Episode 331 - Why Economists Are Always Wrong

02/24/201862 Comments

The state of affairs in economics is not just embarrassing, it's downright perplexing. Economics is a science, right? It must follow some ironclad laws of the physical universe then, mustn't it? But somehow we always end up asking the same question: Why Are Economists Always Wrong?

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Quick. When I say the word “economist,” what comes to mind? Fearless truth-teller? Sage wise man? Someone whose deep understanding of the complex web of billions upon billions of daily interactions in the sphere of human activity enables them to predict the outcome of those interactions years in advance with near certainty?…Or do you think of Paul Krugman?

Be honest now. It’s Krugman, isn’t it?

That's not just embarrassing, it's perplexing. Economics is a science, right? It must follow some ironclad laws of the physical universe then, mustn't it? But somehow we always end up asking the same question: Why Are Economists Always Wrong?

This is The Corbett Report.

Why is that? How can it be that a profession that likes to call itself a science (even a dismal science) and whose practitioners are entrusted with steering the economies of entire nations can be so consistently, horribly, laughably wrong? (Case in point: Paul Krugman.)

Why is it that these piercing intellects praised Bubbles Greenspan as “the Maestro” for saving the US from the consequences of the dot-com bubble by blowing an even more destructive housing bubble?

Why is that these wise men consistently laughed at the only people who dared to point out that the housing bubble was in fact a bubble?

Why is it that they now sing the praises of negative interest rates and other “innovations” that were once thought of as literally impossible?

How can the leading lights of the field be so stupendously wrong about the economic fallout of Brexit or the Trump election or a million other things and still be taken seriously by anyone?

Ask an economist these questions and you’ll get any number of excuses as to why economic calculations are not quite as accurate as a physics equation, or as predictable as a chemical reaction. It turns out economics is not that kind of science, after all. I mean, what are you looking for? Certainty?

Some of the more thoughtful economists will even offer compelling counter-analogies. In his 2013 op-ed, “Is Economics a Science?” (not-a-real) Nobel laureate Robert J. Shiller concedes that since macroeconomists are primarily concerned with policies and their outcomes, not raw data, it is more accurate to think of them as engineers rather than scientists.

“My belief is that economics is somewhat more vulnerable than the physical sciences to models whose validity will never be clear, because the necessity for approximation is much stronger than in the physical sciences, especially given that the models describe people rather than magnetic resonances or fundamental particles. People can just change their minds and behave completely differently. They even have neuroses and identity problems, complex phenomena that the field of behavioral economics is finding relevant to understanding economic outcomes.”

The irony is that, although Shiller almost certainly doesn’t realize it, he has just pinpointed the fundamental underlying flaw in the so-called “science” of economics. It is not just that there are some equations here and there that need refining. It is not an incomplete theorem that is getting closer and closer to the truth with every approximation. The field of economics is in fact built on an entirely false premise and thus cannot yield anything but results that are only coincidentally related to reality.

The false premise is to be found at the very root of the word itself: economics. The word “economics” is derived from the Greek οἰκονομία, meaning “household management.” The word was employed by Aristotle to analogize the management of a household to the management of a city-state. It is now employed by macroeconomists to describe the management of entire nations or of the globe itself.

But as F.A. Hayek points out in his landmark opus, Law, Legislation, and Liberty, this analogy is not merely wrong, it fundamentally obscures an important truth about the sphere of human activity that it purports to describe:

“An economy, in the strict sense of the word in which a household, a farm, or an enterprise can be called economies, consists of a complex of activities by which a given set of means is allocated in accordance with a unitary plan among the competing ends according to their relative importance. The market order serves no such single order of ends. What is commonly called a social or national economy is in this sense not a single economy but a network of many interlaced economies. Its order shares, as we shall see, with the order of an economy proper some formal characteristics but not the most important one: its activities are not governed by a single scale or hierarchy of ends.”

Make no mistake: This quibble is not semantic. Although “economics” describes the study of resource allocation in line with a unitary plan to satisfy a single scale of value, that is manifestly not what “economists” are trying to describe. As Hayek explains, this is in fact a chief source of error in the study of economics itself:

“The belief that the economic activities of the individual members of society are or ought to be part of one economy in the strict sense of this term, and that what is commonly described as the economy of a country or a society ought to be ordered and judged by the same criteria as an economy proper, is a chief source of error in this field. But, whenever we speak of the economy of a country, or of the world, we are employing a term which suggests that these systems ought to be run on socialist lines and directed according to a single plan so as to serve a unitary system of ends.”

Thus, baked into the “economics” pie is the notion that the economist’s job is, as Shiller concedes, to fine-tune the unitary economic plan of a government or central planning council in the service of a single set of ends. Any guess whose ends these economists end up serving? Hint: It’s not yours.

This explains why classical economists concerned themselves with the ultimate form of “household management,” i.e., the creation of a centrally planned national or even global “economy.” As Ludwig von Mises elaborates in Human Action:

“The question which preoccupied the economists was whether a tailor could be supplied with bread and shoes if there was no government decree compelling the baker and the shoemaker to provide for his needs. The first thought was that authoritarian interference is required to make every specialist serve his fellow citizens. The economists were taken aback when they discovered that no such compulsion is needed. In contrasting productivity and profitability, self-interest and public welfare, selfishness and altruism, the economists implicitly referred to the image of a socialist system.

“Their astonishment at the ‘automatic,’ as it were, steering of the market system was precisely due to the fact that they realized that an “anarchic” state of production results in supplying people better than the orders of a centralized omnipotent government. The idea of socialism — a system of the division of labor entirely controlled and managed by a planning authority — did not originate in the heads of utopian reformers. These utopians aimed rather at the autarkic coexistence of small self-sufficient bodies; take, for instance, Fourier‘s phalanstère. The radicalism of the reformers turned toward socialism when they took the image of an economy managed by a national government or a world authority, implied in the theories of the economists, as a model for their new order.”

Indeed, the dream of the economists has always been to be the engineers of the “new order” in the service of their natural employers, the central planners. This is why the conception of technocracy was so immediately appealing to the very overlap of economists and engineers that Shiller identifies as the true heart of economics.

This also explains why economists are doomed to fail in their attempts to construct the perfect set of policies for directing the national economy. There is no such thing as a unitary plan to balance out the needs of any group of humans, let alone entire nations. Worse yet for the would-be managers of human activity, even the idea of a “best fit” plan or some utilitarian “greater good” policy package for the direction of resource allocation is a pipe dream. Human values are incommensurable, to say nothing of material wants, needs and desires. The calculation of the ideal allocation of resources to meet all of those needs, fulfill those desires, and maintain those values is not just impossible but nonsensical.

As author Sheldon Richman explains:

“While each person demonstrates his or her (changeable) ranking of ends through the choices made and actions taken, there is no social ranking of all the ends valued by all the individuals in the society. My desire, say, for a pizza dinner can’t be placed on a social value scale in order to see what it takes precedence over and what takes precedence over it. That simply makes no sense. Society is not an organism with a preference scale, and preferences cannot be compared interpersonally, because for each person preferences are subjective and ordinal.”

So if not economics, then what? How do we describe the study of the order that undeniably arises from the sum total of human activities? The tailor is supplied with bread and shoes, after all, and he supplies the baker and shoemaker with clothes. How do we understand this nearly unfathomably complex web of activities that bind humanity together if not through “economics?”

Never fear, there is a word for that! The word is “catallactics,” which derives from the Greek verb καταλλάσσω, which means not only “to exchange” but also “to reconcile” in the sense of admission to a community, or changing from enemy to friend. The word in itself speaks of the profound connection that is possible from the act of mutually beneficial exchange, and changes the inflection entirely from the coercive management of human cattle for the benefit of a unitary plan (“economics”) to the creation of a community based on exchange and friendship (“catallactics”).

As Mises notes:

“The fundamental facts that brought about cooperation, society, and civilization and transformed the animal man into a human being are the facts that work performed under the division of labor is more productive than isolated work and that man’s reason is capable of recognizing this truth. But for these facts men would have forever remained deadly foes of one another, irreconcilable rivals in their endeavors to secure a portion of the scarce supply of means of sustenance provided by nature. Each man would have been forced to view all other men as his enemies; his craving for the satisfaction of his own appetites would have brought him into an implacable conflict with all his neighbors. No sympathy could possibly develop under such a state of affairs.”

As opposed to the war of all against all necessitated by the economic (mis)conception of the world is the cooperation implicit in the catallactic understanding of human action. Cooperation and exchange are the very basis of human civilization. Economy and central planning are their antitheses.

The role of the catallactician, then, is very different from that of the economist. The catallactician describes the order of human activity, quantifies and examines it. But directing that order? Managing it? Controlling it? Coercing its participants into a unitary plan of action? This is not even conceivable to the catallactician.

So, dear reader, you have (very likely) just learned a new concept and a new word. It might be beneficial to ask why you have spent your whole life learning about economics, listening to the pronouncements of economists and worrying about the functioning of the economy rather than learning about catallactics, listening to the descriptions of catallacticians and marveling at the functioning of the catallaxy. Why has this word been occluded from your understanding? Why has it never appeared in the newspaper or on the lips of any of your school teachers during your 12,000 hours of government-sponsored indoctrination? Is there a deeper lesson about the world and the way that it works that has been deliberately kept from you? And if so, to whose benefit does this skewing of your consciousness redound?

I’ll leave you to ponder the significance of these questions on your own time. Meanwhile, it’s time to start examining, describing and participating in the catallaxy.

This piece first appeared in The Corbett Report Subscriber newsletter in December 2016. To keep up to date with the newsletter, and to support The Corbett Report, please subscribe today.

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  1. tgmolitor says:

    Thank you for bringing attention to the Austrian School of Economics (which was never mentioned when I was an economics undergrad/grad in the 70s). I recommend readers checkout Mises.org for plenty of free e-books by authors of this school of economic thought. It’s a great way to unwind the Keynesian brainwash job done by academia and their lackey promoters – the mainstream financial “pundits.”

    Catallactics pits the Austrians against the Keynesians. Actually, the Keynesians are not correct nor are the Austrians. Both of these theories are in serious need of revision. They are deeply rooted in a ancient world of tangible money that is defined by the territorial limits of a nation. In practice, the currency of the nation or empire that forms the financial center of the world economy has historically ALWAYS, and without exception, become the world currency extending beyond its borders.

    The theories of the Austrian School and Keynes fail to comprehend the real structure of money and its role within the global economy. The dollar will rise now BECAUSE it is the in the same position as the dominant currency of every empire that has preceded it throughout history.

    The US dollar takes its name from the German Thaler. A one ounce silver coin became the standard monetary system. Hence, the money that circulated in America was not the British pound, but the Spanish 8 Reals known as the “Pillar Dollar”. This was cut like a pie into 8 “bits” equally a dollar. The United States actually adopted the Spanish system rather than the British.

    The expansion of the money supply of dollar has FAILED to produce any inflation BECAUSE the old theories have failed to take into consideration the global nature of the world economy and its demand for the currency of the current Financial Capital of the World. This is WHY the dominant currency has ALWAYS been imitated because people had confidence in the dominant currency – NOT the mere fact it was tangible.

    This has always been a CONFIDENCE game. You cannot forecast markets based upon old theories that fail to take into account the real trend historically. Yes debasement of a currency results in the decline in the purchasing power of a currency when we are talking about single nations. This does not apply to the dominant currency based upon simple supply for the demand stretches far beyond the borders and is by no means limited to only that nation.

    Eventually the dollar will collapse, not because of QE, but because the world is headed into a black-hole of finance and the debt will destroy everything as it always has. Yet the US national debt of about $21 trillion is nothing within a sea of $150+ trillion in debt globally. The US cannot print enough money to meet the world demands. The destruction of capital in Europe is massive and there too, the wholesale creation of Euros is not the mere reason for its demise. Brussels has destroyed its economy by raising taxes.

    • sissaly says:

      Wow, you sound like you have read Martin Armstrongs Blog.

      Something not mentioned here is that the original design of the FED Bank was it was to be a private institution that all banks paid into for a “bailout” if they ever got in trouble the FED would loan out money at cheap rates to cover any shortfalls or downturns in the business cycle that way business didn’t have to lay off workers. The original design of the FED was so the banks were to pay for their own bail outs.

      The Federal Government changed that after WWI and the Great Depression and the New Deal sealed the birth of the “creature” the FED has become today buying Government Debt, who will default.

      It was the Sovereign Debt crisis in Europe that led to the depression of the 30’s.

      Martin has a great article on the subject worth reading if you have not yet.


    • Mark K. P. says:

      The world economy is a modern phenomenon and still in the making.
      To take a good ancient example the Roman denarius (high purity silver penny) was not only confined within the borders of the early Roman empire but only became dominant in Italy and the economically backward western provinces. The Attalid cistophoros (three-drachm silver coin) continued to dominate the Attalid lands of Asia province, the richest part of the Roman empire until Egypt was annexed, and the silver coinage of the numerous Greek city-states continued to dominate Greece and the Balkans.
      Barbarians outside the empire did imitate the Roman denarius at various times, but so too did the Romans imitate Greek and Attalid coinage for circulation in their eastern provinces.

      Small change bronze coinage took a different path altogether, towards the Roman state largely abandoning its own production and contracting out private production. An interesting phenomenon because the state silver was high purity (commodity value) coinage but the bronzes were extremely fiduciary (commodity value of the coins far below the purchasing value, and the trend was towards less and less metal and more and more fiducia)

  2. 929raf says:

    Hope all are well. Thank you James for re-posting this very informative video. I truly enjoy when you inform in detail. 100th monkey solution here we come… Thank you, thank you. Take care, Richard.

  3. bladtheimpailer says:

    All very wonderful excepting the fact that the human economy tends towards monetary capitalism, wherein capitalists do the decision making and labour provides, well, labour and where money is the great determiner of value and preference. James, seemingly an Austrian economics school enthusiast, then goes on to describe a hidden hand system championed by the classical economists. The classicals envision the economy basically as a barter system wherein money is simply a means of exchange acting as a lubricant in the market place. This is why the old school economists did not see the 2008 collapse coming as they do not understand money. How money comes about in creation or whether it can be destroyed. Equally these old school economists do not consider debt or banking in their models. What can one say about such a system for analyzing the human economy other than it is all crap. Famously Bill White, chief economist at the BIS during the run up to 2008, an adherent of Minsky’s instability theory, forewarned the heads of the world’s central banks of the looming financial crisis. Greenspan forbade the other central banking heads to pay any attention to Bill White and the rest is history. This is the state, monetary capitalism, of the world’s economy today and any ideas of turning the clock back are as naive as those of any other luddites throughout history….at least under a capitalistic system.

    • john.o says:

      Thank you for exploring this. I too am least enthusiastic for James’s enthusiasm for Mise etc. Yes, as tmolitor points out, they might help counter “Keyesian” errors but the argument that all the worlds economic confusions and disasters started with Keynes is certainly hogwash. Like the founding of the Bank of England and the economic rape of the average Brit, driving them off the land to work or die in factories never happened.

      I personally find nothing like reality in the Austrian school. They rarely mention the omnipresence of war, plunder and slavery in the expansion of the markets they eulogize. Let’s start with:

      –“The tailor is supplied with bread and shoes, after all, and he supplies the baker and shoemaker with clothes. How do we understand this nearly unfathomably complex web of activities that bind humanity together if not through “economics?””–

      I know how! Let’s tell a fairy tale and pretend it’s true! In what ACTUAL HISTORICAL SITUATION does one EVER see this “magic hand” without armies, taxes, slavery and war involved? I submit none. Please show me where this replacement for “economic” theory can ever be examined other than in the heads of its bow-tied proponents, most of whom have never worked with their hands in their life and know little about the HUMAN REALITIES of those who do the work for them in this world while they study Greek (not very well).

      • john.o says:

        James cont:

        –“Never fear, there is a word for that! The word is “catallactics,” which derives from the Greek verb καταλλάσσω, which means not only “to exchange” but also “to reconcile” in the sense of admission to a community, or changing from enemy to friend. The word in itself speaks of the profound connection that is possible from the act of mutually beneficial exchange, and changes the inflection entirely from the coercive management of human cattle for the benefit of a unitary plan (“economics”) to the creation of a community based on exchange and friendship (“catallactics”).”–

        What a wonderful magic word! Suddenly we can just ignore the history of civilization and all relax in a Sunday School lecture. The brutality of the Athenian mines, a secret to much of their success, produced the money they exchanged. This lesson was not lost on recent Rulers who often read these texts in their schools (one reason the classics are not taught more generally except as pablum.)
        Their slave-driven mines function to this day in Africa and elsewhere.

      • john.o says:

        Greek money everywhere was coined and mined in a system of slavery as brutal and heartless as any that has ever existed. The most commonly read use of the term is in Aristotle who also writes about the art of controlling slaves, as many great men of the time did. And the word isn’t used just to exchange money and reconcile. It is also used to “exchange prisoners.” And “reconciliation” between the classical Greeks could well involve giving your angered neighbor a nice slave to make them know how much you care. The Greek economy was as controlled as the ruling families at the time could control it.

        To anything who knows anything about the ways markets (of any kind anywhere in recorded history) have ACTUALLY expanded, this attitude has never disappeared from the classics-worshiping European elite, who have spread their “markets” through the world with war, plunder and slavery now for a few hundred years. Unsurprisingly a few want to forget this all happened and remold it as “free.”


        • john.o says:

          And one more use of the word:

          It can mean “to die,” as in “exchange life for death.”

          That is more indicative of the effects of the “market” in history for many, many people.

          • john.o says:

            I am going to add a sub-counterargument into my little rant thread. How does the following argument read to you?

            In English the word “reconcile” is used when a believer reconciles the soul to God, and when a spouse reconciles with a separated spouse or a child with estranged parents, it can be used when two large sociopathic warring powers agree to put aside differences to oppose another power, it can be used to reconcile the books of a pawn shop or a factory run by slaves.

            I believe: ‘The word in itself speaks of the profound connection that is possible from the act of mutually beneficial exchange, and changes the inflection entirely from the coercive management of human cattle for the benefit of a unitary plan (“economics”) to the creation of a community based on exchange and friendship (“Reconciliactics”).’

            How did I do?

            • generalbottlewasher says:

              John-0, very fine , well done. Even better down the page, when you speak to the very basics of civilization. This made me consider now some 10 months after the original post. The old ‘which came first, the chicken or the egg?’. Did civilization start as kind catillactics like the ‘Gands’ from the ‘Then there were none’ story. Then as time passes the ‘idle Jacks grew like a cancer on the system taking control and corrupting the system. Or civilization evenly progressed as an refection of human behavior, the more cunning rising to the top perfecting and consolidating their control of power. I lean toward the later.
              All the comments on this page are valid to higher learning and discussion and would be worthy of 2 semesters of academic pursuit, if not a full degree of inquiry. You make a good point about freemasonary down the page that is never mentioned in economics study, ever. All in all ( the best of open source )
              an illumining discussion. Thank you to all contributors for the enlightenment of my dim mind. Its brighter for it.

    • scpat says:


      I am definitely confused with your argument here. It seems you are too, due to the several contradictions in your own reasoning. I’m going to go through one by one, based on my understanding.

      “the human economy tends towards monetary capitalism, wherein capitalists do the decision making and labour provides, well, labour and where money is the great determiner of value and preference.”

      -Capitalists don’t do the decision making. The market decides. Each person is part of the market, and the market plays a role in shaping the price of goods and services based on their utility combined with the tastes and preferences of the people purchasing the goods and services.
      -Money doesn’t determine value. Money is a means of exchange and a store of value. Value is determined by the usefulness of a good or service, and what people are willing to pay for it.

      “…a hidden hand system championed by the classical economists. The classicals envision the economy basically as a barter system wherein money is simply a means of exchange acting as a lubricant in the market place.”

      -A barter system would be the exchange of one good for another directly, or a good for a service, or a combination/variation of those, not the use of money.
      -I don’t see how there is a “hidden hand” in a free market system, which is what it seems you were trying to describe (money exchanged for a good or service). This is how goods and services are sold with free market capitalism. To my knowledge, this is part of what Austrian economics studies.

      “What can one say about such a system for analyzing the human economy other than it is all crap.”

      -What is wrong with a system where money is used as a means of exchange for goods and services?

      “any ideas of turning the clock back are as naive as those of any other luddites throughout history….at least under a capitalistic system.”

      -How is a capitalist free market system, which is what you are bashing, “turning the clock back”?

      • mik says:

        I think bladtheimpailer and you are not talking about the same thing.

        “Capitalists don’t do the decision making. The market decides.”

        Every capitalist do the decision making within his property-fiefdom. He is the boss. Market is just final evaluation of capitalist’s efforts.

        “Each person is part of the market,…”
        What a nice example of turning people into objects. It can be excellent excuse for paying wages below subsistence level in environment of high unemployment.

        But you can go even further on this line with Austrian economics and Mises.org did it.

        Voluntary Slave Contract.

        Don’t you think that something went terribly wrong when one is professing such a horrible nonsense?

        If you stick to a theory, an abstract model, to hard, you will lose human dimension.

        Economic activity is activity by the people, for the people.
        Isn’t it.

        • scpat says:

          My point was, capitalists don’t do the decision making. There are many different players in the market that serve other important roles. If no one is selling their labor to a capitalist, then the capitalist is not making any decisions.

          “What a nice example of turning people into objects”. I was not attempting to objectify people here. But if you interact with others through exchange (buying and selling goods and services), then you are taking part in the market. You play a role in it, or, you are part of it.

          I agree with you regarding theory. We can’t live in a world purely based off of theories. But, theories provide a way to analyze what we experience and make sense out of it. Theories are tested with real life and we see if they work or not.

          • mik says:

            Looks like you are incapable to see there are many levels of decision making. Btw, what are bosses doing? Scratching their butts?

            “If no one is selling their labor to a capitalist, then the capitalist is not making any decisions.”

            So, they are making some decisions.
            But is this sentence pure theoretical construct or it can withstand real life test?
            In our day and age it is theoretical construct. Somehow you are again objectifying people. For many it is impossible to escape brutal reality, working for someone for pennies. They have to acquire means for survival.

            The main problem with Austrian economics is that it implies free market and free market participants. While free market could be somehow ensured in today’s socioeconomic order, free market participants are pure illusion. Majority of workers are actually wage-slaves, far from free people.

    • HomeRemedySupply says:

      One aspect, a real take-away for me, is that “money” can be a perverted concept. It can be a term used to hoodwink people, to manipulate folks, to control.

      I feel like using the term “money” often muddies the water when people try to discuss “economics” or such topics.

      Despite what authorities do, people will form relationships and exchange among themselves.
      …the catallactic understanding of human action. Cooperation and exchange are the very basis of human civilization.

      Is it any wonder that cryptocurrency is often referred to as “tokens” designed for exchange value, for trade.
      Heck, casino chips work also.

      Left to their own devices, people cooperate with each other and sort out methods of how they want to exchange goods or services.

      Where there is a VOID, folks often find a way to fill it.
      This has definitely has been my experience in trying countless self-employment ventures and dealing with others.

  4. scpat says:

    I find it very interesting the natural linkage of technocracy to the modern day national and international “economy”, in that they both have people at the top trying to strictly manage them. Technocracy was born from the economic system present in the 1930s, and that is still present today. That fact creeps me out a bit.

  5. scpat says:

    I have a friend that studies eastern martial arts and spirituality. He is very knowledgeable about the symbolism of the Yin and Yang. After showing him Why Big Oil Conquered the World, he pointed out to me how the technocracy symbol is the opposite of the Yin and Yang symbol. Yin and Yang flows clockwise and the technocracy symbol goes counterclockwise, against the natural order and balance of nature. It reminds me of how the Indian Swastika was hijacked by the Nazis, turning a peaceful symbol into something evil. This also reminds me of how language is manipulated and controlled to subvert its original meaning.

  6. HomeRemedySupply says:

    I like it when James Corbett “Repeats the Message”.

    This concept is an important fundamental. It is foundational.
    Catallactics – …The word in itself speaks of the profound connection that is possible from the act of mutually beneficial exchange… … the creation of a community based on exchange and friendship.

    Many of Corbett’s episodes and articles tie in well to this road we are now upon. A profound favorite of mine is this 5 minute video Economics in One Image.

    I kid you not…
    I, Pencil is extremely enlightening and in a beautiful, aesthetic, high wavelength way.
    I recommend listening to the audio in order to capture the beautiful explanation of the miracle of the “invisible hand”.

    I, Pencil LINK – https://fee.org/resources/i-pencil-audio-pdf-and-html/

  7. dobsy says:

    It strikes me that every time James contrasts Catallactics with Economics the video imagery switches from banking industry figures to farmer’s markets, which seems to imply his advocacy for a switch to more widespread individual producers of goods and services rather than consumers who produce nothing, who depend on money to acquire material needs and wants. In the last couple of decades I’ve noticed that labor to produce anything tangible and useful for trade is diminishing sharply, while administrators who manage production and money flow are on the rise, the later replacing the former and receiving the better wages and all the finer things in life that affords, while they produce nothing. I don’t see the accountants switching to becoming inventors and entrepreneurs. In my view, while that leaves many opportunities for entrepreneurs, it leaves little hope that the system is going to change.

    • john.o says:

      “I’ve noticed that labor to produce anything tangible and useful for trade is diminishing sharply,”

      There is truth in what you say here, (and in general), but it needs to be added that much physical human toil still exists all over the world, hidden from view. More than ever hidden, and that trend will continue with robotics, but much has always been hidden from any more fortunate inhabitant of any kingdom or empire anywhere. Even children raised to feel quite comfortable with owning and commanding slaves were (and are) not usually taken to the mines to watch.

    • HomeRemedySupply says:

      I’ve also noticed that trend.
      It’s funny…go figure…some people aspire to “planning and telling others what to do”, while they abhor the thought of doing the grunt work involved with actually creating a product or service.

  8. john.o says:

    Sorry but, “cooperation and exchange are the very basis of human civilization” is one of the silliest encapsulizations of the foundations of human civilization I have ever heard.

    “Civilization means “the founding of cities.” I challenge anyone to give me a historical account of the first cities and how they were founded, using what is actually known about human history, based on anthropology, archaeology and textual evidence (and not a theory on how they would like things to be) demonstrating the thesis that civilization is based on free and independent human beings cooperating.

    There is abundant evidence for the thesis that civilization everywhere , from its very inception, implies slavery, war and hierarchical social structures, involving ritual sacrifice of some kind. Presumably this “free cooperation” theory has some explanation for how all this bad stuff came along even before Keynes.

    I will presume to address James directly here. I think it is that important:

    Please provide evidence for this view of human nature history and an explanation for how, in light of it, every early civilization was controlled by powerful tribal hierarchies brutalizing other people to get their way.

    Please show me ONE example of a major technological achievement that is not is some way related to that history of war, slavery and oppression.

    My intent is not just to be a sour puss pedant: there are practical implications to how people conduct their lives in the light of such a MONUMENTAL misunderstanding of the situation we are in. It allows them to participate and not feel involved: The bad stuff is all caused by other people! I just live in _______ and invest in __________ and buy _________.

    This is not about a bunch of good people just somehow getting caught in a bad system a few hundred years ago!

    I understand the ethos this is meant to promote, but a completely false view of human nature in society, based on ignoring 10,000 years of physical and 3000 years of textual evidence is bound to go wrong.

    This “anarchist” kind of thinking is actually reminding me of “socialism”: “In a perfect _______ system, we won’t have ____________.

    • HomeRemedySupply says:

      “cooperation and exchange are the very basis of human civilization”

      I see examples of this all the time in rural communities, which is really a carry over of the pioneer days. Glen Rose, TX was once the Moonshine capital of Texas during prohibition and even the Sheriff was involved. The whole County loved having cash flow into the community.

      My farmer relatives in the Rio Grande Valley years ago got together with other local farmers and built their own community swimming pool. They often would swap out or lend equipment or labor to each other.

      People build relationships. Often those relationships involve tacit or overt exchange concepts, from “watching my house while I’m away” to “Here is a pie I baked for you since you mowed my lawn.” (Example of a neighbor lady.)

      About 4 months ago, I went into some of the old Wholesale places I used to buy from 20 years ago. I was surprised!…The owners excitedly recognized me and greeted me warmly. With one owner, I asked a favor which he quickly granted. He let me buy a few items (not in volume), some cheap toys. (Cash) I got the toys for the neighboring Hispanic kids across the street. That household often helps watch out for my place. (I live in a poverty area which sometimes has a problem with crime.)

      We cooperate as a community and exchange ideas on this forum.
      It’s civil.

      I like the phrase “cooperation and exchange are the very basis of human civilization”

      • john.o says:

        All good points HRS. I see these things too, and they are important FACETS of human interaction, but most of them are evident before the foundation of cities, (an important point, not pedantic).

        There is also evidence for humans wiping out perceived human threats. Plenty of evidence for early human aggression against other humans. Nevertheless when we are with people who feel like “us” not “other” we cooperate and this is IMPORTANT.

        In your example they are more like this partly because, to the extent they can be, they are AWAY from “Civilization.” I think that is where many of us dream of being, (to some extent) and I think many many people would gladly trade their miserable lives of debt wage slavery for a real piece of land with some real water on it. But in fact most of that land and almost all of its resources is owned by the wealthy in the USA, which itself is owned by the wealthy. This was NOT the result of a free market. It is our Civilization’s Foundation. How pencils came about has nothing to do with that. (And his account of that is still fairy tale, without mentioning the Civil War.)

        And of course, your examples are not away from civilization at all in any absolute sense unless they are true Diggers somewhere on land not owned by them. They occupy the land they are on as direct consequences of migrations and many, many violent actions all over the world most definitely the actions of warmongering slave mongering serf-owning masters. Their own, or their previous or someone’s.

        I am not trying to make the vast majority of people feel guilty for being/”owning” where they are. But as everyone agrees here, no one really owns it, it is leased to them by…by the “free market.”

        I happen to believe there is plenty of land and resources for modern people. I also believe that James “free market” and “private property” assumptions (and I “believe in” both by the way) are in the way of looking squarely at the issue of who owns them now, why and who could own them and how.

        Changing shopping living habits is important, but so is who owns things. Not in Lysander Spooner’s dream but in – Venezuela, for instance.

        • HomeRemedySupply says:

          “Ownership” certainly is an important topic.
          I hear ya on that one.

          Damn! In so many ways, I feel “owned” by virtue of being hijacked and dicked …err… dictated.

    • scpat says:

      Talk about a tirade, yikes.

      Foundations of civilizations, in the material sense, were built with a lot of slave labor, but civilizations today are not. Civilizations come and go, and the old slave built civilizations are not the basis of current civilizations today, therefore the ideas of cooperation and exchange aren’t somehow nullified.

      Also, take a look at what the definition of “basis” means. “The principal component of something”; “The chief constituent; the fundamental ingredient”. Is the principal component of modern day civilization not cooperation and exchange in some fashion or another? People exchanging money for goods and services? People voluntarily exchanging for other things, that are beneficial to both sides? Really, ask yourself these questions, john.o

      • john.o says:

        “but civilizations today are not. Civilizations come and go, and the old slave built civilizations are not the basis of current civilizations today, therefore the ideas of cooperation and exchange aren’t somehow nullified.”

        I beg to differ. In fact, you’ve GOT to be kidding! What you say is simply indefensible.

        First technically, because James did not say “the ideas of cooperstion and exchange are valid.” I would not argue with that. Of course they are very important. I believe in them. They play a great role in human life and in the history of humankind.

        But James said, again, they are the foundations of civilization, and yes I know what a basis is, and YES, every modern civilization everywhere was founded on slavery and serfdom. The fact that the owners recently dumped slaves and serfs off into landless “employment” (to lecture them on “free markets” from the safety of investment income) does not change that those class divisions are the basis of modern society!

        James own historical lessons often document this admirably, though he does leave stuff out because, as I am beginning to see, he has his own religious affiliations.

        Every modern society still exists as it does because of slave labor. Chattel slavery still exists and “land slavery” or serfdom, too, and both play an important part in mining and agriculture all over the world.

        Not to mention the sex slavery that is part of the “crypto-currency” of elite networks everywhere, and has been in EVERY civilization ever studied or lived in, then and now.

        Slavery exists also in the wider sense in which it is used on this board almost every day. And the knowledge gained in controlling slaves, and expanding kingdoms and empires efficiently with war, plunder and slavery, is part of the education of the ruling classes. I have documented that here, very briefly, but it is hard to ignore in depth if you study the “classics,” (not to mention Freemasonry) which, if you read them closely, lay out the broad outlines of how to dominate and control ones lessers chemically, governmentally, psychologically, religiously and physically based on Greek, Roman, Egyptian, Phoenician, and Hindu Lore, not to mention the “Occult” traditions of Europe.

        These are still studied closely in every Leadership and War University in the world. Not to mention, again, the deepest halls of what is called “Freemasonry.” This is not conspiracy theory, but a fact.

        • john.o says:

          I take all this back! Actually I see the light.

          Civilization is founded on free, independent Butchers, Bakers and Candlestick Makers, Sharpie Pencil Elves and Farmers and Framers and Lumberjacks and Internet Website Operators. They all make free decisions of where how they labor and where they live and how they use their time and how they are and were educated and who their parents are and how they spend their money and their investments and purchasing decisions is what determines where and how they live in the future and how happy everybody will be and who will own all the land and oil in the world.

        • scpat says:

          “But James said, again, they are the foundations of civilization, and yes I know what a basis is, and YES, every modern civilization everywhere was founded on slavery and serfdom.”

          The two key words here are “was” and “are”. According to James, and I’d say I agree, cooperation and exchange are the basis of civilization. A civilization was, in part, built on slavery and serfdom as you say. We are in a different point in history now, and slavery and serfdom currently are not the basis of civilization. And I believe that is the point here, not the origins.

          Lastly, picking apart the minute details of a couple words serves no purpose but to take away from the message of this video. Those details you are so focused on have no relevance to the overall point of this video whatsoever.

          • john.o says:

            These points have everything to do with the main part of James message, its political import (to put it charitably), silly argumentation and false philosophical basis.

            James is clearly on one single side of the phony left-right paradigm by indulging the freemarkup fakery of Mise et al. For whatever reason, he is being played. My own surmise is that he really wants to see the world in this simple magical way for personal reasons. Most of us do in one way or another.

            I do not believe I am the only one to see it.

            • scpat says:

              Man…you are a piece of work. You are entitled to your own opinion, no matter how wrong it is. But if you can look at one minute detail, in one presentation, and then come to the conclusion that James is caught up in partisanship, then you are delusional. If one has looked at Corbett’s body of work, there is absolutely NO WAY one could reach the conclusion that he part of the left-right paradigm. This should go without saying. I really hope you are a troll, but I have a feeling you are not.

              • john.o says:

                I still admire James work immensely but 80-90% of his work has nothing to do with his views on the foundations of civilization and the rational basis for an alleged “free” market. My agreement with his many other amazing contributions (which have changed my life on many levels, and that includes his critique of some of MY sacred cows) has zero to do with that. If “piece of work” is the level of discourse here, perhaps I have misjudged its character.

                There is no personal attack in anything I have written. I use sarcasm and satire to make my point if I feel strongly enough. The takeover of Venezuela by the CIA, no matter how much I might detest any ruler there, is mighty important. So is a “theory” of Civilization, ANY, EVER, being founded on the fairy tale evidenced in James lecture here. It is a fundamental mis-perception of the world. It has consequences. (I have not seen James actually debate anyone on things like these either. (If someone has links, please.)

                James is no stranger to biting wit and is free to respond in kind. Especially if he provides evidence for his alleged Foundation for Civilization.

          • john.o says:

            If you want me to say:

            “YES, every modern civilization everywhere IS founded on slavery and serfdom.”

            Consider it said.

  9. auto says:

    ““Economics” is an intellectual Trojan Horse with political agendas hidden within known-false assumptions. The political conclusions follow logically from the assumptions, so if you accept those known-false assumptions, then you also accept those hidden political agendas.” – Jay Hansen

    “The curious mind embraces science; the gifted and sensitive, the arts; the practical, business; the leftover becomes an economist” ― Nassim Nicholas Taleb

    • john.o says:

      “…political agendas hidden within known-false assumptions…”

      autonomatically accurate! well said!

      • john.o says:

        But I apply it to the Misian free-markup gang too. Just to be explicit:

        The implication that they, and James above, are NOT advancing an “economic theory” is a linguistic marketing trick. This is a theory about the way money and business and even HUMAN RELATIONSHIPS are and SHOULD be seen.

        Call it something else, if you feel the need, but by any ordinary use of English it bears on what is called “economics” very heavily, and everyone knows what that word refers to, however sham a science it may be.

        Let’s get down to the nitty gritty:

        I would like to hear a statement from James soon on the imminent INVASION OF VENEZUELA the by the USA, or whatever you want to call this bloodthirsty monster now, vs. these recent pontifications from the Mise freemarkup gang:


        This is part of a campaign to rob a whole people of the resources of the land they live on. The particulars of their monetary system is none of these “gentlemen’s” business. Unless one believes the “Sunny Jim Theory of Civilization.”

        “Those poor ignorant misled folk just don’t know what’s good for them. They should just quit voting and quit wanting their own corrupt army and just let Mise and the CIA handle things.”

        Let’s hear it James. Where do you stand on Venezuela? How does it square with Misian theory?

  10. mkey says:

    It’s not an infrequent occurrence to run into a heated debate where word “economy” is discussed.

    From my layman point of view, as being a man not well versed in economic schools of thought something that is a source of modest pride, economics is a dogma. It’s nothing but a religion, pretty much as any other most notable aspect of the modern western world; it’s all a giant house of cards, based on lies and backed by blind belief. Psychopaths abuse these religions to gain power and make people kill people, for the greater good. I’m not saying it never occurred that a hungry human being attacked, killed and possibly ate another, probably just as hungry, human being. Sometimes it probably involved mobs of people, too.

    But, when it comes to trained, financed, decades in the making standing armies which count tens of thousands of souls, it’s kind of difficult to blame it all on the affliction that is the direct consequence of being human. Mind controlled, hypnotized, enslaved, subjugated or coopted – maybe, possibly, probably. Acting in unison, being eager to kill and die, ready to deparent children wile likely having their minds destroyed for other people’s gains – most probably not, some among the masses maybe, but generally I don’t think so.

    There is surely a lot of brutality in the whole of history, the very mother nature in its core is quite brutal. But I think we should stack all of the bad stuff against the good, had everyone been a brutal, homicidal slave driver I doubt we’d be here discussing any of this. We’d have a boot in our face, instead. Something had to create the prosperity despots would take advantage of. The whole of pain and suffering thousands of generations withstood so that we may be here right now demands objectivity of our approach. If not out of respect, but because of empathy and brotherly love and care.

    I’d like to close with a simple statement I don’t encounter in the public domain as often as I would like (10,000 times a day minimum):

    All of the “debt” is absolutely meaningless.
    It holds no power over anyone of us.
    It has no hold in reality.
    Its only purpose is to enslave the mind.

    • HomeRemedySupply says:

      Nice writeup.

      … Something had to create the prosperity despots would take advantage of. The whole of pain and suffering thousands of generations withstood so that we may be here right now demands objectivity of our approach. If not out of respect, but because of empathy and brotherly love and care….

  11. john.o says:

    Let it be said at the outset that I am not supporting any argument for Marxism or a “planned economy.” Ludwig von Mises and Murray Rothbard are in many ways sympathetic figures, men who believed in human beings of all kinds and who challenged orthodoxies, but they were also limited human beings. Mises brought some (in one true meaning of the word) metaphysical principles to his purely deductive reasoning about human interactions. “Deductive” here means the assumptions of his system are axiomatic, like the axioms of Euclid. They cannot be changed or questioned within the theorems and proofs of the system. EVIDENCE that contradicts them is technically impossible and must mean something is wrong with the evidence.

    This is all presented to the now many literally wide-eyed indoctrinates of its unquestionable authority in a well-funded University that pumps out unquestioning adherents. (Worth noting is that non-euclidean geometry was shocking to its founding generation of intellectuals. Euclid’s axioms were, for most of them, immutable.)

    Whenever we look at a movement for its weaknesses, (and Mises is a movement, and every movement has them) it is good to look at what are the unquestioned orthodoxies within it. There are many but the 3 most critical to me here are:

    1) Humans produce goods and services by the actions of its members without central “oikos” planning. Thus, we should not include any oikos concept when considering the “foundation” of society. To use my shorthand, the creative element of wealth-creation is in (some version of) Adam Smith’s “hidden hand.” that is the essence of what happens in that hidden portion of social interaction, and that essence is a “mutually beneficial exchange… and friendship.” That becomes the “foundation of civilization.”

    2) Value is entirely psychological and “subjective,” with no objective measure. No “objective” measurement can ever be used to evaluate “value” in human buying selling or trading (or human life in general, as near as I can tell). (Source “Subjectivism” on the Mises site and James himself).

    3) The Division of Labor stems from the diversity and inequality of human beings and of nature. It is more productive than human effort in isolation. https://mises.org/library/division-labor-and-social-order-6

    I stand by my overall critique in other posts above but made some technical errors. I am summarizing these mainstays of Mises theory and James Corbett’s presentation of two of them and I will demonstrate in some detail their highly questionable use to explain the actual way things work in the real world when I have time. If anyone feels I am unfairly representing James or the Mises Institute, or especially these three postulates, please say so and point out my error.

    • pearl says:

      You’re a real piece of work, john.o.

      (I’m kidding.) Seriously, I appreciate the well-reasoned challenges you’ve laid out, and look forward to your follow-ups. Iron sharpens iron.

    • john.o says:

      Thanks, Pearl. The willingness to explore in depth, this issue especially, from an Ayn Rand admirer (did I get that wrong?) is deeply appreciated.

      I have been thinking hard about how I want to engage. Let’s start with a point of agreement: James and I agree we do not want to live in an “economy” run by “economists.”

      Why? Because “oikos” is mistranslated as “household,” particularly in the minds of civilized moderns. The word means many things over the stretch of history, it can simply mean a building where people live, or the Temple domain of a God, including the Jewish God. But in the sense understood when “economics” were introduced, “Plantation” would be the most accurate term for almost all of known Greek history. Better Greek scholars, correct me, but I do not see the “oikos” of a slave or serf used often. They were functional units in the masters’ oikoi, particularly early on.

      Early on Plantations were worked by chattel serfs. There were villages where the goods produced by the “division of labor” (of usually matrifocal serf and patriarchal master families) together with what the masters could trade for, or quite commonly simply steal and plunder elsewhere, were “exchanged” by masters in a situation of relative trust. The Market.

      The Greek polis came into existence precisely when warfare brought large numbers of chattel slaves to the largest oikoi.

      ECONOMICS is proper management of these large plantation estates,.
      POLITICS is the determination of to what extent they should be unified or separate, first in cities, and then to what extent under larger entities guided by whom, to compete with outside forces and chaos generally.

      I contend nothing has changed fundamentally for reasons no one is better at explaining to me than James Corbett. Both are still good definitions. I want out of both!!

      The question is, does James and the Mises Instiute get me out? Or just throw me back to the same old Masters?

      More when I can.

      • pearl says:

        (gulp) When I said “iron sharpens iron”, it’s essential you realize I was not referring to myself, a mere stainless steel butter knife as it pertains to this weighty topic of economics. I was mainly reacting to the push back you received, being called “a piece of work” even reducing you to a possible troll because you challenged assumptions. That irked me, always does.

        Being a homeschooling parent and desiring a rich tapestry of ideas for my kids, I’ve collected a variety of authors, ie John Locke, Adam Smith, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Paine, Mises, Hyek, Hazlitt, etc. With the exception of Locke and Franklin, most of these authors have only been skimmed as other subjects like History, Physics, Spanish etc, and enjoyment of life in general compete for our time and there are only so many hours in a day.

        I’m sensitive to the seduction of being swept away in any movement, which you touched upon, no matter how persuasive it may be, including Rand’s Objectivism, of which I became acquainted through Piekoff’s “Ominous Parallels”. But due to their fervent atheism, contempt for 9/11 truthers, and being champions of resulting government action, I’ve not invested much more of my energies than accepting its basic tenets which I’ve always believed anyway.

        It is with a great interest for varying perspectives from all walks of life and beliefs that I try to keep up with most of the threads here. Corbett’s community is one of the most lively, intelligent and respectful ones I’ve encountered, and want to encourage you personally to keep doing what you do so well, communicate your convictions.

        • john.o says:

          Your kindness is noted and appreciated. Your intellect under-appreciated but not invisible. Homeschooling is the noblest pursuit on the planet hands down.

  12. john.o says:

    I want to get to the 3 Postulates of Mises Magic Science of Callactics, but to be fair to James, I am reading his lecture to us very carefully, so as not to miss anything. Let’s keep breaking it down, starting with his understandable effort to point out what an airbag Paul Krugman is.

    “Any guess whose ends these economists end up serving? Hint: It’s not yours.” – James Corbett.


    Now let’s look at Hayek, James heroic free market alternative, the fighter for our freedom against Krugman’s plan to let the Fed and the Oligarchs in Congress and the Pentagon run the Anglo-American Plantation Empire. Let’s look at this non-economist, who stands against the all those forces arrayed against us:

    “…shared the 1974 Nobel Prize …..said that his experience in the war and his desire to help avoid the mistakes that had led to the war drew him into economics. …became a British subject in 1938…spent most of his academic life at the London School of Economics (LSE), the University of Chicago, and the University of Freiburg….In 1984, he was appointed a member of the Order of the Companions of Honour by Queen Elizabeth II on the advice of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher for his “services to the study of economics”…. first recipient of the Hanns Martin Schleyer Prize in 1984. ..received the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1991 from President George H. W. Bush…

    I am certainly glad he was no economist! Clearly this man threatened the social order.

    I haven’t read the book, but I have read various summaries and bios from various points of view, and everyone I read agrees Hayek was a brilliant man who conclusively won the argument that uncontrolled pricing in a “free market” (and here the word has a limited meaning that makes it accurate) beats any type of centralized planned or pricing scheme every time.

    Werd. Fair enough. Having worked in sales and marketing much of my life, that sounds like truth to me.

    But Hayek is everywhere considered a proponent of “classical liberalism.” The beneficent hidden hand. Adam Smith’s Great Architect of the Universe. And his starry eyed devotees at the Mises Institute eventually have worked all this up this to the point where EVERYTHING is for sale and trade. Even “voluntary” slaves (THANK YOU mik!!)

    Privatizing Rivers and Voluntary Slave Contracts
    with Mises and The Gang:

    Can’t wait for freedom to ring! But my favorite is the Free Market adoption solution. No more will children be solen fron Haiti by those collectivist Clintons. The free market will do it better:


    What could go wrong with such a worldview? But such things are inevitable when you accept the unquestionable truths of “catallactics”:


    I will look at the #1 Postulate next.

  13. VoltaicDude says:

    But James (your eyelids are getting heavier and heavier,),
    when economics and physics collide (heavier and heavier,),
    kaboom – economists are always right (and you are sound asleep…)…
    …even if it’s all 100% meaningless b.s.
    (…which of course is a point you do not have a right to make
    since you are sound asleep and you don’t speak math with respectable authority.).

    @ 40:54 minutes: Viktor Yakovenko

    Viktor Yakovenko
    Grant from…

    Institute for New Economic Thinking
    Our Purpose
    Leadership & Staff

    • john.o says:

      Money sounds like a gas! I am looking for funding for my thermal machine startup, and maybe, eventually, even some of that wealth:

      “Abstract: In a closed economic system, money is conserved. Thus, by analogy with energy, the equilibrium probability distribution of money must follow the exponential Boltzmann-Gibbs law characterized by an effective temperature equal to the average amount of money per economic agent. We demonstrate how the Boltzmann-Gibbs distribution emerges in computer simulations of economic models. Then we consider a thermal machine, in which the difference of temperatures allows one to extract a monetary profit. We also discuss the role of debt, and models with broken time-reversal symmetry for which the Boltzmann-Gibbs law does not hold. The instantaneous distribution of money among the agents of a system should not be confused with the distribution of wealth…”

      – Abstract of paper by Viktor Yakovenko

  14. VoltaicDude says:

    Milton Friedman (“marketed” by corporate media – like PBS – to become a household name for the Reagan era) championed Hayek and Mises in a deceptive manner in (a New World) order to free the leviathan corporatist (socialist) deep state from any regulation or required remuneration to the public infrastructure that, to begin with, enables corporate profitableness.

    That hocus pocus jargon is perhaps the single most important point to understand about how the Austrians are generally deceptively marketed (so that black means white and doublespeak reigns) and about their Rockefeller-(Disneyworld-like)-imitations, the Chicago School. Maybe the Austrians aren’t directly to blame for Friedman and all this, but it’s still a fact of life.

    I like “catallactics” and will have to give it more thought. It reminds me that I have always considered “economics” to be a hybrid of sociology (as subsidiary of sociology) and business systems/engineering/technology; the “business” part addressing the “home-economics” aspect you described and the “sociological” part addressing the “catallactics!”

    But Mises observations are still absent of some fundamental realities:
    “Technology, with its companion commitment of time and capital, means that the needs of the consumer must be anticipated – by months or years…it must see that the labor, materials and equipment that it needs will be available at a cost consistent with the price it will receive. It must exercise control over what is sold. It must exercise control over what is supplied. It must replace the market with planning.” – The New Industrial State by John Kenneth Galbraith (pg. 27, Princeton Univ. Press).

    The scale of modern industrial institutions is larger than the scale of evolved human society. It’s in that differential where manmade abundance is generated and where our original “economics” morph into socialism/globalism.

    It seems to be a dilemma, not to in any way encourage defeatism – it’s just a matter-of-fact observation about a seeming contradiction in desired pursuits.

    Also, the standards and influences of modern militarism applied to civilian life during the times of Bismarck and Napoleon further complicate these considerations.

    If these issues are externalized in argument, they remain (unexamined) influences none-the-less.

    Looking at history this way it’s no wonder we have a military-industrial complex, a deep state, and authoritarianism across the board with corporatism, communism and fascism.

    Materially (despotically, camouflaged as democracy) only corporatism has been able to hold hegemonic positioning. The harshly authoritarian communisms and fascisms of the twentieth century were propped into place by the corporatists precisely as straw man arguments (Antony Sutton).

    • john.o says:

      VoltaicDude; I don’t know much about Hayek yet, but by accepting awards from essentially Thatcher, Reagan and Bush, it seems he didn’t do much to distance himself from Friedman’s program.

      As to Mise himself, I know that he presents the foundations of his system as a deductive method. It seems to me it builds on certain basic axioms and postulates that are briefly reasoned, then never touched on again, as they are allowed to become the basis of an elaborate system that now includes data.

      I defend the use of deductive methods in science, but only to construct models, which must then be confirmed by experiment. Even if they are confirmed, that does not indicate one has actually captured all of reality. It seems so far that the Mises models are never adjusted, but simply used to interpret selective data, which unsurprisingly confirms them.

      If you can point me to any “required remuneration to the public infrastructure” in the writings of Mises or his followers I would truly like to see it. I see talk of any such thing as a “public infrastructure” at all. They theorize quite openly about, for instance, owning rivers privately. Rivers are the original free public transportation system for humankind. Why not portions of the sky?

      Everything I see so far on the Mises site implies that property would stay in the hands of the current owners without any consideration for the way it was obtained. In the future we can file tort claims in their powerless courts. Past offenses like war slavery rape and pillage, all just grandfathered in.

      But it doesn’t stop there, Murray Rothbard, following deductive logic with nary a hesitation, deduces the sale of children from his Lockean view of human life and “freedom.” The protections afforded children in his schema needs to be read to be believed, but only after a thorough review of all the literature on how wealth, power and systematized child abuse and sex slavery go together like rotting meat and maggots all over the world.

      The idea that people would be buying children for ulterior motives never arises in that paper in any serious way. That is because in a “catallactic” civilization founded only on “exchange between friends” such well established truths find no place.

      I am mystified as to how Alisha Owen would fare any better in a court of Misesian property owners.

      Or maybe I really am just missing something altogether on the Mises site. I am truly interested and hope I am wrong about what I see there.

  15. Olentzero says:

    Great podcast, James…you know more about economics than most “credentialed” economists!

  16. manbearpig says:

    This subject is of the utmost importance.

    The comments section is every bit as provocative as the video itself.

    I managed to contribute nothing to this thread despite my highly opinionated nature.

    My colossal ignorance dangles before my eyes.

    I originally came to this site to hear a well researched reflection of truth to aid me in my understanding of the world and my existence within it.

    Now I’m faced with trying to imagine how the world could be a better place.

    I begin to understand why Caitlin Johnstone speaks of eradicating or melding egos in a pool of tranquil togetherness.

    and I understand perfectly that she no more than I could possbily live in such a pool.

    Her nature is to fight and provoke and taunt and bully and entertain and persuade.

    and yet she preaches abandoning ego, which is perhaps the only way to create a placid “civilization”.

    But I know she’s hypocritical in doing so.

    I don’t want to be hypocritical. and I don’t w

    • manbearpig says:

      jeepers. how embarassing… how on earth did that happen?? a comment in progress, yuk!!! Happy hour hasn’t even started yet!! Help! Get rid of it!? Please!

  17. manbearpig says:

    This subject is of the utmost importance.

    The comments section is every bit as provocative as the video itself.

    Atlas actually Shrugged on the Corbett Report and I was out to lunch.

    Indeed, a year ago I managed to contribute nothing to this thread despite my highly opinionated nature on these comment boards.

    My colossal ignorance and limited cognitive abilities dangle cruelly before my eyes when faced with this question of Catallactics and even of anarchy, agorism, desire paths and The Pencil.

    also Cognitive dissonance with my personal understanding of human nature… and the mitigated joys of living in a hippy commune at a tender age…

    I originally came to this site to read and listen to well researched reflections of truth to aid me in my understanding of the world and my existence within it. (and I’ve never been disappointed)

    Now I’m faced with the eminently simple and outrageously complex question of how to make the world a better place (above and beyond just informing people of the ambiant lies and manipulation).

    I begin to understand why Caitlin Johnstone speaks of eradicating or melding egos into a sweet blue pool of tranquil togetherness.

    and I understand perfectly also that she no more than I could possbily live happily in such a sticky uniform solution.

    Her nature is to fight and provoke and taunt and bully and entertain and persuade.

    and yet she preaches abandoning ego, as perhaps the only way of creating a cooperative eco-friendly “civilization”.

    But I know she’s utterly hypocritical in doing so.

    I don’t want to be hypocritical.

    but I don’t want to admit that child abuse and human trafficking will forever be the plight of a significant portion of humanity.

    so I guess I’ll just go back to silence on this one.

    …except to suggest that perhaps the combined efforts of the world’s most successful rulers to date teetering at the top of the pyramid with all of their various and more or less nefarious or benevolant intentions will come together in the age of the internet to provide for the first time in human history the illusion of free will and gratifying personal growth and prosperity to the greatest numbers even as the profoundly brutal and perhaps perverse nature of Alpha rulers will continue on, mostly unperceived by the healthy, contented and distracted masses.

    And that illustion will be the best we can hope for or achieve.

    The brave new world of the Matrix…as the most optimistic prospect for humanity…

    Or maybe I should go buy a light therapy lamp…?

    • mkey says:

      The best case scenario is for those who choose to be free, to emancipate themselves from the “state”, those who want to stop being treated like kids to be “allowed” to do so by a stroke of the pen.

  18. Mark K. P. says:

    haha, but i dont agree it worked. I’d like to see functioning modern states free of debt and usury in which the riches created by modern technology are permitted to benefit the citizens, and the welfare of its citizens are the focus of the state. Gaddaffi seems to have accomplished this in Libya, and the Hitler revolution in Germany too. Which is why both were obliterated and demonized. But before that they were very prosperous and progressive.

    Once modern states of this type become well established, and peace and prosperity normalized, THEN it is time for the healthy and sovereign state to experiment with alternative modes of community and even limited political anarchy, in a supportive and co-operative spirit.
    But to repeat, modern states are not sovereign, and the deep state is a serious misnomer for the deep private

  19. Octium says:

    Couldn’t we just lop off the economists heads when they get it wrong?

    By the process of evolution they are bound to improve and if not it will be fun anyway.

  20. allister says:

    Dear James

    I was reading one of Paul Craig Robert’s recent articles “Can the American Economy Be Resurrected?” and commented that “I’m wondered whether the possibility for returning jobs to the US is really about the economy at all”

    I wrote to Dr Roberts with the letter below but in summary what I’ve said is how can we pretend to have a “free market” or an economy that conforms to such when all the major elements are being manipulated, a point you have alluded to also when reviewing the involment of the FED in the US Stockmarket.


    I am reminded of the work of Professor Antony C. Sutton carried out at the Hoover institute in uncovering the involvement of Wall Street in bringing about Russian Communism not to mention aiding the resurgence and maintenance of its manufacturing until at least the 1980’s.

    Professor Sutton also makes the same case for the rise of WWII Germany. Sutton goes on to document the involvement of Yale’s Secret Society and vehicles of political influence such as Trilateral Groups and the Council on Foreign relations.

    Professor Carroll Quigley has also laid out the connections of secret societies and the less secret Round Table groups in his books “Tragedy and Hope” and the “Anglo-American Establishment”.

    Professor Sutton concludes more or less that the world is controlled and manipulated by fear and conflict; conflict managed from both sides by the same interest group/s with the aim of generating a synthesis from this conflict. A synthesis he speculated more than 40 years ago was to in the end “bring about a planned controlled world society (one world government) in which you and I won’t find the freedoms to believe think and do as we believe (and think and do now)”

    If broadly speaking we take Professor Quigley’s Oxford and Round Table Groups and Sutton’s Yale and Trilateral/CFR groups and add to that Zionism’s, APAC, Neoconservatives and Project for the New American Century and various other affiliates and then imagine they’re all working toward the same ends we might begin to speculate on the basis of history what “enemies” they might throw at one another in the future.

    As just one example lets consider Islam’s Ideological Trojan horse that’s been cultivated by these same groups since support was given to Abdulaziz in 1902 and through to this day.
    Senator Rand Paul perhaps naively in the context of Antony Suttons revelations when addressing ARMS SALES TO SAUDI ARABIA said the following “I don’t believe Saudi Arabia is a country we can trust, the fact they continue to support schools in our country that preach hatred of our country and hatred of Israel, preach hatred of civilisation as far as I’m concerned, I just don’t see how we can send the correct message to them by saying you can have unlimited arms from us” …. And conversely they act as a poster child for western condemnation towards Islam.

    [SNIP – Please keep comments to 500 words or less. -JC]

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