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Anti-Capitalist Unleashed Like Never Before

Posted October 13, 2021

Jeffrey Tucker

The resentment against big tech and its role in lockdowns, mandates, and censorship is starting to boil over. A friend of mine did a deep empirical analysis of top Twitter accounts and their opinions on these topics. He found that the opponents of these policies are gaining at a much faster rate than others. That might explain why the company is backing off some of its censorship for now, even as LinkedIn is intensifying it.

These companies will push evil only so far. They will stop when it starts affecting the bottom line. It seems like Twitter might be at that point. But regardless, the public resentment against Twitter, Microsoft, Amazon, Google, and Facebook is extremely high right now. When you see how much of Manhattan these companies are buying — even as perhaps one hundred thousand small businesses were destroyed by lockdowns — it shocks the sensibilities.

Sure, they deliver services we all need. During lockdowns, Amazon became essential, and very rich. They should not be faulted for that. What they should be faulted for is favoring the policies that crushed so many businesses. Jeff Bezos’s own newspaper, the Washington Post, was a top advocate of lockdowns that have wrecked this country.

Eat the Rich

Their role in all of this won’t be forgotten. Sadly for the future of civilization, this has also unleashed a frightening level of hatred of capitalism. This is because most people associate capitalism with whatever the richest companies and billionaires think and do. This is a huge mistake, as Milton Friedman pointed out long ago. He said that big business is typically a greater enemy of capitalism than the socialists themselves. He is right.

But you can’t convince the masses of that.

To be sure, my preferred definition of capitalism would go something like this. It is an economic environment that protects and celebrates the right of voluntary exchange and accumulation of private property by all people, according to their own lights, so long as they do not engage in force or fraud. That’s a definition far too geeky and obscure for most people to manage.

Mostly, too, we advocates of capitalism have always celebrated the rich — provided that they get that way in a level playing field of law that protects everyone’s right to trade and innovate. When you forcibly unemploy millions of people and block business owners from serving customers, and then other companies are given a free hand to make all the money they want, we are dealing with a different animal altogether.

Hence, we have this weird irony at work. People are blaming capitalism for the most egregious overreach of governments into the economy in generations if not in the whole of human history. Why? Because the biggest and richest companies were thereby made richer and bigger. Now you see people left and right calling on the very same governments to control the monsters that government policies created.

The Revolt of the Workers

Another feature of capitalist ideology has generally been to defend the owners of capital against pillaging by government and agitation against them by organized workers. But now we have another weird problem. Most of the socialist organs of opinion have favored lockdowns and mandates (“public health measures”) despite their egregious effects on the working classes and vulnerable populations.

My suggestion to real capitalists everywhere: it’s time to change your tactics and focus. The pilots, nurses, mechanics, and many other workers who are in full rebellion against vaccine mandates are your friends. They are favoring nothing but the right to choose and protect their bodily integrity against physical invasion. It’s the owners of the largest companies who are acquiescing to government orders.

Nor do I think it is important to quibble about definitions here. The term capitalism has never served the cause of freedom well. It’s always been confusing. In fact, Adam Smith never used it. It was the Marxists who stuck that term on us, with the implication that we somehow wanted to construct a social order around the interests of large capital owners only. That’s completely untrue, but the label stuck.

What we are seeing right now is something no one could have predicted. Governments are being discredited. Their minions are deeply unpopular. The anger is pouring out into the streets in London, Paris, Rome, Madrid, and Melbourne. It is also right here in the US, but it is taking the form of seething resentment held mostly quietly and surreptitiously.

Have you seen Biden’s popularity ratings? He is in the red by ten points, and the gap between approve and disapprove is growing by the day. And it’s not just in the US. It’s happening all over the world.

The crucial question is what happens next. This kind of social and political tension rarely ends in more freedom for everyone. It usually ends in the entrenchment of fascism or some dangerous socialist revolution. We cannot rule that out, but things have become very complicated. It’s the “right wing” in America who should be arguing most consistently for the rights of workers today, while re-thinking entirely their previously uncritical stance toward big business.

Civil War

We really do live in an unsustainable situation today. It is best illustrated by the executive order just issued by Texas Governor Greg Abbott. It forbids any entity in the state from mandating any vaccines. This is a direct challenge to the Biden administration, which has imposed a national mandate for anyone working for the federal government or contracting with the federal government.

It reads as follows: “No entity in Texas can compel receipt of a COVID-19 vaccine by any individual, including an employee or a consumer, who objects to such vaccination for any reason of personal conscience, based on a religious belief, or for medical reasons, including prior recovery from COVID-19. I hereby suspend all relevant statutes to the extent necessary to enforce this prohibition.”

The order even takes a direct slap at the Biden administration. “The Biden Administration is now bullying many private entities into imposing COVID-19 vaccine mandates,” it says.

In my lifetime, we’ve never seen a conflict this intense between any state and the federal government. The state says it is illegal to mandate, while the federal government says it is illegal not to mandate. There is no reconciling these two positions. It most directly affects Southwest airlines, which is headquartered in Dallas, Texas. Something has to give, and it will in a matter of weeks.

We had better hope and pray that the anger against the government and the overclass does not ultimately turn against the free economy itself. In order for that not to happen, the opposition to the current regime needs to get its thinking straight, give up its old habits, and start celebrating the freedom of everyone.

Regards,

Jeffrey Tucker

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