London Anarchist Bookfair 24 October 2015 (and Adam Smith)

Sorry for the delay in blogging or, for that matter, posting articles. As usual, busy. Main focus has been getting the new issue of Black Flag ready for this year’s London Anarchist Bookfair. This year it is on Saturday, the 24th of October and is in a new location.

The 2015 London Anarchist Bookfair

Saturday 24th October from 10am to 7pm

Central Saint Martin’s

University of the Arts London

Granary Building

1 Granary Square

London N1C 4AA

I’ve submitted the article I’ve just posted (Poor Adam Smith) to the editorial collective a long with a couple of other pieces (a review of Russell Brand’s book and some thoughts out anarchism both of which I will post here in a bit). More on Smith later.

I’m involved in two meetings this year. First, my person one which is organised by AK Press:

Room D115 (1st floor): 5pm – 6pm

Myths About Anarchism

Anarchists have had a lot of nonsense written about them over the years. Whether it is proclaiming that we want chaos or see revolution as an easy process, the "conventional wisdom" is often at odds with reality. For instance, Kropotkin has been painted as a gentle Prince of non-violence who had an idealistic vision of social revolution. This is not true. Anarchism and anarchists have a coherent and practical vision of both social change and a better (not perfect) society. Join Iain McKay (author of An Anarchist FAQ) as he explodes some of the common myths about anarchism and anarchists.

Orgainsed by: AK Distribution (http://www.akuk.com/)

Just need to write my notes now. The problem is that there are so many myths, some just silly (like anarchists are against organisation) to those which are harder to refute (like, most of Marx’s account of Proudhon). It is a challenge and I like those. And there is An Anarchist FAQ to draw upon…

There are many myths about anarchism (or, perhaps better, anarchists) which even some (many?) anarchists hold. I know as I held them too. They are often because we really don’t know better because the key works have not been translated (or translated recently) or buried in copies of, say, Freedom available only in university library archives. Also the Woodcock and Avrich school of anarchist history has played its part – little wonder Marxists seem so keen to quote them. This is not to say that these two did not do important work (they did) but within a context or perspective which, unfortunately, skewed the popular understanding of anarchism.

And then there is the Black Flag meeting:

Room D115 (1st floor): 3pm – 4pm

Raise the Black Flag! Improving Anarchist print media impact

With "Freedom" no longer a newspaper, where now for anarchist print media? Do we need physical publications? How do we get anarchist ideas to others without them? By shouting urls at people at demonstrations, marches, strikes, occupations? We in "Black Flag" magazine think we need printed magazines to spread anarchist ideas but currently we are annual. We want that changed and we also think our movement can make better use of the resources it has. If you are a class struggle anarchist and interested in helping to produce/write/edit "Black Flag" as well as discussing how we better co-ordinate our use of printed propaganda, please join us.

Organised by: Black Flag (http://blackflagmagazine.blogspot.co.uk/)

This should be self-explanatory. We really need to get our act together. We need to, say, ensure that the new Freedom bulletin is produced for significant demos and reflect the topic of the protest. We need to ensure that Black Flag becomes more frequent and that some of the effort being focused on blogs (say) is instead directed towards print media which people who are questioning the status quo could buy.

Last time we held a meeting we got a lot of volunteers but not too many active ones. Hopefully we can build on what we have achieved and grow. But whether we do really depends on the wider movement and people getting off their bums…

As regular readers of this blog will have noticed, I’ve spent some time debunking Marx’s The Poverty of Philosophy ("some time" may be thought of by some as being unhealthily fixated upon!). A couple of things about this before I move onto Adam Smith. When I was on holiday with the family in Paris, I got a lot of Proudhon books as well as the 1913 expanded French edition of Modern Science and Anarchism (the non-translated bits really need to be available in English!). Two things. First, the anarchist bookshop in Paris is simply awesome. Second, I discovered Proudhon’s grave which is not in the Passy cemetery as Woodcock suggested in his biography of Proudhon but in Montparnasse – which came as a bit of a pleasant surprise. Anyway, I’ve now got a picture his grave to add to my ones of Durruti, Makhno and the Wall of the Federals (the Communards).

In terms of Proudhon, I was re-reading Shawn’s translation of The Philosophy of Progress and came across a nice little passage on Proudhon’s theory of value (the "law of value" he referred to in System of Economic Contradictions):

The idea of value is elementary in economics: everyone knows what is meant by it. Nothing is less arbitrary than this idea; it is the comparative relation of products which, at each moment of social life, make up wealth. Value, in a word, indicates a proportion.

Now, a proportion is something mathematical, exact, ideal, something which, by its high intelligibility, excludes caprice and fortune. There is then, above supply and demand, a law for comparison of values, therefore a rule of the evaluation of products.

But that law or rule is a pure idea, of which it is impossible, at any moment, and for any object, to make the precise application, to have the exact and true standard. Products vary constantly in quantity and in quality; the capital in the production and its cost vary equally. The proportion does not remain the same for two instants in a row: a criterion or standard of values is thus impossible. The piece of money, five grams in weight, that we call the franc, is not a fixed unity of values: it is only a product like others, which with its weight of five grams at nine-tenths silver and one-tenth alloy, is worth sometimes more, sometimes less than the franc, without us ever being able to know exactly what is its difference from the standard franc.

On what then does commerce rest, since it is proven that, lacking a standard of value, exchange is never equal, although the law of proportionality is rigorous? It is here that liberty comes to the rescue of reason, and compensates for the failures of certainty. Commerce rests on a convention, the principle of which is that the parties, after having sought fruitlessly the exact relations of the objects exchanged, come to an agreement to give an expression reputed to be exact, provided that it does not exceed the limits of a certain tolerance. That conventional expression is what we call the price.

Thus, in the order of economic ideas, the truth is in the law, and not in the transactions. There is a certainty for the theory, but there is no criterion for practice. There would not even have been practice, and society would be impossible, if, in the absence of a criterion prior and superior to it, human liberty had not found a means to supply it by contract.

This is basically what he argued in 1846 and which he called the "constitution of value" and drew other conclusions from (namely his theory of exploitation as well as money). This passage, from 1851, is much clearly than his discussion in 1846 and which Marx shamefully deliberately ignored in favour of asserting Proudhon advocated labour-notes. Talking of which, the first part of The Philosophy of Progress contains a summary of his ideas for economic reform and is worth reading. Anyway, I should have put both of those passages in Property is Theft! – but then it was big already…

The second thing related to my last blog which had a list of things Marx just made up against Proudhon. I forgot this assertion:

"What will posterity say about it?" It will not say that M. Proudhon did not know Ricardo, for he talks about him, he talks at length about him, he keeps coming back to him, and concludes by calling his system 'trash'."

So, according to Marx, Proudhon as well as not mentioning Ricardo’s ideas and so shamefully plagiarises them also discusses them at great length before dismissing them as "trash" (other translations have this as "rubbish")!

In reality Proudhon is very complementary to Ricardo. He lists Ricardo amongst the few economists whose works have "most to be commended". (Système I: 146) Ricardo is mentioned in passing (alongside the likes of Adam Smith) a few times in both volumes of System of Economic Contradictions (4 times out of 5 in volume 1, 5 out of 10 in volume 2). In volume one, Proudhon mentions Ricardo once in relation to his ideas on rent and indicates it "has given a magnificent example of the commensurability of values." (Système I: 48-9) This praise is repeated in volume two. Proudhon does dismiss, in a single paragraph (Système II: 138), Ricardo’s ideas on banking and money as "nonsense" (absurdité rather than fatras as Marx invents) but then Marx did likewise in 1859 proclaiming "the insignificance of the basic ideas", "its hollowness" and that Ricardo "resorts of dogmatic assertion". (A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy, 174)

This, it must be stressed, is not the same as dismissing Ricardo’s "system" (i.e., his labour theory of exchange value which he took from Adam Smith) as "trash" and even if Proudhon had called this part of Ricardo’s ideas "trash" this would still be polite compared to the words used by Marx against Ricardo – and many, many others.

Marx’s claims, then, are without foundation. It must also be stressed that Ricardo was a well-known economist in France, so well-known that Proudhon can mention his name in passing. As such, the notion that Proudhon thought he could plagiarise his work with immunity is hard to believe. Moreover, Ricardo made clear he considered his work as an extension and clarification of Adam Smith’s analysis and who was even better known in France. This is reflected in Proudhon's work which, in stark contrast to Marx's claim, the Frenchman made no attempt to proclaim his originality in arguing that labour regulated the price of commodities.

Which brings me to Adam Smith (I do try and make these blogs of mines reflectively logical in flow, when I can). As part of my work debunking Marx’s inventions against Proudhon, I’ve been re-reading Smith’s The Wealth of Nations as in his conclusion, Proudhon quotes it a lot. Re-reading Smith it is clear that Proudhon is taking him as his starting point – thus the notion that the wages should equal product reflects Smith’s arguments (Proudhon wanted to end the situation where workers had to "share" that product with capitalists and landlords) as does the idea that labour produces a surplus (Smith states that it is the labour of workers who feed the landlords and capitalists which is an obvious surplus).

So Proudhon was not a Ricardian socialist but rather a Smithian one. Given that Marx latter points to various British socialists who he claims utilised Ricardo in the same way he claims Proudhon did, it is interesting to note that "Ricardo is not cited in [William] Thompson’s 600-page book [An Inquiry into the Principles of the Distribution of Wealth Most Conducive to Human Happiness], and references to Ricardo in the substantial early socialist literature are relatively few and seldom very complimentary." (John E. King, David Ricardo, 165) Proudhon, then, is much more generous in his praise of Ricardo than those whom Marx claims he also plagiarised.

Proudhon quotes Smith on how combinations of masters to lower wages or increase prices are allowed while those of workers are illegal. Needless to say, the Tories are planning to make it even harder to strike by increasing the rules and regulations on labour while, at the same time, proclaiming the need to reduce rules and regulations on capital. My article Poor Adam Smith goes into this and other issues where the likes of the Adam Smith Institute is at odds with Smith.

Talking of which, I could not find any comment about these latest rules and regulations on its webpage (clearly not considered an issue!). I did come across an older article in response to public sector workers striking to defend their pensions in which union members are lectured on what the "proper" functions of our unions should be. It is worth going through.

The context is important as workers are being rebellious – that is, getting ideas above what "proper"

"The public sector trade unions are threatening strike action over plans to reform their pension arrangements. These plans are so moderate and the current arrangements so generous to public sector workers that even the Labour Party appears to support them!"

It is always good to see those who proclaim that the state is a burden and should be minimised side with it against its subjects…

In terms of "generous", that is only relative to the private sector. This mostly un-unionised sector has seen its pension provision cut and cut.

So we have a crude politics of envy which aims to level down – drag those who have done better by organising and standing up for themselves down to the level of those are happy with what is given to them by their masters.

And I thought that the politics of envy was one of the many reasons why socialism was wrong? Still, logic was never an issue when seeking to put workers back in their place…

As for the Labour Party, well, the notion that its represented working people then is a delusion. It is hardly surprising that the neo-liberal-lite party would "appear" to support the neo-liberal agenda.

"In short, the trade unions are arguing that future taxpayers should fund them to the tune of £770 billion and £1,176 billion, depending on which estimate one uses."

The trade unions are not being "funded" by pension schemes, rather workers have signed contracts in which certain pension provisions were agreed. One side of the contract is arbitrarily changing it to the detriment of the other – and are, apparently, expected to tolerate it.

"I had to laugh at the sheer effrontery of the unions’ argument that pensions will begin to fall as a share of GDP by 2060. 50 years hence the problem may begin to ease somewhat, so that’s alright then! The unions are right about their claim that they’re going to have to work longer, contribute more and get less – that’s the only way by which public sector pensions could be made affordable."

I had to laugh at the sheer effrontery of so many apologists for capitalism who justify pain today so that wealth can flood upwards so that there may be "trickle-down" in the future…

As for "work longer, contribute more and get less", I wonder why anyone would complain about that! Ah, right, all workers should simply obey their masters when they proclaim this.

I wonder what his position would be if the state increased taxes and proclaimed that people must "work longer, contribute more and get less" in order to pay them?

"Trade unions are by far a bigger issue for the public sector than the private. At present (2010 statistics), trade union membership stands at 56% in the public sector compared to only 14% in the private (UK average trade union membership at 28% is quite high compared to the OECD average, the Nordics somewhat distorting the figures)."

As I note in my article, the wage share has fallen in the UK as the number of trade unionists have fallen and anti-union rules and regulations have increased over the last 30 years. The higher wages associated with unionisation has also been eroded over that time too.

Workers do indeed "work longer" and "get less" when the "issue" of trade unions are resolved by state action…

Clearly, it appears harder to organise in the private sector than in the public. Presumably, then, to balance this out we need to make it easier to organise in private industry? Is this being recommended? Nope – we need to ensure that all workers "work longer" and "get less"… how generous of him!

"Given that the public sector employs 6 million workers in the UK this is a serious issue – not because there is anything wrong with trade union membership, far from it, but because the nature of public sector employment gives trade unions disproportionate power, as most public sector (i.e. nationalised) services are monopolies or near monopolies and their users have few alternatives."

Now, if there is nothing "wrong with trade union membership" then why is our savant lecturing us on what their organisation’s "proper" role is? Why is he not proclaiming that the state should not interfere with democratic, voluntary associations of working people?

We see why later in the paragraph. It is refreshing to see the real reason for all this so clearly stated – we need to break the limited power workers have left!

"Of course, this is one of the many compelling reasons to privatise most state controlled services."

The railways were privatised and their unions are still in place – indeed, they go on strike to defend their members. So clearly privatisation is not an answer to rebellious wage-slaves in-and-of-itself. The state needs to pass more regulations and rules to ensure that – to level down.

Now moving from a position of state controlled services to capitalist controlled services is not much of a change. Let me quote Rousseau here:

"That a rich and powerful man, having acquired immense possessions in land, should impose laws on those who want to establish themselves there, and that he should only allow them to do so on condition that they accept his supreme authority and obey all his wishes; that, I can still conceive… Would not this tyrannical act contain a double usurpation: that on the ownership of the land and that on the liberty of the inhabitants?"(The Social Contract and Discourses, 316)

The difference between nationalisation and privatisation is that the rulers in the former case are, to some level, subject to democratic control or influence by the people who live and work in a given geographical location. With privatisation, the masters are free to fleece the population as much as they like while making their wage-slaves "work longer" and "get less". Such is the history of the past 30-odd years.

Obviously these are two false alternatives – the third is socialisation based on workers’ self-management. As advocated by genuine libertarians since Proudhon’s What is Property?. Here is he from 1851:

"certain industries... require the combined employment of a large number of workers, a vast array of machines and hands, and, to make use of a technical expression, a great division of labor, and in consequence a high concentration of power. In such cases, worker is necessarily subordinate to worker, man dependent on man. The producer is no longer, as in the fields, a sovereign and free father of a family; it is a collectivity. Railroads, mines, factories, are examples.

"In such cases, it is one of two things; either the worker, necessarily a piece-worker, will be simply the employee of the proprietor-capitalist-entrepeneur, or he will participate in the chances of loss or gain of the establishment, he will have a voice in the council, in a word, he will become an associate.

"In the first case the worker is subordinated, exploited: his permanent condition is one of obedience and poverty. In the second case he resumes his dignity as a man and citizen, he may aspire to comfort, he forms a part of the producing organization, of which he was before but the slave; as, in the town, he forms a part of the sovereign power, of which he was before but the subject.

"Thus we need not hesitate, for we have no choice. In cases in which production requires great division of labor, and a considerable collective force, it is necessary to form an ASSOCIATION among the workers in this industry; because without that, they would remain related as subordinates and superiors, and there would ensue two industrial castes of masters and wage-workers, which is repugnant to a free and democratic society.

"Such therefore is the rule that we must lay down, if we wish to conduct the Revolution intelligently.

Every industry, operation or enterprise, which by its nature requires the employment of a large number of workers of different specialties, is destined to become a society or a company of workers.

"That is why I said one day, in February or March, 1849, at a meeting of patriots, that I rejected equally the construction and management of railroads by companies of capitalists and by the State. In my opinion, railroads are in the field of worker’s companies, which are different from the present commercial companies, as they must be independent of the State. A railroad, a mine, a factory, a ship, are to the workers who use them what a hive is to the bees, at once their tool and their home, their country, their territory, their property."

The links of Rousseau (as quoted above) as clear. It is the application of democratic principles to a modern industrial economy -- workers' associations replacing wage-labour, co-operation replacing capitalism. Such associations imply the end of property (as I note at the end of Poor Adam Smith for this needs free entry to function and maintain itself (as I show in Proudhon, Property and Possession). Not to recognise this means you quickly end up in farcical self-contradiction - as can be seen from our self-appointed sage of the "proper" functions of trade unions.

"Perhaps an easier step would be to prohibit public sector unions or unions with public sector employees lobbying and donating funds to political parties."

Sorry, "prohibit"? What, get the state to pass laws which would impose regulation on what voluntary democratic organisations decide to do? Isn’t that, well, a bit of an interference in society by leviathan?

I note that there is no suggestion to "prohibit" private companies lobbying and donating funds to political parties. That, presumably, would be a violation of the rights of property owners…

So, right, I forgot – state regulation is fine for the many, not the few.

"This would prevent the eminently unjust position under the previous and likely future administrations whereby the public sector was financing the governing party with the authority to determine the pay and employment of the public sector!"

So, presumably, corporations will be prohibited from financing the governing party with the authority to regulate the voluntary associations of its workers, privatise state resources into its hands, etc.? Of course not… corporations are people!

The notion that the Labour Party has done anything other than take the unions’ money and then pursue a neo-liberal agenda is touching.

"If civil servants in a personal capacity wish to donate money to any party that is at their discretion, but to do so via a corporate mechanism is simply corrupt."

Taking of corporate mechanism, union members have one vote each and can pass motions on what their union does. Do share-holders have this sort of power? Nope, voting is by share and so the wealthy few outvote the many. And is corporate lobbying and funding parties "simply corrupt"?

"That Labour and the unions would complain bitterly is an indication that it ought to be done."

I wonder if he takes that position on higher taxation of the wealthiest 5% of the population? Or the fact that corporations and companies regularly bemoan government "red-tape" means "it ought to be done"? No, of course not.

"In spite of past reform, the trade unions still have more legal privileges than they deserve – most importantly they possess a right to strike without a corresponding right of employers to sack."

By the term "past reform" he means rules and regulation by the state – something he is meant to be against.... He also forgets Adam Smith’s wise words:

"Whenever the legislature attempts to regulate the differences between masters and their workmen, its counsellors are always the masters. When the regulation, therefore, is in favour of the workmen, it is always just and equitable; but it is sometimes otherwise when in favour of the masters."

The "legal privileges" of corporations are many – limited liability, for example – which was why Adam Smith was against them. And in terms of having "more legal privileges than they deserve", this is far better seen as levelling the playing field. As Smith recognised:

"It is not difficult to foresee which of the two parties [workers and capitalists] must, upon all ordinary occasions... force the other into a compliance with their terms... In all such disputes the masters can hold out much longer... though they did not employ a single workman [the masters] could generally live a year or two upon the stocks which they already acquired. Many workmen could not subsist a week, few could subsist a month, and scare any a year without employment. In the long-run the workman may be as necessary to his master as his master is to him; but the necessity is not so immediate. . . [I]n disputes with their workmen, masters must generally have the advantage."

 

So we need to get back to this situation – where the masters "have the advantage." These new anti-union laws go one step along the road towards the ideal of the state which simply protects property owners.

"Moreover, a good deal of the trade unions’ agenda has been enacted through legislation – the minimum wage, maternity leave and discrimination legislation."

This is truly priceless – all this legislation is usually denounced by the Adam Smith Institute as red-tape which harms industry.

Moreover, it suggests a touching faith in the power of the state. Simply passing a law makes it so – which explains why there is no murders and women have the same pay for the same work as men (legislation has been passed on both).

As for "the trade unions’ agenda", that is determined by their members (or should be). It evolves and cannot be determined by a savant – or the state. You know, "spontaneous order" and all that…

"This legislation comes to the benefit of current employees but reduces employment and hinders the newer entrants to the labour market (particularly the young and the long-term unemployed)."

So let us get this right – trade unions are not really needed because of this state legislation but this legislation is to the "benefit" of some and "hinders" others. Logically, this should be abolished in the interests of fairness…

"It almost goes without saying that national pay bargaining and pay scales should be ended immediately – they prevent reform of the labour markets and distort regional economies."

National pay bargaining and pay scales are an agreement between two parties. These should be abolished by a third party, the state. I thought that the Adam Smith Institute was against state intervention?

I assume what would happen is that one party, the employers, should simply degree the end of these agreements and the state will simply enforce their authority?

In short, "ended" by state intervention or by the dictate of the employers – backed by the state...

"Instead of lobbying the government, trade unions should focus on their proper functions."

It is up to the members of the trade unions to determine what is their "proper functions" and not ideologues. But, clearly, they don’t understand what is in their best interests – so the state should intervene with appropriate rules and regulations and force them to be free…

I wonder what the reaction would be if the new leader of the Labour Party proclaimed that he would pass legislation stopping companies from lobbying the government or funding parties in favour doing "their proper functions"?

"Naturally, a large role is to bargain with employers for pay and conditions – this should be done without legal privilege on either side."

Yet, as Adam Smith noted, the state exists to defend property and the power of the property owner over his wage-slaves:

"the inequality of fortune… introduces among men a degree of authority and subordination which could not possibly exist before. It thereby introduces some degree of that civil government which is indispensably necessary for its own preservation… [and] to maintain and secure that authority and subordination. The rich, in particular, are necessarily interested to support that order of things which can alone secure them in the possession of their own advantages… their property and to support their authority. Civil government, so far as it is instituted for the security of property, is in reality instituted for the defence of the rich against the poor, or of those who have some property against those who have none at all."

Is it being suggested that this "legal privilege" – the defence of capitalist property rights – is going to be revoked? Of course not.

So "without legal privilege on either side" means that the whole power of the state backs the employers. When the property owner fires all his striking workers, the state will intervene to ensure they do not pick or occupy his workplace... true equality!

In reality, the state is enforcing property rights and so, by definition, has quite a massive legal privilege on the employer’s side.

"This would be better done by more, smaller trade unions who could negotiate wages and conditions more suited to local conditions – of course, if they were dealing with smaller employers and more competitive industries rather than the state this would make far more sense."

I wonder what the response would be if someone suggested that producing goods "would be better done by more, smaller" companies and sought state aid to break-up big companies? We know, we would get lectured on "spontaneous order" and how companies know best what size they should be.

Apparently workers are not allowed this freedom to determine the size of our own organisations…

At least our ideologue is not (yet!) arguing for "reforms" to achieve what he considers best for the organisations of wage-slaves.

"Secondly, as observed by Hayek in the Constitution of Liberty, the origins of trade unionism lay in providing benefit and support to their members for sickness, unemployment and old age."

Yes, they were. Due to state intervention workers had to organise these mutual aid bodies because unions (and strikes) were illegal. You know, the combination laws which Adam Smith denounced…

And that is the point. The origins of unions may have been in mutual aid bodies but faced with the rise of capitalism they evolved into fighting organisations. This was determined by their members – when there were not being arrested and deported by the state for exceeding their "proper functions".

And, really, quoting von Hayek on trade unions? Given that his predictions on what would happen once the state had crushed organised labour did not come true, mentioning his (wrong) thoughts on their origins makes even less sense. Still, given von Hayek's (like von Mises) soft-spot for fascism (most obviously, his comments on Pinochet), it hard to take seriously anyone quoting his work -- particularly one allegedly on "liberty". As becomes clear, the freedom of workers to organise as they see fit is something which causes the authoritarian heart of propertarianism to come to the fore.

"As with many areas of civil society they were crowded out of these functions by state intervention."

Yes, indeed, there were no strikes or unions until social reform legislation was passed… If you are going to look backwards to the pass for inspiration, at least do so research first.

"How much better would it be if instead of trying to strongarm the government into promising taxpayer’s money the unions were instead the providers of private, probably mutual, pension funds for their members."

Ah, right, by "strongarm the government" he means the process by which one party of a contract tries to stop another unilaterally imposing changes which are detrimental to their position. In other words, the subjects of the state should simply do what they are told to do – a truly libertarian perspective if ever there were one.

Again, it is always funny to see self-proclaimed freedom-lovers side with the state and government against its subjects -- a real libertarian would be happy to see people challenge the state and government.

"Far better that the unions revert to their traditional position of providers to their members of welfare, social security and social capital rather than the faceless bureaucracy of the state."

Yes, we should know our place. The "traditional position" of trade unions was being banned by the state. It is always amusing to see the so-called "libertarian" (i.e., propertarian) mask slip to expose its authoritarian underpinnings – all it takes is to get them onto the subject of rebellious wage-slaves and then state intervention becomes the order of the day.

Adam Smith lived at a time when the government was elected by the wealthiest 10% or so of the population. In this context, less state intervention would favour the many rather than the few. He saw this clearly with the anti-union laws of his time:

"The masters, being fewer in number, can combine much more easily; and the law, besides, authorises, or at least does not prohibit their combinations, while it prohibits those of the workmen. We have no acts of parliament against combining to lower the price of work; but many against combining to raise it."

We are slowly getting back to this position - thanks to state intervention and its ideological defence by the likes of the Adam Smith Institute. Poor Adam Smith. If he were alive today he would be considered far too left-wing for polite conversation in right-wing circles.

Until I blog again, be seeing you…

  


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