Monday, August 25, 2014

Capitalism means militarization

  • Capitalist ideology authorizes government violence in ways that other ideologies do not. Specifically, it uniquely maintains that the "only proper functions of a government," as Ayn Rand put it, include protecting "your property and contracts". These are obviously not permissible occasions for violence in governments that do not police private property or private contracts.
  • We should understand private property and private contracts as opportunities for state violence. Every piece of property and every contract represents a state of affairs which Capitalism may require the government to police through violence. I repeat: this requirement comes from Capitalism.
  • Crucially, the requirement that the government police crimes against Capitalism is a requirement that the government must maintain the capacity to police potential crimes against Capitalism. The government cannot wait until a robbery has started to hire, train and arm police. It must try to stop the robbery in progress - Capitalism demands this in order to minimize disruptions of the economy.
  • The incentive Capitalism provides to build and maintain the government's capacity for violence will be in direct proportion to the growth of the economy and the potential for disruption. The more private property and contracts there are to police, the greater a capacity for violence the government must develop. And as economic conditions grow more precarious - in particular, as markets become more vulnerable to anything that could trigger recessions etc. - the demand for absolute stability, and the corollary demand for a more powerful, responsive police force - can only increase.
  • The government may also attempt to protect private property and contracts, and stabilize the economy, through pre-emptive measures, such as education programs, business regulations, monetary policy, and so on. To the extent that these fall outside of the "only proper functions of government," however, the political right will resist them and rely exclusively on reactive policing.
The implications here are straightforward. Blame whatever you like on big government, but it's clear that because of Capitalism even the most minimalistic Randian state must build an extraordinary capacity for violence in direct proportion to the growth of the economy. And while liberal social measures may try to pre-empt the need for militarization under Capitalism, nothing within Capitalism can stop it.