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April 20, 2017



"It’s right-wingers who support bosses and top-down planning who are out-of-date crude Marxists. We lefties have moved on."

Sounds like you have moved on... by becoming an anarchist or libertarian socialist. After all, it was the anarchists from Proudhon onwards who advocated workers' control of production, opposed centralisation, etc.

So, some progress!


Of course the "we" here is doing an awful lot of work -- most lefties in Britain are not devotees of organic social change. While many on the right may still have too much faith in economic rationality, many on the left continue to believe in the powers of bureaucratic rationality.

Oakeshott is presented here as a passive figure who would always let things unfold on current arrangements, as if his conservatism was all procedure and no substance. But on the substance: he was hostile to EEC membership and considered mass immigration the result of the kind of managerial government activity to which he was opposed ("to extend the 'plurality' of our society").

Hayek would say that as long as major corporate 'tyrannies' are subject to market competition then there is nothing wrong with their use of central planning - the market will decide. In fact, he would say that if worker democracy was the optimal form of corporate governance, we'd see a lot more of it in actually existing capitalist societies.


Our blogger is trying to stimulate discussions by equivocating a bit, like right-wingers do far more, between "being cautious" and political "conservativism".
I reckon that political "conservatives" recommend caution opportunistically because as others have noted they can be rather daring than cautious, when it becomes convenient for them.
Because political "conservativism" is not really about being cautious, about the wisdom of the ages, but about protecting the interests of incumbents.
Preaching gradualism and caution of course *usually* serves the interests of incumbents well, especially when the argument they make is that getting rid of bad masters (themselves) might result in getting even worse ones; but when those interests are better served by daring, even abrupt, change, that is what political "conservatives" do and quite ruthlessly too.

The saying "change everything so that everything remains the same" reads like a contradiction in terms until it is more explicitly rewritten as "change everything so that incumbents can continue to be so".

Viceversa gradual, cautious evolution as advocated by our blogger (and recognized by bearded Karl) can displace incumbents more surely if more slowly.


But you just demonstrate that Conservatism is dead in the new politic.

You have always been an anarchist.... the very definition of an extremist non-fanatical Marxist.

The short spout of anarchist violence in the late 19th and early 20th centuries left many empathetic "left wing" souls unable to claim to be anarchists.

With the swing so far to the right of "so called" conservatives the argument for violence in the fight against their coercion is likely to gain traction.

But anarchy has been so maligned for so long that it has been all but forgotten. The new anarchists will be labelled Trots by the fascists...... and round we go again.

Anarchy has never been understood by the populace.


In this fast moving fake news world politicians that want to hold on to power need to be seen to be acting, pushing an agenda, anything to be noticed.

To businesses, and to only a slightly lesser extent workers, pensioners etc. this is a nightmare.
Nothing can be planned, investment must be put on hold. We have absolutely no idea where we will be next year.

And that was true even before Brexit.

I have made 2 very reasonable decisions in the last five years that have cost me dear as the law changed.

Could this be the real reason for the lack of investment and productivity?

If one cannot plan then only a hedged speculation is attractive.


"To businesses, and to only a slightly lesser extent workers, pensioners etc. this is a nightmare."

Unless a person or corporation with influence driving regulation of course!


"It’s right-wingers who support bosses and top-down planning who are out-of-date crude Marxists. We lefties have moved on."

Some supporting evidence for this claim via a quick international anecdote from earlier this week. I live in Australia and spend my time working on migration policy. We've just had a conservative (called the Liberals) government introduce a top-down, bureaucrat-planned occupation list dictating where exactly migrants are allowed to work. Instead of using prices and incentives, it is an attempt to plan via addition regulatory methods their policy goal.

Not even the previous Labor Government tried this level of intervention (in fact they introduced a much broader list of occupations in an attempt to allow employers flexibility in the labour market during our "mining boom").

roger gathmann

Nice that Marxist are characterized by jon Elster, the guy who threw away most of Marx and in its place substituted methodological individualism, while the right are characterized by someone who actually represents the right. Why not quote Marx? A better analysis of Marx's use of the phrase comes from Hal Draper, who usefully quotes ... Marx saying that communism “is the declaration of the permanence of the revolution, the class dictatorship of the proletariat as the necessary transit point to the abolition of class distinctions generally”. For a better analysis of the phrase, look here: https://www.marxists.org/subject/marxmyths/hal-draper/article2.htm

Doc at the Radar Station

I am skeptical about being able to decentralize production of goods and services. IOW, we are going to have elites no matter what. Sometimes the elite's interests align with the everyday worker - like they generally did in the post WWII boom - sometimes they are in great misalignment as they are now. The most likely way to get them aligned again - to have skin in the same game - is economic nationalism, and that's where we are headed now. That path is a chaotic and potentially dangerous one, but I think it's inevitable.

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