Monday, June 06, 2011

Fjordman: The Birth of Capitalism

Fjordman’s latest essay has been published at Vlad Tepes. Some excerpts are below:

The Ottomans used a centralized power structure to extract a large proportion of the resources of the empire to use for military aggression, but they were successfully rebuffed by European states. The problem with an overly centralized power structure with high tax rates is that over time it will lead to economic and technological stagnation. Successful innovation requires some degree of decentralization, which could be found in regions of Western Europe with many free cities, from northern Italy via the Netherlands and Flanders in the Low Countries to England and northern Germany. This is where we encounter the development of capitalism.

The Ancient Economy: Evidence and Models, edited by J.G. Manning and Ian Morris, is a collaborative effort of various scholars on the economies of Egypt, the Near East and Greco-Roman Antiquity. The ancient world was not “capitalist” in our sense of the word. Slavery lessened incentives to develop labor-saving technology. People lacked a tradition of carrying on a sustained effort to produce a technological solution to a felt need (they had no “research-and-development” labs) and often suffered from a certain prejudice against work of the hands.

In the Greco-Roman world, wealth should preferably come from the land. Commerce was considered barely socially acceptable whereas industry was widely looked down upon. Sustained growth per capita requires sustained technological improvement. Roman economic growth was very slow because technological progress was slow — not necessarily nonexistent, but slow. There are few indications of what we might call a capitalist concept of making calculated investments in better technology in order to improve future productivity.

Western wealth began to grow with urban growth and commerce in the twelfth century and accelerated during the Renaissance into the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries with the development of a relatively autonomous class of professional merchants. Friedrich von Hayek (1899-1992), an Austrian and later British economist and philosopher, identified a new individualism provided by Christianity and the philosophy of Classical Antiquity which was developed during the Renaissance. He explains this in his classic The Road to Serfdom:

“From the commercial cities of Northern Italy the new view of life spread with commerce to the west and north, through France and the south-west of Germany to the Low Countries and the British Isles, taking firm root wherever there was no despotic political power to stifle it….During the whole of this modern period of European history the general direction of social development was one of freeing the individual from the ties which had bound him to the customary or prescribed ways in the pursuit of his ordinary activities….Perhaps the greatest result of the unchaining of individual energies was the marvellous growth of science which followed the march of individual liberty from Italy to England and beyond….Only since industrial freedom opened the path to the free use of new knowledge, only since everything could be tried — if somebody could be found to back it at his own risk — and, it should be added, as often as not from outside the authorities officially entrusted with the cultivation of learning, has science made the great strides which in the last hundred and fifty years have changed the face of the world.”

Modern economic growth has roots back to the medieval period. Initially, “the West’s achievement of autonomy stemmed from a relaxation, or a weakening, of political and religious controls, giving other departments of social life the opportunity to experiment with change. Growth is, of course, a form of change, and growth is impossible when change is not permitted. Any successful change requires a large measure of freedom to experiment. A grant of that kind of freedom costs a society’s rulers their feeling of control, as if they were conceding to others the power to determine the society’s future. The great majority of societies, past and present, have not allowed it. Nor have they escaped from poverty.

Read the rest at Vlad Tepes.

31 comments:

allat said...

You seem to be touting Capitalism, perhaps as the highest form of monetary system.

Now, common sense would tell me that there is SOMWTHING wrong with Capitalism...looking at the end results....the nuclear disaster in Japan. As well, as other "accidents" worldwide waiting to happen...as if Fukushima isn't bad enough!

It wasn't that the Ancient Rome and Greece had slaves to do the work...and remember that many of the Caesars rose from the ranks. The Roman rank soldiers DID the hard work wherever - they were the builders of the roads and forts, after all. Early Army Corp of Engineers, you could say.

Also, the work of the hands wasn't all farming, there were diverse trades and skills: smithing, weaving, cartwrights, pottery, cabinetmakers, glassmaking, architecture, etc.

And what we call, the professions: scribing, herbalists, medical doctors, pharmacists, etc.

What happened, is that these Ancient Peoples, being "Pagans," had a great respect of the land, and did not even consider overusing it. When the Romans joined themselves with the monotheistic beliefs, which claimed that a god had given them control of the land, the animals and indeed, ALL of Nature, and, of course, Humanity, that's when things started going down.

A new system came into being, where everything, in the World, was used, and never cared for, or replaced. And, certainly, there was no conservation, and no control of birth and no hygiene...because everything was left for god to do.

Which brought us to where we are now.

One of the nails in the coffin was the Industrial, where work, formerly done BY HAND, by SKILLED peoples, was taken away from them, and "given" to the machines. Thereafter, the fine care and artistry of Human Beings was left behind. The products were no longer of the same quality.

But what happened to the skilled people left jobless?

The final nail on the head of the coffin of THIS civilization was the splitting of the atom. Whereupon, some fools uncaring, unknowing released, "eternal" energy, without knowing how to harness it.

ALL for the sake of gaining more markets in Asia, for the Capitalists.

NO, I'm NOT for communism, either.
These are tswo sides of the same coin. They've been proven defective.

But, there MUST some kind of System, somewhre in the middle, beneficial to all sides.
Never centralized...rather, a local system with rotating leadership.

Or do you really think the ongoing wars, are for "freedom?"

Rollory said...

Congratulations. Essentially every single sentence in that comment contains a falsehood, most of them idiotic ones. That must have taken some work to pack together.


Capitalism is not a monetary system.

Fukushima was caused by an earthquake, not the means by which its construction was funded. There are (last I saw) no confirmed deaths due to Fukushima - unlike with the tidal wave.

Skilled trades were looked down on in Roman society _because_ they had to work.

Paganism had nothing to do with not exploiting the land; they did not do so because they lacked the ability to do so. The Noble Savage myth is false whether you apply it to Red Indians or your own ancestors.

Christianity and corporate focus on quarterly profits are not the same thing. Conservation of nature is and has always been an interest of Europeans.

My furniture is all machine made, and it is much higher quality than I could afford if I had to pay someone to make it all by hand. Not being rich should not be a crime, even if it offends your sense of artistry.

Atomic energy is the most safely harnessed energy humanity has ever found. Chernobyl was pretty much the worst imaginable nuclear accident, where everything that could possibly go wrong did. Ukraine and Belarus are still habitable. The exclusion zone is not very large. It happened exactly once. Compare to the number of people who die in coal mines each year.

Nobody gains markets in Asia. The Asians are gaining markets here. It is not capitalists taking advantage of this, but corporatists trying to cartelize against their customers.

You clearly don't understand what communism is any more than you do capitalism.

However, your comment about a non-centralized system being better is something I can agree with. I'll put it down to stopped-clockness. In conclusion, you are one of the biggest idiots ever to put fingers to keyboard.

allat said...

Rollery:

You say tomato, and I say tomatoh!

allat said...

Rollery, nee Stalin and Mao:

Frank I don't give a rat's ass, what you think.

You are one of those people that are agents provocateurs, and if you had the reins of power,would be quite willing to start a war!

Have a great day!

Lawrence said...

“the West’s achievement of autonomy stemmed from a relaxation, or a weakening, of political and religious controls, giving other departments of social life the opportunity to experiment with change. Growth is, of course, a form of change, and growth is impossible when change is not permitted. Any successful change requires a large measure of freedom to experiment.

People endeavor in areas that bring them success and net profit.

Historically, the environments that best allow people to take calculated risks offering them both hope and personal success are the environments that have grown and prospered the fastest (and the most).

Historically, overly controlling governments (and therefore heavily controlled and taxed economies) eventually implode due to a lack of the personal risk taking that leads to the success that grow economies.

What we understand as Capitalism today is a consequence of Western nations letting their people take risks and allowing those risk takers to reap the benefits of their efforts.

There is always the risk of failure, also. And in this these nations allow people to fail.

It is in allowing people to fail where socialists find fault.

A people/government seeking to control the economy and culture so that nobody can fail, they also create an environment where nobody can succeed, thereby guaranteeing that everyone will eventually fail in a rather short time.

In Europe, socialism/communism is failing. In the Americas, socialism/communism is failing.

In China, they are trying to embrace capitalist methodologies. Problem in China is that their greatest success is engaging in capitalism in the U.S. markets. Their internal socialist/communist markets are just not growing.

In the U.S., none of Obama's socialist programs are working as hoped. Every single measure of success identified by this administration reflects things continuing to worsen.

Edvrd said...

Fjordma´s essay is a good one. A few months ago I found this: God, Capitalism and You
http://www.frc.org/get.cfm?i=PL10I09

matism said...

Well said, Rollory and Lawrence.

allat, you ought to work for HuffPo or MSNBC. You'd fit right in. Keep on brewin' that fresh hot black tea, bro! It looks so quaint dribblin' down your chin like that...

Hesperado said...

"Friedrich von Hayek (1899-1992), an Austrian and later British economist and philosopher, identified a new individualism provided by Christianity..."

Then there's the whole "the Reformation caused Capitalism" hypothesis that was quite trendy for a few decades. I haven't kept up with the field in the past 20 years, so I don't know if major revisions and/or refutations have been made to it.

For those who don't need Academic experts to tell them what is plain as the nose on their face, just look at the only civilizational region that developed Capitalism, Science and Technology on levels of sophistication and in monumental degrees that have excelled the efforts of all other societies so mind-bogglingly astronomically: the West. It would thus be exceedingly odd not to credit at least one, if not all, of the four pillars of Western Civilization (Judaeo-Christian Graeco-Roman) as unique contributory factors in the equation.

Whether one permutation of those pillars (viz., the Reformation) was singularly contributory may have more to do with a symptom, rather than a cause, of a deeper broader development already underway.

Blogger said...

Allat, capitalism has brought millions of people out of poverty in a very short space of time, that no other system has been able to do. Of course, that fact, which you can research for yourself, does not sit well with those who like to think all evils in the world are due to "the rich".

To be honest with you, I also thought exactly this way until about 10 years ago when I realised how false and naive my beliefs about capitalism were. I was actually devastated to learn that it wasn't the "bad rich" versus the "good poor" after all. But the facts were just too hard to ignore. If you want to end poverty, support capitalism.

Sagunto said...

Hesperado -

The infamous Weber-thesis was immediately disproved in a detailed revision of some of his empirical work, by one of his own students. More in general this hypothesis has been disproved by numerous eminent scholars in the field of economic history, most notably Joseph Schumpeter and Fernand Braudel. They pointed out the simple fact that capitalism had been in place in Europe well before the advent of the so-called Reformation. In short: the Weber thesis is a historical myth.

If anything, reformist protestantism, especially that of the Calvinist variety, signalled a departure, sometimes quite radical, from free market philosophy, towards mercantilism in general and proto-communist collectivism in the case of the Dutch Anabaptists who terrorized the city of Münster (analysed by Murray Rothbard in his 2volume "History of Economic Thought before Adam Smith").
The example of Adam Smith himself provides a problem for those who wish to depict him as a classical liberal economic thinker, which he evidently was not (see his indeptness to mercantilism, and a labour theory of value, in Wealth of Nations, for instance). This was partly ascribed by some scholars to his Calvinist background.

Furthermore, if you study some the historical writings of the Calvinist activists in the Low Countries during the reformation, you will find out pretty soon that they were utterly opposed to free trade, as they zealously agitated against all sorts of freedoms.

Kind regs from Amsterdam,
Sag.

Blogger said...

I highly recommend the book: The Victory of Reason
by Rodney Stark

Hesperado said...

That's odd; over 2 hours ago I posted a brief comment in response to Blogger's. Usually, limbo comments don't take that long to finally appear.

Anyway, what I said was that Blogger's post to Allat was good except for the last line about Capitalism putting an "end" to poverty.

I then quoted George Will, who with his characteristically acerbic pertinence, noted that "Capitalism requires a certain amount of suffering" (or, to put it more bluntly, "collateral damage" among Mankind). While Capitalism is the best system in history for ameliorating poverty (and other social problems), let's not lurch utopian.

I also rounded off my response with another quotable figure, who reminded his followers with this valedictory about the necessity for living in the tension of History awaiting an unknown, and unknowable, end to its Hesiodian ills:

The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me.

-- Mark 14:7

Hesperado said...

Sagunto,

If Weber actually proposed that the Reformation caused Capitalism, then he deserved to be refuted by a pupil. I doubt, however, that he was that simple-minded; or that he was unaware of "the simple fact that capitalism had been in place in Europe well before the advent of the so-called Reformation" -- if, by "capitalism" we are not denoting some static essence that does not go through the kinds of evolution all sociocultural phenomena do, but is purported to have been the same in the 14th century, say, as it turned out to become in the 19th.

At any rate, these all involve historiographical hypotheses, and cannot be refuted like mistaken notions about gravity or thermodynamics. One historian, or school, proposes one theory about massively complex historico-social processes; another comes along to offer critiques; others come along to adjudicate among the two or propose a third model; and so on.

In addition, often complex historical processes manifest paradoxical dynamics. Just because some Reformation thinkers were opposed to ostensibly Capitalist mechanisms doesn't mean that the underlying changes their movement wrought did not facilitate the ongoing crystallization of Capitalism.

Apparently, one dynamic afoot in this regard was the overarching dissolution, or reconfiguration of the West from one structured more by theocratic and royalist administration to a new system already fermenting, so to speak, prior to its distillation later. The Reformation in this context was both a catalyst for acceleration, as it was a symptom of the process already underway.

Henrik R Clausen said...

Capitalism is not a monetary system.

Now, isn't that an important statement!

The greatest threat to Capitalism comes not from the Antifa, not from the Communists, not from the Islamists, nor from the Greens.

It comes from the dishonest implementation of point 5 of Marx' original 10 demands from 1848:

Centralisation of credit in the hands of the State, by means of a national bank with State capital and an exclusive monopoly.

Capitalism is not the problem, it's the cure.

Blogger said...

sorry you lost your post Hesperado. I like the "collatoral damage" metaphor :-)

Sagunto said...

Hesperado -

"In addition, often complex historical processes manifest paradoxical dynamics. Just because some Reformation thinkers were opposed to ostensibly Capitalist mechanisms doesn't mean that the underlying changes their movement wrought did not facilitate the ongoing crystallization of Capitalism."

The underlying nucleus of thought in the Reformation perspective on life and labor, was that one is rewarded for hard work with riches and that poverty is punishment for whatever sin. Reformation thinkers all adhere to a "labour theory of value", a telling sign of anti-free market thought, most notably among their later successors, Adam Smith, who was so influenced by his Calvinism that it comes as no surprise that Murray N. Rothbard wrote the following:

"If Smith was not the creator of economic theory, neither was he the founder of laissez-faire in political economy. Not only were the scholastics analysts of, and believers in, the free market and critics of government intervention; but the French and Italian economists of the eighteenth century were even more laissez-faire-oriented than Smith, who introduced numerous waffles and qualifications into what had been, in the hands of Turgot and others, an almost pure championing of laissez-faire. It turns out that, rather than someone who should be venerated as creator of modern economics or of laissez-faire, Smith was closer to the picture portrayed by Paul Douglas in the 1926 Chicago commemoration of the Wealth of Nations: a necessary precursor of Karl Marx."

Btw, have you read the book by Weber yourself? His thesis has been amplified to the simple "reformation cause of capitalism", for sure, but when you actually read the work this is not surprising. His thesis has been refuted and I wonder why it was ever taken seriously at all.

Furthermore, I'd like to add that the unqualified use of the label "theocratic" doesn't do your historical narrative any good, as far as I'm concerned.

Lastly, you might want to revisit Eric Voegelin, more specifically his 5th lecture on the "Gnostic Revolution: the Puritan Case", for a deeper appreciation of the Calvinist mentality.

Eric Voegelin: "The New Science of Politics", (1952).

Lawrence said...

Hesperado said... "Then there's the whole "the Reformation caused Capitalism" hypothesis that was quite trendy for a few decades."

At the time Jesus lived, Rome (and the rest of the known world) placed higher human value on some people and no value on others. Some treated specail, and the other as slaves, for a variety of reasons.

Christianity challenged these ideologies through the idea of the equality of an individual's value as a person. For both men and women, and children as well. Not always perfectly in practice, but certainly in ideology.

What the Reformation brought was individual independence.

Individual equality and independence leads to a cultural respect for each other which leads to respect for the success of each other, and support for defending each other's fairly gotten gains. Even when those gains are not exactly equal.

This is the cultural ideologies that Capitalism is based on, when operated in a "fair" market with appropriate legal constraints.

Capitalism could be bad, and has at times, when monopolies are created and the wealth ends up in the hands of a few elites. But that is where laws come in to keep things somewhat fair.

Socialism on the other hand creates an elite leadership that dictates the spreading of wealth. Well, spreding of wealth after the elite leadership first takes what they deem is their share. But when the elites get to determine what is their's first, and what is ours second, and what the laws will be in context, all this breeds is corruption.

Sagunto said...

Lawrence -

"What the Reformation brought was individual independence.

Individual equality and independence leads to a cultural respect for each other which leads to respect for the success of each other, and support for defending each other's fairly gotten gains. Even when those gains are not exactly equal."


So, consequently, the Reformation led to "cultural respect" and all. That's quite a rosy picture of this revolution, not entirely in accord with recent historical research.

Allow me to provide the other side of the Calvinist coin:

- Massive, widespread destruction of art (think Buddha of Bamiyan destruction by Taliban).

- Religious minimalism; mind numbing literalism; life-style extremely devoid of creativity; morbid doctrine of predestination; denial of free will, destruction of all Desiderius Erasmus had tought Europe about the subject.

- Persecution and killing of Catholic civilians and clergy (notable "incident", the 19 Martyrs of Gorkum" in Holland), followed by hundreds of years of forced dhimmitude as second-class civilians.

- Agitation against free trade, road to mercantilism.

- Denigration of the poor (poverty is punishment) and a move away from the virtue of personally caring for the poor. Replacement of that task by state institutions. Relegation of these people to the outskirts of society. No more beggars at the church.

- Large scale, intensive campaigns against folklore and all kinds of ancient habits that had survived because of the deliberate strategy by the Catholic Church to sometimes adopt and embrace some of this folksy culture, often relics from Roman Antiquity, and turn a blind eye on most of it. Protestantism launched some kind of a "civilizational war" against these "papist superstitions", leading to cultural impoverishment.

- Robbing and looting of monestaries, usurpation and desecration of churches.

- Inter-sectarian civil wars among protestants.

- Ethic of hard labor, leading to abolishment of traditional feast days, and thus significantly less ehm.. "holy days" ;-)

And what's more, the more "enthousiastic", extreme varieties of Calvinism provided a glimpse of future Communism on a micro-scale, sectarian level. That much is argued convincingly by a great number of economists and economic historians, like Murray Rothbard, Joseph Schumpeter, Alejandro Chafuen and Emil Kauder.

But apart from this shortlist of less rosy features of the Reformation, sure, respect equality and freedom for all, thanks to Martin Luther and Jean Calvin. One the most rabid anti-Semite of his day and beyond, the other - after his Geneva powergrab - a fitting role model for totalitarian dictators.

Kind regs from Amsterdam,
Sag.

Hesperado said...

Sagunto,

Once we add a list of the misdeeds of various Catholics in history to your catalogue of Protestant excesses (no doubt both adumbrations leaning a tad off to their respectively tendentious hyperbole), we have the perfect recipe for a major Ego Quoque from which we can save ourselves (in order to distinguish ourselves favorably from Muslims), it seems, only through recourse to the meme of "post-Christian" progress.

Henrik R Clausen said...

Capitalism could be bad, and has at times, when monopolies are created and the wealth ends up in the hands of a few elites.

Actually that happens mainly when the State grants a monopoly, one way or another. We currently have this situation in the monetary system, much to the harm of pretty much everyone.

Hesperado said...

"Actually that happens mainly when the State grants a monopoly..."

By "grants", you mean the State refrains from intervening to force a monopoly from ceasing to be so successful through the free market in which it has monopolized its business?

Sagunto said...

Some wordplay going on here.

In general, a company that has "monopolized" its business by being successful in a free market is something quite different from a monopoly that is not reflective of being rewarded by costumers but represents political entrepreneurship.

And before calling upon the myth of so-called "predatory pricing" (the process allegedly responsible of driving the competition out of business), that is no more than a popular myth.

Sag.

Lawrence said...

Sagunto said... "Allow me to provide the other side of the Calvinist coin:"

True, yet Calvin represents only one slice of the Reformation pie.

The reformation was in full swing by the time Calvin entered the picture, and while Calvin heavily influenced the English speaking aspects of the reformation, the non-English speaking reformation was driven primarily by Luther's teachings (which don't match up exactly with Calvin's).

In the U.S. we've created a third major ideology, driving by Baptist teachings, that don't match up exactly with either Calvin or Luther.

As far as destruction of false idols and ideologies, I'm all for that.

In this particular instance, I'm all for the defeat of Islamic ideologies and destruction of their symbolisms.

We have to be careful, however, than we don't paint with to wide a brush and cause defeat and destruction of everything we disagree with.

In the end, people taking things to far in their zeal does not mean the initial ideologies are wrong. It just means the people strayed off course. And it is okay to point that out.

In the case of Islam, we also want to say (from a Western mindset) that Radical Islam is taking Jihad to far when it comes to murdering and enslaving people. Unfortunately, murder and enslavement is part of their theology, not a radicalization of it.

Radicalization of Christian theology is not part of the theology of the Reformation, nor the theology of post-Reformation Christianity.

This all applies to this discussion because the Christian ideologies of equality and independence allow a fair free-market capitalist economy to prosper. (These ideologies also allow secular culture and religious culture to coexist, which is another interesting discussion topic.)

This is opposed to other oppressive and/or non-Christian cultures which throttle their economies and cultural development. Islamic culture is one of those oppressive cultures that throttles it's own economies seeking instead to grow through conquest and pillage rather than individual achievement.

xlbrl said...

Richard Tawney-
Puritanism was the schoolmaster of the English middle classes. It heightened their virtues, sanctified, without eradicating, their convenient vices, and gave them and inexpungable assurance that, behind virtues and vices alike, stood the majestic and inexorable laws of an omnipotent Providence, without whose foreknowledge not a hammer could beat upon the forge, not a figure could be added to the ledger.

In Hoc Signo Vinces† said...

Capitalism is the corruption of the free market by coercion, command and compulsion. Capitalism literally seizes the mechanisms of the market, despotism and helotism are the ultimate outcomes.

Lawrence said...

In Hoc Signo Vinces† said... "Capitalism is the corruption of the free market by coercion, command and compulsion. Capitalism literally seizes the mechanisms of the market, despotism and helotism are the ultimate outcomes."

Except that one cannot coerce, command, or compel a "free" market.

Coercion can only come from a position of dictatorial authority that limits the "free" aspects of the market.

So, I for one, completely disagree with your statement above.

Lawrence said...

Capitalism doesn't control markets, people do. So, what coerces, commands, or compels a market is the government that people put in charge.

A dictatorial government that restricts freedom of the economy can't breed free-market Capitalism.

The only way free-markets of any kind prosper (including Capitalism) comes about under the leadership of a fair and open government with limited government involvement in the people's private commerce.

Other than a pure democratic government functioning totally at the whim of the populace, the best type of government to place in charge of a free-market economy is a Federal Republic.

The worst type of government to try and foster free-market growth is a socialist/communist one, since they generally strive to dictate the major aspect of the economy, and strive to control and distribute the economic wealth in ways that discourage individual risk taking.

Sagunto said...

IHSV -

I can see where you're coming from, and though the perspective you provide might seem confusing at first (since many still equate the two), it may nevertheless serve as a useful explanation as to why many who embrace capitalism to some extent, still passionately reject free market philosophy.

One notable example: Karl Marx wasn't "opposed" to capitalism, quite the contrary, he considered it to be some kind of midwife to help bring about the inevitable advent of socialism (and the end of history).

Take care,
Sag.

Hesperado said...

A couple of not-so-random thoughts, apropos of some of the above:

* Marx did oppose Capitalism, but he believed that Capitalism would destroy itself by its own evil it causes to Mankind, leading to the next stage of history when Mankind becomes post-Capitalist. Marx may only be said to "not oppose" Capitalism in the sense that he may not have advocated concrete opposition to Capitalism as a way to undo it, as his vision of historical inevitability would take care of that. However, that inevitability would necessarily involve millions of people around the world taking up arms and fighting bloody revolutions against the Capitalist order. They would do so, Marx was convinced, because more and more people would wake up to the evil of Capitalism. I also don't doubt that Marx would have been averse to nudging that inevitability along with some helpful pushes here and there. It thus seems a quibbling fine distinction to say Marx "did not oppose" Capitalism.

* On a not unrelated note, I found this interesting quote from Caroline Fourest, the French journalist and sociologist who though she is strongly flavored with PC MC (if not outright Leftist) sensibilities, nevertheless is distinguished by her detailed critiques of Tariq Ramadan. This quote concerns her take on Marine Le Pen and her party, who apparently tout themselves as, so to speak, "Le Pen Lites":

They are anti-globalisers, and even appear anti-capitalist (drawing imagery from the left). This side of the ‘revolutionary’ right remains linked to an idea of a fight against those conspiring ’behind’ globalisation – guess who.

The phenomenon of anti-globalism, and how it attracts into bed together the odd bedfellows of Leftists and the far Right, I find interesting. Particularly amusing about it, to me, is the historical amnesia one has to assume to forget that the Western economy has been "globalist" for at least 2,500 years (even if for the first rough half of that epoch the "globe" (viz., the "Ecumene") was quantitatively more delimited than it became during the second rough half.

Sean O'Brian said...

Particularly amusing about it, to me, is the historical amnesia one has to assume to forget that the Western economy has been "globalist" for at least 2,500 years

Yeah, a real side-splitter.

Sagunto said...

Hesperado -

A fine distinction indeed, drawn by quite a few scholars of economic history. Of course Marx firmly opposed the free market. That was my point in reply to IHSV: all kinds of political philosophers, activists and what have you, didn't fully oppose "capitalism", understood as what we'd call State Sponsored Enterprise today, i.e. big business in bed with the State. Marx thought his particular "capitalism" to be essential as a precursor for the advent of communism. Mill played his part to restyle classical liberalism beyond recognition with the attributes that only betrayed the free market, not state sponsored "capitalism".
Voegelin said about Mill's beliefs:

"[..] one should not deny the immanent consistency and honesty of this transition from liberalism to communism; if liberalism is understood as the immanent salvation of man and society, communism certainly is its most radical expression. It is an evolution that was already anticipated by John Stuart Mill's faith in the ultimate advent of communism for mankind."

The big corporate "capitalist" targets of anti-globalists are more often than not deeply involved with big welfare state government, representing political rather than free market entrepreneurship. In short, what we see is socialists (anti-glob) vs progressives (corporations), i.e. just another instance of leftist infighting, honouring the adage that nothing beats a good sibling row. What everyone despises on these supposedly opposing sides, is freedom (from state intervention) and a free market economy.

Sag.