RE: capitalist religion (was: NANO: _Forbes_ cover story)

From: Lee Corbin (
Date: Wed Jul 18 2001 - 00:55:02 MDT

Miriam writes

> Government was originally formed (if I remember my history correctly) to
> give the population some way to control the powerful individuals (lords,
> kings, and barons) that oppressed people.

In Western Civilization, governments evolved from feudal lords
who oppressed people as badly as any government since. In
England and many other countries, royal power did not expand
to "control powerful individuals" EXCEPT as those individuals
posed a threat to royal power. English royal power in turn
oppressed many people, especially in Ireland, Scotland, and
England. The relatively mild oppression of people in the
American colonies---far less than the U.S. government's
taxes and restrictions today---brought about the first
serious, successful effort to enshrine rights and freedom
from government exploitation.

> We have a new religion taking hold around the world at the moment that
> convinces people to let the most powerful companies and individuals rule
> the planet unopposed in the name of "market forces".

This "rule" is a misnomer to the extent that companies offer people
free choices whether to buy their products or not. But I agree
that by buying off governments, and thereby using government
power and regulation, corporations share the moral blame. (The
solution, rather than to appeal to their high-mindedness or to
endlessly denounce them as interested only in themselves, is to
amputate this use of raw power by limiting the extent to which
governments control everything; thus buying off the government
would mean so much less and be much less tempting.)

> People are indoctrinated, perversely, to relinquish all control with
> faith that the invisible hand of the market will balance all things.

Free-marketeers are asking people to relinquish forcible control
through government edicts and laws in favor of market forces,
which, yes, to many people are much worse. Especially to idealists
who believe that if we can just get good, honest men and women to
run things (via central authority), then our chances will be maximized.
Opinions vary, of course, but the record seems to indicate that the more authoritarian
that societies become---i.e., the more they are under
centralized control---the worse they are.


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