Real World Power
From Critiques Of Libertarianism
Libertarians like to attribute all power to demon government, but refuse to face any other sort of oppressive power.
- Private Limitations Of Liberty (25 links)
- Libertarians like to claim only government limits liberty. But that's not what people experience. First world government is actually a minor source of repression and loss of liberties. Private organizations, particularly business, employers and the workplace are the major sources of repression and limitations of liberty that we experience most frequently and heavily. For example, all lynching was private. See also: Corporate Threats to Liberty.
- Adhesion Contracts (1 link)
- Almost all consumer contracts nowadays are adhesion contracts, standard forms which you can accept or not accept. No negotiation. They are used to remove rights of consumers to judicial remedies (through enforced arbitration and prohibition of class-action lawsuits) and entrap employees through non-compete and non-disclosure clauses. This is a case where restricting freedom of contract (to contract away rights) retains other freedoms for the consumer.
- Algorithmic Prison (15 links)
- The algorithmic prison idea is that big data allows business and government to deny us loans, jobs, right to travel, etc. without our knowing why or being able to contest and change the data. This also makes us very vulnerable to dirty tricks.
- Arbitration (7 links)
- Libertarians promote privatization of justice through arbitration. Supposedly it is more economical, but it is obviously biased towards employers who require workers to give up rights to take disagreements to court. It is also a common method for business to keep customers out of courts.
- Brief insights into the libertarian mind [More...]
- Freddie deBoer writes: "... the central analytical failure of libertarianism as a worldview: a total and disqualifying inability to measure or account for power as it exists in the real world. [...] I saw essentially no commentary from institutional libertarianism that acknowledged the ugly aesthetics of a bunch of white, privileged libertarians working to undermine efforts to reduce gun crime in an impoverished black city."
- Economic Power (5 links)
- Also known as Economic Coercion. Libertarians generally deny the concept of economic power, but there are many varieties. Purchasing power, monopoly power, bargaining power, managerial power, worker power, and class power at a minimum.
- Ethical Assumptions in Economic Theory: Some Lessons from the History of Credit and Bankruptcy [More...]
- Capitalism does not "distinguish between free contracts and contracts into bondage, or between agreements reached by self-debasement or a dignified offer." Thus it will "often require constraints on the scope of freedom of contract and property rights, against the laissez faire ideal."
- From Territorial to Functional Sovereignty: The Case of Amazon [More...]
- "[Major digital firms] are no longer market participants. Rather, in their fields, they are market makers, able to exert regulatory control over the terms on which others can sell goods and services... persons will be increasingly subject to corporate, rather than democratic, control."
- Scholar Behind Viral 'Oligarchy' Study Tells You What It Means [More...]
- "A new political science study that's gone viral finds that majority-rule democracy exists only in theory in the United States -- not so much in practice."
- Study: US is an oligarchy, not a democracy [More...]
- A summary of the important findings of Martin Gilens and Benjamin Page's study. "In English: the wealthy few move policy, while the average American has little power."
- Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens [More...]
- A hugely important study showing that: "Multivariate analysis indicates that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence."
- The God That Sucked [More...]
- The results of roughly 30 years of market worship are a destruction of the American dream.
- The United what of America?
- Julian Assange points out that some corporations rival nation-states in size. Then he compares their systems of governments, pointing out that corporations have civic freedoms comparable to those of the 1960's Soviets.
- Understanding the Meaning of 'Power' [More...]
- "Economics writing is filled with loose language that muddles as much as it clarifies."
- Unregulated Market (5 links)
- Includes black markets. In an unregulated market, you have the freedom to buy and sell whatever you want, no matter how noxious. Drugs, poisons, child prostitutes, slaves, beatings, torture, executions, military force, mass murder: all these are sold in unregulated markets. Libertarians generally oppose market regulation, and thus would produce these ills.
- What would constitute an end to the race war? [More...]
- "Whites coming out every day and asserting hugely disproportionate power over blacks through the proxy of wealth is not a cessation of conflict. It is renewed daily conflict, which can either be responded to or not."
- When The Economist blamed Irish peasants for starving to death [More...]
- "Even so, its extraordinary blindness to how real life economic power relations work is reminiscent of the magazine’s beginnings in the 19th century, when it fulminated at the very idea that the British government should do anything about the Irish famine that was happening on its doorstep. After all, it was the peasants’ own fault that they were starving."
- Worse than Wal-Mart: Amazon’s sick brutality and secret history of ruthlessly intimidating workers [More...]
- "Amazon’s system of employee monitoring is the most oppressive I have ever come across and combines state-of-the-art surveillance technology with the system of “functional foreman,” introduced by Taylor in the workshops of the Pennsylvania machine-tool industry in the 1890s."
[...] the central analytical failure of libertarianism as a worldview: a total and disqualifying inability to measure or account for power as it exists in the real world.
Freddie deBoer, "Brief insights into the libertarian mind"
The state needn't punish men and women for their heresies; the private sector will do it for them. That's why during the McCarthy years so few people went to jail. Two hundred tops. Because it was in the workplace that Torquemada found his territory: some twenty to forty percent of employees, monitored, investigated, or otherwise subject to surveillance for their beliefs. The ruling elites in this country have always understood what Hamilton wrote in Federalist 79: "In the general course of human nature, a power over a man's subsistence amounts to a power over his will."
Corey Robin, "The Personnel is Political"
[S]ocial relations abhor a power vacuum. When state authority contracts, private parties fill the gap. That power can feel just as oppressive, and have effects just as pervasive, as garden variety administrative agency enforcement of civil law. As Robert Lee Hale stated, “There is government whenever one person or group can tell others what they must do and when those others have to obey or suffer a penalty.”
Frank Pasquale, "From Territorial to Functional Sovereignty: The Case of Amazon"
[T]he information revolution in economics that Hayek kicked off well over a half century ago, ended up pointing to a larger public role both in rectifying market failures and in addressing the problem of unaccountable power exercised by employers over employees.
Sam Bowles, "How Hayek’s Evolutionary Theory Disproves His Politics"
Urban street gangs in under-policed neighborhoods, mafias in under-taxed countries, and groups like Hezbollah in Lebanon invariably step in to fill the void where government fails. When the Japanese government wasn't able to adequately help the population after the earthquake and tsunami, the yakuza helpfully stepped in to do it for them. The devolution of local authority and taxation into the hands of criminal groups willing to provide a safety net in exchange for their cut of the action is the invariable pre-feudal result of the breakdown of the government-backed safety net. It happens every single time. The people will want a safety net where utter chaos doesn't prevent it: they'll either get it from an accountable governmental authority, or from a non-governmental authority of shadowy legality. Both kinds of authority will levy their own form of taxation, be it legal and official, or part of an illegal protection scheme.
David Atkins, "The "No True Libertarianism" fallacy"