Re: [OPE] free competition

Date: Thu Apr 21 2011 - 17:07:22 EDT

> A perfect and absolute God does not exist, but the imperfections of a
> society that pushes people to join churches certainly do. Similarly, perfect
> and absolute freedom for capital does not exist, but capitals' limited
> freedom to compete with each other and to exploit workers is very real. It
> is the practices that give rise to the ideological concepts.

Without entering into a discussion of the role of myths in religion,
I agree that the practice of capital leads to ideological concepts.
The specific practices which led to the ideology of free competition
concerned a historical struggle between the state, monopolies
created by the state, and merchant capitalists and other enterprises given
special preferential treatment by the state on the one side and
other segments of the bourgeoisie which were on the 'outside',
especially industrial capital, which thought this was an injustice.
The latter group attached a new meaning to 'free' as it relates
to competition and markets.
It is true that there was a period of competitive capitalism - that
is not a myth. But, at the time that the ideal of free competition
arose it did not exist - it was an ideal which sought to re-define
the relation between capital and the state such that any
'interference' by the state in the affairs of business was a
denial of the (God-given, natural, and eternal, they might say)
freedom of capital to do as it pleases and the claim that any
special treatment by the state in favor of certain capitalists
at the expense of other capitalists was unjust.
When others talk about how monopolies arose out of free
competition what they are forgetting is that competitive
capitalism arose out of a period in which powerful monopolies
given a charter by the state existed. Yes, it's true that
the processes of the centralization and concentration of
capital tend to transform more competitive markets - especially
in industry - over time into being 'monopolistic' (actually,
oligopolistic) but that doesn't mean that the ideal of free
competition was ever attained. For 'free marketeers' it is
like 'heaven' - somewhere where you want to end up and
live your life (i.e. structure the practices of your life)
in accord with this goal. Would you say that 'heavan'
exists? Of course, one could argue that the ideas of
heaven and free competition served a social function but
that doesn't make them real. These conceptions helped to
produce real _effects_, but that does not make the ideas
and ideals themselves real.
In solidarity, Jerry
ope mailing list
Received on Thu Apr 21 17:08:16 2011

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