The Not So Free-Market Economy

 

Edward G. Ryan, the chief justice of Wisconsin’s Supreme Court, warned the graduating class of the state university in 1873: “The question will arise, and arise in your day, though perhaps not fully in mine, ‘Which shall rule – wealth or man; which shall lead – money or intellect; who shall fill public stations – educated and patriotic free men, or the feudal serfs of corporate capital?’”

One of my favorite Dr. Seuss books is The Lorax. Perhaps is because with eloquent subtly he uses personification to illustrate the danger of corporate greed upon both the environment and human beings. The beauty of the story concerns how the choices we make impact everyone around us. The idea of the inter-connectedness of mankind is a congenial thought when talking about world peace, but runs into difficulties when we talk about the economic well-being of others. The current plight of American economics is one that is rigged and riddled with greed while the idea of freedom morphs into a chimera. So this begs the question: is the Lorax of today the 2007-2008 crash and the continued economic exploitation of our plutocratic government? And more importantly, is anyone listening to the Lorax?

Economic Exploitation

So that I don’t sound too dramatic, here is the current picture. By 2007, the year before the crisis, the top 0.1 percent of America’s households had an income that was 220 times larger than the average of the bottom 90 percent. While recovery for the bottom percentage of Americans has been a Sisyphean feat, the wealthy have bounced back resoundingly. The wealthy had more to lose in stock market values, but those recovered well and relatively fast: the top 1 percent of Americans gained 93 percent of the additional income created in the country in 2010, as compared with 2009. Furthermore, if we consider the Walton family of Wal-Mart, the six heirs to the Wal-Mart empire command wealth of $69.7 billion, which is equivalent to the wealth of the entire bottom 30 percent of U.S. society. For the sake of brevity, I won’t divulge into the working conditions and wage disparity of the average worker at Wal-Mart, or the externalities of labor exploitation in factories in the East in order to maximize shareholder profits. And through all of this, the median household income is still the same as in the mid-seventies when adjusted for inflation. Unbelievable.

This is country that spends more on our prisons than education. A country that is sitting and watching large pharmaceutical companies rake in billions while hundreds of thousands of Americans can’t afford to fill their prescriptions. A country that appears completely content that the crash that not only created a vast loss in American’s retirement accounts, but also $6.5 trillion loss in housing valuations. Lastly, and unbeknownst to most Americans, the extreme poverty of people living at least one month of the year on 2 dollars a day person or less, the measure used by the World Bank for developing countries – had doubled since 1996, to 1.5 million. The “poverty gap,” which is the percentage by which the mean income of a country’s poor falls below the official poverty line, is another telling statistic. At 37 percent, the US is one of the worst ranking countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the “club” of the more developed countries, in the same league as Mexico (38.5 percent). The Lorax has been warning us for a while, but we’re not listening.

The Free-Market That Isn’t Free

With the rabid social inequality in our society today, it begs the question: how free are we? I mean, we’re told we live in a “free-market” society with “free enterprise,” with “freedom of contract,” “free trade,” and “free speech.” But when we dig deeper into the policies that are being implemented, it appears that the one’s tilting the scale in their favor is government officials, Capitol Hill lobbyists and corporate lawyers. When we’re dealing with a rigged system, freedom looks completely different to the hedge fund manager and the Wal-Mart employee.

As economist Robert Reich notes, most political debates soon turn to whether the “free market” is better at doing something than government. As Reich states:

“Few ideas have more profoundly poisoned the minds of more people than the notion of a “free market” existing somewhere in the universe, into which government “intrudes.” In this view, whatever inequality or insecurity the market generates is assumed to be the natural and inevitable consequence of impersonal “market forces.” What you’re paid is simply a measure of what you’re worth in the market. If you aren’t paid enough to live on, so be it. If others rake in billions, they must be worth it (Saving Capitalism, 19).”

The question typically left to debate is how much government intervention is warranted. Conservatives want a smaller government and less intervention; liberals want a larger and more activist government. One’s response to it typically depends on which you trust most (or least): the government or the “free market.” But this dichotomy is utterly false. There can be no “free market” without government. A market – any market – requires that government make and enforce the rules of the game. In most modern democracies, such rules emanate from legislatures, administrative agencies, and courts. Government doesn’t “intrude” on the “free market.” It creates the market. Yet the interminable debate over whether the “free market” is better than “government” makes it possible for us to examine who exercises this power, how they benefit from doing so, and whether such rules need to be altered so that more people benefit from them. So who exercises the power?

Who Exercises the Power?

The power backing the “free market” lies with the wealthy elite in or close to those in government. Under the guise of “freedom,” the rest of America sits on the sidelines watching astonishingly at escalating campaign contributions to back particular candidates and their agendas, burgeoning “independent” campaign expenditures, growing lobbying prowess, platoons of lawyers and paid experts to defend or mount lawsuits, public relation campaigns designed to convince the public of the truth and wisdom of the policies they support, think tanks and sponsored research that confirm particular positions,  and ownership and economic influence over media outlets that further promote particular goals. Under these circumstances, arguments based on the alleged superiority of the “free market,” “free enterprise,” “freedom of contract,” “free trade,” or even “free speech” warrant a degree of skepticism. The pertinent question is: whose freedom?

Illusion of Freedom

Our freedom is dictated by the government officials and their squadron of lobbyists and lawyers who represent corporate interests. The “free market” is a delusion of freedom that is-what-it-is because of policies of the elite.  Need more proof? Ask yourself why in Stockholm, Sweden you can get high-speed internet in every inch of the city (for around $20/month) but in the U.S. Comcast has an increasing monopoly such that they can ratchet up prices and limit your choices in order to deepen their pockets. By the way, Comcast and other cable operators spend millions of dollars each year lobbying and contributing to political campaigns (in 2014, Comcast ranked thirteenth of all corporations and organizations reporting lobbying expenditures and twenty-eighth for campaign donations).

Want another example? Most jobs will have you sign a contract agreeing that you will go to arbitration, rather than take your complaint to court –  if you have experienced some form of abuse. And here’s the catch: your company selects the arbitrator. According to a recent study, employees complaining of job discrimination got relief only 21 percent of the time when their complaints went to arbitration but 50 to 60 percent of the time when they went to court.

How about the countless times you are prompted to check off ‘you are agreeing to the terms and conditions’? I have yet to meet somebody who reads every word and can actually understand the legalese in those agreements. When consumers sued several hotels and online travel agencies for allegedly conspiring to fix hotel room prices, lawyers for Travelocity, successfully defended the company in court by arguing that customers who used its site could not participate because they had “agreed” not to sue. We are told to believe that we have ‘freedom of contracts’ but this is not the truth. This is coercive. Buyers and sellers have no real alternatives when a large corporation have locked up a market through its intellectual property, control over standards or network platforms, and armies of lawyers and lobbyists. Under such circumstances, contracts are inherently coercive, or so it might seem. And contracts today are often filled with conditions (likely in small print) that deny employees, borrowers, and customers any meaningful choice. Nonetheless, large corporations possess the political and legal clout to make sure they’re enforced.

Let’s keep it going. Bankruptcy was designed so people could start over. But these days, the only ones starting over with ease are big corporations, wealthy moguls, and Wall Street, who have enough political clout to shape bankruptcy law to their own needs. In 2008, The Street’s biggest banks had bought hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of risky products, such as subprime mortgages, collateralized debt obligations, and mortgage-backed securities. As you probably remember, the banks that were mislabeled “too big to fail” did indeed fail, and then were promptly given an estimated $83 billion dollars in low-interest loans from the federal reserve. Did the mass amount of homeowners get any help? Nope. As homeowners found themselves owing more on their mortgages than their homes were worth and unable to refinance. Yet Chapter 13 of the bankruptcy code (whose drafting was largely the work of the financial industry) prevents homeowners from declaring bankruptcy on mortgage loans for their primary residence. When the financial crisis hit, some members of Congress, led by Illinois senator Dick Durbin, tried to amend the code to allow distressed homeowners to use bankruptcy. That would give them a powerful bargaining chip for preventing the banks and others servicing their loans from foreclosing on their homes. The bill passed the House, but when in late 2009 Durbin offered his amendment in the Senate, the financial industry flexed his muscles to prevent the passage, arguing that it would greatly increase the cost of home loans. The bill governed only forty-five Senate votes, even though Democrats were in the majority. Partly as a result, distressed homeowners had no bargaining power. More than five million of them lost their homes, and by 2014 another two million were near foreclosure.

I could keep going and detail the rigged system that gives double-digit interest to student loans debt and those needing cash advances. I could outline how the corporate interests have the bargaining power over the healthcare system. Such that, by the 1980s, the anti-trust laws had dissolved in a way that hospitals began merging into giant hospital systems, capable of getting higher reimbursements from insurers. The results were a ratcheting up of health care costs, along with fewer choices. In 1992 the average American city had four hospitals; by 2014, it was served by just two.

Final Words

At what point do we say “this is not right”? At what point to we begin looking into candidates voting records on issues that truly impact every individual in this country? At what point to we disavow ourselves from the lies of “immigrants as rapists and who don’t contribute” and that “the number one threat to our freedom is ISIS”? The real threat is the incremental changes to the “free market” economy in policies that tilt the scale in favor of the elite and further silence the voice and freedom of everyone else. At the beginning of this post I mentioned the warning of the Lorax in Dr. Seuss’ classic story. No matter how much the Lorax warned, no one listened – until it was too late. The warnings of the present dangers are before us in a decimated U.S. middle-class and growing economic disparity. But does this truly convict us to do something about it?

~ Wes Fornes

 

 

[Part 2] America’s Immoral Morality: Manifest Destiny Continental Empire, 1828-1898

So if conquest and exploitation was wrong early in American history, is it right if we do it today in the Middle East? And if it’s OK for the US to occupy or build numerous bases in foreign countries, is it OK for Iran to build bases in the US?

Written over 2 days and finished at Starbucks in Los Gatos (9:47pm)) with a hot chocolate while listening to Metallica on Pandora. I did not proof read this because I am too tired and I wanna go home.

Basic universal moral principles, which become accepted as social norms, are critical to any type civilization. For instance, principles such as respect, diplomacy, and cooperation are paramount to the vitality of any group of people, whether it’s a large territory like Canada or a remote tribe in Papua New Guinea. While respect and diplomacy are a two-way street, laying the foundation for these principles is what increases the overall well-being of countries. I am contend that humanitarian ideals come to fruition when the pursuit is for the flourishing of all countries through cooperation and diplomacy dictated by the law of universality.

The law of universality, in the context I am speaking of, is an affirmation which states that if a government engages in actions which cause unjustified and illegitimate suffering and harm, then it is wrong for every government. The law of universality is applicable when looking back to the bombs US dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima, or the indiscriminate fire blasting of napalm on thousands of Vietnamese. We weren’t thinking, “what if every country took action like this?” Or, “how would we like it if Iraq set up bases around the US just we are doing with them?” Of course, the law of universality is thwarted when countries elevate self-interest and greed while pursuing personal gain to the detriment of others. What if governments functioned, universally, with the goal of elevating freedom and equality while advocating for the civil liberties of its citizens? It is here that my utopian conceptions of universality fall the wayside because history has proven that power, wealth, and control, function like a narcotic whose insatiable high gives the sense of invincibility.

America’s Second Empire

The Second Empire (1828-1898) in US history’s sociopathic policy shows a bourgeoning American empire intoxicated with making its God ordained destiny a reality. This empire expanded its reach all the way to the Pacific Ocean, annexing a good chuck of Mexico in the south and west and uniting a vast continent under one government. The strategic plan for land acquisition slowly secured a beachhead for economic expansion across the Pacific. The expansion was adorned in eloquent immoral morality, with the famous creed called Manifest Destiny, drawing on the Chosen People motif of the Romans, the White Man’s Burden code of the British, and America’s own vision of spreading democracy and civilization.

The Second Empire was led by General Andrew Jackson who symbolized the swashbuckling fighter and imperial aspirations of the age. Jackson promoted violent expansionism mainly to help the Southern plantation economy that was depleting its own land and needed more. Jackson inaugurated the pre-bellum phase of the Second Empire, which unsuccessfully sought to reconcile expansionist interests of Northern capitalism and the slave south. It was Jackson that proposed the

Indian Removal Act of 1830 which discussed how “removed Indians” would, under US guidance, advance “from barbarism to the habits and enjoyments of civilized life.” Jackson told Congress of its desires to uplift the Indians: “Toward the aborigines of the country no one can indulge a more friendly feeling than myself, or would go further in attempting to reclaim them from their wandering habits and make them a happy, prosperous people.”

The Indian Removal Act was just one policy of many that gave credence to American exceptionalism and the ideal of the US as a beacon on a hill – a light unto all of the world. In 1839, the phrase Manifest Destiny became dogma, giving a righteous justice to America’s sociopathic immoral morality. Coined by editor and journalist John O’Sullivan, Manifest Destiny was the “moral mission” taken upon the US with the goal of civilizing barbaric people. In Sullivan’s essay, “The Great Nation of Futurity,” he discusses how an exceptional America is destined to be the great nation of futurity. It thus gained legitimacy and virtue because it was cloaked in the righteous lie that it was America’s moral duty and obligation to civilize the distant lands for the sake of peace throughout the world.

Stephen F. Austin, an American General, became entranced with O’Sullivan’s concept of Manifest Destiny. Seduced by the lustful power of forcing people to genuflect before America’s feet, General Stephen F. Austin set his eyes on Mexico. Austin led colonists into Texas and seized Mexico and capitalized on this moral mission. They are, as Austin wrote, “the self-evident dictates of morality.” As in Rome, and as reinterpreted by Madison, Jefferson, and other Founders, this universality of America’s moral vision of liberty and equality – as codified in the US Constitution – gave it both the right and “duty” to expand its influence around the world.

It’s important to note that Austin was not only one who had his hand in the annexation of both Texas and Mexico. Our 11th President, James Polk (1845-1849 as President), combined Manifest Destiny and the Monroe Doctrine in order to justify relentless expansion. Abraham Lincoln was even astonished at Polk’s brazen policy and called him an “imperialist.” Polk was simply one man in the line of many who was infected with Constantine Syndrome. Polk and others in power used Manifest Destiny and the Monroe Doctrine as the sociopathic policy to view Native Americans in the US and “colored” people in surrounding countries as vile vermin in need of salvation.

The annexation of Texas and Mexico is good place to look when discussing sociopathic policy. The deceptive rhetoric informed US citizens that the US is doing Mexico and Texas a “favor” by bringing civility. But what was cloaked under this lie was that expanding into Mexico and Texas ensured vast profit from a valuable resource: cotton. A good analogy for the 21st century person is: what oil in the Middle East is today, is what cotton in Texas and Mexico was the 19th century. And just as the US had to cloak their hostile takeover in righteous language in order to manufacture consent for its citizens, nothing has changed. Then, it was “bringing salvation and civility” and now it’s “bringing democracy to the Middle East.” The reality is that the brutal takeover of both, means an economic explosion for the ones in power in the US.

This is sociopathic imperialism. It’s economic and political policy that is initiated unilaterally when we put our boots to the neck of the weak, and force them to capitulate to our demands. Cotton was the narcotic, and wealth and power was the insatiable high. I will close with a poem by Rudyard Kipling:

Take up the White Man’s burden

Send forth the best ye breed, Go bind your sons to exile

To serve your captives’ need;

To wait in heavy harness

On fluttered folk and wild,

Your new-caught sullen peoples,

Half-devil and half-child.

(Part I) America’s Immoral Morality: A Sociopathic Foreign Policy of the Founding Fathers

Written over two days and finished this morning at Starbucks by my office in San Jose with a grande mocha (no whip) and my Pandora station set to Lady Gaga.  

“Blessed are the cynical, for only they have what it takes to succeed.” C. Wright Mills

Sociopathy is anti-social behavior by an individual or institution that typically advances self-interest, such as making money, while harming others and attacking the fabric of society.

I find it interesting that if an insane man guns down 20 kids in a school we are horrified at the maniacal act, yet when we hear of nascent American conquest of genocide and mass killings of Native Americans we simply shrug our shoulders. If you have ever had somebody break into your home or car, then you know that visceral feeling of having been violated. Now think about how natives of Hawaii felt in January of 1893 when America initiated a coup d’état of Queen Liliuokalani and instituting an American regime that took over the land and proceeded to profit from Hawaii’s sugar plantations. Again, while we have all experienced the feeling of disgust from being taken advantage of we nevertheless function almost as sociopaths when it comes to over 200 years of conquest by the United States.

If you think hard about it, it is mainly psychological distance that propels us to either rage or to yawn at atrocities. As an example, most individuals will feel more moral outrage at witnessing first-hand the torture of a man rather than simply hearing a CNN report of a man being tortured 6,000 miles away in, say, Japan. That is psychological distance. So if 19 maniacs steer 2 planes into the Twin Towers killing thousands of Americans we are outraged at the injustice. Yet if thousands are killed abroad so that we can control the 2nd largest oil reservoir in the world and maximize profits by setting up private businesses in the Middle East then we sit back and drink another latte inside an air conditioned Starbucks comforted by the lie: we’re bringing democracy to a bunch of savages. Because there is distance, our morals crumble. But when it hits close to home, we become pious moral philosophers pontificating on theories of justice. We’re sociopathic in our thinking when we kill 4 year olds in the Middle East, but become protective righteous Messiahs flooded with empathy when it involves our children. And this begs a crucial question: should the mere psychological distance of an immoral action be the chief arbiter?

A sociopathic society, paradoxically, creates dominant social norms that are antisocial – that is, norms that assault the well-being and survival of much of the population and undermine the social bonds and sustainable environmental conditions essential to any form of social order. It is here that we are confronted with the United States’ murderous conquest and relentless expansionism. We can either shrug our shoulders like sociopaths or we can be intellectually honest with our past which continues to wreak havoc and chaos in the Middle East today – thanks to a sociopathic foreign policy led by the U.S.

I will highlight the sociopathic 5 Empires of the United States, beginning in 1776-1828 and ending with our current empire, World Domination 1991-Present. My inspiration of this text comes from respected political scholars such as Noam Chomsky, Stephen Kinzer, Charles Derber and Immanuel Wallerstein.

First Empire: The Constitutional Empire 1776-1828

In 1776, Americans began a revolution to free themselves from the British Empire and to recreate themselves as an independent and great power. What can be called “Constitutional Code,” would concretize the ideology of the Founding Fathers. Here are 5 key principals that highlight the Constitutional Code:

(1) Americans are a free people on a free land.

(2) The Constitution is sacred and may have been sanctioned by a higher power.

(3) All Americans have the constitutional right to freely contract with others and to protect and accumulate property.

(4) Freedom requires prosperity. Resources must expand, and the state must be prepared to help citizens acquire, trade, and market their goods everywhere.

(5) As a beacon to the rest of the world, America has a manifest destiny to extend from seas to sea and, in fact, beyond the oceans.

The United States constitution would prompt George Washington to see America as a “new and rising empire.” The ideology of the Founding Fathers constructed an empire built upon a Constantine foundation where expansion plus conquest would equal ultimate power. Alexander Hamilton would go on to state his desire to see the thirteen colonies unite to create one big empire, “One great American system, superior to the control of all trans-Atlantic force and influence, and able to dictate the terms of the connection between the old and new world.” Hamilton sentiments were widely felt among American leaders, and morphed into concepts like White Man’s Burden and American Exceptionalism. The result was the idea of American as a city on a hill, a beacon of light in the midst of a world of savages. It was precisely this new American Empire that saw as its God ordained duty to bring civility and order to the natives. Truly a sociopathic conception.

Two things are needed for this sociopathic behavior. First, we have to develop a language that dehumanizes the “other.” So the indigenous Natives were commonly referred to as “savages” and “ignorant.” Second, the ends will always justify the means. Even though the “ends” are almost always built on utopian lies with regard to American interventionist policy, it will nevertheless justify the “means” no matter how brutal they are. John Adams words personified this so-called altruistic utopian quest when justifying conquest in his reference to “the illumination of the ignorant, and the emancipation of the slavish part of mankind.” It’s like we are doing them a favor. So a murderous conquest is justified if it emancipates the ignorant Native Americans.

This type of sociopathy is realized in the way that expansionism and brutality was justified with such righteous ease. The justification for the expansionist doctrine goes like this: killing, exploitation, and the enslavement of millions is justifiable if, and only if, the greater good results in an empire that promotes the values of the wealthy White nobles in power. Again, the ends justifies the means. This is usually where most American high school history teachers shrug their shoulders and then in the next breath express moral outrage at Adolf Hitler’s end goal of a pure race by means of a genocidal regime.

In what I call consensual hallucinations, here is the sociopathy of over 200 years of American politics: America’s interventions and foreign policy are always carried out with noble intentions. This is the consensual hallucination, whether it’s driving out 12 million Native Americans in America’s infancy, initiating coups that gave U.S. support to tyrannical dictators like Pinochet and Pol Pot, or even the 1953 coup that disassembled Iran’s government and has since created monumental blowback and collateral damage in our relations with the Middle East. The consensual hallucination moves us to say such ridiculous things like, “but the Founding Fathers were trying to bring peace to a barbaric land,” and, “It was necessary to invade a third world Iraq because they were going to take our freedom away,” and of course, “We need to invade in order to keep us safe and establish democracy in other countries.” Perhaps it’s time that we become intellectually honest with ourselves and take off our red, white and blue colored glasses that has blinded us to over 200 years of walking on the backs of people whom we think are “lesser” than us.

Going back to the Constitutional Empire, the empire required two main ingredients: land and resources. As early as 1751, Benjamin Franklin wrote that expansion for surplus land was crucial to creating prosperity and liberty and to avoid domestic corruption. So in 1783, in the Treaty of Paris, Britain ceded its territory south of the Great Lakes and east of the Mississippi River to the Americas. In 1803, President Jefferson completed the Louisiana Purchase, the largest expansion in the New Empire’s history, adding 526 million acres that constitute 22 percent of the land territory of the modern United States. In the War of 1812, the United States tried to take all of Canada from the British but failed. In 1821, Andrew Jackson conquered Florida since slaves were escaping there to gain Spanish protection. With the accumulation of such vast territories, markets would later establish trade and maximizing profit for wealthy land owners and businessmen that would bolster the next two empires in American history.

All the ingredients were there during the birth of America for expansion at the expense of innocent natives. Empires never become empires through altruistic and humanitarian means. History has shown that empires only flourish when a rising nation has its combat boot to the neck of smaller nations. Knowing this, the Founding Fathers created a blueprint that would pursue world hegemon through conquest and exploitation. The correlation I draw between early American policies and sociopathy is meant to expose how catastrophic harm can be justified when people are just objects used as means to an end with an end goal that is strictly self-interested.

The onus is on us as to whether we simply shrug our shoulders at this type of sociopathy or do something about it.

~ Wes

Anarchism: A Worthy Consideration?

Written this morning after reflecting on Noam Chomsky’s book entitled Anarchism. While I do not subscribe to anarchism, I do believe it is a topic worth extrapolating for the purpose of questioning our current norms. This is a short 750 word introduction to anarchism without [my usual] verbose arguments.

“Anarchism is not a romantic fable but the hardheaded realization, based on five thousand years of experience, that we cannot entrust the management of our lives to kings, priests, politicians, generals, and county commissioners.” – Edward Abbey

Should the wealthy elite have a vast majority of the power? I wonder what it would be like to live in a truly anarchist country? I understand anarchy in pure form to mean that the individual is at the heart of society, conserving the essence of social life. Of course, this also means that there is no centralized or system of government with rulers. Anarchy thus thrives by maintaining that God, the State, and society are non-existent, that their promises are null and void, since they can be fulfilled only through man’s subordination. Furthermore, anarchism acknowledges that (1) religion is the dominion of the human mind, (2) that property is the dominion of human needs, and (3) that Government is the dominion of human conduct. These represent the stronghold of man’s enslavement and all the horrors it entails. And it must be stated that anarchy is not a proponent of lawlessness and mass chaos where laws are null and void. Rather, anarchy elevates human liberty above absolute power that exists within most, if not all, governments today.

“Absolute power corrupts absolutely.” -The Lord Acton

In the current American political climate, neither Republicans nor Democrats are the dominate party. This is because the corporate party, encompassing both Republicans and Democrats rule absolutely. And if the American people wish to cast their vote, our representatives will most often ignore us due to the lobbyists who lurk in every corridor on Capitol Hill. Economically, the middle class voice is but a whisper while patrimonialism is reigning supreme as all power flows to and from our top leaders. Did you get to vote on how much our government spends on military defense? You didn’t. $125 billion a year went towards wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Men and woman are fighting in the Middle East for our politician’s quest for expansion of power, not freedom. Just look at the multi-national companies who have profited from the recent wars, especially Halliburton and Bechtel. Moreover, we have a broken healthcare system and educational (K-12th grade) system that show no signs of improvement during the next decade. America, “one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” Indivisible? 

“Government is best when it governs least.” –Thomas Paine

Individualist anarchists believe in mutual exchange, not economic privilege. They believe in freed markets, not capitalism. They defend a distinctive response to the challenges of ending global capitalism and achieving social justice: eliminate the political privileges that prop up capitalists. Anarchism borrows from both classical liberalism and socialism. Classical liberals (a.k.a. market liberals) advocate a free market economy. Socialism seeks a world where the means of production are owned by workers. Many market anarchists believe that freed markets lead to that world. The state-granted monopoly privileges and rents deigned to the purchasers and wielders of political power removed, the amount of economic opportunity available to working class people would outpace the bureaucratic and artificial economies of the existing corporate-dominated marketplace.

In more simplistic terms, within anarchism, the individual is the heart of society, conserving the essence of social life; society is the lungs which are distributing the element to keep the life essence–that is, the individual–pure and strong. “The one thing of value in the world,” says Emerson, “is the active soul; this every man contains within him. The soul active sees absolute truth and utters truth and creates.” In other words, the individual instinct is the thing of value in the world. It is the true soul that sees and creates the truth alive, out of which is to come a still greater truth, the re-born social soul.

While I do not subscribe to anarchism as a political goal, I cannot help but wonder if it is a worthy hypothesis. I do not believe that anarchism will ever be the ideal of an entire country, rather, we could see anarchist movements of protest spawning in rebellion due to suppression. The key idea to remember is: when you centralize power in the hands of the wealthy elite, the middle and lower class will inevitably suffer. This net result is one nation divisible by class.