cyberutopian libertarianism

Enzo Michelangeli em at
Mon Dec 14 20:28:46 PST 1998

Two replies in one message, to reduce the libertarian pollution of the list ;-)

-----Original Message----- From: Tom Lehman <uswa12 at> To: lbo-talk at <lbo-talk at> Date: Monday, December 14, 1998 10:40 PM Subject: Re: cyberutopian libertarianism

>Dear Enzo,
>The basic problem in the steel industry is that finished and semi-finished
>products are being "dumped" into our domestic market at less than the cost
>production in the country of origin. It is impossible for the US steel
>to compete in this type of situation. Other American industries are also
>with this type of 19th century predatory price competition.


Allegations of dumping are always quite difficult to ascertain, but that's not the issue I was discussing with my question, which instead is: does the first world really need low-end industries, instead of letting them go where they are more efficient? I understand that there is a personal element in your views, and I respect your feelings, but special interests, sooner or later, always give in to economic considerations.


-----Original Message----- From: Carl Remick <cremick at> Date: Monday, December 14, 1998 11:05 PM

>Re Enzo's: "Yeah, OK, but can't we just import the stuff from where it
>costs less to
>No, because the "natural advantage" of the exporters is based on
>exploitative wages and the lack of environmental safeguards. Next
>question, please.

"Natural advantage" is new to me: I knew "comparative advantage" as in Ricardo, and "competitive advantage" in some pseudo-economists such as Robert Reich. But anyway: the foreign workers accept low wages for exactly one reason: lack of alternatives. Not buying from their employers is hardly helpful, because that converts low-wage employment straight into unemployment. So: thirld-world workers lose their job; other consumers pay for the same commodity more than they could; and the better educated workforce in the first world keep low-end jobs instead of better paid and more satisfying occupations that, for the time being, would not be accessible by their thirld-world colleagues. Is this a progressive and solidaristic solution? Hardly, methinks.

Cheers --


P.S. I anticipate some follow-ups claiming that no "just" policy will be ever put in place without a comprehensive political change worldwide. The fact is, however, that all the countries that have attempted a socialist revolution are now more than willing to join the fray of international trade as low-wage producers: and those who are not doing it, like Cuba or, until a few years ago, Vietnam, are cut off only by to some incredibly stupid American embargo. That must mean something.

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