The most recent corporate internet protests (which implicated or was supported by the likes of Google, Wikipedia, Reddit, Mozilla, and Facebook) against the Stop Online Piracy Act (known colloquially as SOPA), and the sweeping powers it would allegedly grant to the US, may strike some observers as another piece of empirical evidence for the argument that business by its very nature is opposed to big government.
A contrasting viewpoint to this has been given by G.K. Chesterton in The Outline of Sanity. There, Chesterton remarked that there will be an imminent fusion of Big Government on the one hand and Big Business on the other. In the book Chesterton said that both Big State and Big Business:
...are already one spirit [and] they will soon be one body. For, disbelieving in division, they cannot remain divided; believing only in combination, they will themselves combine...there will be no doubt about the character of the world which they will have made between them. It will be a world of organisation, of syndication, of standardisation.
In other words, the centralisation of business activity is often accompanied by a centralisation in State administration. This is paralleled somewhat in William Cavanaugh's Torture and Eucharist.
While neoliberals are often found professing their faith in the link between a corporate-saturated social landscape with the minimisation of State, Cavanaugh argues that, as was in the case in Augusto Pinochet's Chile which was the case study in the book, the position of Big Business is often dependent on a high degree of state intervention in social life.
We experience in the process what Adrian Pabst calls in his article
in The Immanent Frame
, an inversion of the medieval guild system. Whilst the former sought to prioritise social goods over commercial interests, the state strengthens itself but with a view to ensure commerce subordinates any social good, brought about by the privatisation of gain, the "democratisation of risk", and the disengagement of finance from any social or cultural end.
The key to resistance against this merger of State and Business, as George Weigel argued in an address at Campion College
, is the embedding of the economy within a form of cultural regulation, which is diffused in the varying and more organic institutions of family, church and civil society, and less dependent on the highly mechanistic and coercive enforcement arms of State, as opposed to a highly centralised regime of legislative regulation, where enforcement powers become ceded over to the more estranged organs of central governance.
Labels: books, Chesterton, distributism, economics, politics, William Cavanaugh