Monday, September 16, 2013

Mutualism, Could It Work?

"Mutualism" was the topic of a recent post, in which Kevin Carson argued that if we "eliminate the barriers — mostly imposed by the state — between our skills and effort and what we consume.... we could probably produce our current standard of living on a 10-15 hour work week." The Fall precludes such a world ever coming into being, perhaps, but I think the idea makes two important contributions in correcting two very wrong assumptions.

First, Mr. Carson, unlike some proponents of Anarcho-capitalism, recognizes "that the state has also transferred wealth to the wealthy by subsidizing organizational centralization, in the form of transportation and communication subsidies." Lew Rockwell and his friends would be wiser to remember this the next time they are tempted to pen their next Ode to a Big Box. Those monstrous places could not exist without the myriad of state subsidies, seen and unseen, that sustain them.

Second, and more importantly, by even suggesting that "we could probably produce our current standard of living on a 10-15 hour work week," or even anywhere near our current standard of living, Mr. Carson does a great service to our world by countering the noxious notion that 50, 60, 70, even 80 hour work weeks are somehow normal and part of a natural and unstoppable trend. Somehow, too many of us, have come to think that just because with technological "labor-saving" advances we can work 24/7, we should work 24/7. This had really got to end before it ends us. Sadly, too many workers in an effort to distinguish themselves and make themselves "indispensable" are in reality doing nothing more that digging their own graves.

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