Comments on: Beyond Bossism Free Markets and Social Justice Mon, 22 Jan 2018 15:12:00 +0000 hourly 1 By: Beyond bossism | The Indian Economist Sun, 12 Jun 2016 19:48:51 +0000 […] This article originally appeared on Bleeding Heart Libertarian.  […]

By: Beyond Bossim - The Indian Economist Sat, 03 Oct 2015 14:04:23 +0000 […] This article originally appeared on Bleeding Heart Libertarian. […]

By: Workshop on Alex Gourevitch, _Something of Slavery Still Remains_ | Bleeding Heart Libertarians Wed, 17 Apr 2013 16:54:09 +0000 […] wage labor and “free labor.” (There are interesting points of contact with the views Gary Chartier has developed on the blog and elsewhere.) The workshop is an annual event of the Groupe de […]

By: PeaceRequiresAnarchy Wed, 02 Jan 2013 22:19:00 +0000 Gary says “reduce the perceived legitimacy of bossism” as if bossism (having/being a boss?) was unjust. I would like to know more about why he believes bosses are unjust (assuming this is his view).

By: Damien S. Sun, 18 Nov 2012 23:49:00 +0000 We could look at data, about which countries have higher levels of small business and self-employment, and try to learn something from that.

Turns out the US near the bottom of the OECD in both. Most European countries commonly dismissed as “socialist” have more, often far more, small businesses than the US. Despite the high taxes and the universal health care and the regulations and the labor laws.

I have one explanation: the US dependence on employer health insurance. The only way to count on having good insurance in the private sector is to be an employee of a big company. Individiduals get totally jerked around, and small businesses get jerked around if a sick person is in their pool. Being self-employed in the US is gambling with your health and life, and those of your family. In poor countries no one has insurance, and everyone’s gambling. In every other rich country, everyone’s covered by universal health care; the only risk of starting your own business is the usual financial risk.

I don’t know if foreign public pensions are more generous than Social Security; certainlyu corporate pensions, as opposed to national or labor union ones, act as golden handcuffs favoring big businesses… or they did until they underwent a demographic transition of lots of retirees and a smaller, aging, workforce. Maybe GM should have listened to the unions after all (who pushed for regional pension plans businesses would contribute to, that would follow workers around. But then workers *could* move around.)

By: Dan Kervick Fri, 16 Nov 2012 14:50:00 +0000 It might seem, then, that smaller, flatter firms could be expected to out-compete larger, more hierarchical ones. But we don’t see lots of smaller, flatter firms in the marketplace. Does this mean that, contrary to expectations, larger firms really are more efficient?

Once they have out-competed those larger hierarchical firms, doesn’t that just clear the ground for them to become hierarchical themselves? Nimble republican Rome out-competed a bunch of rival city states – and then it became a very large and hierarchical empire. You can’t just look at things from the standpoint of static models of competitive markets, but need to consider social evolution. Once a few large entities own everything, it doesn’t really matter if knowledge problems prevent them from operating as efficiently as leaner, more alert and more flexible entities, because there are none of those entities around anymore to compete with.

By: Ray Fri, 16 Nov 2012 12:45:00 +0000 Andy, you make a good point, but I don’t think specialization captures the entire issue. If you put 100 clones of me (or you) on a desert island, we’d still have to specialize. But on top of that, people really are unequal in their abilities. Intelligence may not be the quality that makes a good manager or entrepreneur, or scientist, or philosopher, or electrician, etc. But whatever the qualities are that make someone good at a particular job, some people have more of it than others. This makes people both dissimilar AND unequal.

By: “Freedom from arbitrary authority is a consumer good” | In defense of anagorism Fri, 16 Nov 2012 07:52:28 +0000 […] So says Gary Chartier. I’m inclined to agree that it’s a consumer good, at least in the actually existing economy. If freedom is doomed always to be an economic good, then there will always be constraints on freedom. Either freedom is impossible, or freed markets are an incremental step toward actual freedom, or freed markets can actually bring the cost of freedom all the way to zero. Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like this. […]

By: Nick Ford Fri, 16 Nov 2012 07:50:00 +0000 “If you need to get someone else’s consent before you can do something you have at least a delay and possibly a block on proceeding.”

Potentially. But that depends on the subject matter and whether it can be solved cooperatively or it must be solved collectively. I don’t think things always have to default to the collective (I wouldn’t be much of an individualist if I thought that!) and am *very much* in favor of individuals cooperating to figure stuff out.

“The more people whose consent you need, the longer the delay is likely to be and the greater is the chance that some will not consent. Isn’t it obvious that not much will get done (except talking about what might be done)?”

Well that’s only obvious if everyone has really different values and ideas about what’s going on. But to some extent or another cooperation relies on a unifcation of similar values via people. Thus figuring stuff out becomes easier in some ways in any sort of long-standing cooperation between anyone because patterns of behavior and attitudes are absorbed by our minds and we get progressively better (though not always) dealing with people and ourselves too.

“People can do what they like in free markets, so long as they don’t violate the rights of other people. So, yes, they can form communes, hierarchical companies, mutual-aid societies or whatever. But none of them is required to do any of these things. You don’t need anyone’s consent to remain as an independent contractor. But other people do need your consent before they can include you in their commune or firm or mutual-aid society.”

Well if you want to remain an independent contractor *technically* you’d need the consent of anyone you’d work for…unless you just want to walk up to people’s projects and tinker with them a little and improve them but never ask for permission… 😉

But no, I get what you’re saying here. Though I disagree because I think hierarchy tends to disrupt relations between people and makes equity a lot less possible in social arrangements. So I think those processes should be non-violently put down via economic and social pressures (not legalistic actions or violence) to the point that people understand they’re not a positive force in society and tend to disrupt beneficial human relations, etc.

Again, though, and I want to stress this because it’s important to me you understand: I don’t advocate violence or laws to be made against hierarchy. I support local and grassroots social activism via economic boycotting, various social pressures, strikes, education and so on.

“But any form of organisation that arises in a market is not itself an exemplification of market principles. An organisation replaces market relationships with someone giving orders. Even if the orders are arrived at through some democratic process, they are still orders (David Gordon makes this point in his post). In a pure market, no individual, and no collective body, orders anyone to do anything.”

I don’t necessarily see orders that are followed by consent and through mutual respect and based on individual liberty being the same as dealing with bosses and managers. Seems to me like you’re trying to blur important distinctions by overlooking the processes in each situation. Not necessarily intentionally mind you, but it’s there.

“It is not true that in a firm you need the consent of others for what you propose. The manager does not need the consent of his subordinates: he tells them what to do. If he thinks their current projects do not contribute sufficiently, or at all, to company objectives, he can tell them to abandon those projects, without consulting them about it. Of course, the subordinates consented to put themselves under managerial control when they entered the firm; but within the firm, some people give orders and others follow them.”

Yeah, I’m totally opposed to this and I think that very often (especially in today’s world) the sort of “consent” that’s going on comes from a lack of options due to the hegemonic control over the economy and furthermore through capital that the state and bosses have. As well as the artificial barriers to entry and the many monopolies and various other ways in which today’s markets are rigged and captured in favor of a small elite of people to the detriment of the many.

All of these things lead to *severely* limited autonomy for the workers and their choices and whether they can work for themselves, with their fellow workers or under someone.

“That it can be advantageous to obtain knowledge and input from a range of people does not imply that you require the consent of those people before you can proceed.”

Sure, I agree. But sometimes it does. It depends. I didn’t meant to imply that it *always* implies that so sorry if it sounded otherwise.

“There is nothing specious about the fact that none of us consented to the social arrangements that we were born into. It is a fact of substantial importance.”


“It is impossible to understand people or society without taking account of it. The failure to take account of it has led philosophers into ‘The Errors of Constructivism’ (see Hayek’s paper of that title; also Popper’s ‘Toward a Rational Theory of Tradition’).”

No offense but I’ve got a lot going on as in, this isn’t the *only* absurdly long debate I’m in and…well quite frankly I’m not too interested in either of these papers or topics right now.

I do appreciate the suggestions though, so thanks.

By: Nick Ford Fri, 16 Nov 2012 07:36:00 +0000 Let me start by saying that I appreciate your patience and willingness to constantly engage with the conversation even if I don’t necessarily understand or agree with all of your presumptions or conclusions. And you do so in a (mostly) friendly way, so cheers for that!

Anyways, on to my remarks:

“Efficiency does not spring only from management, and it is not only management’s responsibility. Everyone in an organisation is responsible for ensuring the efficiency of his own contribution and even of the organisation as a whole (many organisations have staff suggestion schemes). But there is an asymmetry. Managers have to-to-day responsibility for ensuring the efficiency of their subordinates, but not vice versa.”

To me, this sort of stuff just seems to come right off the pages of a companies policy and rules book or something. Hyper-idealistic about itself and unrealistic about what’s *actually* going on.

In reality I think that the majority of the responsibilities that go on in a workplace are pushed down to the workers while the managers can deal with the paperwork and the accounting and whatever else that the workers aren’t trained to do themselves. But the workers are typically going to be the ones helping the business make the money, interact with customers (if it’s in retail or something like it) and going to solve the problems if they’re competent and up to standards (and not, let’s say, new).

The managers, on the other hand aren’t really needed unless something falls out of the worker’s realm of knowledge. But then, this doesn’t mean the managers are necessary or that workers can’t be their own masters. It means the socialization of knowledge has been diluted to the extent that workers must fit within a certain paradigm of knowledge and anything past that paradigm violates the capitalistic narriative currently set in place.

What I hope to abolish (and you, I think, want to reinforce) is this capitalisitc narrative of limitations for the workers.

In any case I think that you’re actually *correct* that managers have to “ensure the efficiency” of the workers and not vice versa and that’s the problem with capitalism! There’s very little oversight the worker can do or will feel like doing. Are they gonna call corporate or higher up to deal with the managers? Call a hotline? Go to the news? I don’t think many of these “solutions” are very viable (much less are gonna come to people’s minds…).

So yeah, there doesn’t need to be more *oversight* from the workers to the management but *no management at all*.

“I don’t recognise a division into manager class and worker class.”


“Workers may well be best placed to work out the most efficient way to do a particular job. But, in general, they are not best placed to know which jobs need doing, because they are not au fait with the overall strategic position of the organisation and the opportunities and threats that it faces. That is what the top managers are for.”

This sort of things seems a *lot* less necessary when firms, markets and the culture changes such that I am imagining and have been arguing for. If we democratize work places, decentralize and socialize industry as well as open up the market place to more competition, cooperation and federation as well as other things then it seems a lot of the need for knowing *so much* that you “must” have a managerial class seems superfluous to me.

I think the managers are, in the end, despite the so-called intentions of the organization is to get in the way of the workers organizing themselves and controlling their own work and retaining the product of their own labor.

“The Mises-Hayek argument shows the efficiency of markets and the price system over central planning.”

Which also applies to big businesses…

“But you also have to take account of the Coase argument: the existence of market transaction costs shows a pure market to be less efficient than a market that contains little islands of central planning (firms). What this means is that a free market is not likely to be a pure market (it is important not to confuse those two notions – a pure market means no organisations at all).”

Well I’m not *exactly* sure what you’re trying to communicate here but I don’t support “pure markets”.

“Within the firm, there are no market prices for workers to respond to: by definition, it is not a market, it is an organisation.”

I don’t really understand this. Why do you think that markets are mutually exclusive with worker-owned firms? Is this even what you’re saying?

“So the Mises-Hayek argument does not apply within the firm, though large organisations have tried to mimic the market within the firm in order to provide incentives to efficiency (with more or less success).”

I don’t really get this either…

“When I said that workplace democracy means everyone does the same thing I meant with respect to a particular decision (what I said followed on from what I was saying in the previous paragraph). Suppose everyone decides for himself what he is going to wear to work. Now we make workwear a matter of collective decision. Big meeting. Long debate. Angry faces all round. Vote. One option selected. Now everyone wears the same thing.”

So you seem to think that the collective subsumes the individual and is somehow irreconcilable with it. I don’t believe that. I think the collective can make decisions *based* on the individual and certain things should just be left up to the individual. There’s not gonna be *one option* for the workers. There’s gonna be multiple options set forth by multiple workers and then it would go up to a matter of consensus. This is almost always what happens at that sort of stuff, unless we want to presume that workers as a class are all of one mind or something…

Which means if not all of the workers agree that certain kinds of things to wear are the best that can be left up to each workers discretion or there could be a call for a majority vote if that has enough support. But really these are trivial things that I doubt would even come up in meetings unless they were particularly relevant to the job. And further workers can decide for themselves what sorts of decisions will be put up to consensus beforehand. There’s a degree of obviousness that too many meetings can get bureaucratic so trying to balance things would be essential to *any* good firm.

Further, I don’t think that the worker’s decisions means *all* must follow it, that’s what free association/disassociation is about to begin with. If workers don’t like the way the firm is going they can, of course, leave the firm and (actually) start another firm with other fellow workers who might think more closely than they do or do their own independent thing or perhaps not do work at all if they have such the inclination.

And of course measures can be blocked or put up to future discussions and so on. I don’t think that means unwarranted bureaucracy so much as it means *much needed* discussion and debate over how something *is* and *is not* going to be handled. How often that happens and for how long is up to each individual firm and the workers within but, of course, the individuals contained within each firm are important too and the collective should be *based* on individual liberty.

“It seems to me that you want to have your cake and eat it. You want organisations and collective decisions. At the same time you want everyone to do his own thing.”

Untrue. I said workers *can* do their own projects in firms that *they* control, either individually or collectively. Both can happen in a given firm but it also requires cooperation between workers as much as it requires the recognition of each individual person as the *basis* of each collective.

“The only way to have both would be if every collective decision concluded that everyone should decide for himself. But then why waste time on collective decision-making?”

That’s not the only way to have both. You can have collective decisions based on consensus when the matter gets big enough and individual and cooperative decisions made when those are felt necessary instead of the larger collective decisions. But either way these choices are left up to the workers and not the tyranny of the majority (like you’ve suggested), bosses or managers (which you ostensibly prefer) and approximating towards no tyranny at all, however much that is possible.

“If you want no bosses, you should want no organisations, that is, you should want a pure market. But then what about the people who want to be in”

You’re conflating bosses with people who can make decisions which is, frankly, absurd. Anyone can make decisions or organize people, the trouble is in finding who can do it *best*.