Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Collective Capitalism

For those unwilling to accept Adam Smith's views on joint-stock companies (see The Real Laissez Faire) There is fortunately an alternative form to draw upon. It is described by the German economic theorist Karl Marx in Capital Vol. 3 as follows:

"Capitalist joint-stock companies as much as cooperative factories should be viewed as transition forms from the capitalist mode of production to the associated one, simply that in the one case the opposition is abolished in a negative way, and in the other in a positive way."

The fact that such a collectivist scheme met with much the same corruption and suffering (by the end of the 19th Century) as those schemes practiced under Lenin, Stalin, Mao, etc. should then come as no suprise--and such examples should help us to understand what makes our current system so completely unsustainable.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Preocupation With Minutiae

The history books do us an injustice, and so do the newspapers today. If one bases ones knowledge of the world and our nations place within it merely on the basis of mass media and an inadequate education system, one would be led to believe that our independence from England was based upon not paying the stamp act, and that our continuing Independence is based upon the government procuring for us jobs and other trinkets through their benevolent housemanagement. Rather, then--as now--it was based upon a declaration. The Right of the individual in society to enjoy the guarantee of those rights which were endowed by the state of Nature. Life--that one's physical person is protected from harm, that one has the right to sustain oneself, and that if one is physically unable to care for oneself that this will be provided to such a degree as possible by other means. Liberty--the restraint of authority over the individual, to be limited to the protection of other individuals within society. The Persuit of Happiness--That one should not be arbitrarily restrained from persuing ones interests, except for the case of its infraction upon those rights of others. With exception to those functions of raising revenue for the function of government, and those of protecting society from outside invasion, these are the legitimate functions of republican government. The protection of property is but a subset of these three rights, and as such it should be acknowleged that the land of a nation, that said to be 'real' property ought to be acknowleged as nominally alloidal. With such understanding it should be thought absurd in the extreme if some other entity than the individual within society should be entitled to any right whatsoever. So too, one might wonder if justice could be achieved for the individual if large portions of the resourses within the borders of the state were owned collectively and allocated to such collectives under the administration of one or more employee. That there have been government that operated under the auspices of such an arangement--whether it be through Lenin's Soviet, or Mussolini's Fasci, or Lincoln's Corporation--should only strengthen our resolve against such a breeding ground for moral corruption. While the true market based upon a relationship between the parties to business exchanges does result in the invisible hand that acheives the greatest good for the economy as well as the necessity for moral self governance--and the opportunity to mantain control over the minutiae of life.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Real Laissez Faire!

Adam Smith is generally recognized as the father of Laissez Faire capitalism. Yet many who call for free trade and other non-regulatory measures fail to recognize--as Smith did--the most basic form of intervention within modern capitalism; the public issuance of joint-stock ownership in a company.

"To establish a joint stock company... for any undertaking merely because such a company might be capable of managing it successfully; or to exempt a particular set of dealers from some of the general laws which take place with regard to all their neighbours, merely because they might be capableof thriving if they had such an exemption, would certainly not be reasonable. To render such an establishment perfectly reasonable, with the circumstance of being reducible to strict rule and method, two other circumstances ought to concur. First it ought to appear with the clearest evidence, that the undertaking is of the greater and more general utility than the greater part of common trades. and secondly that it requires a greater capital than can easily be collected into a private copartnery."

Smith accepts that such conditions may be met by the banking trade or large projects such as canal building. One might add in modern times, perhaps aerospace manufacture and certain capital intensive technologies, but as far as those smaller manufactured items and durable goods Smith makes clear his beliefs:

"The joint stock companies, which are established for the public spirited purpose of promoting some particular manufacture, over and above managing their own affairs ill, to the dimunition of the general stock of the society, can in other respects scarce ever fail to do more harm than good. Notwithstanding the most upright intentions, the unavoidable partiality of their directors to particular branches of the manufacture of which the undertakers mislead and impose upon them is a real discouragement to the rest, and necessarily breaks, more or less, that natural proportion which would otherwise establish itself between judicious industry and profit, and which, to the general industry of the country, is of all encouragements the greatest and the most effectual."

So there you have it a compelling statement for non intervention when it would hinder entreprenuership--and a call for reducing to "strict rule and method" those sectors such as banking for which joint stock ownership is justified. Sounds like a sustainable recipe for crash-free capitalism to me. Laisser Passer Laisser Faire indeed!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Death of Liberalism part 2

Bill Ayers and Rev. Wright were the least of our worries! Meet Rahm Emanuel (Obama's pick for cheif of staff) He voted to make the patriot act PERMANENT, and his 2006 book Big Plan further reveals his strong disdain for individual liberties:

"It's time for a real Patriot Act that brings out the patriot in all of us. We propose universal civilian service for every young American. Under this plan, All Americans between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five will be asked to serve their country by going through three months of basic training, civil defense preparation and community service."

Although he assumes that only "Republicans will squeal about individual freedom," this Big Plan would require altering the 13th amendment which has--for the last century and a half--prohibited forced servitude. So now should those 18-24-year-olds who voted for Obama in record numbers expect to be enslaved building a business infrastructure as part of this new post-bailout corporatist economy?! Lets compare this take on "patriotic duty" to that of a true liberal--consumer advocate and former Presidential candidate Ralph Nader--in his essay We Need A New Kind of Patriotism:

"If patriotism has no room for deliberation, for acknowledging an individual's sense of justice and his religious principles, it will continue to close minds, stifle the dissent that has made us strong, and deter the participation of Americans who challenge in order to correct, and who question in order to answer. We need only to recall recent history in other countries where patriotism was converted into an epidemic of collective madness and destruction. A patriotism manipulated by the government asks only for a servile nod from its subjects. A new patriotism requires a thinking assent from its citizens. If patriotism is to have any 'manifest destiny,' it is in building a world where all mankind is our bond in peace."

related links:

Saturday, January 10, 2009

The Death of Liberalism

I should start off this obituary by noting the overall rightward shift in the Democratic Party. For those who haven't heard Howard Dean is out and Tim Kaine is in as Chairman. Howard Dean is the former presidential candidate who I would have voted for, if only he had met the height requirement. Tim Kaine is the Third Way (mixed socialist-hierarchal capitalist economic thought--not to be confused with 'third entry' although metaphorically speaking the result is the same) conservative former Virginia Governor. While Howard Dean was a moderate on civil-libertarian issues like gun ownership, Tim Kaine is moderate in that he is a social moderate and as one Virginian blog puts it:
"Kaine kept his pro-business promise, even to the extent of re-appointing a
member to the state water control board who had been cited twice for violating
the state’s clean water laws he was sworn to uphold.
Next, Kaine fully embraced
a new coal fired power plant in the Virginia coalfields and stood firm as his
liberal base accused him of being owned by the power plant applicant, a slave of
This is bad news for those of us who wanted a clean break from Bush's policies. Way to keep it real, DNC.