A Dystopian View

Thomas Friedman's column in the NY Times of 5/20/15 argues that the world now divides into two groups: not rich/poor or north/south, but rather ordered/disordered, and he describes how refugees from the world of disorder are fleeing to the world of order, in which governments provide and maintain rules.

In response I wrote:
You ignore where the real action is, apart from the use of guns: private business. Educated people tend to focus on government, but businesses now dominate our political system. One result has been that they largely do what they want, insulated from government supervision. In addition, they are getting the government to either terminate its functions or delegate them to businesses. The public funds wars that government fights, but those are mostly for the benefit of private security and defense industries. Pretty soon, private industry will complete the repurchase of its publicly owned stock and will then constitute self-perpetuating fiefdoms that can exercise virtually all the powers we associate now with government. Think Roman senators in the early Dark Ages. That was not for long a period of disorder like the one you are describing; the large landowners and the German tribes (the defense contractors of the day) soon created the medieval order that divided the world into a handful of lords and a starving horde of serfs.

1 comment:

  1. In singling out the defense industry, you seem to be basing your argument on what has in fact been the least private of private business for a long time, i.e., Eisenhower’s “military industrial complex”. It’s my observation that, rather than moving away from this model, our modern day Democratic Party is rather attempting to extend it to the rest of the economy. In such a system, private enterprise morphs into crony capitalism and is reduced largely to a competition for public funding. It’s a fool’s errand here trying to determine who’s actually captured whom, because public and private actors have captured one another. Oddly, the system we seemed to be gravitating towards is not unlike that prevailing today in China, Russia and other quasi-socialist, quasi-capitalist nations.

    It occurs to me that what we’re both saying here may not be all that contrary, except that you persist in believing that Obama is laboring to fix the problem rather than being part of it.