Capitalism, Anarchy & War Part II
A few things to follow up on my last post with, briefly.
First, I agree with the larger critique of IOZ’s post that in fact the “system” has no intent – no grand conspiracy of the rich and powerful is driving our economy into shambles, while these conspirators escape off into the sunset with all our hard-earned cash. Yes, some people are making out like bandits, and often as not these are the very rich with the explicit aid of the politically powerful – but this is not the point, but rather the result of this sort of relationship. It is not a concerted effort so much as the natural extension of powerful forces working together with whatever intentions, some good some bad.
Regarding the notion that Somalia is representative of a stateless society, which silentbeep suggested in the comments, I’d like to outsource my response to Simon K, who writes:
There’s a difference between organisation and authority (or hierarchy or coercion, depending on the anarchist). You can have the former without the latter.
Somalia is not an example of a stateless society. Its an example of several competing proto-states in the same geographical territory.
For more on stateless societies, please do go read James C. Scott at Cato Unbound. The convergence of language and politics, of naming conventions, and the simplification of the vernacular at the hands of large bureaucratic organizations is all fascinating.
There has also been some grumbling about my supposedly overly-simplistic definition of war. I wrote:
There are only two kinds of wars: Defensive wars and wars of Plunder.
I stand by this. Jaybird pointed out that there are also wars of evangelism. I would say that these are in fact wars of material plunder masquerading as wars of spiritual plunder, but that even if they were truly wars only over souls, they would still be wars of plunder. The Crusades, for instance, were sold as spiritual wars but were very much about plundering the middle east, and on one occasion, plundering the riches of Eastern Christians in Constantinople.
The more recent invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan were billed as both spiritual wars and wars of defense, but they were billed inaccurately. These were wars of plunder as well if not for the actual plundering of resources and wealth of those countries, then the direct plundering of American tax dollars to feed the ever-hungry military-industrial complex. Who has profited from these wars? Corporations like Halliburton; countless defense contractors; and so on and so forth. I would also argue that these were strategic moves in a longer war over oil rights. They were also moves against the civil liberties of American citizens. The entire war on terror is a power grab by the state. There is plunder of one form or another everywhere I look when it comes to Iraq and Afghanistan and the war on terror writ large. (Or the war on drugs, for that matter…)
And I would also like to reprint Kevin Carson’s comment on privatization which I whole-heartedly endorse:
Re what passes for "privatization" in the AEI/Adam Smith Institute agenda, I don’t think it qualifies as privatization at all. The politically connected firms that buy out the government operations or get the contract may be nominally "private," true enough. But they are part of the coalition of class forces that control the state, and their operations are taxpayer-funded in exactly the same way as a nominally "public" entity. IMO this makes them part of the government, regardless of their nominal status as "businesses," just as the great landlords were components of the state under the Old Regime.
I agree that nominal "privatization" is worse than the straightforward performance of functions by avowed state entities. All "privatization" does is add another layer of parasites to the state apparatus, with profits and corporate-scale CEO salaries funded at taxpayer expense.
Jason followed up with:
Agreed, also in full. A public-private contract, in which a nominally private entity gets the exclusive privilege of running a certain kind of business, is not a privatization at all.
The classical liberals had a word for this setup, and the word was not privatization, but monopoly. How our language has been perverted.