Response to, “5 Legal Rights Women Have That Men Don’t”

(Nick’s Notes: Responding to this.) >Genital integrityHow many legal abortion clinics exist in the US? Apparently over 1,000 as of 2011 which isn’t very many. And as reported by Guttmacher (“Is it difficult for women in the United States to reach a provider?”): Some 87% of U.S. counties do not have an abortion provider and 35% of women […]

Continue reading at The Anarchist Township …

Carl Sagan and the Beginning of History

Our pale blue dot has circled its star eighteen times since it lost the astronomer who gave us the perspective to see it that way — and that phrase.

Carl Sagan is not usually remembered as a political prophet, aside from pioneering recognition of the dangers of nuclear war and remaining an inspiration to opponents of drug criminalization. But his inquiry probed any political order’s taboo “set of forbidden possibilities, which its citizenry and adherents must not at any cost be permitted to think seriously about” (like the USSR’s “capitalism, God, and the surrender of national sovereignty” or the USA’s “socialism, atheism, and the surrender of national sovereignty”). Otherwise, it would wither, as with antiquity’s Alexandrians who never “seriously challenged the political, economic and religious assumptions of their society. The permanence of the stars was questioned; the justice of slavery was not.”

While not a radical leftist like his feminist wife and coauthor Ann Druyan or his New Leftist friend Saul Landau (who, in a sign of the up-in-the-air alliances of the times, contributed to the Cato Institute’s Inquiry Magazine), his liberalism was influenced by the ferment of SDS’s participatory democracy Whole Earth Catalog-style emancipatory technology. It was thus steadfastly in favor of civil liberties, people power, and sexual liberation, and highly wary of moral panics and calls to trade freedoms for security. Despite being vilified by a right dominated by National Review hawkishness, he sought common ground with pro-lifers. As he said of Albert Einstein, he “was always to detest rigid disciplinarians, in education, in science, and in politics,” and his distrust of politics was evident in proposing “[a] series in which we relive the media and the public falling hook, line and sinker for a coordinated government lie.”

He took note that the flowering of inquisitive, tolerant values in ancient Greece and Renaissance Holland grew from their trading economies; as his muse Bertrand Russell put it,

The relation of buyer and seller is one of negotiation between two parties who are both free; it is most profitable when the buyer or seller is able to understand the point of view of the other party. There is, of course, imperialistic commerce, where men are forced to buy at the point of the sword; but this is not the kind that generates Liberal philosophies, which have flourished best in trading cities that have wealth without much military strength.

His antidote for the existential crises of nuclear war and environmental damage was not consensus reasonable-centrism — he was apprehensive of the triumphalist The End of History prediction “that political life on Earth is about to settle into some rock-stable liberal democratic world government” — but the widest possible experimentation. He recommended two of the great science fiction depictions of functional stateless societies: The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, with its “useful suggestions… for making a revolution in a computerized technological society,” and Eric Frank Russell’s “conceivable alternative economic systems or the great efficiency of a unified passive resistance to an occupying power.” He hoped the inspiration of such ideas would make a reality “the beginning, much more than the end, of history.”

flattr this!

A advertência de A Revolução dos Bichos: a desigualdade importa

Recentemente, em um comentário a meu artigo “O caminho libertário para o igualitarismo“, o filósofo libertário Tibor R. Machan citou o livro de George Orwell A Revolução dos Bichos como exemplo do que acontece quando tentamos combater a desigualdade. Para Machan, a desigualdade é um “problema fabricado” e a história de Orwell é um alerta para os perigos da tentativa de corrigi-la. Ao ler seu comentário, fiquei um tanto perplexo, porque eu jamais havia interpretado A Revolução dos Bichos dessa maneira. Desde que li o livro pela primeira vez, minha leitura indicava um alerta quase oposto ao indicado por Machan.

Parecia-me então, como agora, que A Revolução dos Bichos faz uma advertência a respeito dos problemas da desigualdade, o resultado da concessão de direitos e privilégios a uma classe política dominante. Orwell habilidosamente ilustra o problema fundamental da autoridade política, seus conflitos inerentes e seus incentivos que favorecem o abuso do poder e que rapidamente enterram grandes ideais filosóficos. O ponto principal de Orwell era que os porcos nunca levam a sério sua retórica de igualdade e de restabelecimento da fazenda em termos mais igualitários — que quase imediatamente passam a tomar vantagem de sua posição desigual na fazenda para explorar o resto dos animais e concentrar os luxos para seu usufruto particular. A Revolução dos Bichos, assim, sucintamente demonstra a conexão entre o poder político e o poder econômico. Quando a desigualdade naquele é instituída como fato legal, a desigualdade neste se segue inexoravelmente. Os libertários de livre mercado normalmente ficam desconfortáveis com as condenações de esquerda à desigualdade econômica, alegando que, em princípio, o libertarianismo não tem qualquer problema com a desigualdade.

Afinal, se favorecemos os direitos individuais, a competição aberta e a propriedade privada, devemos aceitar quaisquer resultados que se seguirem dessas premissas. Estritamente, tudo isso é verdade. Parece-me, porém, que uma crítica social libertária precisa incluir uma crítica à desigualdade econômica como sintoma da falta de liberdade econômica e das persistentes interferências do poder político em favor das elites ricas. Em seu estudo biográfico de Thomas Hodgskin, o historiador David Stack descreve a crença de Hodgskin de que “o trabalhador poderia ser liberado através da aplicação consistente da moralidade burguesa”. Para Hodgskin, Stack afirma, “a desigualdade e a miséria, a ordem social e a antipaz” eram todas funções da legislação, impostas artificialmente e não resultantes de “quaisquer desigualdades inerentes no sistema de produção”. Se as injustiças econômicas existentes resultam da lei positiva, então “restrições socialistas ao laissez faire estavam enganadas”. Hodgskin viveu e escreveu seus trabalhos numa época em que era mais fácil articular uma visão que fosse tanto liberal quanto socialista. O legado pouco apreciado de pensadores como Hodgskin avança o argumento (frequente aqui no Centro por uma Sociedade Sem Estado) de que os libertários devem desconfiar do termo “capitalismo” em vez de trombeteá-lo como algo que favorecemos.

Como Hodgskin, os anarquistas de mercado atuais não se opõem ao fato de que o capital é compensado como parte do processo de produção. A preocupação — que só pode ser aplacada pela adoção de um ora hipotético livre mercado — é que o capital seja supercompensado devido à posição de privilégio que o estado confere a ele. Escreveu Hodgskin: “Ficamos tentados a pensar que capital é como uma palavra cabalística, tal qual Igreja ou Estado, ou quaisquer outros termos gerais que são inventados por aqueles que tosam a humanidade para esconder as mãos com a tesoura. É um tipo de ídolo perante os quais os homens devem se prostrar (…).” Entre os insights principais de Hodgskin, normalmente ignorados pela maioria dos defensores do livre mercado, está a ideia de que o comércio em si não prova a ausência de exploração. As trocas desiguais são exploratórias no momento em que uma das partes têm vantagens injustas ganhas através de intervenções coercitivas ou restrições à competição. No nível micro, as trocas desiguais se manifestam, por exemplo, em relações de emprego ou em acordos de bens ou serviços de consumo. Em uma escala maior, análises sobre trocas desiguais podem auxiliar nosso entendimento sobre a forma pela qual os países pobres e em desenvolvimento interagem economicamente com o Ocidente desenvolvido.

No mundo de A Revolução dos Bichos, os porcos empregavam a violência como maneira de preservar sua posição de poder; os outros animais trabalhavam cada vez mais em troca de menores pagamentos, enquanto os porcos eram os senhores da Granja dos Bichos — nome que foi eventualmente revertido ao original Granja do Solar. O mantra original “Todos os animais são iguais” foi gradualmente, quase imperceptivelmente, suplantado pela ideia de que “alguns animais são mais iguais que outros”. A interpretação de Machan de A Revolução dos Bichos esquece que Orwell era um socialista e, como o estudioso de Orwell Craig L. Carr observa, o livro é um alerta bastante direto a respeito da “traição do ideal igualitário”. Após a revolução dos porcos, com a queda do sr. Jones, permaneceu “[um] sistema econômico que legitimava a desigualdade material”. Orwell tinha bastante interesse no uso da língua. Em toda a sua obra, inclusive em A Revolução dos Bichos, gestos políticos são os mecanismos através dos quais os objetivos nobres da revolução se tornam “coerentes com o privilégio e a posição de superioridade da classe dominante”. Os termos usados pelo libertarianismo e pelo livre mercado similarmente são importantes aos beneficiários dos privilégios econômicos. Sem eles, as pessoas reconheceriam o que de fato é o poder corporativo: algo criado pela violência e coerção políticas, um sistema de classes tão real, observável e quantificável quanto qualquer outro anterior. Criticar a desigualdade deve ser importante para o libertarianismo porque devemos levar a sério nossas ideias em favor do livre mercado e devemos considerar a economia política atual como muito distante de nosso modelo. Os libertários, da mesma maneira, devem estar abertos ao socialismo e à análise de classes presente no trabalho de esquerdistas como Hodgskin e Orwell. É hora de começarmos a enfatizar tanto a liberdade quanto a igualdade, não somente uma ou outra.

Traduzido por Erick Vasconcelos.

flattr this!

Monopoly and Aggression

The concepts monopoly and aggression are intimately related, like lock and key, or mother and son. You cannot fully understand the first without understanding the second.

Most of us are taught to think of a monopoly as simply any lone seller of a good or service, but this definition is fraught with problems, as Murray Rothbard, Austrian economists generally, and others have long pointed out. It overlooks, for example, the factor of potential competition. If a lone seller knows that someone could challenge his “monopoly” by entering the market, that will tend to influence the seller’s pricing and service policies. Is he then really a monopolist even if, for the time being, he’s alone in the market?

In deciding who is a monopolist, we also face the problem of defining the relevant market. The Federal Trade Commission once charged the top few ready-to-eat breakfast cereal companies with monopolizing “the market.” But what market? The FTC meant the market for ready-to-eat breakfast cereals. But that’s not all that people eat or can eat for breakfast. If you define the relevant market to include bacon and eggs; oatmeal; yogurt; English muffins and butter; bagels, lox, and cream cheese; breakfast burritos; and anything else people may find appealing in the morning, a “monopoly” in ready-to-eat cereals looks rather different. Even a single cereal seller (assuming no government privilege) could not price his product without taking into account what his rivals in other foods, and consumers, were doing. He could not even be sure who his rivals were until they arose in response to his consumer-alienating actions.

The conventional notion of monopoly has also been subjected to the reductio ad absurdum. In deciding who is a monopolist, where do we stop? Only one shop can occupy the northeast corner of Elm and Main in Anytown. A particular consumer could decide it’s too costly in time or effort to cross the street and buy at the rival shop on the northwest corner. Does that make the first shop a monopoly?

I have exclusive domain over my own labor services and tools (laptop, etc.). The same is true for each reader. Does that make us all monopolists? If so, how useful is the concept? (Much of what I’ve learned over many years about monopoly and antitrust I learned from Dominick T. Armentano. See Antitrust and Monopoly: Anatomy of a Policy Failure.)

Ludwig von Mises, I should acknowledge, believed that in theory there could be “instances of monopoly prices [harmful to consumers] which would appear also on a market not hampered and sabotaged by the interference of the various national governments and by conspiracies between groups of governments.” However, he added, these “are of minor importance. They concern some raw materials the deposits of which are few and geographically concentrated, and local limited-space monopolies.”

In chapter 10 of Man, Economy, and State, Rothbard critiqued the concept monopoly price as useless in a free-market context because identifying it would require knowledge of a product’scompetitive price, which itself cannott be identified. All we can observe is the price that emerges from buying and selling on the market. Other Austrian economists, such as Israel Kirzner, think Mises was right.

Adam Smith’s approach to monopoly makes more sense than the mainstream neoclassical view. To Smith, monopoly denoted a privilege, a legal barrier to competition, such as a license or a franchise — in other words, a grant from the state. Anyone who attempted to compete with the monopolist would run afoul of the law and be suppressed by force, because that’s how the state assures its decrees are faithfully carried out. When someone whose actions are consonant with natural rights is suppressed by force, that is aggression.

Hence my claim that the concepts monopoly and aggression are intimately related. Quod erat demonstrandum.

Monopoly-building interventions take forms other than outright franchises and licenses. Tariffs and other restrictions on foreign-made consumer goods impose monopolistic, or at least oligopolistic, burdens on consumers by preventing or hampering competition from producers outside the country and thereby raising prices. If the restricted goods are producers’ goods, they burden domestic manufacturers as well as consumers.

Intellectual-property laws — patents, copyrights, and the like — have a similar effect by hampering competition through prohibitions on the use of knowledge and forms that people possess mentally. The creation of an artificial property right through patents is practically indistinguishable from a franchise or license. Its harm to consumers is the same.

Frédéric Bastiat appears to have understood this, though he was not always clear. (Yes, this whole thing has been an excuse to write about one of my favorite thinkers.) In his unfinished magnum opus, Economic Harmonies, Bastiat said some interesting things that bear on this issue.

Bastiat praised the competitive market process — where the state abstains from plunder on behalf of any special interests — precisely because it transfers “real wealth constantly … from the domain of private property into the communal domain.” (I detail his argument in “Bastiat on the Socialization of Wealth.”) What he meant was that, when economizing, profit-seeking producers substitute the free services of nature (water, gravity, electricity, wind, etc.) for onerous human labor, competition drives down prices to reflect the lower production costs. When consumers obtain the same or greater utility at a lower price, they enjoy free of charge some of the utility they previously had to pay for with their labor. Innovation-with-competition delivers the fruits of the services of nature gratis, and the whole community benefits.

This is why Bastiat said that the market transfers wealth from the realm of private property to the “communal realm.” Producers who formerly reaped returns on human services that provided utility to consumers now instead employ nature’s services from which they can reap no return at all. As a result, we all get increasing amounts of free stuff.

But free competition is crucial. Bastiat used the example of a producer, John, who invents a new process “whereby he can complete his task with half the labor it previously took, everything included, even the cost of making the implement used to harness the forces of Nature.” In that case, Bastiat writes, “as long as he keeps his secret, there will be no change” in his product’s price, that is, its exchange ratio with other goods.

(For Bastiat, prices are formed, not according to the amount of labor that goes into goods, but by the toil and trouble, subjectively conceived, that consumers are saved by engaging in exchanges of services rather than by producing goods for themselves. He calls the English economists’ axiom Value comes from labor “treacherous.”)

Why will there be no change in price, or what Bastiat calls “value”? “Because,” he replies, “the service is the same. The person furnishing [the good] performs the same service before as after the invention.” So long as John can keep his secret, other things equal, the terms of exchange will remain unchanged.

The important question is: how long can John keep his secret? Bastiat went on to say that the old price will fall “when Peter, [a consumer and producer of another good to be offered in exchange],can say to John: ‘You ask me for two hours of my labor in exchange for one of yours; but I am familiar with your process, and if you place such a high price on your service, I shall do it for myself’” (emphasis added).

Bastiat is clearly happy about this. I interpret this to mean that he did not approve of patents, which would prevent Peter from exploiting his knowledge of John’s invention in order to save himself (and other people) money.

In fact, Bastiat follows up that passage with this:

Now this day comes inevitably. When a new process is invented, it does not remain a secret for long. [Emphasis added.]

The resulting fall in price “represents value [not to be confused with utility] eliminated, relative wealth that has disappeared, private property made public [emphasis added], utility previously onerous, now gratuitous.” (As my earlier article notes, Bastiat expected this kind of talk to get him accused of being a communist. Can you imagine?)

What I want to emphasize is this: in Economic Harmonies, which Bastiat wrote late in life and despite what he may have said elsewhere (and in distinguishing between patents and copyright, he was by no means unambiguous), he appeared not to regret that an inventor was unable reap returns by forcibly thwarting imitators. (In a letter, he wrote, “I must admit that I attach immense and extremely beneficial importance to imitation.” Hat tip: David Hart of Liberty Fund.) He expressed no concern that imitation would discourage innovation.

So-called intellectual property is the dominant engine of monopoly in modern economies. Fortunately, cheap technology makes enforcement increasingly difficult, and we may look forward to the day when it disappears entirely. Which underscores my point: to rid society of monopoly we must rid society of aggression.

flattr this!

To Discipline and Surveil

In the wake of an uprising in Ferguson, Barack Obama requested hundreds of millions of dollars to arm the police with cameras. This, he thought, was a way of holding police accountable. And he was right, it feeds into the system of “accountability” already in place in local justice systems. It holds them accountable to the system, which is and always has been in their favor. It also makes citizens more accountable to the ethereal force of surveillance and the criminalization of everyday life.

In September, the DOJ released a report [PDF] on the effectiveness of police body cameras. Far from showing a disciplining effect for police officers, it presents evidence that it only further emboldens their disciplining power against us. Sheriff Douglas Gillespie comments

In the testing we did [of body-worn cameras], we had a number of tenured officers who wanted to wear the cameras and try them out, and their feedback was very positive. They said things like, “You’ll be amazed at how people stop acting badly when you say this is a camera, even if they’re intoxicated.” And we also know that the overwhelming majority of our officers are out there doing a very good job, and the cameras will show just that. –Douglas Gillespie, Sheriff, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department

This most likely unintentional Foucauldian analysis demonstrates to us that citizens engage in “good” behavior under surveillance from the perspective of the officer.

The last six words are very important, “from the perspective of the officer”. What is being left out, what has always been left out, is the perspective of the citizen. The citizen exists as a subject to the power of the officer’s perspective, because the officer’s perspective is treated, prima facie, as justified. It is the citizen being monitored, the citizen being assessed. This is a movement to surveil us. It is a system which assumes the justice of the established institutions, and the disobedient citizen is always in opposition to these institutions. Police are to be obeyed, is there a more banal and plain statement that can be made about law enforcement? They are the agents of law, they are the institution of criminal justice manifest.

The citizen is informed that he is being recorded and with this simple fact, the officer has imposed on him the perspectives of all who will see it. But who will see it? Assuming it is not disposed of or, otherwise, miraculously disappears, it is the criminal justice system that will view it. A man who is intoxicated is in fact in violation of the law. This itself is enough to condemn him to the ill treatment of the officer. What follows from this video is not neutral evidence. There is no such thing as neutral evidence within a system investigating one of its agents. We do not perceive the events unfolding from a removed, objective standpoint. If we did, no determination of justice and fairness could, in fact, be possible in any direction. We instead see it through the narratives we are given. One person’s assault is another person’s defense of law. One person’s self-defense is another person’s resisting of arrest.

When we say that this surveillance will lead to officers behaving within the confines of lawful police procedure we must also say that it will lead to citizens behaving within the confines of lawful citizen behavior. This technology can and will be used to convict people of victimless crimes. It will be used to monitor our behavior. The camera, through its direction, inherently suspects us and invites us to see things through the officer’s eyes. The officer’s eyes are that of the law. Unfortunately for the citizen, what confines him is massive, immeasurable decrees of law. What confines the officer is internal investigations, friendly prosecutors, jurors, and an understanding that, as has been demonstrated, everyday life has become a largely criminal activity. We are all in danger of breaking the law since the law covers so much of our behavior and appears before us as a stack of books we have not the time or patience to read. This will lead to an internalization of the cop’s perspective in all of us. We will know not only is he watching us, but so is a system which has declared much of our lives to be illegal.

I think the DOJ report is correct. This will lead to obedient citizens. Those citizens who remain in frightful bursts to be non-compliant. What might this do to publicly released video of cases of police brutality? It will turn them into another part of the system, controlled and mediated by it. It will become a new form of spectacle, of something we all know could come for us at anytime unless we remain dutiful subjects. As police are exonerated more and more from video evidence, people will more fully realize their place: as the suspect, the threat, the evidence.

This is not an argument against surveillance. It is an argument for the destruction of the institutions that surveil us in favor of our own spontaneous institutions, our own narratives. Police should be surveilled, for those of us in this movement there could be nothing more plain. The documented murder of Eric Garner, provided by a citizen journalist, raised massive awareness of an unacceptable abuse of power. It was not filtered, at least not as much. It was left up not to prosecutors, judges, and other institutionalized sociopaths, but to public discourse. As a result not only was the officer’s behavior called into question, but so was the petty law he was using as pretext to assault Garner. Jurors will be sheltered as much as possible from the public debate because the system only wants its perspective shown. Ideally there will be two perspectives, with someone defending citizens against ruthless officers of the law. In practice this is hardly ever the case. What the system also omits is the suspicion that certain laws are unfounded in any notion of fairness from people in the real world. In a court, the law is absolute, at least when used against the citizen.

We must tear down this poisonous mediation. Police body cameras will not do this. They will be the property of police departments and will be filtered through well-constructed narratives. We must disempower the police. Police body cameras will not do this. It only disempowers those normals disobeying the law or who are at least suspected of possibly breaking the law. We must always have our own narratives presented. Police body cameras will not do this. Our narratives are ignored and treated as hostile by the criminal justice system, and it is only rational for them to treat them that way.

We must arm the citizens with cameras, with their own media platforms, with critical narratives of state power. We have these resources already. It would be a mistake for us to treat the granting of millions to cop budgets for these cameras when they will so often be used to exonerate them while they monitor and discipline us. Let the state have their cameras, but do not imagine they will be neutral. There is no neutrality in law. Turn your own cameras on them, turn your own perspectives on them. The power is in your grasp now to fight the police state, to challenge it on your own terms.

flattr this!

Never Apologize for “Stealing” My Work

Hands off my brain!

I just noticed, for the first time ever, that there is a little (C) at the bottom of this webpage. If you’ve ever noticed this or notice it now then it may signal to you that my work is copyrighted, or that the coding for this site is or the design of it or any conceptual part of it.

And there can only be one response to this so we can make things totally clear:

Fuck. That. Shit.

To quote Charles Johnson at length:

All of the original work on this website is free content.

It’s free content because I am against copyright, and indeed all forms of so-called intellectual property. Copying is not theft, and when you reprint, duplicate or imitate you don’t deprive anyone of the work or the ideas that they had. If you like it, or you’re interested by it, or you want to single it out for mockery, you can feature it on your web page, you can print it in your newsletter, you can hang a copy on a bar wall and throw darts at it. If you do any of that, I’d love to hear about what you’re doing, but you don’t need to ask permission. Copy, reprint, translate, make derivative works as you please. If you want to support the work, you can do that. But anyone found copying the content on these pages without permission, will be a real good friend of mine.

So-called intellectual property is in fact nothing more than a legally fabricated monopoly, suppressing competition and emulation, constraining creativity, confining culture, science and technology to captive, capitalist-dominated markets, and violently depriving many of the poorest and most marginalized from access to critical resources for education and life-saving medicines. The legal fictions of copyright and patent are despotic attempts to monopolize the human mind; power-psychotic burdens crippling and destroying individual ownership and the progress of grassroots culture and technologies; outrageous constraints on human intelligence and creativity; and a destructive and desperate protectionist scheme for the profit of powerful corporations.

This web project is, in spirit and in letter, at war with every aspect of Intellectual Protectionism, in its principles — of monopolizing power, entitlement, social control and economic privilege — and in its operation — through increasingly invasive government policing and legal coercion — and in the disastrous global effects of patent and copyright restrictions.

This machine kills intellectual monopolists.

For more see:

The Libertarian Case Against IP

IP Impedes Progress

On the Subject of Genocidal Rage

Tucker’s Big Four: Patents

And if you’re really hungering for more…

A pergunta que Michael Lind simplesmente não vai responder

No ano passado, no Salon, Michael Lind fez “a pergunta que os libertários simplesmente não podem responder” (“The question libertarians just can’t answer“, 4 de junho de 2013): “Por que não há países libertários? (…) Se o libertarianismo fosse uma boa ideia, ao menos um país não o teria tentado?”.

Ele recebeu algumas respostas — as melhores partiram de nós, da esquerda da libertária de livre mercado, que nos consideramos críticos do capitalismo corporativo. Roderick Long escreveu (“The Myth of 19th-Century Laissez-Faire: Who Benefits Today?”, 10 de junho de 2013):

A questão é absurda porque a resposta libertária é óbvia: o libertarianismo é ótimo para as pessoas comuns, mas não tanto para as elites que controlam os países e determinam as políticas a implementar e que preferem que seu status privilegiado seja sujeito à competição no livre mercado. E as pessoas comuns não se mobilizam em prol de políticas libertárias porque a maioria delas não está familiarizada com os argumentos mais consistentes em prol do libertarianismo, em grande parte porque o sistema educacional é controlado pelas elites supracitadas.

A pergunta de Lind é análoga àquelas que poderiam ser feitas há alguns séculos: se a tolerância religiosa, a igualdade para as mulheres ou a abolição da escravidão são tão boas, por que nenhum país as tentou? Todas essas perguntas são formuladas da seguinte maneira: se a liberação é tão boa para os oprimidos, por que os opressores não a implementaram?

Minha própria resposta (“The Only Thing Dumber Than Libertarianism’s Critics are its Right-Wing Defenders,” C4SS, 22 de junho de 2013) era a de que Lind:

[Seria] recebido com um silêncio igualmente profundo se desafiasse os defensores da justiça econômica e social a dizerem pelo menos um país sem exploração econômica por uma classe privilegiada. Todos os países do mundo possuem estados interventores. Todos os países do mundo têm exploração de classe. Todos os países na história com um estado, desde que os estados surgiram, também possuem classes e exploração econômica. A correlação é de cem por cento.

Lind não ficou satisfeito com nossas respostas (“Libertarians: Still a Cult,” Salon, 11 de junho de 2013):

Um levantamento não-rigoroso da blogosfera mostra que vários libertários responderam ao meu artigo afirmando que, uma vez que o libertarianismo é antiestatista, pedir um exemplo de um estado libertário no mundo real demonstra uma incompreensão do libertarianismo. Mas se o ideal libertário é uma sociedade sem estado, então o libertarianismo é apenas um nome diferente para a utopia anarquista e merece ser igualmente ignorado.

Lind, porém, não é menos utópico que nós, “anarquistas utópicos”. Como eu afirmei em resposta a seu artigo original, Lind coloca a questão como se o espectro histórico de sistemas históricos refletisse um julgamento coletivo em que “nós”, a “sociedade” ou a “nação” decidimos o que seria a melhor maneira de organizar as questões de interesse comum. “Nós” tentamos aquela outra coisa e ela não funcionou e então “nós” tentamos esta aqui e ela funcionou melhor. Mas isso é uma bobagem a-histórica.

No Evangelho, os sacerdotes, escribas e anciãos foram até Jesus e exigiram saber sob que autoridade ele pregava para o povo. Jesus, em resposta, disse: “Também eu vos farei uma pergunta; Dizei-me pois”.

Então, a Michael Lind eu peço: mostre-me um só estado, em toda a história da humanidade, que não era controlado por uma elite econômica e usado para explorar economicamente e extrair renda das classes trabalhadoras ou produtivas na sociedade governada? Mostre-me um só estado que não era um instrumento extrativo em benefício de latifundiários patrícios, escravocratas, lordes feudais, corporações e bancos capitalistas ou — como na URSS — da própria burocracia estatal. Mostre-me um só estado cujo propósito principal não tenha sido o de proteger direitos de propriedade artificiais e a escassez artificial que permitia que a elite dominante vivesse às custas dos demais.

Repetindo o que eu e outros libertários de esquerda dissemos em resposta ao artigo de Lind, um estado libertário é uma contradição em termos. O estado passou a existir nos últimos 5000 anos de nossa história de 200.000 anos como homo sapiens, em áreas com agricultura produtiva o suficiente para que as classes dominantes extraíssem suas rendas do excedente produtivo. É isso que os estados fazem. Além disso, ninguém é capaz de encontrar um só estado na história humana sem uma elite que o capitaneasse. Logo, o argumento de Lind é absurdo.

Contudo, é possível que Lind concorde com o apologista da escravidão John Calhoun, que via o domínio de classes do estado como uma coisa boa: “Jamais existiu uma sociedade rica e civilizada em que uma parte da comunidade não tenha vivido às custas do trabalho da outra”.

Em justiça a Lind, eu duvido disso. Eu não acho que essa seja nem uma questão que ele considere. Para Lind, críticas libertárias de esquerda ao estado e ao capitalismo corporativo nem existem.

A lógica ruim e as pesquisas fracas que abarrotam as respostas libertárias a meu artigo tendem a reforçar minha visão de que, se não fossem pagos tão bem para escrever propaganda antigoverno por plutocratas como os irmãos Koch e várias corporações autointeressadas, os libertários não desempenhariam papel maior no debate público que o dos seguidores de Lyndon LaRouche ou de L. Ron Hubbard.

Lind não esconde sua visão de que o capitalismo gerencialista de altos custos é natural e inevitável. Idealmente, ele deve ser acompanhado de modificações progressistas/social-democratas para o tornarem mais palatável. Mas qualquer crítica à centralização, hierarquia ou burocracia desse modelo é necessariamente de direita. Eu critiquei essas premissas ocultas à exaustão neste artigo.

O fato permanece que se há alguém culpado de empregar “lógica ruim” e “pesquisas fracas”, além de não responder diretamente a questionamentos, esse alguém é o próprio Lind.

Já passou da hora de Lind responder ao que foi colocado. Ou de calar a boca.

Traduzido por Erick Vasconcelos.

flattr this!

Of Making Many Books There Is No End

I’ve just created two Patreon pages.

One is a per-month pledge page for several libertarian book projects I’m working on; these include:

marsgate

  • Austro-Athenian Foundations of Libertarian Ethics, the transcribed record of my 2006 philosophy seminar at the Mises Institute;
  • selections of material from my Free Nation Foundation / Libertarian Nation Foundation days;
  • collections of more recent online writings, from my blog and elsewhere;
  • a collection of translations of works on libertarian class theory by Charles Comte, Charles Dunoyer, Augustin Thierry, and Gustave de Molinari;
  • Frodo Shrugged, a book comparing and contrasting Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged;
  • a new interdisciplinary libertarian academic journal, the Molinari Review.

Details here.

The other is a per-post pledge page for my four science-fiction/fantasy blogs: on Star Trek, The Avengers (the UK one, not the Marvel one), Danger Man/The Prisoner, and the Oz books. These posts will also be collected as books. Details here.

Pledgers will have opportunities to get advance content, free signed books, and the chance to influence the order in which I tackle the various projects.

You can pledge as little as a dollar per month (for the books page) and/or a dollar per post (for the blogs page). Any help is appreciated; I have a lot of cool stuff I want to accomplish, but am in tight circumstances financially (and my home computer is on its last legs).

Leninismo corporativo

Dilma Rousseff, en su campaña para la reelección a la presidencia de Brasil, declaró que su oponente Marina Silva pretendía “regalar a los banqueros” el control de la economía brasileña. El bluff electoral de Dilma asumía que los votantes creen que los banqueros hoy en día no marcan el rumbo de la economía nacional.

Ni siquiera Dilma se cree esa mentira: apenas dos meses después, con su segundo período garantizado, anunció a Joaquim Levy como el nuevo Ministro de Economía. Levy es un director de Bradesco, uno de los bancos más grandes de Brasil, y trabajó en el FMI durante la década de 1990. El mismo FMI que según la publicidad electoral de Dilma reanudaría su control de la economía de Brasil si el también candidato Aecio Neves fuese elegido.

No contenta con eso, Dilma pondrá a Armando Monteiro a cargo del Ministerio de Desarrollo. Monteiro es un apellido fuerte entre los sindicatos de empleadores y las asociaciones empresariales. Presidió la Confederación Nacional de Industria (CNI) y la Federación de Industrias del Estado de Pernambuco (FIEPE). Durante su fallido intento por hacerse del gobierno del estado de Pernambuco en 2014, Monteiro se lamentó en varias ocasiones por la supuesta falta de una “política industrial” consistente en el estado.

Además de esos dos, Katia Abreu, ex miembro del partido conservador DEM, líder de la llamada bancada rural en el Senado y presidente de la Confederación Nacional de Agricultura, podría ser el nuevo nombre a cargo del Ministerio de Agricultura. Abreu fue parte de la oposición nominal durante el gobierno de Lula. Durante los años de Dilma se ha ido realineando gradualmente, interesándose inicialmente en dictar los términos de la nueva política portuaria, o sea, quería controlar las inversiones gubernamentales en los puertos marítimos, que por definición subvencionan las exportaciones agroindustriales.

El nombramiento de estos tres individuos como parte del gobierno de Dilma muestra la falta de escrúpulos del Partido de los Trabajadores (PT); lo preocupante de este gobierno no es que nos vaya a llevar por el camino de una especie de socialismo burocrático, tal como lo temen algunos críticos conservadores. Más bien, la razón por la que su falta de escrúpulos es preocupante es que el PT está perfectamente cómodo dentro de la estructura de poder del Estado y no tiene ninguna intención de romper el equilibrio de esa estructura. Al igual que el zar y la aristocracia rusa no permitieron la construcción de nuevas vías férreas en el imperio por temor a que una nueva distribución del poder económico pudiese socavar su poder político, los grupos que están tan incrustados en los engranajes del Estado como el PT no tienen ningún incentivo para hacer cambios radicales en una estructura política que les beneficia.

Joaquim Levy, Armando Monteiro y Katia Abreu chocan frontalmente con la ideología nominal del PT de Dilma – no sólo por sus partidarios, sino por su núcleo. Representan a los bancos, a la industria y la agroindustria. Sus intereses privados, simbióticos al Estado corporativo, son claramente contrarios a los de los “trabajadores” que el PT dice representar. Sin embargo, son individuos que no se oponen al proyecto más amplio del PT de preservar el poder a través del mantenimiento de la actual estructura social, de la perpetuación de la actual distribución del poder económico y, por tanto, la actual distribución del poder político en los mismos nodos. Por lo tanto, la presencia de líderes sectoriales en el gobierno como Armando Monteiro y Katia Abreu no causan sorpresa: es de esperarse que estén en el equipo de gobierno dados los incentivos estructurales.

El Estado, después de todo, es el patio de juego de los ricos. Puede que la retórica de puños alzados y los avisos de televisión teñidos de rojo den la impresión de que ha cambiado su naturaleza, pero el hecho es que siempre es la misma. Ser Bolivariano, caudillista, varguista o peronista no es más que la última moda marketinera en América Latina. Así como Hugo Chávez y Nicolás Maduro no son más que una continuación de la oligarquía venezolana, el PT de Lula y Dilma no es más que una continuación del sistema oligárquico brasileño.

Karl Marx observó que el Estado es una junta que administra los negocios de la burguesía, y en ese sentido el PT es una perfecta expresión del marxismo: sus 12 años de dominio de la política nacional se han caracterizado por una estrecha relación con la política corporativa “burguesa”. A pesar de la percepción general y las polarizaciones culturales en las últimas elecciones, no ha habido una ruptura; tal como lo declaró Raymundo Faoro, Brasil siempre ha tenido un “capitalismo de orientación política”, dirigido y redirigido según los deseos y percepciones del “estrato burocrático” que controla el Estado.

Sin embargo, hay un sentido en el que el PT sigue siendo claramente leninista: Su núcleo todavía se juzga a sí mismo como una vanguardia revolucionaria y confunde su éxito con el éxito nacional. Los militantes forman un campo de fuerza que defiende al partido de las críticas externas. Solo se consideran válidas las críticas internas. Según la ideología fundacional del PT, al igual que la de otros partidos leninistas, si a ellos les va bien, al país le va bien y la revolución está en camino. Tal vez sea cierto. Después de todo, no es que exista una brecha demasiado grande entre el capitalismo burocrático brasileño y la centralización burocrática al estilo soviético.

Artículo original publicado por Erick Vasconcelos el 1 de diciembre de 2014.

Traducido del inglés por Alan Furth.

flattr this!

Jon Stewart, Jester for the Warfare State on Feed 44

C4SS Feed 44 presents Ryan Calhoun‘s “Jon Stewart, Jester for the Warfare State” read by Erick Vasconcelos and edited by Nick Ford.

The difference between Carlin and Stewart is that Carlin was not beholden, he kept nothing as sacrosanct and by the time of his death had at one point offended the sensibilities of every demographic on the planet. He railed against the entire American political system and he did not apologize. Carlin is a comedian. Jon Stewart is a Fool.

Stewart will go on with an air of being the rebel, the outsider until it might possibly impose a negative image on the establishment. Voting is no laughing matter for the politicians Stewart regularly entertains on his show. It is their livelihood. Most of their careers will be spent telling people to vote, rather than helping them. If Stewart wants to remain in with this crowd, he must respect the careers these professional hype men have made for themselves — even if he’s smart enough to see past it. It’s why he had to apologize this week.

Feed 44:

Bitcoin tips welcome:

  • 1N1pF6fLKAGg4nH7XuqYQbKYXNxCnHBWLB

flattr this!