Re: Capitalism, Private Property, etc (was Re: Sweatshops)

From: J. Goard (
Date: Wed Apr 18 2001 - 23:11:53 MDT

At 11:05 PM 4/18/01 -0700, Technotranscendence wrote:

>I even find von Mises definition a bit problematic. Granted, it's closer to
>how most economists and most people use the term, but I find Rothbard's of
>"a grant of special privilige from the State reserving a certain area of
>production to one particular individual or group."

Well, I think they're both understandable and useful definitions, but of
two different things; although, I suppose, you could make sure "area of
production" is interpreted broadly enough that every such restriction
results in the situation Mises describes. Rothbard's definition would
certainly exclude copyrights and (at least most) patents, since these cover
highly specific types of product. Mises' definition leaves that open;
whether a publisher could profit by restricting supply would essentially
depend upon the substitutability of other books or even non-book goods.

>I think this problem is not restricted to Left-anarchists. It's a much
>wider problem with the way some look at all sorts of activities...
>The problem with this view is that it looks at economics (and property and
>human life) in completely perceptual terms... This view totally
>disregards the mind and its place in the economy.

That last sentence, although it evokes wonderfully grandiose Galtian images
in my mind, is going a bit too far. Rich doctors or scientists don't
receive the brunt of this disdain, nor even do filthy rich actors or
athletes. (Is an athlete closer to manual labor or mind?) Anyway, it's
not the mind per se that most people don't intuitively appreciate; it's
only one particular economic function of the mind, the allocation of
resources according to the information of prices. As Mr. Gunnell has
recently quoted:

"Notice also that Nozick confuses exchange with
capitalism ("I offer you a lecture once a week in
exchange for other things"). This is a telling mistake
by someone who claims to be an expert on capitalism,
because the defining feature of capitalism is not
exchange (which obviously took place long before
capitalism existed) but labor contracts involving
capitalist middlemen who appropriate a portion of the
value produced by workers - in other words, wage
labour. Nozick's example is merely a direct labor
contract between the producer and the consumer. It
does not involve any capitalist intermediary taking a
percentage of the value created by the producer."

Thus, although the brain surgeon might be wealthier and use his mind more
than most employees of the HMO, only the latter are considered agents of
exploitation, because it's not superficially obvious what value they
create. This point was repeatedly emphasized by my economically brain-dead
sociology prof when we covered Marx. Apparently, union lawyers (but not
corporate) are also producers of value. Go figure.

J. Goard,
e-gold account #100592 (
The Beyond outside us is indeed swept away, and the
great undertaking of the Enlightenment complete;
but the Beyond *inside* us has become a new heaven
and calls us to renewed heaven-storming.
                                      --Max Stirner

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