May Day: A Day of Remembrance

hammerandsickle copy.jpgFor over a hundred years, May Day has been celebrated as a holiday for workers to commemorate their struggle for a better life and honor their contributions to society.

The international labor movement has long purported to be an advocate of policies intended to help workers. Yet, too often, the same policies have resulted not in empowerment of workers, but rather their oppression. The more radical part of the labor movement has espoused political systems whose unintended consequences have in past times turned against the very workers they were intended to support. Under the regimes that implemented these systems, more often then not, workers were crushed under the heavy boot of tyranny. They were systematically bludgeoned to subsistence levels, and their standard of living was reduced to that of primitives. Along with the improvements in wages and working conditions in certain parts of the world, the 20th century also resulted in large scale decimation of workers, with the most vulnerable falling prey the easiest.

To mark this day, we at Catallarchy remember those who lost their lives and fell victim to the ideologies mistakenly espoused by those who claimed to elevate the workers of the world.


The Tally

Letter to Bolshevik

Starvation as a Political Weapon

Inequality through Egalitarianism

Why I am not a Socialist

A Philosophy of Hate

Cambodian Year Zero

The Labor Theory of Value

Personal Tragedies

Karl Poppers The Poverty of Historicism

Socialism and Individualism

Links

The Seductive Dream


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You guys are fucking

You guys are fucking spectacular.

- Josh

It was Jonathan's idea, but

It was Jonathan's idea, but on behalf of Catallarchy, I say thanks.

BRAVO!!! fantastico. its

BRAVO!!! fantastico. its clear, socialism is nothing more than a religion of death. after all you've displayed, why does it continue?

My highest praise! Bravo!

My highest praise! Bravo!

Catallarchy has always been

Catallarchy has always been my favorite blog. But today, it just got "favoriter".

Yet another gem found

Yet another gem found through Instapundit. You are so right to be doing what you are doing. Today, from Araby, another head of the beast snaps at us with much the same effect on liberal society that we saw in the 1930s. I was dispirited this morning, digesting the anti-war movement's latest propaganda, and baffled that those people can find no history lesson in the hundred million political deaths of the 20th century. But, then, I found you guys, and my demoralization was revealed as mere fatigue, handily banished by your review of the fundamentals of the equation. Thanks!

"To mark this day, we

"To mark this day, we remember those who lost their lives and fell victim to the ideologies mistakenly espoused by those who claimed to elevate the workers of the world."

Mistakenly ???

WOW! :)

WOW! :)

for a messageboard haunt

for a messageboard haunt like myself, the mayday stuff is challenging because discussion isn't very concentrated. It's a cool project, and there's way too much stuff to nitpick on my particular issues with it, but I did want to make a general point:

Regarding individualism and the "utopian dream" of marxism, I should mention that I'm very fond of Bakunin's analysis on these things. Bakunin (an anarchist, for those who don't know) lamented the death of individualism in the two prongs of history that he saw. Writing in the late 19th century, he thought "Red Bureacracy" (marxism) and capitalism bureacracy would absolutely destroy meaningful individualism, and he was generally right.

in both, man is forced to give up his autonomy to different systems: one's to the state, the other's to the political economy. Freedom, in most modern philosphy, is expressed in triadic form: A is free from B to do C. Obviously bolshvism and other forms of communism restricted in areas B and C, but capitalism presents new kind of oppression. Because we're so used to talking about oppression with reference to a great state of church or something, it's hard to catch it. In fact, my guess as to why Libertarianism seems so logical, yet is so intuitively unappealing is precisely this reason:
who's A?

"A" is a property owner, with sufficient resources that he can afford to excercise his rights. This wonderful individualism isn't concerned with man, but with propertied men.

tough.

tough.

You're right, Buddy, we're

You're right, Buddy, we're going to invade and torture them right into liberal democracy.

- Josh

matt27 writes: In fact, my

matt27 writes:

In fact, my guess as to why Libertarianism seems so logical, yet is so intuitively unappealing is precisely this reason:
who?s A?

I think you're coming at this from the wrong end of the stick, matt27. Most people know who 'A' is. He's the productive one, the creator of ideas, and the generator of wealth. He's the inventor of fire, the discoverer of continents, and the man who makes the world go round. He's the plumber, the butcher, the professor at the private university, and the candlestick maker. He is everyone who is useful in this world.

It is who 'B' is, which is the important side of this equation. 'B' is the state-payroll intellectual, the aspiring political demagogue, the member of the enlightened liberal elite, the union leader, the professor at the state-subsidised university, the parasite, the bad plumber, the failed businessman, the envious anti-capitalist, and the maker of candlesticks which shed no light. He is the able-bodied and intelligent man who is useless in this world.

And 'B' knows that if libertarianism ever breaks out of the tiny ghetto which it currently occupies, then he is going to start having to earn his own bread, for once, rather than having it stolen for him, by the state, from 'A'.

Oh, 'B' knows who 'A' is alright. What really worries him is that 'A', who so far has been too busy working and too busy earning taxes to concern himself with the matter, is beginning to wake up and realise who 'B' is.

This wonderful individualism is concerned with man. Useful man. Man who achieves, man who strives, man who creates, man who makes the world a better place for his having lived in it, man who serves others, and man who looks after his family, and those who he believes are unable to look after themselves, which he does because he wants to, because he is a moral man, not because he is forced to, against his will, denying him his chance in this world to act morally.

What libertarianism fails to concern itself with is parasites, deadbeats, and useless man. Or in other words, socialists. Though it hopes that they too can eventually be turned into useful people, however impossible that may seem at first.

Yes, for every person who claims to be a libertarian, there are probably ninety-nine who claim to be socialists. But the game is up. The 20th century belonged to the socialists. You can see what they did to it in the May Day Catallarchy posts above. But socialism lost, on all fronts. Again, see above.

Everything they promised turned to dust, or to death, or to destruction. The economic superiority socialism promised is also now seen for the sham dream it always was, and we will never go that way again, unless the socialists manage to destroy all of the world's history books to give themselves a temporary respite, which I suppose is feasible, given that they do still control most of the western world's state-driven educational systems.

But let's just thank God that they do not, yet, control the Internet, or sites like Catallarchy. Long may the truth rain upon the horror of socialism.

The 21st century will, I hope, belong to individualism and liberty. The pendulum is already swinging. Let us hope it can swing enough to get rid of all the 'B's in the world, and turn them all into 'A's.

BOOOYAHH!!!! man that shit

BOOOYAHH!!!! man that shit was hard!! andy is my new hero in this world.

in case anyone was wondering

in case anyone was wondering where libertarianism
'won't' break out of its little ghetto, info shows that there are 1 million civil servants in Ontario Canada. the province has a population of 8 million. 1 of 4 people is 'employed' by some freedom crushing hate machine. with those kind of heart breaking stats its no wonder this country is wallowing in a slow altruisism induced economic death.

Andy, your response would

Andy,
your response would make a good speech. In fact, I liked it so much that I decided it would be fun to see how it would work from another perspective just to test its merit as pure propaganda. I tried substituting:
"socialism" for "libertarianism"
"Capitalism" for "Socialism"
"Laborer/Party Member" for "A"
"Bourgiouse Capitalist Pig" for "B"

The result? Amazing Leninist Dogma that still said absolutely nothing. I would be glad to reprint your post with these pruely superficial changes if you'd like. You've opted to make yourself an "unreasoable pluralist" in the terms of political history: one who decides that the role of the state is to serve his preferences, mold his type of men, and to hell with everyone else.

You've basically conceded my point anyway andy. I was just saying that if we're concerned with actual individual autonomy (which I certainly am) and rights of individuals, then Libertarianism is not an appropriate philosophy.

i'm very concerned with

i'm very concerned with individual autonomy and for me it includes not paying one cent for people who think and believe what you apparently do, which is some variation on the socialist/altruist theme. if they/you can't make your little red clique work without grinding me 'the individual' to death by proxy, then your no better than the rest of the panopoly of losers who follow that religion. don't you get it?! i don't want to fund others by force.period.

Matt, I hardly see how Andy

Matt,

I hardly see how Andy conceded that libertarianism is not the appropriate political philosophy for those concerned with individual autonomy.

To avoid the endless circular argument over physical property acquisition and distribution, just focuse on a pure labor economy. People are autonomous insofar as their labor is useful to themselves and to others. Those who are unable or unwilling to labor productively must either rely on the voluntary kindness of strangers or starve. Any other arrangment necessarily entails enslavement, which is clearly a violation of individual autonomy.

A is free from B to do C. The point of contention seems to be: What is B?. Libertarianism says B is other men. Socialism says B is nature. But man will never be free from nature. There will always be scarcity of resources and unlimited wants. To make A1 free from nature requires redistribution from A2; A2 is now enslaved to A1. A1 may be free from nature, but someone, somewhere must ultimately pay the piper.

This does not solve the problem of individual autonomy; it merely sweeps it under the rug.

Guys, this a fantastic, well

Guys, this a fantastic, well considered and justly sharp roundup of what socialism/communism is and what it has done. Several pieces stand out but I really liked the essay on the labour theory of value. I recall at university many years ago having a discussion with my very Marxist lecturer on ltv and remembered his rather aghast discussion when, in front of the whole class, I mentioned the Austrian critique of ltv from the likes of Carl Menger et al.

First class. bests from the Samizdata crew

JP

if they/you can?t make your

if they/you can?t make your little red clique work without grinding me ?the individual? to death by proxy, then your no better than the rest of the panopoly of losers who follow that religion. don?t you get it?! i don?t want to fund others by force.period.
I'm not aligning myself with marxism, and if "socialism" is understood to mean "USSR-style dictatorship" then I flatly dissassociate myself from it. I don't think it means that: I think socialism was a term bandied often about by powerful people who wanted to get more powerful. i.e. I don't think many historical communist movements have much to do with socialism, but rather with totalitarianism.

I hardly see how Andy conceded that libertarianism is not the appropriate political philosophy for those concerned with individual autonomy.
because he admitted that he was only concerned with Hank Rearden's atutnomy, basically. My critique wasn't refuted, but instead dressed up in snazzy Randian language and paraded around. He said "yeah but that's a good thing." I happen to disagree.

As for your argument, I'm going to respond, but only after noting that you didn't respond to me critique. In fact, you chose to ignore it and instead use an unrelated argument for libertarianism as if that served as repsonse. I'll answer it because I think it's interesting, but I would like to stress the most important point I was making is that Libertarians do not have the moral highground on individual's rights as they often pretend they do.

To avoid the endless circular argument over physical property acquisition and distribution, just focuse on a pure labor economy.
I don't think such an argument is destined to be circular or endless. In fact, those points are somewhat crucial to my argument and better anyway as they are easily more realistic than the desert island slave situation you propose (all of which I imagine you realize.) Just to see how your best case turns out, though, I'll grant you these extreme assumptions.

People are autonomous insofar as their labor is useful to themselves and to others. Those who are unable or unwilling to labor productively must either rely on the voluntary kindness of strangers or starve. Any other arrangment necessarily entails enslavement, which is clearly a violation of individual autonomy.
as I said before, this ignores all historical injustices and inequalities. Even so, is it a good argument? I doubt it. It concentrates on the absolute property rights of the producer, which seem to me of a general lower order than the living rights of non-producer.

This argument makes rhetorical use of our natural disdain for laziness, and our admiration for hard work. Certainly a worker has rights to what he produces, and within reason, those rights can be construed as absolute. Let's suppose, in what must be your strongest case, that both men are able and one is simply lazy. Is the hard-working one justified in letting the lazy one starve to death? My feeling is that the answer is yes when the hard-working man is barely getting by, and he needs the food to survive. Instead if the elk he killed is merely rotting in the sun, as the hard-working man has too much to eat and merely enjoys the smell of rotten elk meat, my intuitions tell me something different. In this case it seems morally wrong for the hardworking man to let the lazy man starve, right there, for want of available otherwise uneeded food.

That's interesting, because as I'm sure you're dying to point out, Peter Singer seems to demonstrate that our moral pull isn't as strong when the starving person is across an ocean. That's a good question for epistemologists, but it doesn't affect the inuition or my argument.

Matt, I think my argument

Matt,

I think my argument did adequately respond to your critique, by demonstrating how any political philosophy other than libertarianism does not sufficiently respect individual rights or autonomy.

The reason why I said the physical property argument is circular and endless (a point recognized by many others, both socialist and libertarian) is because socialists and libertarians do not share the same basic moral intuitions about physical property ownership(some would argue that we do share the same moral intuitions, but our prior beliefs and biases about the world effect our interpretation of the facts, and the facts are flexible enough to provide a sufficient basis for either interpretation).

Either way, the point is that although libertarians and socialists do not agree on physical property rights, we do tend to agree on self-ownership rights and the ownership of one's own labor (indeed, the labor theory of value is based on this intuition). So rather than try to resolve a controversy that has not been resolved by others in this same debate for over 200 years, I chose to focus on the elements of which we are in agreement.

My argument has little to do with laziness. Even if the nonproductive worker is nonproductive because of some medical condition and not out of laziness, my argument still applies. To make the nonproductive worker more autonomous requires making the productive worker less autonomous. I hardly see how this results in more autonomy than libertarianism, unless we assume that the nonproductive worker's autonomy is more valuable than the productive worker. Also include any disincentive effects which make both workers (i.e. society) worse off, ala Rawls.

I don't share your intuitions about letting other people starve. As you recognize, both of us and nearly every other American and European does this everyday, so long as the starving are not directly visible. And even if I did share your intuition about the morality of letting other people starve, that is a separate question from whether or not it is ok to force people to give to charity.

It all boils down to force,

It all boils down to force, matt. you apparently believe individuals can morally be forced into giving up thier income/property for the 'public good' and i do not. it matters not to me the situation, or if the person taking my property is 'nice' or makes an excellent argument for taking it, the decision should ultimately and morally be left to me. the symantic trickery about the terms 'socialism/communism' is useless as its the same outcome to me, the individual. i don't care if crystal rubbing hippies or jack booted nazi's take my property, its still gone.

I think my argument did

I think my argument did adequately respond to your critique, by demonstrating how any political philosophy other than libertarianism does not sufficiently respect individual rights or autonomy.
it didn't address it at all. My argument was that libertarians don't have a moral highground regarding justice or people's rights. You made an argument from principle about the origins of labor in a vaccuum.

socialists and libertarians do not share the same basic moral intuitions about physical property ownership
I disagree. For every "history of labor" libertarian argument, there is a good "history of property" anarchist argument. I tend not to make them because, while I think it's important, I don't think arguing on such abstract grounds (as libs are apt to do) is very smart in such a complex world. If you think you have a good "just history of property" argument, please, by all means...

To make the nonproductive worker more autonomous requires making the productive worker less autonomous. I hardly see how this results in more autonomy than libertarianism, unless we assume that the nonproductive worker?s autonomy is more valuable than the productive worker.
you are concentrating on the autonomy of the producer, when the consumer in this case is starving to death. There's no doubt that we have strong moral intuitions about people owning such thing. Your argument makes a good thought expiriment that makes vivide precisely those intuitions- nothing more nothing less. Your argument can't be that we belive in an individuals rights, but that we belive in these certain rights absolutely regardless of how they effect others' rights. When we talk about the rights of a CEO to smoke a cigar made from a $100 bill while sneering at a starving person, you are apt to taker us back to this analogy. Why is that? Are all the starving mans rights completely overridden by this CEOs rights to "his" product, to the nth degree? I don't know, but it certainly seems less vivid when we're no longer talking about hunters and gatherers.

From what I understand, becoming super super rich tends to be the result of luck (be it lottery winning or inheritance, or climbing the corporate ladder), and luck is morally neutral. These aren't hardworkers trying to catch a needed break, but instead blips on a bell curve.

Also include any disincentive effects which make both workers (i.e. society) worse off, ala Rawls.
this seems to me a misunderstanding of Rawls second principle of justice which says explicitely the opposite.

As you recognize, both of us and nearly every other American and European does this everyday, so long as the starving are not directly visible.
this probably has to do with certain spheres of morality, and while they are interesting issues, I don't know why you are tempted to draw the conclusions you draw from them. We are more apt to give a piece of bread to a pigeon than to send the 10 ce3nts over to Africa. Interesting, sure, but what of it? Does that prove that pigeons are morally more worthy than africans?

And even if I did share your intuition about the morality of letting other people starve, that is a separate question from whether or not it is ok to force people to give to charity.
well oddly, Micha, your "africa" example makes a good argument to precisely this point. SUppose it's the case (which seems likely to me) that giving to starving africans is deemed a morally admirable thing to do, but it has three probelms:
a. it's very inconvenient, and doing the appropriate research on such a thing is time consuming.
b. there is an "out of sight of out mind" flaw, in which we can ignore our impulses.
c. the rewards of such a donation are limited because one person can do only a little good.

Those problems could be easily overcome by a taxation system in which people working to gether make a large, noticable dent in african starvation.

It all boils down to force, matt. you apparently believe individuals can morally be forced into giving up thier income/property for the ?public good? and i do not.
qwest, the problem is with precisely such a boiling down. It allows you to conveniently ignore all the rights that are unprotected by concentrating on these hypothetical rights of the laborers. Millions of people's freedoms of are unprotected in the private sphere? It's okay because I have a nice abstract right that covers everything. A person who's really concerned about rights would consider actual freedoms, not just hypothetical ones.

Veru generous of you to

Veru generous of you to donate your brain to medical science. Better done posthumously, though.

Very generous of you to

Very generous of you to donate your brain to medical science. Might have been better done posthumously, though.

[...] w many more failures

[...] w many more failures and deaths are necessary before everyone rejects this horrible idea? How many indeed? [...]