Wages versus Austrian Economics and Wage Slavery

by Brad Spangler
Wages versus [Austrian Economics and] Wage Slavery

The following articles were written by Brad Spangler.

Wages versus Wage Slavery

One of the ongoing roadblocks to left and libertarian reconciliation, one which deserves more of our attention, is the matter of conflation of context with causality, an intellectual error committed by most on both sides.

Leftists typically blame markets for state-caused injustice that takes place in markets.

Free-market libertarians often apply a shallow analysis that causes them to defend state-caused injustice merely because its visible manifestation is in the marketplace.

Both fail to recognize that the market is the context, the cause is the state.

Let’s look at the topic of wage slavery, for example.

Every marginalized worker viscerally knows wage slavery to be a very real phenomenon — yet libertarians typically bury their heads in the sand and leftists typically fundamentally misunderstand the problem.

Most libertarians deny the existence of wage slavery, seeing only the voluntaristic nature of the concept of wages in principle rather than the real world of state-tainted injustice in practice.

Most radical leftists attack the voluntaristic nature of the concept of wages, assuming there is something inherently evil about wages for reasons that are mirror images of the intellectual errors commonly committed by libertarians.

They’re both right and both wrong.

A deeper libertarian analysis, a left libertarian analysis, points to the role of the state in artificially concentrating capital in the hands of state-allied big business — giving statist plutocrats far more bargaining power in the labor market than is their natural due. Injustice happens to play out in the marketplace, but the cause is the state.

I urge, and challenge, free-market libertarians to show their solidarity with labor by supporting radical unions such as the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), rather than establishment unions in league with big business and the state. Click here to join the IWW.

Austrian Economics and Wage Slavery

Since the post on wage slavery generated a bit of a stir, perhaps it’s time to introduce a $10 word for the fifty cent concept of “screw the workers“.

That word is oligopsony. Just as the word “oligopoly” is a more dispersed form of the concept of “monopoly”, so to oligopsony complements monopsony. Monopsony, in turn, is a mirror image of monopoly. Where a monopoly indicates only one seller, monopsony indicates one buyer.

The essence of what I had to say about the concept of wage slavery is that the government-induced cartelization of industry creates oligopsony conditions in the labor market. It does this by artificially reducing the number of buyers of labor (businesses), thereby granting the existing ones an unnatural degree of bargaining power.

Austrian economics is quite clear on the cartelizing effects in the business world of statism. By pointing to statism as the cause of resulting oligopsony conditions in the labor market, a compelling case can be made that the completely free market (i.e. anarchy) truly is the proletarian revolution.

flattr this!

8 responses to “Wages versus Austrian Economics and Wage Slavery

  1. Well, start your own fucking business then, instead of sitting there complaining about everyone else’s not paying you enough.

  2. Could you just stop? First Carson and now the wobblies?

  3. Sean Gabb will not stop – because he is doing what he loves best “winding people up”, irritating people.

    That is what Sean thinks freedom means – the freedom of a three year old to drop his pants and have a shit on the kitchen floor (just to upset his parents).

    As for this specific post…..

    If someone can resign there is no such thing as “wage slavery” – the very term in an insult to all the real slaves in the history of the world.

    Including slaves held collectively – such as the Helots (technically enemies rather than officially slaves) and the population of North Korea.

    For Plato and Rousseau were wrong – there can be slaves without private owners.

    I repeat – in someone can resign and walk away they are not slaves, and to claim that they are slaves is an insult to all the slaves in history.

    As for the claim that Austrian Economics (i.e. the School of economic thought founded by Carl Menger) is somehow opposed to voluntary employment – this is a lie.

    People who claim that Austrian economics is opposed to voluntary emploment are liars.

    There is, of course, really no such as a “left libertarian” – just leftists who choose to call themselves “libertarians” in the hopes of doing the same thing to the word “libertarian” that American socialists did to the word “liberal” a century ago (twist it around 100% degrees – once a liberal was someone who opposed collectivism, by the 1920s a “liberal” in the United States was someone who supported collectivism, even the Soviet Union).

    Indeed I would not be astonished if the very name “Brad Spangler” is a lie.

  4. Paul,
    Monopsony isn’t entirely alien to Austrian theory. See this paper published in the Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics by Xavier Mera:

  5. “A deeper libertarian analysis, a left libertarian analysis”

    Who honestly believes this wank.
    These left-“Libertarians” obviously have no fucking clue about either the austrian philosophical or economic analysis otherwise they would understand, or at least imagine the different terms of employment that would or could exist under a free market.

    I am becoming more certain that these idiots actually don’t give a shit about libertarianism/anti-statism and are just quite content with just wailing on any libertarianism they would consider on the “right”.

    • Swithun – to claim that that the Austrian School is against voluntary employment (let alone calls it “slavery”) is an example of what is, to use a technical term, called “bullshit”. Left “libertarians” are, therefore, “bullshitters”.

      JFen – agreed, I only regect it took me so long (years) to get to the point you have reached.

  6. Off-topic…

    Paul, did you know that you now live in North Londonshire?


  7. Ian – this is one of the rare times where we were able to get agreement in political circles.

    Agreement that the campaign was a demented waste of money.