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Mutualist Blog: Free Market Anti-Capitalism

To dissolve, submerge, and cause to disappear the political or governmental system in the economic system by reducing, simplifying, decentralizing and suppressing, one after another, all the wheels of this great machine, which is called the Government or the State. --Proudhon, General Idea of the Revolution

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Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Claire Wolfe on Economic Fascism

Several weeks ago I linked to a Sean Gabb piece on the economic fascism that hides behind the vulgar libertarian agenda of faux "privatization" and "deregulation." Of the Adam Smith Institute--which "sells market solutions to statist problems"--he wrote, in part:

The old statism was at least mitigated by incompetence. The people in charge of it were paid too little to feel really important; and much of their energy was absorbed in disputes with stupid or malevolent union leaders. They presided over a system that was never very strong, and that failed to weather the storms of the 1970s.

As reconstructed in the 1980s - partly by the Adam Smith Institute - the new statism is different. It looks like private enterprise. It makes a profit. Those in charge of it are paid vast salaries, and smugly believe they are worth every penny....

But for all its external appearance, the reality is statism. And because it makes a profit, it is more stable than the old. It is also more pervasive. Look at these privatised companies, with their boards full of retired politicians, their cosy relationships with the regulators, their quick and easy ways to get whatever privileges they want....

As with National Socialism in Germany, the new statism is leading to the abolition of the distinction between public and private....

There has been no diminution in the economic power of the State, only a change in its mode of operation....

Some time earlier, I had linked (in this post) to an amazing article by Nicholas Hildyard of Corner House. In it he argued that the neoliberal agenda of "free market" reform carried out under the auspices of NAFTA, GATT, CAFTA, etc., really meant just reducing the amount of activity nominally carried out in the "public" sector, while greatly augmenting the state capitalist framework within which the so-called "private" sector functioned. While more social activity might be "private" than ever before, and profits might be soaring for the commanding heights of the corporate economy, those privileged corporations operated within a set of rules stacked in their favor.

Now Claire Wolfe has more:

And yet ... all those "free-market" ideas are being used and twisted by the same politicians and bureaucrats who would once have marshalled behind the banner of some -ism. Now we have "free-markets" in the form of statist monstrosities like NAFTA and the WTO. And who would have thought, all those years ago when Reason magazine was extolling the virtues of "privatization," that privatization would mean such cruel insanities as private prison companies lobbying the federal government to give them more, more, more, more? Or private contractors delegated by the IRS to go out and collect taxes? Or "private" corporations, founded and funded by government, running government programs like AmeriCorps?...

Somehow, I won't feel one bit better about national ID if Oracle is given a "private" contract to develop its databases. Or if the Department of Homeland Security is someday turned into the "Corporation for Homeland Security" with a board of directors drawn from Microsoft, Boeing, Amtrak, and the CIA.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks to both you and Claire for inspiring this post:


June 01, 2005 3:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Blogswarm, anyone? Have you guys heard of the downing street minutes ( http://www.downingstreetmemo.com ) and the Big Brass Alliance? ( http://www.bigbrassblog.com/bba.html )

June 02, 2005 10:13 AM  
Blogger Kevin Carson said...

Good post, Brad. I especially liked the comparison of by-the-numbers "privatization" to fencing stolen goods. As for this quote:

"Where something is removed from the sphere of the State, but the State remains strong overall, instead of being a liberating experience for everybody, somebody’s liberty gets trashed as that facet of life gets constrained for them."

Interesting point. I think that's why so many on the religious right object to the "separation of church and state," and attempt hostile takeovers of local school systems. When so many functions of society are controlled, regulated or even conducted by the state, secularism ceases to be just the necessary adoption of a pose of state neutrality toward religion, and instead becomes the state imposition of an aggressive ideology of secularism.

As religious people see it, the aggressive ideology of secularism requires the state to teach everything *but* traditional religion in its schools, including witchcraft and New Agey hocus-pocus, and explicitly anti-religious stuff. Not only can't they teach traditional religion, but they can't forbear to teach anti-religion because that policy would reflect a religious influence. So as a result, traditional religion becomes marginalized in ever-shrinking islands within an officially secular society.

June 02, 2005 8:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Exactly. Thus,gradualism creates, perhaps, as many or more problems than it solves.

By failing to attack the legitimacy of the State on *all* fronts, secularist "civil liberties" advocates shape the character of their opposition. They *made* the Religious Right by building a statist order with no room for traditional religion.

Likewise, I can very easily see the potential rise of a tyrannical New Age theocracy, born from growing repression of paganism by the Religious Right...

Unless we keep our eye on the ball -- Liberty for All.

The comparison between battles over Seperation of Church and State and fake privatization isn't a perfect analogy. It's just that the things they have in common are instructive of the nature of the problems with both, IMO.

June 04, 2005 2:45 PM  

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