David Gordon on how to evaluate social theories

In the comments here: "This is not a good model for the society Rothbard had in mind."

I see. We shouldn't ask, for instance, "What are the effects likely to actually be if we abolish private property?" The right question is, "What kind of society did Marx have in mind when he advocated abolishing private property?"

8 comments:

  1. Before the sentence that you quote from me, I have a few things to say about the likely effects of living in a libertarian society. If you read my comment, I'd be interested in how you concluded that we shouldn't ask about these likely effects. Even if disregarded my remarks, you conclusion about my view would not follow from the sentence that you quote.

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    1. David I just tried responding from my phone and had blogger crash on me after writing three paragraphs. I respond tomorrow when I can do so from a real computer.

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  2. "Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow..."

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    1. My pace is very petty, isn't it? I had access problems the next day too, then I forgot!

      But:

      1) I did link to the full comment, so readers could judge for themselves; and

      2) No, I don't think what preceded my quote was a serious attempt to analyze what would really happen: "In a free market, firms succeed by pleasing customers..." is just DEFINING a free market that way. When in a real unregulated market (e.g., the drug trade) we see a combination of pleasing customers, and defrauding them, and forming cartels through violence to keep prices up, etc. that is simply defined away as not being a "true" free market.

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    2. And, I should add, despite the fact that we have very good theories as to why the Mafia is exactly what to expect in the absence of the state, and the real experiences that the Mafia is exactly what we get.

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  3. Gene, thanks very much for your response, but I don't think that you have here faced the point I raised against you. You ascribed to me the view that we should not ask about the likely effects of establishing an anarchist society, and nothing in what I wrote supports this ascription. If my reply to Dan was a bad one, so be it; but your claim about my views was still false and without basis.

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    1. David, you are correct: What I think you are doing is assuming reality will work out as in your theory. But that is different to paying NO attention to how things will work out in reality. I phrased my criticism badly, and I apologize.

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  4. The objections you raise to anarchism seem to me to differ from those that Dan McCarthy raised. Your objections are Hobbesian; you think that without a state, there would be no stable legal order and powerful and ruthless gangs would prey on the weak. Dan's objections in his TAC post are different. He thinks that in a libertarian society that works as intended by libertarians like Rothbard, the employers and property owners have too much power. He isn't talking about a lawless society, but rather a society he takes to be flawed in conception. In my response to him, I tried to address his objections, as I understood them, so that is why you did not find in what I said a response to your own distinct objections. By the way, it isn't a matter a definition that businesses in a free market succeed by pleasing consumers. This is an empirical claim about markets that operate in a stable legal system. Whether such a system can exist without a state is of course what it is at issue between us.

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