Monday, March 27, 2006

In which the godless commie throws in his lot with the capitalist running dogs

I've just added my name to an open letter to the people of France over at Brad Spangler's blog.

Spangler is supporting the students who have been demonstrating for the past few weeks, over a new proposed law that will allow employers to fire workers with little or no reason given during their first two years of employment. In France, job security is government-mandated, but getting a job in the first place is bloody hard. The idea of the new law is to encourage more hiring, because firing will be easier if a situation changes for a business.

Obviously, a lot of employers are going to abuse this law, by hiring and firing people within the two-year limit, then hiring again. It will save them having to keep the employees long term and give them little things like proper benefits and pensions. Hiring lots of new employees is also a tactic widely used everywhere to stave off unionization drives.

A few things of note: I consider myself a socialist, Spangler is an anarcho-capitalist. The letter encourages genuine free-market reforms and revolution in France. So why is Spangler supporting the students and workers on strike? Why sign on?

Here's a bit of the text of the letter:
Students and Workers of France,

Professor Roderick Long once wrote:

“When Marx called the French government ‘a joint-stock company for the exploitation of France’s national wealth’ on behalf of the bourgeois elite and at the expense of production and commerce (’Class Struggles in France’), he was only echoing what libertarians had been saying for decades.”

France and all other nation-states remain so today. You and we live in a world where freedom and economic opportunity exist only at the sufferance of a political class that allows us only some small amount of them for sake of their own convenience and take the rest from us by force and coercion for sake of their own parasitism.

Under such circumstances, state-sponsored market liberalization is a cruel joke. The legislation you protest and rebel against seeks only to increase the latitude given your overseers, while maintaining the overall restrictions on your own liberty that, if abolished, would empower you to seek your own prosperity. We believe you and we would be very good at that, mixing both cooperation and peaceful competition, if we were not slaves.

Spangler insists he is a capitalist, but he's of the agorist school of anarcho-capitalism, the one that has managed to work its way almost back into individualist anarchism. Along with many of the signatories, Spangler is a self-proclaimed member of the Movement of the Libertarian Left, which has been reaching out with an olive branch to the Old and New Left for several decades now. So, in the spirit of solidarity, I have signed his letter.

Which leads to the perfect opportunity to write something I've been thinking about for a while: my socialism includes capitalism.

In a free world, there will be people who choose to compete for their daily bread, and those who choose to cooperate. I am one of the latter, but I categorically refuse to aim a gun at anyone's head and insist that he or she join me. I would prefer to rely on non-market means of acquiring my food, shelter and health care, not because I think markets are inherently evil, but because I don't particularly trust them. If others wants to put their well being at the mercy of the invisible hand, that is entirely their business, and I wish them luck.

I'm hoping to expand on this in a future post. But next up will be a review of what I consider the other great anarchist comic book series.

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