The revolution of the 1960s has been described as a failure for anarcho-libertarian laisez-faire capitalism; the old forms emerged, authoritarian, corporatist central Statism looked like it had won. I'm not so sure. Just as John the Baptist emerged "to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord" so the 1960s set out out the agenda for a future political change; the Baptist was not the Messiah, nor the 60s the Revolution. Hess was remarkably prescient in a number of areas; on corporatism:-
Big business in America today and for some years has been openly at war with competition and, thus, at war with laissez-faire capitalism. Big business supports a form of state capitalism in which government and big business act as partners. Criticism of this statist bent of big business comes more often from the left than from the right these days, and this is another factor making it difficult to tell the players apart. John Kenneth Galbraith, for instance, has most recently taken big business to task for its anticompetitive mentality. The right, meantime, blissfully defends big business as though it had not, in fact, become just the sort of bureaucratic, authoritarian force that rightists reflexively attack when it is governmental.
The left's attack on corporate capitalism is, when examined, an attack on economic forms possible only in collusion between authoritarian government and bureaucratized, nonentrepreneurial business. It is unfortunate that many New Leftists are so uncritical as to accept this premise as indicating that all forms of capitalism are bad, so that full state ownership is the only alternative. This thinking has its mirror image on the right.And this remarkable observation on Watts that could equally well apply to London 2011-
Riots in modern America must be broken down into component parts. They are not all simple looting and violence against life and property. They are also directed against the prevailing violence of the state — the sort of ongoing civic violence that permits regular police supervision of everyday life in some neighborhoods, the rules and regulations that inhibit absolutely free trading, the public schools that serve the visions of bureaucracy rather than the varieties of individual people. There is violence also by those who simply want to shoot their way into political power otherwise denied them. Conservatives seem to think that greater state police power is the answer. Liberals seem to think that more preferential state welfare power is the answer. Power, power, power.
Except for ordinary looters — for whom the answer must be to stop them as you would any other thief — the real answer to rioting must lie elsewhere. It must lie in the abandonment, not the extension, of state power — state power that oppresses people, state power that tempts people. To cite one strong example: The white stores in many black neighborhoods, which are said to cause such dissatisfaction and envy, have a special unrealized advantage thanks to state power. In a very poor neighborhood there may be many with the natural ability to open a retail store, but it is much less likely that these people would also have the ability to meet all the state and city regulations, governing everything from cleanliness to bookkeeping, which very often comprise the marginal difference between going into business or staying out. In a real laissez-faire society, the local entrepreneur, with whom the neighbors might prefer to deal, could go openly into business — selling marijuana, whiskey, numbers, slips, books, food or medical advice from the trunk of his car. He could forget about ledgers, forms and reports and simply get on with the business of business, rather than the business of bureaucracy. Allowing ghetto dwellers to compete on their own terms, rather than someone else's, should prove a more satisfying and practical solution to ghetto problems than either rampages or restrictions.Don't expect changes to be sudden or dramatic. Look at how things are changing in Greece, in which the reaction of the people to the overbearing intrusion of the State is simply to eschew the State, finding ways of trading and exchanging that avoid tax, and simply ignoring the abjurations of the State. Remember that the exercise of all authority must be consensual as it applies to the majority; coercive authority can only be exercised upon a deviant minority. Once the majority reject the authority of the State, it's as dead as a Dodo, a hollow vessel, a paper tiger.
Let's hope the UK meets the challenge creatively not destructfully, and that in all the mess we don't forget the works of mercy and our obligations to each other.