Foreign Policy and the Knowledge Problem

Many try to measure foreign policy by its stated humanitarian aims, seeing the variables of intervention as the best means for securing the livelihoods of particular subaltern populations. However such a view makes a massive assumption, that being the capability of states/militaries to aggregate the levels of on-the-ground social and cultural knowledge. This knowledge problem (generally identified with economic knowledge by Hayek) is not simply overcome by abstract reasoning that is related to things such as human rights or democracy. It can only be overcome by either a huge institutional and demographic shift amongst the effected populations (genocide, displacement, imposed borders, etc.) or by the integration of local populaces into mutualistic mechanisms of governance. Continue reading

Voting isn’t a Civic Duty

With the recent election here in the UK, we see the barrage of comments that regularly follow it. It entails saying something along the lines of “if you don’t vote you can’t complain”. A statement so stupid and banal that it doesn’t deserve the credit it is given. Now that’s not to say you shouldn’t vote. Frankly I don’t care either way, and I’ll only vote if there is a candidate in my constituency worth voting for. But what frustrates me about this statement is the equivocation of voting with some kind of existential meaning, as if voting is the apotheosis of civic or political engagement. Continue reading

Corbyn Sits Firmly Within the Overton Window

While much is made of Jeremy Corbyn’s radical proposals, making him out to be a member of the far-left, the bulk of his policies fit well within the wider the capitalist framework of politico-economic understandings. His support for things like financial passporting, piecemeal nationalisation and some form of freedom of movement are policies well within the Overton window of accepted political opinion, despite the radical rhetoric that surrounds them. The idea that these things are somehow at odds with capitalism is frankly laughable, and usually presented by individuals who view the machinations of socialism or communism as purely connected to the state. Continue reading

Jeremy Corbyn is a Victim of Ideology

Since the general election has been called, the turgid slogan of strong and stable has been trotted out by the Conservatives, supposedly contrasting with a ‘coalition of chaos’ represented by Jeremy Corbyn. In this regard, Corbyn is seen as a useless and failed opposition leader. Such a view seems to be widely held by other elements of the political and media classes, as a quick Google search shows. Thus every political proposal in this election, despite their innate popularity, is kept within this narrative of uselessness. Even with internal party disparity, the lack of an electoral infrastructure and a young, inexperienced base, every electoral problem and Labour Party debacle is firmly placed on Corbyn’s shoulders. This seeming uniformity of opinion can cause concern amongst Corbyn’s supporters, posing the question: why is Corbyn consistently portrayed in this manner? Is it a rational perspective, or are there other narratives that belie this view. Continue reading

It’s a Matter of Scale and Control

The mantra of Brexit has been ‘take back control’. As seen with Nick Clegg’s piece on Brexit voters in Ebbw Vale, Wales a few months ago, such a mantra still holds significant importance. In this ‘dying town’, as it was described, we see the real effects of deindustrialisation and the limitation of employment opportunities that have come from this, as residents feel that their woes are due to the spectre of EU bureaucracy, which is faceless and unaccountable. Taking a wider perspective, I think many of these voters see the move from deindustrialisation to a “wage-subsidy” economy (that is fixated on flexible work, the decoupling of wages from productivity and the use of the welfare state to subsidise low-wages) as blameable upon the developments of globalisation, of which the EU happens to be the most representative case to many of these people. The new Speenhamland system that has been developed removes control from both the worker and the self-employed person, favouring a cartelised economy where employers are subsidised either through tax credits and a multiplicitous welfare system, or through the minimum wage which acts as a technocratic barrier to entry (favouring larger employers who can afford this overhead cost). Continue reading

Cleaning the Muddied Waters of Anarchy

An interesting post. I agree with the author on the economic front. Without states (or at least without states in their current form) the capability to develop any universalisable system such as capitalism would be practically impossible. However, going from their analysis I think the most fruitful ventures for anarchist theory is to begin looking at the overdetermined nature of all current governing structures, including states, much as Proudhon did in his later life. This can recognise the innate plurality of socio-economic activity, and thus advocate a organic mutuality within this complex plurality. (by the blog author)


by Will Schnack

http://evolutionofconsent.com/?p=1620 Continue reading

Contra Musk: There are Other Futures Besides a Governmental UBI

by Nick Ford

http://abolishwork.com/2017/02/10/contra-musk-futures-besides-ubi/

You’ve likely heard of Elon Musk, he’s a huge venture capitalist who helps run companies such as Tesla, SpaceX and SolarCity. Being such a huge name in the tech industry and especially Silicon Valley the things he has to say about the future of…well anything, is likely to garner some attention.

Back in November, Musk stated that:

“There is a pretty good chance we end up with a universal basic income, or something like that, due to automation,” says Musk to CNBC. “Yeah, I am not sure what else one would do. I think that is what would happen.”

Continue reading

Kropotkin, Self-Valorization and the Crisis of Marxism

by Harry Cleaver

https://libcom.org/library/kropotkin-self-valorization-crisis-marxism

Kropotkin, Self-valorization And The Crisis Of Marxism Options
Abstract The collapse of the socialist states and the ongoing crisis of Western capitalism -both brought on by pervasive grassroots opposition- demands a reconsideration of the issue of the transcendance of contemporary society by anarchists and Marxists of all stripes. Such a reconsideration should include a reexamination of the thinking of earlier revolutionaries as well as of their experiences within past social upheavals. Continue reading

Degrees of Complexity

This article is a follow on from my previous essay on the false narratives of Brexit and the wider meta-political discourses that it has shrouded. It also looks to add to some of the arguments Chris Dillow presents in his article on plebiscitary politics.

The world as it currently exists, despite the attempts at universalisable discourses and the production of narratives that are black and white in their dichotomies, is extremely complex and full of varying degrees of socio-economic knowledge. A full calculatory system that can aggregate these variable forms of knowledge and processes is practically impossible, as was seen in the failures of state socialism and in the many failures of capitalism (which requires continual subsidy to exist). These are the most important lessons of Hayek and Mises, but also the most ignored. Utopian thinking of a top-down kind continues to exist, with everyone from neoliberals to modern leftists believing that everyone is rational or believers in the universal. Things like parochialism, gaps in knowledge and complexity are tacitly ignored. Continue reading

The Paradoxes of Plebiscites

by Chris Dillow

http://stumblingandmumbling.typepad.com/stumbling_and_mumbling/2017/04/the-paradoxes-of-plebiscites.html

In pointing out that re-joining the EU will be damnably difficult, Simon reminds us of the massive difference between representative democracy and plebiscitary politics.

One great virtue of representative democracy is that it allows for mistakes to be corrected. Wrong’uns can be booted out of office and bad policies can usually be reversed*. Under plebiscites, it is not so. These reveal the “will of the people” which must be obeyed. Whereas representative democracy is a system of checks and balances, plebiscites are battles of wills in which the victor wins permanently. As Mrs Thatcher said, plebiscites are “a device of dictators and demagogues.” Continue reading