Prize Winner

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Johan Norberg, author of the invaluable In Defense of Global Capitalism and the subject of an interview in the December issue of reason, has been awarded a prize from the German Hayek Stiftung. He's posted a nice acceptance speech on his blog.

A snippet:

In my book In Defence of Global Capitalism, I am not in any way trying to re-invent the wheel of markets and liberalism ? the wheel that John Locke, Adam Smith and F A Hayek invented is perfectly sufficient for mankind. Instead I am trying to explain to people why this wheel is a fantastic invention, and to convince the anti-globalisation movement not to try to destroy it, and the EU-bureaucrats not to stop it with regulations and harmonisation.

Some economists think that we need not care about the anti-capitalist movement. They are confused and ignorant of economics, and since they are guided by ideology and not facts, they won?t change their minds anyway. Why waste our time confronting them?

One reason to do it is that exactly those confused views will guide public policy, if they are not challenged in public debate. Hayek did not write his reply [to John Maynard Keynes' The General Theory of Employment], so people only read Keynes? point of view. Today we have to confront those scholars, groups and movements who attack the open society and the open economy, because otherwise, the media, the politicians and the public will only hear their point of view, and act accordingly.

NEXT: The Great Game Continues

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  1. Non-Agression is not an ethical principal in itself. If I see a man beating up an old lady, it is my duty to stop him – agressively if necessary.

    But I guess I am going to be defrocked by the Libertarian Papists for stating the obvious.

  2. Ignore that last comment. It was off topic.

  3. joe:

    Thanks for pointing out the fallacy in libertarian thought. I would quibble, though, that the expression of a desired state is not the same as pretending that we currently have such a state. Working toward the desired result is not an illustrative that the ideal is incoherent. Also, please note that the desired state is dynamic rather than static, as is the case with nearly every other political ideology ever written.

    My experience is that critics of libertarianism are more Utopian than are actual libertarians, and this comes across in their critiques.

  4. Sharky,

    No question that welfare is a buyoff of the poor. My concern is that the academy doesn’t seem too keen to address that such policies are based on significantly dated economics. Economics matters in public discourse only in the events when a REAL ECONOMIST comes out in favor of some social expenditure or another. What gets lost is that these are lonely voices that would be laughed at as “fringe” by the same people who find them so convenient, if the tables were turned.

  5. “the guy sports a very enjoyable writing style”

    If you’re referring to the Americanized Cato edition… thanks.

  6. I can’t believe you guys are getting your panties in a bunch because a non-native speaker used the word “invented” in a mildly inappropriate way.

  7. Do you really think an economist’s opinion matters that much on the political stage?

  8. Kevin Carson:

    ‘Leaving domestic business firms free to trade with whomever they chose, but not providing any State aid to them, or organizing a set of global rules for them, is what I’d call a “best practice.”‘

    I follow your position, but am I to understand that market participants in general should not enjoy a global set of rules, or just the international ones?

    Certainly I agree that state resources should not be used to pick winners, but what about contract law or the other niceties of law that allow markets to function, in general, without violence?

  9. this is always fun to read…

    Jeff — we can always do a celebrity deathmatch with all of our political economists. and Warren can come up with the theme music, and Lefty and Laz can host. you know, gala proportion!! πŸ™‚

    Julian — why the thanks — did you translate it (Norberg), or did you americanize it?

    cheers,
    drf

  10. Jean Bart is a non native speaker? That is impressive. He writes gooder than me! πŸ™‚

  11. “you look at an actual market, and instead of actually seeing the thing in front of you, you see it as an interation of The Market.”

    Not really; when we look at real world markets, we are aware that some are violated worse then others by higher taxes, tariffs, government subsidies and other government interference. But, we can also see the conforming aspects of these real world markets to the “bast practice” free market paradigm. I don’t think that you have identified any “fallacy that lies at the heart of libertarian philosophy”

  12. Sharky,

    I dunno. I believe that ideas discussed in public, as opposed to those discussed only in peer reviewed journals, have an impact on the democratic process. I tire of people making the ‘lets just create more demand’ argument over and over again while being able to assume its validity because Keynes’ name is associated with it.

  13. Julian Sanchez:
    “If you’re referring to the Americanized Cato edition… thanks.”

    Ah yes, I see your translation credit here in the book.
    Kudos to you Julian!

  14. Rick: But it is also true that a lot of libertarians take the foundations of markets for granted — law and order enforced by someone. But you are correct that this doens’t invalidate that free markets are better for most people.

    Jason: I think it is just a cover for their economic illiteracy.

  15. Is Jean Bart really French? He must have studied over here or something, as I thought he was an American living in France.

    I agree he is fun to debate with.

  16. Kevin Carson,

    First of all, apologies for the bombastic bit. Please imagine πŸ™‚ after most everything I say!

    Next, okay, transportation subsidies are another good fringe issue. I agree wholeheartedly that they shouldn’t be there but fail to see how their existence means that WTO has nothing to do with free markets. More or less ditto for the World Bank issue. I don’t know if most “globalization” fans are including the World Bank in their affections. Seems like it’s more international corporate welfare than anything to do with free trade, and even the vulgarest of mainstream libertarians are against that! πŸ™‚

    As far as using debt as a weapon, sorry, I’ve just never quite understood the mechanics of this. Maybe I’m stupid about that. Feel free to email me directly and explain it at length if you like. And oh, sorry, what’s TNC again?

    Which brings us to gunboat diplomacy to prop up TNC friendly regimes — ?? Of course I’d be against that. Can you give me an example of it? Are you suggesting the WTO sanctions the use of force?

    As for the transaction costs thing, you’ve convinced me (previously) that maybe our governmentis overstepping its legitimate powers to be involved in this to begin with, and maybe that distorts the “true” market a little bit, but again, that hardly convinces me that global agreements have nothing to do with free markets. This is the first time I remember you mentioning the rule setting aspect. Is rule setting negotiated voluntarily between states any different from setting rules domestically? Or, perhaps you are against all rules set by a state? Since your website associates your philosophy with anarchism, perhaps so. Well, the desirability of a limited state is something we can debate for another bunch of hours, but suffice it to say here that, once again, even if you make some good points, your central point, that negotiated free trade has nothing to do with real free trade, hardly seems to be supported by those particular points.

    I find your input quite stimulating at times, but I think you’re repeating yourself when you stick to the generalizations. That’s why I implore you to give me more specifics, including some cause and effect, please.

  17. Sharky,
    Sometimes Jean Bart can get a little testy. Check out his post near the end of yesterday’s “Hark! The Herold” thread. But thats OK. No problem.

  18. Joe,

    Thanks for saying what I was going to say next about confusing markets themselves with the concept. Obviously, it is a theory of how markets work and the preference for allowing them to work on their own to which Norberg was referring, although I suppose I’d be forced to agree with Jean Bart that Norberg is guilty of some slopping writing, if that was Jean Bart’s only point.

    OTOH, Joe, I hope you’re not suggesting that libertarians are unable to distinguish between theory and reality! Maybe you have a different theory of how markets work, one which incorporates government interference as the best arrangement, but that doesn’t mean libertarians are somehow ignorant of reality!

  19. Yes, I am really French. I have a penchant for learning languages.

    BTW, I am reading an enjoyable book titled:

    “Sixty Million Frenchmen Can’t Be Wrong” by two Canadians (Nadeau & Barlow) – you can get it via Amazon.com

  20. I “Americanized” it, which just meant revising it from the original brit translation and adding/snipping tiny bits here and there– nothing that radical. My Swedish, alas, is not up to snuff.

  21. “Next, okay, transportation subsidies are another good fringe issue.”

    I wonder how many of these separate “fringe issues” it’s necessary to list before they cease to be fringe issues and start to characterize the basic structure of the system.

    “I agree wholeheartedly that they shouldn’t be there but fail to see how their existence means that WTO has nothing to do with free markets.”

    What I originally said, I believe (I had to go back and look it up) was that the present system of global corporate rule had nothing to do with free markets. The WTO and World Bank are parts of that system.

    “As far as using debt as a weapon, sorry, I’ve just never quite understood the mechanics of this. Maybe I’m stupid about that. Feel free to email me directly and explain it at length if you like.”

    I’m kinda beat, but I’ll try to flesh it out a little. Western capital acts in collusion with Third World governments and the World Bank to finance the creation of infrastructure that TNC’s need to locate facilities in those countries. The taxpayers of the West ultimately guarantee the loans, but it is the taxpayers of the Third World country in question that make payments on the debt. This is another example, by the way, of costs of business being socialized instead of paid for by those receiving the benefits. And such accumulated debt serves the same function for TW countries as debt from the company store did for the sharecropper or miner in American history: as a form of “debt slavery,” it keeps him easier to manage. In the case of TW countries, this management takes the form of structural adjustment programs imposed on their governments (in many cases including “privatization” schemes that entail selling off the same infrastructures for which they became so heavily indebted, for sweetheart prices, to the same TNCs that benefit from them). This is a summary of what I digested from a lot of reading on these issues, but to get any more detailed I’d have to reread the material all over again–that’s a little too much work for a discussion board :). I suggest you read the work of Cheryl Payer, Walden Bello, etc., on international debt and the World Bank, if you want to know more.

    “And oh, sorry, what’s TNC again?”

    Transnational corporation.

    “Which brings us to gunboat diplomacy to prop up TNC friendly regimes — ?? Of course I’d be against that. Can you give me an example of it? Are you suggesting the WTO sanctions the use of force?”

    Not the WTO as such–but my original post did not focus on the WTO as such so much as on the corporate global economy in general. And modern-day gunboat diplomacy is a major part of that economy’s structural base. For a whole buttload of examples, check out William Blum’s “Killing Hope,” which is a heavily documented, country-by-country survey of U.S. military and CIA interventions since WWII.

    “As for the transaction costs thing, you’ve convinced me (previously) that maybe our governmentis overstepping its legitimate powers to be involved in this to begin with, and maybe that distorts the “true” market a little bit, but again, that hardly convinces me that global agreements have nothing to do with free markets. This is the first time I remember you mentioning the rule setting aspect. Is rule setting negotiated voluntarily between states any different from setting rules domestically? Or, perhaps you are against all rules set by a state? Since your website associates your philosophy with anarchism, perhaps so.”

    Bingo! I am against the imposition of “rules of the game” by all centralized states. It is up to participants in the market to negotiate not only their own exchanges, but whatever common system of rules and enforcement they rely on. I distinctly remember bringing up the point before, but rather than dig through the archives I’ll stipulate to this being the first mention of it.

    I hope this is enough to provisionally satisfy you, anyway, because my fingers are getting tired.

  22. Well, you don’t have to try to satisfy me if you don’t want to! πŸ™‚ But thanks for taking the trouble. Sigh, so you’re talking about “the corporate global economy in general.” Man, that’s just so vague and general that I don’t know where to go with that. But thanks again for trying.

  23. fyodor,

    No, no, I simply meant to clarify that the earlier “has nothing to do with the free market” characterization referred to the global corporate economy. I pointed that out in response to what seemed to be your paraphrase of me, specifically referring to the WTO. I don’t, in fact, think the WTO has anything to do with free markets; it’s just not what I said in my original post. And I tried to be pretty specific in the last post, including the reason that centrally-imposed rules of the game are violations of the free market. As Stromberg pointed out, it’s hard to keep a straight face when your recipe for “free trade” starts out, “First, get yourself a hegemonic superpower, and have them knock everybody’s heads together….”

  24. Indulge me in some clarrification, as your post is typical of marxian anti-globalization screeds.

    1) Would you accept that the system is of more free markets than in the past?

    2) “Western capital acts in collusion with Third World governments” – Whom are you referring to here? “Capital” is a concept, only people can act.

    3) When you refer to the TNCs – Whom are you referring to here? Are you generalizing?

    4) Are your referring to the governments of the 3rd world or citiznes when you are discussing debters? If governments, how much is really the citizens debt or the klepocrats?

    5) Your Lenninist theory of imperialism that you reference in “gunboat diplomacy” enforcing the whims of the “corporate global economy” – whom are you referring too exactly? Economies don’t act.

    6) Has there ever been a common system of rules and enforcement that didn’t rely on some sort of centralized power?

    7) What is your altenrative, short of the amazing anarhcist revolution where people suddenly act peacefully w/o authority in spite of 5 million years of acting differently?

    Probably not room here to continue, just encourageing people to think critically about your post – as it has many foundations that to many here are less than self-evident (e.g. “capital” acting in collusion, etc).

  25. mange tak Julian…

    go cubbies!

    drf

  26. “…wheel that John Locke, Adam Smith and F A Hayek invented is perfectly sufficient for mankind.”

    Making observations about the nature of markets and human interactions is not an invention. Even as some sort of metaphor this makes no sense.

    BTW, why does everyone always forget David Ricardo?!?!?!?!

    Another thing, for historical analysis, don’t trust Hayek more than you can throw his coffin.

  27. Using the “inventing the wheel” analogy, I’d say the important thing for scholars to do is to show that the wheel really works with the additional experience we’ve had since its introduction and use. Dropping the analogy, scholars need to periodically show that the theory they believe in has done what those who first explained it predicted it would during the intervening time period. This is what science is all about, though with social sciences, we don’t have the luxury of the controlled experiment and so we must rely on history and new experience in the real world for our data. And if no one’s willing to defend the credibility of any particular theory in an ongoing and rigorous manner, the detractors of the theory (if there are any, and in this case there clearly are) have the opportunity to win hearts and minds, even if they’re wrong. So kudos to Norberg!

  28. Norberg is about as much of a “free trader” as Thomas Friedman and the rest of the neoliberals. Friedman, a constant defender of “free markets,” was once so unpolitic as to admit that the “invisible hand” as he invisioned it was only possible with the intervention of the “visible hand” of the U.S. armed forces, the IMF, and the World Bank. McDonnell-Douglass, he quipped, had to make the world safe for McDonald’s.

    The current system of global corporate rule has nothing whatever to do with the free market vision of Adam Smith and Cobden.

    The mainstream anti-globalists who complain about the dominance of “market values” over “human values,” and the mainstream vulgar libertarians who defend globalisation, share a common misconception: that globalisation has anything at all to do with free markets, or could exist in its present form without a coercive global political order to prop it up.

  29. Jean Bart,

    And this after you niggled with me over saying that the purpose of a theory was to predict reality because you say it can only approximate reality! With all due respect man, cause I often find your posts interesting and provocative, you be ANAL! Work with us a little, dude!

  30. Kevin Carson,

    More strident generalizations, but whenever I ask you for specifics you feed me only strands of fringe issues, such as IP and trade secret enforcement. Granted you make good points on those matters, but using those examples to back your bombastic statements that WTO agreements have nothing to do with free markets is like saying that the US government has nothing to do with liberal values because pot shouldn’t be illegal. Specifics, man, specifics!!

  31. For that matter, why does everyone forget Bastiat?

  32. fyodor,

    Perhaps I am anal. πŸ™‚

    Kevin,

    “the mainstream vulgar libertarians”

    As opposed to the high priests? πŸ™‚

    BTW, Kevin, what exactly would you perfer in globalisation’s place?

    I think perhaps, in a way, you are attacking what historians like Nial Ferguson have argued is a flawed, but “best practice,” approach to the spreading of free markets – via the heavy hand of Western “imperialism.”

  33. let’s not forget that we don’t have true gun rights either. there are many laws on the books that prevent the right to bear arms.

    so clearly anyone who defends “gun rights” is a lying hypocrite dog.

    plus it is fun to distort lenninist/marxist theory into libertarianism, as we know that Chinese eat at KFC only because they fear evilbush and his neocon-corporate-military-industrial complex goon-squads.

    ps: i am either a communist trying to hoodwink you libertarians or vice versa.

  34. Sure it’s an invention – did it come to us intact from nature? It’s the invention of generations of distributed individuals.

  35. Correct, they didn’t invent markets or human nature.

    But they did identify and popularize the concepts.

  36. Correct, they didn’t invent markets or human nature.

    But they did identify and popularize the concepts.

  37. Correct, they didn’t invent markets or human nature.

    But they did identify and popularize the concepts.

  38. Correct, they didn’t invent markets or human nature.

    But they did identify and popularize the concepts.

  39. Correct, they didn’t invent markets or human nature.

    But they did identify and popularize the concepts.

  40. Correct, they didn’t invent markets or human nature.

    But they did identify and popularize the concepts.

  41. Todd Fletcher,

    Its an obsevation of human nature if will and a theory of how such functions – now the internal combustion engine works based on some observations about nature, but the application of those observations are the invention. In this way banking and insurance are inventions; a theory on nature of human economic interactions is not.

  42. Sorry for the multiple posts.

  43. Sharky,

    Its no more an invention than the theory of relativity is, the theory of continental drift, the theory of the Big Bang or evolution.

  44. Jean Bart,

    I don’t see why one cannot say that one has invented a theory. It may not be the most elegant of word usage, but is it neceassarily incorrect?

    Analler than thou… πŸ™‚

  45. I just got and started “In Defense of Global Capitalism” by Norberg. So far, great! Very well documented, interesting insights and the guy sports a very enjoyable writing style. And…

    Kevin Carson,
    I think the appellation, “free trader” can definitely used for Norberg. Most certainly more then for the likes of Thomas Friedman. Norberg takes a dim view of the IMF, the WTO and the World Bank.

    Jean Bart:
    “for historical analysis, don’t trust Hayek more than you can throw his coffin.”

    Can you back up this appraisal?

    annon:
    “For that matter, why does everyone forget Bastiat?”

    See: “Frederic Bastiat A MAN Alone” by George Roche III -Vive la France, Jean Bart!

  46. You don’t think ideas or concepts can be invented? I agree that continental drift existed before people understood it, but I also agree that the popularity of the theory of continental drift has in turn influenced the behavior of people.

    More so for market economics as it popularized a specific type of behavior that probably only existed in Western Europe.

  47. Rick Barton,

    Yes, read “The Road To Serfdom,” its chock full of faulty historical reasoning.

  48. Historical reasoning? Example please.

  49. Invent:

    1. To come or light upon; to meet; to find. [Obs.]

    And vowed never to return again, Till him alive or dead she did invent. –Spenser.

    2. To discover, as by study or inquiry; to find out; to devise; to contrive or produce for the first time; — applied commonly to the discovery of some serviceable mode, instrument, or machine.

    Thus first Necessity invented stools. –Cowper.

    3. To frame by the imagination; to fabricate mentally; to forge; — in a good or a bad sense; as, to invent the machinery of a poem; to invent a falsehood.

    Face it, Jean Bart, you’re wrong! You’re using a conception of the meaning of “invent” that is more restricted than its true meaning. Sorry, I know it’s your first time. πŸ™‚

  50. The notions of Smith, Ricardo, et. al. were informed by observations of the real world – take Smith’s “pin needle factory” as an example. Human economic relations, like all natural phenomenon, can be observed and general theories can be created which discuss and otherwise describe those observations in an uniform manner. Nevertheless, the theories which describe these phenomenon aren’t inventions – if you don’t think so, try to patent it. πŸ™‚

    Now, the expression involved is unique of course, but none of these people invented capitalism, free markets, etc., they were there long before anyone noticed them, just as continental drift was.

  51. So-called “Free Traders,” particularly those in favor of the whacky-ass Free Trade Zone of the Americas, forget that the United States was founded as a free trade zone. Among the key provisions of the Constitution was an effective ban on interstate tariffs and taxes, a radical idea at the time. The idea was not to equalize economy so much as it was to equalize culture and create a nation where one did not previously exist. This was possible because the culture, language and ethic amongst the colonies were not all that disparate.

    What so-called “free trade” does is by definition erase the distinctions of nationality and border. Hard-core Libertarians, like Bolsheviks, think this is a wonderful idea. What they forget are the distincitions in culture which inevitably pertain.

    I, as an American (as in the U.S. of America), do not care to equalize our economy with that of Latin American banana republics whose familiarity with capitalism and political freedom is casual at best. If we do, we have nowhere to go but straight down.

  52. fyodor,

    If you think coming up or finding an apple tree is a form of invention, fine by me. However, I’m going to think of you as a solipsist from this point onward.

    As to the second definition, that works well with my line of reasoning – especially if one reads the entire definition as whole.

    As to how I use a concept, well that’s really my concern. πŸ™‚

  53. “try to patent it” You’re using an example based on one meaning of the word to apply to all other meanings of the word. A head of lettuce doesn’t have two eyes and ears, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a head.

    “general theories can be created” but not invented?? Invent and create are synonyms. With slightly different conotations, which is why I agree that inventing a theory is awkward word usage, but you haven’t demonstrated why it is incorrect word usage.

  54. fyodor,

    Well, if you believe that Adam Smith invented markets and the like, fine. As there are thousands of years of history of markets prior to his life, that in mind convinces me otherwise.

    Yes, you can create, invent, etc. theories; I have never argued otherwise. But the underlying nature on which those theories are based is not an invention. Read what Norberg wrote – he discusses “re-invent[ing] the wheel of markets… .” Not the theory of markets, etc., but markets themselves. Well, to be frank, markets weren’t invented by Smith.

  55. fyodor,

    In other words, its very sloppy reasoning.

  56. greetings. it’s tuesday. time for the “free trade arguments”.

    instead, let’s all get into a heated argument about the weather: “oh, it’s lovely”…

    and, to really sink to the Fyodor-Jean Bart argument level, you two are a hoot today!!!:
    “Read what Norberg wrote – he discusses “re-invent[ing] the wheel of markets… .”

    “wheel” is the thing that was re-invented…, gramatically speaking. (see: Preisler, A Handbook of English Grammar”; 1992, 1997 Aarhus University Press, ISBN: 87 7288 655 2)

    have fun!
    πŸ™‚
    drf

  57. Gentlemen,

    With regard to economics, none of the authorities you are citing are the last word. Fortunately, we are a nation of laws, not of men – at least in theory. Among the greatest strengths of the USA is that we are the only civilization of record where the State – that is, those that hold the reins of power – and the government – which is are our duly elected representatives, and the body of laws which governs their and our rights, priviledges and powers – are at least in theory two different entities.

    Nationalism and statism are not necessarily the same thing. The key responsibility of our representative national government is to protect its citizens from the aggressive actions of foreign powers. This includes economic aggression as well as military and/or political aggression.

    I maintain that unilaterally opening up a free trade zone, without first equalizing the cultural and political playing field as well as the economic one, is akin to unilateral military disarmament, leaving us open economic aggression. Involuntarily having to absorb millions of economic refugees as California, my state of Iowa, and others are already doing is only one aspect of that aggression.

  58. Jean Bart,
    “Yes, read “The Road To Serfdom,” its chock full of faulty historical reasoning.”

    Yep, have it, read it. Examples please.

  59. BTW: I’m a big Von Mises fan, myself.

    “I love Von Mises to pieces.” πŸ˜‰

  60. Yes, it’s Tuesday. Time for the next round of “My political economist is better than your political economist.”

  61. Jean Bart: You don’t think that a greater understanding of markets does not influence market behavior?

    What if all pin factory owners didn’t understand how the process of division of labor worked, and with that understanding improved their operations to greater increases of division of labor?

  62. Geesh. There is certainly a lot of space dedicated to a preference of vocabulary!

    My question is, why do most of the governing bodies of the world believe that economics ended with Keynes? Okay, you can include Galbraith if you want, but still the question remains. Welfare has become such an ingrained part of modern democracies that they don’t even feel the need to lay its foundations anymore.

  63. fyodor,

    Clearly you remember our past exchanges a lot differently than I do. As examples, I’ve given a lot more than IP/trade secret issues. There’s also transportation subsidies; subsidized credit for the creation of infrastructure through the World Bank; the use of the Third World debt accumulated through such credit as a weapon to compel pro-TNC policies on them (structural adjustment programs); modern-day gunboat diplomacy to prop up TNC-friendly regimes; and the imposition of a common set of rules from the top-down, through the WTO, thus overcoming the transaction costs of letting business firms organize their own trade from the bottom-up. (Regarding the latter, the transaction cost of setting rules and organizing an enforcement scheme should be borne entirely by the firms engaged in voluntary trade). Every one of these things is something I’ve brought up in my “bombastic” posts on globalism in the past. Every one of them has a massive effect in its own right, without even taking into account the synergistic effects between them.

    Then there’s the legacy benefits of earlier and contemporary DOMESTIC state capitalism–the cartelization of national economies into oligopoly markets, without which “pre-adaptation” there would have been no jumping-off place for present TNC’s to dominate the world “market.” The world “market” itself is another statist legacy, the artificial creation of one imperial power, Britain, using mercantilist policies.

    Jean Bart,

    As per my usual bomb-throwing rhetorical style, “vulgar libertarians” was playing off the existing terms “vulgar political economy” and “vulgar marxism.” It refers to people whose “libertarianism” means instinctively identifying with big business as the “good guys,” and defining their free market principles accordingly. The archtypical vulgar libertarian was Ayn Rand, who considered big business an “oppressed minority,” and the M-I Complex a “pernicious myth.”

    I would replace “globalisation” with globalisation, the same way I’d replace Dick Cheney’s and Paul O’Neill’s “free market” with the free market. I have no quarrel whatsoever with totally unregulated trade between U.S. firms and anyone in the world who voluntarily agrees to trade with them. I just want them to do it on their own nickel. And if the Western capital was engaging in foreign trade on its own nickel, I suspect that a much larger share of world production would be for domestic use.

    Leaving domestic business firms free to trade with whomever they chose, but not providing any State aid to them, or organizing a set of global rules for them, is what I’d call a “best practice.”

    Current neoliberal ideas of “free trade” are a lot closer to Palmerston’s ersatz “free trade” backed with forcible opening of markets, gunboat diplomacy, and state loans, than to the genuine free trade of Cobden. Joseph Stromberg, more than anybody, is the most articulate current defender of the original Cobdenite tradition I’m aware of.

  64. “Well, if you believe that Adam Smith invented markets and the like, fine. As there are thousands of years of history of markets prior to his life, that in mind convinces me otherwise.”

    You are confusing actual markets, those places where people sell things, with the grand libertoid concept “The Market,” which is a metaphor based on the functioning of an actual marketplace. In doing so, you are repeating the fallacy that lies at the heart of libertarian philosophy; you look at an actual market, and instead of actually seeing the thing in front of you, you see it as an interation of The Market. And your copy of a copy isn’t as clear as the original.

  65. nor is my spelling of “iteration.”

  66. joe,

    A lot of libertarians simply mean “the market” to refer to a society in which all relationships and transactions are voluntary and coercion does not enter the picture. And such an assumption does not require any vulgar model of “economic man” or the “cash nexus” swallowing all human relationships–there is plenty of room for voluntary communalism, cooperatively-owned firms, mutual aid, etc. The key is the absence of coercion, or the use of Oppenheimer’s “political means” to enable one person to gain at another’s expense. So long as there is no coercion, and all interaction is voluntary, all transactions will be Pareto-optimal–that is, all parties will be better off in their own estimation.

    So libertarianism is actually a consistent application of an ethical principle: non-aggression.

  67. C’mon, don’t get slippery. You talk about “large corporations” or “billionaires” in a vague way – name some names. Enough ghost tales about creatures in shadows.

    It is quite clear that there are more open markets in the last 50 years. Disagree? How is the US “export-dependent monopoly capitalsm” when it is a net importer?

    How is providing centralized law and order exploitation? I admit States have been less than perfect at providing this service, but what is the alternative?

    The rest is vague boilerplate, since you haven’t provided a single example of what you are talking about. I agree that state-intervention into most comerical enterprises is counter-productive, but creating more open markets would balance this negative.

    BTW – It you don’t want your posts to be mistaken as marxian screeds, perhaps you should avoid wraping them into (or making them sound like) marxian memes such as imperialist-capitalism, as it utterly obscures your points.

  68. Sharky,

    “Indulge me in some clarrification, as your post is typical of marxian anti-globalization screeds.”

    I didn’t know Thomas Hodgskin and Benjamin Tucker were marxians. And from what I’ve seen, most marxian antiglobalists don’t call for less state intervention and more free markets as the cure for corporate power; even self-proclaimed anarcho-collectivists like Chomsky call for radically AUGMENTING the state to dismantle corporate power. Individualist anarchists like Joe Peacott, however, believe genuine free markets and genuine free trade is the solution to the evils of corporate globalization. For someone who quibbles at so many of the conceptual categories I use, you make some awfully unwarranted generalizations yourself.

    “1) Would you accept that the system is of more free markets than in the past?”

    What past? Ten years ago? 150 years ago? 500 years ago? Depending on the time frame, I’d have to say no, no, maybe.

    “2) “Western capital acts in collusion with Third World governments” – Whom are you referring to here? “Capital” is a concept, only people can act.”

    If we take your nominalism a step further, we can say that “people” is a concept, and only Fred Jones and Bill Smith can act. Do you really not know what I mean? To make it plain, then: by “Western capital” I mean a few hundred large, capital-intensive, corporations that operate in the global economy, and the billionaires who constitute their major stockholders.

    “3) When you refer to the TNCs – Whom are you referring to here? Are you generalizing? ”

    Large firms that for the most part started out as oligopoly corporations within national markets, and expanded to a similar oligopoly position on a global scale, with production facilities around the world.

    “4) Are your referring to the governments of the 3rd world or citiznes when you are discussing debters? If governments, how much is really the citizens debt or the klepocrats?”

    The kleptocrats undertake the debt in collusion with Western governments and the Bretton Woods institutions, but the citizens have to pay it. Or are you suggesting the people take over kleptocratic governments and abrogate their foreign debt?

    “5) Your Lenninist theory of imperialism that you reference in “gunboat diplomacy” enforcing the whims of the “corporate global economy” – whom are you referring too exactly? Economies don’t act.”

    To humor your pose of radical epistemological skepticism (or is it mere semantic quibbling), I’ll clarify. Policy elites in the U.S. and other Western countries, acting on behalf of the needs of the corporate global economy AS THEY SEE THEM. Better? And BTW, it’s much more a Schumpeterian theory of “export-dependent monopoly capitalsm” than Leninist, and its operating assumptions have been voiced by U.S. policy elites since the McKinley administrations.

    “6) Has there ever been a common system of rules and enforcement that didn’t rely on some sort of centralized power?”

    No. There’s never been a State in history that wasn’t created to intervene in the market on behalf of privileged classes. The State, by definition, is the “political means” of taking wealth from those who produce it for others’ benefit.

    “7) What is your altenrative, short of the amazing anarhcist revolution where people suddenly act peacefully w/o authority in spite of 5 million years of acting differently? ”

    My alternative is peacemeal and gradual dismantlement of State intervention in the economy, starting with those forms of intervention most central to corporate power; as opposed to augmenting State power on behalf of TNCs and calling it “free trade.”

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