Sunday, October 14, 2012

Caplan on American Socialism

He has an interesting link on Owen here.

I have always found it disappointing that some people lump "socialists" all together and then treat the whole lot of them like they were Marxists. This is a good step in the other direction. It's always seemed a shame to me that worker democracy in the United States especially has been lumped in with Marxist socialism. And this sort of thing is still around today of course. That's worker ownership of the means of production. I have my doubts about a post-scarcity future because I think the moment we get close we'll keep pushing new frontiers, but if we do ever see such a thing we're likely to see much more American style socialism. Big capitalists bankrolling industrial efforts is more necessary in a world of scarcity than of post-scarcity.

The other key point that Bryan makes is experimentation.

This is another thing that bothers me to no end about (some) Hayekians. Experimentation and cautious growth and the gradual evolution of new social institutions is all well and good unless it's (1.) workers' cooperatives/socialism, (2.) Keynesian and other counter-cyclical experimentation in the 30s, (3.) Constitutional evolution, etc.

Oh, but simply ending the Fed is fine.

After a while, you start to get a sense of how much substance is really there for some people. I'm not accusing Bryan of this, and I have emphasized "some" people twice now, so don't get in a tizzy in the comment section.


  1. I haven't seen libertarians condemn workers' coops. They may argue it's inefficient but they don't want them outlawed or anything like that.


  2. I don't think many people are against workers coops, or coops of other sorts. But, we start to oppose them when it's suggested that they should be treated preferentially or that they should be the only possible form of business organization.

  3. Daniel, here in India, in practice, milk co-ops only succeeded because of state-wide and region-wide monopolies and state-wide and region-wide protectionist measures against inter-state milk commerce.

    The man who envisioned these co-ops, Verghese Kurien, was furious when private companies were allowed to enter the milk business. Strange - if these milk co-ops were so successful, why must they fall apart if a single private milk company were allowed to produce and sell milk?

    Theory: worker co-ops are about freedom of choice and association. Practice: successful worker co-ops have only been propped up by special laws to protect them.


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