Posts tagged statism.
A zoo animal can switch cages, that’s not the same as being free.
Milkman at work after a German raid, London, 9 October 1940.
And then people ask: “Why prefer markets to the state?”
According to Hayek’s epistemological argument it is impossible to record and rationally plan for the overall satisfaction of every individual’s expressed preferences.
I concede that this may be true for a capitalist system in which ‘the good’ is good because (and for no other reason) individuals desire it, whatever it should be. If normative and epistemic sovereignty is to be equated with the bizarre, facile and wasteful consumption practices currently existing in capitalist society, then an anarchic, uncontrollable pricing mechanism might be the only effective means of acheiving this end. But a rationally planned socialist economy need not be concerned with maintaining exactly the same kind of pattern of consumption choices as those generated in capitalist society. It would, no doubt, entail a revision of what currently passes for ‘free choice’ and ‘autonomy’—but this has always been one of the principal aims of socialism.
——Nigel Pleasants (1997) “The epistemological argument against Socialism: A Wittgensteinian critique of Hayek and Giddens” Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy, 40:1, 23-45
This is one of most bizarre articles I’ve ever in an academic journal. Central planning can work great because Nigel knows what’s good for you better than you do. The genuinely funny conclusion is a defense of a belief in socialism by direct and explicit analogy to religious belief. Wittgenstein said that a belief in God didn’t need to be scientifically justified, so it is with socialism! Take that, Hayek! … I’m not kidding. This is the final sentence of the article:
Just as the existence of God is not an hypothesis in need of empirical testing, so the possibility and desirability of socialism—or the inevitability of capitalism—is not a state of affairs to settle via a philosophical or social-scientific theory: ’you can fight, hope and even believe without believing scientifically’ (Witt…).
The Jewish one should be lower and the Muslim one higher, but yeah.
For instance, take dating, marriage and family.
In any reasonably free society, these activities do not fall in the realm of political coercion.
No government agency chooses who you are to marry and have children with, and punishes you with jail for disobeying their rulings. Voluntarism, incentive, mutual advantage – dare we say “advertising”? – all run the free market of love, sex and marriage.
What about your career? Did a government official call you up at the end of high school and inform you that you were to become a doctor, a lawyer, a factory worker, a waiter, an actor, a programmer – or a philosopher? Of course not. You were left free to choose the career that best matched your interests, abilities and initiative.
What about your major financial decisions? Each month, does a government agent come to your house and tell you exactly how much you should save, how much you should spend, whether you can afford that new couch or old painting? Did you have to apply to the government to buy a new car, a new house, a plasma television or a toothbrush?
No, in all the areas mentioned above – love, marriage, family, career, finances – we all make our major decisions in the complete absence of direct political coercion.
Thus – if anarchy is such an all-consuming, universal evil, why is it the default – and virtuous – freedom that we demand in order to achieve just liberty in our daily lives?
If the government told you tomorrow that it was going to choose for you where to live, how to earn your keep, and who to marry – would you fall to your knees and thank the heavens that you have been saved from such terrible anarchy – the anarchy of making your own decisions in the absence of direct political coercion?
I’m that guy stepping off the board.
Won’t you join me?
This is an excellent essay by one of my favorite Tumblrers http://whakatikatika.tumblr.com/
He won a fat check and a trip to meet with the Hans-Adam II, the reigning Prince of Liechtenstein, who is ironically an anarchist at heart.
Read the essay. Follow the man.