Re: capitalist religion (was: NANO: _Forbes_ cover story)

From: Mike Lorrey (
Date: Sun Jul 22 2001 - 09:05:58 MDT

Russell Blackford wrote:
> Barbara said
> >This definition ,of capitalism> is not very useful without definitions for
> >"private
> >decision" and "state control." Clearly, this definition assumes that the
> >practice of capitalism is consistent within the jurisdiction of a political
> >state, since the definition includes ownership of capital goods by
> >corporations, which are creations of the state.
> Exactly so, which is why I keep querying whether a pure libertarian
> political philosophy can allow for *corporate* capitalism.
> >Although the distinction between state and corporation is clear where the
> >corporation is very small (in terms of resources controlled) relative to
> >the
> >state, the distinction becomes much less clear when corporations are as
> >large or larger than the state under whose laws they're registered.
> >
> >"Minarchism" might be a more useful term than "capitalism," but I believe
> >that even minarchists would allow the existence of corporations.
> Well, I'm not sure they all do. I can't verify this quickly, but I think
> you'll find that Mike Lorrey is not the only libertarian thinker who reasons
> that corporations can't be allowed coz there is no justification for the
> state to have the power to bequeath corporate privileges on trading
> associations (Mike: I *assume* that is what you were saying is essentially
> your position; correct me if I've misread you).

Generally, though I don't wish to 'ban' anything in a libertarian world.
Any company may seek to purchase such liability protection from its
insurance provider. The obvious costs of such protection would likely
price the premiums rather high, especially with products of dubious
risk, and obviously, insurance based liability protections would likely
have much more fair means to get at the company's assets, with codocils
in the insurance contracts that refuse to cover instances of fraud,
deception, etc...

> >It would probably be useful to examine the various characteristics of
> >corporations (perpetual existence, limited liability, management separate
> >from ownership, etc.) to see which of these tend to undermine truly free
> >markets.
> Well, I'm not sure what it means to say that they "undermine free markets".
> They have the effect though, that the market becomes one involving these
> legally fictionally entities as players, and this has various disadvantages.
> However, it also has the advantage of facilitating large accumulations of
> private wealth, which (admittedly) has disadvantages of its own but seems to
> be good for economic growth and technological progress. I say "seems"
> because I've not come across any literature that tries to analyse the likely
> economic and technological effects of forcing trading associations to
> operate essentially as partnerships, with individuals having liability for
> debts etc - ie associations with none of the characteristics of corporations
> that you mentioned. I'd be interested if anyone on the list knows something
> about this.

Its the unacknowledged part of 'to each according to his needs'. Someone
who has proven exceptional skills at managing capital should be given
control of that capital. Furthermore, I have yet to see anyone, still,
contest my assertions about the individual's right to the product of
their labor being the basis of capital accumulation, and that
confiscation of saved labor by the state is slavery.

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