Excerpts from Chodorov

Posted on LvMIC

Frank Chodorov is labelled as a thinker of the “old-Right”, at least on Wikipedia, but take a look at some of these quotes from “How Capitalists Help Build Socialism” excerpted from Out of Step. This was posted on the Mises Institute today. I recommend the article, by the way.

The proletariat really never approached the State for privilege; it was actually handed to them by the power-hungry politicians in exchange for their suffrage. Every subsidy to the “poor” (in a democracy) was thought up by a bureaucrat or a candidate for office, the candidate to achieve political preferment, the bureaucrat to improve his prerogatives and his perquisites.

The “poor”, being human, as even the capitalists are, voted for something-for-nothing; it is questionable whether the “poor”, unlike the capitalists, knew that in so doing they were augmenting the power of the State.

***

Now, the “poor” pay most of the taxes. This is necessarily so, because the national payroll contains most of the wealth of the country and is therefore the most fruitful source of taxation.

***

So that those who have nothing but their labor to sell pay for the bounties handed to them, as well as for the administration of the handouts, although, to be sure, they believe (and are told) that they are getting something for nothing, that the “rich” pay all the taxes.

Capitalists, on the other hand, gain something by the privileges they enjoy. In the first place, there are loopholes in the tax laws that enable them to avoid paying taxes in proportion to their income. These loopholes are necessarily put into the laws, for the State recognizes that the accumulation of capital must be encouraged or there will be no production to levy on; that is, if there is no capital there cannot be any wages to tax.

Compare Chodorov’s statements with those of Sheldon Richman in his recent article on left-libertarianism in the American Conservative. (I also, very much, recommend this article.)

Workers today are handicapped by an array of regulations, taxes, intellectual-property laws, and business subsidies that on net impede entry to potential alternative employers and self-employment. As well, periodic economic crises set off by government borrowing and Federal Reserve management of money and banking threaten workers with unemployment, putting them further at the mercy of bosses.

Competition-inhibiting channelization diminishes workers’ bargaining power, enabling employers to deprive them of a portion of the income they would receive in a freed and fully competitive economy, where employers would have to compete for workers—rather than vice versa—and self-employment free of licensing requirements would offer an escape from wage employment altogether. Of course, self-employment has its risks and wouldn’t be for everyone, but it would be more attractive to more people if government did not make the cost of living, and hence the cost of decent subsistence, artificially high in myriad ways—from building codes and land-use restrictions to product standards, highway subsidies, and government-managed medicine.

***

The “free-market anti-capitalism” of left-libertarianism is no contradiction, nor is it a recent development. It permeated Tucker’s Liberty, and the identification of worker exploitation harked back at least to Thomas Hodgskin (1787-1869), a free-market radical who was one of the first to apply the term “capitalist” disparagingly to the beneficiaries of government favors bestowed on capital at the expense of labor.

I have not read any other works by Frank Chodorov so perhaps his views changed over time or were made less explicit in his other writings. But after reading this excerpt a couple of days after reading Richman’s article I find quite a bit of similarity in their ideas. Left-libertarianism seems to be a bit controversial within libertarianism but Chodorov’s views don’t seem to stray very far from the basic outline Richman provides.

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