I know that many libertarians believe that communism is doomed to fail, I think they are right by the way, but how do they explain the success of the Hutterites? The Hutterites are an anabaptist groupthat live mostly in Canada and practice a community of goods. This group of people have survived for nearly five hundred years with a community of goods situation.
I must explain that community of goods is not the same as Marxism. Marxism is coercive; believes in the materialist dialectic; believes in the labor theory of value etc. Yet Christian community of goods is voluntary; is based on Christ's teachings on the sermon on the mount and the rich young ruler. See Acts 2:44 - 45. It would not do to call these kind of action communsim since classical Marxism and Christian community of goods are worlds appart. How many people did Justin Martyr or Jackob Hutter kill? None. Stalin and Mao millions. Communism is militant and murderous whereas Christian community of goods is peaceful. The ancient church circa 33-303 AD also practiced a community of goods. How can a libertarian account for such longevity of operation in the Hutterites and the ancient church if their actions flew in the face of certain market principles?
”If it is measured in pecunary intrest then the free market wins everytime.”
I am not sure about even this. Consider for example the description of the period from 1565 to 1592 in the life of the Huterian community, as reported in Journal of Political Economy (1924):
”[T]he Huterian people found themselves better organized than was any other group of work-men in Moravia... and it was not long before they found themselves in control of the market along more than one line. DeSchweinitz, who lived in that century, wrote of them:
"It is said of them that they were the best farmers, raised the best cattle, had the best vineyards, brewed the best beer, owned the best flour-mills, and engaged on a large scale in almost every kind of trade known in their day."3
Beck says they had the reputation for making the best cutlery, the best linen, and the best pottery produced in Moravia.4 When they finally left the country, a government consultation was held to consider how to find other weavers to take their place, and it was suggested that Dutch weavers be invited to do so.5 A visitor at their Bruderhofs exclaimed,
"They had enough ducats and gold crowns so that they paid one bill of 2,200 gulden, They monopolize all the trades, and it looks as if they would soon buy out the lords."6
Not only were their wares in great demand. Their workmen, trained under the highly organized system, were given the preference all over Moravia wherever there were places to fill that called for administrative ability in lines employing many workers. Huterian men became head millers, head gardeners, head foresters, stewards, and farm superintendents in large numbers.7 The women were in as great demand as the men. An anxious priest exclaimed,
"God have mercy! It has gone so far that nearly all the women of Moravia must have no one but Anabaptist women for their midwives, their wet nurses, and their children's attendants, as if they were the only ones who were instructed in these things."8
Twice the Huterian physician, George Zobel, was called to the capital by the Emperor Rudolph, once to attend on him personally, and once to advise about methods for checking the plague which was raging through the country.9"
Bertha W. Clark, The Huterian Communities: II, Journal of Political Economy, Vol. 32, No. 4 (Aug., 1924), pp. 468-486
what is your criteria of success? I wonder whether you would enjoy life as a Hutterite....
On to the more intellectual part of your question, they don't prove the dispensability or inferiority of capitalism since their 'corporation' trades with the outside world, i.e. they are plugged into the global price system.
Its durability is due to the extent that it engages with the wider market and also to the extent that it is small with respect to the market.
Where there is no property there is no justice; a proposition as certain as any demonstration in Euclid
Fools! not to see that what they madly desire would be a calamity to them as no hands but their own could bring
"what is your criteria of success?"
Well success can be measured in many different ways. If it is measured in pecunary intrest then the free market wins everytime, but if community than the Amish and Hutterites seem to do really well, but the main question I wanted answered was if many libertarians think communal living fails why has it succeeded so.
"Its durability is due to the extent that it engages with the wider market and also to the extent that it is small with respect to the market." You are right and I propably agree in as far as it goes, but even anarcho-syndicalists and the former communist bloc "traded" with the global market, remember the USSR was importing grain from the US and Canada during the Vietnam war and they still failed, the Hutterites have not.
"they don't prove the dispensability or inferiority of capitalism since their 'corporation' trades with the outside world"
I never ment to play down the free market, but some libertarians seem to think that there is no other fulfilling economic system to live under.
Turin:." You are right and I propably agree in as far as it goes, but even anarcho-syndicalists and the former communist bloc "traded" with the global market, remember the USSR was importing grain from the US and Canada during the Vietnam war and they still failed, the Hutterites have not.
so you agree that feasibility is a function of size and relative size but you still aren't sure why a minute community is feasable where one of the largest nations is not ?
"so you agree that feasibility is a function of size and relative size but you still aren't sure why a minute community is feasable where one of the largest nations is not ?"
If I understand your statement correctly I think you are saying I meant that a small community can share its goods equally and survive and a large community cannot. This may or may not be true. I think the deciding factor is if goods are shared voluntarily then it might work (management still has to be smart), but it will not work if coerced.
If you do believe it is a function of size please explain. You might be saying that community of goods like democracy, according to Rousseau, can work only in a small community and will break down in a large one. Yet further clarification would be helpful.
OK, This is kinda subtle so ...
Socialism is impossible is merely shorthand for economic calculation under socialism is impossible. It doesn't mean that there won't ever be any socialists for this or that length of time, only that under socialism economic calculation is not going on.
Now; if one is happy not doing much that's capital intensive or complicated or that involves division of labour between thousands of people but is content to eat from pulling vegetables out of the ground and walking around in animal hides and living in mud huts and having lots of children to perpetuate your tribe because most of them wont make it to bear children of their own then one can institute full socialism and go on existing (maybe!).
Now, the scope of the market is a parameter that you can vary, you can have a huge capitalist system and two guys forming a socialist community, they aren't able to perform economic calculation 'internally' , but its not so much an issue because there is a huge market out there, calculating away and producing and if they trade with it, to the extent that the market has one other agent (the two of them collectivised) they play a role in the wide economic calculation of the market.
At the other extreme, if you socialise everything and have one guy try to constitute a community of one that exhibits economic calculation... it can't be!, so lets say you have another fellow, we have a 'robinson crusoe' and 'guy friday' type deal, ...their lot might not be all that much better than the thousands of socialised unfortunates around them, but as the market expands in scope the 'power' of economic calculation will show itself to be significant, not least over time as capital can accumulate....
Does this help? maybe points the way?
Ok so you are saying that "sustainable" socialism is a function of scale. The bigger the socialist pie of the economy inrelation to the free market the economy tanks and the small socialist pie in relation to the free markert the economy can sustain the inefficency.
I think you missunderstand the nature of Christian Communinity of goods it is not socialism. For instantance in true socialism no one can steal since everyone owns everything. The Bible still teaches that one shall not covet, even in Acts. Also in classical socialism the government redestributes the wealth by fource in a Christian community of goods the wealth is voluntarily given up to those who need it, a big difference. So how can you covet something that is already yours? Another point is that in a Christian community of goods the wages you earn are still yours to dispose of, only it is expected that you will voluntarily give a certain ammount up (as specified by the Church body). See Ananias and Saphira in Acts. I also do not believe that the resources of the Hutterites have been missused. Their farms in Canada are economic success stories. I just find it hard to believe the the Hutterites have not been making economic calculations, and profitable ones at that. I am finding it hard to describe the Christian community of goods in a satisfactory way since not much academic work has been done on it and I am reasoning this out as I try to describe it.
I may be wrong, but it seems that for many libertarians there is either total free trade on one end of the spectrum and gradually unfree trade untill you culminate in Marxism. Yet is not Christian community of goods free (uncoerced) as well?
Finally if you claim that survival of a "socalist" community is based on being a island in a capitalist sea how then do you account for the Hutterite longevity in relation to such failed experiments as the Owenites, the anarcho-syndicalists and others, since they were also small. Therefore size cannot be the complete answer, though it may be part of it.
Socialism is not defined by coercion (even though it often entails coercion to maintain it), the economic analysis of the system is the same whether it is voluntary socialism or involuntary socialism.
Yes, well I agree with you that I don't object to Christians voluntarily doing what they do on moral grounds, just that I'm not them and I'm extra-ordinarily grateful that the vast majority do not abandon the market (which would leave me much worse off). In other words, I'm grateful that Hutterites are a fringe movement, because if they were not the scope of the market I enjoy would be radically cut. That would be lamentable from my perspective.
In so far as Hutterite business leaders seek to earn profits on the market, they are engaging in the wider economic calculation of the market. Their success or failure in their commercial endeavours is just as any firms, you have noted that the communities that remain have been able to earn sufficient profits to survive whereas other 'syndicates' did not. size is not the complete answer, it is merely the answer to how large can a socialist community be before it abandons modern amenities,luxuries( and possibly freedoms).
"In so far as Hutterite business leaders seek to earn profits on the market, they are engaging in the wider economic calculation of the market. Their success or failure in their commercial endeavours is just as any firms, you have noted that the communities that remain have been able to earn sufficient profits to survive whereas other 'syndicates' did not. size is not the complete answer, it is merely the answer to how large can a socialist community be before it abandons modern amenities,luxuries( and possibly freedoms)."
What you are saying is contradictory you say one the one hand that socialism is in some sense parasitic and cannot survive without the free market and claim that the syndicalists and the USSR are socialist failures. Yet you indicate by your beliefs that the Hutterites are socialist, but you say they are competative in the market. Well by you own defition socialism is not competative in the market and therefore Hutterites are not socialists. You own reasoning is confused. The very fact that you even admit the Hutterites are economically competative and the syndicalists are not shows that you implicitly believe the are captialist in some sense, since only a capitalist can be competative in the market, by your defintion. You even admit Hutterites earn proftits tell me where socialism allows for profits? This seems to be a case of heads I win and tales you loose.
Furthermore even Walter Block in a discussion of economic classification made a distinction between coercive and non coercive economic systems. See her http://mises.org/media/1554. Walter Block, while not mentioning Hutterites mentions Mother Teresa and seems not to hold her Christian Community of Goods against her.
I did not understand your argument completely so here is the rest of my claim.
"Their success or failure in their commercial endeavours is just as any firms, you have noted that the communities that remain have been able to earn sufficient profits to survive whereas other 'syndicates' did not. size is not the complete answer, it is merely the answer to how large can a socialist community be before it abandons modern amenities,luxuries( and possibly freedoms)."
First of all what freedoms have the Hutterites lost? Any member of the community when he comes of age is able to leave the Hutterite community no one is forced to stay. Also what kind of freedoms did Mother Teresa take away?
One important point you made I did not adress you argue that the Hutterites have survived by giving up luxuries, well if tractors, cell phones and cars are not luxuries what is? (You even admit that people can live in mud huts and eat corn). Also as far as technology the Hutterites are a match for any non-anabaptist firm. Finally what is wrong with volutnary self-denial and you do not have enough data to proove that the voluntary underconsumption of the Hutterites would lead to thier large margin of success.
First of all what freedoms have the Hutterites lost?
He did not say that Hutterites "lost" any freedom, only that the larger a socialist society becomes, the more likely it will require coercion to maintain order.
One important point you made I did not adress you argue that the Hutterites have survived by giving up luxuries, well if tractors, cell phones and cars are not luxuries what is?
Do the Hutterites make their own tractors, cell phones and cars? Or do they buy these goods from the open market, in which these goods are available at a fairly low price? One does not need to be incredibly productive to buy a cell phone or a car, particularly when your other material desires are relatively minimal (no big air-conditioned house, no cutting-edge media system, no annual family trips, etc.). That Hutterites are able to enjoy these kinds of 'luxuries' is not a testament to their internal system, but to the market system.
You don't need to look to religious minorities in Canada to see that small scale sharing of goods can work just fine in the right context. For instance, the family. I have no problem with people adopting any economic system provided they don't violate conventions against torts while doing so. I don't expect the Hutterites to become wealthy anytime soon, but why should everyone have the same preference for material wealth as me?
"I cannot prove, but am prepared to affirm, that if you take care of
clarity in reasoning, most good causes will take care of themselves,
while some bad ones are taken care of as a matter of course." -Anthony de Jasay
"That Hutterites are able to enjoy these kinds of 'luxuries' is not a testament to their internal system, but to the market system."
I agree totally, but many free market people believe if you are not totally self sufficent then your system failed, well even the Bill Gates does not make his own cars. I know that division of labor is necessary to make what everyone needs. The only point I am trying to make is that the Hutterites are not socialist. I mean if Bill Gates sold all of his wealth and gave it to the poor and perpetually underconsumed does that make him a socialist?
"I don't expect the Hutterites to become wealthy anytime soon, but why should everyone have the same preference for material wealth as me?"
I agree to a point. I mean the Hutterite are not living in mud huts isolated from the world. Also even if the Hutterites want to underconsume there is nothing socialist in that, in fact for a capitalist to survive he must underconsume to save up money for captital goods. The main point I was trying to make was that maybe a Rothbardian free market system is not the only sustainable and fufilling econmoic system.
Hutterian communalism can be voluntary only because there is an outside world to which members of Hutterian colonies can escape if they wish. Socialist governmental systems offer no escape. As virtually every nation is socialist today, to escape from one socialist country is merely to change socialist masters. The only comparable option for Hutterites is to transfer to another Hutterite colony, and that is voluntary.