Cato Institute Publishes Leftist Screed!, Pars Decima By Roderick on December 12, 2008 11 Oh, there’s also an exchange between Stephan Kinsella and Brad Spangler here. More stuff to weigh in on – later! Anarchy, Conflation Debate, IP, Left and Right, Left-Libertarian, Online Texts, Personal
Huebert and Block also have another response:
You know, if we could line up all of the republication rights, we would appear to already have the first draft of an anthology.
Thanks for the link. Although Roderick will undoubtedly have much to say in response to B&H, at least this offering — in contrast to their first reply to Rod — is on topic and mostly intelligible.
After reading that Block/Huebert article, I’m convinced that anarcho-capitalism is inherently “thin” in that it limits libertarianism to anti-statism and conceptually minimizes the degree to which statism is synergetic with private interests external to the state.
Walter Block’s libertarianism in particular is excessively “thin”, since he seems to regaurd all causes outside of anti-statism to be external to libertarianism and reduces libertarianism to simply “the non-aggression principle and property rights”.
if we could line up all of the republication rights
Happily, most of the participants are anti-copyright. (I think all the left-lib contributors are, and on the right-lib side I know Walter and Stephan are; not sure about Peter and Huebert.)
I think Spangler is right that shareholders are the owners. If an equity shareholder isn’t the part-owner of a corporation, then I’m not clear what they’re buying when they buy equity shares. Kinsella says that being a shareholder doesn’t mean possession of control over all property the corporation owns, but it seems to me that shareholders vote on who controls the company. Indeed, if one individual owns over 50% of the stock in a corporation, don’t we say that such a person has “controlling interest” in the corporation?
However, I also think Kinsella has a point that being owners wouldn’t necessarily make shareholders responsible for the actions of company officials. How could a shareholder be responsible for actions they know nothing about? If it can be proven that a shareholder knows transgressions are happening and does nothing about it, then I think obviously they can be held liable for actions corporate officials have committed.
@Brainpolice. Libertarianism is a political philosophy. It talks about when it is acceptable to employ violence. It has nothing to say about what kind of shirt to wear or which hockey team to cheer for. If you want to come up with a philosophy for those things, then great, but it won’t be a political philosophy.
“@Brainpolice. Libertarianism is a political philosophy. It talks about when it is acceptable to employ violence. It has nothing to say about what kind of shirt to wear or which hockey team to cheer for. If you want to come up with a philosophy for those things, then great, but it won’t be a political philosophy.”
I’m not talking about purely aesthetic questions of what kind of shirt to wear or which hockey team to cheer for. There are endless questions with respect to specifically identifying what constitutes a breach of libertarian ethics, what the justifications are for libertarian ethics, where libertarianism is on the political spectrum, the degree to which the state is synergetic with economic power, what the logical consequences are of libertarianism and what cultural trends are more conducive to libertarianism. I’m talking about a thoroughly applied anti-authoritarianism vs. anti-statism alone.
Brainpolice, Block has a book called “Defending the Undefendable” which talks about many of those questions.
From Blockhead and Huebert
Of course, Wal-Mart, and virtually every other member of the public, has suffered as a result of the U.S socialist road system. Had it not existed, and the vast amounts of money used for it remained in private hands, and had private enterprise been allowed to operate in this field, we would all have benefited from private roads and highways far superior, and cheaper, than the ones we now have. Wal-Mart — given its size and its heavy use of the roads — may well have suffered disproportionately to others because of government roads.
Uh , I think the argument is that a subsidy to a given input disproportionately benefits actors which make heaviest use of that input. Businesses operating over large market areas, relying most heavily on long-distance distribution and for whom it is a large portion of their operating costs, will benefit disproportionately from socialized transportation infrastructure, and small competitors that don’t will be at an artificial disadvantage. Not a difficult proposition.
This also doesn’t just apply to walmart, but also Target, Costco, Sam’s Club . . . pretty much every large retailer utilizing the “warehouse-on-wheels” business model. Therefore, they constitute a subsidy to bigness in general and centralization in general. I believe that was Roderick’s main point, and that Walmart is just an exceptionally prominent example.
As for these firms being “victims” of inefficient government roads, that Block and Huebert have a serious misunderstanding of the issue of cost in general versus cost to an individual.
Just because transportation would be cheaper in general if left to the market does NOT necessarily imply that it would be cheaper to a given business if that business is currently able to shove a large portion of it’s transport costs onto other people. The whole point is obviously to make it cheaper for certain individuals or classes than it otherwise would be. Government can only create a bargain at someone else’s expense. There is no such thing as a free lunch.
So their assertion that transportation as a whole would be cheaper, while likely true, does nothing to refute the argument that for an individual actor like Wal-Mart, it would likely be more expensive, as they no longer could spread the costs among the taxpaying base, and the tolls for trucks came to actually reflect the damage they do to the roadbed (1,000 to 25,000 times as much as a passenger car).
Coercion is not a necessary aspect of what present-day, real-world businesses do, and even where it exists, it is often incidental, not integral, to the business’s activities overall. On the other hand, coercion is an essential, integral component of what all existing labor unions do.
To be sure, there aren’t any unions that completely eschew taking advantage of labor laws (which Block and Huebert shouldn’t have any problem with, since they don’t oppose businesses taking advantage of priveleges that are already there), I can certainly think of some that are vastly better than the AFL-CIO establishmentarian unions. What about the IWW? The Coalition of Immokalee Workers? The United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America (the one currently occupying the Republic Windows & Doors factory in Chicago)? The Wal-Mart Workers Association?
“To be sure, there aren’t any unions that completely eschew taking advantage of labor laws (which Block and Huebert shouldn’t have any problem with, since they don’t oppose businesses taking advantage of priveleges that are already there), I can certainly think of some that are vastly better than the AFL-CIO establishmentarian unions. What about the IWW? The Coalition of Immokalee Workers? The United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America (the one currently occupying the Republic Windows & Doors factory in Chicago)? The Wal-Mart Workers Association? ”
Well, in Block’s and Huebert’s defense, there’s nothing inherently coercive about the use of government roads, just the way they’re funded. There is something inherently coercive about union laws, so the two are not quite analogous.
Regardless, Block’s made this assertion before, and it’s a pretty absurd one. All one has to do is find one exception, and his rule falls apart. Block would probably object to the IWW’s advocacy of sabotage and sit-ins (I would too, generally speaking, though I remain uncommitted either way on the Chicago sit-in), but AFAIK the Coalition of Immokalee Workers uses non-coercive methods. Furthermore, there are plenty of wildcat union actions that no one ever hears about, because they occur under the radar.
I can certainly think of some that are vastly better than the AFL-CIO establishmentarian unions. What about the IWW? The Coalition of Immokalee Workers?
For the record, some IWW locals make use of post-Wagner labor laws (most commonly in efforts to combat retaliatory firing of organizers for unionizing activities). I think that sucks, but the union as a whole is pretty minimally involved, and — importantly, unlike the AFL-CIO and Change to Win [sic] unions — they are largely opposed to State-mediated collective bargaining, and to the whole State regulatory apparatus, and they do have an organizing model which doesn’t depend on the use of federal labor bureaucracy.
The CIW is another can of worms. As far as I know they have never made any use whatsoever of any federal union law at all. If for no other reason than the fact that they couldn’t use it even if they wanted to. The Wagner Act explicitly excluded farmworkers’ unions (also domestic workers’ unions — the point was originally for St. Franklin to be able to count on the support of white-supremacy-forever Southern Democrats, so jobs black people took under Jim Crow weren’t included), and none of the post-Wagner amendments have changed that. Block and Huebert’s blanket assertion that all actually-existing unions either practice vigilante violence or solicit state violence or both is either breathtakingly ignorant or else dishonest. They seem to have no idea at all that several large unions have no access at all to the NLRB under existing federal labor laws, whether they want it or not.
(To be fair, I must note that the largest farmworkers’ union, the UFW, has no access to the federal NLRB, but does have access to a state government agency — the California ALRB, created in the 1970s through their lobbying efforts — in California, their main base of operations. I think this helps explains, actually, why the UFW, which was one of the most dynamic organizations in the labor movement for many years, has accomplished relatively little since the 1970s: they were bought off by the political patronage, and meanwhile the board was captured within a couple years by the big produce bosses, just like every other regulatory board in the history of the world. But as far as I know the CIW has access to nothing of the kind in Florida. Neither does FLOC in most of the states where it operates — mainly in the Southeast U.S., if I recall correctly. What they get done, they get done in spite of, or because of, the fact that they receive neither the legal benefits nor the regulatory burdens of the NLRB regime. And I think that’s a lot of the reason why farmworkers’ unions have accomplished so goddamned much in the past 40 years, while the establishmentarian labor movement has largely stagnated or collapsed.)