Quotebag 110

Every society in human history has been a meritocracy, with “merit” and “achievement” defined in terms of how well one serves the interests of the structure of power.
Kevin Carson

The only people who can afford to be apolitical or “above the fray”, after all, are the solid political winners. But until one is in that camp, one simply cannot afford to take that delusion on.
Michael O. Church

Act erratically and the potemkin village falls to pieces.
Ryan Carboni

The upper levels of society will always organize themselves around “seeing ‘em jump” since, as Tom Wolfe pointed out, that is the ultimate goal of privilege.
S. Carnahan

You would almost think that there was a relation between Google paying Mozilla large amounts of money and Google’s desire to get as much information from users as they possibly can.
tgv

Making it in our economy really does look like gang initiation rights when you think about it.
JonWood007

It should be on economists to prove where externalities do not occur rather than cases where they do.
escapefromwisconsin

Every time we hit even remotely close to full employment, it bombs out to 8-10% again. Markets are unreliable and insufficient in and of themselves at making sure everyone has enough.
JonWood007

What we wanted to do was to build a tool that made it easy for everyone, everywhere to share knowledge, opinions, ideas and photos of cute cats. As everyone knows, we had some problems, primarily business model problems, that prevented us from doing what we wanted to do the way we hoped to do it. What we’re asking for today is a conversation about how we could do this better, since we screwed up pretty badly the first time around.
Ethan Zuckerman

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Which is a more potent accountability mechanism? Competition or transparency?

I would say transparency, by orders of magnitude. The two are of course not mutually exclusive. I wouldn’t be surprised if competition advocates such as left-libertarians and anarcho-capitalists would like me to believe that competition is a prerequisite for transparency. If so, I’m not buying it. If anything, competitive markets are far more contingent on market transparency than vice versa.

Certainly competition does contribute to accountability. Competitors keep each other, if not honest, at least efficient and responsive. Certainly monopoly is the antithesis of accountability.

Certainly transparency contributes to accountability. If anything, accountability is a weak version of transparency. Whenever accountability is discussed, it is necessary to ask: accountability to whom? Who is enough of a stakeholder to be entitled to which accounting report? That sort of thing. Transparency as I understand it (at least “radical transparency”) entails the release of actionable information into the public domain. Transparency is simply another word for “accountability to everyone” and is thus the ultimate facilitator of accountability.

Since competition and transparency are both conducive to accountability, I propose a tiebreaker by asking: Does competition contribute to transparency? If so, it follows (by way of transitivity) that competition contributes to accountability. I believe that “playing one’s cards close to the vest” as a business strategy is a side effect of economic competition, just as surely as state secrets are a side effect of geopolitical competition.

If the people who hate the state but love commerce ever get their way to a substantial degree, no doubt I will be more politically free than ever. I may or may not be more economically prosperous. If I work on my persuasive skills I suppose I might even be able to wrest a modicum of economic security from a freed market situation. But even in a freed market scenario that is anti-state/pro-commerce, I will be pro-Wikileaks, in the sense that if anyone in such a society decides to “leak” their employer’s trade secrets or strategic data, even in breach of “contract,” I will support such persons’ efforts to whatever extent I find myself able.

Image contains registered trademarks. Used without permission. Fair use, etc.
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Role of competition in the anagora

If we go with so expansive a definition of market as “all things voluntary,” then of course only tyrants occupy the non-market ideological space, and in that case anagorism, despite the name, is a market-based ideology.

If competitiveness is a defining feature of markets, then that is at least one criterion in addition to voluntary association. If not, then a non-competitive markets would be a non-oxymoron. If voluntarism and competitiveness are both essential qualities of markets, then people who don’t voluntarily engage in competition don’t exist. There’s a place for competition in anagorist society, but it’s more in the realm of amateur athletic competition than economic competition. If economic competition simply must be a feature of society, let it at least be competition over luxuries and perhaps non-fungible types of status. A competition-optional society is amenable enough.

Here is a list of qualities that are often associated with markets:

  • accountability
  • voluntary association
  • voluntary non-association (i.e. non-entitlement, and ultimately expendability)
  • barrier-free entry and exit
  • competitiveness
  • unique qualification at efficient allocation
  • the profit motive

Pursuant to social conditions that are livable for a person of my temperament, it would be good to have the positive features of markets (voluntary association, barrier-free access, efficiency), without (or with a muted version of) those aspects of markets that make them a stressful “truck and barter” type experience, such as expendability, competitiveness, and the necessity of profit seeking or even profit maximization. At least, the luxury of at least some fraction of a human lifespan during which body and soul can be held together without the need to look at every situation with the attitude of “where’s the opportunity in this.” A little opportunism, like a little competitiveness, may be salutary, but hopefully it need not be a cradle-to-grave obsession, just to tread water. Ideally it will someday be something for those bizarrely imprinted biots who actually enjoy such things to do on their own time.

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Quotebag #109

“Due to vast disparities in power and wealth, people will be aggressively clamoring for any moment of time or spare dollar from the wallet of the elites — [Tyler Cowen] uses the analogy of a billionaire rolling in a limousine through the streets of Calcutta, and anyone who has stepped off the plane in a poor country and been immediately inundated with salesmen and con artists can relate (except those people will now be us).”—escapefromwisconsin

“When soldiers go to die in Iraq and say ‘We are going there to defend our freedoms’, this doesn’t mean that Iraq is threatening their freedom of speech or [of] conscience directly. It means that they are fulfilling their part of the bargain where the state guarantees them these freedoms and they are prepared to die when the state needs it.”—Clarissa

“Try reading some of John Young’s correspondence, particularly his exchanges with journalists. There you will learn how to be more concise and pack a lot more meaning into a lot less words…He has left me open-mouthed at times, … ”—Todd Judge

Ethics Unwrapped’s Concepts Unwrapped Series, CC-BY-SA-3.0 by Soniamelendez

“I think I will coin a phrase. It is an historical fact that gov’t embrace of ‘pro-market’ policies always means (1) more bureaucrats, (2) more complex regulations, (3) larger zones of human life that fall under rubric of state regulations, and hence, violence. I propose to call this ‘the libertarian paradox.’ Or should I call it ‘the liberal paradox’? Is that too antiquated a usage now?”—David Graeber

“Indeed, more money is being poured into AI research by Goldman-Sachs alone than by the top five academic centers, put together, and all of it helping to engender systems with a central ethos of predatory opportunism and parasitic amorality.”—David Brin

“Lotto of yotta-payments next: ‘Spotify (on-par with other streamers) pays only .00065 cents per play.’ ”—

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Quotebag #108

“Any time someone sets up a ‘heads I win, tails I-don’t-lose’ arrangement, there’s a good bet that someone else is losing.”—Michael O. Church

“I believe that this is because, for some inexplicable reason, we treat economy like a ‘force’ (like gravity or electromagnetism) instead of as a ‘creation’ (like a government). I don’t really see why, since all economies are ultimately made up of people, some of whom have a lot more power than others…just like government.”—m1sterlurk

“Smash the economic panopticon!”—Brainpolice2

“Still, as I say, the only criteria that should be a constant is human health and happiness, not the noise we often engage in when discussing business models and theories. Leave the disruption to the likes of Snowden, so that Snowden’s form of disruption performs a salutary check on government overreach and empire…”—Mitchell J. Freedman

“Volunteering for community: Yes! Working for tech company for free for work dudes get paid for: No! ”—Robyn O.

“So, we sell the stuff we catch overseas, and then import our stuff from China. Of course I’m sure economists will beat us over the head with Ricardian Equivalence to explain how this shipping of seafood thousands of miles across the globe every day is economically ‘efficient,’ and that our silly little common sense it totally wrong. After all, economics is ‘science!’ But does anyone think this energy efficient? How much fossil fuels are used in this system?”—escapefromwisconsin

“The ‘promise’ of automation has historically been ‘freeing workers from drudgery’ — that’s code for ‘unemployment.’ Benefits accrue upwards.”—LibrarianShipwreck

“Forcing people to ‘verify their identity&rsqou; via utility bills is thinly veiled classism. They want homeowners and master tenants.”—I really like bears.

“The everyday experiences of most people should attest to the fact that consumer sovereignty is a myth and that the voluntary nature of employment is a myth.”—Brainpolice2

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HAT: at the intersection of data research and data monetization?

HAT (Hub of All Things) incorporates sombunall (some but not all) aspects of pubwan. Basically, they’re working with rather than against the idea of ownership of data, but at least they encourage an active rather than passive role for individuals in the datascape. There’s also the detail of HUB being something that actually exists, unlike pubwan. Perhaps this is yet another data point in support of the utterly depressing conclusion that monetization is a pre-requisite for activity. Unschoolers notwithstanding, I see the fact that it’s run by academics as a definite positive, although these, sadly, are on the entreprenoorial end of the academic spectrum:

Q: How is the HAT different form other home hub projects?
A: Are there other technologies, hubs or platforms out there? Of course! But there are very few teams of researchers out there who can deliver a real live working market platform as an outcome of a research project. Most will deliver a technology demonstrator or basic proof of concept, but to build a market requires real people, real money, real businesses and real products/services; that’s why we’re different, and as a bonus we also hope to change the world while doing it! Check this post on how we are different.

And of course they have to rub in the necessity of the business model by talking about changing the wooooorld! as if HAT is yet another social entreprenoorship fad.

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Let’s equivocate

The left column consists of verbatim quotes from Left-Libertarianism: Its Past, Its Present, Its Prospects, with occasional emphasis, mine.

left-libertarianism of the C4SS variety anagorism as advanced by Lorraine Lee
commitment to freed markets, private property, and laissez-faire; b) an orientation toward class analysis and a rejection of hierarchical workplaces, corporate dominance, and gross economic inequality as evils both akin to and largely enabled by statism (especially by regulations that allow favoured corporations to reap the benefits of economies of scale while socialising the costs of diseconomies of scale), in favour of horizontal organisation and worker self-management; and c) a concern with combating forms of social privilege such as patriarchy and misogyny, white supremacy, heteronormativity and homophobia, cissexism, and ableism, again as evils both akin to statism and standing in relationships of mutual support with it. Opposition to militarism and nationalism, and support for environmentalism and open borders, are also part of the mix. same principles, reversed priorities: (a) commitment to class consciousness and zero tolerance for hierarchy, dominance, inequality, privilege, militarism and nationalism as evils of comparable magnitude to the problem of statism and (b) orientation toward non-coercion, rights of personal property owners and live-and-let-live; and (c) zero tolerance for social privilege in the form of patriarchy, misogyny, white supremacy, heteronormativity, etc., and an interest in anti-statism to the extent that it is useful as a means to the end of destroying hierarchy in the abstract
left-libertarians are closest to the pro-free-market, anti-capitalist, anti-privilege position of such 19th-century individualist anarchists as Stephen Pearl Andrews, Voltairine de Cleyre, William B. Greene, Ezra Heywood, Thomas Hodgskin, Lysander Spooner, Benjamin Tucker, and Josiah Warren. The 19th century heroes of anagorism tend to include more Europeans (Bakunin, Kropotkin, Malatesta, Rocker) than Americans, but include such Americans as Goldman, Spies, Parsons.
left-libertarians would agree with BHLs that banning sweatshops would harm workers, but rather than praising sweatshops would favour striving to undermine the social and political structures that systematically deprive impoverished workers of better options than sweatshops. I believe that “banning” can be effected without statecraft, and my attitude toward the “sweating system” is termination with extreme prejudice.
Left-libertarians tend to see existing economic institutions as far more deformed in the direction of inequality and privilege by government intervention than the majority of BHL proponents do. Anagorists tend to see deformation as primarily something that economic institutions exert upon government (which is generally a weaker social force), although both politics and economics need to be abolished, or at least obviated.
Relatedly, left-libertarians tend to look with greater favour on the labour movement and on unions. I’m pro-union without reservations.
One might say that if the dominant BHL aim is to fuse Hayek with Rawls, the dominant left-libertarian aim is to fuse Murray Rothbard with David Graeber. Hmm, haven’t thought about that one enough. I say for now I’m trying to fuse Michael Albert with Paul Goodman.
One concept often associated with left-libertarianism is that of “thick libertarianism”7 – the idea that there are certain value commitments which, while not logically entailed by libertarian principles, are nevertheless bound up either conceptually or causally with those principles in such a way as to make them part of reasonable libertarian advocacy. For example, some of these additional commitments may be part of, or implied by, the most reasonable defense of libertarianism, or may be needed in order to choose between alternative ways of applying libertarian principles, or in order to make a libertarian social order achievable or sustainable. For most thick-libertarian advocates, this does not mean that those who reject such commitments do not count as libertarians; but it does mean that their libertarianism is less than fully realised. Achievable or sustainable? How quaint. How about non-dystopian? I’m for thick libertarianism, but when push comes to shove I will prioritize the thick part over the libertarian part. I’m also for thick individualism, thick voluntarism, thick contractarianism and thick transparency.

The main difference is, I use equivocal language to the extent that I advocate for liberty, and unequivocal language in defense of equality.

photo by star athena (CC-BY-2.0) (see Famous Blue Raincoat)
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