Center for a Stateless Society
A Left Market Anarchist Think Tank & Media Center
Free Market Socialism: An Introduction
My good friend Ciaran, who introduced me to the insights of free market libertarianism (Particularly the works of Frederic Bastiat and Ludwig von Mises), expressed his confusion at the notion of free market socialism. As the concepts are typically considered polar opposites, I figured I would offer some glimpses at various strains of free market…
Debt: The Possibilities Ignored
It’s no secret that economists and libertarians have developed a bad habit of assuming things about history and other societies on first principle without actually checking archaeological or anthropological findings. On occasion the divide can be quite stark. David Graeber’s Debt: The First 5000 Years gets a lot of momentum by attacking a widely circulated…
Value, Cost, Marginal Utility, and Böhm-Bawerk
What governs price? Does cost of production determine price or does price determine cost of production? In the world of economic caricatures, the classical economists (Smith, Ricardo, et al.) took the former position, the Austrians the latter. Specifically, the Austrian view supposedly is that that demand driven by marginal utility determines the price of consumer…
Austrian Exploitation Theory
Marx had no monopoly. Eugen von Böhm-Bawerk (1851-1914), the second-generation giant of Austrian economics, famously refuted the theory, most commonly associated with Marx, that the employer-employee relationship is intrinsically exploitative. Less well known is that Böhm-Bawerk had an exploitation theory of his own, which he expressed in his 1889 masterpiece, Positive Theory of Interest, volume…
The Natural Right of Property: Not to be confused with government-created artificial rights
Thomas Hodgskin (1787-1869), the English economics writer I discussed previously, is an enigma — until his philosophy is seen in its entirety. He was an editor at The Economist of London from 1846 to 1855, during the period author Scott Gordon called “the high tide of laissez faire, yet he is considered a Ricardian socialist,…
Real Liberalism and the Law of Nature
“Our leaders invent nothing but new taxes, and conquer nothing but the pockets of their subjects.” — Thomas Hodgskin Is government the source of our rights? I fear that today many people would say yes. Not infrequently it is said that the government or the Constitution grants us freedom of speech or press or the…
Capitalism, Corporatism, and the Freed Market
When a front-running presidential contender tells the country that thanks to Barack Obama, “[w]e are only inches away from ceasing to be a free market economy,” one is left scratching one’s head. How refreshing it is, then, to hear a prominent establishment economist—a Nobel laureate yet—tell it straight:  The managerial state has assumed responsibility for…
Left-Libertarianism: Its Past, Its Present, Its Prospects
The following is the recently accepted abstract/proposal for a paper I’ll be presenting at the MANCEPT 2014 workshop on “The Current State of Libertarian Philosophy,” 8-10 September 2014, in Manchester UK – appropriately enough, since left-libertarianism of the C4SS variety has been described as consistent Manchesterism. *     *     * Over the past decade a form of thought…
What is Left-Libertarianism?
Left-libertarianism has been getting a lot of buzz recently in the broader American libertarian community. The term “left-libertarian” has been used many ways in American politics, and there seems to be some confusion within the libertarian community itself as to who left-libertarians actually are. The basic ideas of left-libertarianism, as we at the Alliance of…
Strong Words and Large Letters
When a descriptive term carries a negative connotation, there is a widespread tendency to associate the term with its worst referents. When critics of Obamacare call it “fascist,” for example, they are regularly accused of absurdly likening Obamacare to the Nazis’ campaigns of mass slaughter. Yet “fascism” is a word with a meaning, and the…
Economics and Its Ethical Assumptions
When I was given the title “Ethical Assumptions of Economics,” my first thought was to say, “economics has no ethical assumptions.” But then I thought this might not be the best way to earn my keep here. So I’m going to talk about some senses in which economics might have implications for ethics. There are…
Why Libertarians Believe There is Only One Right
Non-libertarians often find libertarianism baffling. Notice the fundamentally puzzled tone of so many critiques of libertarianism – like, for example, this one by Don Herzog (I choose it more or less at random): There’s something endearingly toughminded, if that’s not an oxymoron, about libertarianism. At the same time, for the same reason, there’s something unbelievably…
A Thick and Thin PSA
If you use “thick libertarian” and “thin libertarian” to refer to individuals, you’re misunderstanding the terms. All libertarians are thin libertarians, and all libertarians are thick libertarians. Thin libertarianism is just the thin core that all libertarians agree on in so far as they’re libertarians, thick libertarianism is the additional beliefs that we add onto…
Dialectical Feminism: The Unknown Ideal
Robert Campbell invites us to consider feminists as falling into two groups. (It’s not clear whether the division is meant to be exhaustive.) One group, the “individualist feminists” or “libertarian feminists,” hold that “equality of rights is getting close to being consistently recognized in countries like the United States,” and that “further feminist efforts, in this part…
Bartering
About 10 years ago, back in the days when I worked for Republican politicians battling Democratic Presidents, constant harassment by the Internal Revenue Service caused me to snap my twig and just stop paying taxes altogether. I won’t go into the tedious details, but I will note that I announced my decision to the I.R.S….
Virtual Cantons: A New Path To Freedom?
The Problem of Structure What would the constitution of a free nation look like? In trying to answer that question we immediately think in terms of a Bill of Rights, restrictions on governmental power, and so forth. And any constitution worth having would certainly include those things. But if a constitution is to be more…
Finding The Brake
In his 1815 Principles of Politics, French liberal author Benjamin Constant defended the monarch’s “right to dissolve representative assemblies.” Constant’s position might seem surprising. Wasn’t securing the independence of parliaments from the royal will one of liberalism’s hard-won victories? His reasoning ran as follows. The “tendency of assemblies to multiply indefinitely the number of laws” is the inevitable…
Libertarian Class Analysis
Say the words “class analysis” or “class conflict” and most people will think of Karl Marx. The idea that there are irreconcilable classes, their conflict inherent in the nature of things, is one of the signatures of Marxism. That being the case, people who want nothing to do with Marxism quite naturally want nothing to…
Libertarian Property and Privatization: An Alternative Paradigm
Carlton Hobbs recently challenged the tendency of mainstream libertarians, free marketers and anarcho-capitalists to favor the capitalist corporation as the primary model of ownership and economic activity, and to assume that any future free market society will be organized on the pattern of corporate capitalism. As one alternative to such forms of organization, Hobbs proposed…
The Gospel of Leisure
Professor David Levy of George Mason University has pointed out that when Thomas Carlyle labeled economics “the dismal science,” he wasn’t referring to the pessimistic conclusions drawn by Thomas Malthus. No, what Carlyle found dismal was that market-based societies entail free labor and rule out slavery, specifically black slavery. That depressed Carlyle. Perhaps slavery was gone in Britain…