Sean Gabb – Cultural Revolution, Culture War: How Conservatives Lost England, And How to Get It Back


by Kevin Carson
http://c4ss.org/content/22787

Cultural Revolution, Culture War: How Conservatives Lost England, And How to Get It Back

Sean Gabb, successor to the late Chris Tame as Director of the Libertarian Alliance, is very much a man of the Right: a composite of Burkean and Little Englander, roughly equivalent to the Old Right or paleolibertarians on this side of the Atlantic. In his critique of managerialism and the corporate state, however, he has much to say about globalization and corporate rule, among many other things, that left-libertarians will find of benefit.

The chief villain in Gabb’s book is the managerial New Class and the rentier capitalists whose main source of profit is their association with the corporate state:

It is clear that our ruling class–or that loose coalition of politicians, bureaucrats, lawyers, educators, and media and business people who derive wealth and power and status from an enlarged and active state–wants an end of liberal democracy. [p. 6]

Elected politicians never have the running of a country all to themselves. While undoubtedly important, they must in all cases govern with the advice and consent of a wider community of the powerful. There are the civil servants. There are the public sector educators. There are the semi-autonomous agencies funded by the tax payers. There are journalists and other communicators. There are certain formally private media and entertainment and legal and professional and business interests that also obtain power, status and income from the policies of government. Together, these form a web of individuals and institutions that is sometimes called the Establishment, though I prefer… to call it the ruling class. [p. 8]

Gabb’s ruling class, like the mass base of Orwell’s Ingsoc party, was “brought together by the barren world of monopoly industry and centralized government.”

The new Britain he finds so objectionable was essentially described by Anthony Burgess some forty years before. Indeed I find the absence of any reference to Burgess somewhat remarkable. Tony Blair’s Britain, with its near-total supercession of common law protections by administrative courts, and with the social pathologies symbolized by the ubiquity of yobs, happy-slappers and ASBOs (Anti-Social Behaviour Orders), under the watchful eye of the public surveillance camera, could have leapt from the pages of A Clockwork Orange or 1985. Burgess’s Britain, terrorized by hoodlums like Alex and his droogs, in which “everyone not a child or with child must work,” and where the Minister of the Interior sought to empty the prisons of common prisons because they’d “soon be needing them for the politicals”–is it really such a stretch of the imagination, these days?

The instruments by which the New Class is imposing this “new settlement” on Britain are the replacement of common law due process, civil liberties, and parliamentary government by the unaccountable rule of administrative bodies, and the use of multiculturalism as an ideology to divide, conquer, and reshape society.

Gabb sees the old institutional basis of liberal democracy being eviscerated by the New Class:

…structures of accountability that emerged in the 17th and 18th centuries are to be deactivated. Their forms will continue. There will be assemblies at Westminster. But these will not be sovereign assemblies with the formal authority of life and death over us all. That authority will have been passed to various unelected and transnational agencies. And so far as the Westminster assemblies will remain important, our votes will have little effect on what they enact. [p. 6]

I can find much to disagree with in Gabb’s view of cultural (or rather multicultural) matters. For example, in principle I would view the shift in orientation of the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich that he describes, from a celebration of Empire and naval supremacy to a focus on slavery and “history from the position of the colonised,” [p. 10] as a good thing. I consider insititutional racism in police forces, and the casual expression within police circles of racist attitudes toward the subject populations over which they are have been given near-unlimited power to coerce, in a much more alarming light than Gabb apparently does. In a country where the names Cory Maye and Katherine Johnson have recently figured in the news, where every week brings another story of someone murdered in a botched no-knock raid, or of someone being tasered to death for “resisting arrest” (who turned out to have been in a diabetic coma)–I can understand the reasons for rooting out such attitudes among our “protectors and servers” root and branch. I confess little sympathy for a uniformed beast of prey (or “filth,” in the apt terminology of some across the Pond) who expressed approval for the murder of black suspects in police custody, and who joked about burying a “Paki bastard” under a railway line,– regardless of how badly his life was “ruined” by exposure. [pp. 11-12] Although Gabb suggests the public reaction was “excessive” and expressed some doubt as to whether such views would affect their performance of public duties, [p. 12] given the background of police abuses in my own country I tend to think cops with absolute and unaccountable power are quite prone to act on such views, and that the public reaction isn’t severe enough.

But the remarkable fact is not our disagreement on cultural matters, but that I concur with so much of his analysis of the effect of “political correctness” and multiculturalism as ruling class ideologies. Like Gabb, I see official multiculturalism in the hands of the New Class and its state agencies as an instrument of division and control, serving a ruling class that prefers a population without the cohesion to resist.

The ruling class seeks “the establishment of absolute and unaccountable power,” to be achieved in part by coercion, but even more by the “reshaping of our thoughts.” The significance of multiculturalism is not so much its objective content, or the often harmful and wrongheaded content of the older habits of thought it seeks to replace. It is the attitude of uncertainty and deference it seeks to create among the ruled: constant uncertainty and anxiety lest they be using a word (“crippled” or “handicapped” rather than “differently-abled,” “black” rather than “African-American,” “Indian” rather than “Native American”) that has been superceded by the Eleventh Edition of the Newspeak Dictionary, and deference to the class of social engineers who decide the currently acceptable terminology. And the terminology is deliberately changed frequently enough to maintain this constant free-floating sense of anxiety and dependence.

As dangerous as virulently racist views may be when held by the lawless thugs whose “gang colors” are police uniforms, the nature of the ideas being stamped out is purely incidental for the social engineers; their real purpose could be served just as well by identifying any widely held belief, no matter its substantive content, as a “thoughtcrime” to be policed by themselves. And the assumption of such state power is even more dangerous when exercised against private citizens–as when plainclothes police agents visited Chinese and Indian restaurants to monitor the patrons for ethnic slurs against the staff. [p. 13] Criminalizing the expression of racist views by private citizens, no matter how abhorrent–it should go without saying for any libertarian–endangers the liberties of everyone else.

The ruling class’s motivation in ideologically renovating museums and such is not to replace a worse with a better understanding of an objective truth, but to “weaken their ties with the past, or… to make them into vehicles for contemporary propaganda.” [p. 10]

Every autonomous institution, every set of historical associations, every pattern of loyalty that cannot be co-opted and controlled–these must be destroyed or neuralized. [p. 25]

Their agenda, in rooting out and punishing private expressions of racist thought, is to seize on the abhorrence that many understandably feel for such views as a vehicle for putting power into the hands of a class of social engineers.

If borders and customs and other artificial barriers to the free movement of people are a bad thing, then so is the artificial mobility promoted by Empire and by subsidized global capitalism. The result, as described by Gabb, is to render impossible a recurrence of the liberal uprisings of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries , “by promoting movements of peolles so that nations in the old sense disappear, and are replaced by patchworks of nationalities more suspicious of each other than of any ruling class.” [p. 6]

Stripped of the Left’s older preoccupations with economics and class, likewise, multiculturalism can be of immense service to the cartelized private sector in policing its wage-serfs and cubicle-drones. For one thing, the added inefficiency and overhead costs of an internal PC regime, as Gabb observes, are cartelized: that is, they apply equally to all large corporations and are therefore not a matter for competition between firms. [p. 48] For another, the postmodern, multicultural corporate culture described by Thomas Frank in One Market Under God is much closer to the worldview of David Brooks’ “Bobos” who predominate in managerial ranks. In the U.S., for the managerialists and professionals who constitute the base of the Democratic Party, stagnant wages, downsizing, and all the other economic aspects of the new global economy are perfectly fine–so long as the people in the boardrooms who do the exploiting “look like America.” Forty years ago in The Greening of America, Charles Reich depicted a hippie chic utopia in which the centralized, hierarchical power structures of the state and corporation were largely unaltered–but staffed by people with bell-bottoms and beads. What mattered was not the existence of concentrations of power, but that the people in power “had their heads in the right place, man.” That “utopia” is, in essence, now a reality. Most importantly, in an age of increasing worker disgruntlement over stagnant pay and increased workloads, an internal PC regime serves admirably to promote resentment and divisions and reduce solidarity among workers, and provide trumped-up grounds for disciplining troublemakers.

A central part of Gabb’s analytical toolkit is the work of Frankfurt School and neo-Marxist scholars on “ideological hegemony.” Although he denies the applicability of their analysis to “liberal democracy,” he sees it as well-suited to the ideological project of the new ruling class.

I should say, in passing, that I take issue with Gabb on the relevance of neo-Marxist thought to the old, “liberal” order. He denied the existence of any real “hegemonic discourse” under the old liberal regime, arguing rather that political leaders tended to legitimize their positions in terms of a value system which arose spontaneously from civil society and which they accepted as given. [p. 20] Likewise, he considers the Chomsky/Herman “propaganda model” of the media to have been inapplicable to liberal democracy. [pp. 31-32]

I think he is mistaken on this count. For one thing, the question of whether “liberal democracy” even existed in any meaningful sense is a very real one. The old liberal democracy was dominated by privileged capitalist and landed elites whose economic position resulted, not from the workings of a market, but from the state. And the old “spontaneous” ideological climate reflected, to a large extent, their interests. For another, the New Class and its ideology are nearly as old as corporate capitalism, and its managerialist world-view (eg. scientific management) has been incorporated into the service of the plutocracy since the corporate revolution first required a class of “professional” overseers. The New Class and managerialism, and the protective and nurturing state, have been integral parts of corporate capitalism since its beginning; and if we identify the full flowering of liberal democracy with the electoral reforms of 1833 and 1867 (let alone 1911), then liberal democracy was hardly even fairly begun and the Old Regime fairly ended, before the beginnings of state capitalism. Genuine “liberal democracy” was largely limited to a thin sliver of thought by Ricardian radicals like Hodgskin, assorted Cobdenites, etc., sandwiched in-between the Old Regime and state capitalism, which was quickly relegated to a few radical free market strands (the individualist anarchists, Georgists, Nock and Borsodi, etc.) fighting a rear-guard action within state capitalism.

And in more general terms, hegemonic ideology is coextensive with, and as old as, class society. As an individualist anarchist, I consider class power and economic exploitation the primary functions of the state; and just as there has never been a genuine free market, free from economic exploitation by state-privileged classes, there has never been a society without a hegemonic ideology serving such privileged classes. Hegemonic ideology, I should add, does not require any conscious, conspiratorial design–it is a largely automatic result of a society’s normal tendency to reproduce the conditions for its own continued existence.

I also suspect Gabb’s treatment of neo-Marxism as the ideology of the new ruling class is overblown. There may be something to his tracing of their political style to the New Left fashions of their formative years; Gabb cites Boyd Tonkin to the effect that while Nulab has abandoned most of the economic content of Marxism and social democracy, their “pattern-building, system-seeking cast of thought” persists. [p. 22] But stripped of their economic and political substance, the signficance of their style itself is tenuous at best (as also with explanations of the neoconservative “style” in terms of their alleged Trotskyite origins).

As an analytical tool for describing the ideological functions of the ruling class, as opposed to the content of their ideology, neo-Marxist concepts may however be quite useful.

And while I disagree with Gabb on the question of whether a hegemonic ideology existed under “liberalism” and the Old Regime, I do agree that it was much more feasible to argue against the hegemonic ideology from an independent base. The average person of the late twentieth century was far more conditioned by his televised matrix reality, than the average member of the working class by the hegemonic ideology of the nineteenth century. The very extent to which Marxism and assorted brands of anarchism spread among the working classes demonstrates as much. Contrast, for example, Thomas Franks’ Kansas before WWI, to the same region in recent years. It was surely even more prone to Bible-thumping and Jesus-shouting at the turn of the twentieth century as it is now–and yet it was one of the prime constituencies for the Wobblies and Gene Debs, and home to a vibrant and independent working class press. Today, on the other hand, the populist resentment of the area is channeled by Rove’s talking points and AM talk radio against a range of targets carefully selected by the ruling class. The turning point was probably the liquidation of the genuine socialist, working class, and economic populist movements during the reign of terror under St. Woodrow and A. Mitchell Palmer. We may finally be witnessing today, with the rise of the Internet and network culture as an alternative to the gatekeepers of the corporate media, the weak beginnings of a resurgence of something like the pre-WWI independent popular culture.

Gabb’s revolutionary agenda deserves a great deal of attention. He rejects any gradualist program of scaling back one institution at a time. Such a strategy, he says, would just result in a pitched battle over each institution, with the anti-state coalition quickly losing its political capital to a war of attrition. The only hope is to gamble everything on electoral success and then to act quickly and decisively, in the brief window of opportunity, to dismantle as much of the ruling class’ institutional base as possible, so that it cannot be quickly reconstituted if power once again changes hands. That means completely abolishing institutions like the BBC, and completely dismantling the administrative apparatus and records of the regulatory state (“An hour in front of a shredding machine can ruin the work of 20 years.”), and–while leaving the state schools intact–completely abolishing teacher training colleges. [pp. 54-56, 60]

I am skeptical as to the prospects for any such all-at-once seizure of power, as opposed to gradually rolling back the state and supplanting it with alternative organizations (as per both the agorist agenda of building a counter-economy, and the Wobbly strategy of “building the structure of the new society within the shell of the old”). But I agree that, revolutionary or gradualist, the goal of any libertarian movement should be, not to control the state and other centralized institutions, but to dismantle them. I am very much a believer in Michels’ Iron Law of Oligarchy. Genuine democratic control of centralized, hierarchical institutions is impossible. Our only hope for real democracy is to destroy as much of the infrastructure of the centralized state and corporate economy as possible, and replace them with loose political federations of local direct democracies and with a free market of competing worker cooperatives.

Along these last lines, interestingly, Gabb proposes something of an entente with the libertarian left.

…there are many anarchists and syndicalists and libertarian socialists who do not believe in this extended state. And so I will make it clear that when I talk about a free market, I do not mean a legal framework within which giant corporations are able to squeeze their suppliers, shut down their small competitors and socialize their workers into human sheep.

I have already said I would not defend the landed interests. I would very strongly favor an attack on the structures of corporate capitalism

Organisations like Tesco, British Pretroleum and ICI are not free market entities. They are joint stock limited liability cororations. The Company Acts allow them to incorporate so that their directors and shareholders can evade their natural responsibilities in contract and tort. They are, for this reason, privileged in law….

It is not true that big business has in any sense suffered from the public interventions in economic activity of the past hundred years. The truth is that big business has benefited from, and in many cases, promoted every agenda of big government. Employment protection laws, product safety laws, curbs on advertising and promotion, heavy taxes, and all the rest–these have served to insulate big business from their smaller competition, or have cartelized or externalized costs, thereby reducing the need for competition between big business….

The leaders of large corporations are nothign more than the economic wing of the ruling class. They provide taxes and outright bribes that enrich the political wing. They act as part of the ideological state apparatus…. In return for all this, they receive various kinds of protection and subsidy that allow them to make large profits.

They police their workers… Workers find themselves gently conscripted into large organisations that strip them of autonomy and suppress any actual desire for self-direction. Anyone who works for any length of time in one of these big corporations tends to become just another “human resource”–all his important life decisions made for him by others, and insensibly encouraged into political and cultural passivity. [pp. 63-65]

His description of the likely fate of the state-affiliated “private sector” corporate economy, after the revolution, is positively eloquent:

Our first big attack on the present ruling class should destroy most of the really dangerous government bodies, and the formally private bodies that now cluster round them would perish like tapeworms in a dead rat. [p. 61]

The tapeworm is to be killed through the elimination of all subsidies and protections, and above all the elimination of limited liability.

We should promote the emergence of markets in which the majority of players are sole traders and partnerships and worker cooperatives, and in which the number of people employed on contracts of permanent service is an ever-dwindling minority…. [This policy] would replace armies of ruling class serfs with beneficiaries of our counter-revolution. [pp. 65-66]

The welfare state he advises to leave pretty much alone for the near term. In so doing, the revolution would deprive the ruling class of its chief potential ally for an attempted counter-revolution. And, he points out, the main actual cost of the welfare state is the administrative overhead from supporting intrusive and authoritarian welfare bureaucrats in a comfortable lifestyle. As a first reform, he proposes eliminating the entire apparatus of case workers and redirecting the entire welfare budget to a guaranteed annual income. [pp. 57-59] Ultimately, it could be drastically scaled back as increased working class prosperity and a resurgence of voluntary mutual aid arrangements made it unnecessary. [p. 63]

His tax agenda–eliminating the income tax and VAT, and replacing them with a tax on land-value–should be pleasing to the Geolibertarian contingent of the libertarian left. [pp.
62-63]

In the legal realm, Gabb proposes dismantling as much as possible of the administrative state and its prerogative law procedures. In the restored common law, all regulations of vice and private behavior are to be eliminated, while making penalties for real crimes against person and property sufficient to deter. For the latter crimes, however, a maximalist reading of all common law due process guarantees is to be restored:

the right to silence under police questioning, the full right ofhabeas corpus, the full presumption of innocence, the full right of peremptory challenge of jurors, the rules against similar fact and hearsay evidence, the unanimity rule in jury trials, and all else that has been taken away. [p. 68]

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18 responses to “Sean Gabb – Cultural Revolution, Culture War: How Conservatives Lost England, And How to Get It Back

  1. Mustela nivalis

    This extensive review is well worth reading. It is also a welcome sign that the unnecessary divisions between “left” and “right” libertarians – which ar harmful for the cause of freedom – can be bridged.

  2. This is a very good review, and it’s very similar to what I would say if I wrote a review of this book. However, this was written in 2007. I wonder if Carson would stand by this today. He seems to have drifted much further into PC Land in the meantime.

  3. Update: I saw where Carson placed this comment about this review on C4SS: “I would note that I’ve moved a great deal further to the cultural Left since I wrote this six years ago.”

    I doubt it’s possible to develop a thorough or effective critique of statism as it exists in contemporary Western industrialized democracies without a comprehensive critique of the PC ideology. The evidence is overwhelming that PC is simply a new form of political authoritarianism, and something that the ruling class is incorporating into its own ideological superstructure. I’m a Nietzschean-Stirnerite, not any kind of conservative, but I find it disappointing that so many of my fellow libertarians and anarchists are unable to see PC for what it is.

    The bottom line is that PC is a manifestation of one of the primary insights of conflict theory: Former outgroups who become politically powerful will normally become just as abusive and exploitative as the former in-groups they replace. The historical evidence for this is overwhelming to the point where it can be considered a general historical law. Louis XVI goes out, the Jacobins come in. Czar Nicholas goes out, the Bolsheviks come in. Chang goes out, Mao comes in. The Western puppets in Southeast Asian go out, the Viet Mihn and Pol Pot come in.The Shah goes out, the Ayatollah comes in. Ian Smith goes out, Robert Mugabe comes in. The apartheid regime of South Africa goes out, the ANC comes in and homicide rates explode.

    Many people still do not realize how pervasive the cultural revolution of the 1960s and 1970s has been. In the 1960s, left-wing radicals formed the Free Speech Movement against things like loyalty oaths and academic censorship. By the 1980s, they were taking over academia and imposing speech codes. In the 1960s, homosexuals were considered felonious criminals in many Western nations. Today, expressing religious objections to homosexuality can land you in jail in some countries. A few decades ago, smoking was considered a routine if unhealthy pastime. Now, some U.S. localities have all but made smoking illegal. Stephen Baskerville has provided extensive documentation of the abuses that have occurred from feminist domination of family courts in some jurisdictions. Racism and sexism were universal and normal a half century ago. Now, even renowned scientists and presidents of major universities are forbidden from questioning liberal orthodoxy concerning race and gender. Forty years ago, leftists protested against imperialist war. Now, they are just as likely to justify imperialism in the name of “humanitarian intervention.” Leftists and liberals used to champion the drug culture, free speech, and free love. Now, they are just as likely to champion drug prohibition on therapeutic statist grounds, and support prohibition of pornography and prostitution on feminist grounds. It used to be that liberals would defend free speech even for neo-Nazi groups that wished to march in Jewish neighborhoods. Now, even some supposed civil libertarians will support hate speech laws.

    These are just a few examples. Volumes could be written on these issues. Carson mentions the police state outrages that now occur on a daily basis in the U.S. I absolutely concur. There is hardly a day that goes by where someone does not send me a news report of some new police state atrocity. However, there is also hardly a day that goes by where I do not receive a report of some outrage or absurdity perpetrated in the name of PC. The growth of the PC and the expansion of the police state have occurred simultaneously and are mutually supportive of one another. PC represents the state’s use of the carrot: i.e. buying the loyalty of the rising upper middle class with its cosmopolitan values and the elite and affluent members of traditional outgroups with political favors. The police state represents the use of the stick: i.e. strengthening the state’s apparatus of repression when efforts at ideological co-optation and inculcation fail.

  4. Pingback: Culture Wars and the Police State: A Reply to Kevin Carson « Attack the System

  5. The carrot of political correctness has at least four purposes: 1) buying the loyalty and co-opting the cosmopolitan, liberal wing of the middle class and the elites among minorities, 2) obscuring the real problems associated with institutional racism and class oppression, 3) exacerbating social conflict between demographic groups by encouraging traditionally dominant or majority groups to view minorities rather than the power elite as the enemy, 4) using PC to strength the ideological superstructure of the ruling class and the self-legitimating ideology of the state.

    It should go without saying that the police state, prison-industrial complex, war on drugs, socioeconomic segregation, class oppression, and institutional racism are all manifestations of the stick.

  6. Regarding the examples Carson refers to concerning the British Museum and the racist policeman, I’d say it’s not a question of either/or in either situation.

    My feelings about cops aren’t far removed from those of the Black Panthers or the sovereign citizens. But should the use of bad language be grounds for termination from any job, police offer or otherwise? I don’t think so. What matters is context. Was this policeman speaking in such a manner to members of the general public he is supposed to be “serving and protecting”? If so, then by all means fire him in the same way a store clerk who spoke to a patron in such a manner would be fired. Is he acting on these beliefs in the context of his official role by unfairly targeting minorities or engaging in excessive force? If so, then get him the hell out of there. Should he be fired merely for his private opinions? I don’t think so.

    My view of traditional Western imperialism is not far removed from those of Mao-tse-tung. That said, I want to know about history as it actually occurred and in all its different dimensions. I want to know about the crimes of the British empire in its colonies (like the genocide of the Tasmanian people or the indifference to the famine in India, for instance). I want to know about the history of the British Navy and the achievements of British civilization as well (to which we Yanks owe a great debt). I live in the American South, and for decades there’s been an ongoing controversy over things like the display of the Confederate flag, the preservation of historic slave burial grounds, and other issues related to Southern history, including its history of racial conflict.

    I want to see Confederate monuments preserved, and I want traditional white Southerners to be able to recognize and appreciate their history and heritage. I have no problem with public displays of Confederate memorabilia. I also want to recognize the history and heritage of African-Americans in the South, including a genuine recognition of the real crimes and atrocities associated with racial oppression in the South. I want to see historic sites reflecting black history preserved, and I want to recognize the cultural history of African-Americans in the South, and their many contributions to Southern culture and American society.

  7. The vast majority of British government spending is on the Welfare State – not on Corporate Welfare.

    The Welfare State (that child of the Fabians – the “Minority Report” and so on) was not created by “capitalists” and does not benefit “capitalists”. Quite the contrary.

    However, British business certainly has changed.

    For example as late as the mid 1960s the majority of shares in British companies were owned by individuals (British individuals alone owned the majority of shares). Today only a small fraction of shares (less than a fifth I believe) of shares are owned by individuals – most shares are owned by institutions (thanks to tax law and regulations).

    So the managers of most British companies are not responsible to owners – as there are no individual owners (not of most of the shares). The hired managers are responsible to other hired managers (of Pension Funds and so on) instead.

    Some people (such as the Financial Times newspaper crowd) think this is a jolly good thing – others have our doubts.

    “The City” – has also changed.

    As recently as the early 1980s the financial industry was a series of private companies and clubs (for example the Stock Exchange was a private company with its own rules – and had been since 1801).

    There was no law saying that there had. for example, to be only one stock exchange – and had there had been others.

    Also there was no law that trading had to be done on an exchange – “off exchange” trading, was legal and did occur.

    Other than the normal laws of fraud (evolved from Law Merchant and then incorporated in Common Law and then, to some extent, into Statute Law) there was no domestic market “regulation” as such.

    Financial services in the United Kingdom were still (even as late as the early 1980s) to some extent a real market – but then……..

    There was the “deregulation” of the “Big Bang”

    What did this actually mean?

    It meant, ironically in the name of the Free Market, the government basically took over.

    The rules of private companies and private clubs (which did NOT have a monopoly – no one was forced to trade with them) were declared “restrictive practices” and were replaced by a “free market”.

    This “free market” is actually thousands of pages of GOVERNMENT REGULATIONS which control the financial services industry.

    Anyone who opposes this is broken – and quite legally. After all they are guilty – guilty of breaking the regulations.

    As for banking – banking is now divorced from REAL SAVINGS.

    Banking has never just been about just real savings – even conservative bankers such as J.P. Morgan always cheated as the margin (quite legally – the law assumed a banker would lend out more money than they actually had in cash, that the “fraction” in “fractional reserve banking” would be MORE than ten tenths)

    However, today there is no real link between banking and real savings at all – it is not a matter of cheating at the margin (as it was a century ago) now the main part of banking is getting money from the Central Banks (which produce it from NOTHING) and then lending it out at a higher interest rate – often lending it to the government itself.

    Think of the bird in “Carry On Up The Jungle” – the banking system has essentially vanished up its own ………

    So the financial markets are now dominated by government regulations (thousands of pages of them), and the banking system has been radically divorced from real savings – not “at the margin” (which was always the case) but in its CORE BUSINESS.

    And most British companies have only small fraction of their shares owned by human beings (as opposed to hired managers being under the control of other hired managers who are under the control of other hired managers………..and so on down the plug hole).

    And remember that all the above comment was written by someone who is no friend of Sean Gabb and who actively despises Kevin Carson.

    What will happen?

    There will be a double bankruptcy.

    There will be a fiscal bankruptcy – the Welfare States (which were not created by “capitalism” and do not benefit “capitalists”) have grown and grown (as the Fabians and the Cloward and Piven Americans hoped they would) and will bankrupt society – both in economic bankruptcy and in social bankruptcy (again this was intentional – hoped for from the start).

    But there will also be a second bankruptcy.

    The bankruptcy of the credit bubble financial system – a system radically divorced from real savings. And the breakdown of the banking and financial services industry.

    Personally I believe that even the Commodity Markets are rigged (specifically the gold and silver market) but we will not know that for sure till the financial system in general collapses.

    Be that as it may – it is clear that the banking system is a mess, that the financial services industry is totally under the thumb of government, and that the structure of British business has been radially subverted by taxation and by regulations – which have basically undermined the very concept of OWNERS for most companies. Yes they can still go bankrupt (the final check) but till then there is no real check on the mess.

    All this is quite bad enough.

  8. “The vast majority of British government spending is on the Welfare State – not on Corporate Welfare.”

    Is that correct, especially when you consider the central banking system?

    In any case, I think the division between corporate welfare v welfare welfare is an arbitrary one, and only exacerbates potential divisions amongst those opposed to state spending.

  9. Pingback: Culture Wars and the Police State: A Reply to Kevin Carson | The Libertarian Alliance: BLOG

  10. This makes a strong case that corporate welfare is dominant in the U.S. I wouldn’t venture to guess about the U.k.: http://attackthesystem.com/2013/11/26/government-spends-more-on-corporate-welfare-subsidies-than-social-welfare-programs-2/

  11. “Is it correct” – yes it is.

    As for the idea that left “libertarians” are opposed to “state spending” – that depends on how one defines “state”.

    For example, Kevin is very much in favour of local collectivist being the sole providers of virtually everything.

    I would call such local collectivists “states” – he would not (claiming, absurdly, that the “Invisible Hand” would lead to such local collectivism).

    By the way that idea that Corporate Welfare is or has ever been dominate in the United States is false.

    In the 19th century education spending was the dominant form of government spending.

    Later or (especially from the 1960s) this was dwarfed by government income support and health spending.

    People who write as if Corporate welfare was more important than the Welfare State are being dishonest – radically dishonest.

    • Paul, you are starting to sound like me-

      For example, Kevin is very much in favour of local collectivist being the sole providers of virtually everything.

      I would call such local collectivists “states” – he would not (claiming, absurdly, that the “Invisible Hand” would lead to such local collectivism).

      -when I argue that every form of “anarchism” I’ve ever heard of is a really a sly “micro-state” system.

  12. Yes Ian – although I should have typed “collectives”.

    Black Flag “anarchists” are just socialists by another name. As can be seen from their close cooperation with their fellow totalitarians the Red Flag Marxists – close cooperation in such things as the Occupy movement and the Teacher Unions.

    People who claim that libertarians should cooperate with the “libertarian” left (the Black Flag types and their friends) are either ignorant or dishonest.