How a Free Market Inevitably Produces Dictatorship

Eric Zuesse

Who rules the land? A deeper and truer version of this question is: What rules the land? Is it the money (the aristocracy), or is it the people (the public, the residents on that land)? (For the interest of paleoconservatives, the issue of residents’ citizenship will come later here, as “immigrants” instead of as “citizenship”; but our basic focus is not ethnicity/nationality; it’s class: the money, versus the voters; not the natives, versus the foreigners.)

In a democracy, the public rule — the people do — and it’s on authentically a one-person-one-vote basis, and anyone who is a resident in that land can easily vote, just like anyone else who lives there, because only the residents there, during the specific time-period of the voting, are the ultimate decision-makers, over that land, and over its laws. This is what a democracy is: it’s one-person-one-vote, and, in the political sense, it’s total equality-of-rights and total equality-of-obligations — real and total equality-by-law: equal rights, and equal obligations, for all residents. A democracy applies the same requirements to everyone.

This does not mean that individuals are equal in their abilities and in their needs, and so it’s not a statement about the economy; it is purely a statement about the government — a political question. The economy is a separate matter, though it’s highly dependent upon the government — the laws that are in place and enforced. Many people confuse these two fields, and mistakenly think that the economy is basic to the government.

So: the economy is dependent upon the government; the government determines the economy, which, in any land, is highly dependent upon the laws that are in place and that are enforced — the government.

That’s only “natural persons” who control a democracy — no collectives of any type, corporate or otherwise, can vote, because, if it were otherwise, it would be an easy way to establish a dictatorship there: persons with the financial means could create any number of “artificial persons” who could vote, or could buy votes (such as by purchasing news-media to slant ‘reality’ selling politicians and political positions to the voters), and this money could produce a country controlled more by dollars, than by owners (i.e., than by actual persons, voters — not by artificial “persons” such as the wealth-collections that are known as corporations). If wealth-collections could vote, that would invite control over the land to be by wealth (the number of dollars) instead of by actual residents (the number of persons). It could even produce control by foreign wealth. Foreigners could end up controlling the country if the number of dollars is a bigger determinant of who rules than is the number of voters.

Obviously, no democracy will allow foreigners to control the land. Imperialism is inconsistent with democracy; any empire is dictatorial, by its very nature. It entails dictatorship over the residents in its colonies, even if not necessarily over the residents in the imperial land that had conquered the colonial area.

Empire is consistent with a free market, but it is inconsistent with democracy. No empire is democratic, because each colony is ruled by non-residents. (If the colony were ruled by its residents, it wouldn’t be a colony, and there wouldn’t be an empire.)

A federation is not an empire. The difference between them is that, whereas in a federation, the right of self-determination of peoples takes precedence over the federation’s interest in maintaining the status-quo; in an empire, there is no such right — an empire is a dictatorship. In political matters, no empire has a right to be an empire; just as, in economic matters, no person can actually own another (notwithstanding any ‘slave’-‘owner’ — or ‘seller’ — falsely believing to the contrary).

The propaganda for a free market is funded very heavily by billionaires such as the Koch brothers and George Soros, because control over countries naturally devolves into control by wealth, instead of into control by people (and certainly not by residents), if a free-market economy exists there. Billionaires do whatever increases their power; and, beyond around $100,000-per-year of income, any additional wealth buys no additional happiness or satisfaction, but only additional status, which, for individuals who are in such brackets, is derived from increases in their power, because, at that stage of wealth, money itself is no longer an object, only status is, and additional status can be derived only from additional power.

All of the empirical findings in the social sciences are consistent with this; and, whereas the income-point in most of those studies, beyond which additional dollars produce no additional happiness for the owner, has been $75,000 per year, there has been inflation since those studies were performed, and one might more accurately say today that $100,000-per-year is the income-point beyond which only status is increased by additional income; happiness or satisfaction is not increased by income above that point. This is a statement about nature; it is the reality in which any market — free or otherwise — exists. It is “human nature,” and that’s basic to all of the social sciences which pertain to humans, including political science, and economics.

In economic theory, the phrase that has been traditionally used to refer to this reality, even before recent empirical studies showed the reality to be this way, was “the declining marginal utility of money.” Beyond around $100,000/year, additional “bucks” are for status, not for happiness. Anyone who has no addiction to status, doesn’t care about having more money coming in beyond that amount. Beyond that amount, the additional marginal utility of each dollar received is actually zero. The wealth-addict might crave more, but it won’t do him-or-her any actual good; it won’t make the person happier. That’s the reality, now proven in numerous empirical studies.

This reality has major political consequences. One is that a country with highly concentrated wealth (the bottom 50% own almost nothing) is serving the addictions of a few, not the needs of the many — and therefore concentrated wealth cannot be sustained in a democracy, but only in a dictatorship: a dictatorship of wealth, where what determines power isn’t the voters but the dollars.

An important philosophical champion of free markets is the libertarian philosopher Hans-Hermann Hoppe. In 2001, Hoppe published his DEMOCRACY: The God that Failed, which was considered a libertarian masterpiece. Hoppe unapologetically argued there that libertarianism and conservatism are one and the same — and that he wanted it, passionately: he hated democracy. Unlike many libertarians, who falsely allege that democracy is impossible without there first being libertarianism (a free market), Hoppe acknowledged and argued for the mutual inconsistency between libertarianism and democracy. Although I don’t share his preference for a rule by the wealth instead of a rule by the residents, and thus he is an ideological opponent — the opposite of a supporter of my own position, as it’s being set forth here (and far more briefly than his tome) — I consider him to be the fullest and most internally consistent libertarian philosopher, and perhaps the most significant libertarian political philosopher in this Century, thus far.

Whereas lots of people call themselves “libertarian,” he actually is — fully — that. Of course, some libertarians don’t agree with Hoppe’s view; but, on 30 August 2011, Michael Lind at salon.com headlined “Why Libertarians Apologize for Autocracy: The experience of every democratic nation-state proves that libertarianism is incompatible with democracy,” and he empirically found that Hoppe was correct about this incompatibility.

Hoppe argues not only for an aristocracy, but for a hereditary one, and he even opposes immigration; so, if he were a democrat, at all, then he’d be excluding immigrants from voting. But he’s not even that much of a democrat. And he especially approves of hereditary monarchy. His reason for that preference is traditional libertarianism, which favors the private over the public: “Hereditary monarchies represent the historical example of privately owned governments, and democratic republics that of publicly owned governments.” Libertarianism opposes public ownership, favors private.

Like any philosopher, Hoppe has ignored crucial issues in order to sell his case (after all, it’s a philosophical, not a scientific, case; it is ideological propaganda alleging that libertarianism is good — instead of being anything scientific); and the most interesting thing that he has avoided discussing in it is anti-trust, anti-monopoly, anti-oligopoly — the issues about concentration of power. He ignores those issues. For example, whenever he uses the term “monopoly,” he is referring solely to “government,” never to the economy (he assumes that in a free market there can’t be any oligopolies or monopolies). He is, after all, a crank (a free-market political theorist and therefore someone who implicitly denies that government is basic to an economy, and who assumes the converse, that the government is instead built upon the economy), though he’s an erudite one and thus acceptable to his fellow-scholars. Erudition doesn’t mean, nor necessarily include, being scientific.

And the (scientific) reality is that the political issue isn’t ‘the government’s monopoly on power’, but instead it’s simply any concentrations of power — both monopolies and oligopolies — which unequalize both rights and obligations in the society, such that whereas a few people (the aristocracy) have many rights and few (if any) obligations, most people (the public) have few rights and many obligations. The latter type of society is called a “dictatorship.” The more that it exists, the more that it comes to exist — and, consequently, the less that there can exist democracy.

The basic issue in political science is not “freedom” versus “slavery” (two concepts in economics); it is “democracy” versus “dictatorship” (two concepts in politics).

Power precedes the economy; it directs the economy, if and where an economy even exists.

Democracy is natural where wealth is nearly-evenly distributed. Dictatorship is natural where wealth is extremely-unevenly distributed. The latter is true because no nation can maintain a democracy if the wealth is highly unequal. If the wealth is highly equal, then the possibility for democracy to emerge is substantial. But if the wealth is highly unequal, then the possibility for democracy even to exist to any extent, is low. All of the extremely wealthy people would have to be honest in order for them to tolerate rule by the majority. Otherwise, they’d simply be using their news-media to deceive instead of to inform the public: that’s what the ‘news’-people would be paid to do, cover-up real problems, and manufacture ‘reality’ — manipulate the public, instead of inform the public.

If the distribution of wealth is highly unequal, the ‘news’people will be paid to deceive the public, instead of to inform the public. This (and it includes the ‘charitable’ foundations) is why the majority of the public have come to believe the profoudly false assertion that “having a rich class is a benefit” to the public. They’ve been deceived.

Most of the world is dictatorial. That’s because, almost everywhere, wealth, and even income, is extremely unevenly distributed. The laws and their enforcement determine the distribution of wealth and of income. The natural tendency is toward dictatorship, because a free market produces increased economic concentration. Democracy is not natural. Dictatorship is natural. What’s natural for a body-politic is to fulfill addictions, not to fulfill needs.

As inequality of wealth increases, corruption also increases. Empirical studies find that successful people tend to be bad: it’s natural for the scum and not the cream to rise to the top in organizations. So, the wealthier a person is, the worse the person tends to be. And it’s not just that, but success itself tends to make a person worse than the person was before the success. So, it’s natural that at the very top, tend to be the very worst people. Good government is not natural; bad government is natural. Good government is unnatural.

Corruption is rule by deceit. An example of how that works at the federal-government level is here. An example of that in more detail is here. Another such detailed example, but at the state-or-local government level, is here. And an example of it within academia, and at the federal regulatory agencies, is here.

So, in a country that has extreme wealth-inequality, the way in which the public’s ‘consent’, to the billionaires’ rule, is manufactured, is by means of deceit — a rot that’s throughout the entire body-politic and society. This is how an extreme inequality of wealth is produced. It cannot be done honestly. Transparency International has reported that corruption and “social exclusion” or bigotry tend to go together, but has ignored the possible relationship between corruption and the economic distribution of either wealth or income. Perhaps the billionaires who fund TI don’t want such correlations to be pointed out, if they exist; so TI doesn’t investigate this.

The reason why a free market inevitably increases dictatorship, is that dictatorship is natural, just as a free market itself is natural, and power pre-exists everywhere to upset and overturn any equality that might exist in either sphere. Power is natural. No economy exists but that power pre-exists. The political sphere pre-exists the economic sphere. The basic reality, in any society, is power.

Thus, the question has always been: What rules? Is it the wealth? Or is it the people? The natural condition is for wealth to rule, because money (especially all excess money, all income above $100,000 per year, and certainly all income above $1,000,000 per year — what can truthfully be called 100% political money, because it can be ‘given away’ with no real loss to the current owner) is power. Although wealth isn’t the only source of power, it is a major source of power. (It can even be the major source of power.) And power rules everywhere. By definition, power rules in politics; and, by nature, the wealthy tend to rule not only in the economy, but also in the government.

That’s what’s natural. Democracy isn’t natural, but a free market, and an aristocratic government, are both natural. And the political reality determines the economic reality.

PS: You have just read here an entire online book. This article, including all of its sources that are linked-to, and the sources that are linked-to in those sources, constitute more than an ordinary book. The complete case and its documentation are fully presented in it. Anyone who finds this book valuable, might also find valuable, as a follow-up to it, a book of the traditional sort: Marjorie Kelly’s The Divine Right of Capital. Her Introduction there says, “The problem is not the free market, but the design of the corporation.” The first clause is false, but the second clause is true, and her book focuses in on that and gets it right. Any solution to either problem would need to be based on an accurate understanding of both of them. The bigger of the two problem-areas is the one that has been addressed in the present book-article. The second area is maybe 10% as large, but it too is significant, and what she says about it is true.

PPS: If you like this article, please pass it along to your friends, if only to get their feedback on it. They’re not likely to have encountered elsewhere the information it contains.

Originally posted at strategic-culture.org
Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

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John G
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John G

Any power that the market has over the state is purely illusory. Too many people here promote the illusion through ignorance.

The left is its own worst enemy.

jazza
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jazza

my posts are never accepted here – they just disappear into thin air – i have nothing to say

Admin
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If your comments repeatedly fail to appear you should email us. When that happens you aren’t being censored (at least not by us). It’s an ongoing issue that sometimes large numbers of comments fail to go through. We don’t know why

binra
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Running on corrupted currency is a rigged game. the currency of thought is our most fundamental interaction and exchange for our mind, or self and world depend on it. Rules are given power by allegiance and compliance. The power to make and enforce rules is also the power to undo them or change them. Rules operate from judgements accepted and acted from as worthy, necessary or true. Allegiance is given but compliance is exacted. So as I see it, ideas rule the minds of we who can ‘think’ only along the rules such ideas dictate. That is to say that… Read more »

Maggie
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Maggie

@ Binra ”So as I see it, ideas rule the minds of we who can ‘think’ only along the rules such ideas dictate. That is to say that any fundamental premise will filter and rule all that follows from it – until the premise itself is questioned and changed.” After reading and re reading your post many times, I now realise WHY many people don’t/can’t ‘think’ or assimilate. Unfortunately 99% pf the general public did not benefit from an Etonian education, but have to rely on those sharing information. When bombarded with wordy articles like yours regularly, aimed only at… Read more »

binra
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#2 “How can a premise be questioned and changed if it hasn’t been understood in the first place?” Presumed reality operates as if it is an understanding. Although much of what the term ‘understanding’ is used for is a sense of definition and control within a society of rules, and compliances and conformities that set the bounds of thought, communication and behaviour. There are personal and social contexts for ‘understandings’ believed true that are not verbal mental constructs. The short and direct way to notice, and re-evaluate false premises that automatically result in poor, conflicted or distressing outcomes is nothing… Read more »

binra
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BTW bombarded regularly? I haven’t met anyone else writing in the way I do. Do you merely see a lot of words and presume it is ‘wordy’. The copy paste syndrome is not just the internet but part of running on derivatives instead of connecting to source or checking the sources. “…the true object of propaganda is neither to convince nor even to persuade, but to produce a uniform pattern of public utterance in which the first trace of unorthodox thought immediately reveals itself as a jarring dissonance.” ~ Alan Bullock Propaganda isn’t only what governments do, PR is not… Read more »

binra
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Hi Maggie/anyone – please disregard this response to the ideas being considered if it holds no relevance or resonance to you. But I seek to turn about and look at what farmes, forms or structures what I took as my mind, consciousness and interpreted experience of world. While an education that enables the ability to question and challenge rather than conform, is clearly a benefit, I don’t know that that is gotten at Eton. But I do see it is squelched by most of what is called education. I didn’t take advantage of mine excepting I was exposed to a… Read more »

vexarb
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@Binra. Do you mean, there can only be a Free Market between Free Minds?

binra
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ADMIN – I reposted a part of the full post below because I thought it had been blocked or failed perhaps on length. Now it has come through please delete the reposted part.

binra
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Running on corrupted currency is a rigged game. the currency of thought is our most fundamental interaction and exchange for our mind, or self and world depend on it. Rules are given power by allegiance and compliance. The power to make and enforce rules is also the power to undo them or change them. Rules operate from judgements accepted and acted from as worthy, necessary or true. Allegiance is given but compliance is exacted. So as I see it, ideas rule the minds of we who can ‘think’ only along the rules such ideas dictate. That is to say that… Read more »

Fair dinkum
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Fair dinkum

Or as Ramana Maharshi said: ‘Be as you are’

binra
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You can only be as you are – but you can think you can be as you are not and believe it. This is the root of all evils – including the sense of power as tyrannous, coercive and deceitful. Because deceit is given power. That we each and together are entangled in deceit by engaging in power struggle runs a self-reinforcing experience – as if a mind could be trapped within its own thought or reflected image. That we are invested in our thinking and storymaking is not evident to be-living it as irrevocably real. The power to ‘make… Read more »

Francis Lee
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Francis Lee

Actually there is not, never has been, and never will be such a thing as a ‘free market’ and that also applies to ‘free-trade. In any number of ways the state, shapes, supports, aids, subsidizes, produces public goods (education, health, transport, the built environment) and all the basic infrastructure for the economy to function. As for ‘free-trade’ this is a chimerical Ricardian construction belied in a world of capital controls, exchange rate manipulation, intra-firm trade various non-tariff barriers and actual tariff barriers such as the one surrounding the EU. The state unquestionably remains the most significant force in shaping the… Read more »

Toby
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Toby

The economy and the state are not antipodes but twins.

Exactly! I always say they’re siamese twins joined at the money system.

BigB
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BigB

The G7 central banks acted in ‘Collu$ion’ [Nomi Prins] to reinflate the possessing classes asset bubbles: to the detriment of the nation-states. Thus, we can infer a super-sovereign virtual globalised ‘state’ and a superclass or supra-socitety that populates the trans-national entity. I would postulate several layers of sovereignty (for the international central banking cartel (BIS), TNCs, FTAs, RTAs, customs unions, free trade and special economic zones, IMF, World Bank, WTO, etc). The global economy and the supra-state are not antipodes but twins. Governing elites govern for them, not us. The nation state is a semi-redundant Westphalian concept. As the dominant… Read more »

Francis Lee
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Francis Lee

BigB: I note that you say that ‘The nation state is a semi-redundant Westphalian concept.’ But that ‘semi’ is quite important; which is to say that globalization is a somewhat exaggerated process and nation states are still very much with us – like it or not. Globalization had appeared to be an unstoppable force up to 2008 when it hit the brick wall of the financial meltdown. This change was most apparent in the financial sector where ‘The Masters of the Universe’ had to go on bended knee to the state to be rescued. It was a scenario also replicated… Read more »

Big B
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Big B

Sorry Francis; I did reply …but it seems to have been eaten by hyperspace. The synopsis was that nation state autonomy is subordinate to transnational financial imperialism; with a relative loss of autonomy depending on position in the imperial pyramid …the bottom peripheral nation states being fully dependent and effectively financially colonised. There are also imperial protecterates set up around the likes of the EU – where no country in the Eurozone has any autonomy from the ECB. Examples being Greece and the other peripheralised PIIGS. The comment with links may or may not appear later.

Toby
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Toby

The global economy and the supra-state are not antipodes but twins. That’s true too, and there are many layers and as-above-so-below mirrorings and echoes of ruler and ruled as you say, but I suspect the underlying dynamic is always the same: exploitative and opaquely manipulative. What occupies me is the possibility that advanced specialisation makes a meaningfully involved democracy impossible. It’s possible, I suspect, that very large societies are too devilishly detailed for everyone to be ‘equally’ capable of informed decision making. Of course, there’s also the distinct possibility that this degree of complexity is ecologically unsustainable, that a simpler,… Read more »

Fair dinkum.
Reader
Fair dinkum.

We could follow in the footsteps of the great Anarchists: Peter Kropotkin (Tolstoy called him the White Buddha), Jesus (he stuck by his mates) and the Buddha himself (who threw it all in to seek Truth).
Not forgetting Emma Goldman. A very courageous woman.

Toby
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Toby

The author talks a lot about wealth, but does not define it. How do we get, say from hunter-gatherer times, to this sort of speculation: Democracy is natural where wealth is nearly-evenly distributed. Dictatorship is natural where wealth is extremely-unevenly distributed. The latter is true because no nation can maintain a democracy if the wealth is highly unequal. If the wealth is highly equal, then the possibility for democracy to emerge is substantial. But if the wealth is highly unequal, then the possibility for democracy even to exist to any extent, is low. All of the extremely wealthy people would… Read more »

Norman Pilon
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The solution to the riddle you raise is contained in your correct identification of ‘money’ as the expression of ‘power’ in a money based society, that is to say, power as a disproportionate ‘influence’ in matters of law and order (social regulation) and the disproportionate appropriation of collectively produced goods and services by the so-called wealthy. And what is the basis of money accumulation in our society? It is ‘profit.’ And the means of extracting ‘profit’ are claims on and of property in the means of production and distribution. Consequently, to attenuate the power whose expression and substance is money,… Read more »

binra
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“And what is the basis of money accumulation in our society?” Surely sir, it is debt! The lure of profit is the carrot …but debt holds the stick. (The idea of money as piles of stuff is different from the idea of money as flow of credit which can be used to buy and sell stuff but can be induced to invested in self-inflating money scams). But even without the interjection of moneylenders the idea of debt is a deeper one than money. What you take shall be taken from you. (For you established taking as real by wanting it… Read more »

Toby
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Toby

Money and private property must be abolished for something like democracy to fully emerge. I agree with this direction with one caveat: they can’t be abolished, not lastingly anyway. In my view, something like a transparent and participatory democracy has to emerge first, whereupon money and private property would be rendered redundant. How this happens is anyone’s guess. If it’s even possible is anyone’s guess, but I believe so. The emergence of some ‘true’ democracy, if it happens, will include much struggle and effort and be a very long road, I suspect. I would love to be wrong about that.… Read more »

binra
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Perhaps you would expand a little on your use of the term democracy? I have a sense of outcomes arising from an honourable process of communication rather than coercion and deceit. And so consent is given as a sense of balance points within a wholeness that takes a step in willingness after voices have been heard that needed to speak. But not an enforced consensus. Marriage can be such a willingness through sickness and health – as an example of commitment to true communication rather than getting what we want because we want it. Everyone can sing in their own… Read more »

Toby
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Toby

Well I agree with your musings here, binra. Once I was a wide-eyed convert to Direct Democracy, nowadays I’m simply concerned with developing a mindful relationship with Other and helping Other develop a mindful relationship with me and its other Others. If you follow me. Interdependence and all that. So democracy, in my thinking and usage, is the implementation side of learning how to communicate with others who have a very different set of sensibilities to us/me. On this site, communication breakdown happens very quickly, even among people who are ostensibly in the same camp. It is experiences like this… Read more »

binra
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Thanks for your response Toby. I feel the foundation is to stay in communication within myself – ie be vigilant against division – and learn to be curious and look at it rather than react as if my reaction is in fact true. Communication is vastly more than verbal mental – as I accept it – being more of a Field than waves or particles. Regardless appearances (because I don’t tend to give time to keeping them up) I have a real appreciation for the willingness I see in anyone and everyone here – regardless I agree or not with… Read more »

binra
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Taking power as equals? The idea of power is corrupted. Ok – the idea of self is corrupted. In hiding and defending from coercive power AND in masking the use of coercive power is the mask of a persona passing off as if an actual presence. The fear and belief in powerlessness is the drive or motivation to seek power. Everyone develops different strategies to survive. All such development is in some sense of broken, failed or conflicted relationship. The enshrinement of financial and corporate powers in law is part of the way of war. War is the idea of… Read more »

Norman Pilon
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“The world may not be run by psychopaths or evil bastards but by ideas that possess the minds of us all – while we think they are our own and witnessing to our freedom.” Indeed. Until, that is, you engage in a bit of introspection. Then there arises the possibility, not always actualized, of taking possession of a thought, of formulating an insight, that you can then set on auto-pilot as an antidote to another idea or set of ideas that had possessed you unawares. In this way you can change your programming, the thinking that isn’t your own but… Read more »

binra
Reader

The ‘denied’ becomes a symbol of a suppressed wholeness. But the denier assigns wholeness to their private sense of self. Gotten from wholeness at expense of others – and seeing others and wholeness of being as threat of dispossession of such self and life. Power struggle or war is thus defined as the nature of self and life and prevailing or surviving in war the necessity or duty of such a life. War upon self is hidden in social mores and moral justifications. Who does not grow a mask (deny their true expression) to survive a world of unseeing or… Read more »

BigB
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BigB

Toby: How do we create political and economic theory in support of and emergent from a rich and subtle definition of wealth that is democratically and transparently (organically?) determined? This should be, in my view, our first task in our pursuit of the democracy we strongly appear to want. The pre-requisite is to bracket off capital accumulation (measured as GDP growth) as being in any way a determinant of wealth (except perhaps in an inverse detrimental relationship). Then also, bracket off ‘money’. Then we can have a critically conscious dialogical determination of ‘wealth’ in qualitative humanitarian values: what does it… Read more »

John G
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John G

GDP defines sales. At least try to get your terms correct. Your language is sloppy and misleading. That’s why you can’t be reasoned with in economics.

Big B
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Big B

You’re right. I should have used ”Grossly Distorted Pseudo-science’ per capita – which is a far more objective econometric. However you measure the wealth of a nation quantitatively, the mathematical modelling bears absolutely no relation to the wealth of the individual qualitatively …which is the only thing worth measuring. All metrics equate progress with growth; which is problematic. In social science, GDP has long been loosely correlated with relative ‘happiness’. Other metrics have been developed as an alternative to GDP – such as Gross National Happiness. Besides which, I wasn’t even talking about economics, which is perhaps the most violent… Read more »

John G
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John G

No. You’re just talking nonsense again.

GDP is a flow. Wealth is a stock. You can’t measure one with a unit of the other.

I can’t imagine why you bother. You don’t even seem interested in learning basic concepts.

BigB
Reader
BigB

Economics is coded ultra-violence designed to subjugate and dispossess humanity. It is the mathematicisation and statistical modelling of something that cannot be reduced to a number, a function, an equation, or flow. All I want is to analyse and emancipate our common humanity from all pseudo-scientific alpha-numeric tyrannies …but I don’t expect you to relate to that. All you seem to want to do is impose your pet tyranny on anyone who does not conform to your dictatorial terminology. Once again, sociologists often use GDP as a stand-in metric for relative happiness, whether this is correct or not brings nothing… Read more »

Toby
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Toby

I just got back from watching Spike Lee’s Blackkklansman. It was for me a very enjoyable film until the end forcibly reminds the audience just how angry people are with each other. There’s so much hate and fear between various groups. Your comment is oddly timed, for my current mood at least, with that film’s closing sequence showing footage of alive-and-well racial hatred in the US. In other words, there’s a very long way to go. If we can make it to what you suggest in your first paragraph, that would be amazing.

BigB
Reader
BigB

I guess the US would have to re-constitute as the United States of Equality: without the artificial deformity of the tyranny of the dollar pushing wealth to the coasts, and leaving the ‘rustbelt’ and hollowed out core? Then Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness would not have to migrate to find what is spiritually abundant at the core and equally distributed elsewhere? 🙂

Eric Zuesse
Reader

Yes I did define it, Toby. I defined it the way that is standardly done; and this article does it in many contexts, such as the first of the two parenthetical clauses in the sentence “If wealth-collections could vote, that would invite control over the land to be by wealth (the number of dollars) instead of by actual residents (the number of persons).” Furthermore, if you had clicked onto the word “wealth” in the sentence “That’s because, almost everywhere, wealth, and even income, is extremely unevenly distributed,” you’d have come straight to Credit Suisse’s study of the “Global Wealth Pyramid”… Read more »

John G
Reader
John G

It’s what they do. Whether intentionally or otherwise, these types are detrimental to any progressive cause.
They can’t be persuaded or reasoned with. They are the Alex Jones crowd of the left.

Toby
Reader
Toby

I’m sorry, Eric, but I don’t consider those implied and linked-to ‘definitions’ sufficient, in terms of the weighting of your piece, for what I believe is necessary in this regard. Indeed, they are not definitions as such, but borrowed or alluded-to alternatives between the opposing sides of a false dichotomy. My sense of your article is that it accepts orthodoxy on this vital concept (wealth) and builds atop it uncritically. For me, wealth, and its twin, value, are pivotal. They need a profound reexamination across the board before we can begin to develop a new way of self-governance that is… Read more »

vexarb
Reader

@rtj. Attlee and Roosevelt reduced extreme wealth without killing anyone; through income tax, wealth tax, inheritance tax and laws against capitalist conglomerates. Of course there is no Law without a Loophole, so one has to go around plugging the loopholes; but it can be done.

I once asked my physicist friend, how does one achieve a high vacuum? He replied, one just goes around plugging leaks.

vexarb
Reader

Zuesse has advanced on the classic definition of Fascism. Mussolini described it as a wedding between Coercive Power of the State and Financial Power of Capitalism; but Zuesse now says this is no wedding between two complementary parties: Financial Power is Coercive Power. Knowing nothing about finance, I rush in like a fool to suggest that our present Mammonist Age is a temporary phenomenon. All I can adduce are fragments of anecdotal evidence from history. Crassus was the richest member of the Triumverate but Caesar won the power. The wealth of Croesus was proverbial but he lost his empire in… Read more »

Eric Zuesse
Reader

“Vexarb,” you falsify when you say “Zuesse now says this is no wedding between two complementary parties: Financial Power is Coercive Power.” You ignore that I stated “Although wealth isn’t the only source of power, it is a major source of power. (It can even be the major source of power.) And power rules everywhere.” I do distinguish between “power” and “source of power.” Sloppy reading-interpreting of an article is unfortunately to be expected, but not if a person is commenting upon the article. Before a person comments upon an article, one should take advantage of whatever tools that the… Read more »

vexarb
Reader

Eric Zeusse, you are right, and I apologise. When I wrote: “Zeusse now says Financial Power is Coercive Power” I knowingly over-simplified for the sake of a cheap epigram. Of course both Crassus and Caesar are major sources of power. We live in an age where Crassus has coercive power over Caesar; I simply want to remind people that there were times when Caesar had more power than Crassus. It is conceivable that a fascist dictatorship which springs out of capitalism could turn round and devour the capitalists.

Norman Pilon
Reader

It is not conceivable that a a fascist dictatorship could turn around and devour the capitalists as a class. Because the essence of fascism is the recognition that capitalism and democracy are in fact incompatible. Political liberalism threatens only one thing: reducing the prerogatives of capital while increasing its social obligations, and it does this by giving a voice, however attenuated, to the majority in the course of its ritual ‘liberal democratic’ elections. So it is that fascism aspires to totalitarian rule when an all too politically aroused populace threatens to submerge the economics of private ownership under democratic rule,… Read more »

binra
Reader

This is a clear description of a conflicted humanity. (A conflict in the mind of humankind). Alliance or combination between those who are invested in a private sense of possession set against those are feared to dispossess them. What they ‘get’ they keep for themselves alone and use it to wield and maintain power over others and then use such others as a means to maintain their power. What if the ‘possession’ is a private sense of self at expense of sharing in the true qualities of being? It isn’t the ‘what’ of possession, but the ‘what for’ or ‘why’… Read more »

Norman Pilon
Reader

“The wish for equality blocks or hides the willing of it and becomes the ‘justification’ to pull down anyone who seems ‘more’ excepting . . .” Right. It all comes down to envy and the desire implicit in that emotion to “pull down anyone who seems ‘more’ excepting.” Where have I heard that before? Are these your thoughts, Binra, or merely ideas that have taken possession of you and now gnomically speak through you in spite of yourself? P.S.: I know you can write plainly and to the point. As a courtesy, it would be much appreciated if you did,… Read more »

binra
Reader

I always write plainly and to the point – but clearly not in terms of your expectations. That the ‘point’ is obfuscated by a world of deceits makes getting to the point a series of facets that all serve the same purpose. A purpose antithetical to that which made a mind and world of deceits running as if true. I also choose not to fit in the fast food lane of skimmed superficiality or the ‘already known’. My sense of mainstream anything is subverted, diluted and usurping. Thanks but no thanks 😉 I write out of this moment of shared… Read more »

Norman Pilon
Reader

“PS- You nearly got an extremely short response when I thought I had lost this one!”

Darn! 😉

BigB
Reader
BigB

Vex: Eric has expounded the Motion Laws of Capital, a mere 150 years after Marx’s Kapital. Not only does the inner logic of capital accumulation entail the dictatorship …it also entails the homunculus of the dictator. Capitalism is a developmental psychology as well as a political economy. The inherent logic favours the concentration of wealth, and the formation of oligarchies and oligopolies of power. From within the possessing oligarchy (selected by adaptive aggressive competition and super-accumulation) emerges the dictator: or he/she is a selected marionette of continued dispossession by violent means. Capitalism is a hierarchical power dynamic that is, from… Read more »

Toby
Reader
Toby

Well said, BigB! At risk of oversimplification, though, isn’t the core reason why capitalism won our hearts and guts and minds that it sold a better story, one that insidiously implanted a certain narrow but effective ‘definition’ of wealth into our consciousness? All that shiny gadgetry. All that convenience. All that entertainment. The more of that you have, the wealthier you are. That’s easy to understand. What’s the counter-story? Community? Is it sellable? I suspect only when the shine rubs off all those gadgets for long enough. But the distractions are endlessly self-replicating, ever present and pervasive. Ecosystem collapse seems… Read more »

Norman Pilon
Reader

“At risk of oversimplification, though, isn’t the core reason why capitalism won our hearts and guts and minds that it sold a better story, one that insidiously implanted a certain narrow but effective ‘definition’ of wealth into our consciousness?” No. Capitalism first won through three centuries of revolution that overturned the feudal era, and even today continues to impose itself by force. It wins hearts and minds, when it does win hearts and minds, by taking control of the levers of indoctrination, of mass education, by separating children from their families through compulsory schooling, by brainwashing entire generations by means… Read more »

Toby
Reader
Toby

I agree with you Norman, but disagree with your first word: “No”. I did oversimplify, but it’s impossible not to in so few words. And my comment was aimed at BigB, with whom I have had plenty of lengthy discussions, so I felt I could cut a few corners. To expand a little on my brevity: The centuries of revolution you mention were also the centuries that saw humanist thought ‘triumph’ over the medieval. I think it’s reasonable to call capitalism the economic/political vehicle best suited to humanism, particularly in its emphasis on material accumulation and hard power, force, etc.… Read more »

binra
Reader

Narrative control is the identity in story – and as such a sense of persistence in time rather than an expression or extension of the timeless. The idea of private property has echoes in me with the learning of object permanence – which is part of our learning the world as a specific framing of focus (as infants). Within the framework of associations (meanings) assigned to persons, objects and situations is a sense of self experience of such meanings accepted and believed. Mutually agreed definitions (often tacit) make the world of meanings that we then be-live as real until and… Read more »

BigB
Reader
BigB

Guys and gal: for me, the ‘story’ of capitalism is a dialectic …we, the people play our part in its creation. This is why it seems, at least, to be convincing and pervasive. It is a logical development of folk metaphysics, though by all means not the only interpretation that could come from the common consensus (folk) reality. It is a ‘story’ of consensus consciousness deformed by ideology to favour the needs of capital, over and above community or humanity …but it is as much ‘our’ story as ‘theirs’. The moral of the story is that if it is interactive,… Read more »

Maggie
Reader
Maggie

@ Norman,

Absolutely flawless post. I agree totally with everything.

binra
Reader

No other way to participate in the human experience than to imbibe enough of the conditionings to adapt and survive within it. But not everyone picks up all they are exposed to, and not everyone is as they seem to be if you were to meet them and not their defences. Consciousness is ‘evolving’ or developing AS THE sense of self AND world since it activated and ‘split’ into the subjective or imagined sense of self and world that began with gods of terror that then left us to grow history, science and technology under more abstracted philosophical gods. Yet… Read more »

vexarb
Reader

BigB, I not only hear ye (as the Scots say) but I think I’m beginning to understand you. What you say above explains why my Communist friends are also among the most humanitarian people I know. “The capitalism in our heads” is personal selfishnes mythologised, like Plutus the God of Wealth to whom some Romans presumably thought it their public duty to make sacrifces.

ultra909
Reader
ultra909

I always think that truly free markets – much like true communism or Higgs-Boson particles – never exist for long, if ever; human greed always gets in the way, as outlined above.

The basis of the current world order is oil. If you want to produce a new era free of the current empire – I would suggest inventing a new energy source that can be easily and safely distributed in people’s homes.

binra
Reader

You know that this has to not only be invented, but find acceptance. Nothing that does not support or serve the ‘thinking’ of the establishment will be accepted. Thus I see the ‘thinking’ is the framing to be illuminated and undone. Otherwise we ‘think’ we are thinking when in fact we run the same operating system or predicate idea. I have a sense that madness is self limiting and that our current straight jacket is fitting. Awakened responsibility as the undoing of a fear and guilt power dictate cannot be systemised, weaponised, marketised or made ‘identity’ upon. Hence it is… Read more »

Antonyl
Reader
Antonyl

A “free” school without any rules or supervision also results in a few school yards bullies ru(i)nning the place. Look at Nature, red in claw and tooth.
Who is promoting this apart from those same bullies? The problem is that on world scale we have only the failed UN to patrol the neighborhood legitimately: mission impossible for now. So Trump is right: enforce rules on national level.

zach
Reader
zach

With so many trillions now stashed offshore, untouchable for redistributive ends, i’d suggest our “democracies” are likely to become ever dominated by the interests of the global super rich and their heirs. Even a return to the reformist, social democracies of the postwar type now seems inconceivable.

rtj1211
Reader
rtj1211

Extreme wealth can be got rid of very easily: you simply kill all their children. Then when they die, the money is not inherited, so it has to end up somewhere else.

I am not saying go and kill all billionaires’ children, I am saying that is the cheapest way to break their hold on power.

They tell the masses to die in wars, but make sure their children avoid fighting.

So they have no moral case against wiping THEIR children out.

Of course, that could be the hard power used to break their hegemony peacefully…..

binra
Reader

That you can use ‘morality’ to sanction murder as social utility is to demonstrate no sense of self-integrity. Integrity claims no moral justification or superiority but stands in its own witness. The wish to seem to have integrity then mimics some of such behaviours. I sense that the desire and intent to murder is supportive of every such act – regardless of distance or apparent sides. Just as the belief humanity is a virus unworthy of life and a blight on the Earth fuels the hidden agenda for population control. Of course the theorist always applies his/her theory to others… Read more »