Re: Free Markets Decentralized?

Anton Sherwood (
Sun, 05 Apr 1998 20:55:01 -0700

> > Yak Wax wrote:
> > > ... Central does
> > > not have to mean "control of many by the
> > > few" it can be any 'many to few'
> > > relationship (i.e. control of few by the
> > > many.) ...

> Anton Sherwood wrote:
> > Centralism, as I understand and use the
> > term, means a regime where a single
> > decision in the name of the group - whether
> > made by decree or by universal vote - takes
> > precedence over the decisions of
> > individuals or smaller groups.

Yak Wax wrote:
> So are you in agreement with my previous statement? "Universal vote"
> is a good example of "control of few by the many"

Well, it's more like control of all by the many, since the majority are
usually not exempt from the rules they make (what would be the point?).
We might suppose it redundant to *bind* the majority to that for which
they voted, but they may be unwilling to do whatever it is unless *all*
are constrained to do it (because of the free rider problem, for

> just as "market direction" could be (vote with your money?).

The difference here is that the market very rarely makes a *universal*

If I "vote" with my money to decree that cilantro is not food, even if
I'm in a majority there are still a minority who buy and eat cilantro,
and a minority of restaurants who use it.

And though in fact I am evidently in a tiny minority, most restaurants
will leave out the cilantro if I ask them to.

> > [...] all the actions of the firm
> > where I work (sixty-odd people) are
> > coordinated by a few partners, so the firm
> > as seen from inside is centralist. But
> > outside, both I and the firm interact with
> > many others as peers; this web of activity
> > has no center.
> But what about your firms interaction with individuals (i.e.
> customers)? Do you consider that a centralist relationship?

Where's the center?

> Your customers control (vote by money) the company which takes
> precedence over the decisions of individual customers or smaller
> groups of customers.

It's a very incomplete precedence.

> Individual customers don't set their own prices, decide on
> which products you make, etc.

Well, not in my present firm, no; I assume all clients are offered
essentially the same contract. But my previous employer sets different
terms for each client (often giving them a choice), because their
circumstances vary and they want different services.

In each case, clients are free to shop around for a better deal, whether
for a lower price or for services more fitting to their needs.
Where's the center?

"How'd ya like to climb this high without no mountain?" --Porky Pine
Anton Sherwood   *\\*   +1 415 267 0685