Progressives, alone with nationalistic conservatives, possess a peculiar attitude about government. While they occasionally share the same grievances about government that libertarians do, their qualms with it stem from a separate belief. The solution they offer is merely adding more of the same.
At Truthdig, Chris Hedges writes in “The Post-Constitutional Era” about the Supreme Court ignoring or refusing to consider a case challenging the NDAA’s clause authorizing indefinite detention, clearly a violation of the Bill of Rights.
Yet Hedges’ conclusion is that this has come about due to corporations hijacking government and using it for their own nefarious ends. While he rightly attacks the NDAA as unconstitutional, his somehow thinks that this is because corporations have become too powerful and need to be reigned in by the State but instead has been taken over.
What could corporations do without the State? How could they force people to do anything? Unlike the State, they have no claim to the legitimate use of violence and coercion against people. When was the last time a business forced you to buy their product and not let you solicit the services of another company?
Only the government is allowed to do this. Only through the State can a company wield power and authority and the ability to coerce people. Without it, corporations rely solely on persuasion and people voluntarily buying their product.
In one of his paragraphs, Hedges writes:
The government, by ignoring the rights and needs of ordinary citizens, is jeopardizing its legitimacy.
The libertarian anarchist viewpoint, of course, is that the government has no claim to legitimacy. Instead, what is happening is that its illegitimacy is becoming more and more apparent to people who see it for what it is.
Hedges concludes with this:
It is capitalism, not government, that is the problem. The fusion of corporate and state power means that government is broken. It is little more than a protection racket for Wall Street. And it is our job to wrest government back. This will come only through the building of mass movements.
Rather, it is government, not capitalism, that is the problem. Capitalism is purely voluntary. Government is not. Capitalism does not require government, only free exchange of goods and services. Government is an entity based on violence and coercion. With the State, the connection with corporations is inevitable, as rivaling companies seek to use the State’s monopoly on violence against their competitors through regulations, licenses, no-bid contracts, ext.
Without government, there would be no NDAA. Can you imagine a business declaring it had the right to detain people without charges and hold them indefinitely? They wouldn’t because their competitors would be all too happy to make that fact known, and people would recognize that they have the right to use violence against any of the company’s employees that have come to kidnap them.
Without the State, there would be no endless wars, no information control, no War on Drugs and all the other problems Hedges and other progressives attribute to corporations. Corporations are not innocent, but they are toothless without the State. As Tom Woods has remarked, most corporations would rather see the world burn than become free market.
There are, to be sure, some progressives who understand this. Kirkpatrick Sale at the Middlebury Institute is behind the Vermont secessionist movement and has argued that decentralization is the key to solving these problems, not electing the right people to office, reforming government, or changing the manner in which it operates.
The virtue of small government is that the mistakes are small as well….If you want to leave a nation you think is corrupt, inefficient, militaristic, oppressive, repressive, but you don’t want to move to Canada or France, what do you do? Well, the way is through secession, where you could stay home and be where you want to be.
Government has always been broken. It is a fundamentally flawed system and always has been. Our job is not to wrest government back, but to do away with it. This will only come about when people cease to misdiagnose the problem and offer the correct remedy.