• NOS4A2
    5.8k
    I’ve never understood the criticism of laissez-faire. Economic history, if there is such a thing, has invariably been one of statism and state intervention. Fascism, communism, progressivism, socialism—all demand the regulation of the economy, providing posterity with examples spanning the gamut of oppression and exploitation, ranging from annoying to despotic.

    So what’s to fear in the separation of the state and economy?

    Poverty, overconsumption, monopoly, wealth inequality, seem to me the common objections. Keynes said as much in his essay “The End of laissez-faire”. But all of the above are apparent in all systems, including in those in which Keynes was the architect: capitalism “wisely managed”.

    But why should it be managed at all? Why should one serve the interests of the state instead of his own and his neighbors?

    Upon thinking about it, Oscar Wilde was at least honest when he said that “Socialism would relieve us from that sordid necessity of living for others”. This attitude, I believe, represents the inherent egoism beneath the fear of the separation of state and economy. Without a state tending to the ills of the economy we would be required to confront that “sordid necessity” and to cooperate with each other based on our own personal initiative and resources. Instead of passively paying a tax or promoting this or that government service we would need to act and to do so voluntarily in order to affect any change. To “let us do” would be to lay bare our conscience and morality for what it really amounts to.

    The state wedded to the economy is by now ubiquitous, and state intervention commonplace. It has absorbed all spontaneous social effort, as Ortega Y Gasset once predicted, leaving us to not fear the social ills, which are still with us every day and in every society, but the absence of the state and what we are to do in its stead.
  • Philosophim
    1.2k
    Here's the thing: There is never freedom.

    If its not the state, its your powerful neighbor. If its not that, its the mob. If its not that, its something else.

    Humanities natural state when given free reign is to wage war, kill each other, dominate each other, and have someone come out on top that seeks to control everyone else. The same with unregulated capitalism.

    Capitalism's unfettered goal is to destroy itself. This has been tested in games and social experiments repeatedly. Everyone starts off the same, but then winners and losers are determined. Eventually, the winners carve out a path to ensure no one has any way of beating them again, resulting in the death of capitalism.

    The best way to regulate a system, is when you have governance influenced by the people involved.
    While it is not perfect, as no one ideology ever is, people always have some type of say and influence to minimize the implementation of the winners destroying the playing field for everyone else.
  • L'éléphant
    651
    The best way to regulate a system, is when you have governance influenced by the people involved.Philosophim
    Yes.

    It's not like, all of sudden, because of Laissez-faire, everyone's chance of peaceful success becomes equalized. No. Those at a disadvantaged would still be in that situation. Except now, you don't have the government to run to when you got screwed.

    Do not believe this bullshit of the inequality of the economy would straighten itself out. It is never designed to be so. The rich would want more because when the prize is the moon, then a 100 billion dollar wealth wouldn't suffice anymore.

    Better yet -- this is how things are now. Used to be the playground is the world, the grounded world. Then, we've expanded to the ocean and uninhabited frozen vast of lands. Finally, the space exploration. That's now a vacation dream.
  • NOS4A2
    5.8k


    But the state is a monopoly of the kind you describe, destroying the playing field for everyone else, and willing to maintain it with compulsion and violence, with free reign to wage war, dominate each other, and ensure no one has any way of beating them again. Unfettered statism seems to me the greater threat than some entity from a game.
  • Xtrix
    3.3k
    Laissez-faire: not only hasn’t existed but cannot exist. An idiotic ideal fabricated to justify plutocracy.

    What believers in laissez-faire ultimately are is anti-democracy. Look no further than the way these deluded proponents defend corporate governance (zero democracy) while attacking political governance (some democracy) — all while throwing around words like “liberty.”

    Good for a laugh, I suppose.
  • Xtrix
    3.3k
    The best way to regulate a system, is when you have governance influenced by the people involved.
    While it is not perfect, as no one ideology ever is, people always have some type of say and influence to minimize the implementation of the winners destroying the playing field for everyone else.
    Philosophim

    Yes indeed.

    But since “laissez faire” is just a bullshit excuse for plutocracy and is completely anti-democracy, don’t expect anything more than “Government is the problem” — their go-to slogan. The alternative? The magic of the “free” market of course! Bam! Solved.
  • NOS4A2
    5.8k


    How does separating the state and economy lead to a plutocracy?
  • Xtrix
    3.3k
    How does separating the state and economy lead to a plutocracy?NOS4A2

    The “state” has never, and will never, be separated from an “economy.” So: how does that fantasy goal lead to plutocracy?

    Well, look around. Then compare to other times in economic history. Far higher concentration of wealth and power now than in the 50s and 60s. The shift in pretext (laissez faire) and policies (neoliberalism) occurred in the 70s. Pretty easy to check what has happened since. All in the age of “Government is the problem,” no less.

    But to market fundamentalists, I’m sure it’s still the governments fault— and so we need even MORE deregulation and unbridled corporate looting. Heads I win, tails you lose.
  • 180 Proof
    8.4k
    Laissez-faire: not only hasn’t existed but cannot exist. An idiotic ideal fabricated to justify plutocracy.Xtrix
    :100:
  • Streetlight
    8.8k
    Laissaz-faire is not even an ideal for capitalists. Any history of capitalism that doesn't come from shoddy ideologues will tell you that the ubiquitious attempts to secure the so-called autonomy of markets has always relied on enormous and continued interventions by states, often payed for by rivers of blood. "The economy", understood artificially and wrongly as a seperate and independent entity from "the state" is an invention, whole cloth, of the state, and requires the state's perpetual and never ending intervention in order to keep it that way. There's a reason capitalists are obsessed with state capture - i.e. effective control of government and its regulatory apparatus - because they know very well just how much they are dependant upon the state for their continued survival.

    The literal only people who believe in laissaz-faire are idiots who have been sold the fantasy of it and take it to mean: no state intervention that would interfere with capitalists getting their way. Law and legislation, and enormous amounts of it, including huge trans-national cooperation in order to organize and coordinate it, has always been the basis for the artificial and violent 'seperation' of state and economy. What it means in practice is simply: the violent demolition of any democratic control over how people live their lives, turned over instead to tiny minorities of people and entities with enormous amounts of money. Laissaz-fair is a myth, and so is the meme - and it is nothing but a meme - of the fake antagonism between government and economy.

    Without massive amounts of state intervention, "the economy" will die. Anyone who hasn't understood this since 2008 in which government intervention has been made obvious to anyone with a pulse with respect to it's role in continually propping up the economy, is either an idiot or a propagandist. As a communist I would really like a heap less state intervention in the economy too: it's the only thing that ensures the continued and continually violent survival of capitalism.
  • NOS4A2
    5.8k


    I look around and see competing interests competing for state power. All of them intervene in the economy through the very means you defend, yet we’re supposed to act aghast when they seize and use them. But it doesn’t follow that the absence of those means leads to them seizing them.
  • 180 Proof
    8.4k
    The literal only people who believe in laissaz-faire are idiots who have been sold the fantasy of it and take it to mean: no state intervention that would interfere with capitalists getting their way.StreetlightX
    :100: :smirk:
  • Xtrix
    3.3k
    But to market fundamentalists, I’m sure it’s still the governments faultXtrix

    I look around and see competing interests competing for state power.NOS4A2

    You're nothing if not predictable.

    You could say the same vague thing in the 50s and 60s too. Better economy in those days, however. Odd that the same can't be said for when the "era of big government [was] over."

    All of them intervene in the economy through the very means you defendNOS4A2

    What "means" would that be? I don't recall defending the billions of dollars that the plutocracy -- mostly corporate America -- put into buying government officials (through campaign contributions, lobbying, etc) every year.

    yet we’re supposed to act aghast when they seize and use them. But it doesn’t follow that the absence of those means leads to them seizing them.NOS4A2

    Is it possible to be more vague? What do the last two "them"s refer to?

    Once again you've trailed off into gibberish. An excellent line of defense, I admit.

    What it means in practice is simply: the violent demolition of any democratic control over how people live their lives, turned over instead to tiny minorities of people and entities with enormous amounts of money. Laissz-fair is a myth, and so is the meme - and it is nothing but a meme - of the fake antagonism between government and economy.StreetlightX

    Yes indeed. Again, a telltale sign of said proponents' true feelings about "democratic control" and "freedom": how they react to corporate governance, where there's zero democracy.
  • NOS4A2
    5.8k


    I’ll try to clarify. If there are no positions of power for the plutocrats to occupy, it doesn’t follow that the absence of these positions of power leads to plutocracy. We can point to existing state structures and say “that is plutocracy” until the cows come home, but we are no less pointing to the state. Plutocrats can achieve control through democratic means.

    What you haven’t done is shown how laissez-faire leads to plutocracy, is all I’m saying.
  • Philosophim
    1.2k
    But the state is a monopoly of the kind you describe, destroying the playing field for everyone else, and willing to maintain it with compulsion and violence, with free reign to wage war, dominate each other, and ensure no one has any way of beating them again. Unfettered statism seems to me the greater threat than some entity from a game.NOS4A2

    Depends on how the state is formed. That's where elections come in. When the state is held accountable by the people involved, it must consider the people to some extent as people at the table who must be sated. This is much better than being dinner for the powerful.

    Unfettered anything is bad. A pure authoritarian state is no better than rule by a mob boss. And unfettered capitalism does not escape this as well. I'll add to my original statement as well. Unfettered capitalism has no concern for limited resources or long term planning. Why make lightbulbs that last longer when people won't have to buy as many? Strip the forests down today and worry about the long term consequences tomorrow.

    A state that is influenced by the people is the only way to ensure there is some accountability by the powerful. Because if there is no accountability, the powerful will not do so on their own.
  • Jackson
    938
    Laissez-faire: not only hasn’t existed but cannot exist. An idiotic ideal fabricated to justify plutocracy.

    What believers in laissez-faire ultimately are is anti-democracy. Look no further than the way these deluded proponents defend corporate governance (zero democracy) while attacking political governance (some democracy) — all while throwing around words like “liberty.”
    Xtrix

    Well said, agree. Capitalism for the masses. Socialism for the wealthy.
  • 180 Proof
    8.4k
    What you haven’t done is shown how laissez-faire leads to plutocracy, is all I’m saying.NOS4A2
    Cite an example of laissez-faire nation-state that isn't, in effect, a plutocracy / oligopoly.
  • NOS4A2
    5.8k


    My own view is that the state is formed through conquest and confiscation. I don’t believe in any social contract theory. As such, suffrage is merely a concession to state power, all of it premised on the off-chance that each of us might benefit from the spoils should we get to vote for the exploiters.

    StreetlightX is right. The failure of laissez-faire doctrine is that it was never laissez-faire. In practice, the only difference between its proponents and it’s opponents is the incidence of those interventions shifted from one class of beneficiaries to another. The merchants never followed a policy of laissez-faire, and never wished the state to “let it do”, but sought to wield that power for its own benefit.

    At any rate, a state that engages in intervention is engaging in exploitation, and does so with the monopoly on violence, whether influenced by “the people”, special interests, or a tinpot dictator.
  • NOS4A2
    5.8k


    I don’t think such a regime has existed.
  • Philosophim
    1.2k
    My own view is that the state is formed through conquest and confiscation. I don’t believe in any social contract theory.NOS4A2

    I have no problem with this. The problem is, if its not government forming through conquest and confiscation, its something else. Mobsters, neighbor, etc. Government is not special, it is one off the many long lines of people and institutions that will seek social dominance through the threat and realization of violence.

    Laissez-faire capitalism also results in conquest and confiscation. Capitalism needs a third party regulating it. It needs courts and laws. Otherwise the path of least resistance is to get money, murder your competition one way or another, and dominate everyone under you in as close to slavery as you can.

    Now if I'm wrong, please point out where. In the absence of government, do people just all get along? You don't think anybody will seek to gain power over other people through wealth, hired cooercion, and dominance?
  • Xtrix
    3.3k
    If there are no positions of power for the plutocrats to occupy, it doesn’t follow that the absence of these positions of power leads to plutocracy.NOS4A2

    “No positions of power” is essentially meaningless. Plutocracy is power in the hands of the wealthy.

    We can point to existing state structures and say “that is plutocracy” until the cows come home, but we are no less pointing to the state. Plutocrats can achieve control through democratic means.NOS4A2

    If by the state you mean the government, which I assume you do, then that consists of people. It’s a group of people that make up what we call “government.” These people make laws and enforce laws. These people are susceptible to corruption and bribery and manipulation. In today’s world, the US government is mostly bought by business interests— multinational corporations. They must still be elected by the population, however.

    An answer to this problem is to abolish the state. In the very long run, I would like to see that happen. But that’s in the long term.

    First I’d like to abolish corporate rule. Your answer, however, is to abolish democracy.

    Plutocrats don’t gain power by “democratic means.” They’re a minority, and they fear and despise democracy — they have since the beginning of the country.

    What you haven’t done is shown how laissez-faire leads to plutocracy, is all I’m saying.NOS4A2

    And what I’m saying is laissez faire doesn’t lead to anything. Because it’s a fantasy.

    The IDEA or the GOAL of “free markets” and a “separation of state and economy”, however, while both fantasies, do serve as nice stories for the ruling class— who know very well it’s complete bullshit.

    It’s a nice utopian fantasy, though. Too bad it has such awful real world effects by deluding people into defending the corporate takeover of America.
  • 180 Proof
    8.4k
    And what I’m saying is laissez faire doesn’t lead to anything. Because it’s a fantasy.

    The IDEA or the GOAL of “free markets” and a “separation of state and economy”, however, while both fantasies, do serve as a nice stories for the ruling class— who know very well it’s complete bullshit.

    It’s a nice utopian fantasy, though. Too bad it has such awful real world effects by deluding people into defending the corporate takeover of America
    Xtrix
    :clap: :100:

    Cite an example of laissez-faire nation-state that isn't, in effect, a plutocracy / oligopoly.
    — 180 Proof

    I don’t think such a regime has existed.
    NOS4A2
    Well then, at the very least, the correlation between 'laissez-faire' and 'plutocracy' is (almost) +1 and so "how the former leads to the latter" is moot for the purposes of this thread discussion.
  • Agent Smith
    4.4k
    Prime Directive (Star Trek)

    In the fictional universe of Star Trek, the Prime Directive (also known as "Starfleet General Order 1", "General Order 1", and the "non-interference directive") is a guiding principle of Starfleet that prohibits its members from interfering with the natural development of alien civilizations. — Wikipedia

    The Balance of Nature

    The current zeitgeist of technology has been automation, an exemplar of which is the so-called self-driving car (I don't know why drivers are not protesting à la luddites). In line with this drive to automate, economies, everything actually, should be endowed with self-correcting mechanisms (the human body has a lot of its functions in auto-regulation mode). To get down to the brass tacks, any system that needs external interference (the state for example) is a blot on our escutheon (we're not creative enough). :grin:
  • L'éléphant
    651
    To me, trying to deal with capitalism using various theories like Marxian, laissez-faire, socialism, communism, or free-market is like trying on different shoes hoping to alleviate the bunions that had grown so large and permanent. You can't excise it, and can't remedy it by trying on different shoes.
  • ArmChairPhilosopher
    75
    I’ll try to clarify. If there are no positions of power for the plutocrats to occupy, it doesn’t follow that the absence of these positions of power leads to plutocracy. We can point to existing state structures and say “that is plutocracy” until the cows come home, but we are no less pointing to the state. Plutocrats can achieve control through democratic means.

    What you haven’t done is shown how laissez-faire leads to plutocracy, is all I’m saying.
    NOS4A2

    If there are no structures of control, the wannabe plutocrats are going to create them. Once you have riches, you want them secured lest the masses come knocking on your door and take them. You can hire a private army but it is much more cost effective to make the public pay for that army. That's how the police and the courts are invented. The state doesn't create capitalists, capitalists create the state.
  • Streetlight
    8.8k
    The state doesn't create capitalists, capitalists create the state.ArmChairPhilosopher

    Perfect, entirely correct.
  • javi2541997
    1.5k


    NOS, I would like to put an example of when a society fails on laissez-faire or laissez-faire fails on society's hopes.

    The 1990's were less good for Japan, whose prosperity turned out to be a little too much of a speculative bubble, with a great deal of capital based on inflated real estate values and fraudulent loans. Since almost nobody really believes in laissez-faire anymore, it always takes a long time for the economy to shake stuff like that off.

    Nevertheless, despite the fact that 1990's were an economical traumatic event for Japan, they still be the 4th economy of the world... (Quarterly GDP improves in Japan in forth quarter) Is this country an example of social effort no matter the circumstances?
  • unenlightened
    6.5k
    the separation of the state and economy?NOS4A2

    Can you explain what you mean by this, since you cannot give an example? It seems to me that if there is a state at all, it needs an income, and therefore to be part of the economy. If it does not exist,
    the problem with an anarchy is that it cannot resist a mafia/government taking control.

    If it does exist, it needs to either participate directly in the economy as a player, or else to raise taxes through legislation. The former is very much where the wold seems to be headed governments are losing power to international corporations. The latter is where we have come from and what I assume you object to.

    What is it that you advocate?
  • Hillary
    1.9k
    Humanities natural state when given free reign is to wage war, kill each other, dominate each other, and have someone come out on top that seeks to control everyone elsePhilosophim

    My dear gracious good god... Where did you grow up? Ah, of course...you're a philosopher!
  • Philosophim
    1.2k
    My dear gracious good god... Where did you grow up? Ah, of course...you're a philosopher!Hillary

    Ha ha! I suppose I am. But I'm also a person who likes history. History has shown us that what I claimed was true. Wars, monopolies, slavery, etc. I would say about 80% of people are fine just living their lives without bothering others. But 20% of people want dominance, and don't care who they hurt to get it. Did you know that fruit flies like to dominate one another? They only live 8-15 days, but if you put a bunch of fruit flies together, they'll do a dominance fight where they flip each other over to show who gets that space.

    The brain of a fruit fly is insignificant, and yet this primitive need for dominance still exists. It is a powerful drive in almost every living creature. In fact, I want to ask what was your motivation when you wrote your reply? Read it again. Was it done to educate me? Reach out and connect with me? Start a deep conversation? No. You did it to for status. To ridicule me and put yourself on top.

    Now if you did that on a philosophy forum where there are no stakes, what do you think happens when there are resources involved? Millions of dollars at stake? Tons of land and power? You think everyone is going to resolve their differences for these resources with kind words, reaching out to one another and sharing? You already know the answer yourself.
  • Hillary
    1.9k
    The brain of a fruit fly is insignificant, and yet this primitive need for dominance still exists. It is a powerful drive in almost every living creature. In fact, I want to ask what was your motivation when you wrote your reply? Read it again. Was it done to educate me? Reach out and connect with me? No. You did it to for status. To ridicule me and put yourself on topPhilosophim

    Well, that's probably my deeply hidden fruitfly brain part talking then. The part beneath the olfactory lizzard part. I smell powerful tendencies here... :smile:
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