In the spirit of using plain English definitions, what is the definition of commercial? A TV or radio advertisement, of course. By this yardstick it would be empirically (i.e. behaviorally) demonstrable that a sizeable population harbors an anticommercial attitude. More generically, commercial means “pertaining to commerce.” Lacking a precise understanding of what “commerce” means, I think of commerce as a suite of practices that together comprise the “conduct of business.” The key commercial skill sets, as I see it, are salesmanship, negotiation and other persuasive communication skills. Kind of reminds me of the old ancap slogan “businesses persuade, governments force.” OF COURSE business is the lesser evil here. Far be it from me to deny the obvious. What puts me off about the non-aggression principle is the assumption that one can unambiguously categorize social situations as either coerced or voluntary. I’m simply not capable of believing that the world is that simple.
A good (and I think agorism-friendly) starting point, I think, is the understanding that independence is a prerequisite for freedom. It behooves us to ask what characterizes a portfolio of personal skills sufficient to the task of economic independence, and what does not. I have no quarrel with the idea of division of labor; indeed of its utter necessity. I don’t even fret about the size of the “rainmaker’s cut” unless my cut ends up being a less-than-living wage. The problem is, that’s been the case for most of my adult life. It seems to me that it’s a question of relative prices, which is to say, the price of one commodity would go for if the “currency” used to purchase it were another commodity. For the purposes of the rainmaker problem, we’ll call these commodities “production skills” and “promotion skills.” This introvert’s theoretical questions are:
- What is the relative price of promotion skills, measured in production skills? How can it be determined objectively? Does the Iron Law Of One Price apply?
- Since negotiation falls under promotion skills (for the pupose of this probably-flawed analysis, anyway) what strategies other than negotiation exist for getting relatively cheaper promotion?
- How much of the triumph of promotion over production is due to statism?
Surely by now the entreprenoor types are asking, why not simply develop promotional skills? That’s a good question. Every now and then I try to develop these skills; I’d like to think with some success. I must confess that, rightly or wrongly, I associate commercial skills with personality traits that I don’t entirely admire; maybe a certain pushiness, one-upcrittership, willingness as well as ability to “pester” people, etc.
Just as there’s empirical reason to believe that the typical person (let’s assume for the sake of argument that there is such a thing) prefers commercial-free TV (all other things being equal, anyway) the TV commercials themselves suggest that “haggle free” shopping can be a selling point for some. Whether or not this particular market segment is the majority, I don’t know. It’s obviously not everybody, but it’s equally obvious that it’s a great many people. I’m willing to confess that I dream of a haggle-free economy!