The Cato Institute has published an interesting essay by an obviously Left-leaning libertarian named Roderick Long entitled, “Corporations Versus The Market; Or, Whip Conflation Now.”
While I would take issue with some of his examples of “corporate welfare” (e.g. Walmart’s competitors use the same roads they do to ship their inventory), I got more out of the essay than I initially expected to. As a devout Capitalist, I used to have somewhat of a knee-jerk defense reaction to Leftist bashing of Corporations of any size, even though I am a small businessman. That business of late (past 12 years) has been a private Montessori school, so the condition of the public school system in America has been a particular focus of mine.
Then, I read a mind blowing (and opening) book by John Taylor Gatto entitled, “The Underground History of American Education,” which is available as a free e-book at that link. The scales started dropping from my eyes. It explains in excruciating detail how and why our children are being deliberately dumbed down. Almost more importantly, SO WERE WE! The process has been underway for over a hundred years! It still pisses me off when I think about it.
The history of the Progressive Movement is covered well in Jonah Goldberg’s “Liberal Fascism” and Amity Shlaes’ “The Forgotten Man“; but if I only had time for one of the three, I would recommend Gatto’s. Further to the detailed history of the Progressives, it documents how the early industrialists like Rockefeller, Carnegie, et al, were very much behind the effort to create mindless little cogs for the tedious chores in their corporate machinery.
There is a reason that public schools resemble factories in so many ways. Humans have to be programmed to accept the tedium of spending the day metaphorically chained to a desk or machine in a cubical or factory, and the younger one starts, the easier the chore. Further, the industrialists didn’t want us to be educated any more than absolutely necessary to perform the required tasks and be easily persuaded to desire their products. Thinkers tend to become entrepreneurs and eventually bothersome competitors who can disrupt their well laid plans with innovation and guerrilla tactics unsuited to the behemoths.
This is the reason that the Montessori Method of education is eschewed by the factory schools in America. Children are given freedom of movement and learn how to think – critically and for themselves – not what to think in a Montessori classroom, and these are dangerous notions to the oligarchy. It almost makes me want to cry when I think of what this nation could be like, if the minds of our children were unleashed, and the government got the hell out of our way.
The thing I got most out of Long’s essay was a clearer picture of how the Right slope, away from individual Liberty in my Political Circle Chart, represents not just the trend toward theocracy; but embodies corporatism, which can be as statist as Marxism, and almost as dangerous to our Liberty. Example:
Consider the conservative virtue-term “privatization,” which has two distinct, indeed opposed, meanings. On the one hand, it can mean returning some service or industry from the monopolistic government sector to the competitive private sector—getting government out of it; this would be the libertarian meaning. On the other hand, it can mean “contracting out,” i.e., granting to some private firm a monopoly privilege in the provision some service previously provided by government directly. There is nothing free-market about privatization in this latter sense, since the monopoly power is merely transferred from one set of hands to another; this is corporatism, or pro-business intervention, not laissez-faire. (To be sure, there may be competition in the bidding for such monopoly contracts, but competition to establish a legal monopoly is no more genuine market competition than voting—one last time—to establish a dictator is genuine democracy.)
I must admit he has a point. Further:
This conflation in turn tends to bolster the power of the political establishment by rendering genuine libertarianism invisible: Those who are attracted to free markets are lured into supporting plutocracy, thus helping to prop up statism’s right or corporatist wing; those who are repelled by plutocracy are lured into opposing free markets, thus helping to prop up statism’s left or social-democratic wing. But as these two wings have more in common than not, the political establishment wins either way.
I hadn’t looked at it that way. Statism to the Left of me and statism to the Right of me, which has nothing to do with the religious Right. And:
In the nineteenth century, it was far more common than it is today for libertarians to see themselves as opponents of big business. The long 20th-century alliance of libertarians with conservatives against the common enemy of state-socialism probably had much to do with reorienting libertarian thought toward the right; and the brief rapprochement between libertarians and the left during the 1960s foundered when the New Left imploded. As a result, libertarians have been ill-placed to combat left-wing and right-wing conflation of markets with privilege, because they have not been entirely free of the conflation themselves.
Another piece of the puzzle falls into place in my mind, and I need to now modify my chart to reflect the economic spectrum. Laissez-faire Capitalism would be at the top, with Marxism / Socialism on the Left and corporatism on the Right. ◄Dave►