Portland, OR radio show interviews anarchist activist William Gillis and historian Shawn Wilbur about market anarchism, left-libertarianism,  the State’s relations with labor.

KBOO.fm – “Market Anarchism: Government Regulation and the Financial Crisis” – 17 Feb 09 (51:32):

What roll did government regulation play in the current financial crisis? Is more regulation what we really need? What would a truly free market look like? And is there hope for radical reform, beyond the failed Marxist model?

KBOO’s Kyle Burris speaks to local anarchist activist William Gillis, and historian Shawn Wilbur, about the theory know as Market Anarchism, or Left Libertarianism. They discuss the roll government plays in the current economy, and also take a historical look at government’s affect on unions and health care in the US.

More information on the subject can be found at the website Invisible Molotov.

  1. ossp says:

    If we agree that governments, as supposed representatives of the people’s will, using law etc, to provide some structure/organisation to complex societies, has been abused and become abusive, we need to ask and answer some other pertinent and concrete questions that are not discussed in this podcast.

    The basic economic criticism here assumes that corporations are in a way separate from government as merely ordinary large businesses that have been nurtured by a big, bad government. If government favours corporations and hammers small-medium businesses as a matter of policy, how do we explain how corporations get where they are (from small to big)? Where is the mechanism?

    If anarchism is taken purely as an “ethical theory” (somethings which tends to get propounded to provide a philosophical bent rather than to describe more concrete mutually beneficial community/economic relations), it’s simply unreasonable to assume that large amounts of people can or should simply ‘adopt’ that ethical position because it is deemed “evidently reasonable and just”; the question here is: according to whom? A lot of evident reaso is rejected by people who are not under coercion to reject it.

    We can reject biological behavioural influences (possible greed and a desire to dominate to some extent) if we want to, or at least acknowledge and exercise self-conscious will to override this by means of mutually beneficial social relations, but that is a metaphysical situation similar to religious belief: i.e. maintaining a artificial ethical standard, and this is notoriously difficult. Some anarchists rely on this idealist model of human honesty.

    Concerning corporation growth,how do you limit size if, for example, a certain group of men band together for mutual aid? Does another party (who?) ask or demand or coerce them to remain smaller, or perhaps remind them of the ‘ethic’?

    The comments about historical healthcare provision in the podcast are pure science fiction. Even without governments and corporations, people have found ways to stratify their entitlements.

    • Little Alex says:

      Specific to America:

      There was a court case in the late 19th century where the SCOTUS ruled that corporations had the same rights as people. This wasn’t a Constitutional amendment, federal law, nature of capitalism, people’s referendum, etc. This was at the height of the free press in America which was coincidentally the height of the labor movement. After this, corporations’ money could be used as “speech” and monopolized the press and political candidates who’d become elected.

      After this, labor began a more upward struggle, but completely crashed down by more legislation: the Taft-Hartley Act.

      Incrementally, eliminate “corporate personhood” and abolish laws that inhibit workers from organizing and acting as representative bodies. This localizes corporations and shifts the ‘bottom line’ from being about the elite’s greed to being about the industry’s viability to keep workers employed and justly compensate them for their labor, production, organization, ideas, etc. Strong decentralized labor organization provides that direct voice in the decision-making process. For corporations to grow, workers would have to consent to distancing themselves from the decision-making process, which would be irrational for a well-informed worker to grant.

      The health care discussion is kinda’ weak. But, you can socialize all the coverage you want, you can’t have a healthy nation with protectionist intellectual property and drug laws. It just isn’t gonna happen.

  2. ossp says:

    That was a prompt reply!

    Corporations and their historical equivalents have clearly always been a large section of the ruling body, or intertwined with rulership. These were not legislated into power, so much as they simply took it, and promises that fed greedy natures gained them further adherents. As I see it, all the current talk of “big-government” as wicked partner of corporatism is misguided. It is simply a part of the same rulership with a conciliatory veil of democracy.
    Despite my garbled manner of expressing it, I think we may well agree on this by meeting in the middle.

    The point about enabling workers to essentially self-organise without restriction, obviously makes a lot sense to me. I do, however, have misgivings about the will of participants to be equally interested, not to mention problems with differing levels of ability. Apart from that (my own cynicism perhaps) the position you sketched out is one I wholly subscribe to.

    Protectionist intellectual property truly is the stumbling block, yet I remain unconvinced that small providers can generate a balanced healthcare provision.

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