13 years ago, the far-right-wing so-called “libertarian” Mises Institute ran an article, the epitome of its typical vacuous propaganda, titled “In Defense of Scrooge.”
In it, the author, you got it, insists that Scrooge’s “allegedly underpaid clerk, Bob Cratchit … must be worth exactly his present wages,” otherwise he’d quit. Duh. Everyone with a family and a terminally ill child can just quit and find a new job, just like that–especially a higher-paying one. That’s the MAGIC of capitalism after all! Then Levin, like a good hyper-privileged, affluent, white, heterosexual male, berates Cratchit for having children. If he didn’t expect to earn a living wage, why would he bother even having them?! Then, boy oh boy, the arguments get even stronger. “Cratchit has not been chained to his chilly desk” the author insists. Cratchit isn’t a chattel slave; he is only a wage slave, see. And wage slaves are free, got it?
In the mind of right-wing “libertarian” Levin, poor old Scrooge is “forced to help those who can’t or won’t help themselves” by having to pay taxes to build prisons to put all those lazy, good-for-nothing poor people in. Boo-hoo-hoo… I practically feel his pain through the pages.
“Dickens doesn’t mention Scrooge’s satisfied customers, but there must have been plenty of them for Scrooge to have gotten so rich,” Levin insists. HA! I’m not sure the last time I heard such a funny joke. Rich people categorically only get rich by “satisfying customers,” not, you know, by dispossessing and robbing the surplus value of workers most oft’ born less privileged than they; this is an imperative definitional criterion.
The garbage goes on and on.
What’s hilarious is that the author completely, entirely falls into the same stereotype Dickens is satirizing. By steadfastly defending the very ideas Dickens censures, Levin, who believes that he is distancing himself from Scrooge’s overt personal iniquities, succeeds only in constructing a farce in which he–a synecdoche for the entire right-wing “libertarian” establishment–becomes the 21st century Scrooge.
In reading the “economic” evangelism–even excusing the author’s use of language like “possessed of pretty wives” (not a quote from Dickens)–you might soon see that, in some ways, the Scrooges of today are even worse than they were in the time of A Christmas Carol. In these regards, the difference between our world and Dickens’ is that what would have been considered moral-less, solipsistic, insatiable, egomaniacal avarice in the author’s has manifested itself in the world of today in right-wing “libertarianism.” When you turn a pathology into a political ideology, into the status quo, you can get away with anything. You can normalize madness if you try hard enough–and when the global economic-socio-politico system (read: capitalism) thrives on this very insanity, you hardly even need to try at all.
Yet wait, there’s more! It might further assist one in one’s appreciation of this jewel of an “article” to note that the author, Dr. Michael Levin, a professor of philosophy at CUNY (this bigot is teaching people!), like a good right-wing “libertarian” (sources for all four are cited in his Wikipedia article):
- argues “there are situations where torture is not merely permissible but morally mandatory,”
- calls homosexuality abnormal and believes that discrimination against those of the LGBTQ community is defensible,
- characterizes feminism, in the words of Susan Faludi, as an “antidemocratic, if not totalitarian, ideology” without a single redeeming feature, and
- maintains that white people score higher on IQ tests than black people because they are supposedly smarter due to genetic differences.
I’m still looking for that “leftist” Academia everyone talks about.
Many right-wing “libertarians” bristle when such inane prejudices are brought up, terming them “vapid assaults on the author.” ‘Cus mentioning an author’s overt prejudices is “vapid.” Haven’t heard that before 1 billion times. Personal prejudices definitely can’t/don’t influence what one writes.
The Mises Institute has no problem publishing drivel from this bigot, of course, as long as it supports its absurd “free” market fundamentalism.
If there is indeed a silver lining in this gilded feculent monstrosity, it is that its nonsensical arguments were dissected and destroyed even in its own comment section, usually a breeding ground for self-congratulatory miserly Misesian disciples and their “free” market fundamentalism.
Yet, in lieu of addressing these more than century-old (and century-trite) arguments for the countless time, let us look at how real (i.e., left-wing) libertarian Alexander Berkman addressed the nonsense, in his 1929 opus “Now and After: The ABC of Communist Anarchism.”
Yes, you are right: the law forbids theft.
If I should steal something from you, you can call a policeman and have me arrested. The law will punish the thief, and the government will return to you the stolen property, if possible, because the law forbids stealing. It says that no one has a right to take anything from you without your consent.
But your employer takes from you what you produce. The whole wealth produced by labor is taken by the capitalists and kept by them as their property.
The law says that your employer does not steal anything from you, because it is done with your consent. You have agreed to work for your boss for certain pay, he to have all that you produce. Because you consented to it, the law says that he does not steal anything from you.
But did you really consent?
When the highwayman holds his gun to your head, you turn your valuables over to him. You ‘consent’ all right, but you do so because you cannot help yourself, because you are compelled by his gun.
Are you not compelled to work for an employer? Your need compels you, just as the highwayman’s gun. You must live, and so must your wife and children. You can’t work for yourself, under the capitalist industrial system you must work for an employer. The factories, machinery, and tools belong to the employing class, so you must hire yourself out to that class in order to work and live. Whatever you work at, whoever your employer may be, it always comes to the same: you must work for him . You can’t help yourself. You are compelled.
In this way the whole working class is compelled to work for the capitalist class. In this manner the workers are compelled to give up all the wealth they produce. The employers keep that wealth as their profit, while the worker gets only a wage, just enough to live on, so he can go on producing more wealth for his employer. Is that not cheating, robbery?
The law says it is a ‘free agreement’. Just as well might the highwayman say that you ‘agreed’ to give up your valuables. The only difference is that the highwayman’s way is called stealing and robbery, and is forbidden by law. While the capitalist way is called business, industry, profit making, and is protected by law.
But whether it is done in the highwayman’s way or in the capitalist way, you know that you are robbed.
The whole capitalist system rests on such robbery.
The whole system of law and government upholds and justifies this robbery.
That’s the order of things called capitalism, and law and government are there to protect this order of things.