by Thomas Knapp
I’ve never been very enamored of Hoppe, but that piece not only offers a pretty good summation of “class struggle” but also a pretty good explanation of why I disagree with Kevin on the fate of wage labor in a free market.
Vis a vis libertarianism, “class struggle” is and always has been an element that libertarians consider important, regardless of school. Comte and Dunoyer described the “productive class” versus the “political class,” and that continues to be the distinction that libertarians make (Marx forked the class distinction, erroneously in my view, into “proletariat” versus “bourgeois,” and his analysis was so faulty it had to be continuously re-forked, e.g. “lumpenproletariat” vs. “industrial proletariat” and so forth).
The difference between “right libertarians” and “left libertarians” is their analysis of what kinds of actors belong to which class, “productive” or “political.” At both ends of the libertarian right/left spectrum, the analysis tends to admit of mixed claims. Even right libertarians will generally admit to the existence of “crony capitalism,” while holding that most of the employing class is part of the productive class. And left libertarians support markets (productive class activity) even though we hold that existing markets are highly distorted by political class affiliations of the employing class and the attendant state subsidies/privileges.
With respect to wage labor and “exploitation”:
Hoppe explains that latter in terms of time preferences — the “capitalist” works on a longer time horizon for greater rewards, the “worker” accepts discounted rewards in order to get them on a shorter time horizon. The only thing I’d add to that is that wage labor shifts RISK as well. The “capitalist” may make bank or go bankrupt over the long term; the wage laborer makes small bank in the short term, so even if the company goes tits up, he’s already reaped real rewards.
The only real disagreement I have with Hoppe is on whether or not wage labor is “exploitative.” Of course it is — in BOTH directions. The employer exploits the worker for profit, and vice versa. And there’s nothing at all wrong with that.
Carson’s view is that in actually existing capitalism’s wage labor milieu, a political employing class uses state power to extract a greater discount from a productive working class than it could extract in a free market, in various ways, including using the state to bar competition and steal property so that some workers are de facto forced into wage labor versus self-employment. I agree. But I think he over-estimates how many people would give up lower risk and short term discounted rewards in favor of higher risk and long term greater rewards.
I think one precursor cause of Kevin’s position versus mine is that he subscribes to a Labor Theory of Value, and I don’t.