Posts tagged Sheldon Richman

M@ Mailed Monthly: Organized Anarchy and Free Markets Against Privateering

tl;dr. Two beautiful new booklets are available for ordering to-day from the ALL Distro — this month’s Market Anarchy, with an article by Sheldon Richman on free-market anticapitalist approaches to privatization, and this month’s Anarchist Classic, an 1899 pamphlet by Fred Schulder on anarchy, evolution, and free social organization. You can get one free sample copy of either series (or both) to check out, if you’re considering a monthly subscription for individual copies or monthly packs to distribute in the radical space of your choice. Sound good? You can contact me for details, or you can order directly from the Market Anarchy Zine Series and Anarchist Classics Series homepages.

Scatter tracts, like raindrops, over the land….

— William Lloyd Garrison, The Liberator, March 1831.

So it’s been a long time since I last posted an update about the ALL Distro’s monthly series to this website — since I got the new Distro website up and running, I’ve mostly kept up with the updates over there and haven’t been posting notes over here as new issues come out. Sometime soon I hope to put up a catch-up post just to give you an idea of what’s come out through the Distro over the past several months. But in the meantime: To-day, I am happy to announce this past month’s two additions to the Alliance of the Libertarian Left Distro. Let us welcome No. 22 of the monthly Anarchist Classics Series, Fred Schulder’s 1899 lecture / pamphlet on The Relation of Anarchism to Organization. And No. 35 of the monthly Market Anarchy Zine Series, Sheldon Richman’s recent essay on radical, homesteading-based alternatives to neoliberal privateering, From State to Society: How and How Not to Privatize.

Market Anarchy #35 (Nov’12). From State to Society.

How & How Not To Privatize

Sheldon Richman (2012)

This article by Sheldon Richman explores a radical libertarian, free market anti-capitalist approach to privatization — decentralized, homesteading-based alternatives to neoliberal models of corporate privatization, and a libertarian attack on capitalist privateering and government outsourcing masquerading as free-market reforms.

“It’s not privatization per se, but free competition through voluntary exchange, that is desirable. It matters little whether the government calls people who perform its functions public employees or private contractors. When a company becomes a monopoly government con­tractor, to that extent it is an arm of the state rather than a private firm. For that reason such ersatz ‘privatization᾿ devic­es as contracting out the operation of prisons and charter schools merely blur the line between ‘private’ and ‘public’ sector – in the nature of corporatism – and undermine the case for the genuine divestiture of state­held assets… .

“Since government possession of state assets originated in one form of usurpation or another, the requirement that they be bought back is unjust. It may be argued that the revenue could be used to benefit the general public … but political incentives tend to work in the other direction. Politicians will see the new revenue as an oppor­tunity to launch new programs that offer benefits to well­-organized interest groups…

“Better, then, that state assets be seen as existing in a state of non­ownership … and opened to homesteading … . Government elementary and secondary schools could be turned over to the people who work in them or the students’ parents, or both groups, who would be free to decide how to run them — without tax money. A government university could become the property of its students, mem­bers of its faculty and staff, or both. Some schools might organize as joint stock companies with tradable shares, while others might become consumer or producer coöperatives. Competition would determine which forms best satisfied con­sumers and attracted capable producers … .’

$1.00 for 1; 75¢/ea in bulk.

This odd little classic from Fred Schulder (1874-1961) — the individualist anarchist writer, lecturer, and sometime traveling salesman from Cleveland, Ohio — is a discussion of anarchy, the theory of evolution, the role of free association and property in an anarchic society, and the emergence of positive social organization. The lecture reprinted in this chapbook was originally delivered by Fred Schulder at the Franklin Club, a social and intellectual dis­cuss­ion group in Cleveland, Ohio, on September 18, 1898. The next year, Schulder was per­suad­ed to prepare his club lecture for publication in pamphlet form by his friend, the renowned printer Horace E. Carr.

“Organization has been defined as the taking on of organic structure… . Evolution is a series of changes, under natural law, from a diffused, uniform and indefinite arrangement, to a concentrated, multiform and definite arrangement… . Organ­iz­ation pro­ceeds according to the same inevitable laws, and … constitutes the evolution, not only of living beings, but also of all communities, societies, and society in general … . Organ­iz­ation is the law of life — of development. It is true that in union there is strength, but in organization there is still more strength. . . .

“Anarchism may be defined as the doctrine that the liberty of every individual shall be limited only by the equal liberty of every other… . We can find nothing in organization itself, which is a deni­al of equal liberty. Men [sic] may, and where they find it ad­van­tage­ous, in fact do combine and organize, without being forced to do so. And such org­anization will persist under liberty, so long as the individuals com­pos­ing it find it to their advantage. Society at large is such an org­anization … The organization may be in its incipient stage, but the development is go­ing on as fast as antagonistic forces will permit… Under liberty, how­ever, this difficulty will continue to grow less; men [sic] will ever more realize their mutual dependence, and this must increase with the dev­el­op­ment of the social organ­ism. And realizing this mutual dependence, they will adjust these minor differences according to their intel­lig­ence — an ad­just­ment which government often prevents… .

“What the anarchist objects to in the state is not the Element of org­anization but the element of govern­ment. Through the instrumentality of the state some individuals acquire a mon­o­p­oly of opportunities, some of which are absolutely necessary to the prod­uc­tion of wealth, and others very helpful to it – monopolies which are unthinkable in the absence of government, and which enable their holders to extract from the producer a tribute. Such is the fruit of organized rob­bery. And again, anarchism is opposed, not to the organization, but to the robbery. While any particular government, according to the laws of org­an­iz­at­ion, tends to grow and become stronger until it loses its adaptation to its sur­roundings, government in general is losing the adaptation to its sur­round­ings, and is undergoing a change in the direction of dissolution.”

$2.00 for 1; $1/ea in bulk.

Now as I’ve mentioned before, both the Market Anarchy Zine Series and the Anarchist Classics Zine Series are regular monthly publications, with one issue each being sent out each month. You can always order individual copies online from the Distro page, but if you’d like to save on shipping & handling charges, and to get new orders as soon as they come out, you can always sign up for a regular subscription. Subscriptions can be for personal reading, or for discounted bulk orders of material for distributing, tabling, or for stocking your local infoshop and other radical spaces. I’m happy to say that in the past few months I have added online subscription forms, so that you can set up half-year or full-year subscriptions directly from the Market Anarchy Zine Series and Anarchist Classics Zine Series homepages.

Alternatively, if you’re considering subscribing you can also contact me to request a free sample copy for you to check out, compliments of the Distro; then, if you like it, continue the subscription for the rest of the year at the following rates (all prices already include any shipping and handling costs):

Market Anarchy Zine Series

Delivered each month

Individuals Bulk Distribution Packets
$1.50/issue
(= $18/year)
No. of copies ✕ 80¢/issue
(= N ✕ $9.60/year)
Anarchist Classics Zine Series

Delivered each month

Individuals Bulk Distribution Packets
$2.25/issue
(= $27/year)
No. of copies ✕ $1.25/issue
(= N ✕ $15/year)

For details on all your options (including ready-to-print electronic versions, customizations of booklets with local contact information for your ALL chapter or local Anarchist activities, discounts for receiving quarterly shipments, etc. etc. etc.), see Market Anarchy Mailed Monthly. If you decide not to continue the subscription, the sample issue is yours to keep. Intrigued? Contact me forthwith, and we’ll get something worked out.

That’s all for now. In December we’ll be dropping some more science; until then—enjoy the Anarchy!

Rad Geek Speaks: In which I join an Anti-Capitalist Mob at Libertopia

I am happy to announce that I have been invited to speak at three sessions at the upcoming Libertopia convention, October 11-14, in San Diego, California. In particular, I’m going to be doing:

  1. Part of a panel on so-called Intellectual Property, together with Stephan Kinsella (Saturday October 13, 2012, 2pm-3pm), on the Main Stage.

  2. A breakout session on Ask an Anti-Capitalist! A Freewheeling Q&A on Markets Not Capitalism, Left-Libertarianism, and Mutualist Ends Through Free-Market Means (Sunday October 14, 2012, 9:45am-10:30am).

  3. Part of a panel discussion on Markets Not Capitalism, together with my co-editor Gary Chartier, and contributors Roderick Long and Sheldon Richman. (Sunday October 14, 2012, 3pm-4pm), on the Main Stage.

  4. Tabling in the exhibition area for Markets Not Capitalism, the ALL Distro, and Center for a Stateless Society. We’ll have copies of the book, booklets, pamphlets, buttons, and more; and we’ll be there to talk to convention-goers about free-market anticapitalism and left-libertarian ideas. I’m going to enjoy the talks but in all honesty the person-to-person contact and the tabling is the kind of groundwork that I see as by far the most important stuff, and which I’m most looking forward to doing.

I should mention that the Ask an Anti-Capitalist! session is being held in the John Galt Room, which I’m choosing to take as one of the more hilarious culture-clash moments I’ve had since I started doing this gig. The bad news is that this is scheduled opposite breakout sessions by Gary Chartier on war, and Sharon Presley on libertarian feminism (?!?). I guess the good news is that by packing us in like this, they’ve ensured that no matter what breakout session you go to during that block, you are going to get some lefty libertarian stuff to hear. Anyway, there’s going to be a veritable mob of left-libertarians, free-market anticapitalists, C4SSers and other lefty-friendly commentators there throughout the event, including Gary Chartier, Sheldon Richman, Roderick Long, Stephanie Murphy, not to mention presentations by Angela Keaton, Sharon Presley and Anthony Gregory. You can check out the whole schedule here.

We’re doing our best to do all this on as thin a shoestring budget as possible. I’ve arranged for couch-surfing and carpooling to help keep the travel and lodging expenses as minimal as possible, but there’s still a couple of hefty charges that we’re paying out of pocket to get Markets Not Capitalism and a rambunctious left-libertarian presence out to California. So if you want to help out, you can toss a few coins into the hat with the ChipIn widget below. Donations go to the Molinari Institute, so any proceeds above reimburseable expenses will go to support the production and distribution of market anarchist literature, and towards supporting future speaking gigs for Markets Not Capitalism. Anyway, here’s the shoestring, for reference. (This may be revised as other arrangements get nailed down.)

Markets Not Capitalism 2012 Libertopia budget
Cost Description
$440 Travel. Rental car to ferry me, L., and a friend across the continent to San Diego
~$0~ Lodging en route (2 nights there, 2 back; crash space secured!)
$400 Tabling space expenses. To reimburse Roderick Long for the expense of securing a table in exhibition space for C4SS, ALL, and Markets Not Capitalism
(he will otherwise have to pay out-of-pocket)
$840 Total costs (estimate as of 23 Sep 2012)

Chip In to get Markets Not Capitalism to Libertopia!

ChipIn: Markets Not Capitalism! at Libertopia (Oct 2012)

Thanks! And I hope I’ll see y’ALL there!

Monday Lazy Linking

Market Anarchy Mailed Monthly April 2011. Five Theses and a Vindication.

tl;dr. There’s two beautiful new booklets available for ordering from the ALL Distro. This month’s Market Anarchy is a collection of five contemporary pieces on spontaneous order and freed-market social movements. This month’s Anarchist Classic is a sleek new edition of the oldest known English-language Anarchist tract. You can get one free sample copy of either series (or both) to check out, if you’re considering a monthly subscription for individual copies or monthly packs to distribute in the radical space of your choice. Sound good? Contact me for details. Also, we have some new ALL buttons, now available through the distro page.

Scatter tracts, like raindrops, over the land….

— William Lloyd Garrison, The Liberator, March 1831.

Two things.

1. The Lit

First, I’m happy to announce that earlier this week I mailed out the first orders of this month’s newest additions to the Alliance of the Libertarian Left Artwork & Agitprop Distro. Issue #18 of the now-monthly Market Anarchy Zine Series is a collection of five contemporary pieces on spontaneous order and freed-market social movements. Issue #6 of the Anarchist Classics Zine Series is as classic as it gets — the earliest known extended defense of philosophical Anarchism in the English language.

Market Anarchy #18 (Apr’11). Spontaneous Order.

Five Theses on Freed-Market Social Movements and Self-Regulating Anarchy

Sheldon Richman, Charles Johnson, and David D’Amato (2011)

In “Five Theses on Freed-Market Social Movements and Self-Regulating Anarchy,” Sheldon Richman, Charles Johnson, and David D’Amato look at the social and economic possibilities for social order to emerge without the need to impose social control – for spontaneous order and people-powered social movements against capitalism, racism, and ecocide within an anarchic freed market. Richman’s “Regulation Red Herring” discusses the demand for “regulation” and the power of unplanned spontan- eous order; Johnson’s “We Are Market Forces” considers the meaning of “market forces” and the possibilities for DIY social change in a self-regulating market anarchy; and in “I Oppose Civil Rights Acts because I Support Civil Rights Movements,” “The Free Market’s Regulatory Model,” and “The Clean Water Act vs. Clean Water,” Johnson and D’Amato apply the analysis to freed-market social activism against racism and environmental destruction.

In a freed market, who will stop markets from running riot and doing crazy things? And who will stop the rich and powerful from running roughshod over everyone else? We will.

In a freed market, if someone in the market exploits workers or chisels customers, if she produces things that are degrading or dangerous or uses methods that are environmentally destructive, it’s vital to remember that you do not have to just let the market take its course — because the market is not something outside of us; we are market forces…. When liberals or Progressives wonder who will check the power of the capitalists and the bureaucratic corporations, their answer is—a politically-appointed, even less accountable bureaucracy. The libertarian answer is—the power of the people, organized with our fellow workers into fighting unions, strikes and slow-downs, organized boycotts, and… alternative institutions…. [I]f you want regulations that check destructive corporate power, that put a stop to abuse or exploitation or the trashing of the environment, don’t lobby—organize!

$1.50 for 1; $1/ea in bulk.

The “Vindication of Natural Society,” published anonymously in 1756, is the earliest known English-language tract to offer an extended defense of philosophical Anarchism – arguing for a peaceful social order based upon individual conscience and mutual agreement, without legal constraint or political authority. It was later discovered to have been written by Edmund Burke, then a radical Anglo-Irish journalist. This booklet is based on the original edition of the Vindication, which appeared anonymously and without further explanation. In later editions, after his authorship was discovered, Burke, who had retreated from his earlier views and begun a new career as a member of Parliament, added a new Preface, in which he disowned his anarchistic conclusions and stated that the entire argument was originally intended as satire. Many Anarchist readers, however, point out that the vigorous, coherent argument of the “Vindication” does not read like satire, and take Burke’s later disavowal as careerist damage control.[1] In any case, whatever the authorial intent, the “Vindication” went on to become a major influence on early English-speaking Anarchists such as William Godwin and the mutualist followers of Josiah Warren.

To prove, that these Sort of policed Societies are a Violation offered to Nature, and a Constraint upon the human Mind, it needs only to look upon the sanguinary Measures, and Instruments of Violence which are every where used to support them. Let us take a Review of the Dungeons, Whips, Chains, Racks, Gibbets, with which every Society is abundantly stored, by which hundreds of Victims are annually offered up to support a dozen or two in Pride and Madness, and Millions in an abject Servitude, and Dependence…. I acknowledge indeed, the Necessity of such a Proceeding in such Institutions; but I must have a very mean Opinion of Institutions where such Proceedings are necessary….

I now plead for Natural Society against Politicians, and for Natural Reason against all…. My Antagonists have already done as much as I could desire…. The Monarchic, Aristocratical, and Popular Parti­zans have been jointly laying their Axes to the Root of all Government, and have in their Turns proved each other absurd and inconvenient. In vain you tell me that Artificial Government is good, but that I fall out only with the Abuse. The Thing! the Thing itself is the Abuse!

$2.00 for 1; $1.50/ea in bulk.

As I mentioned last month, both the Market Anarchy Zine Series and the new Anarchist Classics Zine Series have become regular monthly publications. One issue in each series is published every month. I’ve been working out the publication schedules, and from here on out, new issues will be announced (and made available for pre-order) around the first Friday of every month. Issues will be mailed out to subscribers and pre-orderers during the third week of the month.

As before, I hope that the new projects and the regular publishing schedule will help out ALL locals, hometown radicals and market anarchists out to make a point. I can provide nicely printed copies at low cost; and for those who want super-low-cost zines to give away for free or just prefer to DIY, I’ll also be providing regular access to ready-to-print electronic copies to anyone who subscribes, orders or donates to the project. (For details on ready-to-print electronic copies, see below.)

As always, you can order individual copies, sampler packs, or bulk orders for tabling, infoshop-stocking, and other special events. You can also set up a monthly subscription for individual copies, or for bulk packets for distributing through your ALL local, at outreach tables, or through local radical libraries and infoshops. If you’re considering subscribing, you can contact me to request a free sample copy for you to check out, compliments of the Distro; then, if you like it, continue the subscription for the rest of the year at the following rates:

Market Anarchy Zine Series

Delivered each month

Individuals Bulk Distribution Packets
$1.50/issue
(= $18/year)
No. of copies ✕ 80¢/issue
(= N ✕ $9.60/year)
Anarchist Classics Zine Series

Delivered each month

Individuals Bulk Distribution Packets
$2.25/issue
(= $27/year)
No. of copies ✕ $1.25/issue
(= N ✕ $15/year)

For details on all your options (including ready-to-print electronic versions, customization with local contact information, and discounts for quarterly shipments), see Market Anarchy Mailed Monthly.

Prices include shipping & handling costs. If you decide not to continue the subscription, the sample issue is yours to keep. Intrigued? Contact me forthwith and we’ll get something worked out.

2. The Buttons

Second, I am also happy to announce that we have three big new 2.25″ ALL buttons available for order through the Distro. One is a revised version of a button we’ve had since 2009; the other two are brand new designs.

ALL (Libertarian Left).

2.25″

$1.50 for 1; 75¢/ea in bulk

No War No State (think anarchy for peaceful alternatives)

2.25″

$1.50 for 1; 75¢/ea in bulk

Enjoy!

See also:

  1. [1] See, for example, the preface and appendix added by English Warrenites in their edition of the Vindication, The Inherent Evils of All State Governments Demonstrated (1850), or Rothbard’s Note on Burke’s Vindication of the Natural Society (sic). Radical readers of the Vindication have tended to conclude that Burke simply was a proto-Anarchist in 1756, and that he then abandoned the position in the interests of political power. For a convincing argument that the author of the Vindication was really using the anonymous tract as a space to explore ideas that he found compelling, but was not ready to embrace, see Roderick Long’s discussion in Burke’s Semi-Serious Anarchism part the first and part the second.

Get the Gun Out of the Room.

Sheldon Richman recently published a TGIF column A Free Market in Banking? Not Even Close in which he points out that when folks like John Quiggin claim that free-market economic ideas have been tried and found wanting in the late economic crisis, they are attacking a Ridiculous Strawman of free-market ideas. There has been, to be sure, an economic crisis, which had something to do with bankers acting recklessly and exploitatively. But not because they were unregulated: there is no such thing as unregulated banking or a free market in money, and never has been at any time in the history of the United States (the Fed is a problem, but it’s far from the first problem).[1] In comments on this story, Shyla asks the musical question:

This article raises a critical question about how to structure our economic policies in light of the recession, spiraling debt, and financial collapse.

Let’s say I buy the argument these catastrophes were precipitated by crazy distortions in market forces. Richman suggests these crazy distortions are the result of corporatist influence and unintended consequences.

How do libertarians propose to counter “the competition-inhibiting partnership between influential businesses and government officials?”

Well, one possibility is to get rid of the government officials.

When positions of power are held in place, I think it’s a fool’s errand to try to devise strategies for keeping the wealthy and well-connected from corrupting and exploiting the power of these offices to their own ends. Political processes tend to benefit the politically-connected, and every federal regulatory agency, from the FTC down to TARP, has a long and sorry history of being captured and exploited by the trusts, cartelists, monopolists, robber-barons and financial sharks that they were supposedly concocted to restrain. So rather than worrying about how to stop influential businesses from capturing the regulatory apparatus for their own ends, better to abolish the regulatory apparatus, and refocus on economic, rather than political, means of responding to economic crises.

Of course, you may want to ask the question one step back: how, then, do you get rid of the government officials? (I.e., how do you stop admittedly influential players from exerting their influence over the legislative process, in order to assure that the offices they want created and sustained are created and sustained, in spite of popular indifference or popular objections?) Well, that is admittedly a hard problem. My answer is that in order to get rid of the government officials, you ought to get rid of the government.

I don’t doubt that as long as a legislative process is monopolized by a single, professional political apparatus, that apparatus will be an attractive prize and a willing tool for the influential and wealthy. Concentrated power will always be vulnerable to co-optation, corruption, and exploitation by those who are well-placed to take advantage of it. Attempts to vest all political authority in a single, professionalized, territorial monopoly, but then to turn around and strictly limit that government (for example, by means of a written constitution, or regular elections of officials) have always and everywhere failed. If initially limited, it will grow; legislation will multiply officials, establish bureaucracies, and ratchet up the level of political control, in response to pressure from the concentrated interests (chief among them influential businesses) that benefit from all that. Not because power cannot possibly be limited, but because concentrated power cannot be counted on to limit itself in the absence of any ultimate accountability or threat of competition. The solution, then, is not to find ways to insulate concentrated power from outside influence (which, even if achieved, would make an even worse problem: an absolutely unaccountable absolute state). It’s to diffuse power throughout civil society, rather than concentrating it all in a single, professionalized, territorial monopoly government.

Of course, you may now want to ask the question one further step back: if the solution to business-regulatory collusion is to get rid of the regulatory offices, and the way to get rid of regulatory offices (in spite of business pressure to create them) is to get rid of government, then what’s the way to get rid of government? Well, that is a hard problem, and I don’t have an easy answer. Perhaps it is impossible under present social and economic conditions. I’m inclined to doubt that, but if it is, then surely the answer is to work towards changing present social and economic conditions, around the edges and where possible, by means that avoid the corporate-political nexus, and in ways that undermine the corporate-political nexus’s control over our thoughts and everyday lives: spreading libertarian ideas, educating people about the ways in which bankers and other influential businesses have never been subject to free market conditions, how influential businesses have used the state for their own ends, helping people become more self-sufficient, materially secure and culturally respected while working “outside the system,” encouraging forms of protest, social activism and community organization that operate outside of conventional electoral politics or legislative lobbying, etc. Some of my fellow Anarchists call this “building the new society within the shell of the old”; if anarchy is not now possible, that’s no reason to imagine that even more fanciful utopian schemes (such as “progressive regulation,” “good government,” or “limited government”) are any more plausible or likely to succeed. And if anarchy is not now possible, there is no reason why we should give up on working anarchistically to make it possible in the future.

See also:

  1. [1] Richman discusses efforts at national banking cartels dating back to Alexander Hamilton, restrictions on branch banking, and regulations of interest rates and currency. The only thing I’d want to do at this point is to add: to discuss how legal tender laws, government tax policies, and government-enforced economic dependency and state capitalism conspire to create an artificial demand for liquidity in general, and balances in government-approved cash in particular; how 19th century banking regulations specifically taxed or prohibited co-operative forms of credit and money backed by goods other than government-approved precious metals; how government war bonds, the coercive extraction of tax revenues, and the promise of government bail-outs have been undergirding and coercively securing American banking bidniz models since the Revolutionary War; and the rest of the usual mutualist song and dance about the Money Monopoly.