The “Anarchist Collective” YouTube channel has produced a video entitled “Top Ten Arguments for Capitalism,” a video that is meant to disprove all of the major lies that are traditionally put forward by the system’s supporters. After watching the video, however, I am surprised at how poor a job the creator of the video did in achieving his goal of a thorough criticism of capitalism. There are quite powerful arguments that can be levied against the capitalist system and the alleged lies that defend it, but I see few of them being used here, and the arguments invoked that traditionally have a great deal of strength are used in a mostly ineffective manner. I have a generally high opinion of the Anarchist Collective, with their criticism of Austrian Price Theory being the strongest that I have ever seen. Unfortunately, however, this video that is key for their case for libertarian socialism over capitalism fails on all major fronts. I will briefly give an overview of what I see as the fundamental failures of the video, and of leftist libertarianism in general, before going on and overviewing the specific faults in the arguments made.
This article ended up being far longer than I wanted it to, so I have included a TL;DR summary towards the end of the article. Continue reading
I just finished reading “The Worldly Philosophers: The Lives, Times and Ideas of the Great Economic Thinkers” by Robert Heilbroner, which is probably one of the more preeminent works on the history of economic thought. Indeed, “The Worldly Philosophers” probably ranks among the more famous economic works ever written, it is certainly among the best selling. It’s surprising that it’s taken me so long to get around to reading this work. When I first announced to one of my social studies teachers all the way back in my sophomore year of high school, he actually handed me a copy of the book and told me to read it, yet at the time I was too busy reading other economic tracts.
Nonetheless, here was a book that had been recommended to me by repeatedly for years, so it’s not surprising that I had significant expectations for the book. I have a pretty extensive exposure to economic history from other sources, including Mark Skousen’s “The Making of Modern Economics”, a more formal textbook, “A History of Economic Theory and Method”, and a variety of other channels. Perhaps this gave me a fairly rigid and preconception of how the history of economic thought developed which in turn put me outside the target demographic of this book (whoever that actually includes). With all of this in mind, I have to say that I’m not impressed with Heilbroner’s acclaimed book.
I find the most important aspect of Hayek’s work to be the extent of individual ignorance. All disciplines are full of stunning complexities and many phenomena which would elude our understanding if they were not pointed out to us by others. Omniscience is forever denied to man, and therefore it is foolish for anyone to be perfectly confident in their understanding.
The wait is finally over!
Entrepreneurship and Innovation
In Part I we looked at a certain world without uncertainty, yet this is not the world in which we live. No one knows whether or not a productive process will really yield a profit because no one can be certain what consumers will demand in the future. We call the people who take risks by starting and funding businesses “Entrepreneurs”. They are the movers and shakers of the market economy.
Well things over here at VR have been rather quiet lately. Since I haven’t been writing nearly as much as I’d like to over the past few months, I’ve decided to help fill the gap by working on a number of articles I hope to publish over the course of this week. The first of these articles, as you can see, has already been published. These articles will mainly focus upon some heavier stuff I’ve been doing with economics, as well as some lighter articles dealing with socialism and left-libertarianism.
So check in over the course of the next week to enjoy some of my wonderful articles as well as any other materials published by some of the great authors here at VR. Thank you all for your reading and I hope you continue to support the Voluntaryist Reader.
Democratic Socialism and Democratic Efficiency
This is a basic argument that attempts to expose a contradiction at the heart of all forms of radical democratic socialism; namely Marxism, left-libertarianism, and anarcho-socialism. The argument can be extended to criticize any explicitly pro-democratic ideology, yet it is especially devastating against all democratic forms of socialism that fully reject capitalism. This argument should not be interpreted as a criticism of authoritarian anti-democratic socialism such as the form of governance practiced in the U.S.S.R, Communist China, and practically every other explicitly “socialist” country to ever exist, nor should it be considered an argument against “moderate” democratic socialism such as modern day Sweden and Norway.
Introduction: Radical Dramas
This is a response to a series of youtube videos made by the leftist anarchist “anarchopac”. The main video in concern can be found here. A number of responses to this user have already been made, my personal favorite being being this one by the youtube user “t3hsauce”.
Now I generally think that it’s foolish to get involved in the never-ending political debates on youtube, but this seems to be a valuable opportunity to discuss many of the flaws in leftist anarchism. Anarchopac seems to accurately represent the views of this ideology towards voluntaryism, so let’s see how his arguments stand up to scrutiny. The brunt anarchopac’s argument can be summed up in the following points:
- Anarcho-capitalists are statists because they promote monopoly over law in certain areas. Any piece of private property represents a state because within each area of private property the owner can dictate the laws or rules of that region (it is relevant to note that this is a common reason for leftists anarchists to deny all libertarians the title of “anarchist”).
- Anarcho-capitalists primarily oppose the way that a state funds certain projects, not what a state does. Anarchopac specifically points to the police and law.
- Anarcho-capitalists also oppose states because they represent ways that law can be controlled through democratic means. This in turn threatens the “private tyrannies” of the capitalists. Capitalists will also always be capable of obtaining greater protection (and presumably have a much greater chance of manipulating law and its enforcement) because they have more money.
- (Found in this video) Leftist Anarchists are incapable of being either racist or sexist because the anarchist must deem all hierarchy as negative.
We will see that all of these arguments are flawed, although this should not be taken to mean that they are entirely without merit.
Introduction and Purpose
This is an attempt to provide a simple, but extensive introduction to economics and market theory for anyone who is new to the subject or who is trying to better understand the Austrian approach to economics. I also hope that it will also prove useful for anyone who could use a refreshing run through of market theory. I will use as little jargon as possible, since scholarly terms often do more to confuse non-economists than to educate them. Whenever I feel that I have to use jargon I will define the terms in question as simply and clearly as possible. Hopefully this article succeeds in explaining market theory in a straightforward and helpful way. I have arranged this article according to the general subjects it covers; I have also divided it into the more basic (the first post) and more advanced material (the second post) for the sake of space.
Well here’s an unlikely post, let alone a series of posts. What could interest me enough about these two shows that would bring me to deface our beautiful website with talk of television? The answer is that they are very high quality television shows, and they provide legitimate insights into human behavior. These aren’t midday soap operas, they are impressive works of fiction. What brings me to write about them, however are the characters within the two series. Not only do both series have tremendous character development, but they have a fantastic character growth (even if this growth is negative). Most importantly, both shows allow us an insight into theoretical extreme conditions which people must overcome, and they contrast each other beautifully in this respect.
The Walking Dead provides a vivid scenario in which individuals must overcome the destruction of the entire societal order which is then replaced by a constant threat of violence, death, and scarcity. Meanwhile Breaking Bad offers us an example of a man who has destroyed his own life through his own actions. He began with the best of intentions: to help his family, but has increasingly been corrupted by the lure of power and wealth to the point that he has come close to destroying everything that he once was and that he originally worked to preserve.
The two scenarios are antithetical to one another. While the latter takes place entirely within the framework of society, was chosen on some level, and could have been escaped at several points within the story, the former show envisions a scenario which was in no way chosen, destroys the societal order, and presents characters with a terrifying reality that they can never escape.
I believe that both offer us insights into human behavior under certain dire, and fascinating, situations, and therefore they are worthy of a deeper examination.
I honestly don’t know very much about Paul Krugman. He’s a statist, he’s a liberal, and he’s an economist. These factors don’t make for a very winning combination among the libertarian circles which I frequent. Exactly for this reason I actually don’t know whether or not I’m predisposed to be unsympathetic towards Professor Krugman, because while I’ve been exposed to a good deal of anti-Krugman sentiment, I feel that I mustn’t disregard such a prominent economist without a fair trial. This is really my first actual experience with Krugman’s work, other than bits and pieces of his economic writings, none of which I found too offensive. Recently, however, I read a short piece by Krugman which I did find quite offensive. It’s an opinion article Krugman wrote for the New York Times. The name of this article was The Twinkie Manifesto.