Ok, so sometimes I leave my RSS feeds unread- possibly unjustifiably in the case of Mr. Civil Libertarian, who I mentally classify as “posting videos” and therefore requiring some PC-time at a nebulous later date. Therefore, this rejoinder to his post This Post Contains Dinosaurs about the statist nature of large companies is largely out of date. Sorry about that.
Tesco, Wal-Mart, Kingfisher, Morrisons. Yes, they are all statist organisations, both in philosophy and in practice- in that they operate a highly authoritarian structure within themselves and also in that they support and benefit from the statist regulatory model. However, to attack these private organisations on the way that they conduct their private contracts (one-sided or otherwise) between themselves and the individuals who sell their labour to them is wrong-headed in my opinion.
By all means, to attack the companies on the relationships between themselves and national and supra-national govenrments- on W.E.E.E., the H.S.E., food hygiene licensing, mandatory battery recycling, the Minimum Wage and a host of other barriers to entry imposed in their favour by the Governments to which they cosy up. These arrangements are nothing more than Corporatism/Facism and deserve to be denounced as such. However, the internal structures of private companies are just that. Private- and of no concern to anybody but the signees of the employment contracts concerned. Employees of Tesco are not slaves- they have at any time the option to walk out of their job and attempt to gain employment elsewhere, or set up their own businesses, or join the “black economy” or even to go on Welfare. Nobody forces them at gunpoint to go to work in the morning- they are honouring a contract freely entered into by two Persons, the whole basis of Western Civilisation!
Despite all this enthusiasm for the authority of bosses and glorification of corporate power, I would argue that if the Right-Libertarians I refer to here were to actually advocate the the principles they claim they do, rather than continue to act in a knee-jerk, reactionary way to any policy or idea labelled “socialist” or “collectivist”, then they would quickly realize that freedom requires not just the removal of the State, but the active fight against those institutions that act like States too. To be a Libertarian, you must be against authority too; but there are those amongst us that fail to see those sources of authority that don’t stem directly from what we conventionally know as “The State”.
This being the section I most take issue with. Firstly, the removal of the State would in a large way go to stem the way these companies act- with fair competition both for customers and employees large companies would in no way be able to get away with the things they do. Secondly- to be a Libertarian is in no way to be against authority. Neither is to be an Anarchist. I am such, and yet I go to work every day, and for eight hours I do what my boss wants (he has authority over me in this respect) and in return I receive a princely sum for each of those eight hours. These were the terms I agreed to when I signed my contract, and I am free to terminate said contract at any time. I sell my submission to his authority for cash- I see no contradiction here. I also see no need to fight against such institutions. The root problem is the state- the state has created a situation and the market throws up the best setup for that situation. Change the situation, and change the market, it will evolve. That is what it does.