Archive | March, 2008

Dyer Straits

[cross-posted at Liberty & Power]

I’ve put the first half of Dyer Lum’s 1890 The Economics of Anarchy online. More to follow!

Dyer Lum I first heard of Dyer Lum from Frank Brooks, best known in libertarian circles today for his 1994 anthology of selections from Benjamin Tucker’s Liberty. When I met Frank, around 1986, we were both grad students at Cornell (he in political science, I in philosophy), and we carpooled together down to my first IHS conference as he told me about this oddly named fellow he was writing his dissertation on. (Though in a movement that includes Lysander Spooner, Wordsworth Donisthorpe, Anselme Bellegarrigue, and Voltairine de Cleyre, perhaps “Dyer Lum” isn’t such an odd name.)

Lum was a mutualist anarchist along lines broadly similar to Tucker’s, a kind of fusion of Spencer and Proudhon, though Lum had a more optimistic view of the prospects for unions as vehicles of the labour movement. (He also preferred Buddhism to Stirnerism – the Absence-of-Ego and Its Own? – but that aspect of his thought doesn’t come out in this work.) Apparently Lum and de Cleyre collaborated on a long anarchist novel, the manuscript for which has been maddeningly lost. Judging from The Economics of Anarchy, I find Lum a less clear writer than either Tucker or deCleyre – but still a fun read.

Coming tomorrow: the Bastiat-Proudhon debate!

Hitch Free From All Facet!

I received this morning a new (to me) twist on the usual Nigerian email scam – this one purporting to come from the FBI:

We believe this notification meets you in a very good present state of mind and health. We the Federal bureau of investigation (FBI) Washington, DC in conjunction with some other relevant Investigation Agencies here in the United states of America have recently been informed through our Global intelligence monitoring network that you presently have a transaction going on with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) as regards to your over-due contract payment which was fully endorsed in your favour accordingly.

It might interest you to know that we have taken out time in screening through this project as stipulated on our protocol of operation and have finally confirmed that your contract payment is 100% genuine and hitch free from all facet and of which you have the lawful right to claim your fund without any further delay. Having said all this, we will further advise that you go ahead in dealing with the Central Bank office accordingly as we will be monitoring all their activities with you as well as your correspondence at all level.

From a purely strategic point of view I cannot regard this as a happy innovation on the part of the scammers. Using English in ways no native speaker would doesn’t necessarily set off a red flag if it’s supposed to be coming from a Nigerian, but it should if it’s supposed to be coming from the FBI.

Who exactly are the people who fall for this stuff anyway?

Fifth Business

What is neoliberalism?

1. Sometimes the term is used to mean the revival of classical liberalism, and so is roughly equivalent to a broad sense of “libertarianism.”

2. Sometimes the term is used to mean the contemporary, welfare-state liberalism that displaced classical liberalism.

3. Sometimes the term is used to mean a corporatist strategy of government intervention on behalf of big business but cloaked in deceptive free-market rhetoric.

4. Most often, it’s used for a confused amalgamation of (1) and (3), despite the fact that (1) and (3) are of course deeply incompatible. (This is a sign that the free-market rhetoric in (3) is successful; thus those who might like (1) are tricked into supporting (3) [result: “vulgar libertarianism”], while those who might wish to oppose (3) are tricked into opposing (1) [result: “vulgar liberalism”].)

I now learn of a fifth definition: neoliberalism is “the doctrine that market exchange is an ethic in itself, capable of acting as a guide for all human action.”

It looks like this guy is one of those who confusedly glops (1) and (3) together into (4) and then attacks this nonexistent construct. But he seems to have added a new chimera on top of the old one. Even among the most wild-eyed fans of markets I have yet to meet anyone who actually thinks market exchange is “capable of acting as a guide for all human action.” (Not even Walter Block!)

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