Juan Cole nails the sudden popularity of anarchists like Ron Paul


Government is a set of bargains, a ‘moral economy.’ We let the government take a certain proportion of our money, and we expect it to organize services for us that would otherwise be difficult to arrange. Anyone who has studied any history and economics knows that the market is going to leave some people destitute, and you need government to correct for that imbalance. It is no accident that government was invented by irrigation-based societies like Egypt and Iraq, where if someone did not organize the peasants to do the irrigation work and keep it up, everybody would starve.

Bush has broken the US government. The US military was there to protect us. Bush has used it to fight a fascist-style aggressive war of choice. FEMA is there for emergency aid. Bush did not deploy it effectively for New Orleans. Social security lifted the elderly out of the poverty that had often been their fate before the 1930s. Bush declined to use Clinton’s surplus to fix the system, and has essentially borrowed against the pensions of us all to pay for his wars. Government is there to ensure our security. Bush has used it to spy on us, to prosecute patently innocent persons, to manipulate the media and instill us with lies and propaganda.

If government is to be conducted on Bushist principles, then who would not like to see the damn thing abolished?
I don’t think Ron Paul would have run well in 2000, after Bill Clinton had demonstrated the ways in which government could contribute to our prosperity and well-being. Indeed, it was so important for the Right to destroy Clinton precisely because he did make government relatively effective and popular.

Ron Paul’s popularity does not derive only from his opposition to the Iraq War. It derives from the sanity of the American people, who love liberty and reject Bushism. The opposite of fascism is not democracy but anarchy.

Given how horribly corporations like Walmart treat their employees, denying them the right to unionize and cleverly avoiding paying anything toward their health insurance, I have never understood why Libertarians think corporations would be nicer to us if we could not organize government protections from them. It is the government of the state of Maryland that protected workers from Walmart’s exploitation of them. Libertarian faith in the utopia that comes from the withering of the state strikes me as just as impractical as the similar Marxist theory.

But after 7 years of Bush, I don’t find it at all astonishing that large numbers of internet contributors would give Ron Paul money to campaign on getting rid of the Frankenstein’s Monster of a government that George W. Bush has been constructing in his macabre basement of a mind.



Filed under Countdown to attack on Iran, Dick Cheney: Hannibal Lector in disguise?, economics, FEMA/Homeland Security, George W. Bush: is he really THAT bad?, global warming/environment, healthcare, Iraq, Middle East, Politics, public corruption, Republican politicians: are any of them normal, Rudy Giuliani: NYC doesn't even like him

3 responses to “Juan Cole nails the sudden popularity of anarchists like Ron Paul

  1. Given how horribly corporations like Walmart treat their employees, denying them the right to unionize and cleverly avoiding paying anything toward their health insurance, I have never understood why Libertarians think corporations would be nicer to us if we could not organize government protections from them.

    The basic reason that I think workers would do much better under a Libertarian free market than they do under the half-fascist/half-socialist crippled market under which they live today is supply and demand.

    If the market was deregulated completely, the benefits to workers and consumers would be immense. Businesses would be free to make money without interference, and would thus expand in order to maximize their profits. This tremendous increase in productive activity would tend to lower prices, as more and more efficient ways were found to produce. This is the first benefit, and it accrues to every consumer — that is, every human being, as we must all consume to survive.

    The expansion of business would create huge demands for labor. Involuntary unemployment would be a thing of the past. At first, some people would probably end up working below the current minimum wage. But “full employment” would be achieved immediately. Once involuntary unemployment was eliminated, there would be only one way for businesses to hire the workers they needed. This would be to hire people who were already working for somebody else. In order to do this, businesses would have to “sweeten the deal” which the workers were receiving from their current employers, in order to motivate the workers to come work for them.

    Thus you would see a steady improvement in working conditions and wages, according to the values of the workers. Some might choose to accept less comfortable or more dangerous working conditions in return for higher pay. Others might value safety and comfort more than they valued material gain, and choose their employment on that basis. As time went on, you would see entrepreneurs accepting narrower profit margins, but they would still be making money and would have no reason to stop.

    Under a free market, in contrast to our crippled market, workers would also find it much easier to become entrepreneurs. Without regulation, which serves to restrict supply and raise the capital required to start a business, they could easily start serving customers “on a shoestring”, and accumulate capital from almost nothing as their businesses expanded. Not only would they remove themselves from the labor market by so doing, reducing the supply of labor, but they would also need to hire their own employees, increasing the demand for labor.

    The bogeyman of economic growth, according to the neoclassical school of economics, is inflation. They believe that the higher wages gained under a free market would result in higher prices, which would wipe out the gains made by wage earners. This illusion is created because most of the “booms” of economic growth that we have seen have been produced, not by improvements in productivity, but by credit expansion. This credit expansion, which is created by government central banks and by privileged private bank, creates the illusion of economic growth but also creates inflation. The neoclassical economists have mistaken two sibling effects of credit expansion, apparent economic growth and inflation, for cause and effect, with inflation causing the apparent economic growth.

    This vital error is easily belied by observing times when “wages have not kept pace with inflation”. If rising wages cause inflation, how can the effect outrace the cause?

    In short, I think that corporations, partnerships and sole proprietorships would all treat their employees better under a free market because by doing so, they would make more money. Allowing people to freely attempt to improve their own lives is the best, nay the only, way to improve the lives of the majority in the long run.

    I suppose I should include a preemptive comment on “inequality of income” while I am at it. Imagine some state A, in which I am poor (in real terms, that is buying power), and you are rich. Then consider a state B, in which my income (again in real terms) has increased, but your income has increased even more. Ask yourself what state I, as a rational person, should prefer. Regardless of whether I am poor or rich, I will prefer state B, because either way my standard of living has increased. There are a number of reasons, which require more economic reasoning than I have time to relate, to believe that a free market would be more, not less, equal than our current crippled market. But the question can be completely obviated by observing that it is irrelevant. I am concerned with improving the standard of living of the poor, not with reducing the standard of living of the rich.

    Thus inequality is a non-starter from my perspective. If you, however, value harming the rich more than aiding the poor, you might prefer a crippled market to a free one.

  2. One more preemptive comment. I have had people to whom I have related this scenario, say “that’s just trickle down economics”. They are not entirely wrong — Reaganomics did borrow from the Austrian school of economics, which I believe is the most correct school of thought on economics. Reagan, however, went too far in catering to the “supply side”, offering subsidies to businesses, taxing capital gains differently than dividends, and dividends differently than wages. This creates a different set of economic distortions than the watered down Marxist theories of the Democratic party, but it does create a set of economic distortions.

    Since free markets are “self-optimizing”, any intervention into the market, whether it is an attempt to benefit workers and harm employers, or to harm workers and benefit employers, or to harm producers and benefit consumers, or to harm consumers and benefit producers, will be a departure from that optimum which a free market will always tend to approach. Since change is constant, even a free market will never reach an optimum or equilibrium position. However, a free market will always move toward this position. Government interventions will always move the market away from this optimum.

  3. If government is to be conducted on Bushist principles, then who would not like to see the damn thing abolished?


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