- Capitalism and Alternatives -

We're not finished, not by a longshot

Posted by: Samuel Day Fassbinder ( Citizens for Mustard Greens, USA ) on March 23, 1999 at 11:35:10:

In Reply to: Finito posted by Gee on March 22, 1999 at 13:13:19:

RD: : If tehys topped paying, I'd forceablly stop them from using my roads,a nd they'd start to starve, I may not have infinite capacity for price increases, but I can hold productive wealth to randsome.

G: The only time I can imagine this happening is where the intent of the owner is to lose wealth in favour of malicious power over poeple. Do you really believe so many people are evil, that among them are those able to produce sufficient wealth to buy resources with the purpose of losing the wealth and enjoying the suffering meanwhile? Even then I dount their 'reign' over that property could last long

SDF: But this assumes that forcing people to pay tolls is a wealth-LOSING scheme, which it doesn't have to be. The same argument below goes for exorbitant landlordship, too. If you own a road, you can get people to WORK OFF tolls (which is what money partially is, anyway, the encapsulation of wealth, which is created in part by work). They can then be put to work creating wealth for you. Gee, look, I've confronted this with you before, yet you REFUSE to even recognize this argument though I've explained it, so, already.

RD: : Its not hard to smash- you steal ideas

G: Against property rights if its theft of 'intellectual capital'

SDF: Who is to enforce or even DEFINE "intellectual capital" if there is no government? This is another demonstration of the impracticality of anarcho-capitalism -- with no government, who arbitrates between competing definitions of property?

RD: :, you buy out members of rival firms,

G: Same cash flow problem.

SDF: NOT NECESSARILY, Gee. Capitalists might find the cash to buy out everyone, they certainly did so in the era of the robber barons in the US, read Mathew Josephson's book THE ROBBER BARONS and you'll find out who bought out whom, who was then bought out by whom. See, as I've explained before, anarcho-capitalism depends for its reasoning on maintaining "market situations" that don't necessarily exist in any stable way. Capitalism CAN form monopolies of its own operation; look at Standard Oil in the US of the early 19th century. Large numbers of people can be shut out of markets by impoverishment. Capitalists have historically, and constantly, exerted a great demand for government as a profit-making device for their sake. All of which is ignored by anarcho-capitalism, because it really has no answer for these problematic facets of the "market situation" of capitalism.

RD: : you cut your prices to ensure more willinging susomers, until they go out of business and then you hike. Once a mnopoly is in place, if they're smart, they can hold it...

G: If theyre smart and they hold its because they service consumers deamnds sufficiently well so that competitors down make a big enough dent into the market. If ford become a monopoly because they keep offering sufficiently good cars and sufficiently low prices (to at once ward off competitors, yet somehow build up enough capital to tak over others or beat them in price wars) who wins? The consumer. Those competitors wont stop coming, every day for ever more the monopolist has to gain sufficient revenue from the market in order to stay on top - and that means making what people choose to buy.

SDF: With no competitors, the monopolist can make what is cheapest for the industry, and people will have no choice but to buy, at whatever price. Once the requirement for capital formation becomes expensive enough in terms of the necessary technological capacity to run a competitive business, business has to be big. Once businesses get big enough, only government keeps the resultant oligopolies from becoming monopolies. Want to compete with Microsoft? Exxon? Daimler-Chrysler? What sort of "start-up capital" do you think it would take to stay in business?

RD: : So it mightn't be that Capitalism and capitalists require a regulatory state to ensure competition continues?

G: They dont, govt requires regs & controls to keep the producers on a leash (for milking) and big national crony companies need it to keep out their superior competitors.

SDF: Denial is not demonstration, Gee. You haven't proved anything. Everyone knows what anti-trust laws are for. Prove they're unnecessary.

RD: : Marginally richer is niether here nor there. So long as teh super rich get super richer.

G: If my wealth were to double and a billionaire wealth were to double we'd both be signicantly better off. Why am I to worry over the billionaire?

SDF: Wealth is not defined by how much money you have. Money is a measure of your RELATIVE CLAIM to wealth. If we were all trillionaires, the money would be practically worthless, since there would be so much floating about that one piece of it would be worth very little in terms of buying power.

(Wealth is also not to be defined by the level of environmental exploitation. If we were all to "double our wealth" by strip-mining our land for coal, yet we were unable to drink the water on our land because strip-mine tailings had poisoned it (as they have in large portions of West Virginia and Ohio), we would have gained nothing.)

The difference that counts is the difference between a situation where the COMMUNITY AS A WHOLE (something which capitalist-types tend to ignore because they are fixated upon the competitive environment engendered by capitalism) has a lot of wealth, and a situation where it doesn't. And even when the community as a whole has a lot of wealth, vast differences in its possession as property (amidst stifling urban environments) can impoverish it greatly. This latter situation is what RD is complaining about. For instance, Brazil, cited by Nikhil Jaikumar as an example of anarcho-capitalism in action, is characterized by an obscenely-rich few at the top and enormous ragged bands of people at the bottom who are routinely shot and killed for no other reason than for the fact that they take up space. Go to Brazil, Gee, find out what it's like.

Follow Ups:

The Debating Room Post a Followup