The Case for Laissez-Faire Capitalism Reply

Walter Block is much superior to most right-libertarians in that he recognizes that a stateless society would not necessarily be “capitalist” at all.

By Walter Block

Chronicles

Under laissez-faire capitalism, government is limited to armies, which keep foreign bad guys from attacking us; police, to quell local criminals; and courts, to determine guilt and innocence.

This is roughly the position of minimal-government libertarians, or minarchists. The foundation of law in this system is the non-aggression principle (NAP). The NAP provides that anyone may legally do anything he wishes, provided that he respects the sanctity of everyone else’s person and private property. There would indeed be rules and regulations: against murder, rape, trespass, etc.

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The Case for Christian Distributism Reply

The economic vision of distributism, which is more or less the economic doctrine of the modern Catholic Church, is very similar to that of left-anarchism and libertarian-socialism, but socially conservative and minus anticlericalism.

By Allan C. Carlson

Chronicles

Christian distributism celebrates the small and the human. It rests on strong home economies and demands the widest possible distribution and ownership of productive property. It favors worker ownership through cooperatives of necessarily larger machines and enterprises. It seeks and reinforces local communities, bound together by ties of kinship, faith, and trade. It welcomes lifelong, fertile marriages of men to women. It favors home care for the elderly and infirm, as well as home-centered education for the young.

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The Ten Core Demographics Revisited Ten Years Later Reply

Ten years ago, I identified what I considered to be the “ten core demographics” that proponents of the ideas we discuss here at ATS will have to reach in order to eventually find the Holy Grail. The original piece is available here. It is interesting to evaluate the status of each of these ten demographics (which are really collections of sub-demographics) a decade later in light of the current uprising. Here is where things seem to stand. The parts in italics are from the original piece.

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Will ‘Law and Order’ Win Trump Reelection? Reply

This interview contains my general take on the great lumpenproletarian cultural revolution of 2020 from a Howard Cosell perspective.

The Potlatch as an Illustration of the Gift Economy Reply

It’s interesting how the potlatch or the Jewish concept of jubilee are forms of what FOX News fans would probably denounce as “socialism” that are largely cultural rather than political in nature.

By Troy Southgate

Some of you may have heard of the potlatch system, an economic practice that was discovered among the likes of the indigenous Kwakwaka’wakw folk of the Pacific Northwest Coast of Canada and America by the leading French ethnologist, Marcel Mauss (1872-1950). Although the Canadian government made attempts to suppress it in 1884, the potlatch continues to endure. The word itself is taken from the Chinook dialect and means ‘gift,’ or ‘to give away,’ and is used by indigenous communities to convey social power.

In contemporary Western societies, of course, accumulating wealth is itself a sign of prestige and domination, but for the Kwakwaka’wakw people the potlatch method is a ceremonial expression of generosity. Having amassed a sizable amount of crops, animal skins, copper and ornamental artifacts during the Summer months, the richest members of the tribe meet with their neighbours and friends in a numaym, or house-society. This is not based on family lineage, but tribal status, and during the potlatch high-ranking members distribute titles, land rights and goods amongst their fellows. Contrary to the manner in which status is acquired in the West, the fortunes of a tribal family are not dependant upon who has the most resources but the ability of its members to distribute what they have. ‘Gifting’ thus becomes a form of wealth in itself. Competitive altruism, if you will.

Potlatch also takes place among the Heiltsuk, Haida, Nuxalk, Tlingit, Makah, Tsimshian, Nuu-chah-nulth and Coast Salish tribes, too, although each has its own particular method of wealth dispersal. Needless to say, the 1884 ban was enforced to counteract what the mercantile Canadians regarded as “wasteful and unproductive” behaviour, and it was only in 1951 that the ban was repealed. In the Winter 1994 edition of Anarchy: A Journal of Desire Armed, Neal Keating compares potlatch to contemporary rioting and looting, contending that it is necessary to “squander the surplus” and that “twelve-thousand or so people who were arrested [in Los Angeles] for rioting, and especially looting, be made into potlatch chiefs”. This is utter nonsense, of course, and ruins what is otherwise an excellent article. Indeed, whilst the ‘gifting’ tradition of the Kwakwaka’wakw is done both willingly and of one’s own accord, breaking into shops and stealing televisions, computers and playstations is clearly not in the same league.

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Trump heads to his own golf club as Covid-19 surges and jobless benefits expire Reply

And Trump’s critics actually thought he wouldn’t “act presidential.” Wasting time on the golf course while everything falls apart is what presidents are for.

The Guardian

Donald Trump prompted a familiar barrage of criticism on Saturday by visiting one of his own golf clubs as the country remains caught in numerous intensifying crises, from the raging coronavirus epidemic to anti-racism protests to the failure to extend benefits to tens of millions of jobless Americans.

Trump arrived at his Virginia golf club in the morning, according to a report from the White House pool, after leaving Washington via motorcade and dressed in his usual golfing attire of a baseball cap and a polo shirt.

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Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Reply

An old article from the 1980s describing Libya’s economic system. There were many problems with Qaddafi, but the reason he was so hated by the Western imperialists is that he expelled Western petroleum interests from the country and created the wealthiest nation on the African continent. The Western powers tried to cripple Libya’s economy with decades-long sanctions, before launching an outright invasion in 2011. Under King Idris, Libya was a backward, starving colony of the Western oil companies. Since Qadaffi’s fall, Libya has become a Somalia-like failed state with open-air Middle Passage-like slave markets.

By Mark Johnson

New Internationalist

Libya presents an enigma. It is a thinly populated country on the margin of the Arab world, yet it appears to exercise a far greater influence than its economic and strategic importance would suggest. Last year it attracted not only headlines but President Reagan’s bombers as well. 1951 Libya has been regarded by Westerners as not much more than a useless tract of desert. Its main exports were ones they could largely do without: esparto grass used for paper, and scrap metal from relics of World War Two battles.

But then came oil. American companies played the leading role in opening up the oilfields and Libya was soon in the fast lane to economic development.

The process of rapid change dealt King Idris’ regime a fatal blow, and in 1969 a group of nationalist army officers under Colonel Muammar Gaddafi took power.

Gaddafi and his Revolutionary Command Council describe their philosophy as ‘socialist’ and ‘revolutionary’. As a ‘Jamahiriya’ – a state of the masses – Libya’s system of government is supposedly based on the exercise of power by the people. Libyans who disagree, arguing that the popular committees which formally run the country represent little more than a political party loyal to the colonel, get short shrift from the Government.

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The Exploitation Debate: Ben Burgis VS. Antony Sammeroff Reply

An interesting libertarian/ancap vs Marxist debate. I tend to lend more toward the idea that concentrated economic power is the primary problem rather than wage labor per se and that the relationship between the state and economic elites (the “power elite”) is what makes massive concentrations of economic power possible.

Intro notes by Martin of Barrow

Ben Burgis of Zero Books and Antony Sammeroff of the Scottish Liberty Podcast debate the Marxist theory of the exploitation of wage laborers by capitalists.

I hoped this debate would begin with a precise definition of “capitalism” rather than a vague definition of “exploitation”. Marx associates the capitalist mode of production with states granting privileges far beyond simple ownership of a productive means by a producer, with the Bank of England and the East India Company for example. When Antony discusses a state licensing businesses to limit competition for labor, he is discussing capitalism in Marxist terms, not a deviation from capitalism.
Burgis correctly describes capitalists as rent-seekers, but he conflates entrepreneurial profit with monopoly rent. I’d like more discussion of this distinction.
Does Burgis associate capitalism with any monopolization of any resource by any individual whatsoever? May I exclusively possess a lawnmower to mow my lawn? If so, may I ask a neighbor to mow the lawn using my lawnmower, offering the neighbor something in return?
Burgis talks a lot about voting. Voting for what? If I pay a neighbor to mow my lawn with my mower, must I offer him a vote on where I buy the gas for the mower and how much I pay for it?
If I pay the neighbor less to mow my lawn than I earn selling books during the same time (if I profit from the exchange through comparative advantage), must I offer the neighbor a vote on how I spend the difference between his lawn mowing earnings and my bookselling earnings? Must the neighbor vote on the subject of my books? If I earn less selling books on a given day, does the neighbor owe me a vote?
Does a wage laborer not vote for an employer when he accepts the employment?

These 15 countries have the widest gaps between rich and poor Reply

The US is #9 on this list. Unbelievably, I am constantly coming across “libertarians” who think this doesn’t matter. Read some Aristotle or Tocqueville, folks.

By Grant Suneson and Samuel Stebbins

USA Today

In American politics, the issue of income inequality comes up frequently. As wealth continues to concentrate at the top – now the wealthiest 10% of American households control nearly 75% of household net worth – the middle continues to shrink, and some previously thriving metro areas have been hard hit by extreme poverty.

But income inequality is not a uniquely American issue. Nations from all six populated continents have massive wealth gaps between their richest and poorest residents. Many of the most economically productive countries in the world have not been able to devise a way to stop, or even slow, the growing inequality.

Income inequality across a population is quantified using the Gini coefficient measure. On the Gini scale, inequality is measured from 0 to 1, where 0 represents a perfectly equal society and 1 represents extreme inequality where a single individual controls all the wealth.

24/7 Wall St. reviewed the Gini coefficient of 42 countries from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development to identify the countries with the widest gaps between the rich and the poor. Both OECD member states and affiliated states were considered. OECD members tend to be high-income nations, and income inequality may be even more pronounced in poorer countries not considered.

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Latin America is the world’s most unequal region Reply

Notice how the USA is starting to resemble Latin America and South Africa in terms of class divisions.

World Economic Forum

Global leaders will meet at the Annual Meeting in Davos this week to discuss how to improve the state of the world and address its most pressing challenges. There is much to talk about – not least the global inequality crisis, which has come to the fore in recent years in the wake of the economic and financial crisis of 2008-2009. Inequality is growing at an alarming pace and poses a serious risk to economic growth, the fight against poverty and social stability.

For evidence of the destructive impact that extreme inequality has on sustainable patterns of growth and social cohesion, we need look no further than Latin America and the Caribbean. Although the region achieved considerable success in reducing extreme poverty over the last decade, its still-high levels of income and wealth inequality have stymied sustainable growth and social inclusion. In Latin America and the Caribbean, inequality is preventing a return to an inclusive growth trajectory in the face of daunting external conditions. The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) projects the region’s growth to be 0.2% for 2016.

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IMF Made Loans to Belarus Conditional on a Lockdown. Lukashenko Turned Them Down Reply

Anti-Empire.Com

Additional conditions which do nto apply to the financial part are unacceptable for Belarus, Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko said when speaking about external lending during a meeting to discuss support measures for the real economic sector on the part of the banking system, BelTA has learned.

Aleksandr Lukashenko asked the participants of the meeting how things were with the provision of foreign credit assistance to Belarus. “What are our partners’ requirements? It was announced that they can provide Belarus with $940 million in so-called rapid financing. How are things here?” the head of state inquired.

At the same time, he stressed that additional conditions which do not apply to the financial part are unacceptable for the country. “We hear the demands, for example, to model our coronavirus response on that of Italy. I do not want to see the Italian situation to repeat in Belarus. We have our own country and our own situation,” the president said.

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