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I don't know if the positive and negative liberty distinctions really gets at the authority/authoritarianism issue. We can go back to Bakunin who made a fairly clear distinction. Authority is fully compatible with freedom (if you will). It is the voluntary recognition that another has superior knowledge compared to you. (I defer to the authority of the shoemaker for the production of my shoes, the authority of the professor for the insights on the economy, etc.) Authoritarianism, on the other hand, is an issue of force and coercion, perhaps even misplaced authority -- somebody claiming to have superior knowledge and ability, and pummelling everyone in his way. I would have hoped that the conference participants would have perhaps shown how the modern evolution of the hierarchical firm was founded in part on this "misplaced authority," i.e., the erroneous belief that the heirarchy actually *does* have superior knowledge . That is, I would have expected the discussion to be not so much a debate over liberty per se within the modern firm, but with the knowledge problem within the structure of the firm. Management theory seemed to merely assumed the hierarchy possessed the appropriate knowledge to back their authority. Austrian theory suggests, instead, that they hold no such authority, that the authority has been theoretically misplaced and misidentified. Wouldn't that lead to a more productive discussion than negative liberty and voluntary contracting?

The mythology of exploited workers is alive and well in Australia also. A hundred years ago a centralised industrial relations and minimum wage system was put in place and it has only recently come under sustained pressure for reform. This is going to be a very frustrating process for reformers! For background on our IR system
For a critique on some labor mythology

The missing element in every human 'solution' is
an accurate definition of the creature.

The way we define 'human' determines our view
of self, others, relationships, institutions, life, and
future. Important? Only the Creator who made us
in His own image is qualified to define us accurately.
Choose wisely...there are results.

Many problems in human experience are the result of
false and inaccurate definitions of humankind premised
in man-made religions and humanistic philosophies.

Human is earth's Choicemaker. Psalm 25:12 He is by
nature and nature's God a creature of Choice - and of
Criteria. Psalm 119:30,173 His unique and definitive
characteristic is, and of Right ought to be, the natural
foundation of his environments, institutions, and re-
spectful relations to his fellow-man. Thus, he is orien-
ted to a Freedom whose roots are in the Order of the
universe. Selah


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