Re: [OPE] free competition

From: Paula <>
Date: Sat Apr 16 2011 - 14:03:03 EDT

Jerry wrote:
"The expression 'free competition' ... embodies with it the conception that
no government regulation/interference equates to freedom".

Only if you think that freedom and regulation are mutually exclusive. But
they are not. Hence my point that we mustn't think about this in absolutist,
either/or terms, but in terms of degrees of freedom and degrees of
regulation, and the relation between the two, which changes historically. In
the epoch of imperialism there is more regulation, as well as more
constraints on competition due to the monopolistic tendencies that we've
talked about. But even so the state does not have absolute power, and
neither is there absolute monopoly, with one firm controlling all economic
activity. If we had either of these two, capitalism would cease to exist.
Capital is always many capitals, and always has a certain amount of room to
compete, a certain amount of freedom from the state. Moreover, precisely
because of the tight and enhanced interaction between state, monopolistic
tendencies, and competition in this period, competition itself is more
acute - the stakes are higher, if you wish.

I believe this is a far more useful, materialist, and realistic way to
understand contemporary capitalism than to reduce economic life to mere
"ideological myths", or "discourse" as the postmodernists would say.

"I think this highlights the danger of trying to comprehend economic and
social history ... by looking first at what the 'masters' ... wrote rather
than first referring to *actual* history".

Remember, it was you who asked what the 'masters' said in the first place.
After eating the humble pie, you should now skip the sour grapes. If you
really want to refer to actual history, you could start, for example, with
an analysis of the global oil industry and its structure, which would tell
us a great deal about the interplay of state power, monopolistic tendencies,
and competition in today's economy. I'm all in favor of moving the
discussion in that direction. It would certainly be more fruitful than the
sorry debate we've had so far. Maybe this list has some experts on the oil
industry (or any other industries) who could help us get going.


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Received on Sat Apr 16 14:04:09 2011

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