My Review of Two Cheers for Anarchism...

is online at The American Conservative.


  1. Nice review, Gene. Just a point of clarification. You quote Scott on big-box versus petty-bourgeois (ma and pa) retailers. Then you write: "In another paean to spontaneous ordering,......" But the victory of the big-box retailer IS the spontaneously ordered outcome, no? Preventing it would require collective action - along the lines of the Vermont towns that ban Wal-Mart.

    By the way, this problem is very nicely addressed in Tom Slee's gem of a book, No One Makes You Shop at Walmart.


    1. I'm not sure about that, Kevin: Walmart benefits from a host of goverment policies, including the creation of the limited liability corporation, the interstate highway sustem, eminent domain seizures, complicated regulations, and more. Kevin Carson males this case well, I think.

  2. Nice article. Makes me want to read the book.

    I much agree with your criticism of deliberate jaywalking & respect for rule of law. I have been places where traffic laws were for practical purposes taken as 'mere suggestions,' and the result is definitely not 'liberating.'

    Anarchists who suggest this kind of thing would do well to heed the old cliche 'be careful what you wish for.'

  3. Gene: Yes, you're no doubt right about Walmart. But suppose that Walmart's advantage was based solely on greater productivity. The local stores together produce, as a byproduct of being open, the public good of a thriving downtown. People may well value the consumption of this public good by more than the savings they get from shopping at Walmart. Suppose so. Will they therefore refrain from shopping at Walmart? Of course not. No individual can assure a thriving downtown through his own purchases, so whatever others do, he does better by shopping at Walmart. Downtown disappears.

    There was a wonderful bookstore in Toledo, where I live. They had wonderfully intelligent clerks, book clubs, author signings, children's programs, etc. They went out of business when Amazon "came to town." The owner told me that people still came to the store, looked at the books, talked to the clerks, attended author events - and then went home and ordered the books they wanted form Amazon. I'm sure I'm not the only one who valued the store's continued existence by more than the savings I could get buying online. But none of us individually could keep the store in existence by shunning Amazon. We had a collective action problem, a problem we didn't solve.

    1. Is this collective action problem described in Slee? I've thought of writing up the same thing myself.


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