Monthly Archives: February 2006

Thoughts Along The Same Lines

Sean Lynch has an interesting discussion at Catallarchy in a post called Connecting The Political Circle. He puts quite a few words into discussing the differences, and similarities, between libertarians (aka anarcho-capitalists) and anarchists (aka anarcho-syndicalists) and socialists.

It’s occurred to me that the main difference between libertarians or anarcho capitalists and socialists or communists is beliefs about what is likely/possible rather than what is desirable. I think the main reason anarchists say anarcho-capitalists are “not anarchists” is that they think anarcho-capitalists just want to eliminate government and want/expect the existing corporations to stay as they are, with the end result being that the corporations become the new government (hence calling us not-anarchists).

I think the last sentence is clearly how Libertarians are perceived. It is, in fact, one of my primary issues, as has been evident in the discussion between Doug Mataconis and I here on The Liberty Papers (see this, this and this for examples). Yes, I believe in individual rights and liberties and the power of markets, I detest the idea of “positive freedoms”, and agree with much else that libertarians believe in. But, I’m not a libertarian, and rarely describe myself as being one. Then it is usually because I’m closer to that position than anything else. The thing I think that libertarians and anarcho-capitalists basically lose sight of is that all concentrations of power are destructive to individual liberty, whether they are formal governments, or not.

Speaking of collusion, this brings up another issue that keeps people on the socialist side of the fence: monopolies. We’re all taught in school that artificial monopolies (i.e. those that are created intentionally by monopolists) can be created and sustained, that they harm the consumer, and that they must be broken up or controlled by government. In school, these were simply called “monopolies” and natural or state monopolies simply weren’t addressed. In actuality, it’s not hard to show that historical monopolies have always failed except when the state has intervened to support them, and that even where natural monopolies persist, they do not harm the consumer (at least not more than a state monopoly) and advances in technology eventually make them competitive anyway.

I think there’s some important thoughts in here, one of which Sean sort of glosses over. First, I agree that artificial, legal and natural monopolies are not permanent things. Second, I agree that government intervention does much more harm than good. In my opinion, the anti-trust lawsuit against Microsoft actually helped to sustain the monopoly they currently have over consumer operating systems and the desktop office suite markets, rather than breaking it up. If nothing else, it convinced people that they had to buy Microsoft products because they were the only viable product. It also convinced competitors to come to terms with Microsoft in a way that favored MS when the government failed to do anything meaningful (from their perspective). Probably the most important thought is downplayed, in a deprecatory sort of fashion. And that is that non-government monopolies hurt consumers. Of course they aren’t worse for consumers than legal monopolies, but that doesn’t mean that Microsoft being able to artificially control scarcity in the office suite market is good for consumers.

So, what does all this make me? I’m clearly neither a socialist nor an anarcho-syndicalist. But, my perspective on corporations, monopolies and concentrations of power seems incompatible with libertarians, conservatives and anarcho-capitalists. I usually describe myself as a rational anarchist. I believe in the sovereignty and responsibility of the individual, and oppose the concentration of power aimed at coercing the individual. I think that is, ultimately, the disconnect between libertarians and I.

Update: A thought struck me, and I think it’s one worth exploring, on this whole issue of libertarians, corporations and monopolies. I think that what is happening is that libertarians are stepping over a line that they should reconsider. They go from defending the market against government intrusion to defending the actual entities within the market that are the proximate cause of the desired intrusion. While government intervention and/or intrusion into the market is something we don’t desire and should actively work against, that doesn’t mean that the target of the intrusion, Microsoft for example, is something good that needs to be defended. In fact, neither Microsoft nor Wal-Mart are shining examples free market practices to hold up to the world. We have a tendency to defend the target of the government intervention, which is a mistake.

Security executive, work for Core Security, veteran, kids, dogs, cat, chickens, mortgage, bills. I like #liberty #InfoSec #scotch, #wine, #cigars, #travel, #baseball

Carnival Of Liberty XXXIV

Carnival of Liberty 34 is up at Committees of Correspondence. Once again, we’ve had another week of great posts contributed. Thanks to everyone who did…..and if you didn’t, why not ?

Next week’s carnival will be hosted at Owlish Mutterings. And, if you’re intereted in hosting a Carnival yourself, I’ve got slots open in late April and all of May. Let me know.

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Quote for this Week

I’d say this fits in well with our current education discussion.

“Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves.”

William Pitt (1759-1806) British Prime Minister (1783-1801, 1804-06) during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars.

Security executive, work for Core Security, veteran, kids, dogs, cat, chickens, mortgage, bills. I like #liberty #InfoSec #scotch, #wine, #cigars, #travel, #baseball

Who Is The Sacramento Republicrat???


“Republicrat” or “Demopublican” (or the shorter “Democan”) are portmanteaus of the names of the two main political parties in the United States, the Republicans and the Democrats. The terms are used pejoratively by those on both the right and left who allege the policies of the two parties are in practice indistinguishable, and so form essentially one party with two names.

Well, I am a mid 30’s guy who has just about had enough with all of the political stereotyping.

If you claim to be “Conservative” or “Republican”, you catch flack from the “Left” for being too up tight. If you claim to be “Liberal” or “Democrat”, then you catch equal flack from the “Right”.

So, I became a Republicrat. I have always drifted to the Republican side when it involves “Fiscal Responsibility” and more moderate on “Social Issues”. It seems you are always expected to vote within your party. I do not always agree, so a Republicrat was the right choice.

It is true that we need a governing body, but that governing body does not need to be overly controlling or “In Your Face” all of the time.

As you will see on my personal blog, The Sacramento Republicrat, I have zero tolerance for crime against children. I am a supporter of Jessica’s Law. I have never been a “Political” type person. However, as I hit my thirties, I realized that politics did interest me. So, I started reading, listening and here I am.

I would like to thank Eric for his allowing me to be a contributor here at The Liberty Papers.

A Final Word On Monopolies

About two weeks ago, we had quite a spirited debate here about the question of monopolies in a free market system, and specifically the question of whether Microsoft, or any other supposed monopoly was a problem that libertarians and classical liberals needed to concern themselves with. For a recap of those arguments, you should start here and then go here, and then here, then here, then here, and, finally, here. Be sure to read the comments along the way.

On several ocassions during our discussion I started, then stopped, writing a more detailed post discussing what a monopoly actually is in economic terms and whether a monopolist in a free market economy, should one exist, would be a problem worth worrying about. For many reasons, I never got around to it, and now it looks like someone has beat me to it.

Over at Liberty Corner, there’s an excellent post titled Monopoly And The General Welfare that puts the issues forward fairly succintly. The post goes into detail to explain why, in a free market economy, a monopolist would be no different than any other market player and would still be subject to the same free market forces that any other company would be, with the added benefit that the monopolist would not be able to appeal to the state for protection from competition.

The only kind of monopoly that harms consumers is a legal monopoly, one that is operated or regulated by government. Such a monopoly isn’t harmful per se, it’s harmful because the government’s operation or regulation of the monopoly ensures that it cannot and will not respond to price signals. A natural monopolist (like Jack the breadmaker) must bargain with his customers, and must be alert to the possibility that his customers will turn to substitutes and near-substitutes if he doesn’t bargain with them. But when government operates and regulates whole sectors of the economy (e.g., telecommunications and health care), price signals are practically meaningless — there is no bargaining — and substitutes are hard to come by (near-substitutes will be regulated, of course).

The only real monopoly, then, is one that is operated or regulated by government. It is that kind of monopoly — not Microsoft or Wal-Mart (for example) — which ought to be broken up or fenced in by the trust-busters.

As usual, the real harm comes from the state.

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