ThoughtStorms Wiki

Voluntary co-operativism.


A kind of Anarchism or DecentralizedLeft or pure FreeMarket-ism.

Review, which also suggests a dininuition of the gap between left-anarchists and AnarchoCapitalists : http://www.theidyllic.com/php/article.php?article=35

The nain argument is that the majority of problems with the market come from state "interference". But it sounds to me as though this is really just a particular case of MarketsAreEmbedded. Markets are always parameterized by social / political decisions. It's not just the fault of TheNationState. There is no market independent of society.


I'm quite attracted by this attempt at a dialogue between left and right libertarian thought. Compare what I'm saying on TheLeftTheoryOfDisagreement where I pretty much admit we don't (currently) have any better alternative to a market for handling diversity of desires.

And if you understand the market as a pure aggregation of various freely chosen, mutually beneficial negotiations, then we can all support it? What differenc is really left between left and right libertarians?

It looks like it's basically going to come down to three things :

  • 1) the effect of history
  • 2) certain ideological prerequisites / effects of the market
  • 3) malign tendencies in the market

1) History has given a lot of people a bad deal. Certain groups and communities have been left at a disadvantage compared to others. Sometimes due to to ancient, natural circumstances (eg those described in GunsGermsAndSteel). Other times due to deliberate mistreatment of one group by another. Even if these groups were put into a true FreeMarket tomorrow, the education, the culture and temperament left by history will give them different performance and success in the market. Intuitively justice seems to require more than a simplistic EqualityOfOpportunity. There should be some mechanism to compensate for these disadvantages, to actively bring these groups the culture, wisdom, self-confidence and psychological welfare to participate in all of societies mechanisms and institutions.

2) The way our society and economy are currently organized, many people are obliged to accept various dangers and risks. In fact, our economy includes instruments that let people manipulate and trade risk; and the smartest and most powerful, who understand risk best, are often able to shift it on to those less educated and powerful, who understand it least. (See OnRisk) The market allows me to buy security and comfort from others. I pay a security guard to watch my home. A cleaner to scrub my floors (potentially damaging her back). The fisherman to risk his life at sea etc.

That some people are willing to accept risks I wouldn't, is partly to do with the existing difference in circumstances. I won't risk my life on a trawler, though I want to eat fish. And I get away with it because my corner of the economy is configured in such a way that it's easy to avoid. Others "voluntarily" accept this risk, but partly because their world is configured differently from mine.

But there's a more pernicious issue. I am compromised by this situation. I do want the products of a dangerous economy. And I feel no urgency to try to challenge that fundamental insecurity as long as I can offload the hardship and cost onto someone else. I come to accept that others will pay in my stead. But I need to justify this to myself. I might just choose to avoid thinking about the issue. Or I may start to assume that there are differences in type of people. That some people are LowRoad people, who for some reason are suitable or appropriate for this kind of work. That there are some people who are necessarily "poor" and therefore "grateful" for the chance to accept my risk. Or that some people's race makes them unsuited for higher things. By this self-justification, the biases in the market feed-back and become categories in my interpretation of the world. And thus help re-enforce these inequalities further.

3) The last question is whether there are any malign "tendencies" in the market itself. Simple mathematics might dictate that the market distributes wealth unevenly (PowerLaws/WealthDistribution). In other words, even if there was no history or cultural prejudices, and the market started with wealth equally spread among all agents, it's own dynamics would quickly amplify any random fluctuations. Markets are, after all, amplifiers of inequality; it's how they spread information. They amplify the "signals" of which widget-making process is most efficient until it gets heard and copied around the planet. But, as amplifiers, if there is no signal they'll simply boost the noise. (Compare the NoInputMixingDesk)

And, of course, once the market has amplified the inequality, and made some people rich. It's a great temptation to those people to take advantage of their wealth and power to start deliberately re-enforcing their security, and shifting risk back onto others.

Of course, we find markets very useful to perform this information finding function. And we don't currently know anything better. But it's not clear we should stake human welfare and happiness to something we know has this character. We need to keep looking into the market mechanism, analysing the biases, searching for ways to tweak and modify these dynamics.

These, then, are the three issues that need to be addressed : historical inequalities, ideological prejudice and the rough side of the InvisibleHand. I think the left-anarchists are already, consciously or unconsciously, concerned about them. If there is to be a greater raprochement with libertarians and right-anarchists, then we need to understand the rightist perspective on, and strategy for dealing with these issues.

KiethPreston's "syndicalist" response to the history question : give the stuff to those currently using / occupying it, is intriguing but is still going to leave a lot of people out who I think need to be compensated. But might be part of a solution.

In EvolutionaryBiology "mutualism" is used to denote co-operation between two individuals where there is an obvious benefit to both and no PrisonersDilemma where there's an incentive for one party to cheat. Co-operative behaviour due to mutualism is no problem for a theory of evolution to explain.

the "intriguing answer" of PReston is just tipical anarchist throught. And it is not and one-time distribution, in fact it says that the property right are originated from usage and when usage ceases, property rights wither away.