians miss is that any movement on the spectrum to the right of the Golden Mean would also bring about the destruction of objective law.

This anarcho-libertarian doesn’t “miss” this point.  In the most fertile soil ever given to man for the nourishment of Hultberg’s dream system, objective law disappeared within moments – some would argue that objective law was still-born in 1787 (I tend to agree).  A monopoly power tends not to want to stay restrained.

Instead of the government conveying privileges to its favored factions, though, it would be ruthless warlords seizing privileges for themselves.

The Middle Ages was not characterized by rule of “ruthless warlords.”  There were lords & nobles; there was a king.  The king was just another noble who had only one function as king, setting him apart from the others – to uphold the law, the old, good (customary) law.  If he went beyond this – either violating the old, good law or creating some new law – he could be vetoed by any of the lords.  Each individual vested with veto power; it doesn’t get much more objective than that.

It is this point that libertarians and conservatives must grasp fully if they are to understand the political-economic crisis now consuming our country – this powerfully simple fact that there is only one spot on the spectrum where equal rights for all citizens prevail.

What is more equal than each individual developing his own law via agreements one voluntary makes with others, all within a context of old and good customary law?  What is less equal than initiating force in relationships via Hultberg’s desired government structure?

Yet it is this initiation of force that Hultberg advocates:

Once we understand this point – that the mean is the only place where objective law prevails – then a major problem confronting libertarianism is solved, which is Ayn Rand's controversial Non-Aggression Principle. In other words, her taboo on all initiatory force that she articulated so powerfully in her novel Atlas Shrugged.

This principle is a “major problem”?  What is controversial about this principle?  Yes, I understand the application is at times difficult; debates on such matters are often carried out in libertarian circles.  But what is controversial about “do not initiate aggression,” well, unless you happen to be an advocate for monopoly violence as is Hultberg.  The non-aggression principle is only controversial for those who desire to not be bound by the non-aggression principle.

As Roy Childs and Murray Rothbard demonstrated in the late 1960s, Ayn Rand's taboo on all initiatory force leads philosophically to anarcho-capitalism. If you can't initiate force, then you can't have a government. You must privatize the military, police, and courts of law. This is why most libertarians today have become anarcho-capitalists.

It is the only logical conclusion (I will avoid commenting here regarding my disagreement with the term “privatize,” as it is secondary to this post).

And, having built his entire case (by which he intends to cut Rand and Rothbard down to size) on faulty premises – that freedom is not the opposite of slavery, but a middle-ground between slavery and anarchy; that peace is not the opposite of strife, but a middle-ground between strife and humdrum; that the political form of the aggression taken by the sovereign is the critical differentiator – he goes on to conclude:

But as we have seen, anarcho-capitalism violates the Doctrine of the Mean and thus it cannot maintain objective law, which is the all-important foundation for freedom. Without "objective law" you cannot have a free society. Thus Ayn Rand's non-aggression principle and Murray Rothbard's anarchist politics are serious fallacies.

I bet if he told that to Rand’s face, she would put her cigarette out on his cheek.  Murray?  He would probably laugh hysterically.  Each reaction is rather objective, don’t you think?

There you have it: Hultberg concludes “serious fallacies” based on faulty premises and a poor understating of both history and human nature.

Hultberg goes on to an equally tortured application of this type of analysis to “Two Primary Moral Ideas: Altruism and Egoism.”  While he sees Rand’s denunciation of altruism as correct, he sees as flawed her views regarding egoism.  He sees as the proper “mean” the Judeo-Christian ethic as exemplified in the Golden Rule.

Of course, this Golden Rule is not found only in the Judeo-Christian tradition, and to label it as such immediately and unnecessarily turns off perhaps three-fourths of the world’s population:

Rushworth Kidder notes that the Golden Rule can be found in the early contributions of Confucianism. Kidder notes that this concept's framework appears prominently in many religions, including "Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Judaism, Zoroastrianism, and the rest of the world's major religions". According to Greg M. Epstein, " 'do unto others' ... is a concept that essentially no religion misses entirely." Simon Blackburn also states that the Golden Rule can be "found in some form in almost every ethical tradition". All versions and forms of the proverbial Golden Rule have one aspect in common: they all demand that people treat others in a manner in which they themselves would like to be treated.

I won’t argue with Hultberg, other than his labeling this “Judeo-Christian” and other than my preference for the Silver Rule – a reasonable extension of the Golden Rule.

However, I also will not argue with the egoist as Rand portrays – as long as the egoist practices the non-aggression principle what do I care about his views on the world?  I will go a step further and not even disagree with the altruist – to each his own; just don’t tread on me. 

Don’t initiate aggression and I really don’t care where on the egoist / altruist scale you land.

Hultberg, however, does not appreciate the egoist-heroes in Rand’s novels:

…their flaw is that they are ceaselessly concerned only with themselves, even in their charitable ventures, which gives a sort of unbalanced distastefulness to their personalities.

Look, I don’t agree with every word from Rand’s mouth or pen (same with Rothbard).  I agree that Rand’s heroes are harsh.  I used to think that she wrote them this way to hammer home her points – shock value and all.  Well, I thought that until I heard her speak.

But back to Hultberg’s complaint: Ragnar Danneskjöld was concerned only with himself?  Hardly.  John Galt?  He established the foundations of a community for like-minded individuals.  I would say he was quite concerned about bringing as many such individuals to this community as he could – he spent every one of a thousand pages on this project.

Furthermore, these egoists were not solely concerned with themselves in other spheres.  They each served customers.  They did plenty of service for mankind.  Well, Hultberg points to Howard Roark in disagreement:

Howard Roark's way, however, is to create only for his own happiness and sense of accomplishment. The client's needs and desires are of no concern to Roark. In The Fountainhead he states emphatically to the Dean of Stanton College, "I don't intend to build in order to serve or help anyone."

Why does this bother Hultberg?  Roark, for a time at least, got what the market said he deserved – no customers.  Isn’t this sanction enough for Hultberg?  Does he want a law forcing Roark to build in a manner counter to his choosing?

It is here that Randian egoism falls short and can never be the ethical foundation upon which to build a movement to restore individualism and freedom, because egoism is not the proper goal of a trader.

Every egoist in Rand’s novel was a trader – depicted by Rand in almost too stark an application of the term.  How much more trader does Hultberg want than Rand’s description of the trade in a relationship?

A trader gets caught up in other people's lives as well as his own. This is the basis of capitalism: serving one's fellow man in order to serve oneself.

Almost everyone with whom I trade doesn’t give two-cents about my life, nor I about theirs (beyond general human compassion).  Most of them I don’t even know – the products at the local grocery store were produced by strangers; Amazon and e-Bay are faceless portals to me; I cannot name a single person who built my home or my car – or pretty much everything else I own.  If I died tomorrow, none of them would notice, or care.

What is wrong with this system?  Must I get on the couch to suffer my grocer’s attempts at psycho-analysis before buying?  He wants to sell, I want to buy – must we also know each other’s fantasies and depressions?  If either of us prefers to not engage in commercial activity with the other, we do nothing more than exercise control over our respective property – others will fill the void.

Rand's egoism and Rothbard's anarchism are anathema to capitalism and the vision of the Founding Fathers.

Anathema?  Wow.  Hultberg isn’t messing around:

1. a person or thing detested or loathed; 2. a person or thing accursed or consigned to damnation or destruction; 3. a formal ecclesiastical curse involving excommunication; 4. any imprecation of divine punishment; 5. a curse; execration.

I am having a hard time deciding which of these five definitions is the least damning.  Hultberg is trying to drive a stake through the heart.

These are only an anathema to capitalism in the faulty way Hultberg has defined it – capitalism does not require the government of Hultberg’s faulty “mean.”  As to an anathema to the founding fathers?  Who cares?  They were scoundrels.  Besides, their system didn’t even survive the first generation, even the first day.  That is worth worshipping?

Are our basic premises rational and irrefutable? Because if they are not, we will lose our fight and will have lived lives of wasted purpose.

Rand and Rothbard lived wasted lives?  Is Hultberg delirious? 

We will have built nothing but an obscure footnote to history, rather than a formidable force in history.

If liberty is to be achieved, one must actually advocate, oh, I don’t know…liberty – something Hultberg avoids and denounces, and something well established by both Rand and Rothbard.  I will suggest that it is Hultberg who will go down as an obscure footnote in this history.

If the objective is the impossible dream of limited government, Hultberg need not wait for too many of us influenced by Rothbard to join – those influenced by Rand on this point will find common ground, but given Hultberg’s attacks my guess is they will wait for the next train.  If limited government is the final destination of Hultberg’s train, I won’t waste money on a ticket.  If others hold claim and authority to my life and my property, it is not a project that I want to work on.

He believes in a pipe dream – one that has, by his own admission, never been achieved in history – a monopoly government will check its own power.  At the same time, he has identified a successful anarcho-capitalist model – one that survived for centuries – and dismisses it without understanding or exploring it.

It is impossible to imagine that there would be any form of liberty movement today without Ayn Rand and Murray Rothbard.  It is possible to imagine a liberty movement today without the contributions of Nelson Hultberg because…well, you don’t really have to imagine this as it is today’s reality.

Posterity will laugh at us, rather than revere us.

Hultberg need not wait for posterity.  I am laughing now.

29 comments:

  1. BM, I loved this. While the weak-thinking are easily dispatched like so much junk food, i.e., tasty in the extreme short term, but ultimately unsatisfying, it's always nice to sit down with one's coffee and enjoy the nutritious evisceration of self-styled intellectuals.

    1. Arguing for a logical impossibility as a preferable outcome is just bizarre, especially when you don't recognize the absurdity of your own position.
    2. I think it's insulting to insinuate that any Christian or Jew, utimately, strives to be "just OK" at their faith. If I learned anything from 25 years of Catholicism is that the goal is to be "the best Catholic you can be."
    3. Agree; people must get over this phoney and over-romanticized adoration of the "founding fathers."

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  2. Don't wrestle with political pragmatists: you end up dirty and the pig, I mean pragmatist, just enjoys the mud.

    You'll notice Hultberg getting testy in the comments. I appreciate his luke-warm perspective as it gives a chance for newbies to get their feet wet; but he does not win himself any respect for basically calling people stupid for not agreeing with his milquetoast pragmatism.

    As always, a doff up the cap to you.

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    1. alaska, thank you for the comment.

      I wouldn't bother with Hultberg, except that he offers an attack on two people that have been and continue to be the most effective and bringing people to liberty.

      For things like this, I enjoy punching back.

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    2. I would agree with you about Murray Rothbard, but not about Ayn Rand. If Rand had been the only shepherd available, I wouldn't have been attracted to libertarian thought at all. Her writing is, to me, vastly overrated as an introduction to libertarianism, and her objectivist cult of personality has never been anything other than a repellent for newcomers.

      Rothbard was a brilliant writer and original thinker. Rand was a self absorbed neurotic. Rothbard left us a treasury of writings which have become more popular as time goes by. Rand left us with a relative handful of opaque "novels" which don't bear rereading, except to her little gaggle of objectivists, which is a dying breed. Have you ever met an objectivist who wasn't an insufferable egotist? I haven't.

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    3. Many libertarians cite Rand - despite her protestations - as one of the first, if not the first introductions to the world of libertarian thinking. Many will revisit her novels and many will cite her other works.

      At the same time, other than the cultists, most would rather have avoided spending any time with her caustic personality...from what I understand.

      She doesn't have to have been a lovable person to have been influential. She was (and remains) influential.

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  3. BM, once again you have provided an invaluable service exposing inflated egos with contra-logical arguments. This summation is excellent: "If the objective is the impossible dream of limited government, Hultberg need not wait for too many of us influenced by Rothbard to join – those influenced by Rand on this point will find common ground, but given Hultberg’s attacks my guess is they will wait for the next train. If limited government is the final destination of Hultberg’s train, I won’t waste money on a ticket. If others hold claim and authority to my life and my property, it is not a project that I want to work on." Again, well done.

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  4. I really enjoyed your rebuttal of Nelson's last article. I've conversed with him via email and even had a long phone coverstaion, over the last 15 years. I sent my own rebuttal to im via email touching on many of the same points; the failure of limited government, that the means of force always becomes the ends, the false means betweet anarchy and tyranny. He always tells me to read his book, like I don't already get his position after all these years. He's a really nice guy and hopefully he will come around.

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  5. Mr. Mosquito, Hultberg has made a truly convincing argument for not only doing away with Rothbard's irrational political thought but has also pointed me to the right framework to solve all problems, partial abortions for everyone!

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  6. Objectivism claims to uphold the facts of reality, but denies the facts of race. Libertarianism claims to be logical, but never lets race enter into its logic. If they are wrong on race, then they are wrong about a great many things: philosophy of history, nature of man, art, politics, and the function of religion.

    http://www.dailystormer.com/george-lincoln-rockwell-on-american-national-socialism/

    Race exists. The function of art is to beautify your race and depict your race in health. Religion exists to venerate the race in its health at each stage of life. Politics is racial husbandry. History is the history of race war. Different races compete to steal the white man's guns, money, women, and children. You need a state to keep the bad guys out. Communism is the slavery of mankind to the Jews. Nazism is a German slave revolt against communism and the Jews. Jews cause communism. If you ban the Jews, you don't get communism. (Chile and Argentina rounded up their Jews and dropped them into the ocean.) Jewish modern art is uglification. Open borders is anti-white invasion lead by Jews. (see Kevin MacDonald youtube.) Since race exists, Rand is wrong. She had Lobster Logic.

    http://banjews.com/index.php/aryan-institute/blog/lobster-logic/

    The need to ban races that hate your liberty and property is the state's basis. That's a biological basis. The state provides a habitat for your race to survive and thrive. Today the state does the opposite of what it is supposed to do. Coercive integration leads to greater statism. That's the history of the last 60 years. Horse-racing ends once horses races mix with donkeys.

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    1. "It's the Jooz, it's the Jooz!!!!"

      Nonsense. Most of the harm done to me was done by WASPs, if race and religion is to be the method by which you choose to define the issues.

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  7. I wonder, If I buy his book, would the larger body of work contradict his idiotic introduction? His application of the Doctrine of Means is completely incoherent. I think it is debatable whether or not anything useful can be understood by the doctrine but I am willing to let it stand and see if he is, in fact, correct.

    The doctrine is not a way of discovering what a virtue is, it is a way of understanding a virtue that one already presumes is a virtue. In this sense where he says that peace is the virtue/mean between strife/deficiency and humdrum/excess can be understood. So when you say is there more peace than peace you are misunderstanding the doctrine and this is completely reasonable on your part due to the fact that he, Hultberg, has misunderstood it as he applied in the rest of his article.

    If you notice his first two tables are sensible if you understand that the virtue/mean is first posited and the deficiency/excess are then easily extrapolated from the mean. As he gets into Rand /Rothbard he goes off the reservation. Note that the Means in the first two tables are extremes of their corresponding deficiencies and the excess are extreme forms of their corresponding means.

    So, how does he arrive at constitutional republicanism as the golden mean between total government and no government? He does this by positing two extremes and arriving in the middle. This is exactly WRONG!
    This is clear if you posit good and evil and claim the golden mean is a half and half with good now being an evil according to Hultberg. But, If I presuppose good is a virtue then I can claim evil is its deficiency and perhaps, perfection as its excess.

    If it is fair at all to use the golden mean with regard to the political spectrum, I do not search for the middle of government and no government. I have to posit one of the two as already being the golden mean, a virtue.

    Hultberg's reasoning is astonishingly convoluted. He started out with the presupposition that constitutional republicanism is a virtue/mean, then used the golden means fallaciously as an argument to moderation to sit it squarely where he wanted it. A more accurate representation of what Hultberg believes is that government is a means/virtue, no government(anarchy) is its deficiency/opposite, and totalitarianism is its excess/extreme. The problem is that there is a moving target here and while you could find yourself erring towards its deficiency on occasion the best path would predominately trend toward a point between the mean and the excess. He places anarchism as the defect and totalitarianism as the excess and then is misleading by putting limited government as the means. I think he knows this which is why the crux of his worldview can be easily understood by dropping all this doctrine of the means bullshit and just telling us that he believes mankind's salvation can only come to be by forging a perfect document.

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  8. Could you expound upon the meaning and functionality of "governance" as it pertains to anarcho-capitalism. Also, how does anarchism work with hierarchical capitalist structures?

    Just out of curiosity, would a store such as WalMart (representing capitalism) moving into a community affecting the lives and livelihoods of dozens of smaller stores and industries and their employees (representing free/private enterprise) constitute a threat to to the people and community?

    Thanks for your consideration, Dwain

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    1. “Could you expound upon the meaning and functionality of "governance" as it pertains to anarcho-capitalism.”

      Governance is required for any society to survive – certainly for a society to thrive. The market itself offers governance – prices and profit & loss are some of the best governing features ever invented. Family structures, religious organizations, contractual relationships – all offer governance. The distinction is that such are voluntary relationships (the situation for minors within a family is a separate, and hotly debated topic) – within the context of private property and the NAP.

      “Also, how does anarchism work with hierarchical capitalist structures?”

      It is not clear to me what you mean by the phrase “hierarchical capitalist structures.” If you clarify, I will offer my thoughts.

      “Just out of curiosity, would a store such as WalMart (representing capitalism) moving into a community affecting the lives and livelihoods of dozens of smaller stores and industries and their employees (representing free/private enterprise) constitute a threat to to the people and community?”

      Your parentheticals are interesting, but I will set this aside.

      Why is Wal-Mart a threat? Do they force landowners to sell the land to them against their wishes? Force shoppers to buy from them via a gun in the belly? Do you consider two merchants competing for the same customer a threat? A threat to whom? Certainly not to the customer.

      Of course, business owners don’t want to compete – they usually achieve this by having government do their dirty work to limit the competition.

      If you define the competitive marketplace as the initiation of force, you will be welcomed into any socialist / communist circle you wish to join. Or crony capitalism as practiced in much of the world.

      “Thanks for your consideration, Dwain”

      You are welcome.

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    2. Carl can be rather impatient....

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    3. Yes, Carl can be impatient.

      Mr. Mosquito has given a response on "governance" that will require some extrapolating and contemplation. Frankly, I'm having a hard time with the contextually nebulousness of it.

      Perhaps it's the underlying assumption that everyone is already reading from the same sheet of music and will play according to the notes presented without deviation, or maybe it is the underlying threat of violence that backs NAP, which maintains the assumptive order, that is throwing me. Anyways, I have to think upon it for a little bit, run a few extrapolations..

      As for "hierarchical capitalist structures": Corporations, they are not voluntary, participatory democracies.

      Why do you believe competition is a necessary component of a market place? All markets seek equilibrium, the mitigation of economic competition, the basis of the formation of civilization. The ability and freedom to construct your own personal economy within a larger context, that is free/private enterprise. You do because you can, not because you're in a competition. Economies of scale. And that's what capitalism destroys with it's incessant need for competition, overproduction and extravagant waste of limited resources, competition driven by ROI. Capitalism.

      Do a Bing or Google on "capitalism vs. free enterprise" for a better perspective.

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    4. Is there something nebulous about family governance? Market discipline? Interesting.

      In what sense, specifically, are corporations not:

      voluntary
      participatory
      democracies

      ??

      For what reason do you believe any / all of these are or should be (or not) characteristics of corporations?

      Your final (large) paragraph is a compendium of faulty economic thinking, a seemingly incorrect blending of cooperative and competitive aspects to markets (as both aspects are present in every market), and complete ignorance regarding the efficient use of resources brought on via prices disciplined by profit and loss.

      If I believed you actually cared to understand, I would write a detailed response; as this will take me several hours, and I don't believe it will make any difference to your thinking, I will not bother.

      If you are sincere, then do a bing or google search on free markets, division of labor, competition, and Austrian economics. Demonstrate you at least understand the positions - even if you don't agree; then we can resume this conversation.

      Regards

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    5. Well, nice dodge, or is it your contention that we are all just one big family? Market discipline ? How do you figure "market discipline" is governance? You throw a these buzzwords like giant nets in the hopes that they will catch some semblance of meaning while apparently also hoping that nobody notices that you've said nothing.

      You know, the real world is a hell of lot more complicated than that tightly knitted and well organized little universe you're attempting to portray it as.

      I'm really disappointed.

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    6. I didn't think I was dodging anything, Carl. Sometimes it takes the ability to add 2+2 and get the right answer to keep up around here.

      I guess you never held a job or had a customer. The market is great at governance: do what you say, in the time you said you would do it, and for the price you said...or else.

      Think (if you can) about the discipline it requires to succeed in the marketplace. Take a moment before you decide you want to hide your ignorance behind catchy internet put-downs.

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    7. Well, if 2+2 is your standard for "keeping up", there isn't much hope of carrying on a decent conversation here.

      Here's an idea, why don't you go visit a few independent businesses ask their owners why they're in business and who they are competing against, then compare that against the rote regurgitations you spew.

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  9. Yes, Wall Mart is a threat. Because they externalize their costs via their HR policies. And force captive suppliers to cut costs to the point of closure. Bait and switch. Get the supplier bedded down over a few years, then start asking for lower unit costs until the supplier goes under. Two merchants on equal footing are not a threat. Wallmart uses its size and political connections to gain unfair advantage to the detriment of smaller local merchants. Regards, Shortstack

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    1. Neither the employee or supplier is forced to interact with Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart owes neither anything more than that which they have agreed to do.

      Once you understand this, the rest of your comment is mere noise.

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  10. Nope, do not agree with your statement, "Neither the employee or supplier is forced to interact with Wal-Mart." Stories abound relating to captive suppliers who initially had decent terms and agreed to dedicate a material portion of their production to Wallmart. In a few years, Wallmart 're-traded' the deal, with the now captive supplier suffering greatly.

    And their employees have a choice to not work, because they can't work at their old jobs, which ended once Wallmart moved into the area.

    The real world oftentimes differs from the abstract world.

    Regards, Shortstack

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    1. I don't know what "real world" you inhabit; in the one I live in this is what happens in business every day. It is called life in a competitive market.

      If Wal-Mart "re-traded" (broke the terms of a contract), this is actionable by the counter-party. If the change was due to a negotiation and the possibility of a new contract, that's called business.

      If Wal-Mart is so bad, why don't you hire away their employees and suppliers and whip 'em good? But then, your success wouldn't be up to you - it is up to the customers - they seem to be the ones against whom your economic fallacies and anger should be directed.

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  11. And I don't know what world you like in either? But I am visiting yours, so thanks for your attention. We will agree to disagree here. Of course Wall Mart did not break their contracts, I used a slang in saying re-trading. What Wallmart did is force captive suppliers to re-negotiate draconian cuts after a few years suppliers were captive. Worse, some contracts had the suppliers agree to only sell to Wallmart. They agreed because at the original price, everyone was happy. Until Wallmart then asked for changes to the original terms of the contract. Leaving the one client' supplier with a choice to shut down or to agree to the new terms.

    Wallmart externalizing their benefits costs is a hard concept to grasp for most. They limit their employees hours to just under the thresh hold which would require higher wages or benefits/insurance. But I hear they are changing now, which is great for them because their 20 year strategy worked, driving local merchants out of business. Regards, Shortstack

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  12. None of these sins that Wal Mart is being accused of occurred in a vacuum. Every complaint of crony capitalism can be laid at the feet of those who own the so called government. In other words, there is no market. Instead we have a facsimile masquerading as a market, when in fact everything is centrally controlled.

    The very definition of "market" eschews central control (regulation). You either have a free market, or you don't. There is no middle ground.

    The longer form of this tired old anti-capitalist rant goes something along the lines of assuming that some kind of corporate warlord system would arise without our loving god, government. This ignores the fact that systems of obedience require the master to moral authority among those who are enslaved by them.

    The US Government, for example, holds preeminent moral authority among the majority of those it enslaves. If the people did not believe in the government's authority it would quickly cease to exist. Corporations, or other non-deity organizations, are simply voluntary associations that will never have this kind of moral deference granted to them. If the people have a problem with an entity they do not worship, that entity either comes into line with the public or it too quickly ceases to exist.

    People have been indoctrinated into slavery for so long that we have forgotten what it means to be free. The very notion of freedom is met with fear and outrage. The door to the cage is opening but so far the slaves recoil in horror from the outside.

    It's time to get past the academic arguments and move toward are more basic, human understanding of the situation. This is about throwing off the master's yoke.

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    1. http://anarchyinyourhead.com/comics/2008-04-04-iron_fist_hero.png

      A comic strip. It's worth the trouble.

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