The Genuinely Free, Purely Imaginary Market

Steve Horwitz: 'What the (usually leftist) critics of the book are missing in their simplification of the "good rich and evil poor" is that Rand understood the difference between a genuinely free market and what is now known as "crony capitalism."'

Does the difference go like this? "The genuinely free market is a purely imaginary construct never witnessed by anyone at any time or any place. Crony capitalism is what we actually always get when we let markets dominate social life."

Then I would say that Rand indeed understood the difference.

9 comments:

  1. So monopolies are preferable? Shoot, "we can't have monopolies in the market", that's why we have another monopoly and anti-trust statutes by that monopoly to shut them others down; specifically the monopoly on governance, the most important thing in many cases.

    So it must be best to create a governing monopoly in order to make sure that other monopolies don't arise (which is sort of the same thing as a warlord). What sort of jive is this?

    Don't get me wrong, I (think) that I am beginning to more understand certain elements of your thoughts, especially regarding conservative and progressive views (the latter being more focused upon the evolution of human society), but I don't know that your current leanings in support of the State are any different from those that you portend to say is disastrous. Of course, I do understand the implications regarding ideology, but that still does not seal the gap; not in any axiomatic way.

    Let me give you an example of the confusion that I am seeing here ...

    Last year (or maybe the year before) you were quoting Pinker's pro-state work. However, having now read the book, I had noticed some pretty glaring inconsistencies on his part during my readings, which sort of ring true here.

    Essentially, his tract was supposed to prove the necessity of a State (which should not be confused with 'government'), but with all of his data, he still slipped up. You quoted his material quite often during that period, and I only wish that I had read it when it was contemporary.

    In a memorable instance he posed two different cases, one earlier in the book and one later. The first dealt with some ranchers that had devised a system of government that was entirely contractual and voluntary. He saw the merit in this form of government, but also noted that this system existed within and benefitted from a State reality. However, later in the book, he also posed the case of black ghettos (something that I'm intimately familiar with), where he said that the reason for the problems (in black ghettos) is due to a lack of State control. I call BS on that! It's a complete double-standard, one that is quite blatant.

    While I won't elaborate upon it, my point is that you're trying to take both sides of the matter just as Pinker did: You're taking a strong conservative position in support of the State, but you're also taking an evolutionary path with regard to societal progress.

    In the end you aren't really taking any position at all other than that of the status quo. You're essentially saying that have real implications (and you support these implications), but at the same time you're also saying that one should follow and/or support a certain system of social order, which is whatever path humanity decides to follow.

    I guess that you're also the sort of guy that would let his child touch the hot stove just so that he could know that the pain is real.

    ReplyDelete
  2. "So it must be best to create a governing monopoly..."

    Because the job of "final arbiter on disputes" is by its nature a monopoly position.

    "I call BS on that!"

    I don't understand your complaint about Pinker here at all: of course, NBA refs, private rule enforcers, benefit from State backup: they know if the player who outweighs them by 150 pounds tries to beat the crap out of them for a call, the police will arrest him. How in the world does that contradict the idea that some neighborhood might suffer from a lack of policing?

    "In the end you aren't really taking any position at all other than that of the status quo."

    That is complete nonsense, Joe.

    ReplyDelete
  3. "Shoot, "we can't have monopolies in the market", that's why we have another monopoly and anti-trust statutes by that monopoly to shut them others down; specifically the monopoly on governance, the most important thing in many cases."

    Because when the public power's policies regarding corporations are lax you get monopolies, private defense agencies, and battles waged by those same private defense agencies. Oh, and you also don't understand what Weber meant by calling the state a monopoly.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Samson, your test of anarcho-capitalism is 1913 Colorado? How do we assess socialized medicine--look at Somalia?

      Delete
    2. Samson, your examples are poor ones. The strike breaking you mentions had the support of the state such as the Colorado National Guard. Private security agencies like that still exist. They behave differently not because the state is more powerful (or less powerful) but because the way the state uses it's power is different.

      Standard Oil was something like the Google of it's day. It provided rapid declines in the price of oil at a time when oil was a high-tech industry. There was a never good case for breaking it up. It would never have been a monopoly without tariffs anyway.

      Delete
  4. I'm not all that interested in Anarcho Capitalism, and I don't think that Steve Horwitz is thinking of it here either.

    I think there are plenty of ways that the state could be shrunk without making crony capitalism more of a problem. But, cutting things like welfare would make inequality and poverty more of a problem. I think that's where the big disagreements are.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Current, you will get no disagreement from me on the proposition "The State is at present much too large"!

      Delete
  5. "Crony capitalism is what we actually always get when we let markets dominate social life."

    How could you know? Markets have never dominated social life. Not today, not ever. Religion, in which I include today's Humanism, has always been the institution that dominates social life.

    That being said, we can see that in the modern era, when some small part of our social lives were given over to markets, there's an explosion in human well-being, and a decline in corruption.

    ReplyDelete