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America's Counter-Revolution
The Constitution Revisited

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This book challenges the assumption that the Constitution was a landmark in the struggle for liberty. Instead, Sheldon Richman argues, it was the product of a counter-revolution, a setback for the radicalism represented by America’s break with the British empire. Drawing on careful, credible historical scholarship and contemporary political analysis, Richman suggests that this counter-revolution was the work of conservatives who sought a nation of “power, consequence, and grandeur.” America’s Counter-Revolution makes a persuasive case that the Constitution was a victory not for liberty but for the agendas and interests of a militaristic, aristocratic, privilege-seeking ruling class.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

I'm Not Getting It

Okay, I was wrong. It wasn't my last post on the French protests. Kevin Carson's post prompted this from me:
Kevin, you write, "But the decision of what aspects of statism to dismantle first should be guided by an overall strategy of dismantling state capitalism as a system." This assumes we will control the agenda for dismantling. But we won't. Rothbard may have supported the French students in 1968, but he also said often that we should take anything we can get when it comes to peeling back state power. Rather than opposing the CPE, the anti-corporativists should use it to emphasize the need to really dismantle the corporate state. If CPE is junked, I don't expect to see attention turned to the overall system; things will just go on as they were. Hard as I try, I don't really see the strategic vision here.
Another thing: it stands to reason that a law prohibiting the firing of young workers would be a heavier burden on an upstart competitor than on an large incumbent firm. If so, then ending that law would be a relative benefit to the challenger. In other words, the new French law, regardless of intentions, does to a small degree roll back the corporate state by giving new competitors a shot they did not have before.


Anonymous said...

What worries me is that the CPE is in fact a whole new law, giving employers the RIGHT to fire within the first 2 years of employment. Does this not effectively override any contractual obligations the employers make with the workers? Sounds most certainly like an extension of privelege to me, and not at all laissez faire.


Anonymous said...

Ok, just to back up what I said in the previous post: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/4816306.stm

It's nothing official, but it's the best I could find in short notice. Notice the law gives employers unjust leverage in employment negotiations. Within the first 2 years, the ball is in their court.
I won't dispute that the new law would probably have a marginally postive effect on overall employment and productivity, but does that make it ok? I should think not.


Sheldon Richman said...

Good point. And it shows how statist French society is. It sounds as though the government is simply imposing a uniform initial employment contract on the affected group and its employers. It does not merely free up the employer-employee relationship, but goes well beyond that. If that is really the case, it sounds like something libertarians should oppose on principle.

Also notice how ineptly the news media have reported the story.

Brad Spangler said...

Sheldon, if you've reconsidered I can remove your name if you'd prefer -- but let me point out something I said elsewhere. The letter is not an attempt to influence state policy. Any reform attempts will have those dissatisfied with its results. The agorist revolutionary option -- self-liberation through going counter-economic and the incremental weakening of the state thereby until it eventually collapses -- avoids the ethical dilemnas of reformism. I would say that there is no contradiction with your opinion of the CPE as a reform (an expression of the natural urge to weigh some reforms as better or worse than others) and recognizing frustration among the French populace, the better to point out the revolutionary option to them. FWIW.

Kevin Carson said...

Some great discussions. I'll incorporate your and Brad's remarks in to a follow-up post of my own later today.

One thing I'd like to drag into this discussion is Chris Sciabarra's dialectical libertarianism. That is, it's not enough to evaluate any measure like CPE only in terms of whether it's good in principle, in and of itself. It must be evaluated in terms of the overall structure of which it is a part, and whether it serves to strengthen or weaken that system.

And as Brad suggests, his initial letter (and most of the commentary on it by Roderick Long and myself) was directed more to the future than to the past. The CPE is probably a done deal. The goal should be to show the French students the phony nature of "free market" reform issuing from the corporate state, and to direct their future efforts to engaging the state on ground of their own choosing.

Sheldon Richman said...

Kevin writes, "[A]ny measure like CPE ... must be evaluated in terms of the overall structure of which it is a part, and whether it serves to strengthen or weaken that system."

My concern is that this is not as much of a guide as it first appears. Will CPE strengthen or weaken the system? I see arguments both ways, but the tilt for me is toward weakening (however slightly). It is entirely conceivable that it will weaken the system by making it easier for upstart firms to compete against incumbents. Who would have a harder time with a no-fire rule--large entrenched subsidy-saturated firms, or small newcomers? The answer seems clear. Thus loosening the no-fire rule would tend to give more benefits to upstarts. Indeed, a no-fire rule seems designed to keep small competitors small and unthreatening, and even to prevent their birth in the first place. This argument of course does not overlook that the "reform" occurs in the context of the corporate state, which is pervasive and in no peril from something as small as CPE.