Leftist Hypocrisy about Crony Capitalism

The accusation of “cronyism” can be applied to just about anything – not just capitalism. In the 20th century, for example, you certainly had crony communism in virtually every communist or socialist state. You also have cronyism in universities (especially in left-wing departments) councils, political parties, anti-fascist groups and so on.

The same is true of that broader term which has become so popular with verbatim Chomskyans and followers of Naomi Klein -- 'corporatism'. In this case you have fascist corporatism, Christian corporatism, Communitarian corporatism, kinship corporatism, and even “progressive” and socialist corporatism.

In addition, what's been said about cronyism can be said about corruption and the abuse of power. These two things aren't peculiar to capitalism either. Yet, as we know, all sorts of things have been attributed to capitalism which have been pretty much universal in nature.

Cronyism seems to occur in all systems. That doesn't mean, of course, that we shouldn't do anything about it.

So, yes, businessmen and corporations do use their wealth or status to buy political power and influence governments; as do left-wing think tanks, universities, environmentalists, newspapers, pressure groups, etc.. All this can be dealt with. It has been dealt with. However, that doesn't mean that cronyism has ever been obliterated. It hasn't. It hasn't because no system has ever been perfect. And, as I said, cronyism was much worse in communist countries than in capitalist ones. (Where such cronyism, of course, featured different players.) In addition, well before capitalism, cronyism obviously existed.

The term “crony capitalism” is also a massive generalisation. Are Leftists really claiming that crony capitalism is prevalent everywhere there are businesses or private enterprises? Is every corner shop, every small and large business, every private art gallery, every service, etc. subject to crony capitalism?

Crony Capitalism = Capitalism

Basically, the accusation of “crony capitalism” is just another way which Leftists can use to have a go at capitalism. Yet Chomsky says that the adjective “crony” (in “crony capitalism”) is redundant. The “radical economist and political activist”, Robin Hahnel, believes that too. He sees the term as an “ideologically motivated attempt to cast what is in their view the fundamental problems of capitalism as avoidable irregularities”. Naomi Klein, in The Shock Doctrine (2007), also wrote:

“... the alliance between a small corporate elite and a right-wing government has been written off as some sort of aberration -- Mafia capitalism, oligarchy capitalism and now, under Bush, 'crony capitalism.' But it's not an aberration....” (316)

Thus those who speak out against crony capitalism are actually speaking out against, well, capitalism; just as those who speak out against what is now called “neo-liberalism” (a term which was resurrected very recently) are really speaking out against, yes, capitalism. (See my “'Neoliberalism'? They Mean Capitalism'.)

In any case, if Leftists were truly against crony capitalism, they would be in favour of the free-market position which states that the government or state should have virtually nothing to do with private enterprise.... But Leftists are against that too. Not only that: free-marketeers argue that crony capitalism is closer to socialism than it is to free-market capitalism. After all, interfering with the market is what socialist governments do, isn't it? What's more, free-marketeers make the obvious point that when the government involves itself in business, true competition is lessened and even ended entirely. Free-marketeers also believe that what they call “natural monopolies” rarely occur without both governments and the wealthy colluding in various ways by placing limits on competition.

Now, is this the type of capitalism Chomsky and Naomi Klein, for example, want? Of course not. To state the obvious, they want socialist collectivism run by people who adhere to the views and values of, well, Chomsky and Klein.

Capitalism = Fascism

There's a dangerous line here; though Leftists aren't always explicit about it.

This is a transitive argument that's often (though not always) hidden in the prose:

  1. Capitalism is crony capitalism (or vice versa)
  2. Crony capitalism is corporatism
  3. Corporatism is fascism
  4. Therefore capitalism is fascism.

This is the line of argument which has been delivered by Marxists galore; both today and throughout the 20th century. However, it can take different forms.

For example, you can begin with the words “crony capitalism is corporatism” (or even with the inverted “crony capitalism is capitalism”) and then work through the transitive identities to end with “capitalism is fascism”. It doesn't really matter as long as you end with fascism. And that's because all the terms are taken to be virtual (sometimes literal) synonyms. 

Despite that argument being applied to all capitalist democracies, what happened in Italy and Germany (in the 1920s and 1930s) has of course been given massive attention by Marxists (hence the conclusion -- “capitalism is fascism”). Just as Leftists say that “capitalism inevitably leads to crony capitalism” (e.g. Naomi Klein, Chomsky, etc.); so the older refrain “capitalism always leads to fascism” has been heard throughout the 20th century (especially in universities and in Trotskyist/communist parties or groups).

Thus capitalism isn't only tainted with crony capitalism: it's also tainted with fascism. That's one reason why Chomsky (who said that the United States need to be “de-Nazified”), Naomi Klein and Leftists generally believe that capitalism (in toto) must be completely destroyed.

Now for an account of how corporatism is fascism which is ironically (perhaps not ironically) offered by a pseudonymous believer in “free capitalism”. He writes:

“I would say that corporatism is just another name for fascism.

“Corporatism/fascism is basically when private companies use the government to gain unfair advantages in the market. So it's when the private companies take over the government, and the government and the private sector team up to seize power and screw over the average citizen and take their rights away.”

And this is his preferred alternative:

“With capitalism however, the government is small and run by the people and the private sector works for the benefit of the citizens.”

So how can crony capitalism, corporatism, and indeed fascism fit the capitalist template when capitalism is surely about providing the goods and services which people want and are prepared to spend money on? Crony capitalism, corporatism, and fascism are about governments and businesses/corporations conspiring together to effectively decide which products and services to produce. In these systems, the government basically hands out taxpayers' cash in the form of concessions, subsidies and bailouts to businesses and corporations. The government also creates laws and regulations which are tailor-made to benefit the aforesaid businesses and corporations. All this violates capitalism and comes closer to socialism... surely.

Conclusion

If crony capitalism or capitalism is the problem, capitalism has always proved to be the solution too. Revolution (or the world made in Naomi Klein or Chomsky's image) is an attempt to create utopia. In the process, it will create hell -- as the 20th century graphically displayed.

Capitalism is like an animal which evolves to suit the environment. (As the Marxist philosopher Slavoj Žižek, for example, is more than willing to admit.) Capitalism responds to people by giving them what they want, whether that's jacuzzis, horror films or, according to Žižek, post-modern philosophy/politics. It also gives them health foods, clean air, medicines, internet websites (that preach violent revolution), punk, non-polluting cars and books by Chomsky, Naomi Klein, and Slavoj Žižek. In addition, it responds to people's demands for the “better use of finite resources”. Though, admittedly, only if that's what people want. So if people want environmentally-friendly goods and books by Al Gore, it will give them such things. And, as the phrase goes, capitalism will “relocate resources” too. Though, again, only if people want this.

Leftists say in response: But what if they don't want these goodly things?

And it's here that Leftists display their undemocratic and even totalitarian instincts. Because people don't want such things (though sometimes they do), the socialist demands that the state provide them instead. Thus people will get the supposedly good things even if they don't want them. Consequently, the government/state will gain complete control because it knows what's good for us in all respects. Goodness will then be imposed upon us from above.... regardless.

And when socialist goodness is imposed it becomes badness – as the 20th century graphically shows.

Paul Austin Murphy's blogs can be found at Counter-Jihad: Beyond the EDL and Paul Austin Murphy's Philosophy. He's had pieces published in Broadside News, Intellectual Conservative, Liberty GB, New English Review, Faith Freedom, Human Events, etc.

The accusation of “cronyism” can be applied to just about anything – not just capitalism. In the 20th century, for example, you certainly had crony communism in virtually every communist or socialist state. You also have cronyism in universities (especially in left-wing departments) councils, political parties, anti-fascist groups and so on.

The same is true of that broader term which has become so popular with verbatim Chomskyans and followers of Naomi Klein -- 'corporatism'. In this case you have fascist corporatism, Christian corporatism, Communitarian corporatism, kinship corporatism, and even “progressive” and socialist corporatism.

In addition, what's been said about cronyism can be said about corruption and the abuse of power. These two things aren't peculiar to capitalism either. Yet, as we know, all sorts of things have been attributed to capitalism which have been pretty much universal in nature.

Cronyism seems to occur in all systems. That doesn't mean, of course, that we shouldn't do anything about it.

So, yes, businessmen and corporations do use their wealth or status to buy political power and influence governments; as do left-wing think tanks, universities, environmentalists, newspapers, pressure groups, etc.. All this can be dealt with. It has been dealt with. However, that doesn't mean that cronyism has ever been obliterated. It hasn't. It hasn't because no system has ever been perfect. And, as I said, cronyism was much worse in communist countries than in capitalist ones. (Where such cronyism, of course, featured different players.) In addition, well before capitalism, cronyism obviously existed.

The term “crony capitalism” is also a massive generalisation. Are Leftists really claiming that crony capitalism is prevalent everywhere there are businesses or private enterprises? Is every corner shop, every small and large business, every private art gallery, every service, etc. subject to crony capitalism?

Crony Capitalism = Capitalism

Basically, the accusation of “crony capitalism” is just another way which Leftists can use to have a go at capitalism. Yet Chomsky says that the adjective “crony” (in “crony capitalism”) is redundant. The “radical economist and political activist”, Robin Hahnel, believes that too. He sees the term as an “ideologically motivated attempt to cast what is in their view the fundamental problems of capitalism as avoidable irregularities”. Naomi Klein, in The Shock Doctrine (2007), also wrote:

“... the alliance between a small corporate elite and a right-wing government has been written off as some sort of aberration -- Mafia capitalism, oligarchy capitalism and now, under Bush, 'crony capitalism.' But it's not an aberration....” (316)

Thus those who speak out against crony capitalism are actually speaking out against, well, capitalism; just as those who speak out against what is now called “neo-liberalism” (a term which was resurrected very recently) are really speaking out against, yes, capitalism. (See my “'Neoliberalism'? They Mean Capitalism'.)

In any case, if Leftists were truly against crony capitalism, they would be in favour of the free-market position which states that the government or state should have virtually nothing to do with private enterprise.... But Leftists are against that too. Not only that: free-marketeers argue that crony capitalism is closer to socialism than it is to free-market capitalism. After all, interfering with the market is what socialist governments do, isn't it? What's more, free-marketeers make the obvious point that when the government involves itself in business, true competition is lessened and even ended entirely. Free-marketeers also believe that what they call “natural monopolies” rarely occur without both governments and the wealthy colluding in various ways by placing limits on competition.

Now, is this the type of capitalism Chomsky and Naomi Klein, for example, want? Of course not. To state the obvious, they want socialist collectivism run by people who adhere to the views and values of, well, Chomsky and Klein.

Capitalism = Fascism

There's a dangerous line here; though Leftists aren't always explicit about it.

This is a transitive argument that's often (though not always) hidden in the prose:

  1. Capitalism is crony capitalism (or vice versa)
  2. Crony capitalism is corporatism
  3. Corporatism is fascism
  4. Therefore capitalism is fascism.

This is the line of argument which has been delivered by Marxists galore; both today and throughout the 20th century. However, it can take different forms.

For example, you can begin with the words “crony capitalism is corporatism” (or even with the inverted “crony capitalism is capitalism”) and then work through the transitive identities to end with “capitalism is fascism”. It doesn't really matter as long as you end with fascism. And that's because all the terms are taken to be virtual (sometimes literal) synonyms. 

Despite that argument being applied to all capitalist democracies, what happened in Italy and Germany (in the 1920s and 1930s) has of course been given massive attention by Marxists (hence the conclusion -- “capitalism is fascism”). Just as Leftists say that “capitalism inevitably leads to crony capitalism” (e.g. Naomi Klein, Chomsky, etc.); so the older refrain “capitalism always leads to fascism” has been heard throughout the 20th century (especially in universities and in Trotskyist/communist parties or groups).

Thus capitalism isn't only tainted with crony capitalism: it's also tainted with fascism. That's one reason why Chomsky (who said that the United States need to be “de-Nazified”), Naomi Klein and Leftists generally believe that capitalism (in toto) must be completely destroyed.

Now for an account of how corporatism is fascism which is ironically (perhaps not ironically) offered by a pseudonymous believer in “free capitalism”. He writes:

“I would say that corporatism is just another name for fascism.

“Corporatism/fascism is basically when private companies use the government to gain unfair advantages in the market. So it's when the private companies take over the government, and the government and the private sector team up to seize power and screw over the average citizen and take their rights away.”

And this is his preferred alternative:

“With capitalism however, the government is small and run by the people and the private sector works for the benefit of the citizens.”

So how can crony capitalism, corporatism, and indeed fascism fit the capitalist template when capitalism is surely about providing the goods and services which people want and are prepared to spend money on? Crony capitalism, corporatism, and fascism are about governments and businesses/corporations conspiring together to effectively decide which products and services to produce. In these systems, the government basically hands out taxpayers' cash in the form of concessions, subsidies and bailouts to businesses and corporations. The government also creates laws and regulations which are tailor-made to benefit the aforesaid businesses and corporations. All this violates capitalism and comes closer to socialism... surely.

Conclusion

If crony capitalism or capitalism is the problem, capitalism has always proved to be the solution too. Revolution (or the world made in Naomi Klein or Chomsky's image) is an attempt to create utopia. In the process, it will create hell -- as the 20th century graphically displayed.

Capitalism is like an animal which evolves to suit the environment. (As the Marxist philosopher Slavoj Žižek, for example, is more than willing to admit.) Capitalism responds to people by giving them what they want, whether that's jacuzzis, horror films or, according to Žižek, post-modern philosophy/politics. It also gives them health foods, clean air, medicines, internet websites (that preach violent revolution), punk, non-polluting cars and books by Chomsky, Naomi Klein, and Slavoj Žižek. In addition, it responds to people's demands for the “better use of finite resources”. Though, admittedly, only if that's what people want. So if people want environmentally-friendly goods and books by Al Gore, it will give them such things. And, as the phrase goes, capitalism will “relocate resources” too. Though, again, only if people want this.

Leftists say in response: But what if they don't want these goodly things?

And it's here that Leftists display their undemocratic and even totalitarian instincts. Because people don't want such things (though sometimes they do), the socialist demands that the state provide them instead. Thus people will get the supposedly good things even if they don't want them. Consequently, the government/state will gain complete control because it knows what's good for us in all respects. Goodness will then be imposed upon us from above.... regardless.

And when socialist goodness is imposed it becomes badness – as the 20th century graphically shows.

Paul Austin Murphy's blogs can be found at Counter-Jihad: Beyond the EDL and Paul Austin Murphy's Philosophy. He's had pieces published in Broadside News, Intellectual Conservative, Liberty GB, New English Review, Faith Freedom, Human Events, etc.