2/06/2007

Less laissez-faire / more democracy

"The argument for laissez-faire capitalism is built on a contradictory view of liberty. Right-wing libertarians understand that state control of all economic activity is tyrannical: that the power to determine if and how people make a living is the power to enforce conformity. But they don't see that the huge transnational corporations that own and control most of the world's wealth exercise a parallel tyranny: not only do these behemoths unilaterally determine qualifications, wages, hours, and working conditions for millions of workers, who (if they're lucky) may "choose" from a highly restricted menu of jobs or "choose" to stop eating; they make production, investment and lending decisions that profoundly affect the economic, social, and political landscape of communities and indeed entire countries -- decisions in which the great majority of people affected have little or no voice. Murray defines economic freedom as "the right to engage in voluntary and informed exchanges of goods and services without restriction."

Fine -- but if an economic transaction is to be truly voluntary and informed, all parties must have equal power to accept, reject, or influence its terms, as well as equal access to information. Can anyone claim that corporate employers and employees have equal power to negotiate their exchange? Or that consumers have full access to information about the products they buy? And if we're really interested in freedom, the right to voluntary and informed engagement in economic transactions has to be extended beyond their principals to others affected -- whether by plants that reduce air quality or rent increases that chase out shoe repair shops in favor of coffee bars.

The inconsistency of the belief that economic domination by the state destroys freedom, while economic domination by capital somehow enhances it, is often rationalized by attributing the self-interested decisions of the corporate elite to objective, immutable principles like "the invisible hand" or "supply and demand" -- just as state tyranny has claimed to embody the laws of God or History. But the real animating principle of a free society is democracy -- which should include a democratic economy based on enterprises owned and controlled by their workers."


Ellen Willis

6 comments:

Not a member of Republic Party said...

This makes way too much sense for the
OTBL crowd to understand it. When they continually attack "governement"
I always remind myself that this is "government" we at least had a vote on. We have no vote on Exxon or Haliburton's actions or members of their boards. We do on the school board and all other representatives. Those nitwits on the on the other side of the borderline can't seem to grasp that. In fact they argue against democracy, claiming our Founding Fathers "feared" it.
That fact is it was only a faction believed this, not the Jeffersonian s. I often wonder just what their economic interest is other than saving a few buck on their taxes?

666 said...

Not to mention that companies like Exxon and Haliburton are greasing the political wheels of favorability with yacths full of cash and golf trips to die for.

If would think that "laissez-faire" would mean that the business interests would keep their hands off of government. Between the "invidible hands" and the government "handouts" to large corporate interests, it appears that there's no hands left to pleasure the small business owners and the working people.

AndyRand said...

JPN,

The MLF/LD (More laissez-faire/ Less Democracy) folks are sure to find that they have less cash/power mmmmm I mean Liberty under Less laissez-faire / more democracy.

Cato said...

Democracy is inclined to doing evil. laissez faire is inclined to do nothing.

Andy Rand said...

CATO:
Welcome back. We missed your comments from the far side.
Anyway it's is good to see you back even though I'll never understand where it is you're coming from.

Now seriously, "Democracy is inclined to doing evil?"
Do you mean objectivist upsidedown cake evil as like altruism or real evil?
Laissez faire is inclined to unchecked Greed and corruption. Just look at the hedge fund front running refered to in another post.
If there were no SEC, nobody'd have a clue this stuff was going on.
Or are you going to tell me that the market big boys will correct themselve? For what reason? They're raking in the cash, why would they stop the practice?

cato said...

Simple: if the mutual funds loose money, people stop buying the mutual fund. A preschooler could figure that out.

Democracy is inclined to do evil. It can do good -- but our founders despised democracy. The rule of man = the rule of force. The rule of the law = the rule of the law. We need to return to a lawful country and the only way to do that is to abandon the evil that is democracy. Democracy gave us maniacs like Hugo Chavez and Adolf (Goodwins, I know, I know...).