The left- and here I use the term to mean the mainstream left, for instance the Labour party, other Fabians, including some of the “harder left” varieties, arguably up to the Leninists, rather than any wider definition of the term- have long attempted to establish themselves as opponents of the corporate capitalist economy, and for equality, fairness, and so on. I think, on the other hand, they they are entirely characteristic of the corporate State, and are in fact allies of the conservatives that they despise so much, the political expediency of maintaining an appearance of hostility notwithstanding.
There are a number of features of the modern economy that act as the basis for ensuring that there are a certain few who always come out on top- those in political power, and those lucky enough to be in the corporate elite. They’re effectively a modernised and expanded version of what Benjamin Tucker called the four monopolies.
Firstly, the money monopoly. That is, the ability of the State to declare only their form of credit as legally acceptable. Excepting those who seek the abolition of money entirely, the left have no intentions of removing this fundamental barrier of free exchange, and in fact go to great lengths to defend it. Although I am no fan of the gold standard, their reluctance to even tolerate any releasing of the control of money from State hands demonstrates just how committed they are to State monopoly on credit.
Secondly, Tucker listed “the land monopoly”- the issuing of absentee rights to land. Not to mention the vast closing off of previously public lands in the enclosure- and so on. This is one area where the left almost begin to make some sort of progress towards libertarian values, in their slightly-less-than-the-right-has levels of tolerance for private ownership of land. But, they more often than not end up going entirely the wrong way in defending the “nationalisation” of land, rather than genuine public ownership. They thus reinforce and maintain the legal privileges that prevent people from obtaining the land necessary to provide for themselves, be it through farming, businesses, or whatever.
Third on Tucker’s list was the tariff; I’m going to extend this to not just economic protectionism, but regulatory cartelization, in the Rothbardian style. The Left have bought into the “virtues” of this process hook, line, and sinker; do you know of any other force in mainstream politics more in favour of the constant regulation, and re-regulation of industry in all its forms? The left believes strongly in a benevolent regulatory state. The right does too, free market rhetoric aside- in fact, the right commits all these sins as well- but we already knew the conservative right were shills for the corporate State. The result of the regulatory State we are so indebted to the left for creating is an economy in which entering into business for oneself is much harder, or more expensive, or in need of licenses etc than they would be in a freed market. As such, most people have little choice but to turn to (I apologise to my Misesian friends for using the term as a pejorative here) a capitalist for work- made all the more harder, of course, by the State’s monopoly credit.
The last monopoly that Tucker wrote about was the patent monopoly. I extend this to include copyright also, and to a degree, trade secrets legislation, trademarks, etc. Although the damaging effects of the IP regime have been well documented, and not just by the wider libertarian movement (although we do it superbly), I have yet to see from the mainstream left a credible opposition to the intellectual property regime. After all, the Digital Economy Act was debated and given royal assent while we were still under a Labour government. The left have no answer to the subtle regulatory and inhibitive effects of the IP regime, and are in fact entirely on the side of the “Copyright fascists”.
Tucker did not write about the effects of transport cost subsidies. Carson, however has, and I agree with him that the effective subsidising of transportation costs makes “big box” retailers artificially more economical than local business. Not that roads are bad; but they should be paid for by those who use them- meaning Tesco, Wal Mart, etc, should, were there any justice in the world, be receiving some quite large bills for unpaid damage to “public” roads. Again- the mainstream left remain silent, preferring to allow the already entrenched advantages to continue unabated.
The obvious common theme in all five of these is that the left have no solution to them. They either disregard, or actively support- or, worse, are the biggest advocates of- the foundations of the corporate economy, which in their minds they are the opponent of. Despite this, they aren’t allowing themselves to see the sheer reckless stupidity of maintaining a Status Quo so firmly against their adopted values, instead opting to become the vanguards of the very thing most of them probably entered politics hoping to change.
Most people have some internal contradictions in their world view, simply because it’s near impossible to keep track of one’s on views on everything. The modern left, however, are one of the few ideologies I know of which attempts to base its entire world view on both eating their cake and having it too.