Plutocracy

The Wikipedia entry on Plutocracy begins:

Plutocracy (from Greek πλοῦτος, ploutos, meaning “wealth”, and κράτος, kratos, meaning “power, dominion, rule”), also known as plutonomy or plutarchy, defines a society or a system ruled and dominated by the small minority of the top wealthiest citizens. The first known use of the term is 1652. Unlike systems such as democracy, capitalism, socialism or anarchism, plutocracy is not rooted in an established political philosophy and has no formal advocates. The concept of plutocracy may be advocated by the wealthy classes of a society in an indirect or surreptitious fashion, though the term itself is almost always used in a pejorative sense.

As befits theoretical virgin territory, this definition provokes a few rough-cut thoughts.

(1) Assuming, not unrealistically, that Plutocracy designates something beyond a fantastic idea, it is immediately obvious that its identification as a type of political regime will almost inevitably mislead. Plutocratic power does not begin in the political arena, and its political expression is unlikely to capture its nature at the quick. Insofar as the image of a ‘Plutocratic government’ associates Plutocracy with a cabal, it is not only insensitive to the real phenomenon, but positively falsifying.

(2) If there have been plutocrats, worthy of the name, they were the  ‘Robber Barons’ of mid- late-19th century America. Progressivism has so thoroughly re-written the history of this period, that it is hard today to appreciate what took place. The destruction of their epoch was no less foundational for what followed than the ideological decapitation of kings was for the subsequent age of popular government.

(3) Plutocrats were monopolists because they created entirely new industrial structures roughly from scratch. Their monopolism was the effective rule of the new, and demonstrably achieved. There was no ‘oil industry’ before John D. Rockefeller brought one into being — making it exist was the foundation of his economic sovereignty.

(4) Between the plutocrats, which is in fact to say between the sovereigns of distinct industrial sectors, relations were ultra-competitive, to an extent unmatched in history. Intra-sectoral competition, of the kind considered normal by progressive-influenced market theorists, was dramatically over-shadowed by the inter-sectoral competition of the plutocrats. (To conceive ‘normal’ economic competition as a dynamic restricted to the domain of inter-changeable commodities is already to succumb to progressive-statist domestication.)

(5) The plutocrats waged economic war across the entire sphere of production, innovating opportunities for competition where these were not already evident. Opening new fronts of economic conflict where they did not already exist was among the most profound drivers of dynamic, radically transformative change. Plutocratic economic conflict created competition. (Rockefeller invented the oil pipeline to compete with the railroads — an outflanking maneuver that was not predictable, outside the conflict in process.)

(6) Plutocrats exemplify the natural right to rule in modernity. Their right is natural because it is earned — or really demonstrated — a fact no monarch or mob can match. Within plutocracy, power is creation. Outside the tenets of theology, can this be illustrated anywhere else?

ADDED: “It bothers me that Elon Musk, Paul Graham, and others like them do not have official title as nobles.”

November 6, 2013admin 58 Comments »
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58 Responses to this entry

  • nyan_sandwich Says:

    >No formal advocates

    http://www.overcomingbias.com/2011/02/our-worthy-overlords.html

    http://rationalconspiracy.com/2012/06/17/in-defense-of-plutocracy/

    I, for one, would bend the knee.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    Thanks — I’ll follow those up.

    [Reply]

    Posted on November 6th, 2013 at 5:28 pm Reply | Quote
  • Dax Says:

    Do you believe Bill Gates became rich, not because of the natural monopoly status of MS-DOS (enabled by IBM shipping it with its PC), but because MS-DOS was a superior operating system, and that Windows became dominant, not because of Microsoft’s prior dominance with MS-DOS, but because it was a superior user interface?

    There are people that want the rest of us to believe that there is no such thing as the network effect at work in economies, centralizing wealth for no particularly good reason and locking into place horrors like Microsoft. The reason they want us to believe this is that they think they might end up with a network effect on their side someday — sort of like a gambling addict thinks they’ll hit the jackpot someday.

    What they miss is the fact that we did not agree to sign a contract with this casino they call “the economy” where we’ll bet our natural assets — the assets we could get if there were no laws and which we would fight to the death to obtain because we need them to stay alive and raise our children to viable adult hood.

    They believe also that the enormous centralization of wealth arising from the network effect doesn’t do damage to the investment climate by stripping demand out of the economy since — of course — investors like to invest in things for which there is no market! Just ask them. The first question out of their mouths will be “What’s the market for your business you want me to invest in?” But they’re only asking that because they’re Marxists or something.

    Bottom line, blood runs in the streets when people realize that this casino has stripped them of what they could have had in the absence of civilization. The question is, will it be their blood or the blood of those whose bloodlines they’ve terminated by stripping them of the resources with which to raise children to viable adulthood?

    [Reply]

    Scharlach Reply:

    Do you believe Bill Gates became rich, not because of the natural monopoly status of MS-DOS (enabled by IBM shipping it with its PC), but because MS-DOS was a superior operating system, and that Windows became dominant, not because of Microsoft’s prior dominance with MS-DOS, but because it was a superior user interface?

    Quibbling over “superior” interfaces and operating systems quickly devolves into geeky factionalism. The Silicon barons became rich because they found ways to both create a good product and create a monopoly for those products. It’s not one or the other. If MS-DOS and Windows were as shitty as you imply, something would have overshadowed them. The reality is, they were good enough that the systems which may have been better were only better in the eyes of the few geeks who could judge such fine granularities.

    Plutocrats were monopolists because they created entirely new industrial structures roughly from scratch.

    The personal computer industry did not exist before a handful of individuals began creating it, perhaps not from scratch, but close to it. And don’t start in on the history of computing. I know it. It’s a silly counter-argument. Eventually, you just get to that old joke about the guy who tells God he can create the universe anew from a speck of dust. To which God replies, “Get your own dust.”

    On a different note: I think that “creating wealth and industry from scratch” is a necessary ingredient for plutocrats to claim some semblance of legitimate rule and power. Even today, I sense that average Americans are much more likely to respect billionaires whose billions have come from value creation rather than value transference.

    [Reply]

    Posted on November 6th, 2013 at 9:15 pm Reply | Quote
  • VXXC Says:

    * They’re buying privilege. To begin with they have their own tax code. If ever one would wish to make headway with the general mass, teach them the Letter Of Tax Opinion.
    If you have at least $3 Million in disposable income, you proceed to a very White Law Shoe firm to have your own personal tax code drawn up. This is why our Tax code is over 72K pages [really] and ever growing, the IRS code itself is only a mere 15,000 pages.

    One is Rich and stays that way by being good with money.

    Patronize me, I shall patronize you, or it’s the IRS and Congress up your ass.

    *A campaign of words against Plutocracy amongst the madding, chattering classes means their masters wish money, usually for campaign coffers. That’s why you heard it a year ago, and you don’t hear it now. You’ll hear it again in a few months, ceterus paribus.

    *If my people may have their modest 19th century democracy, you may have your Plutocracy. As the House of Lords [when they were still Lords] balanced the Commons against the King and vice versa, so America’s “Robber Barons” [they weren’t, they were Builder Barons, one is the antithesis of the other] balanced their interests against the rising commons and the Executive.

    This arrangement is ancient. And not just English. It works.

    If you are convinced as an article of faith that any sort of self rule by the demos leads to looting, you may want to reflect if your still a progressive. I never was.

    You may also want to reflect who is actually looting .

    [Reply]

    Posted on November 6th, 2013 at 9:37 pm Reply | Quote
  • VXXC Says:

    Ah – I should mention my remarks above were of the now .

    I have nothing to disagree with in your post at all, very well put.

    That is what they did. I think we should call them Builder Barons, but we’d need to win a war or something for that to work.

    Is there anyone now who could give us UP ? . Now.

    [Reply]

    Posted on November 6th, 2013 at 9:48 pm Reply | Quote
  • Dan Says:

    These plutocrats have their big positives, but they should not receive worshipful praise.

    As mentioned above, network effects are huge. Only one company wins the EBay space, the Amazon space (mostly), the Oracle space, the Google space, the Facebook space. There lie people with unfathomable wealth, and in all instances, there was plenty of competition until the market settled on one winner with all the market share in each space. In every instance, the user network (or developer network and installation base for Oracle) is itself where the value comes from and the largest network has the most value and is the inevitable choice of each additional customer or user.

    But the winner could easily have been someone else. In China or Russia, the search engine or social networking megasite is completely different.

    Do we owe our happiness to Sergey Brin and Larry Page when a ton of good search engines were out there that could have gotten the job done? They have their reward and then some. They don’t need our love.

    In the case of Facebook, which gave us an open-borders-pushing zillionaire who is young enough to cause havoc for the next fifty years, I say better if Facebook had never existed.

    [Reply]

    Posted on November 6th, 2013 at 11:33 pm Reply | Quote
  • Dax Says:

    You don’t know shit, Scharlach. And it’s funny that you use imprecise terms like “value creation” and “value transference” which are often used by leftists, Marxists, and economic idiots in general to obscure the phenomena we’re dealing with here.

    The moment IBM made the decision to distribute MS DOS with its first PC, MS DOS could have been purchased under eminent domain by the government and reassigned to just about anyone in the software industry, and that person would have become the world’s richest man.

    Gates didn’t even write MS DOS. He merely brokered a deal based on information available only to a select few — involving his family connections.

    The fact that Gates added value to MS DOS after the deal with IBM is a silly rejoinder to my statement that reassignment of ownership of MS DOS to just about any software professional subsequent to the deal he brokered with IBM, would have resulted in that software professional becoming the world’s richest man.

    Just about any software professional would have added as much value to MS DOS, including building a vertical market using office productivity end users.

    The sole value of MS DOS, a substandard OS for the era in any case, was the economic rent stream it provided the owner based on third party dependence on it to operate on the same platform with other third party software — and that dependence was created by IBM’s ability to produce its PC in volume, not by anything Bill Gates contributed.

    The positive feedback that monopolizes the operating system market is pretty simple to understand. If you’re an application developer, you want the highest return for your investment. You have a choice of “platforms” to which you can write your application — meaning operating systems that can potentially run your application.

    You know customers don’t like to reboot to run applications so you write your application to run on the most widely deployed platform.

    IBM’s choice to distribute MS DOS with its first PC, and charge extra for other operating systems, is what led application developers to write use MS DOS.

    Windows 3.1 was a delayed reaction to the Macintosh and subsequent advances were reactions to others who had superior systems.

    In almost every case, Gates followed rather than led the other technical and market leaders, and used his monopolistic position to take over their niches. This is the classic case of economic rent destroying the marketplace and rewarding rent-seeking over innovation. It is an icon of the hypocrisy of the supposed “free market” that refuses to charge a fair fee, in the form of net asset taxation, for the use of property rights that would not exist in the absence of government’s legal infrastructure.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    (1) All the dynamics since the progressive era began are so skewed by government they don’t compare (without careful supplementary comment). Crony capitalism has very different characteristics to plutocracy.

    (2) Sure there are network effects. That doesn’t mean government can be trusted to adjudicate on the matter. It’s precisely the apparent impregnability of a monopoly that drives revolutionary innovation (from competitors). All the attempts to control Microsoft have been useless, at best. Business empires never last long in the wild.

    (3) The idea that ‘the people’ would have anything in the absence of rough, innovative business activity is sheer demagoguery. Without capitalism, any population speeds into the Malthusian limit, and then bumps around at the edge of starvation. I agree the contrary assumptions is a problem, but that’s because it’s a persistent, stupid idea (rooted in paleolithic neural wiring, and adaptation to sharing out dead mammoths).

    (4) Despite the peculiarities of the progressive policy context, the achievements of a Jeff Bezos or Elon Musk (for e.g.) utterly dwarf those of any Western political leader alive today. I’m not recommending “worshipful praise” — just the recognition that the modern leaders of greatest importance are to be found in the business sector.

    [Reply]

    Posted on November 7th, 2013 at 2:11 am Reply | Quote
  • Dax Says:

    You can’t simply hand-wave away network effects in the free market. When a guy like Bill Gates gets to sit on the potential of Moore’s Law and trash it for literally decades of 18 month doublings, we aren’t dealing with petty theft.

    And yes, I do mean THEFT because the tax base is not charging even approximately the costs of maintaining property rights — such as control of MS-DOS hence Windows — it is geared around taxing producers via the 16th Amendment.

    A rational market tax system would approximate a mutual insurance company for indemnification of loss of property value and guess what that means?

    Taxation of net in-place liquidation value at something like the risk free interest rate of modern portfolio theory.

    [Reply]

    Posted on November 7th, 2013 at 3:28 am Reply | Quote
  • Dax Says:

    “Capitalism” has degenerated into little more than network externality seeking. If you’re Bill Gates with IBM-seeded MS-DOS or Mark Zuckerberg with Harvard-seeded FaceBook, you don’t need brainy people — you just feed off of the network externalities of your property. Those are only the more obvious cases of a phenomenon that has corrupted the economics of the world.

    What you “need” once you have locked in your economic slave system is to be made to feel like you’re a good guy while you’re doing it. The skills that provide that kind of service are as old as court toadies who make you feel good about yourself while you fritter away billions on Africa and public schools in Newark.

    If you’re worried about Malthusianism, then you should worry about a “capitalism” that rewards network externality seeking. People are routinely deprived of assets by those who are worse at producing carrying capacity but may be able to “feed themselves” off the economic rent thereby accrued.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    What if there’s no solution to this problem that isn’t worse than the problem? That’s exactly what I think the long ‘progressive era’ has been about. The historical task that builds business titans is to anticipate a network no one has previously guessed at, milk it monopolistically in order to revolutionize the industrial structure as rapidly and radically as possible, and then to be displaced by a competitor, attacking from a quite different — equally unsuspected sector / network — cranking things to the next level.

    You seem to think this process could be smoothed by well-judged policy intervention. That doesn’t seem realistic to me.

    The Gates case shows how impotent policy is in these matters. Governments are too uniformed about both the specifics and the general principles of industrial revolution to involve themselves productively in the process (this quite irrespective of the Public Choice factors that make such interventions irredeemably toxic).

    [Reply]

    Posted on November 7th, 2013 at 3:33 am Reply | Quote
  • spandrell Says:

    Plutocracy is always a transient phenomenon. If they get their way, they’re just another hereditary oligarchy.
    If they don’t get their way, they weren’t plutocrats to begin with.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    If “transient” = churn, that’s good in my book. Optimum is for genius business titan to flare up, shock-and-awe the economy into profound reconstruction, then fall prey to the unanticipated (and metaphorical) dagger-thrust of a ruthless competitor within two decades.

    [Reply]

    spandrell Reply:

    What kind of plutocrat is one that loses power in 20 years? It doesn’t work like that. Rockefeller and Ford are still haunting us with their foundations. Gates will join them soon.

    I’m all for praising achievement, but praising the acquisition of money in itself? Some of it was earned through amazing business, some of it was ill-gained. As I said before Gates loses any dignity when he praises the business acumen of Carlos Slim.

    Or am I supposed to like Slim too? Because he kinda is the plutocrat.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    Who’s praising the acquisition of money in itself? It’s social leadership that’s in question — best exercised from the front lines of industrial revolution.

    Agree, of course, about the foundations (and horrible biological descendents), but those problems stem at least in part from a perceived need to consolidate legitimacy and reputation beyond the economic battlefield. It should be considered deeply shameful for a business titan to direct their wealth anywhere other than into techonomic acceleration. Resources that aren’t plowed into the intensification of capitalism are at least wasted, and most probably expended to the clear detriment of civilization.

    Richard James DeSocio Reply:

    Amen. Add to Gates and Ford, the name Clinton Foundation as the latest to link up with the Rockefeller web. Also MSNBC (microsoft+nbc) is located in Rockefeller Center. The Clinton Foundation has recently located to the Time-Life building in the Center. It was Time-Life which bought the rights to the Zapruder Film and hide it from the public eye for 18 years. I have just recently finished 30 years of research on the JFK assassination for the 50th anniversary. Read Rockefellerocracy: Kennedy Assassinations, Watergate and Monopoly of the “Philanthropic” Foundation, by yours truly, Richard James DeSocio.
    You’re speaking with someone who has done some homework, unlike so many others in this discussion.

    spandrell Reply:

    . It should be considered deeply shameful for a business titan to direct their wealth anywhere other than into techonomic acceleration.

    But most business titans didn’t become business titans by furthering technomic acceleration. Any many of those who did lost any interest on technomic acceleration once they got a comfortable hold on their power by bribing the necessary power actors.

    What you’re asking for is a new societal ideology, and I don’t see how plutocracy, i.e. giving overt political power to rich people, would help.

    Jeff Bezos has done quite a lot for technomic acceleration. He’s also funding gay activism. You’ll say the Cathedral forced him, but did it? Steve Jobs never gave a dime of his own money to any Cathedral cause, and he’s still revered as a secular saint.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    “What you’re asking for is a new societal ideology …” — Isn’t that what hostility to the Cathedral necessarily amounts to?

    Posted on November 7th, 2013 at 6:34 am Reply | Quote
  • Peter A. Taylor Says:

    “In a country well governed, poverty is something to be ashamed of. In a country badly governed, wealth is something to be ashamed of.” — Confucius

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    I’m painfully (and very slowly) struggling through Confucius in Chinese, so thanks for giving me some additional motivation.

    [Reply]

    Posted on November 7th, 2013 at 12:00 pm Reply | Quote
  • VXXC Says:

    Even Sun Tzu was against big government, that is a large court with many small plots.

    This during the Warring States period mind you.

    Dax — Gates didn’t do anything that didn’t happen in the 19th century.

    The present Tragedy of the American Commons is America’s elites and not her commons.

    When your government are criminal predators you don’t allow them to prey more, you seek to restrict them to prey less. Hence the Rights less taxes no matter what.

    If you don’t like MS practices, you should really take a look at our government.

    [Reply]

    Posted on November 7th, 2013 at 8:30 pm Reply | Quote
  • Grotto Says:

    I haven’t formulated an opinion on plutocracy or the morality and praiseworthiness of various business titans.

    My guess is that most of them rose to their current position through a combination of intelligence, luck and timing, and a certain self-fulfilling megalomania, bordering on delusion. Tens of thousands of identically-gifted entrepreneurs crash-and-burn on the rocky shores of chance, but a few find welcoming beaches.

    I think they are double-edged swords. They can be disruptive wrecking-balls, blowing apart Cathedral or tradition, depending on what stands in their way. They can also become ossified statists, once they transition from conquering new lands to consolidating and protecting what they have.

    [Reply]

    Posted on November 7th, 2013 at 8:42 pm Reply | Quote
  • Dax Says:

    @ admin,

    What makes you think that the “progressive era” was about solving this problem? The progressive era was all about liberals helping the rich by conflating wealth with income. FDR adopted all of Norm Thomas’s socialist platform except for his “Wealth Tax”. FDR retained the name of that plank and passed a “Wealth Tax” bill that taxed income instead.

    You don’t seem to understand network effects. The network effects are maintained by property rights, which are a social construct of the government. There is a cost to providing and maintaining property rights, and this cost is paid for by taxes and blood.

    The wealthy are deeply fearful that they will have to:

    1) Pay for the primary service of government: protection of property rights by law, and
    2) Deal with competition resulting from others becoming rich because they have untaxed income.

    Having the tax base charge for the cost of maintaining property rights is not a “well judged policy intervention”. It’s more basic than that. It’s fundamental statecraft.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    “… network effects are maintained by property rights, which are a social construct of the government.” — that’s simply sad. Have you ever heard of the common law tradition? It used to be ours.

    [Reply]

    Posted on November 8th, 2013 at 12:01 am Reply | Quote
  • Dax Says:

    A major difference between the “robber baron” era of the 19th century and today is that the American frontier was still open in the 19th century. You still had free land that people could flee to. Of course it was gradually closing in that era, which is why Henry George resonated with so many people.

    [Reply]

    Posted on November 8th, 2013 at 12:08 am Reply | Quote
  • Dax Says:

    Yeah, I’m sorry to have to be the one to break it to you. But it’s true: Property rights are a social construct of the government.

    Believe it or not, if the government falls, asking roving bands of armed thieves whether or not they’ve ever heard of the common law tradition will do nothing to maintain property rights.

    [Reply]

    fotrkd Reply:

    Doesn’t common law suggest you shoot the roving bands of armed thieves until they stop being roving bands of armed thieves? In fact, isn’t that what most of human history has been (with and without government)?

    [Reply]

    Posted on November 8th, 2013 at 12:58 am Reply | Quote
  • Handle Says:

    Consider Timothy 3:2-5

    A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behavior, given to hospitality, apt to teach; Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)

    You could take similarly from Xenophon or a modern manual offering guidance on how to select officers and managers. It’s been a while since I read the Analects (in English) but I think Confucius would advise likewise.

    The Greek Version of the Bible verse above uses the word ‘Kosmios’ which means ‘orderly, decent, harmoniously arranged, proper’

    Perhaps I need a better Greek suffix of ‘rule for the benefit of” instead of the ‘rule by’ forms of ‘ocracy’ and ‘archy’, but I’d think a basic reactionary impulse would be a ‘Kosmiocracy’. Not every kosmiocracy need be some techno-capitalist-optimal-accelerator, though FaceBurg could be a version of that form.

    [Reply]

    fotrkd Reply:

    Sober… not given to wine? You know Pythia is inextricably linked with the gourd, don’t you?

    I have forgotten to tell you, Reader, that Jacques never went anywhere without his gourd filled with the best wine, which used to hang from the pommel of his saddle. Every time his master interrupted him with a question; which was a little long he would unfasten his gourd, throw back his head, “raise the gourd above it and pour a stream of its contents into his mouth; only to put it back when his master had stopped speaking. I have also forgotten to tell you that in moments which required reflection, his first impulse was to ask his gourd. As if it was a matter of resolving a moral question, discussing an event, choosing one road rather than another, beginning, continuing or abandoning a transaction, weighing up the advantages or disadvantages of a political matter, a commercial or financial speculation, the wisdom or folly of a law, the outcome of a war, the choice of a room, or in a room the choice of a bed, his first word was, “Let us consult the gourd,” and his last word, That is the opinion of the gourd and my own.”

    When his Destiny was silent in his head, it made itself known through his gourd. It was a sort of portable Pythian priestess, silent as soon as it was empty. At Delphi the Pythian priestess, her skirts pulled up, sitting bare-bottomed on the tripod, received her inspiration from the bottom upwards. Jacques, on his horse, his head turned towards heaven, his gourd uncorked with the neck inclined towards his mouth, received his inspiration from the top downwards. When the Pythian priestess and Jacques spoke their oracles, they were both drunk.

    Jacques used to claim that the Holy Spirit had descended on the apostles in the form of a gourd and he used to call Pentecost the feast of the gourd. He even wrote a treatise on all the various types of divination, a profound treatise in which he gives preference to divination by Bacbuc, or by the gourd. He contradicted, in spite of all the veneration he had for him, the curate of Meudon who consulted the divine bottle by its effect on the stomach.

    He used to say: “I like Rabelais, but I prefer the truth to Rabelais.”

    He used to call him a heretical engastrimyth, and prove in a hundred ways, each one better than the previous, that the true oracles of Bacbuc, or the gourd, could only be understood through the neck of a bottle. He included amongst the ranks of the distinguished followers of Bacbuc those who have during these last centuries been truly inspired by the gourd: Rabelais, La Fare, Chapelie, Chaulieu, La Fontaine, Moliere, Panard, Gallet and Vade.

    Plato and Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who recommended good wine without drinking it, are in his opinion two false followers of the gourd. In olden times the gourd had a few well-known sanctuaries, the Pomme de Pin, the Temple and La Guingette, a place of worship whose history is recorded elsewhere.

    He gave the most magnificent description of the enthusiasm, the warmth and the fire with which Bacbucians or Perigourdians were and are still today filled, when, at the end of the meal, with their elbows on the table, the divine Bacbuc or the sacred gourd would appear and be brought down into their midst, would hiss, pop its cork and cover its worshippers in its prophetic foam. His manuscript is illustrated with two portraits beneath which appear the words: “Anacreon and Rabelais, the former among the ancients, the latter among the moderns, sovereign pontiffs of the gourd.”

    [Reply]

    Posted on November 8th, 2013 at 1:02 am Reply | Quote
  • Dax Says:

    fotrkd,

    You need common law to tell you that? Is that why a lion will attack you if you try to take his kill? Because he read common law?

    [Reply]

    Posted on November 8th, 2013 at 2:58 am Reply | Quote
  • Dax Says:

    Doesn’t common law suggest you shoot the roving bands of armed thieves until they stop being roving bands of armed thieves? In fact, isn’t that what most of human history has been (with and without government)?

    In other words, if you want property rights in a certain territory, somebody – you, someone else, some group – has to be government of that territory.

    [Reply]

    fotrkd Reply:

    government, owner, possessor, lion. yes, all the same thing.

    [Reply]

    fotrkd Reply:

    An additional, nostalgic note: in the Scottish Highlands it was customary to speak of belonging to the land rather than possessing rights over an area. Even now in many parts of the Highlands and Islands the common Gaelic question to a stranger is ‘where do you belong?’, implying a responsibility or service toward, rather than right of ownership over, an environment. Naturally this would include a commitment to defence, regardless of Government decree or approval.

    [Reply]

    Posted on November 8th, 2013 at 3:00 am Reply | Quote
  • Dax Says:

    There’s no ownership or possession without government.

    [Reply]

    fotrkd Reply:

    OK.

    [Reply]

    Posted on November 8th, 2013 at 4:06 am Reply | Quote
  • Dax Says:

    In the Scottish Highlands, the clans had sovereignty over lands in the past. The chiefs, leading adult males, male kin, etc. that enforced clan sovereignty over territory were the governments.

    [Reply]

    fotrkd Reply:

    hmm… yes, I don’t think you understand clan networks do you? Far from functioning with any form of centralised ‘government’, for the most part these were cellular, local communities. If you want to say your father was the head of state in your home, feel free. Most people wouldn’t regard this as ‘government’ any more than think a dog pissing on his patch ‘governs’.

    [Reply]

    Saddam Hussein's Whirling Aluminium Tubes Reply:

    For the sake of this hypothetical, assume dad owns a sizable plot of land and employs a number of tenant farmers to farm it all.

    Dad is not currently a government because USG is *the* government and they don’t like competition from small fry. But if USG receded and a state of lawlessness arose, my father would of course hire some armed men to protect his land, his employees and the economically productive activities taking place on that land.

    At that point, he’d basically be a lord, until somebody more powerful came along and crushed him or asked him to bend the knee.

    [Reply]

    fotrkd Reply:

    I think this sideline is taking up too much space, but last post (the gourd is empty)…

    You could call him a lord, you could also call him a farmer (think white farmers in Zimbawe or plantation owners), but I don’t disagree with your conclusion – quite a lot of historical migration has occurred in exactly this way. I’m not arguing that hierarchical structures don’t exist in such communities or in families (or Call of the Wild). I disagree that it’s useful to equate this with government (even if the latter evolves from the former), unless you want to reduce government all the way down to self-government, where every act of personal agency (to enforce property ‘rights’ or otherwise) constitutes the imposition of your will and therefore illustrates that you ‘govern’. In which case, any farmer who shoots a trespasser is acting as the governor of his land; and any dog marking his territory is the same as a laird surveying his estate. Fine, nothing wrong with that, but how is it helpful? Haven’t you just reached a limit where property (ownership) = government, in which case ‘government enforces property rights’ becomes near-tautological.

    Posted on November 8th, 2013 at 4:12 am Reply | Quote
  • Dax Says:

    I think most readers here would agree that most people are stupid, so most here would disregard what most people, including you, regard and don’t regard as ‘government.’

    I do understand clan networks. If you think “cellular, local communities” were government free, anarchic utopias, then you don’t understand clan networks.

    Regarding fathers, note that in ancient Rome, the pater familias had the patria potestas – absolute authority over his household, including the power of life and death over his wife and children. In all civilizations, fathers have formally and informally been recognized as heads of the domestic sphere to varying degrees. It’s only in the past 50 years or so that his has been drastically eroded, and unsurprisingly this erosion of a basic foundation of civilization has been correlated with decline.

    [Reply]

    excthedra Reply:

    So, ‘most people are stupid, you are a person — ergo, stupid; moreover, this renders your argument invalid.’ Brilliant deduction, I must say. (And as long as you’re arguing with a person, practically unbeatable!)

    [Reply]

    Puzzle Pirate (@PuzzlePirate) Reply:

    “So, ‘most people are stupid, you are a person — ergo, stupid; moreover, this renders your argument invalid.’ Brilliant deduction, I must say. (And as long as you’re arguing with a person, practically unbeatable!)”

    Well I am a drunken cat so his argument is invalid.

    [Reply]

    Posted on November 8th, 2013 at 5:05 am Reply | Quote
  • Dax Says:

    I don’t understand what is so controversial or difficult to understand.

    There are no property rights without enforcement of property rights, and enforcement is done by governments.

    [Reply]

    Posted on November 8th, 2013 at 5:08 am Reply | Quote
  • Dax Says:

    unless you want to reduce government all the way down to self-government, where every act of personal agency (to enforce property ‘rights’ or otherwise) constitutes the imposition of your will and therefore illustrates that you ‘govern’. In which case, any farmer who shoots a trespasser is acting as the governor of his land

    Obviously if sovereignty is decentralized down to the level of individuals over their respective individual territories, then you have a case of self-governing individuals governing their respective territories.

    Ownership of anything implies exclusive possession in a territory and that requires an expenditure of force.

    Any farmer who gets away with shooting trespassers does so either because he personally governs his land, or because he’s allowed to by the government.

    [Reply]

    Posted on November 8th, 2013 at 11:34 pm Reply | Quote
  • Peter A. Taylor Says:

    I find the distinction between primary and secondary property to be helpful.

    http://www.thatsmags.com/shanghai/articles/12188

    [Reply]

    Posted on November 9th, 2013 at 12:41 am Reply | Quote
  • admin Says:

    “Haven’t you just reached a limit where property (ownership) = government, in which case ‘government enforces property rights’ becomes near-tautological.” — Brilliantly formulated.

    The state appropriation of the idea of law is no less preposterous than that of money. In France, which tends to be advanced in such matters, the state is already well on the way to the pretense that it invented and sustains language.

    [Reply]

    Posted on November 9th, 2013 at 3:27 pm Reply | Quote
  • VXXC Says:

    Dax,

    “There’s no ownership or possession without government..”

    Actually Dax with our government there’s no ownership or possession.

    Property Rights like all rights, Liberties is enforced primarily by violence. Before there was government people fought over food and water. Before there was a schoolyard boys fought. And so on.

    Dax– government is a social construct of bandits and parasites. And their wives.

    Government is a social construct which in America has reverted after a brief interlude of a couple of centuries to it’s natural state of banditry and parasitism. With it’s many, many, many wives; Aka Welfare whores, Baby Mama’s, or The Single Mom — earth mother of all crime and dysfunction. And the Democratic Party’s core voting constituency.
    ===============================================

    In the right now sense Plutocrats are only important in terms of extracting money by force [taxes] or by extortion [campaign contributions or donations to Liberal Causes…same big pot of money], or as symbols to rally behind or against.

    Admin is making a mistake and reaching for ghosts. The people you want Admin are Dead. And if they were alive their name would be Soros or Buffet. Bezos is Cathedral to core, he doesn’t you know make profit.

    He buys things that may make profit and Amazon sells stuff.

    Find.One. Who could for an instant withstand the Cathedral. Or would. When Musk has his space colonies, when Thiel has his own Navy that can fend off ours, when Galt’s Cloaking Device hides the Gulch [it required one] then we may speak of these patriarchs. What is needed of course are Nobles and we don’t presently have them nor are the Plutocrats even in consideration for running.
    ======================================================================
    ye have allies at hand . Too bad you can’t stand them.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    “… ye have allies at hand. Too bad you can’t stand them.” — I’d really like to believe there was a serious Tea Party constituency that had broken fundamentally from welfare addiction, but I think the rot goes to deep (“Keep government hands off my Medicare!”).

    [Reply]

    Posted on November 9th, 2013 at 8:05 pm Reply | Quote
  • VXXC Says:

    Government is a social construct of people who wanted division of labor on violence so they could gather food.

    Government is a social construct of conquest.

    Government is a social construct of Bandits [and their wives] who wanted to justify their predations.

    Our government is a degenerate priesthood that assumed the role of banditry from the elected bandits.

    But both bandits have lost sight of the bedrock of violence and the ability to wield the sword themselves.

    Blessedly in America and perhaps elsewhere, ancient codes of duty and honor check the hands of the violent. Who spring nearly entirely not from the same lines as the priesthood, but common stock.

    And their families are being stripped bare and they can see it.

    Perhaps it’s time for a refresher of social constructs.

    [Reply]

    Posted on November 9th, 2013 at 8:56 pm Reply | Quote
  • Dax Says:

    admin and fotrkd,

    What exactly do you dispute?

    Ownership of anything implies exclusive possession in a territory and that requires an expenditure of force. That exercise of force is either made directly by the individual owner who is sovereign over his territory and governs himself or who is authorized to directly exercise force by the government. Or it’s exercised by the government on behalf of the individual owner.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    I’d recommend Jim’s Natural Law essay — it puts this problem into a far more realistic and historically-consistent context.

    [Reply]

    Posted on November 10th, 2013 at 1:28 am Reply | Quote
  • Dax Says:

    The state appropriation of the idea of law is no less preposterous than that of money. In France, which tends to be advanced in such matters, the state is already well on the way to the pretense that it invented and sustains language.

    There is a connection between law and money and the state. It’s not accurate to say that it’s simply a modern appropriation.

    The French state arguably did invent and does sustain Standard French. Standard French did not develop organically. It’s very much the product of the highly centralized French state.

    [Reply]

    Posted on November 10th, 2013 at 1:32 am Reply | Quote
  • Richard James DeSocio Says:

    I see no mention of the Rockefellers, the top plutocrats. I have just recently finished 30 years of research and published a book for the 50th anniversary of the assassination of JFK: Rockefellerocracy: Kennedy Assassinations, Watergate and Monoploy of the “Philanthropic” Foundations”.
    Plutocracy in this nation is a spinning wheel where the spokes radiate from a Rockefeller hub.
    Read the book and you’ll find out the how and why.

    [Reply]

    Posted on November 10th, 2013 at 5:30 am Reply | Quote
  • Dax Says:

    admin,

    I’m familiar with Jim’s writing on natural law and the writings he hosts on his site, like the essay by Lysander Spooner. I enjoy the writings on the site, both Jim’s and those that he hosts, and I’m actually a big fan of Spooner.

    I hope you understand that everything I’ve argued is consistent with natural law. I’m not advocating a positive law view.

    I still don’t understand what you or fotrkd are disputing.

    [Reply]

    anon Reply:

    I may be a little late here, but I would also like to know what exactly admin disagrees with dax on. Dax’s proposition seems non-objectionable, but I’m not totally sure where he was going with that, so if Dax sees this perhaps he could clarify

    [Reply]

    Posted on November 10th, 2013 at 7:59 am Reply | Quote
  • Uriel Alexis Says:

    all of that would have made perfect sense, if the very “Progressive Era” of regulation and “trust busting” had not been, in fact, sponsored and to a great extent engineered by the very Plutocrats, in order to cement their monopolies.

    so, you gotta choose: monopolies and progressives in government, or competition and the end of progresism.

    some evidence here:
    http://mutualist.org/id77.html
    https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B98Qdzsez5oHc1E1eGxqZVZDZVk

    [Reply]

    Posted on March 8th, 2016 at 2:01 pm Reply | Quote
  • Plutocracia – Outlandish Says:

    […] Original. […]

    Posted on August 14th, 2016 at 11:43 pm Reply | Quote

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