Saturday, January 27, 2007


This is an outrage. I'm not registered on Wiki nor do I desire to be but someone really has to do something about this:

'Libertarians and other advocates of laissez-faire capitalism believe that most people earning an income from the government (including welfare recipients, civil servants, doctors working in a public health system, etc) are social parasites. Ayn Rand referred to them as "looters" and "moochers"'

Maybe I should start a "Just say No" regular following Mr. van Wyk's example.

Or maybe let's scuttle the 'libertarian' moniker: It's been nice, libty, we still love ya, only you've come to represent something we abhor?
I've been thinking about ideological dynamics, and accompanying linguistic dynamics recently and maybe I'll be able to shed some light on all these developments. Libertarians have paid far too little attention to such issues. Actually, beyond Rothbard's adoption of the Bolshevik "left-sectarian" vs. "right-opportunist" division and maybe reference to the "success" of Eugene Debs' Socialist Party in getting the mainstream to adopt its views, I can't remember any attempt by libertarians to develop a comprehensive theory of ideology (metaideology?) and social movement.

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Thursday, January 25, 2007

A couple of things

Blogging's been ultrasluggish lately, but I'm somewhat swamped with exams. Since nobody is reading this blog at this time anyway (I've been too patient with the BLL methinks), I owe nobody an apology, but in case somebody actually reads this stuff - hey, I'm still alive! :)
But my mind hasn't been as dormant as my keyboard, so let's go over the few things that I remember right now of what I wanted to post about.

1. First of all, the new Pain of Salvation album is out! The Gods of progressive metal have descended upon us yet again and what a descent it is! They could have settled for something old and tried but ooooh no, this is PoS we're talking about. Scarsick seems almost the opposite of their previous effort, the ambitious, broadwayish and orchestral Be. SS is gritty, down-to-earth, sarcastic. And full of surprises, too, such as the second Disco Metal song I've heard in my life (next to Edge of Sanity's Sacrificed).

But more to the topic of my blog, the album is dedicated to bashing capitalism in general, which provides some food for thought.Even though I've been a supporter of free-market capitalism nearly all my life and have never strayed therefrom (even as I'm ever more convinced that the term is self-contradictory), I can't fail be touched by the band's portrayal of indifference, greed and promiscuity - owing to their enormous ability of conveying emotion in music. Of course, it is not my place to assume that my taste for particular cultural values trumps morality, but it makes me wonder just how much of this culture is spawned by modern neoliberal capitalism, and how much is a genuine outgrowth of free markets and free expression.

One aspect that I think needs to be explored is how inflation influences behaviour. As inflation lowers real interest rates, what it does is pushing people to spend more (hence the consumerism Daniel Gildenlow portrays in 'Kingdom of Loss') and to work more (hence greed, prozac and a lot of other things). 'Kingdom of Loss' mentions how 'time' is the root of the problem - the constant pursuit thereof. Doesn't inflation push people to consume and work more and kick back and relax less than they really want to?
Maybe some think-tanks need to stop gloating over how glorious the spirit of consumerism is in neo-Randian litanies and dig deeper into the root of the problem.

2. Which cuts into another point, a peeve of mine, namely the cult of efficiency, or cult of numbers. An outgrowth of current neoliberal thought and yet another reason why libertarians have to distance themselves from corporate capitalists. The Warsaw School of Economics, where I'm studying is a merry collection of individuals, most of whom are infected by this dreadful disease. I swear, if I hear 'nakręcić koniunkturę' ('boost the economy', more or less) again, I'm gone shove... uuugh. Well, the thing is, though the lecturers are bearably pro-free market in the Milton Friedman sense of the word, to them everything is justified as long as it 'boosts the economy.' What's even more irritating, even though 70 years have passed since Keynes' blunder, everybody still buys into the "more inflation=boost to economy" mantra. Of course, inflation pushes people to produce more, which does a great job at cranking up those numbers but does it really serve The People? Nobody knows and nobody cares.

3. On a more-or-less unrelated note, I'm warming up to calling myself a socialist. It was probably Brad Spangler who first suggested that market anarchism of the 'capitalist' brand is, in fact, socialist in its nature. The points raised most often by those denying the title of anarchist (and, subsequently, socialist) to us are the issue of land and wage labour. Now land is a completely separate issue, which I will address some other time (suffice to say, I'm growing dissatisfied with Locke, while remaining none too comfy with usufruct mutualism and Georgism), but the latter I'll take issue with here.

To most socialists, wage labour is exploitative and therefore immoral, because the worker is not paid the entirety of their labours's value. This normative casting of the Labour Theory of Value claims that one is entitled to the full worth of one's work. Since 1871 (and even before), however, an economist is inclined to asked 'value to whom' and this is a question that the classical economist is unable to answer. If by 'value' we mean value to the employer, then no trade is moral, as no trade involves indifference. If no trade is moral, than no socialist or anarchist can support markets, which would put, for instance P. J. Proudhon out of the anarchist and socialst traditions - a pretty absurd conclusion if there is one. If we mean value to the employee then all trade (including wage labour) is moral.

I haven't read Mr Carson's Studies in Mutualist Political Economy in its entirety yet, but I've been led to believe that Mr Carson's support for a revised Labour Theory of Value stems from the Ricardian view that in the long term, wages tend towards an equilibrium between the utility of the produced goods and the disutility of labour. This does not occlude in any way the reasoning above. It is the disutility of labour that would form the basis of such a theory of value and the disutility of labour is, in other words, the value one places on their labour.

One could make the claim that wage labour is immoral in a capitalist environment because capitalists, using State coercion, prevent the market from reaching that equilibrium. And if that is the problem with capitalism then we market anarchists are sure as hell anti-capitalist.
So to oppose what Rothbard dubbed 'capitalism' in the realm of labour makes little sense from whichever standpoint, as it entails no exploitation, even in the Marxist sense of the word.
Unless socialism means having to accept long disproven economic fallacies, market anarchists, like Rothbard, Konkin, et. al. are sure as hell socialists and sure as hell anarchists. Benjamin Tucker, though deprived of the insights of marginalism, understood this, which is why he went so far as to call Gustave de Molinari and Auberon Herbert anarchists, both of whom were somewhat less radical than many representing the non-mutualist side of market anarchism.

More to come!

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Monday, January 8, 2007

Must They Then?

Hans Herman Hoppe's reply (Must Austrians Embrace Indifference?) to Nozick's criticism of the idea of homogeneity in Austrian economics is great, but I have to say the first time I read it I was utterly unconvinced that it really explained the difference. But after I'd done some thinking and come up with an idea of my own, I returned to the article and found that it suddenly made perfect sense and had only been presented in a way that could have been a bit clearer.
I'll put forward my interpretation, which is essentially the same but easier to grasp:

Each object has a set of properties whereby it is defined.
No two objects in the world have the exactly same set of properties, because that would imply that they, for instance, occupy the same space at the same time, are made of the same piece of material that existed in the past, and so on.
Or, in a more relevant way, no economic actor can think of two goods between which he must choose as having the same properties, because in that case the actor has no way of distinguishing between them (even calling one good "good 1" and another good "good 2" ascribes certain properties to these goods - the properties of being, respectively, the first and the second good).
Now the actor does not possess full knowledge about all the properties of a certain good - that stems from the fact that, ultimately, the set of properties of each good is infinite, as every detail of a particular good's existence is a property of the good.
Every actor has preferences in reference to mutually exclusive properties - e.g. "the item on the left" over "the item on the right"; "blue" over "red" over "blue-red striped".

A set of goods is homogeneous for an economic actor (of course it can't be objectively homogeneous if we stick to our Austrian guns) if and only if the actor possesses knowledge of only those properties that do not allow distinction between them. When a merchant buys goods, he is concerned only with a certain set of characteristics that is universal to all of these goods. He cannot distinguish between them, because he knows no characteristic features that would allow him to do so.
Now the objection is - what if an actor has to choose between goods belonging to homogeneous set? The answer is: the question is inherently contradictory.
As we've already established, in order to make a choice, the actor first has to distinguish in some, any way between the objects of choice - and if he can make such a distinction, the goods are not homogeneous.
The merchant mentioned above cannot choose between a good and another good. He has to choose between Good A and Good B and if he can make such a distinction, he is not indifferent between those goods (and these goods are not homogeneous to him)
That's why Walter Block's response wasn't entirely correct - Block said that a distinction is always made after choice enters the arena. But the thing is, it makes no sense whatever to speak or even think of choice if the objects of our choice are not distinguishable to the actor.

And thus we come to a very Austrian point - that indifference is not only praxeologically unobservable, it is logically contradictory and may be rejected via rational analysis.
This conclusion rests on a single premise that sounds sensible, but I haven't come up with a way to prove which - that people are never indifferent between two distinguishing (mutually exclusive) properties. The classic example is tossing a coin - the actor demonstrates the preference of the good designated by one side over the other even though the particular choice has absolutely no impact on the life of the actor. And most goods are distinguishable enough so that the actor can make a more, say, conscious choice.

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and proud

Finally finished translating Wally Conger's Agorist Class Theory. I've still SEK3's appendix to do, but that's for dessert. It won't be published on Liberator before in a month or so, as the site is getting a facelift.
Anyhoo, I've got one quirk with ACT - it's a bit... um? Pompous? I mean sure, agorism makes much more sense than just about anything else but it's not as if we're some kind of a mass movement. All the talk of "agorists as the representatives of the working class" and such make me cringe. But I guess I'm being hypersensitive. But, then again, libertarianism desperately needs good PR and agorism a light at the end of the 'Pot Republican' tunnel. I'd hate to see that light wasted.

And by the way, could anyone tell me why Opera and blogger suck at cooperating so damn much?

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Wednesday, December 13, 2006


Another one bites the dust:

Jerome Tuccille: Left and Right - the Psychology of Opposites

Sunday, December 10, 2006

and good riddance

Butcher Augusto has joined his buddy Reagan in Hell.

Now what's irritating is that the Polish libertarian community is blindly devoted to anything that's ever been said to be in favour of free markets, murder or no murder, corporate fascism or no corporate fascism. Consequently, we can expect lots of fawning over Miracle Boy and miscellaneous posthumous adoration. And that's really sad - that Polish right-wing libertarians - or conservative-liberals, as they like to call themselves, who are usually stepped in the arcana of Christian theology and philosophy have failed to absorb one basic lesson that so many American libertarians have been repeating for such a long time - never trust a polititian.

I suppose that it's the extreme socialistophobia that marks my fellow libertarians in our part of the globe pushes them to revere anything anti-communist. How fortunate for us (paradoxically) that libertarianism has not yet become a particularly well-known political truth and we've managed to avoid being branded by the media with the stigma of Reaganism or Pinochetism. Before we venture out into the wide, wild world of Polish politics we first have to shed libertarianism of this kind of ignorant reverence towards strongmen.

In other words, Poland needs a Libertarian Left.


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Saturday, December 9, 2006


My Polish translations of various articles are available at the Liberator portal, but they're already pretty much buried under the news, so I'll post the links here if anybody is interested:

Karl Hess "The Death of Politics" (the letters at the end are cut a bit)

Murray Rothbard "Confessions of a Right-Wing Liberal"

Ben Tucker "State Socialism and Anarchism"

I've also sent Tom DiLorenzo's "Tax Gouging" and MacKenzie's "Myth of Functional Finance" to the Polish Mises Institute and Tucker's "Why I am an Anarchist" to Liberator and the translations are still pending publication I guess.