Two Cheers for Anarchism

One of the most interesting conclusions in James C. Scott's Two Cheers for Anarchism is that the fixation on what is measurable in political decision making is a way of pretending to be apolitical while actually favoring a certain style of politics: technocratic, elitist, analytical, managerial. For instance, cost-benefit analysis is not a politically neutral way to make decisions: it is a way to make a political decision, by deciding what costs count for what and what benefits count for what, while pretending that no such decision is going on, and it is "Just the facts, mam."

I might add, making justice entirely a matter of market decisions is not a way to de-politicize justice: no, it is only masquerading as an abjuration of politics: in truth, it is the political decision that access to and control over justice should be based entirely upon wealth.


  1. " it is the political decision that access to and control over justice should be based entirely upon wealth."

    Which is why some old guys once talked about "unalienable" rights. That word implies they cannot be bought or sold even voluntarily.

  2. I'm curious Gene if you will agree with me on something. I think this comment nudges up against one of my complaints about the stricter formms of libertarianism. Some Libertarians will want to know *why* some poor schlub can't sell his right to fair trial for instance (or his brain or heart or lungs). And he will present a plausible case for how it might benefit the schlub. But the analysis will ignaore that at some point I -- the rest of us -- will be expected to honour and act upon that sale. And I think I should be able to say, no I won't enforce *that*.
    This has long been one of my main critiques of the Murphy-Henderson-Caplan property-rights kind of Libertarianism, muuch as I may agree with them in other ways.

    1. And the poor schlub gives you his sincere thanks for debasing his ability to write a credible contract.

  3. Anonymous2:03 PM

    "access to and control over justice should be based entirely upon wealth."

    Oh my, why should somebody be forced to drive a Kia when what they really yearn for is a Ferrari? Solution: Give GM a monopoly.

    1. Ha ha, Joseph. But James Scott *likes* anarchism. He just don't like anarcho-capitalism.

    2. Anonymous3:09 PM

      Right, I was addressing your addition. Whereas you see market anarchy as limiting control and access to justice, I see it as increasing control over and access to justice (just like any other good). I'd certainly rather drive a Kia than walk (I actually do drive a Kia).

      Regarding anarchy, I must admit that I always thought it pretty ridiculous until I became aware of market anarchy. Absent a market process, I simply don't see any way anarchy can work. This is not to say that market anarchy will work, even though I believe that it would, but it at least has a logically consistent basis for its position, whereas other forms of anarchy do not.

      As you know, I don't view ancapism as apolitical, nor do I view it as being without government. However, I do see the voluntary market system as a more just way of producing such things than that of an involuntary monopoly system. That, I think, is what it essentially comes down to for most anarchist libertarians, especially those who are knowledgeable of economics.


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