Column on State Fundamentalism

State Fundamentalism

Tibor R. Machan

True,
the idea came to me after having read many of Paul Krugman’s missives,
both his columns in The New York Times and essays in such magazines as
The New York Review of Books.  In his often very polemical writings–for
a Nobel Laureate he does seem to indulge in polemics more than do most other
academics–he nearly always makes reference to market fundamentalism or
market fundamentalists, alleging in the process that here in these
United States free market capitalism is widely preferred among those
thinking about economics and public policy. And that the free market is the status quot!  It is all a crock but everyone
has the right to speak his or her mind and that’s so even if one has but
a small one.

In
point of fact, in American there is probably much more a state
fundamentalism afoot than any respect for the free market system. From
labor to business, from farming to the sciences, from the arts to nearly
every level of education professionals are always clamoring for the
state, for government, to step in a fix and even run things.  Yes, this is very true
of business–major corporations are the country’s most eager welfare
clients.  Subsidies for this and that, protectionism here, price
supports there; there simply is no end to how readily all these elements
of our society rush to Congress or the President–or some political
body at the local and state levels–so as to bring about health (or at least security)
for their industry or firm.  

Now,
of course, this is just the nature of a mixed economy, which America
is, as are all the Western developed countries.  Except that no one ever
makes the claim that Germany, France, Great Britain, or Australia is in the grip of market fundamentalism, which they
are definitely not; but neither is the U. S. Yet the claim is made in
many corners, including especially in the American academy.  And the
motivation for this transparent enough. 


Although America’s economy is
far from capitalist and American academics, even quite a few economists,
are far from convinced that capitalism is a sound political economic
system, the foes of capitalism are always worried that capitalism could
break out all over in America, especially when the mixed economy has
been the massive failure no one can reasonably deny. Under such
circumstances foes of capitalism, people who love a controlled economy
and would gladly do the controlling themselves, must find some way to
make sure no one actually blames the mixed system for the failures, let
alone those elements of the mixture that are anything but
capitalist–e.g., the federal reserve system, the massive regulatory
apparatus, the innumerable government officials charged to mange the
economy (often actually called "czars"!).  So why not do the old fashioned
thing and mount a defense of statism by leading an attack on capitalism, the only innocent party to the fiasco.

These
folks, let’s be clear about it, are state fundamentalists.  They love
government being in charge of the economy, and they are clearly hoping
for a hand in this assignment.  The more control the government has over
the system, the more their Keynesian plans can be put into effect.  As
Keynes himself made clear, under a system of central planning, Keynesian
measure are easy to implement: "
[T]he
theory of aggregated production, which is the point of the following
book, nevertheless can be much easier adapted to the conditions of a
totalitarian state [einestotalen Staates] than the theory of production
and distribution of a given production put forth under conditions of
free competition and a large degree of laissez-faire."  So why not nudge
American toward totalitarianism and then implement the policies
recommended by such Keynesians as Professor Krugman?  Seems like it is
reasonable to assume that this is a game plan of the state
fundamentalists.

Bottom
line: No market fundamentalism anywhere in sight here but plenty of state
fundamentalism is in evidence.  And unless the state fundamentalists’ fraudulent
attacks on free market capitalism are promptly refuted, they may indeed
pull off their scam and use the current problems which are the result of
the mixed economy to advance their radical statist objectives. (BTW,
Keynes himself was not a committed statist–he promoted statist measures
only for the short run, unlike many of his epigone.)

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