June 2021

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
    1 2 3 4 5
6 7 8 9 10 11 12
13 14 15 16 17 18 19
20 21 22 23 24 25 26
27 28 29 30      
Blog powered by Typepad

« Charles Rowley on the State of Macroeconomics | Main | Yeager Article »


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

ooh. I will attend that event.


Would it be possible for you to record the event on a digital tape recorder or something? I would like to listen to it, but unfortunately going to London is out of the picture right now.

I am not sure that would be allowed, nor do I have good equipment. However, it may be taped by the ASI or the socialists. I will report back afterward.

Also - and I apologize for the length of this quote: I almost never quote at this length on a blog but I think it is worth it. I think Marx co-opted more than just words. I think he co-opted the vision of the stateless society, which had originally been a libertarian Utopia, one which was emerging, perhaps little by little, at that time, until undermined and overturned by socialists:

"man was a creature of needs with the faculty to fulfil them. Liberty was the power to use one's faculties, to live by work and to obtain the product of one's work. Evil was identified with any force which prevented man from fulfilling this law. Man followed his interest, there was no place for morality and any supposed conflict between duty and interest was based upon ignorance of the laws of economics. Since these were the laws of man's being, he had but to follow them to be happy.

… Industrialism was the goal of man's strivings, a state in which he could freely exercise his faculties without the obstruction of force or fraud in a peaceful life without war or exploitation … in the modern world trade was replacing war, and as a result - and Say's law of markets was designed to show the non-antagonistic nature of trade crises - the military role of government would dwindle away. Similarly, since production was now inevitably becoming the supreme goal of society, and government, justice, national representation and even the church were no more than means towards the promotion of production, it followed that a new social hierarchy was emerging, in which the leading roles would be played by bankers, manufacturers and traders.

The culminating point of this analysis was a vision of the imminent disappearance of the state. The industrialist ideal was a society in which all would work and no-one would govern. With the decline of force and fraud, exemplified by the case of the slavery and the diminution of exploitation of industrious people by warrior people, government itself would become less and less necessary. The government of men, as the later Saint Simonian slogan had it, would give way to the administration of things. Thus every diminution in the power of the state marked a step nearer to the triumph of industrie. For the industrial stage was 'a state where the right (of enriching oneself by the exercise of political domination) would be the privilege of no-one, where neither a few men nor many men would be able to make their fortune by pillaging the rest of the population, where work would be the common means of enrichment and government a public work, which the community would award (like all work of this nature) to men of its choice for a reasonable and publicly debated cost' As Dunoyer put it, 'the work of perfection would be reached if all the world worked and no one governed'. In that situation, all social and individual needs would be provided through the market and the state would either disappear or be broken down into radically decentralised municipal units"



Marx had a very clearcut definition of capitalism. It was a system of private ownership of the means of production. That remains a very useful and clearcut definition. If one is worried about planning versus markets, one can simply add the modifier "market" before "capitalim," or not as the case may warrant.

As for libertarianism, the term was invented by a Frenchman in the 1850s, a follower of Proudhon, who Marx detested. The term remained in use exclusively by "left anarchists" until the 1950s, when the shift began. In the 1920s there were even people who called themselves "libertarian communists," quite aside from the more recent "libertarian socialists" like James Buchanan and Noam Chomsky.

The idea that, in fact, there are no separated markets as an effect of the existence of national states but rather one universal world market within which individuals are by means of entrepreneurship, through which capital and voice that can make other entrepreneurs, in particular the political ones, to take in account relevant interests and promote them on the unregulated, anarchic world market in a neverending strive for individual recognition (which might eventually, if unconstrained, lead in the Fukuyama fashion to subjugation)..

.. is just overwhelming.

Thank you for the insight, David

Okay, you've shown that capitalism (the system, not the name) has socialist critics. How is a name change going to remedy that?

If you change the name of the free-market private-ownership system from "capitalism" to "something else", the socialist critics will then tar "something else" with all the supposed sins of capitalism. The connotations of "something else" will soon be the same as the connotations of "capitalism". If so, there's no payoff to expending time and energy on a name change. Actually, I think the term "capitalism" has fewer negative connotations in the public mind now than it used to, for the substantive reason that the alternative systems have discredited themselves.

It's been said that a university's course numbering system is never ideal, but it never pays to change it. I suspect the same applies here.

Hi, May I say to both Liberty and Lawrence that you will be most welcome to attend our debate; and that we have no objection whatsoever if you wish to record the event, as we intend to make a video recording for posting on youtube. I'm forward-looking to meeting you and this has the makings of a great debate!

Towards a world for workers!


Strong but limited government is necessary to ensure that each individual gets to keep what he/she produces. The "exploitation" that socialists are fond of citing would simply be impossible under such a system. Those who own the means of production would have earned it.

In the U.S., our system is corrupt because of the emergence of crony capitalism, not to be confused with true capitalism. Recent claims that capitalism has proven ineffective and unfair are false in the extreme. CRONY capitalism is the culprit. It is the collusion of business and government that hurts workers, not honest businesspeople who earn their way to wealth.

If one wishes to help workers, limit government to the protection of well-defined property rights. Each worker may then increase his/her well-being by increasing his/her value to others.


The comments to this entry are closed.

Our Books