It must be stressed that the word ‘politics’ and its derivatives has, in the Aristotelian sense, nothing in common with the humbuggery of political pontifications, party politics, state apparatuses, bureaucrats, presidents, planners, cardinals, commanders etc. Political in this sense is this set of explicit or tacit rules, of primary rules as H. L. A. Hart could put it, that govern the conduct of individual human beings and their association with others in society.
This particular insight is, in my humble opinion, the most essential theme of policy in general and economic policy in particular, especially when the debate comes down to the issue of regulation, its degree and scope.
|Brussels. Outside the European Parliament.|
By Protesilaos Stavrou CC BY-SA-NC
Laissez faire allows these primary rules to be determined by individuals engaging in voluntary transactions. Such rules may be enshrined in mutually agreed contracts –the Proudhonian contractarian ideal– always on the basis of a rational law code outlining the 'natural' rights of each person concerning liberty, property and association. This type of regulation ought to be considered the libertarian way, which I personally stand for.
In contrast the interventionist approach insists that individuals are for whatever reason not adept enough at regulating their own conduct and interpersonal relationships. The state, or rather the politicians acting in the name of a metaphysically sovereign power elite (the state), must intervene in whatever area of life is deemed worthy of intervention (practically everywhere) to regulate, systematize, categorize, shape or otherwise determine the activity, commerce or industry in question.
Such intervention is in line with whatever the decision-maker, bureaucrat or technocratic "expert" considers the appropriate and therefore legitimate way of doing things. Regulation is within the interventionist context, necessarily and always centralized even if the principle of subsidiarity is fully applied, for the mere fact that a third party has a sovereign say in the interpersonal affairs of acting individuals, preventing them therefore from deciding for themselves.
A more precise categorization of these two irreconcilable tendencies, was offered to us by the Left-Libertarian philosopher Cornelius Castoriades. His theme was, in basic terms, to brand the libertarian perspective on regulation as autonomy while naming the interventionist schemes as manifestations of heteronomy. By 'autonomy' he was referring to the original meaning of the term, namely of self-rule of the individual and not, as a popular fallacy holds, of doing anything we want. It should be noted that the idea of no limits to action and of absolutely unbridled and arbitrary mode of operation, falsely labelled as "liberty", has nothing to do with libertarianism per se. It only is a permanently confused brand of egotism, which I consider nothing more than a puerile fantasy.
On the social dimension the implications of autonomy suggest that the rules which in every particular occasion regulate conduct are agreed upon by the agents involved in that transaction or association without any external interference whatsoever (assuming that the ’natural’ rights are inviolable). Heteronomy on the other hand is the exact opposite, in that the rule/regulation determining conduct is exogenous; it springs from an external source relative to the actors, rather than from the persons involved.
The question which naturally arises, is whether Mr./Mrs. regulator is knowledgeable enough to make decisions on my behalf, over how I wish to live my life and determine my conduct; and how far do these decisions go in preventing me from doing this and forcing me to do that? This is where it all comes down and not on the false dilemma of whether we desire "regulation" or "deregulation", as those venerating the state always suggest in their obscurantist apologetics.
There is no such thing as genuine deregulation in human society, because we as individuals interact with others and the only means of avoiding the jungle method is to be 'political' in the Aristotelian sense, so as to set in place the rules underpinning our particular interrelations. The very concept of deregulation, properly understood, within a society is absurd and meaningless. A human society is by the very fact of its existence, a milieu of interpersonal regulations.
Most brand as 'deregulation' anything that either minimizes the intrusiveness of the state or that stands against its rule. What they are really defending is heteronomy: the fictitious supreme right of a third party (the state) to decide on issues where it has no real stake or say. Hence their crocodile tears have nothing to do with the truistic notion of regulation being essential to human –political– beings.
By propounding on the phantom of deregulation, heteronomists have succeeded in throwing an ideological camouflage over the reality of their intrusiveness. If the heteronomists were to take their own doctrine to its logical conclusion, we should all have a set of bureaucrats on our back instructing us what to eat, whom to love, what goods to consume, which services to patronize etc. always in the name of our welfare.
As for "regulations" by the state, these are in most cases thinly disguised efforts to cartelize the commerce of established corporations and to insulate them from genuine competition by making access to the profession more costly, cumbersome or practically impossible.
And we are foolish enough to consider interventionism, this ultimate source of heteronomy, as the only realistic option, while cavalierly rejecting autonomist views as armchair theories...
Article source: http://www.protesilaos.com/2012/10/european-autonomy-heteronomy.html
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