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Mutualism, Localism, Free Trade, Multi-National Enterprises

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In Enemies of What State?, mutualist Kevin Carson, in yet another strawman attack on "vulgar libertarians" (libertarians I know are not Thatcherites or Reaganites, for example) and "free market" advocates who are really statists or "economic fascists," writes:

The American corporate economy has been statist to its core since its beginnings in the late 19th century. There wouldn't even be a national market at all, or national corporations serving it, had it not been for the land grant railroads and other subsidies to long-distance shipping that made possible artificially large firms and market areas.

I disagree with the assertion bolded above. Certaintly, the mutualists and various left-libertarian mutualist-symps have not demonstrated this oft-repeated claim, which his basically a paeen to primitivism and the confused notion of localism, IMO. I think they are letting their personal preference for some kind of agrarian, simple society where people are not "alienated" from labor creep into their social analysis and predictions. To the contrary, in my view, in a free (anarchist) society, there would be even more "national" and indeed international trade, and probably even more "national" and even multi-national corporations and firms.

(For a good short post on the benefits of long-distance trade, see Robert Higgs, Miracles We Take For Granted; for a good critique of the economics of "localism," see Bob Murphy, The Worst Economics Article Ever?.)

Stephan Kinsella is an attorney in Houston, director of the Center for the Study of Innovative Freedom, and editor of Libertarian Papers.

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