“Firstly, the phrase ‘the meaning of a word’ is a spurious phrase. Secondly and consequently, a re-examination is needed of phrases like the two which I discuss, ‘being a part of the meaning of’ and ‘having the same meaning’. On these matters, dogmatists require prodding: although history indeed suggests that it may sometimes be better to let sleeping dogmatists lie.” John L. Austin

Dictionaries often have different definitions– particularly for some “political” terminology like “socialism” and “capitalism.” It is useless to debate varying dictionary definitions, but the words below will help you see the context of some of the ideas and words on this website so you have an idea what I mean while using these words. How others use them may vary.

A Tentative Definitions List

Artificial Scarcity– a scarcity created by intervention, be they the State or other, rather than a natural scarcity or scarcity based on a intervention-free market of exchange. It is the “limiting of production of goods and services which would otherwise be plentiful and inexpensive” (to create a monopoly often brought about with patents and copyright). source | also see: artificial scarcities and artificial abundance

Artificial Property Right– a right that creates artificial scarcity (and/or monopolies). It is a property right based on decree by law or the State, rather than the natural right of property based on Lockean principles of natural law. They “enable the privileged to appropriate productivity gains for themselves, rather than allowing their benefits to be socialized through market competition…Privileged sellers [with artificial property rights] can charge consumers in proportion to their increased utility, despite the decreased cost of supplying the good.”  source | also see Thomas Hodgskin

“Property” is defined below under “Property”

Capitalism– usury, aka rent (aka interest, and profit, or “capitulatism”). Rent, profit, and interest are often separated, but profit and interest are both rent (usury). Capitalism is privilege or gratuitous appropriation, i.e. usury, with artificial “ownership Rights to control access to natural opportunities.” Capitalism can happen between two or more people or systemically ‘where the State intervenes in the economy on behalf of capitalists to create artificial scarcities, artificial property rights, erect entry barriers, enforce monopolies, and cartels so capitalists can collect rents…because free competition is prevented from driving the price of things to their true cost of production.’ Kevin Carson

“Profit” is defined below under “Profit”

types of capitalists

Libertarians sometimes debate whether the “real” or “authentic” meaning of a term like “capitalism” is (a) the free market, or (b) government favoritism toward business, or (c) the separation between labor and ownership, an arrangement neutral between the other two; Austrians tend to use the term in the first sense; individualist anarchists in the Tuckerite tradition tend to use it in the second or third. But in ordinary usage, I fear, it actually stands for an amalgamation of incompatible meanings.

Suppose I were to invent a new word, “zaxlebax,” and define it as “a metallic sphere, like the Washington Monument.” That’s the definition — “a metallic sphere, like the Washington Monument. ” In short, I build my ill-chosen example into the definition. Now some linguistic subgroup might start using the term “zaxlebax” as though it just meant “metallic sphere,” or as though it just meant “something of the same kind as the Washington Monument.” And that’s fine. But my definition incorporates both, and thus conceals the false assumption that the Washington Monument is a metallic sphere; any attempt to use the term “zaxlebax,” meaning what I mean by it, involves the user in this false assumption. That’s what Rand means by a package-deal term.

Now I think the word “capitalism,” if used with the meaning most people give it, is a package-deal term. By “capitalism” most people mean neither the free market simpliciter nor the prevailing neomercantilist system simpliciter. Rather, what most people mean by “capitalism” is this free-market system that currently prevails in the western world. In short, the term “capitalism” as generally used conceals an assumption that the prevailing system is a free market. And since the prevailing system is in fact one of government favoritism toward business, the ordinary use of the term carries with it the assumption that the free market is government favoritism toward business.

And similar considerations apply to the term “socialism.” Most people don’t mean by “socialism” anything so precise as state ownership of the means of production; instead they really mean something more like “the opposite of capitalism.” Then if “capitalism” is a package-deal term, so is “socialism” — it conveys opposition to the free market, and opposition to neomercantilism, as though these were one and the same.

And that, I suggest, is the function of these terms: to blur the distinction between the free market and neomercantilism. Such confusion prevails because it works to the advantage of the statist establishment: those who want to defend the free market can more easily be seduced into defending neomercantilism, and those who want to combat neomercantilism can more easily be seduced into combating the free market. Either way, the state remains secure. from:Roderick Long‘s Rothbard Memorial Lecture (“Rothbard’s ‘Left and Right’: Forty Years Later“)

more from Long to clear it up, or not, here, as shown below in his “control of the mop” chart:control-of-the-mop

  • socialism-1 control of the means of production by society (whether organized via the state or not)- SOOTMOP
  • capitalism-1 control of the means of production by private individuals (albeit perhaps contractually associated)- POOTMOP
  • socialism-2 control of the means of production by the workers themselves- WOOTMOP
  • capitalism-2 control of the means of production by someone other than the workers – i.e., by capitalist owners- OOOTMOP, “O” meaning “outside”
  • Long’s table above is essentially a poorer version of David Ellerman’s “Institutional” table posted below under “institutions.”

capitalism vs. capitalism

capitalism: the known reality


Hans-Hermann Hoppe’s view of capitalism

Brainpolice: both “capitalism” and “socialism” have multiple meanings throughout history and across the nuances of the spectrum of political ideology, and that “anarchism” could be said to (1) have an ambiguous relationship with both of them and (2) be distinguished from and opposed to both of them, depending on the particular meaning used. At a minimum, it is more accurate to separate them both into authoritarian and libertarian senses, hence why some anarchists (myself included) have come to use the dual-terminology of “state-socialism vs. social anarchism” and “state-capitalism vs. free markets”. As far as the history of anarchism goes, the distinction between anarchism and state-socialism was made most clear by Benjamin Tucker’s writing “State Socialism and Anarchism: How Far They Agree and Wherein They Differ.”

Capitalism/interest grows money supplies, and often inflation. For example, if there were only $100 in the world, and $5 were loaned at an interest rate of $1 on pay back, where would the $1 come from if there were only $100 in existence? Interest requires a money supply increase (until a point where the supply and loaned/interest have reached a balance). With more money supplied, the risk of more loans/interest may follow, in turn demanding the supply increases. A larger supply of money can lower purchasing power, i.e. cause inflation. Currencies can be devalued so $1 has more purchasing power to offset inflation, but ultimately interest translates to money supply growth, and devalued currencies, which in turn often translates into a need for more loans, and therefore a supply growth need…and on and on…

Institutions– can be alienist or inalienist, this is the crux of the libertarian question, and where the problems lay with government, and minarchism as well. David Ellerman laid it out nicely here.

hi res PDF of image above^

Ellerman’s original:Inalienist-diagram

LTV– labor theory of value– prices of reproducible capital or consumer goods, under the influence of SVT and free/open competition, will head towards the labor cost of production over time (cost becomes the limit of price). Surplus gains (prices higher than cost of production) are short lived without monopoly or competition “the great leveler of prices to the labor cost of production.” Benjamin Tucker

The SVT (subjective value theory (defined below)) is a component and snap-shot of LTV, together they create price in capitalist arrangements.

LTP– labor theory of property– appropriate negative and positive fruits of labor as owners of action (more: here, and here)

Some insight in regards to Marxism as a capitalist tool that are worth considering in relation to the LTP vs the LTV:

the capitalism-socialism debate was a debate between private and state capitalism (i.e., the private or public employment system), and the debate was as misframed as would be a debate between the private or public ownership of slaves…In Marx’s labor theory of value (LTV) [1967], was he a precursor to the labor theory of property (LTP)? There are two versions of what might be called broadly “the labor theory of value,” labor as the measure of (surplus) value and labor as the source of (the value of ) the product. The LTV follows the measure theory while the LTP can be seen as a development of the “source” theory. And in the source theory, “value” actually plays no role whatsoever. The point is that labor is the sole responsible factor (“source” in that sense); things cannot be responsible for anything. Thus Marx and the LTP can be seen on different branches of the “labor theory” tree, but it is something of a stretch to see Marx as taking the LTP branch…The most direct precursors to the LTP were the “small band” of classical laborists (or so-called “Ricardian socialists”) such as Hodgskin [1823], Thompson [1824], and Proudhon [1840]. However, they were blown off the conventional intellectual map by Marx who took the discourse in a rather different direction (barely related to the LTP)…Marx accepted the capitalist-apologetics’ bogus framing of the questions and then took the other side of the pseudo-questions. Thus Marx and Marxism have somewhat inadvertently become an essential part of the apologetics for the “capitalist” system by agreeing to the bogus framing of the issues. Here are the major examples of huge favors Marx did for capitalist apologetics:

1) “Capitalism is based on private property rights.”

Rather than showing how those governance rights are creatures of the employment contract (the master-servant relation), Marx did capitalist apologetics a huge favor by accepting their argument that those rights were part of the “private ownership of the means of production.” Accordingly, Marx then concluded that such private property had to be overthrown. Capitalist apologists couldn’t ask for a better “opponent.”

This idea that “rulership” is part of capital ownership has become so widely accepted that it could be called the “fundamental myth” of the capitalist system.

Marx’s “ownership of the means of production,” indeed Marx’s notion of “capital,” involves the fundamental myth. By “capital” Marx did not simply mean financial or physical capital goods; he meant those goods used by wage labor with private ownership of the means of production. Otherwise, “capital” becomes just the “means of labor.” In short,

.          Marx’s “capital” = “means of labor” + “contractual role of being the firm.”

If one wishes to use the word “capital” in that Marxian sense, then one gives up being able to talk about the “ownership of capital” since there is no “ownership” of a contractual role. But Marx continued to talk about “capital” (in the sense that includes residual claimancy) as being owned in a linguistic move that might be called a “semantic straddle.”

…After thus redefining “ownership” as a contractual role, they then straddle back to the old meaning and talk of it as a property right. Those are some of the thought patterns in both Marxist thought and in orthodox economics that sustain the fundamental myth that “capitalism is based on private property rights.”

2) “The basic question is: consent versus coercion.”

… According to the liberal-version of intellectual history, autocracies and slavery were overthrown because they were based on coercion (liberals put the whole contractarian apologia for those systems down the memory-hole), while capitalism is based on a voluntary contract, the labor contract, and thus it cannot be compared to those older systems. Instead of criticizing that whole bogus framing of the question, Marx again did capitalist apologetics a huge favor by accepting the consent-vs.-coercion framing of the question and then arguing on various grounds that the labor contract was not “really” voluntary—as if it would be acceptable if it was really voluntary.

…Again Marx was heaven-sent for capitalist apologetics who can correctly point out that, by any juridical standards, the employment contract is voluntary

3) “Value theory is the intellectual battleground to analyze capitalism.”

…Marx did capitalist apologetics another huge favor by accepting value theory as the field of intellectual battle and then developing the “labor theory” as a labor theory of value…

4) “Inalienable rights!? Nonsense on stilts!”

…In spite of the intellectual history of the inalienable rights critique of the individual slavery contract and the politicalpactum subjectionis in the abolitionist and democratic movements, Marx understood none of this and worked within the liberal framing of the consent-vs.-coercion question. Within that framing, the inalienability critique of a fully voluntary contract has no role, and here again Marx did a huge favor for capitalist apologetics accepting their ‘neglect’ of the inalienable rights tradition.

5) “Democracy is only relevant in the public sphere; capitalist enterprises are private.”

…Instead of challenging the capitalist premise that “democracy” was only a thing for the public sphere while enterprises were private, Marx and the so-called “democratic” socialist tradition accepted that dichotomy and then concluded that enterprises could only be made “democratic” by making them publicly owned. Thus state capitalism in a political democracy was seen as “democratic socialism.” Again Marx and the “democratic” socialist tradition did a huge favor for capitalist apologetics by accepting the quarantining of the democratic principles in the “public sphere” and then arguing that economic enterprises (or at least the large ones in the “commanding heights” of the economy) should be moved to the “public” side of the ledger and thus made “democratic.

…Many who argue that big corporations should be “democratized” have no clue about LTP or inalienable rights theory, and only argue that since big corporations are in some sense “social” they should fall in the “public sphere” and thus be in some sense subject to “democratic” control. This is like an “abolitionist” arguing that big slave plantations were inherently “social” and thus should be held accountable to public standards, not like some dark private abode where the master would be unchecked. Again Marx played into the hands of capitalist apologetics by accepting the public-vs.-private framing of the question, and by arguing for public rather than private ownership of the means of production.

…Many who argue that big corporations should be “democratized” have no clue about LTP or inalienable rights theory, and only argue that since big corporations are in some sense “social” they should fall in the “public sphere” and thus be in some sense subject to “democratic” control. This is like an “abolitionist” arguing that big slave plantations were inherently “social” and thus should be held accountable to public standards, not like some dark private abode where the master would be unchecked. Again Marx played into the hands of capitalist apologetics by accepting the public-vs.-private framing of the question, and by arguing for public rather than private ownership of the means of production.

Marx blew the real precursors of the LTP off the orthodox intellectual map since Marx accepted the bogus framing of the questions by capitalist apologetics and thus Marx became the perfect “true opponent” or foil on the intellectual battlefield. In that sense, Marx and Marxism could be seen as the perfect intellectual opposition just as the Soviet Union was the perfect real world example as “the” alternative to capitalism. Both sides in the Cold War agreed on that framing of the Great Debate. Now the Soviet Union and that whole “model” is gone, but capitalist apologists and their Marxist counterparts are less willing to toss their “Great (pseudo-)Debate” into the dustbin of intellectual history.

For at least the above five reasons, Marx has been a blessing to capitalist apologetics and an unmitigated disaster for the critique of the employment system. In terms of popular culture, it is as if Marx was sent back by the capitalists of the future as the “terminator” of the libertarian and democratic left, and that Marx did his job all too well. Marxism has become the ultimate capitalist tool.

Libertarianism- anarchism | the libertarian left

Libertarianism- Thin– the non-aggression principle (NAP) alone is a sufficient way to answer questions of action– liberty and life/society. As an aside I don’t see why self-ownership alone, without non-aggression could also be considered “thin” as it has been argued that NAP is not needed because self-ownership necessarily leads to non-aggression anyway. One way or the other, it seems the thin approach has Occam in mind.

brainpolice: Libertarianism is not a purely legalistic theory or a legal system, it is a social philosophy that functions as a guide for evaluating legal systems and as a pretext for legal systems. Once the libertarian pretext for a legal system is established, that’s when there’s a cut off point beyond which there is pluralism or neutrality. But one cannot just conceptually superimpose whatever kind of legal system one wants onto libertarianism, as if it’s completely arbitrary. Libertarianism as a social philosophy provides a clear criteria for establishing a legal system; the legal system cannot undermine the ethical norms or it is inconsistant. Libertarianism cannot rationally be bundled with values or preferances that directly or indirectly contradict it, such as an authoritarian legal framework.

In short, Walter Block is conceptually putting the cart before the horse. A libertarian ethical framework provides the context for a legitimate legal system. A legitimate legal system does not create that context, that context must be established prior to the formation of any legal system. Individual sovereignty is not a principle that only applies after a legal system has been established. The non-aggression principle is not a floating abstraction and contextless axoim that somehow constitutes a legal system. It is a very specific principle that has a specific relationship to other ethical concepts and a specific definition of its terms. It requires a more integrated theory of interpersonal ethics to be made clear, otherwise it’s reduced to meaninglessness.

Libertarianism- Thick– more than “one” principle is involved in “consistent” libertarianism …a ‘dialectical’ approach to libertarianism.

Libertarianism- Medium “a thick and thin sandwich” EMn

Libertarianism- One Drop– a single connection to the state is not libertarian (coined by Steve Horwitz?)

►Libertarianism- Plumbline an anything that is voluntary NAP-centric approach to libertarianism that holds ‘private property rights’ as central, and most importantly a ‘neutral’ view (or maybe blinders) towards the left/right divide/scale, or dichotomy, to include leftist and rightists in the Plumbline Camp. It’s sort of like a Unitarian Universalism church of  libertarianism, where left and right are ignored (to some degree) for the embrace of what amounts to, ultimately, a ‘puritanical’ thin-libertarianism (advocated by Walter Block and Hoppe). Two problems I see with ‘plumblinism’ is deciding just where to drop that plumbline of purity along the left to right spectrum, and how to decide where coercion begins.

Libertarianism- Vulgar see “vulgar” below

Left-libertarianism ‘variety’ | What is left-libertarianism?


Libertarian Taxonomy

Mutualism link

Marginal Productivity Theory– MPT- paid what is produced… “each according to what he and the instruments he owns produces” Friedman.

Marginal Utility– MU- satisfaction or benefit from consuming a product. MU is used to explain prices, but prices are usually needed to explain MU, is this circular reasoning?

Neomercantilism– state-driven economic protectionism to grow industrial and commercial infrastructure, including monetary policies to ensure “development” by controlling capital todiscourage domestic consumption as a means of increasing foreign reserves and promoting capital development. This involves protectionism on a host of levels: both protection of domestic producers, discouraging of consumer imports, structural barriers to prevent entry of foreign companies into domestic markets, manipulation of the currency value against foreign currencies and limitations on foreign ownership of domestic corporations… to develop export markets to developed countries, and selectively acquire strategic capital, while keeping ownership of the asset base in domestic hands.

Political economy– analyzing and explaining the ways in which various sorts of government affect the allocation of scarce resources in society through their laws and policies as well as the ways in which the nature of the economic system and the behavior of people acting on their economic interests affects the form of government and the kinds of laws and policies that get made. source

Property“Property . . . violates equality by the rights of exclusion and increase, and freedom by despotism . . . [and has] perfect identity with robbery.” Proudhon see this: link

There are four kinds of “property” (a monopoly) protected by the State: (1) the power to issue credit and currency, the basis of capitalist banking; (2) land and buildings, the basis of landlordism; (3) productive tools and equipment, the basis of industrial capitalism; (4) ideas and inventions, the basis of copyright and patent (“intellectual property”) royalties– monopoly. They are all rents or usurious.

also see “artificial property right” at the top of the page

Profit– surplus-value/rent received after everyone who contributes to production has been remunerated. Capitalist economists try to separate rent from profit saying rent does not include “risks” whereas profits do.

Rent– a credit or a right to ownership of material and immaterial resources that grant the appropriation of surplus based on a relation of distribution other than any normal function in the process of production. In other words,

surplus-value/profit expropriation from:

1. interest or financial rent- privatization of currency and public debt

2. scarcity, natural or artificial(monopoly, Intellectual Property Rights)

3. ground rent– the transformation of land and labor into fictitious commodities- de-socialization, re-socialization and then new de-socialization

Socialism– low to no rents/profits- worker owed production, where workers receive/divide profit/surplus-value to receive their full product, it is not siphoned out of their pockets as in the case of capitalism (this holds for reproducible goods anyway)

“Socialism, practically, is war upon usury in all its forms, the great Anti-Theft Movement of the nineteenth century; and Socialists are the only people to whom the preachers of morality have no right or occasion to cite the eighth commandment, “Thou shalt not steal!” That commandment is Socialism’s flag.” Benjamin Tucker

Mutualists advocate free-market socialism, collectivist anarchist advocate workers cooperatives and salaries based on the amount of time contributed to production, anarcho-communists advocate a direct transition from capitalism to libertarian communism, and anarcho-syndicalists advocate worker’s direct action and the general strike to abolish privilege.

Socialist Definitional Free-for-All

State– “…the sum total of the political, legislative, judiciary, military and financial institutions through which the management of their own affairs, the control over their personal behavior, the responsibility for their personal safety, are taken away from the people and entrusted to others who, by usurpation or delegation, are vested with the power to make laws for everything and everybody, and to oblige the people to observe them, if need be, by the use of collective force.” Malatesta

A “state” is not “society,” but a monopoly instituted by taxes or theft to manage/govern the affairs of society through centralized hierarchical institutions that may or may not reflect to desires of every citizen in that that society. see: To Be Governed Not At All!; Self Governance

Surplus-value– value difference between the cost of production and the price: profit/rent.

SVT- subjective-value theory– value based on consumer’s preference or wants/needs and/or supply-demand. A component and snap-shot of LTV, in that together they are embedded in the price system. SVT (w/ MPT) and LTV are often pitted against each other as antithetical, usually capitalism/SVT vs communism/LTV. In reality they are both based on distribution, not property (see LTP above).

Vulgar libertarianism- coined by Kevin Carson. Roderick Long suggests using “right and left conflationism” instead of, or in addition to, using “vulgar.”

“Vulgar libertarian apologists for capitalism use the term “free market” in an equivocal sense: they seem to have trouble remembering, from one moment to the next, whether they’re defending actually existing capitalism or free market principles. So we get the standard boilerplate article in The Freeman arguing that the rich can’t get rich at the expense of the poor, because “that’s not how the free market works”–implicitly assuming that this is a free market. When prodded, they’ll grudgingly admit that the present system is not a free market, and that it includes a lot of state intervention on behalf of the rich. But as soon as they think they can get away with it, they go right back to defending the wealth of existing corporations on the basis of “free market principles.”” Kevin Carson Studies in Mutualist Political Economy, p. 142

“The ideal ‘free market’ society of such people, it seems, is simply actually existing capitalism, minus the regulatory and welfare state: a hyper-thyroidal version of nineteenth century robber baron capitalism, perhaps; or better yet, a society ‘reformed’ by the likes of Pinochet, the Dionysius to whom Milton Friedman and the Chicago Boys played Aristotle.” Kevin Carson Studies in Mutualist Political Economy

Vulgar Libertarianism, Neoliberalism, and Corporate Welfare: A Compendium of Posts

Thin Libertarianism is a Vulgar Libertarianism

Vulgar political economy– “deliberately becomes increasingly apologetic and makes strenuous attempts to talk out of existence the ideas which contain the contradictions.” Marx, Theories of Surplus Value, III, p. 501.

Left-conflationism is the error of treating the evils of existing corporatist capitalism as though they constituted an objection to a freed market.

Right-conflationism is the error of treating the virtues of a freed market as though they constituted a justification of the evils of existing corporatist capitalism.


Anarchy is Order, meow


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