It has often been asserted that we should cooperate rather than compete in society. For instance, FDR said, “Competition has been shown to be useful up to a certain point and no further, but cooperation, which is the thing we must strive for today, begins where competition leaves off.” Bertrand Russell expressed it even more sharply when he said, “The only thing that will redeem mankind is cooperation.”
Article by Gary Galles from Mises.
However, such views, now as well as then, tend to incorporate a false understanding of competition and cooperation as either-or choices. In fact, many supposedly cooperative ventures actually reduce social cooperation, while market competition provides a peaceful process that expands cooperation.
Leonard Read, founder of the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE), was someone who was fully aware of our mutual dependence on cooperation—our interdependence. One place he addressed that theme was his “The Good within Our Reach,” chapter 19 in his 1981 book, How Do We Know? On its fortieth anniversary, it is worth remembering.
Suppose there were no coming together, each individual dependent solely on his or her own thoughts and productivity…. All would starve! … merely ask yourself, whoever you may be, how well you would prosper were you dependent on only that which you know how to do.
Why is coming together a beginning? Because it results in a pooling of our specializations…. We have become interdependent; each of us is dependent on the unique specializations of others and freedom to exchange.
There is no question that working together leads to success.
While many would consider those words unremarkable, what was remarkable was that Read understood market competition as an essential means to expanded and improved cooperation, rather than a threat or hindrance to it. That is because market competition is a discovery process that reveals what would otherwise be unknowable—who will best cooperate with us, and how, across the almost uncountable margins where individual choices interact. Those who cooperate more effectively with others earn greater rewards, and the stronger the competition for consumer patronage and employees, the more such cooperation develops.
The problem is to maintain the freedom to cooperate and to compete.
A noted professor … at a leading college condemned the market economy on the ground that cooperation was good, competition bad. What a fallacy! Example: When bakers of bread compete, the one who provides the best—highest quality at the lowest price—is the one with whom we cooperate. Competition and cooperation are twin virtues and when strictly observed they form what might well be called “The thank you society.” When buying a loaf of bread … I say “Thank you” because I want the bread more than the money. The grocer says “Thank you” because he wants the money more than the bread. This is the free market at the bread-and-butter level!
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Leonard Read contrasted his understanding of competition as a means to improved cooperation with a failed government attempt at forced cooperation he had lived through.
The present situation is remindful of the ideological slump during the early days of the New Deal: the National Industrial Recovery Act—the NRA or the Blue Eagle.
Top business leaders and their national organizations endorsed this fantastic set of strangling controls over the economy…. Why this anti-free market position? … one was the hope of being rid of dreaded competition.
The NRA was a bust, leading to growing opposition, culminating in a Supreme Court ruling that it was unconstitutional, but the process of repeal was impeded by arguments for phasing out its restrictions to avoid harming the economy (of course, some of those arguments came from those who gained from the restrictions). In contrast, Read argued for the opposite—that the best course of action was to end the abuses of people’s liberties as quickly as possible because that would most rapidly restore our ability to voluntarily expand our cooperation with one another.
However, after a year of this politico-economic nonsense, business leaders and their organizations reversed their position, but some dragged their feet. Abbreviated, their reasoning ran like this: “We must be rid of this political monstrosity, but let us eliminate it gradually. To get rid of it suddenly would wreck the economy.”
Getting rid of what’s wrong gradually is a nonsensical tactic…. Restore what’s right right now! And that is what happened to NRA in May, 1935, with the Supreme Court’s famous “Chicken Case” decision. As of that moment every phase of NRA was abolished, not an iota of it remained. The wrong abolished suddenly! Did the economy go smash? To the contrary, citizens went suddenly to work…. The opportunity of working together was increased.
Ending the NRA restrictions immediately did restart the market process of voluntary cooperation, and restoring people’s freedom to offer superior goods, services, and organizational approaches in peaceful, voluntary arrangements led to far better results. But most have not learned from that object lesson.
[Unfortunately] only a few learned the lesson and came to an understanding of how the free and unfettered market works its wonders for one and all!
Leonard Read did learn that lesson, reinforced by the NRA’s illustration that “working together for mutual benefit” is often the cover story for damage to competition that undermines our ability to cooperate, with liberty lost in the process. He saw that what Friedrich Hayek called the “extended order” created by competition in the marketplace improved outcomes because the requirement to get the consent of all whose rights are involved (a constraint absent in political determination) forced competition into beneficial channels, providing better possibilities to all.
Market competition leads to improved cooperation, because everyone is free to offer to cooperate at whatever terms they find acceptable. The process rewards those most able to meet consumer desires, whoever they may be, resulting in improved results for them as well as those who would prefer to deal with them, if given the chance. It favors those who better serve others, however weak they may be in political power (a weakness that often causes political determination to harm them), adding options for every form of voluntary cooperation, which is the opposite of coerced “cooperation.”
Contrary to those who assert cooperation’s superiority to competition, private property–based voluntary exchange relationships (capitalism) provide the only mechanism that strips force from all relationships, allowing true voluntary cooperation. The issue is not competition versus cooperation, but channeling competition exclusively into mutually agreed forms. Unlike the common condemnation of markets as the antithesis of cooperation, Leonard Read recognized, with Ludwig von Mises (who had joined FEE in the very beginning, at the urging of Henry Hazlitt), that competitive markets comprise “a system of mutual cooperation,” where “the function of competition is to assign to every member of the social system that position in which he can best serve the whole of society and all of its members.”
We are once again at a time when self-proclaimed political saviors are shilling for government-imposed “cooperation” at the expense of Americans’ rights and liberties (as with the Biden administration’s push for almost every special labor union advantage that has ever been dreamed up). But such “cooperation” undermines real, voluntary cooperation that evolves through market competition. That is why it is worth revisiting Read’s understanding of how to advance “[t]he good within our reach,” as a defense of our rights, liberties, and well-being.
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay
‘The Purge’ by Big Tech targets conservatives, including us
Just when we thought the Covid-19 lockdowns were ending and our ability to stay afloat was improving, censorship reared its ugly head.
For the last few months, NOQ Report, Conservative Playbook, and the American Conservative Movement have appealed to our readers for assistance in staying afloat through Covid-19 lockdowns. The downturn in the economy has limited our ability to generate proper ad revenue just as our traffic was skyrocketing. We had our first sustained stretch of three months with over a million visitors in November, December, and January, but February saw a dip.
It wasn’t just the shortened month. We expected that. We also expected the continuation of dropping traffic from “woke” Big Tech companies like Google, Facebook, and Twitter, but it has actually been much worse than anticipated. Our Twitter account was banned. Both of our YouTube accounts were banned. Facebook “fact-checks” everything we post. Spotify canceled us. Medium canceled us. Apple canceled us. Why? Because we believe in the truth prevailing, and that means we will continue to discuss “taboo” topics.
The 2020 presidential election was stolen. You can’t say that on Big Tech platforms without risking cancellation, but we’d rather get cancelled for telling the truth rather than staying around to repeat mainstream media’s lies. They have been covering it up since before the election and they’ve convinced the vast majority of conservative news outlets that they will be harmed if they continue to discuss voter fraud. We refuse to back down. The truth is the truth.
The lies associated with Covid-19 are only slightly more prevalent than the suppression of valid scientific information that runs counter to the prescribed narrative. We should be allowed to ask questions about the vaccines, for example, as there is ample evidence for concern. One does not have to be an “anti-vaxxer” in order to want answers about vaccines that are still considered experimental and that have a track record in a short period of time of having side-effects, including death. One of our stories about the Johnson & Johnson “vaccine” causing blood clots was “fact-checked” and removed one day before the government hit the brakes on it. These questions and news items are not allowed on Big Tech which is just another reason we are getting canceled.
There are more topics that they refuse to allow. In turn, we refuse to stop discussing them. This is why we desperately need your help. The best way NOQ, CP, and ACM readers can help is to donate. Our Giving Fuel page makes it easy to donate one-time or monthly. Alternatively, you can donate through PayPal as well. We are pacing to be short by about $3700 per month in order to maintain operations.
The second way to help is to become a partner. We’ve strongly considered seeking angel investors in the past but because we were paying the bills, it didn’t seem necessary. Now, we’re struggling to pay the bills. We had 5,657,724 sessions on our website from November, 2020, through February, 2021. Our intention is to elevate that to higher levels this year by focusing on a strategy that relies on free speech rather than being beholden to progressive Big Tech companies.
During that four-month stretch, Twitter and Facebook accounted for about 20% of our traffic. We are actively working on operating as if that traffic is zero, replacing it with platforms that operate more freely such as Gab, Parler, and others. While we were never as dependent on Big Tech as most conservative sites, we’d like to be completely free from them. That doesn’t mean we will block them, but we refuse to be beholden to companies that absolutely despise us simply because of our political ideology.
We’re heading in the right direction and we believe we’re ready talk to patriotic investors who want to not only “get in on the action” but more importantly who want to help America hear the truth. Interested investors should contact me directly with the contact button above.
As the world spirals towards radical progressivism, the need for truthful journalism has never been greater. But in these times, we need as many conservative media voices as possible. Please help keep NOQ Report going.
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