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Let’s Stop Calling Countries “Markets”

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Yves here. This is a pet topic of mine. Participants in public policy debates are often insensitive to how much ground they cede when they embrace the nomenclature used by their opponents. My personal bete noire is “free markets” which is actually an oxymoron. Another is “entitlements” which is code for “welfare”. Why don’t people who favor programs like Social Security call them “social insurance’? Or “economic stabilizers”?

By Robin Broad is a Professor of International Development at the School of International Service, American University. Cross posted from Triple Crisis.

Here’s my most recent — and, I believe, imminently winnable — campaign: Let’s stop calling countries “markets” or “economies.” And while we’re at it, let’s not call any set of countries “emerging markets.”

It seems like a small thing – the change in terminology from “countries” and “people” to “markets” and “economies.” But it makes countries and people – in all their diverse reality – disappear. And it puts an unspoken premium on places that are buying lots of goods from U.S. corporations.

Some of us slip into this terminology ourselves, from time to time, without even thinking. But, when I hear my colleagues and students use it, I find myself cringing for all that is unsaid between the lines. And I cringed even more at a recent Washington, D.C. event when an Obama government official proudly introduced herself as someone with “emerging market” expertise.

I find that knowing the history of the term “emerging markets” helps me stop using it. So, here goes:

Perhaps the first use of the term “emerging” was in fact a positive one (as far as I’m concerned) – coming from the 1955 Bandung Conference, best known for leading to the establishment of the Non-Aligned Movement. At that point, the new “emerging” powers or nations or countries referred to former colonies gaining independence. Indonesian President Sukarno’s vision was that these “new emerging forces” would rival the colonial forces at places like the United Nations.

But what a difference almost three decades makes. Jump ahead to 1981 and the onset of the reign of free-market fundamentalism – when a man named Antoine van Agtmael coined the term “emerging market economy” as an alternative to “developing country.” And van Agtmael’s perch?: Deputy director of the capital markets department of the International Finance Corporation, the private-sector arm of the World Bank Group in Washington, D.C.

A side note: “Emerging markets” also was used by some after the collapse of the Soviet Union to refer to the “2nd world,” the former Soviet republics and satellites that were said to be “emerging” from socialism or communism to private-sector capitalism. (These are now more commonly referred to as “transition” economies.)

Back to the main plot: In the mid-1990s, van Agtmael’s “emerging markets” became even more defined and popularized – thanks to Bill Clinton’s activist Commerce Department under the leadership of Ron Brown. The term is typically associated with Jeffrey Garten, Brown’s Undersecretary of Commerce, and author of a speech (and later a book) entitled “The Big Emerging Markets.” The U.S. government’s concern wasn’t the poor and marginalized or poverty reduction in these poorer nations, but rather the roughly 10 countries “with the greatest potential for future export growth” (as Secretary Brown phrased it). As President Clinton explained: “We have especially tried to target … not just our traditional markets, but … the markets of the 21st century…. [W]e have unashamedly been an active partner in helping our business enterprises to win contracts abroad.”[1]

And so “emerging from what and to what?” was turned on its head. “Emerging” to become even better markets for products of global corporations (in Garten’s version, U.S.-based corporations, of course).

So, while it may sound subtle, it’s a decided shift. Countries, and their people, are transformed into current or future consumers.

What should we call them? Well, at a minimum “countries.” We have a series of unsatisfactory terms – Third World, South, underdeveloped, developing, majority world – but none as bad as “emerging markets.” It’s a sad commentary that we don’t have better, more precise analytical terms to use. But even low-income and middle-income countries are better than “emerging.”

And, if one wants to analyze these approximately 140 Third World countries in relation to the global economy, one can do so far more analytically from the perspective of their position in the international division of labor in the post-World War II period: (1) those locked into primary product (agricultural and mineral) export; (2) those, like South Korea, who have broken out of the so-called “colonial division of labor” and into higher value-added manufactured exports; (3) those that manufacture and export only a few labor-intensive stages of a global assembly line, such as apparel and consumer electronics assembled by often-exploited workers (think Bangladesh garments); and (4) the oil-exporting nations. Arguably, India and China demand their own categories.

Speaking of China and India, let’s also refrain from the term BRICs (initially for Brazil, Russia, India, and China, with South Africa later added), a term born in 2001 in Goldman Sachs’ asset management division. Beyond its birthright, the category is not that useful since each of those countries is so different.

Whatever categories or names we use for countries, we of course need to distinguish between governments, private sectors, and civil society as well as within each. For example, so-called “emerging market” Brazil doesn’t think or do something in aggregate terms. The Brazilian government might. Or Brazilian elites might. Or the landless in Brazil might.

My main point: Let’s stop using the terminology of free-market economists or corporate-friendly government bureaucrats – who see (and term) the world through lenses of potential dollar signs –to talk about the diversity of the countries where the majority of the world’s population lives. At a minimum, they deserve their rightful status as full-fledged “countries” full of real-life people with a wide range of backgrounds and experiences.

_____
[1] Both quotes are from Jeffrey E. Garten, “The Big Emerging Markets,” Columbia Journal of World Business, (1996), vol. 31, no. 2, p.7. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022542896900204

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131 comments

  1. JGordon

    My pet peeve is the word “consumers”. It’s a word that makes me sick whenever I see it used–it reduces human beings, citizens with rights, freedom, and dignity to mindless automatons that eat and crap. And therefore it’s implied that the job of policy makers is to increase the eating and crapping of said consumers. Sickening really.

    1. from Mexico

      Not policy makers. Economists. Technocrats. Scientist kings. It’s economists and their market theories that require the dehumanization of human beings.

      It’s likely that that seminal economist, Adam Smith, was familiar with the work of Pierre-Simon Laplace (1749-1827). His theories, after all, were the rage in both the social sciences and the arts during his lifetime. And as the mathematician Ivars Peterson explains, “Laplace imagined the world as a mechanistic ensemble of moving and colliding particles that by their combined microscopic actions produce macroscopic effects… Newton’s laws of motion made it possible for Laplace to envision a completely transparent, deterministic world in which the entire past and future lay within reach. In principle, everything was predictable, and the finest detail accessible to calculation. You could construct yesterday’s or tomorrow’s world from what you knew today.” http://www.maa.org/mathland/mathtrek_10_29_01.html

      But if we’re going to model human society after Newton’s laws of motion, then it is necessary to dehumanize human beings, reduce them to mere chunks of matter in motion. Humans become like those perfectly behaved gas particles in a steel container whose behavior can be summed up with a simple little mathematical equation, P = nVT. Thus homo economicus is born: the rational maximizer driven purely by materialistic calculations. This requires the obliteration of the human spirit. Of human agency. Of free will. Religion, which typically dealt with man’s spiritual side, is exiled. Here’s how Marx sums up the transformation:

      ***beginning of quote***

      The bourgeois…drowned the most heavenly ecstasies of religious fervor in the icy water of egotistical calculation. It has resolved personal worth into exchange value, and in place of the numberless indefeasible chartered freedoms has set up that single, unconscionable freedom—free trade…All that is solid, melts into air, all that is holy is profaned.

      ***end of quote***

      That’s a side of Marx one seldom hears from Marxist fundamentalists, or capitalist fundamentalists, who have made materialism the alpha and the omega, mutilating Marx in the process, amputating those parts that do not conform to their narrow, simpleminded dogma.

      Smith was actually more like a milestone along a long road that began with Thomas Hobbes and ended with the neoclassical economists. With Smith there was still some nuance and ambiguity before the neoclassical economists triumphed in making materialism the end all and be all of human existence. Thus, as Amatai Etzioni put it in The Moral Dimension, we get “a small industry of writings interpreting the differences and generating ways to solve” Das Smith Problem — the “not easily reconcilable” positions that Smith took in Moral Semtiments and The Wealth of Nations. We of course don’t hear much about that anymore. The materialists have pretty much bowdlerized Smith the same way they have Marx.

      It was Thomas Hobbes, however, who started us down this road to perdition. He was, as Hannah Arendt put it in The Origins of Totalitarianism, “the only great philosopher to whom the bourgeoisie can rightly and exclusively lay claim,” the “only great thinker who ever attempted to derive public good from private interst” when, in Leviathan, he declared “the private interest is the same with the publique.” As Arendt goes on to explain:

      ***beginning of quote***

      What Hobbes actually starts from is an unmatched insight into the political needs of the new social body of the rising bourgeoisie, whose fundamental belief in an unending process of property accumulation was about to eliminate all individual safety…

      Hobbes was the true, though never fully recognized, philospher of the bourgeoisie because he realized that acquisiton of wealth conceived as a never-ending process can be guaranteed only by the seizure of political power.

      ***end of quote***

      And it was Hobbes, not Smith, who was the seminal materialist, as David Allen Gillespie explains in Nihilism Before Nietzsche:

      ***beginning of quote***
      Hobbes spoke for nearly every empiricist when he argued that Descartes had established his system upon a faulty foundation by positing the I as fundamental (Replies, AT, 7/:171-96; CSM 2:121-37). The I and the whole subjective realm in this view are merely permutations of matter. Consequently, there is no free will. Human beings, like all other beings, are governed by the laws of matter. The supposedly free will is in reality only the last impulse before motion.

      ***end of quote***

      1. from Mexico

        My opening paragraph wasn’t very clear. Perhaps I should rephrase it to read:

        Policy makers, but policy makers only insofar as that refers to economists acting as scientist kings and technocrats.

      2. digi_owl

        The hilarious tragedy being that economists are the only “science” that still cling to the reductionist idea that larger phenomena can be explained by explaining all the small phenomena inside it.

      3. Art Eclectic

        I agree. And when you break it apart cleanly you get two opposing political structures (which we call Republican and Democrat here in the US) one of which views the citizenry as a market and the other which views the citizenry as a community of people who happen to spend money on things.

        1. Kurt Sperry

          If perhaps this once was the case, surely it no longer is. Clearly both parties now fall in the first category and the second is left without any organized voice in American politics. We need to be clear on this to chart a course ahead based in reality.

    2. Jefemt

      Does Taxpayer also gall? It gets my goat. I am a consumer, a taxpayer, seldom if ever a citizen, constituent. tiresome, really

  2. censored

    > My personal bete noire is “free markets” which is actually an oxymoron.

    Just because you cannot imagine an exchange of goods or services free of violent coercion does not mean that they cannot, or do not, exist. Our financial markets may be under the heavy thumb of the state, and thus are not free; however, you can see free markets all around you if you simply choose to open your eyes (and your mind). Free markets exist in personal relationships – spouses and friends are freely chosen, very little violent coercion there. You’ve got a free employment market – nobody is pointing a gun at you forcing you to work for your employer. These concepts are not that difficult to understand, and so I do question why you are so unable to grasp them. Free markets are not oxymorons; you are just too blinded by ideology to envision a society that does not use coercion to solve social problems.

    > Another is “entitlements” which is code for “welfare”.

    Entitlements is not code for welfare; it’s code for “we stole your money for decades upon decades, but we already spent it all, so even though you think you’re entitled to it, it doesn’t matter, because we have all the guns.”

    > Why don’t people who favor programs like Social Security call them “social insurance’? Or “economic stabilizers”?

    Because Social Security is not insurance; insurance is purchased voluntarily and carries a contractual obligation by the insurer to the payee. Social security is just thugs stealing money from people, and maybe, if you’re lucky, some of it will be left over when and if they decide to give a fraction of it back to you.

    Sigh, why do I bother. You won’t read any of this anyway, since I’m sure it will be censored (as usual). Maybe it’s too late for you, Yves. Old dogs and new tricks and all of that. Such a shame.

    1. censored

      Wow, it slipped through! But for how long…?

      Time to update your IP ban list, Yves… wouldn’t want rational discourse to interfere with your tired sophistry…

      1. Emperor Wang of Market Mongo

        Bravo censored. About time someone spoke up on your pitiful planet about the virtues of free markets and unfettered capitalism. Or the horrors of governments making commitments to their citizens that imply they may be as reliable as an unregulated insurance company. On Market Mongo (formerly Planet Mongo) we would never burden our job creators with such nonsense.

        I can’t stress the danger this pinko thinking poses to the stability of your Earth world. On Market Mongo we have a wise saying, “The Invisible Hand Is Your Friend”. It saddens me to see news reports such as this which underscore the serious negative effects on your economy when your government gets in the way of your job creators.

        Strip Clubs and Bars Suffer With Banking Job Cuts

        http://finance.yahoo.com/news/strip-clubs-bars-london-banking-085121696.html;_ylt=Akxz7QdzKAgpI.fp6HfHZxuiuYdG;_ylu=X3oDMTQ4dTFjZTkxBG1pdANDTkJDIFRvcCBTdG9yaWVzBHBrZwMyZTk2MDMxYi1hYTllLTM2ZmYtYTlhYy04ZWRiMWIzMTUxYjUEcG9zAzIEc2VjA01lZGlhQkxpc3RNaXhlZExQQ0FUZW1wBHZlcgNjOTE1YjJhOS03NmE1LTExZTItOWI2Ny1lYWU4MjUzMTg1Njg-;_ylg=X3oDMTIwNjVsc3ZuBGludGwDdXMEbGFuZwNlbi11cwRwc3RhaWQDBHBzdGNhdANob21lBHB0A3NlY3Rpb25zBHRlc3QDVGVzdF9BRkM-;_ylv=3

        All I can do is shake my heads and say “Wise up Earthlings. BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE!”

      2. Code Name D

        Aw, a libitrain with a persicution complex. I must be right because evil people are trying to keep us good and upstaidng people in the dark. It is what passes for dialog these days.

    2. Skippy

      What you libtards fail at is recognizing that the private sector is quite violent… go read;

      In 1933, he became involved in a controversy known as the Business Plot, when he told a congressional committee that a group of wealthy industrialists were planning a military coup to overthrow Franklin D. Roosevelt.

      The purported plotters wanted Butler to lead a mass of armed veterans in a march on Washington and then become a dictator. Butler never met with any of the principals, and the individuals supposedly involved all denied the existence of a plot. The media ridiculed the allegations. Biographer Hans Schmidt portrays him as the victim of a small-time trickster.[2] He lectured widely throughout the 1930s.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smedley_Butler

      Major General Smedley Butler & The Fascist Takeover Of The USA

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oMEI8bnbw1o

      Skip here… now go read about almost every large corporation and their arbitrage employed against single or small actors with in a market.

      Skippy… violent coercion[?] your ignorance is breath taking. Maybe you should show some actual historical knowledge, rather than bloviate like like a cultist, because you believe the tripe, it fulfills some hole in your being… as you can not think ***independently*** of the theology.

      PS… Its like a club for people with bi polar – personalty disorders… I’m an independent market participant so I joined an interdependent quasi religion that regurgitates dogma, over and over and over without any thing to back it up… except you say it…. morons~~~ barf…. conditioning!

      1. R Kelman

        Buying insurance is not always voluntary. If I drive a car, I must buy auto insurance to renew my license. If I want to buy a house, I must buy home owners insurance to get a mortgage. If I live in a flood zone, I can now being forced to buy flood insurance.

        FDR did base Social Security on his career experience with insurance. Insurer’s must pay on whole life which builds value or an annuity which they sell as an investment vehicle. Parallels exist.

    3. They didn't leave me a choice

      >Because Social Security is not insurance; insurance is purchased voluntarily and carries a contractual obligation by the insurer to the payee. Social security is just thugs stealing money from people, and maybe, if you’re lucky, some of it will be left over when and if they decide to give a fraction of it back to you.

      This is an overly narrow view of the word “insurance”. Social security in real life, not in the visions brought about by smoking too much atlas shrugged, came about as a plan by conservatives and right wingers to give capitalism more time. That is, as an insurance against socialist revolution.

      Completely aside from this though, I would love to hear more about the details on why the term “free market” is self contradictory. If for no other reason than to have something to throw at the libertards. Is it because markets have historically only existed as a result of state action, or is there more to it? Also how does this view play together with muslim trade networks in the middle ages and what appeared to be markets despite claimed non-intervention by the muslim kingdoms of the time on economic activity? Is this an actual contradiction, a missing puzzle piece or just lack of proper understanding of the enviroment?

      1. David Lentini

        “I would love to hear more about the details on why the term ‘free market’ is self contradictory.”

        I can’t write for Yves, but I find the term oxymoronic because markets require rules of conduct and enforcement of those rules. At the very least, participants in the market want confidence that their goods won’t be stolen, that redress is available for fraud, that the currency used is legitimate, that the terms of barter will be honored, standards of measurement and currency are defined and enforced, etc.

        That confience can only come from an independent agency (or agencies) that is (are) acceptable to all participants in the market; it can’t come from the particpants, becuase there’s too much risk of corruption.

        So, there’s really nothing “free” as is “do what you want” in the “free market”.

      2. Paul P

        There is no “free market.” The government is always involved in the market, big time. All the legal support: replacement of the Articles of Confederation by the US Consttution; definition and legal status of corporations. Alexander Hamilton’s government planning for economic development, including tariffs. See, Ha-Joon Chang, “Bad Samaritans: The Myth of Fee Trade and the Secret History of Capitalism.” US post-WWI policy of collecting the war debt. See, Michael Hudson’s, “Super-Imperialism.” The Marshall Plan and post-WWII Grand Area planning. See, Noam Chomsky.
        Note the US military budget, 700 military bases, military interventions–this is an economic progam. The government is our biggest consumer. 1/3 of discretionary spending is military. The government backing of the housing market. The FDIC, etc,etc, etc.
        “Free Market” utterances should be met with laughter.

        1. censored

          Our current markets are assuredly not free, for all the reasons you describe and more. This does not mean that the concept of a “free market” is an oxymoron, nor impossible, nor that much, MUCH freer markets have existed in the past.

          1. Code Name D

            And they will never be free, despite nearly 30 years of deregulation and tax cuts. The more “free” you try to make a market, the more prone to self destruction and corruption it becomes. Librarians who retain faith in free markets despite the evidence to the country, only demand policies that promote more corruption and instability.

          2. They didn't leave me a choice

            > Librarians who retain faith in free markets despite the evidence to the country,
            I don’t think librarians would be happy with your characterisation of them, especially given the lack of literacy evident here.

    4. Yves Smith Post author

      Please read Chapters 4 and 5 of ECONNED. I treated this long form in 2010.

      It also shows how people who believe in “free markets” are actually the victims of a concerted, four decade old marketing campaign.

      I will deign to explain why you have failed to examine your quasi-religious beliefs about “free markets”. This is from ECONNED:

      When the seller knows more than the buyer (or vice versa), commerce in the neoclassical framework becomes costly. One option is dealing only with vendors a buyer has used before successfully. Even then, he runs the risk that the seller pulls a fast one now and again, taking advantage of him in ways he cannot readily detect.

      If sellers cannot be presumed to be trustworthy (and the dictates of maximizing self-interest say they in fact won’t be), consumers have to either spend money and effort to validate the quality of their purchase or accept the risk of being cheated.

      Consider purchasing a computer in the neoclassical paradigm. The buyer has no way of being certain that the computer lives up to the vendor’s promises. So the consumer will have to bring an expert to test the computer’s functionality at the time of purchase (does it really have the memory and chip speed promised, for instance?). The seller will need to be paid in cash, otherwise the buyer could revoke payment.

      And what happens if the computer fails in a few weeks? Assuming the vendor has not fled the jurisdiction, the only remedy is litigation, or an enforcer with brass knuckles.

      But even that scenario is too simplistic. It assumes the buyer can evaluate the expert. But in fact, if you aren’t a computer professional, you can’t readily assess the competence of someone who has expertise you lack. And even if the person you hired is competent, he might arrange to get a kickback from the seller for endorsing shoddy goods. The same problem holds true in any area of specialized skills, such as accounting, the law, or finance. Many people judge service
      quality by bedside manner, which is not necessarily a good proxy for the quality of the substantive advice. And as we will see later, one of the factors that helped create the crisis was the willingness of investors to buy complicated financial products based on the recommendation of a salesman who did not have the buyers’ best interests at heart.

      An example of the dangers of the neoclassical model lies in the sad fate of Eben Byers, an athlete, industrialist, and man-about-town of the 1920s. After sustaining an arm injury that refused to heal, his doctor prescribed (and received a 17% rebate on) a patent medicine. Byers thought it did him a great deal of good and began taking the potion two to three times a day.

      The drink, Radithor, was radium dissolved in water. Radioactive products were in fact touted as remedies, but most were too weak to do much harm. Unfortunately, the industry had become well enough established to have started to compete on product strength, and Byers got the real deal.

      Byers lost his teeth and most of the bone mass in his jaw, and before his death, developed abscesses on his brain and holes in his skull. But the maker of the toxic potion was never prosecuted, since selling radium drinks was not against the law.

      By the time Byers had the vast misfortune to use Radithor, the risks of radium were coming to light, as factory workers who painted radium onto clocks and would use their lips to establish a point on their brushes were developing lip and mouth cancers. But the potion makers nevertheless continued to sell their tonics until Byers’s death killed the industry.

      While the example may seem extreme, the point is simple. Byers was a wealthy man; presumably his doctor was well regarded. Byers was unable to make an independent assessment of Radithor and paid for his trust with his life.

      And the sellers of the toxic product violated no law; in fact Byers got what he paid for, a radium drink. But the neoclassical paradigm simply assumes that honesty is not a problem (or that the market will weed out bad actors, despite also positing that individuals are out for number one), and that the court system is a sufficient remedy for violations of contracts or basic human decency.

      Since you are in favor of “free markets” and are against government interference in commerce, you cannot object to any of following:

      A bank foreclosing on your neighbor, failing to maintain the property, having it stripped for copper and then become a crackhouse. After all, it’s their property and their right to mismanage it.

      A fracking company not being supervised at all, and doing the fracking in the cheapest possible way, resulting in all sorts of hydrocarbons getting in your water supply. Nothing like being able to ignite the water that comes out of your tap!

      Liquor companies giving samples of rum drinks to elementary school kids, including yours, and installing machines that dispense “coolers” with alcohol in them on school premises. Well, if you pay to go to a charter school, maybe they won’t be in the school proper, but I’d bet they’d be awfully near the school property line.

      I’m sure readers can add to the list.

      1. McMike

        I think it was Michael Parenti who pointed out that apex capitalism – the ultimate free market – is the drug cartels.

        Caveat emptor and no retirement plan, collusion among competitors is rare and short lived, disruptive technologies are embraced or you are left behind, and monopolies are earned, the hard way.

        People who advocate for the faux-Libertarian Randian Unicorn of the barely-post-puebescant capitalist fan-boy fantasy variety rarely understand that they are advocating for the Mafia, that they are wishing to be in mobster Russia post-break-up, or in some third world kleptocracy where nothing gets done without a lot of palm grease, and life is cheap.

        1. censored

          > faux-Libertarian Randian Unicorn of the barely-post-puebescant capitalist fan-boy fantasy variety rarely understand that they are advocating for the Mafia

          Absolutely unnecessary and immature personal attacks aside, you do realize that the Mafia arose as a direct result of the state-violence-enforced prohibition of alcohol, right?

          …right?

          1. McMike

            It was more of a generic venting of exasperation than a personal attack.

            Whatever the mob’s rise may have been facilitated by (anti-communism also gets the nod), that is independent of how they operate.

            They operate as pure unregulated capitalism.

          2. rob

            No, “the mob”, didn’t “arise” out of prohibition.
            Prohibitions are just a positive climate for black market exploitation.Just like today.
            But “the mob”,or really, various old groups/networks/syndicates have been here and certainly there before prohibition of alchohol.

          3. Massinissa

            There are mafias in other places not related to drug and alcohol prohibitions. They also do things like extortion.

          4. censored

            “There are mafias in other places not related to drug and alcohol prohibitions. They also do things like extortion.”

            Absolutely correct. We call them “governments”.

          5. Skippy

            @censored

            Mafias are concerned with the accumulation of wealth – capital in a parasitic relationship. If your government is occupied by mafia members… well… who put them there in the first place[?], spectator voters[?], Diebold machines[?], corrupt voting officials and judiciary, citizens united… cough… corporations united[?], all manner of fraud upon the social contract?

            Skippy… as the last 50ish years has shown… neoliberlism… is just an enabling ideological device for fraud.

        2. Paul P

          Drug dealers need banking to grow into drug cartels. And, they get private, banking-within=banking support. HBSC should have come as no surprise. The next editions of economic 101 textbooks, I’ve heard, are going to list the laundering of drug money and price fixing as major funcions of banking.

          1. McMike

            Oh absolutely, the cartels need the banks.

            And just like all forms of unregulated capital, it corrupts everything it touches.

            In truth, banks are the borderland between the unregulated mobs and the regulated land the rest of us live in, where they intersect.

            In the end, not even the crime cartels can get away from paying juice to the banks. Or anti-westewrn terrorists for that matter.

      2. censored

        Yves, I’m trying to grok the long-winded sophistry from your book (which I have read and own a copy of, by the way!), but I’m having a tough time finding an actual argument amidst the prevarication. You’re just telling a narrative that makes no sense and has no application in the real world. One need look no further than, say, seller ratings on eBay or product ratings on Amazon to see how buyers and sellers can have all of the information they need to make decisions in a “free market”.

        I also want to reiterate what the word “free” means, since you can’t seem to wrap your head around it. Free simply means without someone pointing a gun at you and making demands. Our economic system is not free because we are not free to: choose what we use as money, choose what we charge as interest, choose what employers may pay employees, choose to employ those younger than a certain age, and on and on (not to mention the atrocious theft of taxation). This is why the market is not free. Take these things away and you’re much closer to a free market. I think the problem you have is your fundamental lack of understanding of what freedom really is, and your inability to envision how a society could organize without the leviathan state dictating outcomes.

        You did put forth some actual pseudo-arguments at the end there, so lets knock these down one by one, shall we? In the future it would be nice if you responded to my actual arguments!

        > Since you are in favor of “free markets” and are against government interference in commerce, you cannot object to any of following:

        > A bank foreclosing on your neighbor, failing to maintain the property, having it stripped for copper and then become a crackhouse. After all, it’s their property and their right to mismanage it.

        Why is the bank running a crack house? Does this really make any sense from an economic perspective? In a free society without the insane “war on (some) drugs”, don’t you think an establishment selling drugs would be a much smaller source of violence? Think liquor stores or pharmacies. If the mortgagee agreed that the bank could foreclose on the house in the event of a default, this is a voluntary agreement and I would have no problem with one party enforcing their contractual rights (non-violently, of course). If I was really worried about crack houses popping up next door, I could voluntarily purchase insurance to protect me from that extremely unlikely eventuality – the insurance company would either have to find a way to incentivize the crack house to relocate, or pay me a big settlement.

        >A fracking company not being supervised at all, and doing the fracking in the cheapest possible way, resulting in all sorts of hydrocarbons getting in your water supply. Nothing like being able to ignite the water that comes out of your tap!

        Why is a fracking company destroying otherwise profitable land? This doesn’t seem like a very smart move economically, especially when your liability is not limited by the government. In the absence of violent coercion, voluntary dispute resolution would be much more effective at stopping this kind of thing than our current system, and again I could purchase insurance against outcomes like this that I wanted to prevent. Tell me Yves, what is my recourse now if the state decides to grant a fracking company eminent domain over my land? You seem to be under the delusion that the problems you outline are somehow being solved now, which is clearly not the case.

        > Liquor companies giving samples of rum drinks to elementary school kids, including yours, and installing machines that dispense “coolers” with alcohol in them on school premises. Well, if you pay to go to a charter school, maybe they won’t be in the school proper, but I’d bet they’d be awfully near the school property line.

        Why on earth would I send my flesh and blood to a government indoctrination center? Why would anyone patronize a company that sells rum to minors? Where are the parents, for gods sake? Believe it or not, social ostracism works just fine, in the absence of violent coercion, and any harm caused by pushing drugs on minors could be resolved via the aforementioned dispute resolution processes.

        Are these really your best arguments, Yves? Cherry-picked, unlikely scenarios that are obviously not in any way currently being solved by the violent thugs of the state?

        You hold up the state as this all-powerful, benevolent force for good, despite the mountain of evidence to the contrary (which you document on a daily basis!), and I’M the one with “quasi-religious beliefs”?! Your failure of imagination is breathtaking. If I had to guess, I’d say that this stems from early childhood experiences in which violence, or the threat thereof, was used against you and you were told that it was “for your own good” and “necessary”. You believed this lie because you had to in order to survive, and you’ve spent your entire life since then trying to justify it by projecting it out into the political and economic world. The reason you and people like you are so vehemently opposed to the idea that human interactions need not be governed by violent coercion is because to acknowledge this would be to condemn in the harshest terms possible the abominable actions of your parents and other adults in your life when you were a child, a psychologically difficult endeavor to say the least.

        The state (which doesn’t exist) is a product of the family. War, and violence in general, are products of child abuse (check out http://www.psychohistory.com). People who never take the time to address their childhood trauma (which is rampant in our society) spend their whole lives re-enacting it. Of course, people on economics blogs have no interest in exploring these issues; they’d much rather engage in intellectual masturbation and viciously attack (or maybe I’m just a “libtard”) those who point out the violence that they endorse.

        All that being said – thanks for not censoring me, and even responding to me, this time Yves! I hope you’ll truly consider the points that I’ve made. I’d love to see a follow-up post addressing them directly.

        1. two beers

          Bravo, I grok you well!

          Moreover, why does the totalitarian State prohibit me from buying fire insurance on someone else’s house? In a Truly Free Stae, any citizen could buy fire insurance for any other property. In fact,it could be the basis for a very profitable business, you grok?

          I also grok how the nanny State intereferes with my God-given right to employ young children in my coal mine at $2/hr for a twelve hour day. And no bathroom breaks, you whiners!

          1. censored

            Ah sarcasm; the last refuge of the intellectually bankrupt. If you wouldn’t mind phrasing your objections to a free society in less offensive language, I’d be happy to engage. As it is, I grow weary of these types of immature “arguments”.

          2. Propertius

            Moreover, why does the totalitarian State prohibit me from buying fire insurance on someone else’s house?

            As long as you call that insurance a “credit default swap”, it doesn’t. ;-)

        2. Paul P

          Not free for workers to withhold their labor. Not free for workers to boycott. Not free to charge for the private use of the commons, for the wealth povided by nature, and for the knowledge provided by our common cultural heritage.

          Amazon, btw, grew to success by not paying sales taxes. That is an entitlement I’d like for myself. But, I’m stuck with my plain vanilla Social Security. Humm….who invented the internet? Another gift from the free market, I suppose.

          1. censored

            >Not free for workers to withhold their labor.
            Of course anyone should be free to withhold their labor!

            >Not free for workers to boycott.
            Of course anyone should be free to boycott anything!

            >Not free to charge for the private use of the commons, for the wealth povided by nature, and for the knowledge provided by our common cultural heritage.
            I have no idea what this means.

            >Amazon, btw, grew to success by not paying sales taxes. That is an entitlement I’d like for myself.
            Uhh… you typically don’t have to pay sales taxes if you buy Amazon, so this is a freedom (not an entitlement) you can absolutely achieve for yourself! See what wonderful things can be provided by the free market when you reduce or eliminate taxation and regulation?

            >But, I’m stuck with my plain vanilla Social Security.
            Yes, you are stuck, because if you don’t pay it, or your employer doesn’t pay it, there’s a gun and a cage waiting.

            >Humm….who invented the internet? Another gift from the free market, I suppose.
            The Internet is the modern-day Gutenberg printing press, and it will lead to a second reformation. Are you familiar at all with the first?

          2. Propertius

            Not free to charge for the private use of the commons

            I suspect that our new-found friend Mr./Ms. Censored does not believe in the existence of such a thing as “the commons” and would therefore question how one could possibly charge for the private use of it.

        3. Propertius

          I’m not sure Amazon’s rating system is quite the paragon you seem to think it is. It has in fact been plagued by bribery and faked reviews from its inception:

          http://www.digitaltrends.com/web/amazon-merchant-caught-bribing-customers-for-five-star-reviews/

          http://paidcontent.org/2011/06/24/419-what-shoppers-dont-realize-about-amazons-reviews/

          http://www.forbes.com/sites/…/2012/…/fake-reviews-amazons-rotten-core/

          http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2012/08/will-paid-reviews-bite-amazon-back/261582/

          1. McMike

            There are businesses whose only service is to troll the web and post positive product reviews, tweets, etc. for their customers.

            Usually, I can sniff them out.

            I just read the glowing reviews and step back and wonder, who the hell do I know that would write that, even if they loved the product. You can tell when the knee pads are still warm.

            Once again, commercial interests take a function that is usefull to actual humans (user reviews) and they corrupt it like a teenage virgin Thai sex slave.

            There’s actually a useful lesson here about “journalism”. It’s just that we are more conditioned to accept the puff pieces as objective, when we read them in a newspaper.

          2. digi_owl

            McMike’s comment reminded me of something i bumped into over at Boingboing. There the moderators are often active in the comment threads themselves, and one of them brought up that he had noticed a trend. Every time a certain set of topics were mentioned, comments would quickly show up that tried to seed FUD. When the IPs of the commenters were traced, they all led back to companies advertizing themselves as specialists in online “appearance management”. In essence the online version of the tobacco industry buying doctors and journals.

      3. censored

        Also thought I’d quickly point out the fundamental problem with your radium potion anecdote:

        > But the maker of the toxic potion was never prosecuted, since selling radium drinks was not against the law.

        Dingdingdingdingding! What?! The law was not sufficient to protect people from bad outcomes?! This must be the first (and last) incident of this ever happening, for surely laws exist to protect the innocent from harm! Sounds to me like your anecdote clearly demonstrates how the government limiting liability of protected interests preclude the possibility of justice. I get that you lack the imagination to consider alternative ways of resolving disputes like this, but it seems to me that you’re making my point for me; that and the hundreds of thousands of medical deaths, currently the third leading cause of death in the US.

        You’re system isn’t working, Yves. Time to rethink your fundamental assumptions, especially regarding the necessity and virtue of using violence to inflict arbitrary rules on vast swaths of humanity.

        1. vlade

          censored, you have one assumption, shared with libertarians which is fundamentaly untrue.

          That is, that a lack of enforcing authority (for which we at the moment use the word “state”, wasn’t always so, won’t be always so) can exist. Human history shows that society will always gravitate towards something else than a group of absolutely equal individuals. The moment you do not have equal individuals, power becomes self-reinforcing and self-perpetuating, you get a nice positive feedback. There was a large number of experiments in the human history around doing something different, but it never worked for any reasonable lenght of time, except for societies on the bring of existence (where any power imbalance means death), which by definition tend to be very small. We got where we got by history – and yes, it involved pointing gun at people, why do you think in your version of society it never would go that way?

          Fundamentally, right and left both believe that humans are perfect, just in slightly different ways. Both are wrong, humans are humans, and never will be perfect.

          1. censored

            Ah right, the old “We’ve always had slavery so we can never not have slavery” canard. They trotted that one out pretty frequently during the abolitionist movement, and again when women demanded equality, and they were as wrong then as you are now.

            We got rid of slavery, and western societies at least have largely gotten rid of inequality for women. These things are not coming back. This is all part of a process of extending personhood to all. The only group left, now that we’ve extended personhood to racial minorities and women, and we’re starting to get there with homosexuals, is children. Once we recognize that children have as much a right to personhood as did slaves and women, the state will shrivel up and die very quickly.

            As I mentioned, the state is a product of the family. You don’t need “perfect” or “perfectly equal” humans in order to achieve a free society; you simply need humans who were raised peacefully, with respect, negotiation, deal-making and promise-keeping taking the place of violence, threats, punishment, and neglect, and suddenly the very concept of a state is revealed as absurd to the extreme.

            Seriously, vlade, check out http://www.psychohistory.com to see how far we’ve come, and how far we have yet to go. Things are really taking off now with the internet, though; homeschooling, unschooling, peaceful parenting, commitment to being present in a child’s early development… these things have such measurable, positive outcomes for children that as the evidence becomes clearer and clearer, parents will naturally gravitate towards personhood for children. You may fear a stateless society, and understandably so, but you’re absolutely wrong about human beings’ needing to be dominated and controlled.

          2. Propertius

            I’ve always found it intriguing how similar doctrinaire Libertarians are to doctrinaire Marxists. “You simply need humans who were raised peacefully, with respect, negotiation, deal-making and promise-keeping” (the libertarian version of the “New Soviet Man”) and no one will ever again deal dishonestly or violently with another so the state will “wither away”.

            Everything will in fact be perfect, until the first sociopath picks up a rock, of course.

          3. jonboinAR

            @ Censored: What you’re not getting/admitting is that a functioning and pro-active government is part and parcel of abolishing and preventing injustices such as slavery and the oppression of women. It’s just the way it is. Kings were revered in olden times by the peasantry because they did a (very very) imperfect job of keeping the local warlords from completely consuming them.

            What we believe, many of us, and feel we’re backed up by history, is that a weak or non-existent central government will pretty much inevitably lead to the rise of the sociopaths that end up being known as “warlords” which is a much worse outcome. Also the slightly more venal charlatanries that Yves and others use above for examples.

            For example, speaking to your counter-argument about fracking. The fracking company will abuse the commons and private property in order to make its own short-term profit, after which it’s outa-here! Private companies always have, presumably, human nature not having changed, always will, UNLESS prevented from doing so by the (imperfect, mind you) will of the people acting through a strong central government.

            What part of raping and pillaging do you not get?

        2. rob

          hyperbole.

          there isn’t any use stepping into the muck with people who evidently have all the time in the world to do nothing useful and just fill up space.
          What I am curious about;who pays for you to do this?
          Are you on unemployment?
          Are you typing in your moms basement somewhere?
          Are you on some corporate payroll?
          Maybe the homeland defense corporation?
          That is what my inquiring mind wants to know.

        3. Propertius

          The law was not sufficient to protect people from bad outcomes?!

          Laws are seldom 100% “sufficient” at protecting people: murder has been illegal for millennia yet people are still murdered every single day. Nevertheless, I wouldn’t advocate lifting the prohibition on the basis of its imperfect effectiveness.

          In the Radithor case, the use of radium in patent medicines was, at the time, unregulated – a “free market”, if you will — and while one might argue that Mr. Byers’s unfortunate experience served as a cautionary tale to others (thereby allowing them to avoid a similar fate without the “burden” of state “coercion”), I doubt if he himself derived much comfort from that. I’m sure he would much rather have kept his teeth, his bones, his brain, and his life through losing the “choice” of being conned into unwittingly poisoning himself.

        4. Code Name D

          Censored > Dingdingdingdingding! What?! The law was not sufficient to protect people from bad outcomes?!

          Wow! And the fact that a free market failed here has completely escaped your notice.

          The reason why Yves brought this up is because it is an example of the free market failing despite not having any burdensome regulations working against it.

          After Byers died, the government stepped in to prevent this from happening again. To prevent other people from dying from radium exposure. The fact that it did step in is proof that governments do work.

          1. digi_owl

            In the mind of his kind the “free market” can’t fail. Any individual deaths or disfigurements are just more data fed into the totem of the micro to arrive at the perfect equilibrium point…

      4. Mark P.

        Yves wrote: ‘A fracking company not being supervised at all, and doing the fracking in the cheapest possible way, resulting in all sorts of hydrocarbons getting in your water supply. Nothing like being able to ignite the water that comes out of your tap!’

        Eh. Inconsequential.

        What you should be worrying about are the cesium formates, barium, iodine 121 isotopes (used for a marker)and a few other things fracking can put into aquifers. (Already has in Delaware.)

        I’ve wondered whether — much as the USAF promoted the UFO/MIB/Area 51 legends as a disinformation op — all this liberal groupthink hysteria about fracking occasionally allowing some poor soul to ignite their tapwater isn’t something the fracking industry has perpetrated as a similar distraction. Because while it looks spectacular, if you stand behind your average cow you’ll get more methane and it’s absolute nothing in the real scheme of what’s poisonous.

        But some of that other stuff ….

        1. McMike

          Hmm. I don’t disagree that methane in the water is not the worst apple in that rotten barrel.

          All the same, I want my drinking water non-flammible. Don’t you?

        2. Lambert Strether

          Yes, fracking considered as an entire supply chain must be benign. That’s why fracking fluids are trade secrets, PA instituted a gag order that prevents doctors from talking to their patients about fracking, that’s why wherever possible the fracking industry has taken home rule away from localities, and then weakened or captured the state regulators… You know the drill.

          And anyhow, what’s wrong with flammable drinking water? Use it whem you make your creme brulee!

          1. MRW

            They should be in jail, and if I were cruel, forced to drink the water they’ve contaminated. There is no excuse for this.

          2. Mark P.

            “And anyhow, what’s wrong with flammable drinking water? Use it whem you make your creme brulee!”

            There you go.

      5. MRW

        Thank you, Yves. It is precisely this attention to values and responsibility that draws me here.

        censored, you don’t appear to know the difference between finance capitalism and industrial capitalism.
        • Which one includes the output of all members of a society?
        • Which one of them advances society?
        • Which one of them do your ‘free markets’ apply to?

    5. from Mexico

      censored says:

      “You’ve got a free employment market – nobody is pointing a gun at you forcing you to work for your employer.”

      What say ye then to this?

      ***beginning of quote***

      What was then the source of rents and profits? As we already know, Smith saw it in a fundamental inequality of bargaining strengths that prevented labor’s wages from absorbing the full value of the product. “A landlord, a farmer, a master manufacturer, or a merchant,” he wrote, “though they did not employ a single workman, could generally live a year or two upon the stock [capital] which they had already acquired. Many workmen could not subsist a week, few could subsist a month, and scarce any a year without employment.” (Adam Smith, Wealth of Nations) Thus the “necessity” of employment, despite the contractual freedom that set it so decisively apart from the status of serf or slave, provided the disparity in social power from which arose the rights to payment called rent, or to claims to a residual called profit.

      – ROBERT L. HEILBRONER, Behind the Veil of Economics

      ***end of quote***

      Or this:

      ***beginning of quote***
      For the liberation of the labourers in the initial stages of the Industrial Revolution was indeed to some extent contradictory: it had liberated them from their masters only to put them under a stronger taskmaker, their daily needs and wants, the force, in other words with which necessity drives and compels men and which is more compelling than violence.

      – HANNAH ARENDT, On Revolution

      ***end of quote***

      1. digi_owl

        We see this in action in South America, Africa and Asia, where each day the men of the village line up at the roadside, the foreman of some mine, farm or factory drive up in a truck, he pick the men that will work that day, and if you missed lining up a day for sickness or spoke up against the work environment you get passed by.

      2. Mark P.

        “For the liberation of the labourers in the initial stages of the Industrial Revolution … liberated them from their masters only to put them under a stronger taskmaker, their daily needs and wants, the force, in other words with which necessity”

        Even this from Arendt is sugarcoated horse-manure. Laborers before the Industrial Revolution in general possessed the means to satisfy their daily needs and wants. Thus, it was necessary to confiscate the commons and remove their ability to satisfy their needs and wants via the Enclosure Acts ….

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enclosure

        ‘In English social and economic history, enclosure or inclosure is the process which ends traditional rights such as mowing meadows for hay, or grazing livestock on common land formerly held in the open field system.

        ‘Once enclosed, these uses of the land become restricted to the owner, and it ceases to be land for commons. In England and Wales the term is also used for the process that ended the ancient system of arable farming in open fields. Under enclosure, such land is fenced (enclosed) and deeded or entitled to one or more owners. The process of enclosure began to be a widespread feature of the English agricultural landscape during the 16th century. By the 19th century, unenclosed commons had become largely restricted to rough pasture in mountainous areas and to relatively small parts of the lowlands.

        ‘The process of enclosure has sometimes been accompanied by force, resistance, and bloodshed, and remains among the most controversial areas of agricultural and economic history in England. Marxist and neo-Marxist historians argue that rich landowners used their control of state processes to appropriate public land for their private benefit. This created a landless working class that provided the labour required in the new industries developing in the north of England.

        ;For example: “In agriculture the years between 1760 and 1820 are the years of wholesale enclosure in which, in village after village, common rights are lost”.[2] “Enclosure (when all the sophistications are allowed for) was a plain enough case of class robbery”.’

        1. from Mexico

          Here’s how Arendt describes the process you’re talking about:

          ***beginning of quote***

          This system [capitalism], as is generally known, owed its start to a monstrous process of expropriation such as has never occurred before in history in this form — that is, without military conquest. Expropriation, the initial accumulation of capital — that was the law according to which capitalism arose and according to which it has advanced step by step.

          – HANNAH ARENDT, “Thoughts on politics and revolution”
          ***end of quote***

          Here’s how Robert L. Heilbroner describes the process:

          ***beginning of quote***

          [I]t is useful to recall that for all its historical association with freedom, market society — i.e., capitalism — does not appear as the spontaneous upwelling of a drive for individuation, but is at first imposed over earlier forms of social orchestration. The extension and generalization of exchange relationships does not come until the eighteenth and even nineteenth centuries, with the enforced commodification of labor and land, first vividly described by Marx. No one, reading of the manner in which dispossed agricultural labor was forced into the early English mills, would describe this as a manifestation of fredom working its way in history.

          Whatever the difficulties of comparing the objective constraints of tradition and command with those of the market, there is no doubt that a decisive change soon takes place in the manner in which social controls over behavior are perceived. In earlier societies the integration of the individual into the life of the community is clearly seen as arising from feelings of positive affect (family ties, friendship, communal observances, etc.), or under the duress of communal pressure (scorn, ostracism) or coercive authority. Once its transitional pains are past, the integrative mechanism in market society appears to use none of these pressures, and to rest solely on our free engagement with the transactional apparatus of society. The economy appears as an autonomous process, wholly independent of the society within which it operates.

          At the center of this general perception lies the idea of exchange

          Yet, as I have tried to show, at a sufficient distance capitalism can be seen as a system of provisioning whose psychodynamic underpinnings are exactly the same as those of other societies, however differently they may appear to its memebers… The “mechanism” of exchange is therefore not an integrative system free of affect and power, but a system that depends upon these ancient modes of behavioral control — incorporating them in ways of extraordinary complexity, unleashing from them a heretofore social dynamic, ignorning their active and essential contribution, but depending on them all the same. There is therefore no mystery involved in the assertion that economics is fundamentally an embodiment of the forces of morality and politics, interpreted broadly. The mystery, rather, resides in our difficulty in perceiving this.

          – ROBERT L. HEILBRONER, Behind the Veil of Economics
          ***end of quote***

          censored’s comments on this thread are Exhibit ‘A’ — evidence which confirms Heilbroner’s assertion regarding “our difficulty in perceiving this.”

    6. ChrisPacific

      Free simply means without someone pointing a gun at you and making demands.

      And how exactly do you propose to achieve that? Do you intend to get rid of guns? How, in the absence of violent coercion? Or do you have some plan for preventing those with the guns from pointing them at others and making demands? That is, after all, one of the main reasons why certain people acquire them.

      Those of us who do not live in Randian free market fantasyland believe that, since some form of violent coercion is inevitable, it makes sense to establish a set of commonly accepted rules around it and create a centralised body or bodies that have a monopoly on the use of it, and are charged with ensuring that it does not occur outside the agreed context. While that may involve some curtailment of liberty on the part of individuals, most of us willingly accept this in return for knowing that our crazy neighbor cannot choose to exercise his personal freedom by gunning us down in the street because our dog crapped on his lawn three days ago. (Or at least, not without serious consequences).

      1. Propertius

        And, of course, once you elimin, or wealthierate guns what prevents those who are simply larger, stronger (or who have friends or colleagues who are larger, stronger, or wealthier) from employing other modes of coercion? Col. Colt’s invention was nicknamed “The Equalizer” for a reason, after all.

        One would almost think that Mr./Ms. Censored had never seen a playground (probably the single best place to observe unregulated human behavior, at least until a teacher shows up to put a lid on the chaos).

        I will concede that in a world of ideal men and women, posessed of perfect honesty and virtue, thievery, deception and violence would be absent so regulation (and indeed government itself) would be unnecessary.

        Unfortunately, the rest of us seem to be stuck in Plato’s cave for the time being and must deal with the imperfect shadows of those ideal men and women.

        1. Propertius

          And, of course, once you elimin, or wealthierate guns what prevents those who are simply larger, stronger (or who have friends or colleagues who are larger, stronger, or wealthier)

          I have absolutely no idea how that non-sentence came to be. Let’s try again:

          And, of course, once guns are eliminated, what prevents those who are simply larger, stronger, or wealthier (or who have friends or colleagues who are larger, stronger, or wealthier)…

    7. AK

      censored, I’ve asked you this before in the past and were met with angry refusal to answer it, but hey, what the hell – I’ll ask once more:

      You want a stateless society that is not based on coercion of any sort; excluding a few vague statements, you’ve never described in any sort of detail how this would work.

      Can you please do so now?

      (Pre-empting your response: yes, I concede years in government schooling and childhood trauma have left me devoid of any creative thought etc etc. So enlighten me.)

    8. Minor Heretic

      We know what we mean by “free”, as in unrestrained, unfettered, but “market”? A market is a system of transaction that enables commerce. It’s a set of rules governing economic interactions. In other words, a set of restrictions. Even the most primitive barter transactions made somewhere in a jungle have a tacit set of rules behind them, enforced by custom and tradition. A market is made out of restrictions.

      So yes, the words “free” and “market”, when put in sequence become an oxymoronic absurdity.

      For that matter, markets are created and enforced by governments, whether local and tacit, or national and defined by detailed written legislation. While I’m at it, governments have to choose winners and losers, because it’s impossible to design an economic system that benefits Warren buffet and a minimum wage retail clerk equally.

      Same goes for free trade and free enterprise, if you think about it for a moment. And yet these absurdities persist. It’s great to see Yves kicking that meme down the sewer grate.

  3. Clive

    I went into town today and there was a market, it was really very pleasant, with nice weather and interaction with good people, it reminded me of how life really should be. Got back, turned on Bloomberg TV and was bombarded with the slightly sinister ad by the Indonesia Development Agency inviting me to invest in Remarkable Indonesia which was, apparently, a “burgeoning domestic market” and a “$1Tr economy”. Indonesia is I’m sure truly remarkable. But this is because of its people, its culture and geography/climate/physical characteristics etc. Not how many much potential there is for extracting money and resources out of the said country.

    While we’re at it, can I add “Reform” to the list ? As in “Reform of social security”, “Reform of healthcare provision”, “Education reforms” and so on. Like “Markets” there’s nothing wrong with the word per se. But when I hear or read about someone (usually government or a corporation) “reforming” something, I just know it’s not going to be doing me any favours…

    Same with “Reform”.

    1. AbyNormal

      !Bingo Clive!
      i hear ‘Reform’ and my head lowers for the dark thunder cloud approaching: ‘We, the chosen of the lucky sperm club, did not see this coming from you pesky surfs and need additional tweaking in Our Favor’.

      “The besom of reform hath swept him out of office, and a worthier successor wears his dignity and pockets his emoluments.” n.hawthorne, scarlet letter

      1. Sufferin' Succotash

        “Reform” is just a handy way to make a reactionary policy sound progressive. As for Adam Smith, his remark about the natural human propensity to truck, barter and trade is often used by Objectivists (now there’s an oxymoron if ever I heard one!) to argue that free markets somehow just happen, like dandelions. AS should have added that there’s also a natural human propensity to rob, cheat and pillage. Whether they engage in one set of behaviors or the other depends on, well, what? External constraints maybe, like, um, government?
        As Geo. F. will once put it, “capitalism is a government project”.

    2. from Mexico

      @ Clive

      Your comment very much reminded me of something Arundhati Roy wrote:

      ***beginnig of quote***

      Today, words like ‘Progress’ and ‘Development’ have become interchangeable with economic ‘Reforms’, Deregulation and Privatization. ‘Freedom’ has come to mean ‘choice’. It has less to do with the human spirit than it does with different brands of deodorant. ‘Market’ no longer means a place where you go to buy provisions. The ‘Market’ is a de-territorialized space where faceless corporations do business, including buying and selling ‘futures’. ‘Justice’ has come to mean ‘human rights’ (and of those, as they say, ‘a few will do’). This theft of language, this technique of usurping words and deploying them like weapons, of using them to mask intent and to mean exactly the opposite of what they have traditionally meant, has been one of the most brilliant strategic victories of the new dispensation. It has allowed them to marginalize their detractors, deprive them of a language in which to voice their critique and dismiss them as being ‘anti-progress’, ‘anti-development’, ‘anti-reform’ and of course ‘antinational’— negativists of the worst sort. Talk about saving a river or protecting a forest and they say, ‘Don’t you believe in Progress?’ To people whose land is being submerged by dam reservoirs and whose homes are being bulldozed they say, ‘Do you have an alternative development model?’ To those who believe that a government is duty bound to provide people with basic education, healthcare and social security, they say, ‘You’re against the Market.’ And who except a cretin could be against a Market?

      http://www.literaturfestival.com/service/archiv/eroeffnungsreden/intern/reden/arundhati_roy_engl

      ***end of quote***

      1. annieb

        I once had to claw my way into a conference on elder housing, put together by the program officer in charge of what he liked to call “the aging network” of a major local funder (I was a new member of the “network,” having recently been hired into the ED job of a struggling grassroots organization, but one with a big history). We spent two days going through a series of highly-facilitated exercises (that made me wish I owned stock in 3M for the quantity of Post It notes used). Day three was a half-day session that was supposed to come up with “workable plans” by interest group area (with the carrot of funding for collaborations waving in the breeze), and finished with an evaluation on the lines of “This conference will have been a success if….” My contribution: This conference will have been a success if people stop referring to the elderly as clients.

        Language does matter.

        1. Clive

          Oh, annieb, shared sympathies ! And I thought it was just me…

          Here is England there is much talk at the moment of why productivity is going through the floor. Lots of clever theories, intelligent opinions, well-regarded treatises trotted out. And Paul Krugman too. No-one ever came to ask me what the root cause of the poor productivity is. If they had, spending far too much of my life enduring such “workshops” in exchange for my princely salary would have been the answer. All the while, the top echelons of management obsess over the “outputs”, “targets” and “measures” of such endeavours.

          The longer it all goes on, the more I’m reminded of the proverb from the former Soviet Union under communism: “they pretend to pay us, we pretend to work”. The joke is on all of us alas.

        2. Klassy!

          Language matters. Yes!
          And when you start talking about clients (or “customers”) it is my observation that you start to expend more effort on marketing rather than actually improving the quality of your services.
          It is bad enough that corporate speak is rife with meaningless words but now the language is appropriated by non profits, civic institutions, and schools. Do they have such little confidence in what they are doing that they have to appropriate the terms strategic, engage, actionable, branding, and scalable?
          Ugh. I can’t stand it and wonder how people use these words without any irony.
          And how about a word such as vibrant? Used to mean bright and colorful but now, to me it has a quite colorless meaning due to appropriation by corporate interests. I see it all the time — vibrant communities. Vibrant communities are ones that have a lot of commercial activity going on.

          1. They didn't leave me a choice

            At least the word used was not “consumer”. It’s hard to imagine a word more hateful, disparaging, inhumane and malignant as that.

      2. Chauncey Gardiner

        Thank you, “from Mexico”, for your comment, and to Yves for this insightful post. I agree.

        … Channeling Frank Luntz: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frank_Luntz … or his counterparts working the other side of the aisle.

        Words, phrases and rhetorical devices are carefully designed and repeated by officials and the media to shift emotions, perceptions and the political playing field. Maybe We the People need an easily expandable online glossary.

        Our media and even conversations are littered with many other examples, some of which are mentioned here in the comments or elsewhere over the past couple of days.

        But I believe the visual cues and sequencing of images are at least equally important… channeling Leni Riefenstahl: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leni_Riefenstahl

        What do you remember from this year’s SOTU speech?… What stood out to me that stayed with me all day yesterday, were the visual images.

        For me it wasn’t only about the language and rhetoric. It was also the framing of the visuals that were meticulously planned, pre-vetted, rehearsed and choreographed with associated back lighting. This production was carefully designed to depict a strong and vibrant Chief Executive and a weak, dispirited, but supportive Congress whose members were at the end groveling for the president’s acknowledgment, access and even his autograph as he departed Congress.

        With a captured Supreme Court, what a moment of media triumph that was for those who desire to further concentrate power in the Executive branch of government and perpetuate the status quo. And as Marshall McLuhan said, “The media is the message.”

  4. rjs

    borrowing and debt are two words we should be rid of when speaking of Treasury bill, note, & bond issues…we talk of borrowing and debt, which have negative connotations, and the right talks of balancing the budget, which is a clever use of the language, as everyone thinks “balance” is something we should strive for, as if it were a virtue…

    we really need new words to describe government note, bill, & bond issuance, because the nature of a government issue is closer to creating needed money than it is to what the public & the airheaded congresscritters think of as “debt”…obviously, obama suffers from the same delusion, saying that the government is like a household and should also tighten its belt when times are tough…& the mistake they’re all making is what’s costing us this prolonged & deep recession…

  5. Andrew

    How about “Rationalizing the workforce”? …. There’s a cute little phrase that sends icy shards up a mans spine.

    “Congratulations, you’ve just been rationalized…..your desk has been cleared and a box of your belongings is waiting at reception”

  6. jake chase

    For forty years, my personal favorite has been ‘military service’. Service to whom and for what? Lately, it seems to mean tearing around Afghanistan in persuit of an invisible and unidentifyable and unnamed enemy to cement control of apparently useless land, no doubt imbedded with priceless mineral wealth or perhaps occupying a strategic bottleneck for those attempting business travel from one failed State to another. My generation spent ten years doing this for nothing, and came home to be villified by those who found a way to duck out, or even to desert, including two pinheads, one from each Party, who rose to Presidential status.

    Most of those so engaged these days are doing it for the money, which I suppose makes sense until the day it doesn’t.

    Every time I hear some television dunderhead prattle about the heroism of our troops, or how they are ‘protecting our freedom’, I wonder if he is contractually obligated to sit through a succession of John Wayne movies? Those of us who were actually in the Army of the American Empire know this is all a crock, but they keep recycling it anyhow to every generation.

      1. craazyman

        Man if they had shows like that on these days, I’d go get a TV.

        That was an awesome TV show! That and “Alias Smith & Jones” and Bonanza — you couldn’t ask for more than that. If you throw in “Hogan’s Heroes” you’d never have a reason to leave the couch. Just lay back to go to sleep at night and sit up when you wake up. that’s all you’d have to do (if you have a remote that is). They didn’t have remotes back then.

        As for emerging markets, why not go back to calling them “colonies”. that worked for centuries. it’s not politically correct but it’s more “financial colonies” nowdays. You can’t tell the colonizers from the natives by looking at them — Which is a form of progress, let’s be honest about that. deep philosophical thoughts emerge from that observation but now is not the time or place to reveal them.

    1. Klassy!

      I think there is some sort of contractual obligation to have at least four “human interest” stories that include “wounded warriors”, “fallen heroes”, or “greatest generation” soldiers per week. This is in addition to their completely uncritical news reporting on all matters military.
      I think the reporters suffer from Tom Hanks/John Wayne syndrome where they start to believe they served in the military.

    2. Propertius

      “Service”, from the Latin servitium: “slavery”.

      I can’t think of anything more appropriate, myself.

  7. MIWill

    Sounds like someone’s not a ‘team player’. Perhaps a complaint can be lodged to the ‘human resources’ dept.

  8. LAS

    I could not agree more with this post. Long overdue.

    Some countries might aptly be called “captive populations”.

    1. Renodino

      How about civilizations? Acknowledges the progress made even though the end result can be wonderful or terrifying. And in the end, they all seem to more or less disappear.

  9. digi_owl

    Ugh, word games. It seems to crop up more and more in politics, using relabeling and quick expressions to bypass the analytical parts of the voters mind and tug directly at emotions.

  10. Doubleplus unprofitable

    Looking back, an amazing amount of this nomenclature is traceable to the battle for hearts and minds between Bretton Woods v. Dumbarton Oaks. The UN agencies have a framework for articulating the aims of developing countries in humanist terms. (One country voted against it. Go ahead, guess.) Emerging markets was the corporatist countermeasure. It deep-sixed development entirely to squelch all those subversive rights and freedoms. The ploy worked only in the closed society of the US and its satellites. In the outside world, development is not going away. If you dig into Responsibility to Protect, the universally-accepted definition of responsible sovereignty, development is integral to it.

  11. Klassy!

    Thanks for this post and I really understand the cringing. I don’t believe you are exaggerating. It does make you cringe.

  12. McMike

    I don’t know why they don’t call Social Security a “National Retirement Annuity Savings, and Disability & Survirors Insurance Program”

    And call Medicare a “National Health Insurance Program for Seniors.”

    And call Medicaid a “National Health Insurance Program for the Poor.”

    1. McMike

      PS. See George Lakoff and Henry Giroux for great work on the power of framing..

      The left has sucked at it for a generation, ceding massive amounts of intellectual terrain to the right before they even sit down at the table.

    1. censored

      How could you possibly come to this conclusion? The truth is the exact opposite; free markets are “free” because they do not include the threat of force. From Wikipedia:

      A free market is a market structure in which the distribution and costs of goods and services, wage rates, interest rates — along with the structure and hierarchy between capital and consumer goods — are coordinated by supply and demand unhindered by external regulation or control by government or monopolies. A free market contrasts with a controlled market or regulated market, in which government policy intervenes in the setting of prices. An economy composed entirely of free markets is referred to as a free-market economy.

      What am I missing?

      1. Sufferin' Succotash

        Sounds great. The notion of “from each according to their abilities, to each according to their needs” sounds great too. All that’s missing is a sentient species capable of behaving according to the theories. Good luck with that.

      2. Yves Smith Post author

        Why don’t you bone up on the following:

        1. Scale economies

        2. Network effects

        3. Barriers to entry

        4. Monopoly/oligopoly

        If you knew anything about 1, 2, and 3, you’d know they operate in most areas of commerce and result in 4, which leads to concentration of power and abuses of labor and consumers. You clearly didn’t know, for instance, that Ford had a private army. You libertarians’ idea that the only source of coercion is the government is remarkably counter-factual. Go read up on the debtcropper system.

      3. Skippy

        Unless everyone has perfect information, there can be no free choice, hence no free market.

        The fun fact – is – you would have to – FORCE WITH VIOLENCE – to get the worlds population to comply, to such a derangement.

        BTW what kind of contractual processes have you ever been party too? Its actual a process of hiding information,

        rather than shining a light

        Skippy… lies are a form of violence.

        PS. Neoliberlism is like an Amway convention, its like passing mental razor blades out ones mental sphincter. Hint to self censored… when you beautify your betters… your not an individualist… your a cultist… a follower… stop thinking for your self… cease to be mentally free… a slave by any other name…

  13. JEHR

    Much obfuscation in everyday language is suffused with business terms: for example, “bottom line,” “brand,” “credit” rather than debt, “leverage” rather than borrowing. Many business words used for the activities of human beings become objectifications of human behavior, the worst offender as noted in other comments being “consumer” for a person who buys things.

    1. Chauncey Gardiner

      Thanks for your comment, JEHR. Seems this issue has been around for a while:

      In Lewis Carroll’s “Through the Looking-Glass” (1872), where Humpty Dumpty discusses semantics and pragmatics with Alice:

      “I don’t know what you mean by ‘glory,’ ” Alice said.
    
      Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. “Of course you don’t—till I tell you. I meant ‘there’s a nice knock-down argument for you!’ ”
    
      “But ‘glory’ doesn’t mean ‘a nice knock-down argument’,” Alice objected.

      “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.”
    
      “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”

      “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master. That’s all.”

      (Quote from “Through the Looking Glass” sourced from wikipedia.org.)

  14. diane

    Wonderful post!

    It brings to mind how visuals have also become ugly starting around the early eighties; illustrations, or photos, of people in newspaper articles changed to graphics of Human Resources (a word I would put at the top of that list): groups of exactly same sized rectangles (sometimes ♀ triangles added) with circles on top.

  15. McKillop

    Along with Lambert Strether’s analysis of President Obama’s (sic)speech, this article is great for pointing out the power of the magical mis-use of words.
    On Sunday, Feb. 10) an article concerning the Koch’s ‘Keystone Pipeline Plans’ presented another example of trickery. Corporations are described as citizens of countries and casually named as american, or canadian (enbridge).
    My insistence that we distinguish between human and corporation was condescendingly dismissd thusly: “Demands that I or anyone spare someone’s feelings by referring to an American company or a Canadian company as something other than an American comopany (sic) or a Canadian company are based on mere Political Correctness.”

    My feelings were not hurt, nor was my argument dismissed by the use of the term (propaganda itself)”mere political correctness”.
    Legally, a corporation has been defined as a person. Touted as having personal qualities and ‘national’ characteristics, such a legally defined construct goes a long way to fool or confuse the hell out of us, especially, sub-consciously.
    Companies pay ‘good’ money for the propaganda they create to define themselves.
    Those who get to define the terms of the argument win the argument. Always.
    Tedious and pedantic as some might consider the exercise, those who oppose the misfeasance of corporations will benefit from the work.
    (I thank Mr. Strether for his analysis. I heard the ” . . . bridge. . .” nonsense only and could not abide listening to anything else. To work to analyse and to expose such ‘speechifyin’ shows dedication.

    1. different clue

      Actually, when the objection to calling Enbridge a “Canadian” company was first raised, the alternate formulation “petro-Harperite conspiracy” was offered instead. When that was condescendingly dismissed as “sarcastic”, the suspicion set in that the initial objection was indeed based on mere political correctness. By the way, another commenter noted that Enbridge is indeed headquartered in Edmonton where that another commenter saw the word “Enbridge” on quite a few big buildings was apparently unanswerable and was therefor ignored altogether.

      As to “comopany (sic)”, I’ve maed typos before and I wull maek typos again. So have others and so others will again. Som people haev better things to do than show off there abilty to find other peopls typos.

      1. McKillop

        Do you claim that the use of “petro-Harperite conspiracy” is a useful alternative identification of corporations trading on national sentiment?
        Are you now, ‘actually’ or ‘by the way’, pretending that your nonsense involving the labours of international oil ‘interests’ was to the point?
        Are comments you make elsewhere here epitomized?
        Is your nose out of joint because I insisted that your tired observation that “Enbridge is a Canadian company” encouraged propaganda and emotionalism.
        I ask because of my experience with you.
        The “fair point” -no question evident in my initial comment, no relevant answer in yours- that I had hoped to make was that comments such as “And etc. Enbridge is a Canadian-owned company, by the way.” are carelessly (or intentionally) inaccurate.
        I wrote:”To me, calling a company that has no loyalty to the community or country after a country simply plays into our tribalism, our chauvinism.”
        Your suggestion that ‘we’ use jargon and prolix nonsense to refer to a ‘petro-Harperite conspiracy’, your anaphoric use of ‘rhetorical’ questions, your further comments misrepresenting mine, all, present enough evidence to demonstrate condescension. Your denial of my response to “Birch” presents another clue of error or deceitful malice. So your lie that I made “Demands” to “spare feelings”.
        For years, people mocked or misrepresented those who objected to terminology or words and images that were disparaging, (you know, I’m sure, your fair share. When called on their word usage they whined and claimed that it was “mere political correctness” that caused the objection. Even now the game continues in the effort(i.e.) to label ‘product’ (or “dilbut”) from the ‘oil sands’ as ‘ethical oil’, unlike that Saudi shit!
        How many people have been harmed by appeals to, by the way “nationalism”?
        Enough! Using nc’s valuable site to rebut you becomes discourteous when only ‘personal’ issues are involved, tedious when you wilfully misunderstand or misrepresent.

        By the way, (sic) merely and conventionally indicates that the relevant word is as it was presented originally. It doesn’t indicate either moral or mental deficiency or superiority.
        There’s no need to come away from “sic” with hurt feelings.
        (Or so I was taught.)

  16. sierra7

    In my humble observations over the years, the actions taken by advertising corporations, the media, the continuing crazy persuit of more and more corporate profits…..
    “Consumers” were actually “born” just after WW2….
    If those of you who are as old as I, (82) will remember publications like “Colliers”, “Look”, etc…….
    Just at the end of WW2, advertising changed dramatically……
    The “family” was considered the ultimate “consumer unit”.
    Then manufacturers, particularly those like the automotive industry began ads in those magazines targeting the high school graduating children of those (singular) “family consumer units”.
    Daddy handing the keys of a new car (it was a time of real desire for new cars because of the restrictions and curtailment of car manufacturing during the war) to the “son” as a graduation present.
    Handing the keys of such a product to just one of the family’s members launched a massive (over the years) change in what constituted an “economic unit” for consumption.
    The program(s) were so successful that what was launched, and to this day is the continued slicing and dicing of the derivative:
    Each individual human being on this earth (at least in the eyes of manufacturers no matter where located to more or less degrees of belief and particiaption) is an “economic unit” and is to be targeted as (UGH) “consumers”.
    And, I might add, including all the pets in the house also!!
    The rest is advertising/merchandising history.
    We have lost (given up withour so much as a whimper) our dignity as human beings, with not only political, but social desires, and the need for true human progress in our societies across the world (more or less).
    Our world is now one huge corporation; our own US is one led by the President (of the corporation of the US),with the Congress as the “board of directors”, and making all the dumb, stupid, degrading, unlawful, corrupt mistakes that those institutions’ boards made in the lead up to the disaster that popped in 2008-09.
    I loved the above comments about A. Smith and K. Marx and the public’s sense of their writings and how that sense has been so distorted by the “gate-keeping” intellectuals over the years.
    If we continue down the path of “consumerism” and treating each individual as just “consumers” and not having any dignity at all in a human way, then we are doomed as a “human” society; we cannot endure as humans; we must be “cloned” do endure in an environmentally dark future world where we not longer have any need of the true necessities of life (as opposed to “styles”), clean air, water, non-industrialized food, progress in making a true peaceful world (which means the continuing curtailment of our more violent tendencies) that can and could exist and still move forward with “human friendly” technologies and plan for that distant future date when this planet will meet it’s ultimate fate of solar destruction.
    Without a world revolt against the insidious corporate rule that is attempted to be spread by giant corporations, their political shills (sublime governments) we cannot accomplish this task.
    I sincerely believe we can be better as humans; and we can overcome the “consumer” vision of individuality as the ultimate life “style”.
    We need more focus on “Quality of Life” instead.

  17. Ken Ward

    This author’s account of Sukarno and non-alignment needs some polishing. The Bandung conference she refers to was the first Afro-Asian Conference. A second conference was scheduled for September 1965 to be held in Algiers, but Algeria’s president, ben Bella, was overthrown by Col. Boumedienne in a coup and the second Afro-Asian conference was never held. Meanwhile, the Non-alignment Movement, including countries outside Africa and Asia, can be said to have begun in 1961 at a conference in Belgrade hosted by Yugoslavia’s president, Tito, and was formally launched the following year. Sukarno was indeed active in its founding,as were Nehru and Nasser, but ‘New Emerging Forces’ (Nefo or Nefos in Indonesian) was a term he invented in 1963. This was a more radical idea entirely, implying resistance to and confrontation with the established powers, which he dubbed ‘Old Established Forces’ (Oldefos). It went far beyond non-alignment. He hosted Ganefo, the Games of the New Emerging Forces, as a rival to the Olympics. Dropping non-alignment entirely, Sukarno then embraced a quaint Pyongyang-Beijing-Hanoi-Phnom Penh-Jakarta axis, which had a very short life.
    On another point, Prof Broad describes her campaign, which has my complete sympathy, as ‘imminently’ winnable. Does this mean she will soon be declaring victory, as Sukarno would have done, or is it instead ‘eminently’ winnable?

  18. chicagogal

    Using “entitlements” when speaking about Social Security and Medicare is really just derogatory namecalling by bullies who want everyone to believe that the people who rely on those programs for their very survival are nothing more than drug addicted freeloaders who want everyone else to pay their way.

    The real terminology for both programs is “earned benefits” since every person who works in this country pays into both programs through paycheck deductions and accesses their benefits when needed. Maybe if we all start using the correct and proper terms, we can change how the MSM and Washington speak about them!

  19. Jim

    From Mexico’s 6:40 A.M. interpretation of Hobbes doesn’t do Hobbes full justice.

    Hobbes can also be seen as extremely concerned with developing a personality type concerned with honor as much as one concerned simply with prosperity.

    Hobbes has claimed “that which gives to human action the relish of justice is a certain nobleness or gallantness of courage…” Hobbes also identifies magnanimity with the just conduct that springs from a contempt of injustice

    In Hobbes’ account of a society’s transition from a state of nature to a social contract he implies that there are some individuals who must be willing to take unprecedented risks for the benefit of all, even though the mechanisms of mutual calculation and risk are not yet in place.

    Hobbes seemed to believe that it was only through such motivational factors as honor and magnanimity that one is able to foster the creation of a new society.

    1. from Mexico

      Which poses an interesting question: are these empiricists and materialists really as cold, calculating, disinterested and objective as they believe and would have us believe, or are they impostors trying to be something they are not?

      Maybe they’re just as spiritual, subjective, and idealistic as the rest of us, but just don’t know it. What they do is pass off their own spirituality as “science.”

      I can’t find my reference as to who said it, but I recall someone talking of how nonsensical the notion that all these brutish savages living in Hobbes’ state of nature — war of all against all — should, all of a sudden one day, jump up and decide to get together and form a social contract. But, idealism works by invented axioms, like Hobbes’ self-interest axiom. And from these axioms, one can deduce any theorem about society.

  20. Skippy

    Should We Label Ourselves?

    Then, quite unwittingly and naively, we permitted some of the current collectivism to rub off onto us-we slumped into lump thinking. We tended to collectivize by giving our vastly varied selves a one-word description: “libertarians”! …

    Libertarianism, as we define it, is indeed a moral, economic, social, and political ideal. But it is an objective to be pursued rather than an end that has been or can be achieved perfectly. All of us with libertarian aspirations are in varying stages of progress. Our only similarity is in the general trend of our thought. As libertarian aspirants, we are individuals, not a collective. If we would enshrine the dignity of the individual, then we must shy away from any collective label, especially a self-affixed one.
    When one who would enshrine the dignity of the individual is asked, “What are you?” he can try to give a candid and articulate statement of the faith that is in him. Such a person cannot, however, take refuge behind a mere label.

    My failure, no less than that of many others, to grasp this evasive point accounts, in no small measure, for the slowness of the private ownership, free market principle to assert itself over state interventionism. Never again will I call myself or any other a “libertarian.” I will aspire to libertarian achievement and let it go at that. – read more!

    http://archive.mises.org/18385/the-origin-of-libertarianism/

    Skippy… Bahahahahaha[!!!]~ Libertarians trying to re-brand their collective and using the OWS approach… Art – Life Thingy… Oh my Gawd it is soooo absurdly deliriously delicious, a Python skit never done!

    PS. Libertine Mollusks

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8R2zvE615dM

    1. McMike

      I’m sorry to inform you, but the GOP co-opted the word Libertarian and rendered it meaningless. It’s now just one more radio pundit dog whistle that means whatever they say it means, on any given day.

      Don’t feel bad; it’s what they do.

      1. Skippy

        The GOP stole the label[?], give me a break. The Chicago school of economic thunkit is not party specific, it has been the driving force of – all economic – thunkit – for the last 50ish years. regardless of party affiliation.

        Skippy… Shezzz now the libtards are looking for scapegoats… so childish…

        1. McMike

          ‘fraid so; the dang country is fairly ripe with self-described Libertarians who bitch about taxes and regulations, and then do fist-bumps and boo-yahs over waterboarding and drone assasinations.

          Not to mention the Tea Party movement…. I want the government out of my Medicare too.

          Posse Comitatus? That sounds French. That’s icky; I say we bomb them.

          1. Skippy

            And here I thought the Python video would dumb down the subject to a adequate level.

            Skippy… No true Scotsman arguments are for children… know wonder there are like 38k sects in christendom… no real ones… cuz there is no such animal in the first place… eh.

            PS… Every mind is an Island thingy… watch out for the ideological coconuts!… they have been known to cause death.

          2. Skippy

            Please elaborate… libtards have a bad habit of just saying stuff with out any distincto.

            Your saying your a – true libertarian – and as such, hold a unique ability not possessed by others, as to adjudicate, a self awarded priori status, that is superior to all others?

            Skippy… BTW I’m a human being (defective)… I don’t define my self by some rubbish ideology[s… to much missing… not yet discovered data… to make such grandiose proclamations. Libtards make the claim of a unified theory of humanity… this is false… a lie…

  21. from Mexico

    Paul P says:

    There is no “free market.”
    [....]
    “Free Market” utterances should be met with laughter.

    That’s the beauty of fantasy ideologies like free markets: they don’t exist in the real world, only in people’s minds. If they actually existed, they wouldn’t have their appeal. Fantasy ideologies, after all, are not burdened with reality.

    The fantasy is about the virtue of your soul, not about interacting with the community. Others in the community are props, not human beings. They are toys you can hate or love and project your fantasy upon. It’s a fact-free belief system on par with religion. Religion, in its defense, speaks of abstractions beyond the realm of science. Political fantasies occur in the real material world.

    Since the time of the French Revolution, political Idealism and fantasy ideologies have replaced religion. Idealism works by invented axioms. From these axioms, you can deduce any theorem about society. These political beliefs create a political mythology, teleology, and idealistic morality. These beliefs become neo-religions of absolute truth which are imposed upon society through coercion.

    Idealism is the root source of fantasy ideologies – religious or political. It is the belief that the universe and mankind have a function and teleological purpose which can be discovered. Idealism does not require evidence like empiricism. It describes what mankind should be, rather than what it is.

    Idealist intellectuals function like a modern priesthood. They borrow most of the same ideas from religion – original sin, guilt, morality, special knowledge, manichean dialectics, and so forth. They call them something else, but the core concepts remain. Sometimes it is utopian, sometimes dystopian, sometimes more subtle. It’s a pseudo-religious teleology which claims there is a final cause for all events. They just put the end times on Earth rather than in heaven. The free market is to capitalists what the Rapture is to Christians.

    More here> http://netwar.wordpress.com/2007/09/10/political-atheism-and-fantasy-ideologies/

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