Sunday, December 14, 2014

Tucker on competition

Benjamin Tucker on competition:

The supposition that competition means war rests upon old notions and false phrases that have been long current, but are rapidly passing into the limbo of exploded fallacies. Competition means war only when it is in some way restricted, either in scope or intensity,—that is, when it is not perfectly free competition; for then its benefits are won by one class at the expense of another, instead of by all at the expense of nature’s . 

Proudhon the Politician

Of the experience, he writes:
As soon as I set foot in the parliamentary Sinai, I ceased to be in touch with the masses; because I was absorbed by my legislative work, I entirely lost sight of the current events... One must have lived in that isolator which is called a National Assembly to realize how the men who are most completely ignorant of the state of the country are almost always those who represent it.

Proudhon's Free Market Socialism

From Iain McKay's introduction to Property is Theft!: A Pierre-Joseph Proudhon Anthology:
Such claims [that Proudhon's market socialism is not truly socialism] are premised on a basic misunderstanding, namely that markets equate to capitalism. Yet this hides the key defining feature of capitalism: wage-labour. Thus capitalism is uniquely marked by wage-labour, not markets (which pre-date it by centuries) and so it is possible to support markets while being a socialist.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

S. E. Parker: Anarchism as "secular religion"

From his essay Archists, Anarchists and Egoists:
I agree with Dora Marsden. Anarchism is a redemptionist secular religion concerned to purge the world of the sin of political government. Its adherents envisage a “free society” in which all archistic acts are forbidden. Cleansed of the evil of domination “mankind” will live, so they say, in freedom and harmony and our present “oppressions” will be confined to the pages of history books. When, therefore, Marsden writes that “anarchists are not separated in any way from kinship with the devout. They belong to the Christian Church and should be recognized as Christianity’s picked children” she is not being merely frivolous. Anarchism is a theory of an ideal society — whether communist, mutualist, or individualist, matters little in this respect — of necessity must demand renunciation of domination both in means and ends. That in practice it would necessitate another form of domination for its operation is a contradiction not unknown in other religions — which in no way alter their essence.
The conscious egoist, in contrast, is not bound by any demand for renunciation of domination and if it is within his competence he will dominate others if this is in his interest. That anarchism and egoism are not equivalent is admitted, albeit unwillingly, by the well-known American anarchist John Beverley Robinson — who depicted an anarchist society in the most lachrymous terms in his Rebuilding the World — in his succinct essay Egoism. Throwing anarchist principles overboard he writes of the egoist that “if the State does things that benefit him, he will support it; if it attacks him and encroaches on his liberty, he will evade it by any means in his power, if he is not strong enough to withstand it.” Again, “if the law happens to be to his advantage, he will avail himself of it; if it invades his liberty he will transgress it as far as he thinks it wise to do so. But he has no regard for it as a thing supernal.”

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Andrews on "the general disintegration of interests"

From Stephen Pearl Andrews' The Science of Society:
The truest condition of society . . . is that in which each individual is enabled and constrained to assume, to the greatest extent possible, the Cost or disagreeable consequences of his own acts. That condition of society can only arise from a general disintegration of interests,—from rendering the interests of all as completely individual as their persons. The Science of Society teaches the means of that individualization of interests, coupled, however, with cooperation. Hence is graduates the individual, so to speak, out of the sphere of Ethics into that of Personality,—out of the sphere of duty of submission to the wants of others, into the sphere of integral development and freedom.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Wilbur, McElroy and the Libertarian Left

Shawn Wilbur, anarchist historian and translator (check out his blog here), left the following very ample comment at the Daily Anarchist, on a piece by Wendy McElroy about left libertarianism:
You seem to be having it both ways a bit, Wendy. If, as indeed seems to have been the case, the “umbrella term “socialism” covers several different approaches,” and “socialists” differed on questions like the role of the state, the use of violence, etc., it seems hard to argue—except by an appeal to a particular one of the several definitions—that the anarchists you are talking about—a group that includes both individualists and mutualists in the tradition of Proudhon—were “definitely” not socialists. 
The history of the term “socialism” is, of course, enormously complex. The North American individualists and mutualists inherited it from two separate sources: the English debate surrounding Owen’s “social system” in the 1820s, where it had both centralized, more or less paternalistic, and decentralized, mutual aid-based, varieties; and the French political debates of the 1830s and 1840s, within the context of which Pierre Leroux initially proposed it as label for an extreme emphasis on the collective aspects of social life, but during the course of which it became adopted by a wide range of positions on the French left. (Variations on the term “mutualism” also appeared in those two traditions, designating varieties of decentralized, mutual aid based “socialism.”) In the period of the 1848 revolutions, which is ultimately the period in which the term “socialism” gained a generally accepted meaning, it clearly covered a wide range of positions regarding the state, violence, the nature of value, etc. Indeed, the common thread was probably a concern with “social science” as a “solution to the social problem,” rather than any simple rule about social ownership, the state, or adherence to a labor theory of value. 
We have to be very careful, given that history, when we look at the 19th century figures. Greene’s treatment of “socialism,” for example, seems very closely connected to his embrace of Leroux’s terminology and triadic philosophical scheme. Leroux believed that the true form of De la Boetie’s “contr’un” (anti-one, opposition to authority) was a structuring of relations in threes, which he also believed was a natural division of roles. Greene embraced some of his method, and consequently tended to spin out models in which each of three terms was objectionable by itself, but contributed to a harmonious, broadly libertarian whole. It is in this sort of context that Greene spoke of “socialism,” “communism,” and (very, very early among writers in English) “capitalism”—damning them all in isolation. But we have to place his comments about “socialism in Massachusetts” alongside his comments about the Paris Commune—which he praised so highly he considered Paris a third “holy city” as a result of it—if we are to get a clear picture. 
The question of labor theories of value may be misleading, too, with regard to the opposition to “usury.” Although it is conventional to divide economic approaches along an STV/LTV line, there are too many prominent spoilers to make it a very satisfactory approach. Warren, for all of his emphasis on trading “hours” of labor under the cost principle, insisted that his traders would value their own costs subjectively, against a conventional yardstick marked in hours of a particular, familiar sort of labor. Proudhon, after some flirtation with equal pay by the hour, came to the radically different notion that values were individual, incommensurable, and could only really be “exchanged” according to some convention of reciprocal respect. What all of the opponents of “usury” seem to have opposed was any “right of increase” associated with the mere ownership of capital. And that’s a somewhat different critique. 
As for the “primacy of contracts,” that’s probably true of Tucker in a certain phase. But the influences of egoism, on the one hand, and Proudhonian mutualism, with its primary emphasis on reciprocity and opposition to “simple property” and the “right of increase,” on the other, are both very strong currents. 
And the more broadly, and specifically, we consider even the North American individualists and mutualists, the harder it is to pin things down definitely.
 Clearly neither individualists nor mutualists were state socialists, and I imagine that is the most familiar form of socialism for this particular audience, but my reading of the history suggests no “definite” answer to the question posed.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

J.K. Ingalls on "the industrial problem"

From Joshua King Ingalls' Labor, Wages, and Capital: Division of Profits Scientifically Considered (1873):
These views of the industrial problem beget no feeling of hostility against the wealthy, for many of them are useful workers; nor of especial interest in those who work for wages, merely on that account. Many of them are employed not in adding to the genuine wealth of society, but in pernicious and destructive pursuits. They do, however, awaken an interest in those who produce in contradistinction to those who merely absorb and consume the labor-product of society. No especial blame attaches to any class. No one with true manly feeling can contemplate occupying the position of a hireling all his life without disgust. Nor can any true man feel that the account is wholly settled between him and his life-long helpers when he has merely paid them the current wages during his prosperity and business success.