State of Mankind

A New Way Of Thinking

Economic Pluralism

Finally, the last economic development to discuss, as it is where Dr. Quigley claims we now are, though he also suggests that it will be continually developing.  I will try to be as simple as possible and touch on just a few points, as I have written more in depth about this in the review of Tragedy & Hope.  See:  Quigley describes the pluralist economy in a nutshell:

“As in most other countries in the postwar world, Britain’s economy is increasingly made up of large blocs of interest groups whose shifting alignments determine economic policy within the three-cornered area of consumers’ living standards, investment needs, and governmental expenditures (chiefly defense).  All these diverse interest groups are increasingly monopolistic in organization, and increasingly convinced of the need for planning for their own interests, but the major factor in the picture is no longer the banking fraternity, as it was before the war, but the government through the Treasury.” (Page 505)

What may not seem overly interesting here is actually totally packed.  Since WWII, while we have retained the rhetoric of capitalism, we have actually moved to a system where the money flows through and is controlled mainly by the government.  Small business still operates on a somewhat free market platform, but heavy industry and government have essetially merged.  The proof of this can be seen by naming just two companies–Haliburton and General Electric.  Haliburton is quickly recognized by modern Liberals as a company that received large and generous contracts from the Bush Administration.  Conservatives who follow such things will say exactly the same of GE and the current administration.  If we take off our political blinders and just look at all the large companies, we will see that Haliburton continues to get special treatment even today.  No doubt GE has much the same setup.  GM, Chrysler, the big banks, Wall Street, Boeing, Lockheed, Enron, (and the list can go on), all received and receive substantial support from government.  This is not to even go into the way the tax code supports or injures different businesses.  While we live the pretense of free market, everything from your personal tax rate (or tax supplement) to the ability the local grocer has to hire, due to how and how much he is taxed, to the price of cars (by subsidies or CAFE and safety standards), to anything we care to mention, is controlled directly or indirectly by government.  When we see this for what it is, the battle between the parties is not good versus evil as our culture likes to pretend, or rich versus poor as they try to sell, or labor versus business, as the unions echo.  The real battle is mammon versus mammon.  It is money from certain companies versus money from other companies.  It is “old money” versus “new money” or money against anyone else gaining money.  When taxes are to be raised on incomes greater than (X) amount, it is not to collect money for the government (simple math shows it is less than insignificant), but to keep small business from growing too big too fast or keep the upper middle class right where it is rather than joining the elites.  Have they ever suggested a tax on what the elites already own?

So we’ve established that government is where the different sectors of the economy fight for their prosperity.  He also mentions that they are “increasingly monopolistic”.  The pluralist economy is a double-down on monopoly capitalism, though the leash is held by the state, whose leash is held by the industrialists and bankers.

Finally, Quigley says they are “increasingly convinced of the need for planning for their own interests.”  The problem here is that money rules the state which then rules the economy.  The more people see the market distortions, the more power they desire to give the state to fix the problems, the more control is given to the powers of money that control the state.  Quigley explains what this leads to:

“And, in general, there will be a very considerable modification of the areas and objectives of freedom in all societies of the world, with GRADUAL REDUCTION OF NUMEROUS PERSONAL FREEDOMS OF THE PAST accompanied by the gradual increase of other fundamental freedoms…” (Pages 552-553, emphasis mine)

This leads us to the next major point of the pluralist economy–the social safety net.  I realize that I am in the vast minority here, but we need to see this for what it is.  Pluralism is a mix of capitalism, fascism, and communism.  The social safety net, especially those items from Johnson’s “Great Society” in the 1960’s, were perhaps the crowning portions for Quigley to decide we had entered into the pluralist economy.  The safety net is sold to us as a charitable good, supported strongly by both parties.  I believe it is anything but that.

I think the social safety net is a built-in machine of inequality.  It is set up to give the unfortunate just enough to survive, but no extra or skill set to thrive.  It gives the poor enough for the rest of society to conveniently focus on their own wants and forget about helping anyone.  If the United Order is about treating each other as equals and wanting to help the poor rise to greatness, the social safety net has created the exact opposite.  It has instilled in us a hubris unequalled in history.  Instead of becoming charitable, we blame the system and add to what is creating our problem.  I have gone in-depth on this:

Quigley also described what is happening in our day:

“Associated with these changes are a number of others.  The belief that human abilities are innate and should be left free from social duress in order to display themselves has been replaced by the idea that human abilities are the result of social training and must be directed to socially acceptable ends.  Thus liberalism and laissez-faire are to be replaced, apparently, by social discipline and planning.  The community of interests which would appear if men were merely left to pursue their own desires has been replaced by the idea of the welfare community, which must be created by conscious organizing action.  The belief in progress has been replaced by the fear of social retrogression or even human annihilation.  The old march of democracy now yields to the insidious advance of authoritarianism, and the individual capitalism of the profit motive seems about to be replaced by the state capitalism of the welfare economy.” (Page 28)

I would just mention that state capitalism is the term Engels used to describe the state of the economy just before socialism took over.  His description of state capitalism matches well that of Quigley.

It is difficult to look at the day in which we live from a different point of view.  Much of our political rhetoric and our verbal debates are based on the past (such as the terms capitalism or freedom).  Most of our arguments are based on the past to the point we have trouble seeing the present.  For those who have a hard time embracing the view I have presented, I would simply ask one simple question–Have we improved our charity and love for the poor and all mankind, or is it diminishing?

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