Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Quotes from Ophuls, Pt. 6

A day ago, I thought I'd write a post-election blog today. But I don't have the heart to write something now. So continuing the quotes from Ophuls, with their insights and provocations to deeper thought, must suffice.
[T]o use Marxist language to make a point contrary to Marx, the state, not the private capitalist, was the true expropriator, and increased national and state power was both the end and the means of this expropriation.This is one powerful reason, among many others, why the Marxist solution to the problems of Hobbesian political economy has failed so badly: by appealing to the original agent of expropriation for salvation, it puts the fox in charge of the chickens. Seizure of the means production by the state does not alter the fact of expropriation; rather, it  replaces one class of exploiters, the monopoly capitalists and their political lackeys, with a "new class"of appartchiks and commissars, such as the corrupt nomenclatura that ran the former Soviet Union. 111

The free market is therefore an ideological fiction. Not only did the market system have to be created by the government in the first place, but it can continue only to operate with continuous government intervention and support thereafter. However, because of the disproportionate power of corporations, the economic tail wags the political dog. The upshot is the worst of both worlds: a top-heavy and heavy-handed state bureaucracy layered over a distorted and somewhat corrupt market economy. 118
An especially pertinent point:
Ironically, the supposed "conservatives" of American politics, that complain the loudest about many of these changes, especially moral decay, are the most laissez-faire with respect to the economic enterprise and technological innovation that produce them. In return for higher levels of production, we have to pay the price in lost social cohesion and political autonomy, as the values of "efficiency" and "exchange" implicit in achieving greater productivity have invaded the sociopolitical realm. (The supposed "liberals" of American politics are just as deluded as the "conservatives": equally addicted to material progress, they also want to conquer nature with technology; but they foolishly believe that economic production as possible without economic power, that ordinary citizens can call the political and social tune when, in fact, it is economic and technological enterprise that pays the piper. In short, with the collaboration of all parties, the technological servant has become the political master.) 171