The liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than their democratic state itself. That, in its essence, is fascism — ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power…. Among us today a concentration of private power without equal in history is growing.
– Franklin D. Roosevelt
Personally I’m in favour of democracy, which means that the central institutions in the society have to be under popular control. Now, under capitalism we can’t have democracy by definition. Capitalism is a system in which the central institutions of society are in principle under autocratic control. Thus, a corporation or an industry is, if we were to think of it in political terms, fascist; that is, it has tight control at the top and strict obedience has to be established at every level – there’s a little bargaining, a little give and take, but the line of authority is perfectly straightforward. Just as I’m opposed to political fascism, I’m opposed to economic fascism. I think that until major institutions of society are under the popular control of participants and communities, it’s pointless to talk about democracy.
– Noam Chomsky
It’s all about money, not freedom, ya’ll, okay?
Nothing to do with fuckin’ freedom.
If you think you’re free, try going somewhere without fucking money, okay?
– Bill Hicks
I want to describe two conflicting views of the world. The first is the predominate mainstream view; that is, that there is a mutual exclusivity between government and freedom, whereby the larger a nation’s government, the less freedom it has, and vice verse. Under this world view, government is inherently oppression and if government is removed, in its place is left freedom. Whatever lies in the private sphere, aside from government, is freedom. The state is oppressive; the free market is freedom.
The second — and in my opinion correct — view is that, for any given size and level of development, there will be a fixed level of facilities required by a society. A society like our own will always require a police service, fire service, hospitals, schools, prisons, street cleaning, border controls, courts, lawmaking, news and broadcasting; the list goes on ad infinitum. Whether or not these services are provided directly by the state, contracted out to private providers, or provided directly for sale by private providers, they will exist in some form and therefore the size of the collective ‘government functions’ will remain the same. This forms the basis of the theory of ‘conservation of government‘, or as a friend recently pointed out it might be better called, ‘conservation of governance’. The level of freedom in any society is determined therefore not only by the freedom afforded them by the state, but also as afforded by any other corporations, charities, or any other organisation, which fulfils those roles of governance. For any given service that the state can be broken down into, that service can be run either democratically, oligocratically, or autocratically. The collective effect of this, with some services obviously having more weight than others, determines whether one lives in a democratic, oligocratic or autocratic society. (more…)