Monday, July 23, 2012

Order and state power

The Star Wars prequels, whatever their failings in other respects, dramatise the corporatist dynamic rather well. Their central plot concerns a civil war between two factions — one the central galactic government led by Chancellor Palpatine, and the other a collection of corporate interests (the Trade Federation, the Commerce Guild, the Banking Clan) led by Count Dooku. But while Palpatine’s and Dooku’s interests are by no means harmonious (each attempts to stab the other in the back, and one eventually succeeds), they are actually in collusion with each other for the most part, and the civil war is largely a hoax whereby each partner seeks to aggrandise his own side, and thereby the partnership as a whole, by portraying the other partner as a bogey (as when Palpatine invokes the need to defend the Republic against Dooku’s pseudo-rebellion as an excuse for claiming expanded powers for himself).

But the Palpatine-Dooku partnership is a conspiracy; and to the extent that the libertarian analysis of corporatism resembles the plot of the Star Wars prequels, it might thus seem to be a conspiracy theory, which is surely the opposite of an analysis in terms of invisible-hand mechanisms. Or even if “conspiracy” is not quite the right word (since conspiracy implies secrecy, while much of the collusion between the governmental and corporate elites is done quite in the open, as for example in the case of corporate interests’ publicly lobbying and campaigning for the supposedly anti-big-business regulations of the Progressive Era), still it may be wondered what role there could be for spontaneous order in libertarian class analysis.
Invisible Hands and Incantations: The Mystification of State Power

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