(Carson 2008) Iron fist

Carson, Kevin A. The iron fist behind the invisible hand: corporate capitalism as a state-guaranteed system of privilege. Invisible Molotov; 2008 Jun 5. Available from: http://invisiblemolotov.wordpress.com/2008/06/05/the-iron-fist-behind-the-invisible-hand/ [PDF for booklet printing]. Accessed 2012 Nov 15. Archived by WebCite at http://www.webcitation.org/6CBkndRZJ. Earlier version (2002 Jan) available as HTML from: http://www.mutualist.org/id4.html. Accessed 2012 Nov 29. Archived by WebCite at http://www.webcitation.org/6CYQQGdnW.

Conservative, liberal, and radical analyses of corporate capitalism, divergent as they are, generally agree that it is a robust, autonomous, and self-sustaining institution that can be destroyed (or even significantly altered), if at all, only by drastic exertion of state power, although Marxism does concede that an initial “primitive accumulation” of capital by violent means was required to get the process of capitalist accumulation started. The robustness of corporate capitalism is usually thought to be founded on its superior efficiency when compared to other modes of production.

Carson advances a contrasting left-libertarian analysis according to which corporate capitalism is actually less efficient than small-scale, decentralized, local modes of production, and thus would not be viable without continual ongoing subsidy and support from the state, requiring extensive use of the state’s monopoly on violence. Even more than Marxist approaches, Carson emphasizes the importance of primitive accumulation, which he calls (here and elsewhere) “The subsidy of history”, in reducing the masses (mainly by violent expropriation of land) to such a state of impoverished desperation that they would accept low-paid factory wage labor. But capitalism is also sustained by a number of other, ongoing subsidies:

  • Artificially high interest rates, low inflation, and high rates of unemployment, maintained by a monopolistic, state-controlled centralized banking system;
  • State-granted intellectual privilege (IP) monopolies (patents and copyrights), often on discoveries made at public expense;
  • Publicly subsidized infrastructure projects, especially long-distance transportation systems, which are the real source of many false economies of scale;
  • Military Keynesianism, which creates markets for otherwise useless big-ticket items;
  • Research and development subsidies, especially for energy technologies;
  • Direct tax breaks to business, which are almost as large as total corporate profits;
  • Government use of police and spy agencies to suppress political dissent that threatens the interests of business.

Carson concludes that the Marxist attempt to undermine capital in order to eliminate the state has it backwards. Capital depends on the state, not the other way around, and anarchism is the key to the overthrow of capitalism.



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