We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Samizdata quote of the day

Private businesses very seldom mount a principled defence of their behaviour. This is why libertarians like to stress that they are pro-market and not pro-business. Business people, being self-interested like anybody else, will attempt to make the most of the circumstances and the majority of them won’t hesitate in accepting legal privilege; indeed many lobby aggressively for it.

Alberto Mingardi

18 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • Fraser Orr

    Speaking for myself, I am not even pro market. What I am is pro freedom. What I am is pro “get your nose out of my business”. What I am is pro “if two people make an arrangement it is none of the government’s damn business what it is.”

    Pro market is just a consequence of that belief. Not because it is more effective, even though it is, not because it is more productive, even though it is, not because it allocates scarce resources more efficiently, even though it does. Simply because private arrangements between people should be nobody else’s business.

    I don’t like the word “capitalism”. I think it is a tool used by collectivists to pretend that it is an economic system rather than a measure of taking choices away from people. Capitalism isn’t about capital, it is about freedom. Conceding the word to the collectivists is to give up the ethical and moral high ground of freedom. It is to treat Capitalism as if it is just another choice off the list of “Keynesianism” or “Mercantilism” or “Communism”.

  • Paul Marks

    To some extent a business executive is tied – as if they turn down a favour from government the stockholders can sue them for destroying shareholder value.

    For some reason when the head of a company bankrupts it as a favour to the government (this really happens for example Sir Victor Blank, head of Lloyds Bank, took over “HBOS”, as a favour to his friend Prime Minister Gordon Brown, knowing that to do so would bankrupt Lloyds and lead to a partial government take over of what had been a fairly sound bank) the shareholders are declared to have no case against their employee – which is what the even highest manager is.

    “You do not own this freaking place” should be painted all over the walls of the office of company CEOs and so on.

    Where the top managers really do own the place, such as the “boo-hiss” brothers Koch the situation is different.

    For example Charles and David Koch have repeatedly said they support getting rid of the government “Export Bank” (and all such government obscenities) – even though their company could benefit from its activities.

  • lucklucky

    Precisely. Most capitalists turn to socialists when they get a dominant position.

  • Deep Lurker

    This distinction goes all the way back to Adam Smith:

    People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices. It is impossible, indeed, to prevent such meetings, by any law which either could be executed, or would be consistent with liberty and justice. But though the law cannot hinder people of the same trade from sometimes assembling together, it ought to do nothing to facilitate such assemblies, much less to render them necessary.

  • Rich Rostrom

    lucklucky @ September 1, 2016 at 10:41 pm:

    Most capitalists turn to socialists when they get a dominant position.

    Rubbish. Most capitalists seek to use state power in their own interests (at the expense of others) when they get a dominant position.

    This is not socialism. Calling it so is as vulgar an error as when leftists refer to it as “capitalism”.

    Socialism is the general confiscation and redistribution of wealth; also state ownership of capital invested in “the means of production”, allegedly on behalf of the people. Both of these practices are very bad ideas; but they are not the same as using state power for the enrichment of friends of the government.

  • Jacob

    “but they are not the same as using state power for the enrichment of friends of the government.”

    They are not the same in theory – in words – they are the same in practice.
    The socialists SAY that they want to nationalize ( = loot) private enterprises for the good of “the people”. What happens in practice is that these assets are run by cronies (politically appointed managers) for their own good and that of the power holders who nominated them.

    You must make a distinction between words or theories and facts or practice.

  • Alisa

    Nope, Rich has it right: people always act in their self-interest, often to the detriment of others – that is the default human nature and condition. But that is not socialism – as socialism is either an ideology (not subscribed to by everyone by default, not even by a majority anywhere), or a public policy (not supported by everyone by default either, with results and consequences being quite different as well).

  • Socialism is the general confiscation and redistribution of wealth

    Not always, so I must agree with Jacob. Not all socialism is Marxist socialism. National Socialism in Germany left many of the means of production in private hands. Messerschmitt was an actual company, not a direct state adjunct design bureau like Ilyushin … under National Socialism you were free to use your land, labour and capital, and profit from them… provided you did it in a way that was in accordance with National Objectives. So you are in nominal control as long as you make the ‘correct’ decisions. A bit like modern ‘nudge’ regulatory statism, but with gas chambers.

  • Alisa

    That was not what lucklucky was referring to though, Perry – he was simply saying that when a business gets big enough, its owners/managers begin using the force of government to advance their narrow interests at the expense of others. He also implied that this fact makes them socialists (I know, he probably meant in practice, which was also what Jacob was saying) – which it does not, at least not necessarily.

  • Alisa

    Regarding the Nazi Germany and despite the name of the Party, it was not socialist, it was fascist. As it often happens, when socialists come to power, they do not always implement any of the socialist doctrines – for various reasons. I don’t know if Hitler himself or any of his cronies preferred socialism to fascism – probably at least some of them did. But be that as it may, it still does not mean that their regime was by definition socialist.

  • it was not socialist, it was fascist

    As Hayek rather unpopularly pointed out during WW2, Fascism is just a form of non-Marxist socialism.

  • Alisa

    And he was possibly correct – but then (and if we truly want to get into a discussion of semantics) we should retire either one, or even both of these terms. We would base that on the fact that all modern regimes have been fascist to various degrees, and by Hayek’s definition that would make them socialist. Words either have distinctive meanings, or they don’t.

    In any case and to remind you and everyone again: lucklucky was not referring to regimes, he was referring to individual businessmen becoming socialists. I remain in full agreement with Rich about that being grossly incorrect. FWIW, it was probably no more than a poor choice of words on lucklucky’s part, but the point still stands.

  • Jacob

    ” it was not socialist, it was fascist”
    That is a distinction without a difference in practice.
    The difference is mostly in different rhetoric of the practitioners less in what they actually do.

    If, when saying “socialism” you mean “socialist theory”, or “ideology” – it is somewhat distinct from fascism. Most people, when using the term “socialism” refer indeed to the ideology.
    The practical outcome is very different from the theoretical claims made, and quite similar in both cases.
    But even in theory, both – socialism and fascism share one fundamental premise: collectivism. The individual and his rights are discarded by both. They are, therefore not so very distinct ideologies.

    “Most capitalists turn to socialists when they get a dominant position.”
    It would be more correct to say “turn to fascists”. And, most capitalists never were libertarians (or individualists), anyway, so they don’t “turn” into anything new.

  • Fraser Orr

    “Most capitalists turn to socialists when they get a dominant position.”

    Again, this is why I dislike the word “capitalist”. I don’t know where we get this idea that people who run businesses are naturally free marketers. People who run businesses are just a subset of “people” and, AFAIK, aren’t any more pro freedom than your average Joe/Jane in the street.

    Certainly they favor freedom to do what they want to do, but so does everyone. They seem no more likely to favor stopping people from doing what they don’t want done. And the very essence of freedom, its bargain, is “I’ll leave you the hell alone if you leave me the hell alone.” Everyone favors the first, very few favor the latter.

    To that end, I think what is observable behavior is that the smaller the business the more “pro free market” they are, and that is simply because you have to be big enough to buy government favors. If you can’t buy government favors then you rail against those that do.

    I think it is really a ploy by the left. They want to associate what is essentially fascism with the right, so that when free marketers call them communists they can call them Fascists right back. It is why there is so much danger in allowing unchallenged statements suggesting that the Nazis or Mussolini, or neo Nazis were/are extreme right wingers, when they were exactly the opposite.

    As far as I can see the word “fascist” means “oppressive government system different than the oppressive government system that I favor.”

    I would appeal to you all to consider eschewing the word “capitalism”. It really is used as a weapon against freedom lovers. How much better to advocate for free and voluntary exchange over something abstract like “capitalism”.

  • Brad

    Precisely. Most capitalists turn to socialists when they get a dominant position.

    Very easily seen in the 1890’s-1910’s USA. Interests demanded of government that the monopolies be broken up. which they were. Those interests swooped in to grab a share, and then a decade and a half later, now that THEY were big wigs, felt the next logical (government enforced) action was to establish guilds amongst themselves to eliminate that nasty, corrosive “competition”. They didn’t get them immediately, but we’ve now got pretty much that.

    So, the rubber meeting the road is Force. Force to be used to dislodge economic position or Force to protect economic position, neither of which originating from their own mental and/or physical labor. The most reprehensible of people are those who wait for someone else to use their wits and their brawn to make greater from lesser, use (or contract) Force against them, and once they have gained “title”, they expect that Force will be used against others endeavoring to do the same thing.

  • Brad

    I think a lot of semantics of the -isms clears up when it is fathomed that Marxism and Fascism and Fabianism all spring at the root from ROMANTICISM. From the Paleo-Romantics of the late 1700’s forging into the movements of the 1840’s, and solidified into Marxism and Fascism as we knew/know them into the 20th century. It takes a whole lot of mental masturbation over your ideals to blandly use Force against others, the type the Romantics, with their extra leisure time, partook of so much in the early 1800’s. The curse of industrialization is that it simultaneously created vast increases in wealth but also the idleness of hands (and minds) of those who don’t have any idea how the revolution came about. Those who produced nothing were left with so much time to justify taking what others had produced. And feeling morally superior about it. It’s where we at today, with so much wealth and relative ease, there’s such a vast cauldron of parasites endlessly attacking the productive sector. Not to get too Ayn Rand over it, but it’s nearly killed the host. We’re left with a calcified set of states filled with grifters using Force. Left, Right, Liberal, Conservative, et al will soon be outmoded terms. There will be Force used by the Entitled against the Producers and semantics will be moot.

  • lucklucky

    Alisa and Rich. The idea depends on how broad how we think Socialism idea is for any of us.

    Rich if you don’t want call them Socialists then you should not call them Capitalists either since being self serving apparently do not have an ideology.

    “As Hayek rather unpopularly pointed out during WW2, Fascism is just a form of non-Marxist socialism.”

    Fascism is a branch of Marxism. Like Communism is another branch of Marxism.

    How to explain this in 1943/44 as if not Marxist influence in Fascism: https://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Socializzazione_dell'economia

    For those with difficulties translating, it was the objective of Fascists to not have salaried(In Marxist parlance= exploited) citizens. All citizens should own the companies they worked for.

    Note that in 1943 is precisely when the conservative Monarchy stops having influence over Fascists.

  • Paul Marks

    Some people who run business enterprises believe in freedom and some do not.

    We may think it odd that someone who has created a great enterprise should believe in statism – but some do.

    And some do not.