The news you're not supposed to know...

An Introduction to Austrian Economics: Understand Economics, Understand Everything
The Century of the Self: The Untold History of Controlling the Masses Through the Manipulation of Unconscious Desires
The Disappearing Male: From Virility to Sterility

The Obama Deception: The Mask Comes Off
Operation Gladio: The Hidden History of U.S. Sponsored False Flag Terrorism in EuropeThe New American Century: The Untold History of The Project for the New American Century
Article posted Dec 10 2012, 5:10 AM Category: Commentary Source: Kevin Carson Print

If "Progressives" Didn't Exist, Big Business Would Have to Invent Them

by Kevin Carson

Daily Kos recently reprinted a popular column that periodically makes the rounds (“75 Ways Socialism Has Improved America”) by someone using the nom de plume TheNewDeal00.

Not just “75 Examples of Socialism,” mind you, but “improvements.” Going down the list, you’ll notice items like “The Military/National Defense,” “War,” “The Pentagon,” “Homeland Security,” and so forth, that mainly involve murdering or imprisoning people at home and abroad. The relentlessly positive spin on each item, including the most authoritarian aspects of the National Security State and Military-Industrial Complex, suggests we’re dealing with the kind of reflexive liberal for whom anything done by government is automatically “progressive.”

It’s a fairly common specimen, unfortunately. There’s a certain kind of liberal whose vision of “progress” deems anything called “regulation” good, because — by definition — it’s a restraint on corporate power. Further, anything funded or controlled by the state is “socialism.” This was the mindset of Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., who treated big government and big business as diametrically opposed, identifying “liberalism” as an idealistic movement characterized by the use of state power to restrain the excesses of big business.

But state ownership, funding and control do not, as such, constitute “socialism.” In fact a defining characteristic of monopoly capitalism is increased state involvement in the economy. Most state activity, far from restraining big business, actually props it up. If we go down TheNewDeal00′s list, we see that most of the enumerated functions in some way maintain the structural prerequisites for corporate capitalism.

“National Defense” and “War” stuff, it goes without saying, serves primarily to impose corporate capitalism on the rest of the world — guaranteeing transnational corporate access to natural resources, by force when necessary, and serving as enforcement arm for the global legal and political framework of the World Bank, IMF, WTO, GATT, and assorted “intellectual property” accords. The reason the U.S. government spent decades installing dictators in most of Latin America, the Philippines, Iran, South Vietnam, Indonesia, and the Congo was to keep the world safe for corporate power.

The military-industrial complex serves another vital role for big business: It absorbs a great deal of excess production capacity and surplus capital when private demand is insufficient to keep the wheels of industry running.

My favorite, for sheer liberal naivete, is the highway system, “created for all of us to use”: “That’s right, a republican president created our taxpayer funded, national highway system. This was a different time, before the republican party came down with a vicious case of rabies that never went away.”

Would this be the Interstate Highway System created under the supervision of Defense Secretary (and former General Motors CEO) Charles Wilson, famous for the phrase “What’s good for America is good for GM?” The main effect of the Interstates was to lower the cost of distribution, artificially increasing the size and market area of the typical firm, and enabling national big box chains to drive local retail out of business. Or the local freeway systems, the top priority of local governments owned lock, stock and barrel by real estate developers? These subsidized freeway systems are the main culprit behind suburban monoculture, sprawl, and the car culture.

Farm subsidies? Only the most naive goo-goo thinks the USDA serves any interests other than those of Monsanto, Cargill and ADM.

Public schools and prisons? The first state public school systems were created in the 19th century to produce factory workers conditioned to show up on time, line up on command, eat and pee at the sound of a bell, and take orders from authority figures behind desks. Their primary purpose is to process children into docile human resources sufficiently skilled to undertake the labor demanded of them, but not educated above their station in life.

When the schools fail at creating an easily manageable work force, the criminal justice system takes over in maintaining social control. Thanks to the Drug War, one of the most potentially radicalizable segments of the population — inner city blacks — are kept under tight surveillance (something like one third of black males are entangled in some component of the criminal justice system). The United States has a larger prison population than China, much of it providing slave labor for corporations.

As for cops and Homeland Security, who do you think it was firing tear gas, pepper spray and rubber bullets at Occupy protestors last year?

Naive liberals like TheNewDeal00 who embarrass themselves writing stuff like this just go to show that liberalism has nothing to do with the genuine Left.

Genuine Leftists take a far different view of things. Marx called the state, quite accurately, the Executive Committee of the Ruling Class. Engels wrote that, in the most advanced stage of capitalism, capitalists would operate through their state to manage the economy in cases where they were incapable of doing so through purely private means. The nationalization of railroads, telegraphs, and mines, and the creation of welfare states under so-called “social democracies,” he wrote, was simply a function of the capitalist state.

New Left historian Gabriel Kolko argued that the main function of the regulatory state was to enforce regulatory cartels, restrict competition, and thereby stabilize oligopoly markets against the threat of competition. Neo-Marxist James O’Connor wrote that the state has steadily socialized the operating costs of big business — or, as Noam Chomsky put it, socialized risk and cost while privatizing profit.

Market anarchists, especially left-wing market anarchists like me and my comrades at Center for a Stateless Society, know what the state is about. It’s not a restraint on private power; it’s the instrument of private power. Its central function is to suppress competition, create artificial property, and enable economic ruling classes to extract rents. Our economy, in its fundamental structure, is an alliance between big business and big government. Conservatives who denounce Barack Obama as a “socialist,” and Progressives who praise the corporate state as “socialist,” are just useful idiots for corporate power.
Kevin Carson is a senior fellow of the Center for a Stateless Society ( and holds the Center's Karl Hess Chair in Social Theory. He is a mutualist and individualist anarchist whose written work includes Studies in Mutualist Political Economy, Organization Theory: A Libertarian Perspective, and The Homebrew Industrial Revolution: A Low-Overhead Manifesto, all of which are freely available online. Carson has also written for such print publications as The Freeman: Ideas on Liberty and a variety of internet-based journals and blogs, including Just Things, The Art of the Possible, the P2P Foundation, and his own Mutualist Blog.

Latest Commentary
- The War on Drugs Was Born 100 Years Ago
- What America Wannabe?
- Judicial Deference to the Torturers
- Ross Ulbricht Should Be Freed in a Fair Trial
- Government Save Us From "Overpriced" Chinese Food
- I Love Loosies and the People Who Sell Them
- Obama's Plan for Better Policing: The Good, the Bad, and the Body Cameras
- Statism: The Most Dangerous Religion (feat. Larken Rose)

No Comments Posted Add Comment

Add Comment


Verification *
Please Enter the Verification Code Seen Below

Please see our About Page, our Disclaimer, and our Comments Policy.

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which in some cases has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. Such material is made available for the purposes of news reporting, education, research, comment, and criticism, which constitutes a 'fair use' of such copyrighted material in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner. It is our policy to respond to notices of alleged infringement that comply with the DMCA and other applicable intellectual property laws. It is our policy to remove material from public view that we believe in good faith to be copyrighted material that has been illegally copied and distributed by any of our members or users.

About Us - Disclaimer - Privacy Policy

Advanced Search


Remember Me
Forgot Password?

Florida Cop Gets Schooled in Law After Harassing Man for Playing Rap Song, "F**k tha Police" - 12/16Second Video Sheds New Light On Allegations Of Misconduct Involving Denver Police Officers - 12/16US Supreme Court Allows Traffic Stop Searches When No Law Violated - 12/16Police Using Social Media Posts to Determine "Threat Score" of Suspects - 12/16High Profile Witness In Alleged Excessive Force Case Records His Own Stop And Arrest - 12/16IRS Drops Its Asset Forfeiture Case Against Owner Of Small, Cash-Only Restaurant - 12/16Congress Proposes Bill to Address the Problem of Immunity for Killer Cops - 12/16Government Wastes Taxpayers' Money On Crappy "Shark-Like Spy Drone" - 12/16

Rialto, CA Police Made to Wear Cameras, Use of Force Drops by Over Two-ThirdsCop Who Karate Chopped NY Judge In Throat Gets Off Scot-FreeFlorida Cop Smashes Compliant Woman's Face Into Car -- "Maybe Now You Can Understand Simple Instructions"VIDEO: Lapel Cam Reveals A Day In The Life Of A U.S. Police Officer (Tasing, Beating, Breaking & Entering, Stomping On Heads... and Laughing About It)Caught On Tape: Officer Sucker Punches Inmate In Face, Files Report Claiming 'Self Defense'Insult Person On Twitter, Go To JailSWAT Team Brings TV Crew To Film Raid Against Threatening Internet Critic -- Raids Innocent Grandma InsteadCop Karate Chops NY Judge In The Throat