Archive | August 2, 2009

Selling Out or Buying In?

I have two problems with this story.

First is its title. Walmart has consistently promoted, and benefited from, neofascist interventionism for quite a long time. Switching from one form of neofascism to another – shifting the government’s mode of intervention from slightly more indirect to slightly more direct – is not “selling out,” and so describing it pays Walmart’s past self an undeserved compliment.

Second, in any case the switch is not as recent as the phrase “after years of strenuous opposition” implies, since Walmart had already started pushing for greater government involvement in health care two and a half years ago. (CHT Peter Suderman.)

That Loony Lefty Rothbard

In a 1966 letter which has not yet been published (Peter Klein quotes from it here), Rothbard writes:

Murray RothbardFor some time I have come to the conclusion that the grave deficiency in the current output and thinking of our libertarians and “classical liberals” is an enormous blind spot when it comes to big business. There is a tendency to worship Big Business per se … and a corollary tendency to fail to realize that while big business would indeed merit praise if they won that bigness on the purely free market, that in the contemporary world of total neo-mercantilism and what is essentially a neo-fascist “corporate state,” bigness is a priori highly suspect, because Big Business most likely got that way through an intricate and decisive network of subsidies, privileges, and direct and indirect grants of monopoly protection.

Seems like a useful passage to quote to our right-Rothbardian comrades whenever they accuse us of unlibertarianly treating bigness as automatically suspect or exaggerating the neofascist nature of contemporary kapitalism.

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