Using Technology to Deepen Democracy, Using Democracy to Ensure Technology Benefits Us All

Monday, July 25, 2011

Every Libertopian Mistakes Being Born On Third Base As Hitting A Triple

Upgraded and Adapted from the Moot:

Notice that Kent indulges, by the way, in the usual projection...

The self-nominated "producers" appropriate the historical archive, the commons, their indebtedness to their fellows (usually derided as "parasites," as gentle Kent would have it) and then pretend they create these goods as rugged individuals, as it were ab initio. To an important extent Kent is able to decry the redistribution of wealth via progressive taxation as "looting" only because he denies first of all the extent to which the initial distribution of wealth itself testifies non-negligibly to something like looting. (To say "initial distribution" rather than "production" is to register the collaborative/contestatory dimension of all production, and is not a confusion so much as a conspicuous compensation for the hyper-individualist terms through which we have come "commonsensically" to misconstrue production.)

In King's terms, "We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny." This is not to deny altogether the justice of an unequal distribution of result given the unequal distribution of effort, luck, talent, desire, and so on that shapes that result. Democracy values equity-in-diversity, not homogeneity, and not all fortunes are inevitably unjust by any means (nor is the lack of conventional wealth the measure of misfortune for all of us).

The progressive taxation of those who benefit most from the physical infrastructure and ecosystemic services (public goods and services and commons whose private provision or allocation involve the violent externalization of social costs and risks) as well as those who benefit most from the maintenance and improvement of the ritual infrastructure of laws, norms, codes, and the atmosphere of trust (institutions for the nonviolent adjudication of disputes which must be equitably accessible to function legitimately) on which all private flourishing and for-profit enterprise depend, after all, makes perfect sense.

However, there is no perfect "planned" allocation of a more just distribution (market sensitive socialists took up Mises on this point generations ago, Keynesians never had to, they were already on it). There are and always will be ineradicable and legitimate differences as to what should be valued in respect to what else. This is a dimension of the diversity democracy cherishes after all.

Therefore, the sensible progressive taxation of those who benefit most from society (and among whom concentrations of wealth can imperil the proper function of that society to the longer-term ruin of all) should fund those general welfare programs which function to ensure that the scene of consent to enterprise be as genuinely informed and nonduressed as may be. This outcome is simply defined away by libertopians by fiat -- hence their faith in the "non-initiation of force" usually functions as a rationale for enforced exploitation disavowing the fraud, misinformation, and threat of violence on which it depends to maintain its hierarchy.

Just as libertopians pretend that the market is a spontaneous upwelling of tidal forces of supply and demand rather than a historically contingent tissue of treaties, customs, infrastructural articulations, and police forces, so too they assume initial and ongoing exploitation as "natural" or "merited" and then decry as looting, theft, or force any resistance to the violence of the status quo in the service of equity-in-diversity.

I do not provide these formulations for Kent -- Kent is a clown, Kent is not available to this sort of re-thinking of his reassuring pieties. I provide this for those who read his little snit, take in the slogans (familiar through incessant repetition across the spectrum from libertarians, conservatives, to neoliberals), and are lulled by their familiar cadences into the usual uncritical suicidal haze.

1 comment:

Martin said...

This outcome is simply defined away by libertopians by fiat -- hence their faith in the "non-initiation of force" usually functions as a rationale for enforced exploitation disavowing the fraud, misinformation, and threat of violence on which it depends to maintain its hierarchy...

[T]hey assume initial and ongoing exploitation as "natural" or "merited" and then decry as looting, theft, or force any resistance to the violence of the status quo in the service of equity-in-diversity."


Exactly. I love the rhetoric they use to justify that exploitation. They are "job creators", after all, and since the horrible salaries and working conditions that they offer to indigent people allow those people to put food on the table, and even afford a teevee!, that somehow they are helping them.

Never mind the fact that the hyper-market forces they cherish are the cause of that indigence. Sure, desperate people will do desperate things, but don't pretend you're helping someone when your policies put them there in the first place.

But actually, isn't that part of the plan? Horde enough wealth and people will volunteer for exploitation.