In The Take (2004) laid off workers in an IMF-bankrupted nation demonstrate free market principles as they take back the means of production from bailed-out, absentee landlords and rebuild their own lives as productive people. To some it might look like a struggle against capitalism. But I would say it is an example of free market resistance to state capitalism, or fascism.
Under their Noses
An auto parts factory has been shut down. It’s no longer profitable, the owner says. The workers are owed $3.2 million in back pay and the factory is valued at $3.6 million. The owner received government bailouts to keep the business going but shut it down anyway. Under their noses, a court-appointed trustee sold off parts of the factory – until the government judge allowed the workers in to verify this claim.
Can’t Wait for Justice
The workers proceeded to clean up the plant – and occupy it in defiance of the government court. I support this move and find it to be entirely moral, based on the available information. The workers were owed a debt and the owner showed bad faith by removing articles from the factory. The government court is a forced monopoly. It can not be trusted. It’s in the pocket of the government, and the government is in alliance with the corporations. In the end, the workers won. They got to keep the factory. They formed a co-op and are reportedly doing well.
Did the Workers Steal the Factory?
A ceramics plant was similarly recovered by workers after the owner ran it into the ground and took a government bailout. Now, the tiles it produces are cheaper and they donate them to schools and hospitals. Did the workers steal this factory? Or was it already stolen, and therefore not owned by anyone? If this is the case, wouldn’t it be moral to homestead it – take it over and make it productive again?
Government Property as Stolen Property
Since government has no funds of its own, it must steal them from others. Yes, steal, because it uses a credible threat of violence to get people to pay its taxes. Anything owned by government is therefore stolen, and unless the owner of individual pieces of property can be tracked down, the property is now unowned. Unowned property is ripe for homesteading – the process of taking something unused, mixing it with your labor and therefore making it yours.
This is Liberty
This is liberty. It’s a form of direct action. The workers are homesteading property that’s been abandoned, or they’re owed or that has been effectively paid for by government funds and is now unowned. This is an example of something that looks evil and socialistic to people on the statist right but is wholesome and refreshing to the libertarian left (I hope).
Here in North America
Here in north america, we’re worse off than these folks in Argentina because we don’t remember what it is like to be poor. We’ve grown fat, stupid and lazy. Our country has been sold out from under us and we haven’t realized it yet! There is precious little evidence of the kind of raw courage and determination these humble Argentinians have demonstrated. This movie is a reminder of what awaits and a call to action. Don’t miss it.