We haven’t had a “Free Market” here in the United States since 1913, with the introduction of the Federal Reserve System and the Progressive Income tax.
Since that time, America has only become increasingly Corporatist.
All that Corporatism is, is a partnership between business and government. In the past governments partnered with religion, so government laws and decrees carried the weight of “God’s commands.” THAT is the essence of all theocracies.
In the late 19th Century, while America’s economy exploded with the “Gilded Age” of Capitalism, some European nations tried some initial forays into socialism. Public or governmental control over the means of production (business and industry) and the eradication of private property. NONE of those early European attempts brought anything close to the prosperity that America had and virtually all of them ultimately failed.
Undeterred, in the early part of the 20th a number of other nations (most notably Russia, China, Germany, Thailand, etc.) experimented with socialism. In Italy Benito Mussolini, the former head of Italy’s Socialist Party was elected Prime Minister.
Both Germany and Italy saw, early on, that socialism and its government-run economy COULD NOT work and they quickly turned to Corporatism, partnering up with favored, or established businesses and industries managed via heavy regulation.
Both Italy and Germany, like FDR’s U.S. took on many massive “Public Works” projects to both increase employment and keep the economy humming.
ALL three of those nations (Germany, Italy and the USA) embarked upon similar “New Deals,” with the USA having abandoned the free market nearly 2 decades previously.
Today, most people in the West don’t even understand what socialism and capitalism are any more. Many in America call Sweden and other such European nations that have somewhat more generous welfare states, “socialist,” and call our own economy “capitalist.”
Neither is correct. Sweden is as Corporatist as is the United States. BOTH nations have relatively generous welfare states, both have relatively high tax rates and both have the private ownership of businesses and industries. Sweden has many private Corporations (Volvo, Ericcson, Astra Zeneca, etc.). Sweden is every bit as Corporatist as the United States. It merely has a somewhat more generous welfare system and higher tax rates.
Socialism exists in only a handful of nations today (Venezuela, Cuba, Haiti, Zimbabwe, to name a few). There are virtually no fully Free Market (Capitalist) countries in the world. Hong Kong has long been the freest economy in the world, but they recently took health care and made it a start-managed commodity, effectively making ALL healthcare providers government employees.
Nearly ALL the developed nations of the world today are Corporatist. In that sense, “We are ALL Corporatists now.”
In most Western nations, government is very definitely the Junior Partner in their various Corporatist partnerships.
All these poorly defined terms make understanding those who SEEM to disagree with us that much harder to understand. When well-meaning people call Corporatism in the U.S. “Capitalism” and the very SAME Corporatism in Sweden “Socialism,” there is no way to reach any understanding UNTIL both sides effectively define their terms more accurately.
In the U.S., for instance, BOTH Left and Right seem to be railing against the SAME thing without knowing it. The Left seems to focus on Corporate greed and malfeasance, under the mistaken impression that government can control the Corporate entities that OWN IT, while the Right seems to focus on the abuses of government, apparently unaware that that government is NOT controlled by the people, but by conglomerates of multi-national Corporations that dictate the policies they oppose.
The BIGGER problem is that we NEED Corporatism. While socialism has NEVER worked anywhere, true Free Market Capitalism is replete with booms and busts and extreme dislocations and uncertainties for both individuals, as well as businesses and industries. So, while much of what we rail against is the result of Corporatism, so are all the things we take for granted that make life easier and more comfortable.
Corporatism “works,” in effect, because it BOTH regulates the market and reins in governmental abuse. The problems with Corporatism are the problems inherent in ALL human systems...human nature.
Corporate entities have pushed a naïve and often misguided agenda, the primary focus being on what’s come to be called “Multiculturalism.” That is, Corporate entities find it difficult, expensive and time-consuming to have to target different markets across widely different cultures, so their solution has been, “Multiculturalism” – the blending of ALL the world’s cultures, races, etc. into one big, amorphous, beige all-consuming polyglot.
The problem is, that just as individuals differ widely so do various peoples, ethnicities, races, etc. and these differences are, in fact, important, even vital. They serve purposes that are overlooked and discounted by those who just seek to find a way to sell the most stuff to the most people.
But the tentacles of Corporatism have impacted all the policies, ALL the issues we seem to care the most about. Much of the environmentalist agenda has been Corporately directed and controlled. The idea being to restrict energy resources and effectively rationing energy via higher prices. To “BIG Energy” it’s a “Win-Win,” when in fact, it’s a HUGE “Win-Lose.” They “win” everyone else loses.
All prevailing evidence suggests that mankind’s contribution to climate change is far LESS significant than nature’s. That doesn’t suggest we should “do nothing,” but it certainly seems to suggest that we should look to defensive strategies (like higher sea walls, etc.) at least as much as we should look at more efficient forms of energy. Many “renewable” energy sources present their own problems; fuel cells give off massive amounts of water vapor, a major greenhouse gas, and batteries require a tremendous amount of existing (old fuel) energy to produce. Algae-based fuels seem to offer some real promise, but there’s seems to be no flawless system at this time.
Perhaps the BIGGEST failure of Corporatism to date has been its inability to defend itself, for it is Corporations that deliver us all the products we cherish, delivers those products seamlessly and efficiently and is largely responsible for modern 21st Century life.
We the people are guilty of demanding products, goods and services from Corporations, then balking and complaining about those entities doing exactly what they’re designed to do – to increase markets, in order to increase profits and expand those businesses.
We have, in effect, created a monster we don’t know what to do with. We can’t kill it, without killing the creature-comforts culture we’ve come to embrace in the West, but we can also see that to Corporate entities, individuals are...troubling, at the least.