My argument has never been about the aggression of corporations or private businesses -- that is to say, if you mean coercive or violent aggression. Rather, my claim is that they each exploit; the proprietors, whether stockowners or private, each receive wealth that was produced by the laborers. Yes, some capitalists labor, but the laboring they do in their own business is generally much less than their hired hands. For all the "help" they offer their workers, they treat it like a hobby. They might even make more money with less time if they went antiquing instead of "helping around the office" or optimizing production.
And it is still exploitation even where there are bosses and owners that work full time, side by side with their wage-earners, doing just as hard work. In this situation, the income of the boss and the income of the workers are going to be very different. The workers receive their wages, but the boss receives the profit of the business.
The workers make enough to support their wages, to repair and buy equipment, and even to produce and maintain long-term capital funds. Everything that the worker would need, from production to sustenance, is provided by the worker. But when the boss needs to make a profit, or needs to improve profit, this results in exploitation. Whether it is an increase of prices on the market, cutting wages or security devices on the machinery, a price-fixing scheme or collusion -- in order to meet this self-interest, the boss will make the logical, economic choice. But no matter what choice this boss makes, it will exploitation. The common people, either taking on the role of the consumer or the worker, will either need to work more, or to consume less, in order to maintain their existence. This is the real effect of wage reduction or price increasing.
I've provided quotes by Adam Smith, Josiah Child, and Thomas Malthus, as well as linking to the book where I provided a couple hundred citations by equally respected economists. My argument has always been that profit is consuming the labor of others without contributing. It seems so elementary and basic that it should be used as the definition of profit. Naturally, in opposing this, I have to oppose the classes that privileged and empowered by profit -- the profiteering class, or what has previously been called, The Capitalist Class.
Furthermore, as an Anarchist, I have no intention or desire of abolishing Capitalism through decrees, regulations, or political parties. It will come about through non-violent, cooperative associations. Consider the many businesses in the United States that prohibited African Americans or other races. Consider the discrimination of the schools, and the White Citizens' Council that blacklisted African Americans who voted. This is not oppression -- it is exploitation. None of these businesses passed laws or public policy. They are were acting cooperatively, outside of the law, to meet their shared aim (of racism).
And the most successful method of fighting this exploitation, from Civil Rights in the US to India, has been through voluntary, cooperative associations.
The railroad monopoly by Vanderbilt, and the oil monopoly by Standard Oil, and the financial empire of J.P Morgan, were not the result of the state. On the contrary, they were both sued successfully by the government for breaking anti-trust laws. That is to say, state aggression was used to destroy monopolies -- not to step them up. Standard Oil, for instance, owned 90% of the production facilities for oil, and completely dominated the market. [*1]
I also more thoroughly checked your references. "Big Business and the Rise of American Statism (1971)" by Roy A. Childs admits. There's even this line in there, "The first serious pooling effort in the East, sponsored by the New York Central, had been tried as early as 1874 by Vanderbilt; the pool lasted for six months." I was curious to see if Childs mentioned Vanderbilt, and right there, you have the most historically inaccurate depiction of the Vanderbilt empire. His empire lasting for six months? Sounds like the most brazen, historically-unsupported argument I've ever heard. And no reference for it? He had no charts, no evidence, nothing? Well, of course.
The Atlantic did a good story on Vanderbilt, "When he died, railroads had become the greatest force in modern industry, and Vanderbilt was the richest man in Europe or America, and the largest owner of railroads in the world." [*2] Of course, in regards to the economic policies of Vanderbilt, Childs responds, "Soon it became obvious to most industrial leaders that the pooling system was ineffective." The second-wealthiest man in America (Vanderbilt), as well as the first (Rockefeller), were using an "ineffective" economic policy? Childs, besides revising history, had also possibly revised language.
Does the Childs' article mention Standard Oil? Oh, it does?! Gooood.... Quoting Childs, once again, "In 1912, Arthur Eddy, an eminent corporation lawyer, working much of the time with Standard Oil, and one of the architects of the FTC, stated boldly in his magnum opus, The New Competition, what had been implicit in the doctrines of businessmen all along: Eddy trumpeted that 'competition was inhuman and war, and that war was hell.' Thus did big businessmen believe and act." This seems exactly like my argument has been all along: big business, according to your reference, has been cooperating and colluding to control markets and to squash any opportunity from reaching the masses. And J.P. Morgan? I see some financial contracts with the state, which weren't strategically important -- and that's it.
When reading the chapter by Rothbard, what you find is businesses trying to establish themselves as monopolies by providing favors to governments. The same exact corporations who, just ten years earlier, had formed monopolies by creating cooperative, industrial combinations. The Capitalist class works within itself for mutual and reciprocal relations, to guarantee the wealth, property, and market share of business owners. And still in that collaborationist spirit, it demands monopolies from the federal government. Corporations that colluded were also the ones that demanded monopolies from the state. Both methods proved successful.
If the capitalist class was denied the ability to use the state, what makes you think that they wouldn't continue to use collusion and price-fixing schemes?
Both forms of exploitation are the result of the Capitalist class seeking its own interest. The state has always existed, but it has not always been the provider of monopolies. Like the bribing of other businessmen, these Capitalists lathered up their politicians very well. Exploitation, in the form of state monopoly or price-fixing collusion, has always proceeded out of the self-interest, and the resulting actions, of the Capitalist class. Why, then, should the Anarchist Revolution be directed against the state alone, and not against authority in the economic sphere of life?
A worker increasing wages is as oppressive as a slave demanding their freedom. There is nothing wrong with cooperative associations? Well, what about the White Citizens' Councils, that blacklisted African Americans who voted or participated in government? There is no force here whatsoever. The business owners, united in their cooperative associations, could effectively prohibit work to any human being they wanted to. And this is exactly what they did to any African American who tried to participate in government. Hunger is a very important factor in understanding society. And hunger will drive a person to any kind of act. Historians aren't disappointed at the extremely low turnout of African Americans voting in the south. On the contrary, it's regarded as typical.
What about when industries organize to keep markets starved? What about artificial winters, famines, and plagues? These are not things created by nature, they're created by the Capitalist class. What happens when mass starvation occurs because the lands are held in possession by a few, and they profit by prohibiting laborers to their land? Twenty to thirty thousand human beings starve to death on a daily basis today. We could very well say that part of this is caused by Statist and authoritarian governments; but they would have neither the means, nor the motive, without the Capitalist class, there and ready to provide whatever is necessary to advance its interests.
It all boils down to the fact that, as a common individual, you are at the mercy of another human for your bread; you are at their mercy for the bread of your family and your community. Yes, I can reject the employment, but I'll starve in only a few days, whereas the Capitalist could survive for years on their accumulated wealth. When I withdraw from the agreement, I have everything to lose, from my sustenance to that of my family and community. But when a Capitalist withdraws from the agreement, they can sit idle as long as they would like -- in fact, this is all that their behavior consists in. Then, upon discovering the tendency to collusion, and that opposition to competition, it becomes even more clear that other Capitalists are just as exploitive.
The White Citizens' Council is far from the honorable types of businesses that anyone could promote. But every business tends towards collusion and price-fixing. As an individual, everything has been determined for you: what products are available on the market, where you can work, what work you're allowed to do, and how much you receive for that work. In short, every aspect of individuality for the masses has been left up to an extreme minority. There's not one bit of force here, except the force of humanity to bread.
This is exploitation! You have made humanity free, but with no opportunities, every bit of freedom is going to be exchanged for bread. Every group of people, who is offered the opportunity to submit or die, will certainly choose the former. It does not matter that the threat is withdrawing employment or the prison; whether it is blacklisting or the gallows. There is more than one way to kill a human being.
Accusation of price-fixing doesn't imply successful price-fixing. Yes, of course, but those references I provided -- of course -- demonstrated price-fixing. When several companies fix prices, when records clearly exist showing the prices, and the owners of these companies testify to fixing prices, I think it is clear to say that prices have been fixed. For Siemens, it stated, "Regulators found that the companies rigged bids for contracts and fixed prices in the market for gas-insulated switchgear - equipment is used to control the flow of energy in electricity grids. They also divided up projects among themselves and shared sensitive information, the commission said." It says nothing about "attempted," nor is it implied, and you'd have to be inserting your own "facts" to read that.
To claim, or even imply, that the state has manufactured the evidence of price-fixing and collusion cases is flatly unscientific. One may as well claim that all murders, likewise, were fixed with false evidence by the government, to prevent people from knowing that it's actually aliens committing murders. In fact, many of the price-fixing scams were not discovered by the state, but by muck-racker journalists. And, well, googling price-fixing produces, you know, virtually infinite results. Even in poker games, there is chip-dumping, a form of collusion that arises between players without their prior planning -- and without a state. Yes, all of these, from poor, humble journalists to poker players -- they must be all in to convince you that cartels and monopolies exist only with the state, and that to be found anywhere else, is to prove the conspiracy.
I've addressed it by pointing out extensive examples of cartels existing and maintaining themselves without the state. The material you cited by Childs provided no references for its complete, revised edition of 19th century history. (Yes, there were references; but only for the basic facts, and never for the "new material" he was adding to history.) And the material provided by Rothbard showed that the state monopolies were created only after Capitalists hired the state.
You can claim that the evidence of price-fixing corporations was invented -- but, this is rather just a reaction to the evidence at hand, and not a logical or rational answer. (i.e. What makes you think that this particular case was manufactured? And if the state manufactures evidence here, what makes you think they're not manufacturing evidence about state-defended cartels to mislead you even more? Who knows -- maybe aliens really did do it.)
By all means, consider your claim addressed. Not sure how you're considering examples of collusion and price-fixing as a "red herring." After all, your claim is generally unsupported -- or, only supported by shoving the most massive conspiracies and questionable facts into the past.
According to your own Childs reference, Vanderbilt started and organized a pool. And according to another reference...
Vanderbilt was making his profit by not competing -- by the possession of capital, that was intentionally kept inoperative, so that others would gain, and reward him for that gain. It was planned, public poverty to benefit the few wealthy capitalists. This is the definition of a monopoly: isolated control of the means of production, naturally accompanied by ill effects, whether that monopoly exists because of the state or because of ambitious capitalists.
I'm not certain where you're getting the idea that I am only against the State when it helps the Capitalist Class. On the contrary, I am opposed to all forms of top-down hierarchy, whether it is political or economic; whether the master is a senator or a boss, a president or a CEO. I am opposed to authority, which means I am opposed to the state and capitalism. Leaving capitalism untouched necessarily means leaving an economic authority, which is opposed to the natural tendency of Anarchism.
The airline price-fixing was successful when the industries were participating in it. And, you have just as much evidence that price-fixing didn't work as you do that they're still fixing prices. Price-fixing on CD's is doubted? It costs $15 per album, and the plastic, manufacturing, and shipping costs less than $0.25 per disk. Courtney Love explained the monopoly of the record labels in her piece "Courtney Love Does the Math." [*4] Also, the court case fairly well demonstrated the price-fixing of the labels. Also, note: downloading music via BitTorrent isn't really done with the consent of the music cartel, since they're stealing and redistributing the music for free. So, I don't think that qualifies as "absence of price-fixing."
Their fellow producers? All wealth is the produce of labor. I have simplified it to laborers and capitalists -- those who live by their labor, and those who live by the labor of others. On occasion, a capitalist will actually labor on their business, but they treat it like a hobby or a toy; so of course I would want them to be rewarded according to their contribution, but for the small value they add, it would amount to just a wage, and not the total profit. All things that have value are the product of labor, and without the labor, we would have neither consumer goods nor the capital goods that produce them. And the land, itself, was made useful by labor. The only claim to profit that the Capitalist has alleged was their ownership and right to the land -- this is how they make their living, and not by producing.
The workers are responsible for producing society's wealth. Those who make a living by owning property are not their "fellow producers."
Our disagreement seems to be focus on one issue. We both believe in a world where social and economic relationships are dictated only by those participating in them. We both have a vision of world with cooperatively-owned industries and private industries; but in my vision, the worker-managed firms are the dominant economic and social force, whereas in your vision, it's many small firms. There are three points I'd like to point out in terms of why I choose Anarcho-Syndicalism over Anarcho-Capitalism...
(1) The natural monopoly of a dominant, private business is more common than the state-granted monopoly. The evidence: the likelihood of collusion in game theory (iterated prisoner's dilemma), the economic mechanisms and forces defined by economists, and the extensive list of hundreds of examples. The wise economist Adam Smith said that the Capitalist class is -- ALWAYS AND EVERYWHERE -- in a constant conspiracy to keep the rate of income of the common people to as miserably low as possible. [*5] This has also been observed by economists Josiah Child, [*6] L.F. Giblin, [*7] Thomas Hodgskin, [*8] Henry Demarest Lloyd, [*9] Thomas Malthus, [*10] Jean Jacques Rousseau, [*11] Gustave Schmoller, [*12] and James Steuart. [*13](2) Where government gives a monopoly, it was instigated by the capitalist; this has been shown with many of the references you provide. (3) The use of government in repressing slaves and workers in favor of capitalism. The Hodgskin work quoted above, as well as the autobiography of Mother Jones and Emma Goldman, demonstrate a great deal of governments oppressing workers and strikers. It should seem, in fact, that this is the greatest involvement that a state has with Capitalist -- oppressing those who want to demand better wages for themselves.
In point one, the evils of a natural monopoly are just like the evils of a state-monopoly: by only a few individuals controlling an industry and market, prices end up getting fixed, innovation slows, opportunity for the workers is sacrificed for profit, and eventually, a corruption and bribery of government takes place. It prohibits the common people from working the land and earning the fruits of their labor; like a feudal baron, the capitalist class lives idly off of the labors of others, without contributing. Anarchism cannot recognize the economic authority of a boss to tax anyone who works certain land or machinery. Poverty, homelessness, and mass unemployment will persist if the lords of industry are kept in place. If the Social Revolution doesn't change the day-to-day existence of the common people, then they have no reason to support it. And the miserable conditions will make the people more resistant and ready to re-establish the state.
During Anarchist Iceland, they people were living in a pre-industrial era. Consumers and laborers were not dependent upon just a few who owned the majority of land. It was a significant change in the bargaining power of the otherwise, generally independent forces of economy.
In points two and three, where a cartel is sanctioned by the state, or the government uses force in repressing unions, the oppression was created by the capitalist -- it was instigated, paid for, bribed, or blackmailed by the efforts of the wealthy and the rich. A monopoly formed by the natural appropriation of wealth in a free economy, or a monopoly formed by state intervention -- both of these come out of the Capitalist's self-interest and their response to that self-interest. The greater deal of the social evil, then, is not born out of the state, but out of the Capitalist class. And it is certain, that should a state disagree with the most powerful and rich in society, they will quickly be replaced.
*1. Bringhurst, Bruce. Antitrust and the Oil Monopoly: The Standard Oil Cases, 1890–1911. New York: Greenwood Press, 1979.
I don't dispute that, but to me there is absolutely nothing wrong with that unless aggression is used. I don't subscribe to the Marxian exploitation theory or the labor theory of value.
But it is false that providing capital and/or ideas is not contributing. You overlook all but one of the factors of production.
Good. This is what keep us allies. Let the market decide whether capitalism is generally efficient and good or not. I think yes; you think no. So long as neither of us initiate force, we are cool.
As noted already, Vanderbilt did not have a railroad monopoly. Standard Oil followed the usual pattern of a new technology, the same pattern as e.g. the personal computer industry. First, a lot of wildcatters. Next, massive consolidation (Standard Oil in its heyday; IBM PC), and next, more pluralism and competition. By the time of the anti-trust acts, Standard Oil had already lost much of its market share. J.P.Morgan had a lot of govt help. He first made it big by a govt contract to sell outdated rifles during the Civil War. He bought them from the govt for $3.50, remachined them, and sold them back to the govt for $22 each. They didn't work well and blew off a lot of soldiers' fingers. Later, Morgan used govt power to cartelize the railroad industry under the Interstate Commerce Act. I could go on, but the point is that the industries that you claim didn't use govt aggression in fact did.
You are misunderstanding here. Childs said that the pool (i.e. the cartel) lasted for six months, not the Vanderbilt empire. That the attempted cartel fell apart after only six months supports my contention.
We agree that (some) big business entities collude. But you claim that they generally do it without State power. Childs says the opposite, that Standard used the FTC to pull off its cartelization scheme and undermine free market competition.
Some would no doubt try, as Adam Smith pointed out. But history shows that they would not be successful at it, or at least successful for very long. The examples we've been discussing demonstrate this. In short, we agree that (some) firms will attempt to cartelize, but we disagree about how successful they would be without resort to State aggression. I think they would be rather unsuccessful; you think they would be amazingly successful.
?? The State is defined as a monopoly on the legal use of force in a particular geographic area. All States provide a monopoly in force, all modern State provide monopolies in law, defense against invaders, police, legal tender...
I disagree with the first sentence. Some States have "proceeded" from racial classes, or from the "working class" (people's republics), or even family bloodlines. If you get rid of one special interest class, some other will simply take its place. However, if you get rid of the State, then no class can use the political means.
You're repeating a quote I've already refuted - a tactic that Vanderbilt himself defeated with his pirate steamboat businesses. In real life, that tactic rarely if ever works. It's an anti-capitalist myth.
To me, authority (at least the bad kind) necessarily involves aggression. Economic "authority" is an oxymoron. The economic means is the opposite of the political means (in Franz Oppenheimer's terminology.) Economic power is the power to offer others something they want; political power is the power to coerce others through aggression. Liberty vs. authority.
No, it simply demonstrates that such price-fixing is amazingly unsuccessful.
As noted, this is a basic point of disagreement. I think that there are other factors of production just as necessary as labor for most production: capital, land, time, technical/scientific knowledge, and entrepreneurship.
On the contrary, if they are rightful owners they make their living by past production currently represented by their land and capital.
That's fairly and accurately put.
I disagree with (1). I see very few monopolies which are not aided and abetted by the State. In your examples I have repeatedly pointed out State support and privilege that you overlooked. Your Adam Smith point lacks relevancy. It shows that businesses like to collude, but it doesn't show that they can successfully collude to fix prices when there are no governmentally imposed barriers to entry and trade. My point is that despite their proclivities, they are unable to pull it off for long without some form of government aggression to back them up. The Tit-for-tat strategy in iterated PDGs is weakened the more players there are, and doesn't account for new entries into the game. Free market cartels are inherently unstable and short lived.
I agree that this is generally true. But that is a reason to get rid of the State, not voluntary cooperation.
I agree with this, too. Again, our conclusion is different. I see this as a reason to abolish the State, not as a reason to condemn voluntary cooperation.