Tag Archives | Conflation Debate

Cato Institute Publishes Leftist Screed!, Pars Quarta

Cato Institute building with Alliance of the Libertarian Left logo superimposedNow up at Cato Unbound: my latest response to Yglesias and Baker, Horwitz’s latest response to Yglesias, and most recently my response to Peter Klein, Will Wilkinson, and J. H. Huebert and Walter Block.

Charles Johnson also has a reply to Walter and Huebert up; I sent in my response before I saw Charles’s, but we ended up making similar points.

I hope Yglesias responds before things wind up; he’s only spoken twice so far.

Cato Institute Publishes Leftist Screed!, Pars Tertia

Cato Institute building with Alliance of the Libertarian Left logo superimposedMy response is up at Cato Unbound, along with further responses by Steve Horwitz, Dean Baker, and Matthew Yglesias. Yet another response from me should be up tomorrow morning (well, today morning now).

Other responses to our debate are also popping up across the web, including contributions by Peter Klein, Will Wilkinson, and most recently J. H. Huebert and Walter Block. (The latter offers a rather odd interpretation of one of Charles Johnson’s blog posts.)

I plan to reply to these as well. But not tonight!

Cato Institute Publishes Leftist Screed!, Pars Secunda

The latest round of dialogue on my anti-corporatism piece is up on Cato Unbound.

Matthew Yglesias’s response:

SUMMARY: In his response to Roderick Long, Matthew Yglesias argues that although corporations naturally seek to win special privileges from the state, libertarianism is far from the obvious solution to the problem. Instead, he reiterates the charge that libertarians often act as corporate apologists and suggests that the net effect of any “free market” advocacy will tend strongly toward corporate power. Cato Institute building with Alliance of the Libertarian Left logo superimposed Liberals may have much to learn from libertarians on certain issues and in some policy areas, but the laissez-faire solution to corporate political influence is unworkable.

Steven Horwitz’s response:

SUMMARY: Steven Horwitz offers several examples of so-called “de-regulation” that only served to benefit corporations, while leaving the government, and therefore the taxpayers, to shoulder the risks of the market. He argues that market competition is a form of regulation, albeit a kind worth wanting, as it forces corporations to respond to consumer demand and punishes them when they fail to meet it. He takes issue with Roderick Long’s lead essay by arguing that “playing defense,” that is, defending today’s corporations when they act consonantly with a fully freed market, is a valuable part of libertarian advocacy; one must nonetheless take issue with these same corporations when they violate the principles of laissez faire, and distinguish carefully between these cases.

Dean Baker’s response:

SUMMARY: In his response essay, Dean Baker declines to tally up a “score” of how well libertarians, or other groups, have defended a truly impartial, laissez faire economy. Instead, he suggests intellectual property as an obvious area where libertarians must challenge corporate power to distort the market. Patents that make health care more expensive and copyrights that artificially restrict whole areas of our culture are obviously concessions to corporatism, and the “extraordinary abuses” undertaken to enforce these privileges should be vigorously challenged. Although libertarianism has been skeptical of both patents and copyrights, Baker suggests that this is an area deserving still further attention, and one in which liberals could perhaps become solid allies.

Randal O’Toole’s, Jerry Taylor’s, and Timothy Lee’s responses to the respondents:

SUMMARY: The discussion this month has focused to a greater than usual degree on the activities of certain Cato Institute policy scholars. The editors thought it appropriate to solicit responses, and we present them here in their entirety.

My own response to the respondents:

TITLE: Keeping Libertarian, Keeping Left

Dean Baker’s response to me and to Timothy Lee:

TITLE: On State Funding and Innovation

My response to Timothy Lee and to Dean Baker:

TITLE: Owning Ideas Means Owning People

(This last isn’t posted yet but should be up shortly.)

Cato Institute Publishes Leftist Screed!

[cross-posted at Liberty & Power]

Mine, that is. There’ll also be a round of responses and counter-responses over the next week or so (the “Cato Unbound” format).

Cato Institute building with Alliance of the Libertarian Left logo superimposed Here’s Cato’s summary of my essay:

In this month’s lead essay, philosopher and libertarian theorist Roderick Long draws a sharp contrast between corporatism and libertarianism properly understood. He argues that liberals, conservatives, and even libertarians have all been guilty to some degree of obscuring this difference, and that the quality of our political discourse has suffered accordingly. He suggests that libertarians should guard themselves against falling into the trap of “vulgar libertarianism,” in which all things good spring from business, and particularly from business as usual. Corporations, he argues, should be no more free of scrutiny than any other institution in a free society, and often businesses have done more than their share to hamper free economic relations in the industrialized world.

One implication of all of this is that the truly free market is farther away than we imagine. Long suggests several ways in which a freed market might look different from what we see around us today. Notably, nearly all of these differences are to the benefit of the consumer and the small or start-up business. These likely outcomes of laissez faire suggest new grounds for left-liberals and libertarians to revise their thinking on economic issues and on politics more generally.

And here’s Cato’s introduction to the whole exchange:

This issue tackles a grave misconception: the idea that corporations and markets are synonymous, and that what’s good for the one is good for the other.

Astute economists have noted that far too often, corporations act to restrict the free operation of the market. Corporations that have become successful in a free or quasi-free market don’t like to face competition any more than any other entity, and their success gives them the resources, unfortunately, to stifle would-be competitors. In these cases, corporations and governments can often find themselves in an unholy alliance against consumers, other firms, and liberty itself. Corporatism, in other words – a system that seems to value corporations as an end in themselves.

And after that – what’s an advocate of the free market to do?

lying thieving mutualist conquers all In this month’s lead essay, philosopher and libertarian theorist Roderick Long examines the often tangled relationship between governments, corporations, and those who argue both for and against laissez-faire capitalism. Is a truly libertarian politics possible? Or do libertarians always run the risk – despite their best intentions – of sounding like, or acting like, apologists for an alliance between the state and corporations?

In the rest of the issue, we will hear from three authors with different takes on corporatism and its relationship to free-market advocacy. Political analyst Matthew Yglesias has expressed skepticism about libertarian and free-market advocacy in the past, owing to corporate entanglements. Economist Steven Horwitz has argued that many of our current economic troubles owe precisely to corporate entanglements with the state, and has urged liberals and libertarians to recognize the many potential points of agreement they might find on these issues. And economist Dean Baker has criticized what he refers to as the “conservative nanny state,” or the ways in which the wealthy use their resources to harness government power to their own advantage. Be sure to stop by through the week as our contributors debate these very important issues for the future of a free economy.

Needless to say, I’m excited to have such a prominent forum for the promotion of the cause, and I’m particularly happy to express my gratitude to Jason Kuznicki for offering me this opportunity, as well as to my various left-libertarian comrades on whose ideas I have freely drawn in my essay. Our quest for world domination continues ….

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