Responding to State Worshipers

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.”

Is Walter Block himself a state-worshiper?

Upon first reading of this essay I was a bit confused, as if the authors seemed to be distancing themselves from anarchistic ideas, denying accusations that they had said they favored a “stateless social order” in their previous thesis. Walter Block IS an anarchist and I will note at the start that Block made sure to footnote that “greatly regrets” the kind of language he and Barnett II had used.

State Worshiper #1

Nevertheless, 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” (18). One wonders how they 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. “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” (19).

In reality, it is 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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