Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Capitalism, Liberalism and Despotism – Locke and Hobbes (Part Two of "The State in Economic Theory")
The same applies of course to economic “laws” based as they must be on the notion of property (the individual claim to social resources), individual labours or utility (as the subjective individual ethical basis for property rights), and exchange (as the foundation of market prices and commerce). All economic science is based on the “exchange” of pro-ducts between individuals. But “exchange” implies by definition the existence of property rights possessed by individuals over the pro-ducts that they are meant “to exchange”. As we have shown, however, for Hobbes no such property “rights” can exist outside of the State; and they cannot constitute therefore an objective scientific basis or an ideal ethical basis for the science of “economics”. For this very reason, the
The contrast between John Locke’s political theory and the Hobbesian theory lies centrally in the fact that the first relies on the existence of “natural rights” possessed by individuals in the state of nature which are then transferred to and received by the civil state by agreement or social contract so that they may be protected by the State as a neutral arbiter. In other words, for Locke, unlike Hobbes, “natural rights” exist already in the state of nature, and it is only for protection that individuals contractually acquire a State to preserve these natural rights from violent acts that would lead to a civil war. Unlike Hobbes, then, Locke does not believe that the state of nature is a state of war of all against all in which no “natural rights” can be said to exist, except for the right to preserve one’s life! As a result, the
Monday, 8 December 2014
I am dedicating a long study here to "the role of the State in economic theory" that seeks to reconstruct the theoretical origins of the "bourgeois" separation of "public" and "private" - that is, the reduction of what is inevitably the organic division of "social labour" to the "contractualism" of the marketplace society that has become the fallacious locus of "economic science". All friends who are interested are invited to read the first instalment (from Aristotle to Hobbes), with the second on liberalism (Locke and Constant) and its extreme confutation by Hobbes and then Hegel coming next. Essentially. my thesis is that just as there are no "individual labours" but only "social labour", so the State does not emerge (organically or mechanically) from a mythical-hypothetical "civil society" as is envisaged by the liberal creed. Rather, it is the State itself (Weber's centralised use of violence) that channels social resources and utilises "crises" with the aim of preserving the established order - and in the process "trans-forming" it from the institutions of Absolutism to those of "parliamentary liberal democracy".
Of course, this is not to say that the State does this unilaterally: but its trans-formations serve only to perpetuate social antagonism precisely by reducing "social labour" to a contractual morass of "individual labours".It is the impossibility of countering the growing "socialisation" of human needs at the planetary level by means of "contractual" remedies that poses the ultimate barrier to the reproduction of capitalist rule.