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Class War For Idiots / April 5, 2012
By Yasha Levine


“…everyone but an idiot knows that the lower classes must be kept poor, or they will never be industrious.”

—Arthur Young; 1771

Our popular economic wisdom says that capitalism equals freedom and free societies, right? Well, if you ever suspected that the logic is full of shit, then I’d recommend checking a book called The Invention of Capitalism, written by an economic historian named Michael Perelmen, who’s been exiled to Chico State, a redneck college in rural California, for his lack of freemarket friendliness. And Perelman has been putting his time in exile to damn good use, digging deep into the works and correspondence of Adam Smith and his contemporaries to write a history of the creation of capitalism that goes beyond superficial The Wealth of Nations fairy tale and straight to the source, allowing you to read the early capitalists, economists, philosophers, clergymen and statesmen in their own words. And it ain’t pretty.


One thing that the historical record makes obviously clear is that Adam Smith and his laissez-faire buddies were a bunch of closet-case statists, who needed brutal government policies to whip the English peasantry into a good capitalistic workforce willing to accept wage slavery.

Francis Hutcheson, from whom Adam Smith learned all about the virtue of natural liberty, wrote: “it is the one great design of civil laws to strengthen by political sanctions the several laws of nature. … The populace needs to be taught, and engaged by laws, into the best methods of managing their own affairs and exercising mechanic art.”

Yep, despite what you might have learned, the transition to a capitalistic society did not happen naturally or smoothly. See, English peasants didn’t want to give up their rural communal lifestyle, leave their land and go work for below-subsistence wages in shitty, dangerous factories being set up by a new, rich class of landowning capitalists. And for good reason, too. Using Adam Smith’s own estimates of factory wages being paid at the time in Scotland, a factory-peasant would have to toil for more than three days to buy a pair of commercially produced shoes. Or they could make their own traditional brogues using their own leather in a matter of hours, and spend the rest of the time getting wasted on ale. It’s really not much of a choice, is it?

But in order for capitalism to work, capitalists needed a pool of cheap, surplus labor. So what to do? Call in the National Guard!

Faced with a peasantry that didn’t feel like playing the role of slave, philosophers, economists, politicians, moralists and leading business figures began advocating for government action. Over time, they enacted a series of laws and measures designed to push peasants out of the old and into the new by destroying their traditional means of self-support.

“The brutal acts associated with the process of stripping the majority of the people of the means of producing for themselves might seem far removed from the laissez-faire reputation of classical political economy,” writes Perelman. “In reality, the dispossession of the majority of small-scale producers and the construction of laissez-faire are closely connected, so much so that Marx, or at least his translators, labeled this expropriation of the masses as ‘‘primitive accumulation.’’

Perelman outlines the many different policies through which peasants were forced off the land—from the enactment of so-called Game Laws that prohibited peasants from hunting, to the destruction of the peasant productivity by fencing the commons into smaller lots—but by far the most interesting parts of the book are where you get to read Adam Smith’s proto-capitalist colleagues complaining and whining about how peasants are too independent and comfortable to be properly exploited, and trying to figure out how to force them to accept a life of wage slavery.

This pamphlet from the time captures the general attitude towards successful, self-sufficient peasant farmers:

The possession of a cow or two, with a hog, and a few geese, naturally exalts the peasant. . . . In sauntering after his cattle, he acquires a habit of indolence. Quarter, half, and occasionally whole days, are imperceptibly lost. Day labour becomes disgusting; the aversion in- creases by indulgence. And at length the sale of a half-fed calf, or hog, furnishes the means of adding intemperance to idleness.

While another pamphleteer wrote:

Nor can I conceive a greater curse upon a body of people, than to be thrown upon a spot of land, where the productions for subsistence and food were, in great measure, spontaneous, and the climate required or admitted little care for raiment or covering.

John Bellers, a Quaker “philanthropist” and economic thinker saw independent peasants as a hindrance to his plan of forcing poor people into prison-factories, where they would live, work and produce a profit of 45% for aristocratic owners:

“Our Forests and great Commons (make the Poor that are upon them too much like the Indians) being a hindrance to Industry, and are Nurseries of Idleness and Insolence.”

Daniel Defoe, the novelist and trader, noted that in the Scottish Highlands “people were extremely well furnished with provisions. … venison exceedingly plentiful, and at all seasons, young or old, which they kill with their guns whenever they find it.’’

To Thomas Pennant, a botanist, this self-sufficiency was ruining a perfectly good peasant population:

“The manners of the native Highlanders may be expressed in these words: indolent to a high degree, unless roused to war, or any animating amusement.”

If having a full belly and productive land was the problem, then the solution to whipping these lazy bums into shape was obvious: kick ’em off the land and let em starve.

Arthur Young, a popular writer and economic thinker respected by John Stuart Mill, wrote in 1771: “everyone but an idiot knows that the lower classes must be kept poor, or they will never be industrious.” Sir William Temple, a politician and Jonathan Swift’s boss, agreed, and suggested that food be taxed as much as possible to prevent the working class from a life of “sloth and debauchery.”

Temple also advocated putting four-year-old kids to work in the factories, writing ‘‘for by these means, we hope that the rising generation will be so habituated to constant employment that it would at length prove agreeable and entertaining to them.’’ Some thought that four was already too old. According to Perelmen, “John Locke, often seen as a philosopher of liberty, called for the commencement of work at the ripe age of three.” Child labor also excited Defoe, who was joyed at the prospect that “children after four or five years of age…could every one earn their own bread.’’ But that’s getting off topic…

Happy Faces of Productivity…

Even David Hume, that great humanist, hailed poverty and hunger as positive experiences for the lower classes, and even blamed the “poverty” of France on its good weather and fertile soil:

“‘Tis always observed, in years of scarcity, if it be not extreme, that the poor labour more, and really live better.”

Reverend Joseph Townsend believed that restricting food was the way to go:

“[Direct] legal constraint [to labor] . . . is attended with too much trouble, violence, and noise, . . . whereas hunger is not only a peaceable, silent, unremitted pressure, but as the most natural motive to industry, it calls forth the most powerful exertions. . . . Hunger will tame the fiercest animals, it will teach decency and civility, obedience and subjugation to the most brutish, the most obstinate, and the most perverse.”

Patrick Colquhoun, a merchant who set up England’s first private “preventative police” force to prevent dock workers from supplementing their meager wages with stolen goods, provided what may be the most lucid explanation of how hunger and poverty correlate to productivity and wealth creation:

Poverty is that state and condition in society where the individual has no surplus labour in store, or, in other words, no property or means of subsistence but what is derived from the constant exercise of industry in the various occupations of life. Poverty is therefore a most necessary and indispensable ingredient in society, without which nations and communities could not exist in a state of civilization. It is the lot of man. It is the source of wealth, since without poverty, there could be no labour; there could be no riches, no refinement, no comfort, and no benefit to those who may be possessed of wealth.

Colquhoun’s summary is so on the money, it has to be repeated. Because what was true for English peasants is still just as true for us:

“Poverty is therefore a most necessary and indispensable ingredient in society…It is the source of wealth, since without poverty, there could be no labour; there could be no riches, no refinement, no comfort, and no benefit to those who may be possessed of wealth.”


Yasha Levine is a  founding editor of The eXiled. You can reach him at levine [at]

Want to know more recovered history? Read Yasha Levine’s investigation into the life of Harry Koch, the man who spawned Charles and David Koch, the two most powerful oligarchs of our time: The Birth of the Koch Clan: It All Started In a Little Texas Town Called Quanah



Add your own

  • 1. Duarte Guerreiro  |  April 6th, 2012 at 12:14 am

    What a bunch of cunts. We need the War Nerd back with some wisdom for Occupy. This is clearly total war and only one side knows it.

  • 2. Jesse  |  April 6th, 2012 at 1:43 am

    When gold and diamonds were discovered in South Africa, mine owners craved cheap labor to work the mines. The owners asked for and got help from the government in the form of a tax on natives living rent-free on ancestral tribal lands. This had the intended effect of driving workers into the mines.

  • 3. YorkshireRose  |  April 6th, 2012 at 2:07 am

    The Enclosure of the Commons was practically a precursor to the disastrous actions taken by Stalin to collectivise every scrap of land he could get his hands on. Although if it happens in the name of a higher return in Britain, then nobody gives a toss.
    Any class conscious Brit could have told you all of what was in this article at a moment’s notice, and many of us still refuse to hail the Industrial Revolution, and subsequent cholera filled century, as the Golden Age.

  • 4. John Diddums  |  April 6th, 2012 at 2:21 am

    To hell with employment. Leeching off the welfare state is the most honest profession you can get anymore.

  • 5. RanDomino  |  April 6th, 2012 at 3:11 am

    This is unquestionably the most important article that you’ve ever written. Everyone knows work sucks- what’s harder to articulate is *why*.

    This is how we could have it!

  • 6. SweetLeftFoot  |  April 6th, 2012 at 3:37 am

    Yeah, Yasha, small point mate. Adam Smith was Scottish. Born in Kirkcaldy (within Gordon Brown’s seat), educated and taught at universities of Glasgow and Edinburgh.

    Born fewer than 20 years after the fraudulent Act of Union in 1707. And Smith wasn’t the raging free marketeer various liber-flogs make him out to be.

    In fact, his whole thesis essentially boiled down to the idea that a “free” market can only operate with decent regulation. Can someone tell me why I’m in love with Adam Smith, an 18th century business shill?

  • 7. LuisMaraceFrance  |  April 6th, 2012 at 4:20 am

    As J. K Galbraith’s mordent remark highlights, “free-market” economics is based on a sentence:

    that the poor don’t work hard enough because they’re paid too much and the the rich don’t work hard enough because they’re are paid too little.

  • 8. Gene Hoglan  |  April 6th, 2012 at 5:33 am

    This story of expropriating land and capital from the free peasantry played out almost verbatim in 19th Century Appalachia as well, where the average net worth was higher than in the industrial cities of the Northeast and obviously in the planter South, even among their fellow yeoman farmers.

    It began with lumber companies encroaching upon common game lands, which drove out wild pigs which functioned as an apex predator and caused ecological destruction, then they bought up private lots by bribing local officials to reappraise land at artificially low rates, leading to mass migrations out into the factories and stockyards of the Midwest and mills of the Southeast, where the nascent labor movement in the latter case was violently put down by the government at every turn.

  • 9. Trevor  |  April 6th, 2012 at 6:45 am

    There’s also Debt: The First 5,000 Years by David Graeber. Turns out that whole “first barter, then currency” theory of the Adam Smith crowd? Never happened. They made it up. Primitive economies ran on reciprocal gift giving.

  • 10. Mike  |  April 6th, 2012 at 7:25 am

  • 11. Peter  |  April 6th, 2012 at 7:47 am

    E.P. Thompson’s “The Making of the English Working Class” is also good on this stuff. It’s long, but has some great bits where Thompson basically plays “stop hitting yourself” with von Hayek. Produces a chuckle every time!

    As for the War Nerd and Occupy, I’ve been curious about that, too. The most obvious application of his thought is this: Occupy needs a martyr. Preferably martyrS. Young, photogenic martyrs. As shitty as it sounds to say this, that Marine the Oakland cops shot would have been perfect. You’ll notice most of the times Occupy has started gaining support is after some especially gratuitous police attack: the Brooklyn Bridge, Tony Bologna, several rounds of suppression of OO… but I’d like to hear the man himself on the issue. Presumably he’s busy!

  • 12. Anarchy Pony  |  April 6th, 2012 at 9:21 am

    “You wretches are detestable both on land and on sea. You seek equality with the lords, but you are unworthy to live. Give this message to your fellows: rustics you are, and rustics you will always be. You will remain in bondage, not as before, but incomparably harsher. For as long as we live we will strive to suppress you, and your misery will be an example to prosperity.” Richard II

  • 13. Zirb  |  April 6th, 2012 at 9:35 am

    There were also the “taxes on knowledge” by the English government in the late 18th, early 19th centuries — taxes on paper, newspapers, and pamphlets to keep the poor people dumb (finally removed in the 1850s and 1860s)

  • 14. ralph chaplin  |  April 6th, 2012 at 9:40 am

    Though it’s a little dense, The Great Transformation by Karl Polanyi covers some of the same territory.

  • 15. John Drinkwater  |  April 6th, 2012 at 10:00 am

    The Exiled could not be writing about a more important subject. There’s so much nonsense out there about how the problem is not capitalism but “corporatism” or crony capitalism as if that could be distinguished from regular capitalism.

    Several Marxist historians have put out great reads demonstrating the state’s essential role in the creation of a market economy at the expense of the masses. It began with the Enclosure laws in England, which kicked everyone off common property. In addition to the book reviewed here by Yasha, I highly recommend Henry Heller’s The Birth of Capitalism and Ellen Wood’s The Origin of Capitalism.

    A great anti-Marxist critique of the history of capitalism is Karl Polyani’s The Great Transformation. He wrote: “Economic history shows the genesis of national markets was not the consequence of the slow and spontaneous emancipation of the economic realm from state controls. Rather the market was the result of a conscious and often violent intervention by the government in society for non-economic reasons.”

  • 16. Craven MacOwnship  |  April 6th, 2012 at 10:23 am

    One can’t help but wonder whether the corporate anti-environmentalist fatwa is the modern manifestation of the capitalist drive to eliminate self-sustainable subsistence lifestyles. After all, if the land itself is poisoned by industry then there can be no lazy “indolent” farming on behalf of peasants.

  • 17. adam  |  April 6th, 2012 at 10:32 am

    Yasha, thank you for doing an amazing job undermining the popular belief that capitalism is all about the ablest and best getting their due rewards while shedding light on the fact that it was and always has been rigged from the beginning.

    I think, although this may be tenuous, an analogous example in the US would be the farm debt crisis in the mid-80s. As we all know, when farm commodities are low, the government hands out massive loans to big investors. Many of these loans are never repaid, as there is penalty for defaulting if you fall into one of the three “to big to fail” industries.

    Here we see an enormous transfer of wealth into the hands of big investors, and ultimately into the mega farms. These massive, billion dollar handouts to big agro are partly responsible for why, in the past 70 years, the US has lost over 5 million farms, while acreage has actually INCREASED!

    Coming full circle, we can see how the success of mega farm corporations like Cargill is directly connected to the marginalization of small, family owned farms. The rich need the poor to remain poor in order to be successful.

    I’m not even going to get into productivity comparisons beyond telling you to look it up yourself: there is almost no difference, and most times it falls in favor of the smaller scale, more efficient practices of the subsistence farmer.

  • 18. Punjabi From Karachi  |  April 6th, 2012 at 10:51 am

    The War Nerd needs to talk about Occupy.

  • 19. Mederbek-Bayke  |  April 6th, 2012 at 11:39 am

    Good information on the proto-capitalists. I tend to be an apologist for Adam Smith himself, having been impressed by the tone and attitude of his writing. The Wealth of Nations is chiefly an attack on the feudal and mercantilist ruling classes, so it actually reads a lot like socialist literature does so many centuries later — his rhetoric is all about cutting the political power of the economic elites and empowering the common people. He doesn’t mince words for the economic wisdom of his day, which he describes as the biased/interested propaganda of the rich being marketed to the poor who don’t have the educational opportunity to recognize they’re being exploited (sounds familiar). He also proposed universal compulsory education funded by the state, and he predicts that most forms of Christianity will go extinct as science continues to make progress. He does have a lot of faith in the market, obviously, but he insists that a rich working population is better for the market than a poor one.

    I think if Adam Smith was around in 2012 and saw what modern politics/media/industrialism has done with the market, he easily could have switched to the socialist camp. It’s more consistent with his moral/social positions. Laissez-faire is just a practical policy that made sense to him based on the evidence available to him at the time; he wasn’t ideological about it the way Ayn Rand and today’s Republicans are.

  • 20. Anarchy Pony  |  April 6th, 2012 at 12:23 pm

    You see, when right libertarians are arguing against government or the state, they are arguing against a state that is accountable to the populace, that is democratically controlled by the populace, and what they in effect seek to do is create a privately controlled state, that bows only to owners of land and capital, with force being wielded by private armies that side only with those that can afford them, the already super rich.

  • 21. The last three years I been pursuing a mastes in jerk science  |  April 6th, 2012 at 12:54 pm

    Well done as usual, Jakie.

  • 22. Dimitri Ratz  |  April 6th, 2012 at 1:36 pm

    Hilariously funny that the euroelite trash talk exactly the same way as their inbred forefathers when they reference Russia is so burdened by it’s natural wealth.

  • 23. John Drinkwater  |  April 6th, 2012 at 1:58 pm

    Marx’s section in Das Kapital “So-Called Primitive Accumulation” is some of his best work. Calling it a ‘grim irony’, Marx explained with disgust how, after kicking people off their land (via the Enclosure laws, etc.), the state then passed additional ‘bloody legislation’ to punish this very same set for becoming ‘beggars, robbers and vagabonds’ as if they were not the state’s own creation, and as if the state could possibly be unaware of any correlation. Many were ordered to return ‘home’ to the land from which they had already been forcibly removed.
    Though the list seems almost endless, other examples Marx cites of how the government was an instrument which allowed capitalism to thrive included laws that set *maximum wages* and increased the length of the working day, and also government edicts which nullified contracts and combinations. Wages were considered too high on the open free market. These are, incidentally, good arguments to make against conservatives who now supposedly uphold the sanctity of contracts and oppose the current minimum wage law on the grounds that the latter betrays capitalist principles. The point is, the state has always been involved in ‘fixing’ capitalism, much more typically for the benefit of the capitalists over the workers.
    Of course, governments also used primitive accumulation in the context of colonial expansion to move from a feudal to a capitalist mode of production. But Marx makes it interesting by explaining specifically, in some instances, how this worked: distressed over the apparent lack of available wage labor in its American colony, the English exported paupers for capitalists to exploit – what Marx describes as one of the great secrets of ‘systematic colonization’ or artificially keeping the labour market full. Lesser known, perhaps, is how wage-laborers were prohibited from buying land in America – so that they could not escape their enslavement – by a government scheme to jack up prices. When it came to people having their own land to produce their own goods, Marx shows how capitalists like a certain writer named Wakefield were worried about a ‘barbarizing tendency of dispersion’.

  • 24. Dimitri Ratz  |  April 6th, 2012 at 2:04 pm

    Craven, that’s where genetically modified food comes in. So now so your not eating fish when your eating corn or not eating god knows what genes in rice you have to shop in corporate owned Whole Foods. Otherwise, even in your organic farmer market there are no tests for GMF, so again people are forced to corporate ran food production and distribution as government sanctioned GMF even in fafa beans as FDA would not have those even labelled, not to mention the contamination of none GMF by air pollen from man made genetical modifications. These people are against the very nature that made them.

  • 25. CensusLouie  |  April 6th, 2012 at 2:22 pm

    Christianity: a scheme that early capitalists co-opted in order for peasantry to embrace a life free of “indulgence” ?

    Not to shit too much on the SHAME project, but I think pieces like this are a lot more important. The media shills have no shame and those they preach to are too brainwashed to hear differently. Stories that smash the myth of benevolent rich? Priceless.

    I’d also love War Nerd Occupy article.

    The whole Occupy movement really needs to start taking notes from the last successful non-violent mass movement in America: the civil rights movement.

    – Brush up your image. What images pop into your head when you think of the civil rights movement? Probably stoic faced blacks silently taking punishment during sit ins, or organized regimented marchers in suits. The most damaging aspect to Occupy’s PR is the hippie. Organize a core group to start running those protests. Make sure your disciplined, well dressed members are between the cameras and the filthy beatniks. No dirty hippies, no spoiled white kids shouting temper tantrums. It might sound awful, but the civil rights movement didn’t get anywhere throwing badly dressed, badly behaved protestors in front of the camera. The public doesn’t care when a cop cracks open a wailing hippie. A silent disciplined suit wearer? Totally different story.

    -Establish counter intelligence. Honestly it shouldn’t be hard to spot police or right wing plants. It’s ALWAYS a doughy Larry the Cable Guy type or emaciated James O’QUEEF type. Identify these people and keep them isolated from the major camera event.

    – Ditch democracy. This is going to sound terrible, but they need to completely do away with those democracy round tables where everyone gets a voice and vote. Have an organized central committee running everything. Have a problem with that? You’re out of our protests. The civil rights movements made used of many church leadership groups to direct congregations. They wouldn’t have gotten anywhere using Occupy’s current leadership style of total democracy.

  • 26. Patrick  |  April 6th, 2012 at 2:25 pm

    Yeah but…the elites now have no use for mass pools of peasant labor, at least in the U.S. What to do with the poor and working classes now?

  • 27. LuisMaraceFrance  |  April 6th, 2012 at 2:42 pm

    There were also the “taxes on knowledge” by the English government in the late 18th, early 19th centuries — taxes on paper, newspapers, and pamphlets to keep the poor people dumb (finally removed in the 1850s and 1860s)

    Then the english discovered the Prussian education System and adopted it

    Keeping the mass dumb is a nice method of mass control,educate the mass with what you want them to hear is a better method

  • 28. RanDomino  |  April 6th, 2012 at 3:08 pm

    @25 Agree with ditching democracy, but only to implement a system of nested Spokescouncils based on Affinity Groups.

  • 29. Anarchy Pony  |  April 6th, 2012 at 3:21 pm

    @ 26, generally just try to keep them from getting uppity is the elite’s basic plan.

  • 30. Zoner  |  April 6th, 2012 at 3:26 pm

    I’m not sure Occupy should ditch democracy, since any leaders that pop up would just get killed or arrested (see: the Black Panthers, the Civil Rights movement, and every little protest movement since then that looked to be gathering steam).

  • 31. gatorade  |  April 6th, 2012 at 4:04 pm

    Really great article Yasha, people need to know this stuff. as long as it’s pretended that capitalism is a natural and perfect system we’re all fucked forever or until global warming kills us all

  • 32. CensusLouie  |  April 6th, 2012 at 5:01 pm


    It worked in the end, didn’t it? That’s another awful fact: not enough people pay attention to the cause until someone gets martyred and the true nature of the injustice and its supporters is revealed. Not too many cared about the civil rights movement until the images of lynchings and brutalizing sit ins came around.

  • 33. Zhu Bajie  |  April 6th, 2012 at 5:14 pm

    Some of you might also like James C. Scott’s _The Art of Not Being Governed: An Anarchist History of Upland Southeast Asia_. It’s rather broader than the title suggests. Lots about state agriculture (small grains) vs. non-state agriculture (root crops). Also, it critiques Buddhism for a change — monasteries were supported by slave-peasants.

  • 34. dominic  |  April 6th, 2012 at 5:29 pm

    the war nerd needs to kill himself


    the war nerds Biggest Fan

  • 35. John Drinkwater  |  April 6th, 2012 at 6:08 pm


    Scott’s book is excellent. Among other things, he makes a very simple case in favor of anarchism: people can and have live without a government and rather better without it. They did so for thousands of years. This is an indisputable aspect of the historical record, yet it would confuse so many of our “progressives” in America.

  • 36. Anarchy Pony  |  April 6th, 2012 at 8:49 pm

    Gotta love all the pro-nazi, pro white nationalism comments on that link about the armed neo-nazi paramilitary group on patrol in florida. Buncha peckerwood scum think they have a handle on white identity and how it is under siege. And they claim to defend white people and white culture. What culture? Like the cultures that our ancestors were forced to abandon at the tip of Christendom’s sword? Cultures that are almost entirely forgotten at this point.
    Whites abandoned their cultures and identities centuries ago. The only culture they got left is christian capitalist imperialism/colonialism and the bullshit notion of racial supremecy, and none of that is worth defending.

  • 37. RanDomino  |  April 6th, 2012 at 10:35 pm

    @32 Yeah, but what about the Black Panthers? They were centralized, hierarchical Marxists. Today their main legacy is the Crips and Bloods. Not that the Civil Rights movement was all that hot either- a couple of black people get to join the middle class, while the overwhelming majority are still stuck in poverty and still treated as second-class citizens every damn day. It DIDN’T work.

  • 38. Hick  |  April 6th, 2012 at 10:44 pm

    I don’t agree with every stance of Exiled, for instance, the goodness of heavy drugs and the whole white=evil thing.

    But this. THIS.

    Brogues. You had me there. I work fairly hard, not for money but because it seems to go with rural living, and I go through boots like water. We’re getting to the point where an American working in their garage can make decent shoes and compete with Wal-Mart. Those Chinese-made sneakers are $30 or more, and a guy can make maybe 3 pairs a day of something fairly equivalent, and that, these days, is a living. I picked up a pair of “Uggs” by which I mean, knock-offs, for $5 from a thrift store. They’re coming apart, that’s why they were in the thrift store. But $2-odd for curved needles from the local art/craft store and some dental floss (best thread ever) will have ’em wearable for a year or two. But it gets better: We keep sheep, or rather the guy next door does, and I’m supposed to get some ewes from a guy, and Uggs are basically sheep skin, fleece on, with a sole.

    What am I saying? Step out of the money economy as much as you can. Make it so a half-fatted piglet can have you getting wasted on ale.

  • 39. Elizabeth Warren  |  April 6th, 2012 at 10:45 pm

    I will sit on your face when you are sleeping… 😉

  • 40. gc  |  April 6th, 2012 at 11:19 pm

    Alright, I’m buying the book.

    Thanks, Yasha.

  • 41. Rockstar  |  April 6th, 2012 at 11:54 pm

    hey exholes, what`s the word on Rocky Anderson and the Justice party? He was actually talking about government corruption and class divisions.

  • 42. Mike C.  |  April 7th, 2012 at 3:22 am

    I’ve been posting this article to Twitter and Facebook throughout the day, desperate for friends to take a good hard look at this society.

    Maybe it’s because I spent time growing up off the grid, but today, trudging through the misery of work, trying to manage the expense of a mediocre lifestyle while being hit by constant fines, fees, exorbitant freelance taxes (funny how they tax the most difficult, unstable, and inherently benefit-less work the most), while being lectured on everything by wealthy people who’d last all of two minutes in the real world (outside of their hosts), is not a tenable situation to me.

    It’s a joke, and all I can think when more slapstick rises from it is, “I get it—I see what you did there…” to completely fuck me over, and make sure I can’t get even a little bit ahead; only to pretend it’s some inevitable consequence of the social contract. The rich see that as being correct, and exploitation as the height of generosity and self-sacrifice on their parts. But what baffles me is how I can turn to others, and ask something to the effect, “Doesn’t this piss you off? Aren’t you tired of this shit? Where is your fucking dignity?” The concept doesn’t register—no other way of life is imaginable to most people raised in this system. They’re resigned to their fates, if not sympathetic to their captors.

    But I see burning Bentleys in my sleep, and dream of the day when the inevitable conclusion of any failed civilization comes about, and the peasantry takes to dragging the wealthy from their homes (whether they chose to hide in some other country or not—every country has a peasantry), and sawing their heads off. Some old money lineages will end one way or another—three cheers for the fate of the Romanovs x7B.

    My views (sadly?) don’t represent those of Occupy Los Angeles, though everyone is getting plenty fed up with the constant police harassment, and politicians speaking out of both sides of their mouths: paying lip service to the plights of the homeless, the poor, middle class, etc., while consistently trying to legislate protest out of existence (nationally, it’s Obama and the Supremes; locally this includes the blatant oppression of incompetent grandstander, city attorney Carmen Trutanich; and more recently, one councilman Jose Huizar, who’s sneaking by changes to city ordinances to make things like Occupy impossible; many suspect much of this is in response to pressure/lobbying from LA’s business consortiums). It’s not lost on anyone how much time they spend on enforcing city ordinances, and how no effort goes into actually addressing real problems.

    OWS has received no shortage of free advice from the peanut galleries. If somebody wants to help, they should participate, and stop playing internet ideologue.

  • 43. Slocum  |  April 7th, 2012 at 5:10 am

    Stephen Marglin covers a lot of how this worked in practice in “What Do Bosses Do?

    It’s also fun to read David Landes’ sniveling but empty attack on Marglin.

  • 44. Anon  |  April 7th, 2012 at 5:30 am

    If you actually read Wealth of Nations, you’ll see Adam Smith always stood up for the little guy; his ideas had the improvement of living standards for the whole population in mind. This actually leads him to contradict himself a bit throughout the text; on the one hand he argues that laisse faire is the best bet; in other sections he argues for stuff that contradicts it, like banking regulations, progressive taxation, etc.

    For example, read in Book 1 Ch8 what he has to say about the differences in power between organised labor and organised masters (employers): (search “It is not, however, difficult to foresee” to get straight to it). He also has wry comments throughout the book, like how the merchant class is very adept at convincing the public that what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

    You have to understand Adam Smith’s world and what he was mainly arguing against: mercantilism, protectionism, and especially stupid shit like guilds and their ridiculous regulations on workers (have to make the shoe a certain way, if not it’s illegal! etc)

    An interesting resource is:

  • 45. Anon  |  April 7th, 2012 at 5:39 am

    I’ll also add that under Smith’s world of “perfect liberty” (basically pure competition), market forces kept wages at the bare minimum, yeah. But they also kept prices and profits at the bare minimum. There were no large corporations raking in mad profits in Smith’s world; in fact there were no economic profits at all, only normal profits (which just cover the opportunity cost of the venture). Smith thought that this system was the only way to improve everyone’s lot in the long run, and in fact he was enthusiastic about it in a time when hardly anyone else believed such progress could be achieved (the poor would be poor forever)

    Also, since I’m such an Adam Smith knob gobbler, I’ll also add that if people followed his advice, America would have remained a shitty third-world colony, unable to develop manufacturing because of his free trade advice. We’d be just another planation country exporting cotton.

  • 46. soahc  |  April 7th, 2012 at 9:13 am

    Well then, what’s the answer? More government intervention, to make things fair and balanced?

    Maybe if we just eliminated government all together, things would turn out okay. Maybe we don’t need them to help us. Or how about a real democratic government that isn’t for the oligarchy by the oligarchy? Oh yea, one of those stray bagtards who still thinks he can spew his baggertarian bullshit around here. I forgot. Sorry.

  • 47. Neo Anarchia  |  April 7th, 2012 at 9:17 am

    I gotta read this. Great stuff.

  • 48. Strelnikov  |  April 7th, 2012 at 1:01 pm

    Oh, Elizabeth Warren please thwomp down on my face with your enormous pear bottom. My nostrils are prepped for whatever freak smells you have in store for me! Yummmay!

  • 49. LuisMaraceFrance  |  April 7th, 2012 at 1:40 pm

    #45 actually to have a better understanding of the REAL Adam Smith(not the common caricature of some laissez-faire fanatic)everyone should read his masterpiece “Theory of the Moral Sentiments”

    For example this passage explain the right-wing ideology :

    “This disposition to admire, and almost to worship, the rich and the powerful, and to despise, or, at least, to neglect persons of poor and mean condition, though necessary both to establish and to maintain the distinction of ranks and the order of society, is, at the same time, the great and most universal cause of the corruption of our moral sentiments. That wealth and greatness are often regarded with the respect and admiration which are due only to wisdom and virtue; and that the contempt, of which vice and folly are the only proper objects, is often most unjustly bestowed upon poverty and weakness, has been the complaint of moralists in all ages.” (Section III, Chapter 3)”.

    About his economics policies everyone should read Ha-Joon Chang expecially “kicking away the scale”. Actually NO A SINGLE COUNTRY became rich thanks to the “free market”,but mostly using aggressive protectionist policies.
    The entire “free market” rhetoric is just a little more than an ideological smokescreen to forbid other countries from doing the same and keep their national industries uncompetitive.

  • 50. ariot  |  April 7th, 2012 at 4:29 pm

    @Comment #5

    I don’t think work sucks. I think it’s awesome to work.

    What I think sucks are jobs, where the value of the work is stolen or otherwise misappropriated by the boss.

    Just semantics I guess.

  • 51. mlrky  |  April 7th, 2012 at 4:36 pm


    i never heard exiled say whites are evil

    anyway fuck anarchy, anarchy is an excuse for people to lynch me for looking weird

  • 52. darthfader  |  April 7th, 2012 at 5:00 pm

    The death and suffering of Britain’s people as that nation industrialized over centuries – they’re the numbers that should be put up to compare Russia’s industrialization under Stalin in a matter of a couple decades.

    They’re comparable, and that’s why you never read about them in the literature beyond outsiders like Perelman.

  • 53. Anarchy Pony  |  April 7th, 2012 at 5:10 pm

    @51, wow, that sure is a sophisticated assessment, did you go to an ivy league school?

  • 54. Dimitri Ratz  |  April 8th, 2012 at 12:18 am

    Romanovs instituted universal education for all children and even 1914 US National Geographic (November issue?) testified to it’s success. Also the first women to go to Universities also Caesars Russia, pensions were instituted, and towns and cities had delegated town hall meetings as long established norms. Fuck you Mike C in your attempt to add rage sympathies dragging Tzar Nicolis, the exact genetic copy of President Medvedev, only with a cool beard, in your sick pedophile way to cheer girls shot. His young daughters were more of a man than you will ever be.

  • 55. Damn dirty red  |  April 8th, 2012 at 1:37 am

    Interesting article and direction for more reading material thanks again, but I was thinking since we kind of live in fucked up times that you should consider a more practical advice column. Such as how to find cheap housing and I mean cheap. Could come up with a new magazine for the downwardly mobile youth call it squalid living or something.

    Tips for leaving your parents basement and living on your own, have reviews for certain bridges to live under. etc etc etc more practical worldly skills that we sure as hell are going to need.

  • 56. Vernon Hamilton  |  April 8th, 2012 at 4:12 am

    “…the rest of the time getting wasted on ale.”
    Ale of their own making as well, not penny a pint swill from filthy industrial breweries.

  • 57. DeeboCools  |  April 8th, 2012 at 6:33 am

    @ 16, I never considered that. I figured environmental laws limit their ability to profiteer, but I never considered that it’s in their best interest to pollute the air and land to such an extent that it’s only fertile where they want it to be.

    That’s why the “occupy empty lots” and “guerilla gardening” that’s going on in the forgotten carcasses of old steel towns in the U.S. is more of a revolutionary act than it at first seems. We’re all so divorced from ‘living off the land,’ because, as this article illuminates, they want us to be.

  • 58. DeeboCools  |  April 8th, 2012 at 6:41 am

    @ 38. Another interesting point. The whole neo-liberal “race to the bottom” has an unintended consequence- economic competition. What’s weird is I’ve never bothered to entertain the “get off the grid” efforts, but now that I see it in a kind of revolutionary perspective I might.

  • 59. Mike C.  |  April 8th, 2012 at 8:54 am

    @54. Dimitri Ratz

    Somewhere in that convoluted sentence, there are some interesting claims.

    Another interesting claim is that he and his family engaged in callous self-indulgence, while ordering the wholesale execution of demonstrators.

  • 60. Anarchy Pony  |  April 8th, 2012 at 9:00 am

    @57, exactly. They want dependence on the system, and people unable to survive without it or outside of it, so people have no desire to revolt or at least no alternative. That’s another reason they love private property so much, and want every square inch of the planet owned by some one or some entity, that is hopefully playing on their team. Independence is freedom.

  • 61. RanDomino  |  April 8th, 2012 at 3:34 pm

    @60 Also, as the article partially discussed, privatizing everything makes it easier to split people away from their land through legal means in addition to illegal and quasi-legal ones. For example partitioning the village (aka Eijido in Mayan areas, Mir in Russian areas, etc) land so that a single plot of land is owned by a single person allows for that person’s land to be confiscated by a moneylender if they get put it up as collateral and (for example) the harvest fails, or they just blow all their money getting drunk, etc.

  • 62. Rama  |  April 9th, 2012 at 1:30 am

    Have you read John Taylor Gatto’s “The Underground History of American Education”?(available free online)

    He reveals something similar to the early capitalists in the motives and purpose of the originators of the American forced public education system. But instead of seeing poverty as a necessity, they created forced schooling with the intent on creating people used to being forced to spend long hours doing boring routine work in order to condition the common rabble for later working as wage slaves. Also they wanted to instill patriotism and obedience to the state as virtues, e.g. pledge of allegiance, and also socialize people to get used to being part of an hierarchy of command, much like the Boy Scouts were originally intended to get Great Britain’s boys ready for military service. There’s all kinds of fascinating stuff in Gatto’s book you should read if you haven’t already.

  • 63. Dimitri Ratz  |  April 9th, 2012 at 9:33 am

    Nicholas II is a Saint. Even the Communist opposition in Russia cleared him of atrocities committed during WWI. He gave refuge to bums from Siberia to his palaces despite wide disapproval of public opinion, and allegations of his wife being in same house as those men, women. Attacking Russians while totally ignorant on the matter is not an integral part of any American political movement even thou it seems like that. Fuck off.

  • 64. az  |  April 9th, 2012 at 10:08 am

    I guess those pamphleteers of the c18th are much like the establishment bloggers/”journalists” that the eXile uncovers as shills, except at least more honest in their aims.

  • 65. super390  |  April 9th, 2012 at 8:53 pm

    #38 is describing what Occupy could be doing next: training its adherents to find means of survival that will reduce the corporations’ leverage over them.

    CNC machines for everybody!

  • 66. Anon  |  April 10th, 2012 at 12:53 am

    @45 (admin edit of my post rofl)

    Yes, the “American School” of economics thanks to imo the greatest American, Alexander “Motherfucker” Hamilton, made America the power it is today; Japan and Korea followed a similar formula. I wasn’t claiming it didn’t. If Japan stuck to its comparative advantage it’d still be making t-shirts.

    What I was saying, if you read the post, was that Adam Smith was not the cutthroat saint of free market capitalism people make him out to be, and he wasn’t some libertard “fuck the parasites” cocksucker. He thought his system would make life better for everyone, especially the “labouring poor”, and we have utilised aspects of it to achieve just that. Smith wasn’t a businessman or capitalist btw; he was a tutor, university lecturer and moral philosopher. He wasn’t selling out like a libertard whore (exiles stuff on Hayek case in point). All I wanted to say -_-

  • 67. Myrmecodon  |  April 10th, 2012 at 4:56 am

    “I was thinking since we kind of live in fucked up times that you should consider a more practical advice column. Such as how to find cheap housing and I mean cheap. Could come up with a new magazine for the downwardly mobile youth call it squalid living or something.”

    Just live in the black/Mexican ghetto. Cheap as hell, all the diversity you need.

  • 68. Kyle  |  April 10th, 2012 at 10:04 am

    Sad. Exiled vomit brings economically primitive bottom-trollers like me around, who think what they have to say is fresh and relevant and edgy. There’s a reason why this site has fallen off, and it’s because the site has become anything but relevant of anything or to anybody. Check me out, I’m gonna show how this site has “fallen off” by appropriating an edgy political novel known as “Animal Farm.” You might have heard of it, check it out.

    I can just imagine Mark Ames and the rest of this pathetic cast out of Animal Farm lining up at the trough for their daily dose of education. Here comes Karl Marx with his hefty pitcher of Kool-Aid, but he doesn’t pour it into the trough, no no no, the lowly animals at Exiled wouldn’t dare drink from the cup of their Almighty; Marx drinks it, his body processes it, then pisses into the trough. And Mark Ames and Snowball and Napoleon bend over the trough, oink-oinking for their truth.

    Ok, I’m tata. Got a bunch of other commies to out!

  • 69. Jesse  |  April 10th, 2012 at 2:28 pm

    @66 Anon:
    You don’t know what the fuck Adam Smith was thinking, ever. What we do know is that he was subsidized by capitalist fucks while he was writing books praising capitalist fucks. And we know that Smith, the patron saint of free trade took a job as a customs house agent.

  • 70. Kyle  |  April 10th, 2012 at 5:19 pm

    Sad but not surprising that the almighty AEC couldn’t improve my retard-o-comment even more…I’m sure the AEC would have something interesting and dissenting to say if he spent even one second more on my needs, as opposed to letting me blather on about the socialist love-fest that usually typifies the comment section. Be improved and be thankfull … that’s the motto of every bottom-troll who inhabits the Exiled comment section.

    I suck it, lemmings.

  • 71. Mike C.  |  April 10th, 2012 at 6:02 pm

    @ 63. Dimitri Ratz

    Sir, I tip my hat to you. You have persisted well beyond my interest in supporting a passing analogy. Nicholas II was truly a farter of rainbows.

  • 72. Zhu Bajie  |  April 11th, 2012 at 4:27 am

    “Nicholas II is a Saint.”

    Lots of strange people have been saints, Dimitri! Still, one of my friends swore that N. II healed his hemmorroids, so maybe he does have the ear of the Almighty….

  • 73. Petkov  |  April 11th, 2012 at 5:27 am

    But but but you sound like a dirty Commie, man! Exactly what Marx and Lenin would be saying!
    Wasn’t Communism discredited when The Soviet Union and its satellites fell?

    Yet today we got the BRIC countries the majority of which are run by Communists leaders whipping the ass of US and Europe Oh, the sweet irony!

  • 74. superdude  |  April 12th, 2012 at 6:08 am

    I object to referring to Chico State as a “redneck college in rural California.” Yes it’s part of the Cal State system, which means the emphasis is on teaching rather than research as at the UCs, but it’s still a four-year university at which most academics would be happy to find themselves employed. US News ranks it 33rd in the Western region.

  • 75. PWL  |  April 12th, 2012 at 9:36 am

    Thus showing that capitalism has satanic origins, so to speak: Small-souled men forcing others to suffer and slave so the small-souled can realize the only god they really believe in: Profit.

    AN yet they’ve got us buying into the myth that free-market capitalism is the most wonderfulest thing ever-God-inspired in fact. And their still keeping us wage slaves today.

    One hopes there is a Hell for these people…

  • 76. Anon  |  April 12th, 2012 at 11:21 pm


    he wasn’t subsidised by anyone, dude. he was a professor, then he tutored the kid Charles Townshend (for payment of course), and later worked for a bit as “commissioner of customs in Scotland” which is a fucking government post. so: lecturer, tutor, public servant.

    you read like a fucking libertard, blatantly throwing around accusations without anything to back it up

  • 77. Anon  |  April 12th, 2012 at 11:22 pm

    and in case you didn’t know, most professors back then tutored on the side because lecturing didn’t pay shit

  • 78. YorkshireRose  |  April 13th, 2012 at 4:02 am


    Which is why I have gone to great trouble to try to rack my brain around the least appropriately named think tank in existence, namely “Adam Smith Institute”, which is merely full of shills and apologists for the worst of economic injustices. They must have a direct line to Cameron and one to Blair/Brown too, telling them to privatise everything, presumably misquoting the big Jock himself.
    I think they are actually taking the piss by coming to the conclusions they do, which is a shame, as Smith reads very well. He would have most definitely hit the roof had he seen what Engels did in the 1840s

  • 79. Jesse  |  April 13th, 2012 at 8:14 pm

    @77 Anon

    Tutoring on the side? LMFAO. Smith spent two years as a full time tutor for the young Duke of Buccleuch. The whole fucking time they were gadding about Europe. The Duke’s stepfather who paid the bills was Charles Townsend of the infamous “Townsend Acts” that taxed all sort of things in the American colonies. Reaction to which led to the Boston Tea Party among other unpleasantries. Dude, read up on your brown nosing hero. Do a Wikipedia if nothing else. It’s not that hard.

  • 80. Anon  |  April 14th, 2012 at 9:26 pm


    So what are you claiming? That Smith was Townsend’s shill? Provide evidence to back it up, or shut the fuck up.

    Townsend “taxed all sort of things in the American colonies.” Wow, he really sounds like a supply-sidin, low taxin’ free market capitalist! A quick google search reveals Smith’s views on the colonies:

    Smith wanted “full union, full and equal representation of the erstwhile
    colonies in Parliament, free trade within the Union, equal taxation along with… equal
    representation and the prospect that… the capital would be removed from London to some
    new Constantinople in the West” (Galbraith, 1974, p 69). Smith was a huge fan of America, and the founding fathers were greatly inspired by him. I’m not an American and even I know this.

  • 81. Jesse  |  April 17th, 2012 at 6:21 am


    To understand the social context in which Adam Smith lived is to understand that his success is definitive evidence that his actions pleased the capitalist class. There was no other path of advancement open to him.

  • 82.  |  April 17th, 2012 at 12:17 pm

    To call Adam Smith laissez-faire is ignorant.

  • 83. gyges  |  May 3rd, 2012 at 1:56 pm

    I doubt that anyone will get as far down as comment 83; nevertheless, if they do … If you come across a book that tells us about the history of rent, I’d be interested in reading about it.

    As far as I can make out, rent evolved from tribute. A gang turned up at your house, village, town or city and declared that they’d kill you and burn your property to the ground if you didn’t pay them tribute.

    Over time this changed to someone claiming ownership of land and charging the people who lived there, to live there, without giving equity in return.

    Even Margaret Thatcher took account of the equity that renters had built during her council house sales.

  • 84. Ainaq  |  July 9th, 2012 at 1:09 am

    Economy begin resource naturally available ..Plants(leaves,fruits),water,air,fish,animal which were hunted freely by man/woman for foods.Limitation was the distance from place of shelter (caves,later hut,house) than people begin to fight for area of hunting,then group organized to form tribe to control territory of hunting.
    Innovation begin agriculture and animal husbandry…more innovative man begin to specialized making tools,weapons,processing for preservation and transporting to form butter trades.
    These specialized job inherited farm,workshop,caravan etc according to scale of specialization. those who do not have inheritance become workers to those who had . This capitalism begin. Slavery began when inter territory workers force migration exploited by specialized workers agent. Slave are minimum wage at that time( food,shelter for workers and family who inherited as workforce too: guranteed employment) but as economic and industry improve to new innovation and new opportunity better wages were available… Then slavery were look upon as unfair.
    During industrialised era need more labour than available than force labour to women (before that not workers) and children…It is just economic evolution .Now wages just enough for food,transport and shelter not necessarily better than slave but inter territorial exchange rate creat a condition where people from suplus labour area( 3 World) could support their distance family. For example EU 100 or USD200 (13 meals)could support an extended family in rural Bungladesh for a month or 1 week for Malaysia.

  • 85. Griffin  |  June 27th, 2013 at 9:25 am

    The term “Red Neck” as in “a redneck college in rural California” is a derogatory classist slur used to divide the middle class and the poor. Urban and rural, as in the folks that were forcibly moved into cities to work for wages, and those that were left to starve while feeding those lumbering masses.

    There is also nothing to say that it’s a bad thing to be teaching poor students, or teaching students in a rural area. There is less prestige, I’m sure, just as there’s less prestige working in a coffee shop or a restaurant, but people can find dignity out of anything if they have trouble it’s not to blame them for being unhappy, but our economic system for putting us in those positions.

  • 86. nampa1  |  July 22nd, 2014 at 9:04 am

    After re reading these comments, the absurdity of young men wrapping their self-worth in long-dead shill, non-revolutionary since the Corn Laws 1830s, is absurd. Some people really do have a slave mentality. Michael Keating from Family Ties was a joke, not a preferred way to live…

  • 87. sdfsdf  |  March 4th, 2015 at 10:46 pm

    Chico is a party school more than a redneck one.

  • 88. Kurt  |  January 7th, 2018 at 8:53 pm

    Arthur Young was a mercantilist economist which was the kind of system that Smith’s Wealth of Nations was bashing. Mercantilism argued to keep the wages of the poor low because that is the only way they’d work. I’m not sure why you are lumping his views into Adam Smith’s argument into the Wealth of Nations. By 1776 Adam Smith most certainly did NOT believe the mercantilist BS that was around him including that statement about the poor. Plus calling poor white people red-necks doesn’t help your argument. Everyone thinks its okay to bash on white people b/c of white privilege but that kind of mentality is exactly how Trump ended up in the White House. I don’t know why so many people actively try to marginalize their plight in society.

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