Bullshit on Social Media

I am on Facebook for the same reason I have a website, and now a weblog. I want people to focus on (1) important matters, (2) to discuss them, and (3) to reach an agreement on plans of action. Although for the most part, I focus on economic and political issues, I sometimes stray from this by sharing some piece of music which I like, or a photograph of some scene, a joke, or whatever. I understand that we all want to be entertained and to entertain others. But as Neil Postman put it so well in his book, Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business  (1985, rev. 2005)[pdf copy] our obsession with entertainment is acting like soma in Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World.

[Neil Postman, “Are We Amusing Ourselves to Death?” Part I, The Open Mind, 1985.  “Are We Amusing Ourselves to Death?” Part II, The Open Mind, 1986.]

On Facebook, I have tried to garner “friends” who have political interests. Although I have a global interest, I have concentrated on Ukraine because that is where my roots are, and where the political situation is not as rigid as it is in the United States; thus, allowing for a political revolution. My ideal of a political structure is anarchism. By this, I do not mean chaos or the absence of government. By “anarchism” I mean a bottom-up federalism, as contrasted with a centralized state – unitary or federated. In Ukraine, this form of government was promulgated by Nestor Makhno during the Russian Civil War (1917-1921), and it was promulgated in Spain during the Spanish Civil War (Revolution) (1936-1939).

I mention this to tell you that I want to discuss these matters somewhere. But it turns out that social media, such as Facebook, do not work. I find that people do not know how to discuss, and, worse, they don’t want to discuss. They simply want to express an opinion or share something, and one can react to this by “liking” it, or making a “comment.” Comments are especially annoying. For example, there was a short video on what is happening in Ukraine which I shared on Facebook. The comment was that it was simplistic and slanted – that’s it. No explanation. Trying to solicit an explanation did not work. This is typical.

The only political value that I see in using Facebook is a source of news, articles, and commentary. And, I hope, that I have stimulated some people to reflect on what I have written or shared.distraction

Economic Bullshit

Government and Land Rights

Centralized Government

Decentralized Government

Free Land



No Free Land





In the past, the subject of economics was called “political economy”; nowadays it is called simply “economics.”  Why the change?  Let me explain.  There are alternative economic arrangements possible as to who owns what. Specifically, we can have alternative laws about land rights.  Compare, for example, how indigenous native Americans dealt with land with the British colonial policy in America.  American natives did not have a concept of land ownership; whereas the British did.  Which system prevails is a political matter; hence “political economy.”

Since the 19th century,  the economic system which has predominated is that of capitalism.  And books with the title “Economics” are really about the workings of capitalism.  Now, what is capitalism?

Max Weber, in the 22nd chapter: “The Meaning and Presuppositions of Modern Capitalism” of General Economic History (Wirtschaftsgeschichte, 1923), translated by Frank H. Knight, 1927, lists six necessary conditions for modern or “rational” capitalism. What interests me, and on which I want to focus attention, is the 5th necessary condition, which is:

“The fifth feature is free labor. Persons must be present who are not only legally in the position, but are also economically compelled, to sell their labor on the market without restriction. It is in contradiction to the essence of capitalism, and the development of capitalism is impossible, if such a propertyless stratum is absent, a class compelled to sell its labor services to live; and it is likewise impossible if only unfree labor is at hand. Rational capitalistic calculation is possible only on the basis of free labor; only where in consequence of the existence of workers who in the formal sense voluntarily, but actually under the compulsion of the whip of hunger, offer themselves, the costs of products may be unambiguously determined by agreement in advance.”

What people is he talking about? He is talking about people who do not possess property, which really means the people who have no free access to land on which they can have a home, have a garden, have some animals: in short, on which they can subsist. They are people who have no access to free subsistence land. Since such people tend to aggregate in cities, they are called proletarians; George Orwell in 1984 calls them “proles.”

It is ironic or euphemistic to call them “free laborers.” They are free relative to the law in not being slaves or serfs. But, as Weber notes, they are compelled to work to avoid starvation. Marx, I think, is more accurate in calling them “wage-slaves.”

See my articles: “Land and Liberty”

Milton Friedman’s Hidden Anarchism in Capitalism and Freedom

Greatest Problem in the World

David Pimentel, “FOOD, LAND, POPULATION and the U.S. ECONOMY,” 1994.

Andrew Chrucky, The Greatest Problem in the World, 1985.

Paul R. Ehrlich & Anne H. Ehrlich, The Population Explosion, 1990.

Thomas Malthus, An Essay on the Principle of Population, 1798.

Antony Flew, Introduction to Thomas Malthus’ An Essay on the Principle of Population (1970)