9 October 2015

Reason gets schooled by C4SS... again

The Blog

Anti-statist commentator and theorist Kevin Carson has once again gone after Reason for the magazine's dogmatic adherence to neoliberal ideology. This ideology plagues the publication's understandings of innovation and competition, conflating them with American chauvinism and the asinine claims to "intellectual property" advanced by corporations that lack any merit or intellect.

In an op-ed at Reason, writer Stephanie Slade appealed to the increasingly politicized 'people's Pope' Francis to "embrace capitalism" if he really wants to improve the lot of the world's poor. Commenting upon this in a response at the Center for a Stateless Society (C4SS), Carson ridicules Slade's assertion that “markets and globalization have lifted billions out of poverty and lessened global inequality”, correcting Slade that what exists is not a market but a system of global expropriation, conquest and chauvinism advanced by governments.

Carson contends that Slade is as ignorant of basic economic facts as she accuses the much-praised Pontifex. The global corporate economy is no free market, he points out. Rather, it is the end result of five hundred years of what Carson calls "colonialism, robbery and enslavement". This is perhaps a reference to the theory of the capitalist world-economy advanced by historical social scientist Immanuel Wallerstein, which sees the start of the conquest of the Americas by European armies as roughly the beginning of modern-day capitalism.

Far from being based upon freedom or real innovation, current "capitalism" is based instead on ruthless ownership and protection of property by gangs of thugs and brutal armed regimes masquerading as "democracies". No-one actually earned such property, and instead such ownership can solely be traced back to criminality, racism and class antagonism, Carson implies.

In Carson's own dramatic phrasing, we may understand the historic truth as follows:
Most of the minerals, farm land and petroleum reserves of the world continue to be held by the heirs and assigns of the original robbers — a giant, bleeding, arterial wound on the body of the global South that transnational corporations feast on like vampires. So global capitalism as we know it was founded on the violation of property rights. Talk of “inviolability” amounts to the robber saying “No more stealing, starting — NOW!”
Even supposing Pope Francis' ignorance of economics is fact, Carson concludes, an economics columnist like Stepahnie Slade at a publication as respected as Reason should know better than to recycle fallacies about intellectual property being somehow responsible for freedom. In reality, intellectual property is a form of protectionism, which does nothing more than slow down and prevent innovation.

If we assume that Slade is right about capitalism uplifting a billion from poverty, it remains a fact that it could be done faster if we had removed the suffocating and retarding enforcement of intellectual property laws by states.

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