Responding to State Worshipers

Worship is an act of uncritical devotion. Some people worship God, an infatuated teen might worship her boyfriend; some folks worship state power. But uncritical devotion can make people believe things that just aren’t so, and it can even make them a little batty.

In a free market, the creepy companies might actually go “bye bye”

In a 2006 issue of The Journal of Corporate Citizenship, Walter Block and William Barnett II teamed up to defend liberty in the article “Rejoinder to Critics of Laissez-Faire Capitalism.” They were responding to critics who took issue with their controversial thesis: The key to promoting prosperity for people and for the environment is to “reign in government to the greatest extent possible.”


This viewpoint doesn’t ring of controversy to pro-freedom ears, but imagine you are a scholar who blames all the world’s problems on private companies and that most notorious of bugaboos “inequality.” Imagine if you worshiped state power as your savior from global ills.

Now let Block and Barnett put your worshiping at ease so you can go live today a little more guilt-free.

State Worshiper #1

Block and Barnett objected to J.A. Batten and P.G. Szilagyi’s claim that large corporations have the ability to “impose” their will on people. Economic and moral power, yes, for a time, but not political power to impose against human wills. Block and Barnett noted that the demise of creepy private companies like Enron and WorldCom testify to the health of the markets because these jerks no longer exist. And yet governments, who make these Enron-types look like “petty thieves,” remain intact.

Batten and Szilagyi worship the state so fully that they argued on the grounds that the most interventionist governments “all have the highest individual incomes.” Block cited his own research in his 1996 book Economic Freedom of the World, 1975-1995 against this idea, adding that, even if it were somehow true, it would be ­“despite government interventionism, not because of it” (p 18). One wonders how scholars sitting in expensive chairs could have such blind faith in the positive effects of government interventionism. Pure state worship.

State Worshiper #2

The next state-worshiper, C. Higgins, repeated the tired idea that income-inequality has increased in the places where the free market has flourished.

In fact, the opposite is true, according to Block and Barnett. The markets actually promote income equality. It is a positive-sum game. If only every game was positive-sum.

“In contrast, when a politician or bureaucrat prospers, he does so at the expense of the long-suffering taxpayer, as this is a coercive, zero-sum game” (p 19).

In reality, it is not private companies or the free market but rather the dictator and his fellas who steal off the largest proportion of wealth in society. The people in such societies are quite equal and quite poor.


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